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The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf(6)

By´╝ÜGeorgette St. Clair

The woman was not only furious with him, she was obviously crazy, and she had an even crazier aunt. The smartest thing to do would be to stay the hell away from her.

But on the other hand, she’d made every cell in his body light up and sing from across a crowded restaurant, and furthermore, she was the only chick he’d met in ages who looked as if she might actually eat a meal with him.

And since when had Ryker Harrison ever done the smart thing?

He took off after the redhead at a dead run, with Walt and Wynona at his heels.

Chapter Three

“Wait! Wait! Let me explain!” Ryker caught up to her, panting. She was in the parking lot, unlocking the door of her beat-up old Chevy. Walt and Wynona skidded to a stop next to him.

“There’s a very simple explanation for all of this,” Walt said quickly. “I’m Ryker’s uncle, Walt. I called up Wynona’s mating agency and pretended to be my nephew and set this date up without telling him. I didn’t think he would agree to let me fix him up.”

“You got that right,” Ryker growled. Wynona looked as if she were about to start beating him with her purse again, so he held up his hands in defense. “But only because I didn’t know how hot she was! Hell, I’d have even taken a shower if I’d known that.”

“Well, thank you, Prince Charming, but I’d rather go on a date with the horse you were riding before you got here,” Daisy said, pulling open her car door.

“What?” Ryker felt momentarily jealous of a stallion. How dare this woman want to go on a date with someone else, when he was standing right there? “But Lightning’s a real horse, not a shifter. Oh, you’re just being sarcastic.”

“Got it in one,” Daisy said, sliding into her seat.

Now Ryker was starting to get mad. She had the snooty southern debutante accent, and she carried herself like she’d just walked out of some high-falutin’ prep school. He could tell what kind of girl she was. The kind that had looked down on him and his family all their lives – until he became a celebrity. Thought they were trash.

“There’s no need to be a snob,” he snapped at her.

“And there’s no need to arrive late, dirty and smelly for a date and act like you’re doing me a big favor just by showing up at all.” She yanked her seatbelt on and clicked it into place.

“Hold on!” Walt pleaded, grabbing her car door. “Listen! I’ve researched your pedigree. You’re exactly the kind of girl Ryker needs to fix his image. You could just pretend to be his mate. All we have to do is last through the investors’ meeting, which is in three weeks.”

She looked up at him in astonishment. “Pretend to be his mate? Why on Earth would I do that?”

A shrewd look crossed Walt’s face. “You’ve been trying to raise funds for an after-school rec center near that school where you work.”

Daisy frowned up at him suspiciously. “It’s creepy that you know that.”

“I just told you I did my research on you before I arranged this date. I wouldn’t fix my nephew up with just anyone.”

“Oh, I am so grateful that I made the grade,” she scoffed.

“If you pretend to be his mate for the next three weeks, just until the investors’ meeting, our company will make a substantial donation to your cause,” he said.

“Hey, did you ask me if I’d agree to this?” Ryker said to his uncle, annoyed. “I might have an opinion on the subject.”

“Why, you smug, obnoxious jerkwad.” Daisy glared at him.

“Better than a stuck-up princess,” Ryker snapped. “I’m not sure I still even want to have sex with you. Well, yeah, I actually do, but—” It was too late. He was talking to her slammed car door, and fending off more purse-blows from Wynona.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… The Harrison ranch, that is…

“Did he blow it?” Lemuel Harrison asked his wife, who was glaring ferociously at her cell phone. Lemuel wouldn’t have wanted to swap places with that cell phone at that particular moment. His wife might be five foot nothing and sixty-five years old, but she was no one to mess with.

“Of course he blew it,” Harriet fumed. “Your son is the most pig-headed mule this side of tarnation.”

Lem cast an annoyed glance at his wife. “So he’s my son when he’s an idiot, but your son when he does anything right?”

“Well, obviously.” Harriet looked up from the phone to stare at her husband in bafflement. They’d been married thirty-five years, and he still had to ask such damn fool questions? No wonder her son was a cement head.