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Bad Wolf

By:Jo Raven

Bad Wolf
Jo Raven

       A contemporary standalone bad boy next door romance




This is no fairytale …

Once I fell in love with a gorgeous boy next door.

Years later, he's back-a total hunk, hot as hell, and bad. So bad.

Rude. Cocky. Hard.

And I'm dying for a taste.





Jarett was our neighbors' adopted son.

Handsome, strong, quiet, he was my protector, and my friend.

Now he's back, and he's still gorgeous.

Tall, dark and sexy. All man.

But he's a bad guy, moving with a dangerous crowd.

So why do I keep winding up in his arms?

On his lap. In his bed.

I know better than this-I'm better than this. I should stop.

Only my heart tells me there's good inside Jarett.

That I could save him.

Then again, what happens to gullible girls who climb into bed with the big bad wolf?

 … Right.





BONUS NOVEL! For a limited time, as a thanks to my readers, I have included JESSE (Damage Control series), another standalone romance of mine inside this book. Both books are full-length novels about misunderstood, bad boys... Enjoy!






You Can't Outrun Your Shadow

You Can Only Embrace It





Once upon a time …





Once there was this boy in our neighborhood, living a few houses down the street. I didn't know him well, but he was handsome like a god, with those high cheekbones and cat-like eyes, and shoulders built to carry the weight of the world.

His name was Jarett, and the Lowes had adopted him the previous year. Rumors abounded that he came from across the country, maybe California or Idaho, and that his parents had been murderers shot by the police. Others said he'd been in juvie for a while, and finding a home for him had been tough, because of his past, and his age.

When I met him, he sure wasn't a kid anymore. He looked tough. He had tattoos inked on his forearms, and his green eyes were hard like glass behind a fringe of dark hair.

He limped. Scowled. Didn't talk much. Didn't hang out with the other kids in the hood. I was seventeen at the time myself, a woman already, and he was a year older. His gaze was that of an old and hardened man, and his body was taut and made for fighting.

I noticed his body, just like I noticed his gaze. He did look at me at school sometimes. I caught his hot gaze on me.

Hey, like I'm saying, I was a woman already. I looked. I wanted.

But it was more than that.

I'm not a shy girl. I get what I want. It wasn't like boys didn't swarm around me, making it clear they couldn't wait to get their hands on me. Back home, in the little town of Destiny, I'd fought them off.

Here it wasn't any different.

But not Jarett. He minded his own business. Went to school-he was a year behind-and tinkered in his yard, or walled himself up in his attic room. I could see him sometimes sitting at the window, one long leg stretched out, the other folded up. Mysterious.

Sexy.

No matter how hot he was, that wasn't why I followed him at first, and then talked to him. No, I had other reasons.

I ran to catch up with him whenever I saw him walking down the street, and just talked. Asked him things. Told him things. I was more reckless then than I am now.

Sometimes he replied. Sometimes he shot me bemused looks, like he could see right through my act, right through me, and found something funny there.

We weren't besties by a long shot. We barely hung out, barely talked enough for that. But we were sort of friends. His presence was always there, a thorn under my skin, inside my chest, burning bright.

Too bright.

His adoptive parents already had a son. Sebastian was his name. Dark hair, blue eyes, tall and lanky and a real douchebag, the sort that pulls the wings off butterflies and brags about it. Sebastian was older by a couple of years, and at the time was supposed to be working in an office downtown as a courier.

I say "supposed" because he was always at home, lounging in the hammock in the back yard, or sitting on the porch steps, messing around on his phone. He was a guy to avoid, especially at night, when he stumbled about drunk, yelling at passers-by.

School wasn't easy for me there. Losing all my friends wasn't easy. Living on a street with drunks and bullies was hell.

And here is the real reason I first gravitated toward Jarett. I looked to him for protection.

See, the other boys avoided him, never really picked fights with him-at least not in the open, not where I could see. He was tall, strong, intimidating. He had a look about him that screamed danger. So perversely, walking by him on our street felt safe.

We never talked about that. I never asked for his protection. He never offered it. But he walked with me anyway. And I felt safe, safer than I ever had, especially since that incident back in Destiny, the one I kept trying to forget.                       
       
           



       

In the time we lived on that street, I didn't manage to find out about him anything more than random details.

Like the fact he has a middle name nobody knows.

That he likes fries dipped in ranch dressing.

And that he hates loud noises. I know because I saw him jump a foot off the ground once when a car tire burst down the street. I teased him about it. He never said a word.

But things were about to change. Our neighborhood was getting worse by the day. We had moved there from our little home town with my sister's husband to start a new life. Go to college, pursue our dreams. We rented a house there, because it wasn't far from his parents' house, and his mother babysat his little kids when we were all out at school or working.

Then gangs encroached on the neighborhood, robberies became the new standard, and assaults became worse.

So we moved away, to a new house, a new neighborhood. A quieter place.

I never saw Jarett again, or Sebastian.

Until today.





Chapter One





Gigi





"Hurry up," Sydney hisses, dragging me by the hand through the night club, under the strobing lights. "We're late."

"So what? We're fashionably late." I tug on her hand, but she's strong for such a tiny person. "Relax. We're supposed to be having fun."

"You're always about the fun, aren't you?" She pulls me deeper into the club, like a short, red-haired missile locked on target.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Getting annoyed, I tug my hand harder, freeing it and stumbling back a step on my stilettos. "It's our night out. Of course I want to have fun. Don't you?"

"Yes! But if I'm not on time …  Seriously, I can't be late."

"On time for what? Late for what? God, you're turning into a grump." I step farther back, heat seeping into my neck. "Is it because you'll finally have to choose between all the boys you've been hanging with all this time? Poor baby."

"Whoa. Really?" She stares at me, her cheeks reddening.

"Hey, you're the one who's all stressed out."

Normally I don't go off on her like that. I'm an easy-going person, light-hearted and fun. Syd likes that I'm fun. So why throw it into my face like an insult?

And now she's staring into the dancing crowd, and I'm not even sure she hears me. Something's definitely off.

Sort-of-dating three dudes at the same time can be stressful, I guess, especially if you're all good buddies.

I honestly don't understand the dynamics of her little group. Her three friends seem nice, sure, and they're handsome as hell and friends with each other. I get that choosing one will destroy the group-but hey, you can't marry all three, now, can you?

She has to make a choice. But surely not tonight?

Or maybe it is tonight? That would explain her odd behavior.

"Look, I gotta go," she whispers, turns around, and before I can even blink, she vanishes into the crowd.

O.M.G. What in the world just happened?

"Syd! Sydney!" I start after her, pissed and annoyed and kind of scared. She's never walked out on me like this before, not in a night club where I've never been before. Plus, she's my ride back home.

Looks like I'll be calling a cab, instead.

But heck, no. I'll find her, sit her down and have her explain to me what has gotten into her tonight. All this is …  no bueno.

She's my bestie. My bestie can't abandon me like that without an explanation. The world just doesn't work that way. We've been best friends since I moved to St. Louis almost three years ago. Almost three full years of trust and late-night confessions in the dark, nights when she told me about her dreams and fears, about her three friends.

She knows practically everything about me, probably even things I don't know. I thought I knew her like the back of my hand.

Where is she?

Hurrying through the drunken crowd, the music blaring in my ears, I tug ineffectively on the hem of my short dress as I search for her familiar head of red curls.

Where was she heading anyway? There's nothing back here but more people and the neon-lit bar with its shelves of bottles and bustling bartenders.

Cursing my stilettos-remembering Sydney warning me not to wear them if I wanted to dance, but they're so damn pretty I ignored her-I slow down, walking down the length of the bar, anxiously checking the swaying, shaking, jumping bodies on the dance floor.

My stomach is twisted up in a knot. It feels like fear. For her, and for me.

Oh come on, I tell myself. You're a nineteen-year-old woman. You've spent as much time inside night clubs as you have outside them by now.                       

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