Wolf Baited by Eliza Gayle

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A case of mistaken identity. Panic attacks that put everyone in danger. And an unforgettable kiss by a wolf.

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“Cool it, bear. We’re supposed to be blending in.” Greer glared at his friend, hoping he’d get the message.

“Yeah, look around. That’s not happening no matter what we do. We stick out almost as much as that crazy waitress does. I may not be able to read people as well as you, but I can read you and your spidey senses are freaking out.”

Greer’s wolf was at it again. Ignoring his quest for control and pushing for attention. His agitation came through loud and clear as did the fact they were both anxiously awaiting the female to return. Speaking of the devil…

The door to the kitchen pushed open before he could attempt a denial and she carried a tray of drinks. He watched her approach again, opening all of his senses to take everything about her in.

Something about her scent made his world tilt a little off axis and he didn’t know how to describe it. It was like the opposite of a warm hothouse flower. Something cool, but not frigid. More oddly soothing. Like an icy peppermint drop alongside a brisk fall day.

His head dropped to his hands. Jesus. What the hell was happening to him?

His wolf made it clear then, pushing at his skin and urging him to do something about the inexplicable attraction. The stupid inappropriate beast wanted her.

She set the drinks on their table, eyeing them both with a hefty dose of suspicion. Not that he blamed her. Shifters were often an untrusting sort. Came with the territory.

“Are you ready to order?” she asked, her voice noticeably shaky but still with a sweet flow that sang across his skin. She lacked the southern twang he’d expected and he immediately wondered if she wasn’t from these parts. That wasn’t the only thing he wanted to know…

Unfortunately, his partner in this mission interrupted his plans with his incessant need for sweets.

“Can I get a triple order of the banana bread French toast? That sounds amazing.”

She nodded, scribbling on the little notepad she clutched in her hand. “That comes with bacon too. You want triple of that as well?”

For a second he would have sworn that Calder looked sheepish before he nodded and handed her his menu.

“And you?” She turned and faced Greer although her eyes didn’t quite meet his. He still got a glimpse of them under her lashes and caught they were blue. No, not just blue. More like a pale icy color that reminded him of the ocean in the heart of winter.

He paused at that picture. When the hell had he ever seen the ocean in winter? Now, either she had the ability to do something to his mind or he was losing it.

As the silence stretched between them as she waited for his order, it became crystal clear she was growing uncomfortable and possibly hiding something. That only triggered his curiosity and the wolf’s further.

“I’ll take the double cheeseburger with fries. But can I get chili on those fries with extra cheese?”

She nodded and scribbled it down. He wanted to say more, but Calder was already giving him a side eye. A public diner in a shifter town they didn’t belong in probably wasn’t the best place to grill her for more information. Not to mention he’d apparently grown tongue-tied to boot. As if she had no desire to linger, she quickly walked away before he could get his mouth to work again.

“She seems skittish,” Calder said as if reading his mind. “Wonder what that’s about?”

“I’m not sure, but I’d sure like to find out.”

Calder’s gaze narrowed on him at that. He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t have to. Greer was pretty certain the turmoil churning in his gut was written on his face. Time stretched as they waited for their food in silence, both lost in their miscellaneous thoughts. The dull roar of diners eating and chattering with their companions filled the quiet as did the pitter patter of a steady spring rain on the tin roof.

It wasn’t until the waitress came back with their food that either of them paid any attention to the other. The nervous frown on the woman’s face troubled him more than ever. Whatever it was or whoever it was that made her like this, he suddenly wanted to eliminate them. He was on the verge of making the offer to make her smile when he blurted out an entirely different question like an idiot.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

The dishes in her hand faltered for a second, teetering on her palms.

“What?” She looked at him with genuine confusion stamped across her beautiful face. Those cool blue eyes glowed almost translucent and would have been the most gorgeous thing he’d ever seen if they weren’t filled with such obvious fear.

Greer cleared his throat and tried again for a more even keel so as not to spook her. “Your name.”

“What he means is…” Calder turned on that famous bear charm with a Tennessee drawl. Not that he was from Tennessee per se, but the dude had a knack for adopting to his surroundings the likes he’d never seen before. “We’re looking for someone last seen around here and we are hoping you can help. A hopping place like this, you must see everyone in town at one time or another.”

Calder leaned forward and touched her arm. An event that made the wolf inside Greer growl loudly. A sound that made both of them turn to him in a flash. His lips peeled back from his teeth as the growl grew louder. His friend, however, got the message and released his hold on her. She in turn jerked free and the combo of those two actions caused her to lose her balance. Plates flew through the air as she tumbled to the ground. Greer jumped from the booth, catching her arm before her head slammed into the tile floor.

Relief ripped a smile from him a second before the plates rained down on him, chili cheese fries and all. Dishes clattered to the floor and shattered into hundreds of little pieces. Greer slumped against the plastic vinyl of his seat with a hard thump as cheese dripped down his cheek and piping hot chili soaked through his shirt.

The woman whose name he still did not know started thrashing around on the floor and wrenched free from his slippery hold. Black fur sprouted on her arms as she sprang to her feet and ran for the door. By the time she cleared the threshold he heard the distinct sound of her bones popping and a harsh scream filled the air.

Holy jalapeno on a cracker. What had he gotten himself into this time?

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