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The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf(5)

By´╝ÜGeorgette St. Clair



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.

His dating drought was over.

Screw Walt, and screw the investors, he wanted this woman.

“Aunt Wynona, I am going home,” the redhead said. “He’s almost half an hour late. Obviously he’s not coming. What happened – did you show him my picture or something?” There was a sheen of hurt and anger in her big brown eyes.

Wait. The hot chick was his intended date? This changed everything.

He stepped forward and stuck out his hand, and the redhead turned and noticed him for the first time. Her eyes widened in surprise.

“I’m Ryker Harrison.”

“Daisy Bennett.” She looked at him suspiciously.

He flashed her his best ingratiating grin. “I’m really, really sorry I’m late. It’s actually kind of a funny story. Ow!” Wynona made good on her threat and wacked him upside the head with her purse, hard. She packed a mean wallop, along with a cement block in her purse, or at least that was what it felt like.

“Funny?” Daisy choked out. She put her hands on her ample hips. “I imagine it’s hilarious.” Then she cast an amused glance at her aunt. “Wow, Wynona, you still got it.”

“What do you mean, I’ve still got it? I’m thirty-three, for God’s sake. I’m not ready for the nursing home just yet,” Wynona growled at her niece. Then she swung back to face Ryker with a fairly terrifying scowl. “Get away from my niece right now! She’s a million times too good for you,” Wynona fumed. “You will not be dating Daisy.”

He glared at Wynona. “Does insanity run in your family? Because that could be a deal-breaker.”

That was followed by a flurry of blows to the head from Wynona’s purse. Wynona apparently had a truly impressive lexicon of swear words stored in her noggin.

Then he turned around and saw that the hot redhead was gone again. Storming out the front door of the restaurant. At the same time, his cell phone began buzzing furiously with his mother’s ringtone, and he realized that she was probably in on this whole thing somehow, which normally would have horrified him, but right now he didn’t even care.

Damn it, why was the redhead running away from him? Was it something he’d said?

Contrary to his reputation as a legendary Casanova, he really wasn’t great with small talk. It wasn’t like he normally had to make conversation; women pretty much just recognized him, squealed, and started taking their clothes off.

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