Home>>read The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf free online

The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf(4)

By´╝ÜGeorgette St. Clair

There was no guy with her; she was clearly waiting for some jerk who couldn’t be bothered to show up on time. With a hot ticket like that waiting here? What an idiot. Well, her date’s loss would be his gain. Whatever Walt wanted, he’d have to talk fast, because Ryker was going to swoop that woman up and show her the time of her life.

Ryker strode up to the bar with a big grin; he felt all the tension of the day uncoiling now. Worrying about losing the pack land, kissing up to their investors, reining in his crazy pack before he was forced to eat one of them for breakfast to set an example…none of that mattered at the moment.

What mattered was how he could dazzle the panties off the hot redhead. Nothing was going to put him in a bad mood, not even Walter’s pissy attitude.

“Damn it, Ryker, this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about!” Walt snapped at him. He glanced his watch, and then at the clock on the wall, as if he hadn’t already made his point. “You’re fifteen minutes late, you’ve got hay in your hair, and you’re dressed like you were just out riding horses!”

“I was,” Ryker said, plucking off the strand of hay and setting it down on the bar. “I took Lightning out for a run after I left my office. So? Since when are you so eager for my company? Is the honeymoon over?” Walt had married a lovely woman named Carlotta a few years ago.

“Our honeymoon will never be over, and it’s not my home life we need to worry about, party boy,” Walt growled at him. “We are having a hard time getting our investors to commit to this expansion, because of your reputation for being late and irresponsible. And this isn’t just your career we’re talking about, it’s the future of our pack.”

Ryker stifled a snarl. He was well aware of that. Everything rested on his shoulders. Their pack lands were mortgaged to the hilt, their apparel business was on the cusp of big success but needed an infusion of cash, and if they didn’t get it, they’d probably lose the lands they’d lived on since the turn of the century.

“Not everything is about money,” Ryker said, leaning on the bar and frowning. The restaurant patrons here apparently skipped spraying on expensive perfume and cologne, and just dumped it over their heads by the barrel. Not a pleasant experience for a shifter with a heightened sense of smell.

“Speak for yourself,” Walt said. “I’ve gotten rather fond of being able to make my car payments on time.”

“Right,” Ryker scoffed. “You mean you’ve gotten rather fond of wearing designer suits and buying your wife expensive jewelry.” It was true – Carlotta did have a taste for the good life.

“Whatever,” Walt grumbled, nervously playing with his onyx cufflinks. “The rest of the pack depends on you too. We can’t afford any more of your shenanigans.”

“I’ve been cleaning up my act for the last few months, and you know it,” Ryker said, annoyed.

“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.