The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf(5)

By: Georgette St. Clair

“Yeah, but when someone has had as many front-page fiascos as you have, they have to be better than perfect to make people forget about it. We’re asking these investors to part with a lot of cash. You’ve got to show them that you’ve changed. Make a big, dramatic public gesture.”

“Like what?” Ryker scoffed. “Join the priesthood?”

“No, pick a mate and settle down.” Walter suddenly had a guilty look on his face. “Which is why you were supposed to show up on time and dressed respectably.”

“Walter?” Ryker asked uneasily. “What have you done?” Walter better not have set him up with anyone, because he was bound and determined to get the curvy girl’s number.

He glanced over at the redhead. Now she was texting someone, with a look of unhappiness on her face. He needed to move fast before she left.

“Isignedyouupforamatingserviceandpretendedtobeyouandyouweresupposedtobehereonadatetonight,” Walter said in a rush, suddenly very interested in something on the ceiling.

“What was that? Did I hear the words ‘mating service’ in there?” Ryker was so mad that fur covered his face and his fangs descended. A dating service was one thing; a mating service meant that anyone signing up was looking for a life mate.

He shook his head hard, forcing his animal back down. “Tell me I didn’t hear the words ‘mating service’. And something about you pretending to be me.”

“This girl sounded perfect for you!” Walter protested.

Before Ryker could tear him a new one, literally, an angry, heavy-set woman marched up to him, eyes blazing with fury. She was pretty, looked in her early thirties, and wore a slinky, drape-y dress that accentuated her full figure. Normally he might be interested in a quick roll in the hay with her just because of her magnificent rack, but one glimpse of that redhead had him feeling very single-minded about who he wanted to go home with tonight.

Also, this was one pissed-off woman, and he wasn’t sure why. He was positive he’d never had a one-night stand with her back in his drunken player days.

Pretty sure.

Fairly confident.

“Give me one good reason I shouldn’t smack you upside the head with my purse,” she said, practically spitting sparks at him. He sniffed to make sure she wasn’t part dragon. Nope, wolf.

He stared at her in amazement. “Umm…because that would be assault, and you do not want to mess with me, especially at this particular moment?”

She shook her head. “You said you’d changed. You said you wanted to settle down with a nice girl. And you not only show up late, but stinking like a stable and dressed like this?”

Walter’s face was flushed red, and he was coughing and clearing his throat and staring at the floor now.

Ah. This woman must be Ryker’s intended date.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, there’s been a serious misunderstanding,” Ryker said, putting on his most charming smile. “I never made that date. And I actually just saw a woman I need to go get better acquainted with, so I’m going to have to beg off. But dinner’s on me.”

She let out a strangled squawk of outrage and raised her arm as if she were about to smack him with her purse after all, and Walter grabbed her arm.

“Hey, Wynona! Wait!” he said quickly. “It’s not his fault. It’s my fault, so if you’re going to hit someone, hit me.”

“Hold on,” the woman said slowly, taking a step back and staring at Walter in confusion. “I recognize your voice. You’re the one I’ve been talking to one the phone.” She looked at Ryker. “But you’re Ryker Harrison. What’s going on here?”

Ryker was backing away slowly, and he looked back at the table, and saw to his anger and disappointment that the girl was gone.

What the hell? he thought furiously.

Then his sexy redhead reappeared. She marched up to the angry woman and grabbed her by the arm. She was close enough for him to scent her gardenia perfume and her sweet, feminine musk. Wolf. She was a wolf. A tasty, luscious-looking wolf.

Ryker felt something that he’d never felt before. It was like a strong magnetic pull, an urgent need to claim.