Coming Back To You Part 1 by Alison Charm

“Rurika!” Jocelyn jogged down the hall towards her, her blonde curls bouncing along with her exuberant movement. Jocelyn was a marvel to behold. She was beautiful and quirky, a complete mystery to the population of Lawndale High.
Coming Back To You Part 1
Coming Back To You Part 1 by Alison Charm
Girls envied her beauty and confidence, while the boys seemed to admire her and steer away. Rurika wished she had half of her best friend’s blessing, but alas, it was not meant to be. She inherited her parents’ historical brain, making social relationships more difficult than chores. “How was your weekend? You should have come shopping with me! There was this huge sale at the mall and I bought like these cute shorts…” Jocelyn gushed out her shopping adventure to her friend. Initially, Rurika would force herself to hang on to her friend’s every word out of politeness but with time it proved to be a little too difficult. After few months of meeting Jocelyn, she knew Jocelyn would not mind anyway as long as she gave the occasionally ‘uh huh’ or ‘oh wow’ as appropriate. “I so wanted to buy this prom dress you know. It was so cute and all but then it’s a little too early in the game right? I don’t want to regret it later, besides the dress is a little too classic for my taste. Makes me look old.” Rurika sent her friend a quizzical look. “I didn’t know we have a prom for year 11?” Jocelyn laughed good – naturedly at her question. “Of course not, silly! But they should have an end of year party for us…that might be a good idea. Anyway, I’m preparing to be asked out by the seniors of course! A couple already approached me but a girl got to wait a bit right?” Ah, of course, Rurika bit her lower lip to stop from smiling. Jocelyn was sometimes like an organizer. She would debate with herself, second guessing and plan out her wardrobe in advance. If only she would apply these skills to studying, she would be on the honour roll. “Oh, how’d we end up in the library?” The librarian shushed them and Jocelyn lowered her voice. “You tricked me again, Ruri! You know me and the library don’t mix! It smells like something is rotting!” Mrs. Hazel’s eyebrow twitched, but otherwise did not look up. “Joyce, that’s rude, Mrs. Hazel was about to send you the evil eye.” She whispered as she let her feet carry her to the all familiar shelf. There was not one book that she did not peruse over the years. Jocelyn scoffed and rolled her pretty brown eyes. “Let her try. How that old bat got married in the first place is a mystery.” Thankfully, the both of them were out of Mrs. Hazel’s earshot. There was something brewing between Mrs. Hazel and Jocelyn since their junior year but Jocelyn was dismissive about it and so Rurika was too polite to pry. “Wolves? Again?” Jocelyn groaned as if she received a twenty page report assignment. “You’re bordering to obsession over them. Seriously, it’s unhealthy!” “They’re cute.” Rurika smiled at the picture of a cute pup on the cover. “Until 500, 000 years ago, Canis Lupus colonized in North America and replaced the dire wolf as the main species, I know that.” “Oh, who doesn’t?” Joyce rolled her eyes accompanying her sarcastic comment, mumbling under her breath. “There are two categories of wolf subspecies, Northern and Southern wolves. DNA evidence dates Southern wolves to be about 800, 000 years old. Hmm…the information is still talking about a gray wolf though. Of course their fur coat changes depending on the latitude they’re living in.” Rurika continued to herself. Based on her memory though, something did not add up. “However, in my mind, Mr. Wolf seemed to be a baby but he’s way bigger than me, almost the average size of an adult wolf. Don’t you think it’s strange?” “I think you’re insane.” Rurika’s eyebrows furrowed at her friend. “That’s rude, Joyce. I did listen to your weekend recount.” “Oh pfft. Alright, tell me why it’s weird.” Smiling at her friend’s defeat, she explained her reflection. “Well, an adult wolf is like 105 to 160 cm in length and 80 to 85 cm in height. However, Mr. Wolf appeared bigger than that and his bone structure –” “Oh heck! What did you eat yesterday?” Jocelyn glared at her, fist on her hips. The abrupt change in topic startled her. “What?” “Just answer me.” Her friend snapped. Rurika gulped hard. It was rare for her friend to get angry with her upbeat personality. Add to that, her eyes were serious and menacing. “The answer is you don’t know, right? And before you ask me what my point is,” Jocelyn held up her hand to stop Rurika from interrupting, “I’m telling you, you were like what 13 years old? How can you be sure you remember those, whatever details are real?” “Well…it has been only four years.” She countered. “You don’t even remember what you ate yesterday.” She replied with triumph. Rurika pouted, knowing that her friend was making a good point. Perhaps she was wrong? “And you always look for such boring information.” Jocelyn flipped the book and smiled gleefully. The look in her eyes glinted with mischievousness, making Rurika’s stomach churn. Nothing good ever came from that glint and smirk. Never. “Here we go! Wolf’s copulation!” Jocelyn ignored her friend’s groan of protest and held the book away from Rurika’s outreaching hands. Jocelyn in defense could only read the book above her head. “It says here that during mating, the pairs can lock in a sexual position for at least 5 minutes and can last till 36 minutes! Oh my goodness, the poor female wolfy! And it says that the male wolf’s penis will swell up inside the female’s vulva? I suppose that means vagina…oh! Before ejaculating multiple times! Oh my! Lucky dogs! And this result in an average litter of 5 to 6 pups – hey! Where are you going?” Rurika walked briskly towards the exit with her head down. Her face was probably as ripe as a tomato about now. She must be crazy imagining Mr. Wolf doing those things. Well, he would have done those by now. Wolves mate as early as two years old! The thought made her blush harder and her heart ache unexpectedly. “Wha –” She bounced back from a hard heated wall. No, the body of Mack Jackson. She gulped as she stared up at Mack’s warm chocolate eyes and handsome profile. No wonder he was the captain of the football team with such a hard solid body. Her head and shoulder were still in pain. Hell, her mind was still on sex. Jocelyn had been obsessed with sex since last year when she lost it to her long time crush, Rex Lawrence, who moved away at the end of the year, thus ended the love affair. Jocelyn was depressed for like a week before she bounced back, proclaiming that there are greener pastures to mow over. The point was, Jocelyn shared everything with Rurika including educating her the size of the opposite sex’s important male anatomy. She shivered and stepped away from Mack. “That’s not the typical reaction I get.” He chuckled with good humour. Mack was out-going and seriously nice. There were not any bad rumours about him and the teachers all sing him praises. He did not deserve her rude gesture. “Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me.” The words blurted out of her mouth before her rationality kicked in. All she could do was wince at the cliché line. Mack grinned, heating up her humiliation. “Oh Mack! Good morning! Fancy seeing you here.” Jocelyn smiled and twirled her curls. Rurika stifled a cough at Jocelyn’s clear body language. She could not imagine pulling off the same ‘swaying of the hips and head tilt’ move. “Yah, you missed Rurika and my collision. It was epic.” His eyes gleamed with amusement at Jocelyn but otherwise returned back to her. Rurika shrugged. “Well, I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t put a dent on you or anything. Anyway, we got to go.” Rurika pulled her friend with her before the girl started salivating at the man’s shoes. Jocelyn did that once in front of J.B. Yes, the singer and wet dream of girls below 15. Mack was more adult looking but he was on Jocelyn’s hot list. “Ow…ow! Hold your horses!” Rurika let go when they reached their first class, Biology. She flumped down on her seat and got her things out. “You know, you should talk with the boy. You have a crush on him anyway.” Rurika opened her mouth in shock. “I do not!” “Then why are you all red then?” “I am blushing because you embarrassed me in the library talking about sex –” She clamped her mouth shut but her little loud declaration was clear as day. A couple of boys from the soccer team chuckled and stared openly at her from the chest down. She grinded her teeth together, it took all her will power to not chuck her 2 kg Biology textbook at them. “Hmm…”Jocelyn tapped her chin with a manicured nail like she was Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery case. Thankfully, the biology teacher, Mr. O’Neil came to save the day. Chapter 2 “Hey, going home?” Rurika turned around at Mack’s question. He leaned like a GQ model by the lockers in his football uniform. Her heart fluttered. Yes, she was attracted, who wouldn’t? She glanced behind him, waiting for the head cheerleader Ivy to pop out with her iron pompoms. Mack cleared his throat, reminding her that he was waiting for her response. “Yes.” She was not really lying here. Technically she was going home but she would stop by the community library along the way. It was not any of Mack’s business where she went. Her schedule was private. “Hmm…” Mack grinned, unnerving her. Rurika decided to take the bait, what harm was there? “What?” Rurika dumped her books in her bag and swung it behind her. His eyes glittered with amusement as he watched. Sometimes, this man, really he was no longer a boy judging from his 6 feet height, was intimidating in a strange way. She felt like a dwarf with her 5 feet 4 inches. “I bet you’re stopping by the library again.” “Why Mack are you stalking me?” She teased uncomfortably. “Nope, just been watching.” She froze in mid act of closing her locker. Mack chuckled. “Sorry, I’m just joking. Don’t panic. I saw you a couple of times on my way home. Do you want a ride? I heard you’re living alone right?” Panic set in immediately but Rurika managed to take in a deep breath to calm her nerves. “No, that’s okay. I’m not staying late. My parents are coming home frequently so you don’t need to worry. Anyway, you have practice right? If you don’t go now, the coach will make you run laps.” “Okay.” Mack smiled and walked away but not before throwing her a promise. “Maybe next time.” Releasing a sigh, she decided to let this incident go before overanalyzing creates insomnia. “Ooo!” Rurika gasped and turned around to find her friend’s head popped out at the side of the locker like she got decapitated. “Jocelyn Street!” Rurika admonished. “You scared me half to death!” “I knew Mack is into you!” Jocelyn bounced up to her with her big handbag. Jocelyn decided that backpacks were too elementary and tried to convince Rurika to convert but she was a stubborn soul as Jocelyn summarized. Rurika sighed in exasperation and made her way out of school grounds. “Why are you here today? I thought you have a date with Joe –” “Steven Lucas.” Jocelyn corrected, not at all offended by Rurika’s frequent inability to name her next date. “The date’s canceled because he didn’t have his car. I am not going to ‘hang out’ at the park so I told him I need to spend time with my best buddy anyway. We rescheduled to Friday night, sorry no movie that day.” Rurika rolled her brown eyes heavenward. “Oh lord, please save this soul –” “You know I love you!” Joyce hugged her friend tightly. “Ruri! You’re my soul! The prettiest, smartest girl with the purest heart.” Rurika snorted and patted her friend’s arm. “Alright, alright. No need to lay it on so thick. I don’t swing that way.” “Well, same here. Unless you decided to drop your weird wolf obsession, I know we can make it happen.” “OMG you did not just say that!” Rurika laughed and Jocelyn joined in. ~~~ The town of Lawndale was a tight – knit community with a population of 6,570. Why Rurika’s parents decided to settle their only child here was a mystery to her. She would much rather live near the mountainous regions of Cape Loan with her grandmother than staying here. However, she finally had the freedom of not being dragged around by her parents so it was a small price to pay. Her elderly neighbour, a Mrs. Chow, would often invite her over for dinner. A retired citizen of Lawndale was convinced by her parents to look after their child. Not that she minded but she did not really approve her parents’ method of raising their child. It was like they suddenly decided to have a child one day but did not sign up for the ‘raising her properly part’ afterwards. Her grandmother had remarked more than once how her grandchild was more grounded then her elders. Jocelyn dropped her off in her red Kia after they had grocery shopped. It was not Jocelyn’s idea of fun but she found consolation in telling her how to flirt and dress to impress, including short skirts and skin tight tank tops. An elder couple blushed when Jocelyn palmed her breasts as they were getting cereal. This earned Jocelyn a couple of slap on her arms. Rurika was worried the old couple was going to have a heart attack or something. After placing her purchases in its respective places in the kitchen she finished her homework. As a girl not into the typical teenage pop culture, she had more than enough time to think, well, more like fantasizing. Perhaps she should get a dog? A wolf was definitely out of the question for obvious reasons but a Sheppard would be nice, especially one that resembled a wolf. A long bubble bath later, she was leaning out the balcony from her parent’s bedroom overlooking the woods. She loved the solitude and woodsy smell from the trees and wildlife. Perhaps she should take up Evolutionary biology? Zoology used to be her top choice but then seeing wolves in a closed confine would soon turn her criminal. She would release them for sure and end up in prison. Chuckling to herself, she was about to turn in when she heard a howl breaking the dead silent night. Her heart beat with trepidation and excitement. Without a second thought, she was running in her no–sleeve white gown into the woods. Dusk was approaching but there was still enough light to see. She ran in a linear fashion so she could make her way back later. Leaves rustled softly as she passed by. She had explored these woods before so she was not particularly afraid. After fifteen minutes or so of turning around in the dark, her rationality kicked in. “What in the world am I thinking?” Entering the woods alone to pursue a ‘wolf’ was nothing but suicidal. There might not even be one. Reality washed over her and she retraced her steps. Fireflies glowed by the time she reached the edge of the woods. Mrs. Chow must be sleeping by now. The only lights on were her living room’s. When she opened her backyard door, she heard it again, a howl. This proved it was definitely not her imagination. Chapter 3 Beep! Beep! Beep! Rurika yawned and automatically pressed her alarm to snooze. She blinked away from the blinding morning light escaping through the sheer curtains. For the first time in four years, she saw Mr. Wolf again. It was only a dream though. She sighed, the memories floating back. He was slightly bigger than before but the way he nuzzled her neck and behind her ears, was all him. It made her blush and sent her lower parts pulsing. What was the matter with her? “Oh my goodness, I’m crushing on a wolf!” She groaned and made her way to the bathroom. She ran her fingers along the side of her neck, like the warm touch still lingered there. “Am I getting paranoid? Why else would I feel like it actually happened?” Twenty minutes later she was out the door and in Jocelyn’s Kia. “Whoa girl, what’s with the dark clouds over your head?” Her friend was right of course. She looked like she pulled an all nighter. That would be a first for her if that were actually true. A person with abundant time tended to sleep at ten. To say the least, the dream troubled her not in an uncomfortable way. Instead, it left her wanting – her heart aching for him. “I’m starting to feel like you’re right, my wolf obsession has reached its peak.” “Hang on, can you hold the wheel while I set my phone’s recording on? Ow!” Rurika flicked her friend’s arm. “Just joking! I never thought there’d be a day you’ll agree with me. It’s like a miracle! What happened?” “Nothing really, just this dream I have of him and hearing howls yesterday night.” She kept the part about venturing the woods to herself. Jocelyn would have a fit besides calling her stupid among other things. Running in the woods at the dead of night? Talk about a serial killer’s dream. “So you’re giving up on wolves for the time being?” Her friend deduced. After three years together, their friendship was really strong. Rurika nodded. “For now. I can’t imagine giving up forever but it’s time.” Her friend smiled. “Yes! Finally we can shop and scope out guys!” “I was thinking about getting a job.” Rurika smiled at her friend, who scowled. “Your mom owns a little boutique at the mall right? Is she hiring?” “Hmmmmmm…..alright, I’ll ask. As long as you’re working in the mall, it’s progress.” “How optimistic of you.” Rurika grinned. “Oh my little puppy, you have no idea.” Jocelyn turned the car towards the parking lot and squeaked with excitement. “Oh look! Mack!” Before Rurika could protest, Jocelyn parked the car beside Mack Jackson’s and hopped out hugging him. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” Mack teased making Jocelyn giggle. “Oh you tease. I’m just happy my best friend is finally freeing up her schedule for me instead of –” “Joyce.” Rurika finally rounded the car and reached them. “Good morning.” She smiled at Mack, who returned it in full blast. “Anyway, looks like you two are busy, I’m heading in first.” She turned and walked away with them somehow falling in line on either side of her. “Ruri, we still have time to chat.” “That’s right. And what’s the happy occasion this morning?” Mack smiled at her. “Oh, she’s looking for a job.” Joyce supplied, earning a glare from Rurika. She and Jocelyn were complete opposites in terms of personality. Her friend was outgoing and energetic while she was more of a private person. “Oh, anything in particular? My family owns a law office and they’re always looking for personal assistants.” Rurika could only interpret Mack’s look as hopeful. “Um…thank you but I think I’m more suited for sales clerk roles. Not a lot of skill involved.” She muttered. Jocelyn nudged her ribs a little too hard and she gasped. “Are you alright?” “Yah, Jocelyn seemed to have trouble walking.” Mack smiled as Jocelyn snorted. “Hey Mack!” They turned to see Ivy waltzing down in an extremely short skirt. If she bent twenty degrees, everyone would be privy to her latest underwear. Unless she wore a thong, there would be nothing and everything to be seen. Jocelyn and Rurika muttered a “laters” and left. Even Jocelyn could not stand Ivy’s presence without threatening to scratch the pretty red head. Ivies are poisonous. ~~~ Jocelyn’s mother, Kelyn, hired her on the spot. Rurika knew she should have bailed when her friend’s mother gave her a once over. Her friend and Kelyn decided on everything. She would have the whole weekend shift and night shifts on Monday and Thursday. Jocelyn argued Friday off the list claiming that it was date night. Not that Rurika had ever been on a date or had a boyfriend to go on a date with. Her friend had confidence like always that she would have one very soon. The little spark in her eyes made Rurika squirm. “You have to wear our products dear, just take the tag off. You have a great body to showcase my newest lingerie. Come.” Kelyn grabbed her wrists in a surprisingly tight grip and pulled her to the change room where she was shoved in along with various shades of bras. How the woman could tell her size from her roomy sweatshirt was a mystery. “Oh how I envy you!” “Gahh! Joyce! I’m still changing!” Rurika pulled at the curtains and never felt more relieved for the darkness. Jocelyn rolled her eyes. “That’s kind of obvious. Anyway, what do you eat to get so big? B36. That’s almost like a C and you’re what, grade 11?” “Oh shush.” She fanned herself with her hand. No way was she going to tell her friend that the bra was a little tight. The curtain was pushed back so suddenly that caused both of them to squeal. Kelyn assessed her from top to bottom like an art critic and announced. “You need a size bigger I see, and lace looks good on you. Let me get you another set.” Again, before she could utter a single word, the curtain was closed. Jocelyn pushed up her small B cup breasts. “Guys all go for the breasts, mind you. She slid an envied glance at Rurika’s and she could feel her face heat up. “From now on, I’m eating what you’re eating.” She nodded to herself. “I want Myles Connor to ask me out before December.” “Myles Connor?” Rurika stuttered. “What about Steven?” “He’s a date, not boyfriend material.” She clapped her hands on Rurika’s shoulder and sighed. “I have so much to teach you my little pup.” “Oh please.” “Here you go!” Kelyn flung the curtains open again, this time there were female customers staring. Chapter 4 Jocelyn and Rurika went to Catnips, the restaurant down the road for dinner. Catnips had been here for years and recently remodeled to appeal to the younger generation. With large windows and roomy booths, it was the ideal place to be seen making out, providing fodder materials for the rumour mill. Even though Rurika was never one to enjoy voyeurism, she came to appreciate the beautiful wood surfaces and plants used to separate the booths. It gave an appearance of the wilderness. The ceiling was definitely something to adore. It was painted to represent the clear blue sky and it spanned the whole restaurant. On Christmas Eve, she was surprised that the ceiling turned to night time. The lights appeared like twinkling stars. It was absolutely romantic. However, she loved the blue sky more, reminding her of the days she spent with Mr. Wolf staring up from the forest floor. Another reason for its popularity among the American population was their classical menu which consisted of the special lasagna and homemade pies. Perhaps she should consider waitressing instead? The waitress uniform would take some getting used to but selling underwear was definitely much more discomfiting. She had forgotten Jocelyn’s mother changed her shop to include underwear. “I’ll have the lasagna with pomegranate juice.” Rurika closed her menu. “Same.” Jocelyn replied. Rurika spoke after their waitress was gone. “Are you seriously going through with this? I think it has more to do with genes than food. You know your mom is quite…endowed so you’ll be alright.” “No, I can’t take any risks if I want to nail a successful hunk. That’s how my mom nailed my father you know. It made their sex enjoyable. You know how they –” “Too much information, thank you very much.” There was many things wrong with that sentence alone but for the life of her she would leave that topic territory unexplored. She grabbed the glass the waitress deposited and took a long furious sip. “But seriously. You know my perspective on appearances. You don’t need it to be popular. You have a lot going for you already.” “I can say the same right back at you.” Her eyebrows rose, slumping back in the booth with a sly grin. “I can’t wait to see you in those tight fitting clothes that show off your curves.” “You sound like a pervert.” Rurika chewed her lips. “And you, are asking for a kiss by doing that.” Shaking her head, Rurika laughed. “What am I ever going to do with you?” “Oh I can think of –” “Will your mind ever be out of the gutter? I swear you’re like those pubescent boys.” “Oh? Whatever are you talking about?” She fluttered her eyelashes at Rurika, acting all cute and innocent. Jocelyn was never that. “I was only going to suggest a daily walk.” They giggled and ate their food. The evening was ending up to be relatively relaxing. “Hubba Hubba.” Jocelyn whispered in awe. “What?” Rurika stopped in mid – chew. “Hunky men. Door.” Rurika stared curiously at her friend before turning. Whoever this newcomer was must be absolutely gorgeous to render her friend uttering words instead of sentences. And the men definitely did not disappoint. Three giants at least over 6 feet three blocked the doorway. The man in the middle with jet black hair and green eyes was the tallest. The other two were slightly shorter with dark chestnut hair and blue eyes. Twins. The left one was softer looking whereas the other was harder with a devil–may–care attitude going. He winked at every woman as he walked past the booths. Irrespective of age and appearance, they all swooned. It was utterly ridiculous but her eyes were trained on the man with black hair. He glanced at her for a moment but otherwise sat down in another booth diagonally from theirs. She turned her head back and swallowed. The men must work out seeing how their shirts strained against their chest. Dark jeans hung low and tight to their thick thighs. Her body was lighting on fire at her attraction to him. “The bill, please.” Rurika pulled a fifty from her wallet and gave it to the waiter. Their waitress was apparently busy servicing the hunky men. There were giggles and laughter behind her but she willed herself not to look. “Aw, so soon?” Jocelyn gave her a pouty look and whispered. “Just let me memorize their physique for my wet dream tonight.” “I can’t believe you just said that.” Rurika murmured in shock. She stuffed her change away and grabbed her bags. Jocelyn refused to cooperate so she had to push her from behind. “Oh!” She bent down to pick up her bag of lingerie spilling on the floor. Of all the times to drop something it has to be this and in front of someone so hot. A bra floated beside her and she turned. Her cheeks heated as her eyes ran from the bra in his thick fingers all the way up the arm to Mr. Green eyes. His smouldering gaze made her chest heave and nipples harden. She snatched the bra quickly and stuffed it in her bag, stood and pushed Jocelyn out. She was squirming while looking at one of the twins in navy blue, the hard twin. Somehow things never change. ~~~ “I see you’re keeping that as a souvenir?” Wilson grinned, eyes darting from the purple panty in his hand. Austin ignored them, eyes scanning the menu with a look of determination. Once his little brother set a goal, he was on it. And right now, the topic was food. Austin was definitely the calmer twin and much more serious than his brother. It seemed that all the wild genes went to Wilson where the logical side went to Austin. Roman fingered the panty before stuffing it in his pocket despite his body’s protests. “Can we order, please?” Austin rolled his eyes. Wilson grinned at his brother. “Whatever you’re ordering, make it double. I’m famished.” He winked at the brunette across from their table and she purred. “Man, there’re a lot of pretty young things in this godforsaken town.” Roman shook his head. Why did father order these two to come along with him? “Behave Wild-son.” The nickname brought a smile to Wilson’s lips. “Aw, is my elder brother jealous?” Roman snorted, fingering the panty in his pocket. The lacy fabric was silky to his touch. Imagination was beginning to run amuck in his mind. “Whoa, don’t go into heat here.” Wilson licked his lips. Austin ordered for them all, a meal that could feed six humans. The female did not mind though and Roman seriously doubted whether she wrote down their order correctly with all that panting. She even seemed hesitant to leave. “Don’t think you can just leave us again.” Austin turned his gaze and stared hard at his brother. Although he was younger by a decade, Austin had the aptitude of strategic planning for beta. Wilson inherited the power side of a beta and trained younger wolves on various martial arts he gleamed over at dojos. “Heck, I’m all fired up. Be right back.” Wilson left the table, immediately followed by a blonde. Roman shook his head at his brother’s dirty antics. A restroom inside a family restaurant was definitely not the place for this. Austin also grimaced but did not criticize his twin’s behaviour. They tended to keep their arguments telepathic for privacy sakes. “Judging how we’re here, you’re positive that she’s the one?” Austin spoke calmly. Roman kept his conversational part. “Yah, I was with her yesterday. Her smell and response was…” Euphoric, mind – boggling, ecstasy…it was hell for him to touch and not have a taste. She was definitely destined to be his mate. “What did I miss?” Wilson slumped down on the seat, making Austin scowl and cough. He sniffed and focussed on his food instead. Wilson smirked. “No need to be jealous, there are definitely a lot of pastures here.” The blonde wobbled out with a face that said she was well – fucked. “I blame father for this.” Roman sighed. “Relax, Rome.” Wilson smirked and dug in his meal with gusto. “Just get this mission over with and you’ll be rid of me.” Roman chuckled, he could not wait. Chapter 5 Rurika took out her laundry and placed it on the hamper to dry. One piece was missing from her bag. Her cheeks could melt a marshmallow with all the heat they were giving off. The only possible place would be at the diner. Heck, would Mr. Green Eyes think she was coming on to him? She groaned. This was absolutely the worst. She chewed her lips. What was wrong with her? First she was obsessed with wolves, now she was thinking of some random stranger. It must be because he was the dangerous type. Jocelyn mentioned how the tall, dark and handsome ones were the heartbreakers and that all women tended to flock to them. “Well, it’s not like I’ll ever meet him again.” She sighed and flumped down on the couch. Her pale yellow gown rode up her thighs but since long ago, she ignored it. Her parents were not here to censor her behaviour and tonight she was too tired to do it herself so she let sleep claim her. “Hey! Wake up, Rurika Hart! Are you in there? Don’t scare me!” Rurika sat up and rubbed her eyes. “Crap!” Judging by the clock on the mantel, she slept all the way to next day. She flew across the room to the door and opened it to let Jocelyn in before she called the police. “I’m sorry, Joyce! I fell asleep –” She gasped and practically slammed the door. Jocelyn’s laughter sounded behind the closed door. “Alright, we’ll wait in the car. Lucky you, lover boy. I usually got the sweater and jeans welcome.” Rurika groaned in embarrassment. What was Mack Jackson doing here? Rurika was coerced to sit shot gun in Mack’s car. ‘My car went to the shop until the afternoon and Mack offered to drive me when he saw me walking.’ Jocelyn had said. Rurika’s insides were boiling with humiliation and anger, anticipating giving her best friend a noggin when they arrived at school. “Umm...” Mack coughed trying to make conversation. “So, are you working tonight?” “Oh…tonight is Thursday, so yes.” “Oh! Oh! Make sure you take a picture when you wear the uniform.” Jocelyn popped her head up between them. Rurika pushed her friend’s forehead back before her boobs spilled out of her tight tank top. “Why?” Mack laughed, anticipating a good joke. “You wouldn’t laugh when you see the uniform. It’s one of those tight blouses, short skirt and leggings with garter belts. Lacy ones.” Jocelyn lowered her voice an octave. Rurika muttered an “Oh God” and turned her attention to the passing scenery instead. Mack cleared his throat many times but did not say anything more. Rurika was too mortified to contemplate what Mack must be feeling or worst, imagining. It might be a godsend humans was not equipped with telepathy. She opened the door in relief and hopped down. Jocelyn stretched and smiled at hoots from the boys. How her friend could subject herself to the guys’ lecherous gaze was beyond her comprehension. Correction, she would not even contemplate the reason. “So, um…maybe you want to get something to eat after work? My parents’ office is near the mall and today I was asked to help out so –” “Mack!” Ivy launched herself behind Mack, running her hands on his wide chest. Rurika felt her eyes widen, as did Mack, who firmly detached himself from the poisonous plant. “Um, later.” Rurika turned and walked away with Jocelyn. “Did you see that poison Ivy? It’s like she’s claiming the man hers with such blatant display. When will she get a clue?” “Quit looking back.” Rurika murmured to her friend whose neck was about to be permanently stationed sideways. “Anyway, I forgot I have work today. Can you drive me back tonight?” Rurika hated driving at night and the car must be all dried up with the lack of disuse. “Why not let –” “Are you leaving me with some guy I don’t know?” She interrupted her friend. “You know him! He’s Mack! We go to school together and –” “And that’s all. I don’t understand why he’s suddenly talking to me and all. I mean, we never talked more than five minutes for the past two years.” “That’s true. Not that I’m saying you’re not attractive because you are but…why aren’t boys flocking to you. Beyond the obvious lack of fashion sense, you have a pretty face.” “Thanks.” Rurika retorted sarcastically. “Now I realized my academic achievements meant so little.” “Oh, stop being so overdramatic.” Jocelyn rewarded her with an eye roll. “I’m intrigued. Let me do a little research.” Rurika sighed and let the topic drop. Experience told her it was too late to talk some sense into her friend’s pretty little head. ~~~ Rurika donned her own clothes and returned her work ‘uniform’ to the drawer. The clothes hugged all her insecure places like the chest and hip area. She felt eyes leering at her butt today and it utterly scared her. How would an employee subtlety tell her boss that she hated the uniform without getting fired? Kelyn would be happy to know that she sold almost all the bra she was wearing. No wonder Kelyn wanted her to wear them. Customers were more inclined to buy something when there was a live model walking around. She drew the line when customers asked her to show them the lingerie. “Did I miss the uniform?” Rurika stifled down a groan and turned to face Mack. “Hi.” She smiled stiffly then remembering her manners, quickly added. “Finished work?” “Yah, and I got a call from Joyce saying her car has to go back to the shop.” Mack grinned shyly. He was adorable, all insecure like this. If only her heart would beat faster in his presence instead of the initial shock over his beauty. Girls at school flocked to him for obvious reasons but that did not compel her to do the same. Instead, she had a feeling that she should keep her distance. A feeling she could never explain. “So, would you like to go eat?” “Um…if you don’t mind, I want to call it a day.” She hurriedly added, seeing his smile disappear. “Maybe next time.” He recovered nicely, gracing her with a smile. Mack was very solicitous all the way, opening the doors for her and chatting about safe topics. She held onto her bag and had her hand on the armrest. A little overkill but it was her first time alone with a guy at night. A guy who knew her parents were out of town. Chastising herself for her paranoid behaviour, she promised herself to be nicer to him tomorrow. She sighed and opened her door when Mack parked on her driveway. “Thank you.” She waved goodbye and made her way to the porch. Mack followed and gripped her arm, keeping her immobile. The touch made her gasp and heart to beat rapidly. Clearing her throat she braced herself to what Mack wanted to say. His eyes seemed to be glowing under the pale porch lights but that was all she saw because the next second his lips were on hers. Chapter 6 After a few seconds of initial shock, she dug her palm to his chest and pushed. She might as well have kissed sand for there was none of this sweet sensations books ever written about in this kiss. Despite how hard she tried, the distance between her and Mack remained the same. Mack certainly lived up to being the football leader. He was like a sturdy statue, crushing her in his arms. She gasped in protest and was thankfully relieved as she collapsed on the porch. Growling noises made her turn her head. In the dark, she could make out Mack and someone bigger. Her saviour was definitely a man with his towering height and broad back. Rurika ignored the tug in her heart and shivered involuntarily. What should she do? There was a strange man fighting someone she knew from school. Even if he did suddenly kiss her, she could not just leave things were. “What in the name is going on? Dogs fighting? Yesh!” “Mrs. Chow!” Rurika got up and ran to the old lady. Mrs. Chow had a scarf wrapped around her bony shoulders but even so, Rurika was thankful to find company. She turned around to tell Mrs. Chow about the strange fighting scene but it was gone, making her question whether she imagined the whole thing? “See you at school, Rurika!” Mack called before driving away. “A couple’s fight?” Mrs. Chow asked giving Rurika a smirk. “Oh, my little Ruri is all grown up! Make sure you practise safe sex, alright? Back in my day there was no such thing, my Howard would always hound –” Rurika’s mind phased out. She resigned herself to listening politely to old Mrs. Chow’s soliloquy – obvious the woman had forgotten about her. Why were those around her always so embarrassing? ~~~ Roman Haines slammed the motel door so loud that there were series of bangs and curses erupting from neighbours. Austin and Wilson flew out of their room at the sound of their brother’s entrance. Austin slipped past and went to do damage control while Wilson got Roman a beer. Judging by his brother’s solemn face and stiff posture, he seriously needed it. Roman chucked his shirt off. The garment was suddenly restrictive, suffocating him. Austin returned and stared at his brother with concern. The twins watched as Roman paced and chugged the beer in two seconds, then opened another one. “Rome.” Austin began, Wilson hissed in warning but he continued on. “There’s another wolf’s smell on you.” Roman sat down heavily on the couch and rubbed his brows. “He was kissing her.” Wilson strung a series of curses together. “I thought she was innocent.” Roman shot him a glare. His younger brother wisely shut up and looked contrite. “She is. It’s not consensual. She was pushing him away but the mutt was too strong for her, naturally.” He scoffed and cracked his knuckles. If only he could get another shot at him. “Why is she with a wolf?” Austin sat down and spoke calmly. Roman reigned in his anger. “He’s pursuing her. He’s in heat. I can sense his blood changing. He must be turning eighteen soon.” “His first transformation, is it? So he already found his mate?” Roman growled low in his throat. “Whoa! Hold on, bro. We’re in another pack’s territory here.” Wilson soothed. “Three against a pack is suicidal, not brave.” “Wild is right.” Austin continued, using his brother’s nickname. “Judging by her smell, she’s still young and not yet eighteen. There’s still another year until anyone can claim her. A bite this early would drive her psyche to insanity. So we have time until then.” “For how long?” “At least eight months.” Roman and Wilson stared at Austin who raised a brow and answered his brothers’ unspoken question. “Father may have just told us to chaperone but I like to do my own research. We can’t just enter another pack’s territory and do nothing.” “So you already know the area?” Wilson smirked and high – fived his brother. “I knew you’re my other half.” Roman blew a raspberry while Austin scoffed before continuing, “Anyway, we’re at the Red Moon’s territory. There are about 25 members. 15 fit males at the moment, excluding the children.” Wilson whistled. “That’s quite a lot, but not as much as ours.” Silver Pines has at least double that. “Should I remind you where we are at the moment?” Austin arched his brow. Wilson returned one just like it. It was like watching a mirror act or something, comical but not at the moment. “So what’s the plan?” They both turned to their brother. “I have to make contact with her before it’s too late.” ~~~ Rurika finally returned to the privacy of her own home. Mrs. Chow’s conversation was a little too graphic in her opinion. She would never walk in Mrs. Chow’s home the same again. Their conversation unsettled her and fascinated her at the same time. It was animalistic and well, free. The old couple loved each other to distraction, valuing and respecting their other partner’s opinion. Just like her parents. Her parents loved each other and archeology to the point that they nearly forgot about her existence. In truth, that was often the feeling she got. Tonight made her realize how much she longed for love and company. Someone to cuddle, kiss, or talk with. For the past two years, she lived alone. No one to share her day with or ask ‘did you do anything fun today?’ or ‘how was your day?’ There was no one to share her feelings with even though she did not generally talk a lot. But the reason for that was obvious; she never received the opportunity to talk with other people. She found contentment researching about wolves in libraries or reading nothing in particular. Scratching noises interrupted her pitiful musings. The sound came from the backyard door. A whine made her heart race and she opened it, once again ignoring the wisdom behind her action. She looked down at a very large wolf. Black as night except for his yellowish eyes that glittered because of the kitchen’s lights, he barked and wagged his tail. He padded in and sat down nicely. Her body was like on automatic mode, shutting down the door and slumping down on the floor staring at him. Mr. Wolf. Chapter 7 Roman had doubted whether he should present himself at her place. His brothers accompanied him and were still waiting a few houses down. It would be bad if the other wolves caught the scent of them at her place. Austin told them that the wolves lived further uptown where the woods were much denser. He was glad that his mate lived away from other weres. Werewolves were aggressive by nature and if one ever go rogue, many would die. The first casualties would always be humans. Judging by her reaction, she remembered him. He used all his willpower to wait for her to make the first move. Rurika only sat on the cold tiles and stared at him in shock, her heart pumping frantically. His ears listened while he took in her whole person. She wore a tee this time but that only made her even more adorable. Her long thin legs showing and the v – neck displayed a healthy amount of her cleavage. He felt himself hardening. Rurika’s eyes widened when he licked his mouth. “Mr. Wolf?” She stammered. Unable to wait any longer, Roman allowed his wolf to move forward to their trembling mate. She squeaked and closed her eyes as he sniffed her. His wet nose moved from between her breasts, up her neck and to her sensitive spot behind the ears. She sighed, finally relaxing and wrapped her arms around his neck. His growl startled her and she let go. “Oh my god! What am I doing?” She hugged herself and hid her head. Since he was a wolf at the moment, he could either wait or lick her. He chose the latter, licking any skin he could reach. She smelled delicious and tasted divine. When he reached her inner thighs, she squealed and tucked her legs under her. “You always do embarrassing things to me.” She giggled kissing his nose. His wolf yipped happily, knowing that she did not change. Four years ago, she saved them from near death. He was young then, thinking he could survive a trap. His dad was furious that he would jeopardize his own life, causing their family immense worry. If the thirteen year old girl did not save him, he would not be alive and well. It was love at first sight for his wolf but it took a lot in convincing his mind. The girl was just thirteen. A young girl while he was a decade older. She could not possibly be his mate. However, as years passed, she was getting older and he became wiser. When his father wanted to retire and for him to succeed but the rule was that if the alpha did not take a wife, the rest of the pack would not be able to mate. After many marriage introductions failed, his mother and father cornered him, forcing him to admit the truth. Convincing his father that the love of his life was a seventeen year old human girl took many days. “Oh Mr. Wolf, did you follow me here?” She hugged him tightly, running her hands along his back. He nodded in response. Rurika did not seem surprised at all. “I was so worried about you. And I’m sorry for leaving so abruptly. My parents came and dragged me to the opposite side of the world, again.” She added ruefully. “But that’s no excuse. Are you hungry?” She scratched the spot behind his ears, the spot that made him weak in the knees. She chuckled as he deposited his head on her shoulder and whined. “If you’re not hungry, let’s go give you a bath.” His ears perked up. He must have died and gone to heaven or was it hell tempting him? ~~~ Rurika laughed as Mr. Wolf shook himself again, sending water spraying at her. It was the fifth time and Mr. Wolf was doing this for her. She would like to think so. It has been a while since she had so much fun. Her body was all for it, her nipples tightening under the now wet shirt. She had shampooed and washed him down, all the while ignoring his growing appendage. There was no denying she was attracted to him. A little troubled by her new found revelation but she would not push these feelings away. These feelings were a part of her and no way would she reject them. “Sit down, so I can blow dry you.” She nudged him. He complied and sat while she combed and dried him. So human. Wolves were said to be intelligent and capable of living with humans. Books indicated that after a pup was 10 months old it would be difficult for it to live with humans so Mr. Wolf must have had an owner early on. “There! Done!” After completing her task, she felt conscious of the wet attire plastered on her body. It felt silly to be overly self – conscious in front of a wolf but she could not help it. “Don’t look, I need to change.” She turned to make sure he complied but Mr. Wolf chose this moment to not understand. “Oh you, out!” When he did not move, she pushed him. His whine made her giggle. “Even if you roll over I wouldn’t change in front of – ” She laughed when he did roll over. “Mr. Wolf!” She shook her head and grabbed her clothes. “I’m changing inside the bathroom.” By the time she came out of the bathroom, Mr. Wolf was gone. She searched the house for her four legged friend but he was nowhere to be found. How’d he get out? The door was slightly ajar but it had a lock at least five feet tall. How? ~~~ “You smell disgustingly clean.” Wilson smirked, throwing Roman some clothes. Austin stood a few feet from them, his eyes scoping out the area. He was extremely tense. “What’s up?” Roman smacked his brother as thanks. “We met some of them.” Wilson answered. “Told us to get out by morning or else.” “Not friendly are they.” Roman cracked his muscles. The change was getting better year after year but you would never get rid of the stiff shoulders. “Wolves are territorial. They probably sense that you’re alpha material, fearing you might take over them.” “You think they’ll allow me to stay for nine months if I talked with them?” “Talk? Let’s just –” “Wild. Those words will get us killed.” Austin murmured. They began to walk down the road, back to the motel. “So you’ve established contact and judging by your happy stance, she’s happy to see you. Think you can convince her to leave with us?” “She doesn’t know what I am.” Roman sighed, there never seemed to be an easy solution to his problems. “We’ll negotiate with the Red Moon pack but I’d rather we hold off this meeting as long as possible. They’d definitely not allow me to take her when someone in their pack is trying to claim her.” Austin and Wilson nodded, it was Austin who replied. “I’m going to report to father for backup.” Chapter 8 “Do you feel the hostility in the air?” Jocelyn murmured in Rurika’s ear. Rurika shook her head and watched in amusement as her friend’s jaw dropped in surprise. The reason why she did not notice anything was because she was thinking of Mr. Wolf. His showing up totally erased Mack taking liberties yesterday and the reason she was still floating on cloud nine. Jocelyn continued. “How can you not be when at least a dozen of people glared at you for the whole morning? Usually they don’t look at you but today, they couldn’t stop looking!” Her friend gave her a once over and shook her head. “It must be true, what I’ve heard.” “What do you mean?” Jocelyn had never sounded so serious in her life. “I heard that ever since grade 9, he had his eyes on you.” “Who?” Jocelyn gave her an exasperated look edging between astonishment and annoyance. “Mack!” She hissed quietly. Being discreet was a little over the top seeing that they were eating far away from the building on the field. Their position was not even close enough to see the faces of the people in front of them. “Are you sure?” “Yah! He said something like you’re not to be touched and that you’re special. It sounded romantic initially but right now, it sounds major creep–o. Everybody followed along but suddenly it changed. Did something happen yesterday?” Jocelyn tugged at her tank top in anxiety. “I don’t know.” Rurika shook her head just as confused. “Well, it’s kind of good that he’s losing interest in me.” “No it’s not! I’m afraid you’ll get killed or something! The looks they give you are murderous.” “How do you know about murder glares?” Rurika smiled at her friend. “Television, but that’s not the point! TGIF. I can’t stand another day like this.” Jocelyn sighed. “Anyway, remember I have a date today. I’ll drop you off before going.” “Oh no, no, you don’t have –” “I insist. I’m serious, things have been weird since morning.” Rurika felt warm hearing her friend’s concern. “You’re the best, Joyce.” “Of course, and don’t you forget it!” ~~~ Rurika made her way out to Joyce’s Kia as agreed. There was already a person waiting there, Mack. She braced herself and stopped a few feet. “Hi.” “Hello.” Mack replied, his voice sounded deadpanned and raspy. Rurika looked at him closely to see that he had a few bruises on his cheek. So the fight was not her imagination after all. An uncomfortable silence passed by. Rurika sensed that beside his assault, there was something else troubling him. She felt several curious glances shoot their way as well as those that actually stood, blatantly staring at them. As if they were afraid she was going to attack their lead quarterback. The absurdity would have made her laugh out loud if not for the tension in the air. As she returned her gaze back at Mack, what she saw next drew her back a step. He sniffed the air, nostrils flared and almost sneered. The image of disgust shut down her heart for a second before it rebooted at hyper speed. If she did not know better, his face contorted a little. His eyes glowed and the edge pulled back as were the rest of his face. Was her mind playing tricks on her? “Ruri?” Never was she more thankful for an interruption. Jocelyn’s eyes darted between them, anxiety obvious in her appearance. “Joyce.” Rurika gave a small smile. “Ready to go?” “Yup!” Jocelyn returned a little too exuberantly. She grimaced noting that she sounded too happy. They made their way towards the car but Mack made no movement away from the passenger side, the side Rurika was obviously heading for. Her friend glanced at her nervously, opening her car door, with a ‘what are we going to do’ look. “Rurika, can I speak with you for a second?” Mack did not wait for her to answer and just grabbed her wrist. He would have had continued walking if Rurika did not dig her heels. She was not going to get dragged away by a madman. Mack turned with a pained expression on his face. “Did something happen yesterday after I was gone?” Rurika searched his eyes, for hidden meaning to such a question. It was not any of his business but as if by instinct, the truth seemed suicidal at the moment. “Nothing in particular, I talked with my neighbour for a bit, showered and slept. It was quite…a day.” She spoke clearly and calmly. Mack nodded but she sensed she was not in the clear yet. He reached out and ran the back of his hand down from her temple to her cheek. She blinked up at him, her lips pursed. In slow motion, she saw him dip his head and she backed away. He froze and so did she. It was like she could take in every little thing he did at once, his jaw tightened, hands fisted and opened, and eyes narrowed slightly. “I should go, bye.” She muttered and ran for Joyce’s Kia, feeling many eyes drilling holes in her back. “That was the weirdest experience in my life.” Joyce muttered and drove her car out like a madwoman. I know how you feel, Rurika thought as she glanced at the reflection of Mack and his friends staring after them. ~~~ Since yesterday, Rurika could not help but feel being observed, not by Mr. Wolf because there were not any electric current in the air, more like she was under house arrest. A couple of times she would peek through the curtains only to find the same trees and bushes there. Since there was no backyard fence, she would usually just walk to Mrs. Chow’s place, though she had not been for a while. “Excuse me miss, do you have a size smaller?” Snapping out of her reverie, Rurika assisted the customer. Weekends were really different with many people coming and going. Before long, she was less self – conscious about her work outfit. Then it was time to go home. As she walked to the parking lot, footsteps echoed behind her. When she walked faster, the footsteps behind her accelerated. Breathing deeply, she ran for it and hopped on the bus. ### Thank you for reading this eBook. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as how I enjoyed writing it. Please let me read your feedback on Smashwords. Also, check out some of my other books! XOXO Alison Charm Connect with Alison Charm: Smashwords Interview: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/alisoncharm Smashwords profile page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/alisoncharm *** Overwhelming Eyes (Excerpt) In the Overwhelming Series (Previously titled: Staring At You) Description: Eleanor Seto harboured an important secret. A secret so ludicrous, it would be laughable to all Marvel’s superheroes. While the rest of her other species would celebrate this power, Ella wanted nothing of this curse. However, a run in with playboy cousin, Zylen, her life turned upside down. Throw in Zylen's hot best friend and its nothing but catastrophe. *** I think I had always loved him. Him as a person. The kind and sweet soul who carried me a few blocks down to the doctor’s when I fell off a tree. Even with his reputation as the virgin eater, I still do. It may be strange though because nobody would be able to tell from my attitude. Indifference. Relaxed. ‘Cool’ if people were trying to be nice. The adjective was a contradiction to the reality. There was nothing remotely ‘cool’ about me. I dressed like a tomboy as my friend Sherry Hopkins frequently remarks. No matter what she did, she could not ‘transform’ me into a goddess, a scenario found only in dramas. As an aspiring fashion designer, she took my reluctance personally hard. It was now on her list of goals in life. Hopefully she would create another list soon. Until then, I would need to bear with her criticisms. Compared to her clad in slim clothing molded to her perfect figure, I had sweaters covering me up all the time. With a book in hand, I was the dedicated nerd. Naturally, we were the complete opposites so how then did Sherry and I ever became friends? That was quite easy seeing I have this hot cousin. Yes. The virgin eater. No, he should not be called by that name. It sounded disrespectful and he was nice to me. Zylen Daniels, a name for a thoughtful and breathtaking person. He came around a few times a year to visit the family. He was the only one that visited us because Aunt Bertha chose to adopt me instead of sending me to foster care as expected by the rest of my relatives. With her involvement with me, she was ignored by the family as well. I could never ever love her more. The friendship between Sherry and I developed with her having an ulterior motive, but after losing her virginity she decided to take pity on my loner status and kept me around. We had an amiable relationship enough. Her presence warded off potential bullies and I helped her with her homework. If she really aimed for a fashion career, she would need to pass basic math first. I was starting to believe the end of the world would be faster than her ability to absorb anything math related. I looked at the clock, ten past six. Aunt Bertha was late today. She worked as a sales representative at a local mall in the perfume section. A little ironic since she possessed her own unique scent that drove men wild. Whereas I inherited my eye power from mother, Aunt Bertha got the pheromone power. She said it was the natural profession to go into. The scents surrounding her from morning until night would chase everybody away. Including Sherry who just left. She always asked why my aunt put on so much scents but I kept quiet, dancing around the question. All families tended to have weird quirks but me and Aunt Bertha? Strange was an inadequate description. I hardly believed our family curse so I doubt a stranger would accept it as readily. At the tender age of five, my Aunt Bertha had pulled me aside and made me sit on the table so we looked each other in the eye. Her green eyes extra dark, devoid of her usual gentleness. To say I was frightened was putting it mildly. I would have had wet my pants if I hadn’t been wearing my diapies. The first words out of her mouth could not have shocked me more. “Ella, your mother did not die in a car crash, she was raped.” To preamble, dancing around the bush. A straight ball in the court. However, I blinked at her, perfectly clueless. Aunt Bertha sighed up at heaven where mommy went before elaborating. “Eleanor, I know you are confused but bare with me. I would have liked to wait for another year or two but seeing as your powers are developing earlier than we all did in the past, we need to stop it soon.” Powers? I cocked my head to the side and thought about it. Could it be that the dogs and boys following me around because of this power? I have superpowers! A smile graced my face as I giggled. “Superpowers!” “No. No!” Aunt Bertha was appalled and immediately set off to correct the misunderstanding. “Ella, it’s a curse! A damn curse and you better listen to everything I say if you don’t want to have the same end as your mother!” I shut up immediately, afraid of the woman in front of me. Her brows were knitted together and with her hair in a strange up-do, she looked like an evil witch. Of course, I would never call Aunt Bertha that. She was bossy but she meant well. At least, she took me in instead of putting me up for adoption. Nobody from mama’s family would take me in seeing mother chose to ‘get hitched’ with a lowlife. I didn’t know what those words mean until my first show-and-tell to my fellow kindergarteners. Since I still miss my mommy, I told them about her and how I came to be. How would I know the words would force us to move? The moment I said those words, my kindergarten teacher gasped and took me aside telling me to never say it again. My classmates too were naturally innocent as well. Dissatisfied by the teacher’s refusal to explain what the words meant, the kids returned home and asked their shocking parents. Many parents blamed me for polluting their child’s pure mind. My name was immediately blacklisted by all parents for birthday parties. Aunt Bertha was called in. I did not like the school administrators who were staring down at my aunt with disapproval. She did nothing wrong. I only repeated the words my mother repeated. She said it so happily that it had always made me laugh. My vision returned to Aunt Bertha’s eyes bouncing like a ping – pong match. She finally settled down and told me flat out. I would never be able to prepare for this, no matter the age. “It seems like you’ve inherited your mother’s eye power. When you look at anything living, they would fall in love with you. Do you remember that doggy following you home?” Of course, I do. I even begged Aunt Bertha to let me keep him but she only held me in her arms and ran away like there was a roaring fire chasing after us. The dog chased after us like crazy. To all witnesses, we were like a crazy bunch, no doubt - a strange woman running with a wailing child while getting chased by the dog. If I remembered correctly, the dog got captured by animal patrol. “Well, the dog is a boy so when you looked at him, he fell in love with you and chased you.” Aunt Bertha gave me a wry smile, her eyes begging me to understand something much deeper than my young developing mind allowed. What I should have realized is that my powers work only on guys and that they would love me. “I love the puppy.” I said. She smacked her forehead so suddenly that I jumped. “Oh, I’m sorry, dear!” Aunt Bertha put her hands on my shoulders and started to soothe my arms absentmindedly. I shook a little, afraid to look away from her in case she did something else. I knew there shouldn’t be any fear for my life as she never threatened me before, but this was a side of her I didn’t know. “Dear, your power doesn’t work only on animals. They work on people. Boys like your age and men as old as me. Older.” She chewed her lips, reining in tears. “Oh, I can’t do this. I’m just going to say it. Ella, your mother was raped by a bunch of men because she forgot to wear her damn glasses.” Aunt Bertha was crying now. Her tears fell like beautiful morning dew on her pale face. I have never understood why Aunt Bertha never married until I grew older and realized how hard it was to find a man who loves us for who we are. My little hands brushed away her tears but she grasped onto it and cried harder. I hated to be the cause of her pain but I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around it. “What is raped?” She sniffed loudly and answered me bravely. “It means someone doing something to hurt you, force something into you against your will. These people would not care about you and continue to hurt you and hurt you because they can’t stop it. They are controlled by your powers.” Aunt Bertha cooed and hugged me too her. I cried silent tears and I mumbled in her ears. “I don’t want this power.” It was scary. “I know sweetie, but it won’t go away. It’s our curse.” From then on, I wore glasses made of plain glass. My vision was perfect but Aunt Bertha was strict, never allowing me to leave without out. As a senior in high school, I finally realized how the curse messed up my whole social life. Sherry had already gotten through sixteen boyfriends compared to my embarrassing zero. I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. The sexual frustration was driving me crazy ever since I heard that my cousin ate another person at my grade the last he came over. Jennifer Vega. No way was she a virgin with her round peach ass and awesome breasts. It was understandable he took her for a ride. Literally speaking. Jennifer boasted how she bounced on him in his Jaguar. If our curses did not pass only to girls, I would have thought he had them as well. This was so unfair. Was I ever going to enjoy the pleasure in life? Was I supposed to live my life in fear? Blaming God was no use because I knew too well that I was too chicken to do anything about it. Blinking away my tears, I prepared for dinner. Since Aunt Bertha did not call, it must mean she was staying with Lorenzo Simmons. My English teacher. I know. Ew. They somehow fell in love during the parent’s teacher interview and she had been in this ‘I don’t really like you’ relationship with him. Initially I did not like the man because he was taking away my one and only family member and confidante. We were supposed to grow old together surrounded by cats. Give away chocolates to kids on Halloween in our spooky townhouse filled with dust and cobwebs. No chance of that happening now. Anyway, it was my fault that she fell in love with him. Mr. Simmons would not stop badgering me about my aunt, causing students to spread crazy rumours between Mr. Simmons and I like how we did it in the classroom everyday and – God, I would not go down that memory lane. Aunt Bertha got called in by my school again for the second time, thankfully this was not my fault. The two talked it out in the room and everything was well. Nobody asked about her flushed cheeks and dress on backwards. Overall, everything was solved. And I learned not to be so selfish as to keep my aunt from her happiness. Goody. Now everybody seemed to hate me because Mr. Simmons never picked on me to answer questions in class. Life. I made chicken stir fry with bean sprouts, tofu and pineapples for dinner – my favourite dish and the best, if I must say so. After chomping it down, my Aunt Bertha finally sent me a message saying she would be spending the whole weekend with her beloved. Figures. How could you leave a young adult home alone? Oh, right. Adult. One good thing about her staying away sometimes was the privacy. Why would a young eighteen year old girl need privacy? A shy one at that? Well, it was because I needed it so I can scream to my heart’s content. Moan as loud as I want. I dropped down the towel wrapped around my body and slid onto the bed. Ever since, Sherry showed me the adult video she snuck out from her dear Benny’s room a week ago, I had been doing this every day at night. I would bit my pillow while digging my fingers into my vagina. The woman in the video rode the man like a bucking horse. Her satisfied expression really made an impact on me and I wondered whether it really felt good. Curiosity led me to play with myself after Sherry left. It was euphoric and addictive. Leaning against the wall, I played with my breasts. Squeezing the soft mounds in my hands. I wondered if Zylen loves big chests. Sherry had medium sized ones I believe and a wonderfully tight ass. Big hips and big breasts, I was like the complete opposite of Sherry and Jennifer. Nevertheless, I am allowed to have my fantasy and my fantasy Zylen worshiped my body. Closing my eyes, I let my imagination go wild and I envisioned him naked before me. His body dripping wet from his shower, he crawled onto my bed. I shivered as his hands touched my cheeks, brushing down to my chin then lower, hovering to touch my breasts a millimeter away but he dropped down. A low growl escaped my throat at his teasing. He smiled his devilish grin and touched my stomach with his strong digits. The cold water on his skin caused gooseflesh to rise up on my skin, causing a ripple of shivering up my spine. My body ached for him to touch me roughly, gently, in anyway. I was ready for his touch. He pushed my knees apart so I was spread wide for him, completely open to his gaze. He settled himself in position, kneeling between my legs. His strong build casted a shadow over my little five feet figure which should be frightening but anticipation pumped in my veins. With his blue eyes and black hair, he looked the every bit of a ruffian. Hot. Very hot. Those wonderful biceps and flat stomach like it was photoshopped made me want to touch and lick my tongue all over it but I could not. Not when his hard penis protruding in a hard salute right towards me. A desperate need tore at me, beckoning me to quickly surrender myself for his dominance. I moaned when he finally pushed in one of his thick fingers. Inserting it as far as possible, he curled the finger and rubbed my hot well. My juices slid down his finger to his hand, coating it until it gleamed. Watching his progress in a hooded gaze, I felt neglected. My body was screaming for more of his touch, so very greedy. His eyes. I wanted very much to stare into his eyes as he made me cum. With my hands, I squeezed my breasts at him, pulling the pointy tips. My well contracted around his fingers and he looked up to see me pleasuring my breasts. He stiffened, his whole body was tense and in control. He didn’t grin because he was feeling too much. His hard penis strained and appeared harder than ever as he watched me continue to fondle my assets. The place his fingers were playing with quickened and accelerated when I brought a nipple to my mouth and suckled. My breasts were big enough to allow me to do that. The display obviously aroused him and I was glad. Introduced to his four fingers none to gently, I screamed in pain and pleasure. His thumb flicked my engorged clit, escalating my spasms. The wicked smile on his face spoke of many promises in pleasure… The sound of a door bell interrupted my wet dream. Unfortunately it was a dream. Sneezing, I grabbed for my pajamas and glasses before stumbling down the stairs. Pushing the bottle-cook glasses with my middle finger, I opened the door, totally unprepared for the guest on my doorstep. Zylen Daniels in the flesh! My mouth rounded in an ‘o’ as he dropped his bag with a thump and gave me a strong hug, squeezing the air out of my lungs. He shouldn’t have done that. My body’s reaction was instantaneous as I had just woken up from an erotic dream about him and now he was present, tempting me to dispose my dreaded virginity. Just once I wanted to know the feeling of sex. Especially with Zylen Daniels. However, I resisted it adamantly because I was positively, completely certain that I would fall hard. Once would never be enough. It would be the best experience I would ever have and having to compare him to my future love would suck. There was also this teensy – weensy other reason. He was my cousin no matter how many times removed. The cruel enticing man finally let me go and brushed past. He walked inside confidently and sat down on the couch, totally relaxing by opening his arms and legs wide. What was this sex god doing here in the middle of the night smelling like a heavenly fruit? Breathing out slowly, I closed the door and turned to my Himeros, the god of sexual desire. “Hey, Ellie.” His masculine voice echoed in my mind and the small town house. Want to know more? Get your copy for free today! *** Double Love (Excerpt) Description: Loraine Daughter has lived on top of a secluded mountain with her step-grandmother since 10 years old. Having charted from one foster home to another for as long as she remembered, she was pretty set on a future of living alone. Besides, she was not completely alone. There were horses and the beautiful mountain to keep her company. Until one day her grandmother decided to step out of the mountain. *** Chapter 1 Loraine Daughter stared at the beautiful mountain range. The beautiful landscape of green and clear blue sky overhead had never ceased to calm her soul since 10 years ago. At that time she was the only person left of her family among this whole world of billions of people. She lost her parents at birth and was channeled from one foster home to another until she met the young Daughters. The life traveling wasn’t worth any mentioning but it was with the Daughters that she began to feel something. Their patience and overflowing kindness brought her out of her depressing shell and gave her hope that she too, could obtain happiness. However, with happiness, there would always come great sadness and not soon after the adoption papers were signed, her new parents died. Loraine resolved herself to a life of loneliness as she was charted to Daughter’s Mountain Lodge to live with her new mother’s mother. Mrs. Daughter or otherwise known as Granny D is a strict woman and rarely showered her with any affection. It was what she needed. Granny D may be stern but she taught Loraine what she needed to survive, a strong heart and excellent health. For this, she was grateful and willing to do anything for Granny D. One exception though was to go into town, or anywhere near civilization. This wasn’t difficult to accomplish considering Daughter’s Lodge was miles from the town and since long ago, Granny D’s best friend, Lizzie, delivers groceries to them. It was funny how life changes with time. Lori never thought that she’d grow to respect and love the old lady. “Lorrrrri!” Granny D’s voice was an octave lower than usual. Loraine smiled, Granny D must be using a bullhorn again. “Ten! Nine! – ” She leaped onto Snowy’s back and sent the young mare into a gallop back to the Lodge. If she doesn’t arrive before Granny D by one, she’d be in trouble. Last time, the punishment was not riding Snowy for a week. Snowy was depressed and mad at her. It took a lot of coaxing to get the mare to listen again. She should be able to make it in three…two… “Granny!” Lori slipped down as Snowy began to trot. She gave a few pats on Snowy’s head and it nuzzled her adoringly. Snowy is the first horse that she raised when Granny was certain Snowy would die. The little mare proved to be resilient like her. “Granny, what – ” “I’m going on a vacation.” Interrupted Granny D who stood firmly with her hands on her hips like Lori had forbidden her on going. Hell, it was the first time she heard of it! “But…but…why –” Lori stammered. Granny D leaving Daughter’s Lodge? It was unheard of and not to mention extremely frightening. Her Granny never set a foot outside the Daughter’s land. She was grilled with stories since 10 on how Daughter’s women never leave the land for too long. Look what happened to her adoptive parents? “Lizzie won a three week cruise to Italy. I can’t possibly pass this up! Don’t worry though, Lizzie promised to send for help and judging by his picture, you have nothing to worry about.” Italy? Three weeks? Picture? Lori did not know where to start deciphering her current situation. “That is not the problem, Granny, what if something – ” “If God needs this old woman’s life, then so be it.” Granny D raised her chin defiantly. “It’s been long overdue that I see your grandfather anyway - Oh dear, don’t give me that look! I raised you stronger than that! We Daughter women do not cry! Unless during childbirth or stubbed our toe in the door, but heavens we do not cry when parting!” Lori snorted. Leave it to Granny to cheer her up with a farewell speech. “You’ll be back in three weeks?” Aunt Lizzie beeped her car horn impatiently, waving at them like she’d waited for hours, and then tapping her watch like a sergeant. Granny D made an “Ok” signal with her fingers to her friend whereas Lori tried to send a signal of her own through her eyes to Granny D, begging her to reconsider this impulsive vacation. “You bet. And dear, try to be nice.” Granny D lifted her suitcase like it weighed nothing. It was still hard for her to believe this woman and her friend was near 70 years old. The amount of energy and sheer power these two women exuded was like a war general in the 1920s. Not that Lori knew anything about it but television certainly taught her a lot. “What do you mean?” Lori followed the woman closely behind, dread dragging her feet down every step. “The helper! The helper!” Granny said impatiently. “He’ll be here any day.” With a wave, the woman got in beside her friend and they waved goodbye, whooping all the way down the drive, leaving a very confused and troubled Lori planted firmly at the end of the road. Want to know more? Get your copy today! *** Stringing a Doctor (Excerpt) Description: Recent divorcee, Rosalind Jones left for Charlestown to lick her wounds after a humiliating betrayal by her near decade of marriage. With no job experience or prospects, she was in a total lost until her friend gave her the best idea ever to start a Knitting Club. Her friend, Gina was adamant that playing with yarn would never rope in available men but fate planned otherwise. With four dear ladies and a wacky best friend, Rose might finally get another chance at her happily ever after. *** “Is that why you moved to Charlestown to lick your wounds?!” Her friend waved exasperatedly. “I swear, you should stay and take revenge over that man! Strut your stuff in front of his face. You have a 34 C that every porn star would love to have and those nice curvy hips! How can you always hide them in those disgustingly large sweaters?!” Comically, a man beside their table spewed out his coffee and coughed. His newspaper wet. Rose was certain he wasn’t the only one. Her friend Georgiana Fiore or Gina for short, because she hated her English name, was flamboyant and dramatic. Gina caught two types of attention wherever she went. Either she made you believe that the Earth is flat or that she was like a bee, buzzing in your ear – not to mention the poison needle that would paralyze you, she would never kill you immediately because she preferred it nice and slow. Rose slid her napkins to the spewing coffee man and resumed her knitting. The man murmured his thanks as he wiped the scene of the crime. Gina didn’t even notice and was rambling on about his ex’s stupidity. Rose was already used to Gina’s profanity since middle school. Perhaps that was when she developed such a calm reaction to everything shocking. When people would be squealing or excited, her heart would pound a fraction higher than normal at best. Her family and friends had all said that she was the calmest person to be around – making her the best babysitter during family gatherings. “Oh for heaven’s sake! You’re knitting! Seriously, even my grandmother does more exciting things than you! She goes skydiving at 75 and you’re knitting at 29. God. Help me.” Gina shook her head dramatically and sipped her latte. Grimacing, she looked around. “You’re giving me a headache. I need sugar.” “Here Gina, have some of mine.” Rose poured her French vanilla into her friend’s cup, as if nothing happened. “Mmm….French vanilla latte.” Gina grinned and sighed. “We’re completely polar opposites. Why did we ever become best friends?” And they were. They have been inseparable since Gina fell from a tree and broke Rose’s ankle at the age of four. Gina felt guilty and spent her entire summer with Rose. Needless to say, they became good friends. Rose was the voice of reason whereas Gina was free to be as wild as she wanted knowing they both got each other’s back. “Seriously, you’re single and free! You need to live your life! What are you going to do?” Rose’s mind drifted. What could she do with an English degree? Not to mention she didn’t have any work experience. She was content with staying home and managing their home. She wanted children but her ex – husband wanted his firm to be solidified in the field before starting a family. Perhaps she was fortunate. She read that a child brought up in a separated home could have negative mental effects. “Hello? Earth to Rose?!” Gina’s eyebrows shot up to look at her quizzically. “Are you going to go back to school? You sold the house and everything so you have a lump sum to work with. Get a specialist degree?” The answer was clear and definite. “No, I feel drained already and it’s been too long to go back to the hectic life of a student.” Gina nodded like she once thought about the same thing. “Start a business? You can join a venture or something. Some of my clients do that.” Gina work as an interior designer. She was the one who got Rose her townhouse. Gina was dating the real estate agent at the time so Rose got a pretty good deal. Rose made a noncommittal nod. “Anything except working with yarn because that just makes you look old and you definitely can’t meet guys.” Rose’s heart bloomed like she had just received the greatest gift. And it showed pleasantly on her face. Gina began shaking her head with a look of horror like one of those horror films’ characters. “Oh no, no, no…I did not mean – wait for me!” Gina followed her friend who had already dumped everything into her large bag and was jogging out the door. Want to know more? Get your copy today! *** If It’s You (Excerpt) A Renaissance Romance Description: Lady Crystal Clarington did something she shouldn't have. To atone for her sin she decided to do the one thing that no lady would ever in their right mind do. Can her choice be a blessing in disguise? *** Chapter 1 Lady Crystal Clarington carried the basket of heavy laundry up the stairs in slow deliberate steps. Even after three years of service under the Duke of Kensington’s house, she learned to tread carefully. She only met his grace twice. The first time was the accident that she could not bear to remember. The mere memory would bring her to her knees. If her family did not reside in the continent for the past three years, she would be in trouble. Presently, her household consisted of only a butler and housekeeper so the arrangement was easily taken care of. As soon as her brother and parents left, she convinced her two charges to work under Duke Kensington with her. Thankfully, the two elderly couple doted on her and knowing her stubbornness, they decided to follow suit to prevent potential scandals her mere presence would have wrought. Her butler Mr. Timmons became a servant and his wife, her housekeeper, Mrs. Timmons became a cook. Crystal was the maid assisting in everything from cleaning and cooking. She usually steered clear away from Duke Kensington in fear he recognized her. Fortunately, they had not been in each other’s company often for him to recognize her. Besides, in her servant’s garb she was unrecognizable and invisible. Her family would throw an immeasurable fit when they discovered her deception. However, this was the only method in which she could atone for her sins. After all, she accidentally killed the duchess, the young, beautiful and enchanting wife of Duke Kensington. The ton, mourned the loss of such a beautiful woman whereas she was shunned. Not that the ton knew her appearance, but the name of Crystal Clarington who murdered the ton’s favourite was practically inserted into every idle gossip. The only reason she was not charged for murder was because her carriage had a broken wheel and the duchess riding in her curricle at top speed collided with hers. Crystal was only sixteen at the time and this traumatic experience taught her just how cruel society could be when they lamented the duchess’s death while scorning her. Somehow, one way or another, gossips twisted the incident so unpleasantly that her family felt discouraged to continue living among their own peers. Her family despaired over this unfortunate event and decided to speed up their move to the continent but as for her, she chose to stay in the country under the pretense of mourning for the late duchess. She would brave it and apologize to his grace. The duke refused visits from everyone, especially her so she devised a plan to enter his household to talk with him. However, the second time she met him, she found him foxed on the carpet surrounded by liquor. She realized then, he did not want pity or an apology. An apology could never bring back his lost love. Thus, began her second goal in life – to assist the duke to find joy in life again. How she would carry out such a plan was not her forte but god willing she would try. She deposited the basket down at the top of the steps to take a breather. My, how one could accumulate so much clothes! “Hurry up!” Irene scolded as she swayed her hips dramatically as she passed her with a duster. Irene was only older than her by a few years but had already taken on the superior role of bossing her around. Heck, everyone bossed her around because she was so demure. Demure, because she did not want to be signaled out by anyone in the house. Or perhaps it was not a ruse at all and part of her genuine personality. Such unpleasant thoughts these days! In any case, her plan seemed to have backfired a bit. Perhaps she should have removed the black freckles on her cheeks? No. That would not do now. How would she explain to everyone her freckles vanished? Crystal sighed lethargically. Why was she considering her appearance now? “Duke Kensington!” Irene’s voice warned her just in time and Crystal ducked her head low and curtsied as her employer walked by with his head hidden behind the paper. Her eyes followed the man’s broad back and narrow waist. Her mind and body transformed over the years as she grown into a woman. A servant’s life was not particularly exciting so there was time for her to ogle at her employer. Not a single male servant could ever be compared to the handsome duke. He was the epitome of his sex. She had never met anyone, her brother included (not that she would say such a thing aloud!), as handsome and intelligent as his grace. His dark good looks were rakish, yet his reputation as a gentleman preceded him. His silver gray eyes were hypnotizing. Not that she had any experience staring into them but if sneaky glances under her eyelashes were already enough to make her knees weak then it was obvious a direct look would be fatal. As a maid living under Kensington House she was able to ogle at the man to her satisfaction. Most of her knowledge came from observations and listening to the maids’ gossip. The things maids say when behind closed doors were scandalous to say the least. Mrs. Timmons tried to protect her sensibilities but alas, curiosity and secrecy of their situation prevented that. Crystal now absorbed enough information to render a debutante to faint from blushing! “You are quite late, Bev.” Mrs. Timmons turned back her head to regard the soup, lunch’s preparation Crystal presumed. Crystal had taken on a new pseudonym, Beverly Timmons, Bev for short. Naturally, Kensington would never hire her if she came as Crystal Clarington, the murderer of his beloved wife. “Lots of clothes.” Crystal rotated her shoulders and massaged her arms. Her duties over the years gave her muscles and toughened her body. Still, she had daily muscle cramps and various aches, especially the heart. Mrs. Timmons clicked her tongue and got out a small jar of lotion from the kitchen drawer. No one dared to touch the cook’s sanctuary knowing that she manned the food. A little ‘spice’ here or there would be none the wiser. Instinctively, they knew never to mess with the person who might tamper their food. Now Mrs. Timmons controlled everything in the kitchen due to her superb skills in cooking. “Sit down.” Mrs. Timmons sighed. Crystal looked around to make sure no one was coming before resting her legs on the stool. Her body relaxed, thankful for the short reprieve. “Bev, perhaps it is time to leave?” “Shh!” Bev turned and waited, as if someone would jump out and declare her an imposter. “We’ve talked about this. We can’t leave yet, not until-” “His grace is fine. He looks stronger and stronger as the day goes by. He does not need us no more.” Crystal’s heart dropped like a heavy stone weighted her down. It was true, his colouring returned to his original shade and he never drank until he was unconscious. He would practically throw out his wine cabinet if it were not necessary for entertaining guests. Could she leave though? If she was true to her heart, she would have confided her nanny and housekeeper that she was in love. Irrevocably in love with the one man she never should! She scoffed at the absurdity of her situation and her doomed love that would never see the light of day. His grace certainly would not be ecstatic over being admired by his self-declared nemesis. “Not until he’s happily settled.” Crystal massaged her hands unconsciously. The idea sounded like an irritant buzzing around her ear. “Miss, you are if anything, stubborn.” A wry smile graced her loyal housekeeper’s face, before she turned back towards the stove. “Is there anything I can help with?” Crystal stood and shook her sore arms and legs. Recently, sitting around was prune to depressing thoughts. “Would you like to bake some biscuits? His grace seemed to have finished the last batch.” Crystal hid her elatedness, biting her lips to prevent the smile threatening to form. His grace loved her biscuits! Even though he never mentioned it, but the fact that he finished her creations was proof enough. She shared her secret recipes with no one. It was a delicious little gift for herself. She would allow herself to have this one little happiness in her life. ~~~ “William!” Duke Kensington turned his head to regard his aged aunt who glared at him with the usual impatience. Her wrinkles were more pronounced since the last time she visited. If he mentioned that, he was sure his dear aunt would skin his hide as she gave him an earful. “Are you listening to me?!” “Yes, of course.” William pasted a smile on his face to placate his aunt but the woman naturally ignored his attempt like breathing. “Have you taken a look at the invitations?” Invitations. William dreaded the obligations of a duke. His responsibility to attend social gatherings has been, for the past year, the heated debate between him and his aunt. Debate. More like a one – sided debate if such a thing was possible. He tried to remain silent but that only fueled his aunt’s anger. He received more than one reprimand from her doctor about ‘upsetting’ his aunt. Apparently, his aunt viewed it as time for him to forget his dead wife and move on. Certainly, it was the natural way of their world to up and marry for propriety’s sakes, but William grew up to believe otherwise. His parents married for love and so did he. How he wished to forget Elizabeth but she was too beautiful. No one could ever replace her in his heart. They were so much in love but not soon after marriage she died. Curse the Claringtons! The culprit is forever ruined and rusticating in the countryside but that did not sooth his aching heart. Elizabeth is dead while her murderer is still alive. Oh Elizabeth! His love. If only he could stare into her sky blue eyes again, he would do anything. Give away his dukedom if he must for he never wanted it anyway, but his elder brother died tragically. He had his own endeavours then suddenly, he found himself stuck. Never imagine that as a spare, he would take charge of his family line. A dukedom could never be without its owner. His parents would haunt him from their grave if he neglected his duties for too long. He was starting to have dreams for one. Not that he would tell his aunt. Now, all he has left is his mother’s sister, Aunt Madison. Just like part of her name, Madison is truly ‘mad.’ The woman is still bursting with fire and matchmaking plans in the ripe age of 75. He knows some who went senile in their 60s but apparently death seemed to have lost against the formidable old woman. “Hello?!” William winced at Madison’s high pitched voice. How could such a little woman sitting at least six feet away make such a loud noise? He was so used to the quiet life in his country home that whenever Madison arrived for a visit, he would shiver involuntarily. His servants would always make subtle escapes. How he envied them. “My apologies.” He quipped with a bow. Madison arched her thin eyebrow, waiting for him to continue. In terms of a staring battle, nobody had yet bested him. “Ugh, I’ve always hated that dreadful stare of yours. You better not stare at others so openly unless you want to encourage their affections.” Madison scoffed morosely. “I take it you have some excuse about the invitations?” William sipped his brandy and wished he had gotten something stronger. However, he had promised himself to never abuse with alcohol again. What a dilemma he found himself in. “You’re coming to London this season.” His aunt commanded rather than asked. William knew there was no use contradicting the woman. She would never leave otherwise. “And you will be amiable, William Laurence Kensington. It is time you produced an heir.” “There’s still time, my dear aunt.” William slumped on his favourite chaste, not the least fond of the topic. “You are six and twenty! Your elder brother died when he is around your age, or have you forgotten?” How could he? First his darling wife, then his beloved elder brother. In quick successions, God took away his last two family members. “Produce an heir quickly before you meet your maker!” “Glad you care about my well-being.” He nodded, his tone neutral. Madison ignored his remark and continued her rant. “I love you, my dear. You’re the only son left of my beloved sister! But you cannot remain as you are now, living in this empty shell. Meet your friends again, marry, and damn raise a family!” William’s eyebrow arched at his aunt’s persistent tone but what was shocking was the added profanity. The woman was definitely fired up today. Before he could address his aunt on this observation, the door knocked. His butler entered and signaled them for lunch. He stood and held his arm out for his aunt. She huffed and took his arm. William, thankful for the short silence, walked on autopilot to the dining room.

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