Excerpt from BLAME IT ON THE MOON by Shara Lanel:
He tapped the beef. Just the right consistency. He didn’t need to slice it open. He knew exactly how much pink remained within. Pink within. Damn, all he could think about was sex tonight!
He loaded two plates with food and hurried to the dining room. He didn’t want to leave his guest alone too long, and this late at night she had to be starving.
“Here you go, madam.” He placed the plate in front of her and noted that she’d laid the napkin across her lap. Before sitting, he poured them each a glass of wine. Once he did sit down, he had the urge to howl. The woman was yummy. Her eyes glittered in the candlelight as she sipped the wine. And that vanilla scent, it carried even over the beef. It was like he was hyper attuned to it. He wanted to gobble the steak in one piece, forget dessert, and get right down to the seduction.
The lady would not likely be impressed.
She cleared her throat. “It looks delicious.” She cut a forkful, ate it, and a low moan escaped her throat. “Oh, this is heavenly.”
He grinned. “My chef’s an even better cook than I am.”
“I’m going to grow so fat having this place next to the store.”
“Then it will be a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Her eyes narrowed for a moment, but then they crinkled with her smile. Hmm. What had she been thinking?
After a few moments of silent eating, she said, “So, are you a dog person or a cat person?”
He nearly choked. “Oh, a dog person, definitely.”
Her smile widened. “Excellent! I have a dog named Fergus.”
“Fergus is a Golden Retriever.”
“Those are beautiful dogs.”
“Yes. Do you have a dog?”
In a manner of speaking. “No. I’m never around enough to deal with a pet.” What would Kit’s reaction be if he explained it all right here and now? Best case scenario, she’d avoid him like the plague. Worst case? She’d have him committed.
Kit sighed. “Yes, I’m neglecting Fergie. I’m usually home by now. I just feel safer with him around, you know.”
“So you live alone, other than Fergus?”
“Yes. I shared an apartment with some college friends for quite a while, but last summer, when I turned thirty, I decided it was time to act like an adult, so I bought a house.”
“You turned thirty?” He studied her face, making his doubt plain.
“Thanks for the compliment, but it’s true.”
The corners of his lips quirked up. “Well, you’re holding up amazingly well for your age.”
She threw her napkin at him. “Fiend!”
He caught the napkin and laughed. “I think you may have lost something.” When he reached across the table to return her cloth, a light blush shaded her cheeks, and their fingers brushed.
“What about family? Are you from here originally?” Kit asked, smoothing the napkin on her thighs.
Haden’s smile froze in place. He hated the family question. He pictured the only mother and father he’d known in his mind’s eye, but they weren’t his real family. He knew that now. He loved them, but he resented the secret they’d hid from him for so long.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up a sore subject.”
He shook his head. “It’s okay. I was adopted, is all. My adopted parents were wonderful, but I guess I still haven’t gotten over them not telling me until I was an adult, and by then, I already knew.”
“How old were you when you found out?”
Unbidden, his mind produced a memory of looking at himself in the bathroom mirror as hair grew instantly on his chin and cheeks, nose and forehead. He’d been petrified, though he’d sensed the change coming on ever since the onset of puberty. His teeth would grow wicked sharp once a month, and his voice would get odd and scratchy. He’d catch himself sort of growling at people. And he’d crave raw meat. The image in the mirror had not stopped with hair. His teeth had grown pointed, and his nose had elongated. Just as that had happened, he’d dropped to the ground on all fours.
“I suspected when I turned sixteen.” He tried to shake the image. “But my parents didn’t admit it until I was in my twenties. We were a don’t-ask-don’t-tell family.”
Kit’s eyes widened. Then she started coughing, really coughing. Her face turned red and her eyes watered.
“Kit, are you all right? Are you choking? Do you need the Heimlich?”
* * *
She shook her head and held up a hand indicating that she was okay.
Oh, my God, oh, my God! What was that? What was in his mind? He turned into a dog, a wolf. Was that real? Had that really happened? Kit focused on Haden’s face. He was looking at her with concern, reaching across the table to pat her on the back. Clean shaven. No extra hair. No long fangs.
Of course it wasn’t real, you dolt! She’d seen something from a movie, a fantasy in his mind. Nothing else made sense. Or maybe it was her brain. Maybe she was having a nervous breakdown after reading all these minds.
“Kit, are you okay?”
She stopped coughing as she slowly sipped some water. Okay, she was feeling calmer. Haden’s thoughts reflected her and nothing else. “I’m okay. Something went down the wrong pipe, I guess.”
They both paused for a moment. Kit’s breathing returned to normal. She took a larger-than-usual swig of wine to calm herself further. Ah, much better, and Haden’s view of her assured her that she didn’t look the worse for wear.
“Are you up for dessert, then?” he asked, concerned. “Or would you like me to take you home?”
She smiled, hoping she looked reassuring. “You’ll make me fat yet. Is it chocolate cake?”
He pictured something before he spoke, and she knew she wanted it, although it wasn’t exactly “dessert.” He had her naked on a bed with his hands between her thighs, tracing slowly higher from behind her knees to her heated center. His lips surrounded one nipple as he thought, Tasty. He was imagining his fingers slipping inside her vagina and how she’d moan as he switched to the other nipple and sucked it in deeply.
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