In the small shifter community of Delta, Utah, there’s no such thing as a stranger. Everyone knows everyone, so a new face in town doesn’t go unnoticed. When a woman Dylan Peterson doesn’t recognize shows up at his twenty-first birthday bonfire bash, he does what comes naturally as a host -- he introduces himself.
The enigmatic Gena Pelletier is the most gorgeous woman he’s ever seen, and the most aloof. A scorching encounter with her under the moon blindsides him, leaving him wondering what just happened as he watches her disappear into the night.
Gena wasn’t born wild, but ever since her father’s murder, she’s lived outside Delta borders on her own terms. She has no desire to return to civilization. So what if Dylan is sweet and the sex is amazing? He’s just a way to scratch an itch. Funny thing is, Dylan is an itch a one-time scratch won’t satisfy.
Neither of them knows what to make of the other ... and neither can walk away.
“You really feel amazing.”
Her warm breath fanned across his arm. “You’re just horny.”
Dylan snorted. “No, if I were just horny, there are easier ways to get laid than tracking a strange yet alluring woman halfway across the desert.”
“I’m not strange.” She laughed.
“You are to me.” Strange wasn’t exactly right, but Dylan wasn’t a poet, and he lacked the words he needed. She beckoned to him unlike any other woman. Did she feel the same thing for him? If he admitted how intoxicating he found her, would she laugh at him? It was impossible to think that she wanted him a fraction of how much he wanted her. And not just physically. The intelligence in her eyes, the emotions she tried to hide behind a wall of red fur, captivated him. “I don’t know what I should think of you. But I want to figure it out ... figure you out.”
“Oh, I’m easy. How complicated could a girl be who lives in a cave and spends most of her time running in the desert?”
“In that case, maybe I need to see you someplace other than the desert.”
That made her stiffen within his arms. Carefully, Gena rolled onto her back, her eyes inscrutable as they turned to him. “Didn’t you have a good time?”
“Of course. What makes you think I didn’t?”
“So why do we have to change things?”
“I’m not just here because I’m horny and looking for a good time, Gena. I’ve been thinking about you nonstop since my birthday, and I want to know who you are. Or did you just let me stick around tonight because you’re horny?”
“If I wanted sex, I wouldn’t have been hanging around here on my own, now would I?”
“So you do want more than sex from me?”
Her lips pressed together, her nostrils flaring. Her body was poised for flight, so much so it was hard not to tighten his hold on her.
“I don’t really know you well enough to answer that.”
She didn’t sound unkind, but the words stung all the same. They were dismissive. As though the next sentence might be “And I don’t want to.” The night they met, he had walked away without pushing her, feeling like it wasn’t his place to demand more of her time or company than she was willing to give. But he was not going to meekly let her push him out of her life.
“Then let’s fix that. Come to Delta. Let me take you on a date.”
“A date. You’re serious about that?”
“As a heart attack.” Dylan’s pulse jumped. It wasn’t a yes, but she hadn’t told him to fuck off, either. “You up to it?”
She stared at him blankly. “What would we do?”
“We’d have a nice dinner. I think there’s something to be said about sitting in a comfortable restaurant, eating the best food, drinking the best wine. Every Saturday night, there are shows in the park. I think there’s a concert this week, but if you don’t want to listen to that music, we can go to the movies. And in between all that, we can talk. And I guess if we don’t have anything to talk about, that answers my question.”
Despite his earlier optimism, he feared she’d shoot him down. She wasn’t smiling, and her eyes were still dark with indecision. He didn’t regret asking her, but he’d regret all of the lost potential if she told him to leave.
She moistened her lower lip. “I like to dance. Do you think we could do that?”
The thought of seeing her lithe body moving to a driving beat made him a little too eager. “We could dance. And if you don’t like any of the clubs in Delta, we’ll drive until you find one you do like. Even if that means we have to go all the way to Vegas.”
Her mouth twitched. Her good humor was returning. “Flying would be faster, you know.”
“But then we’d have to show up naked. And then we’ll never make it to a dance club.”
“Oh, I bet we could find some kind of club in Vegas where clothes were optional.” Gena shifted closer against his chest, burying her nose into his skin as she closed her eyes. “It’s a good thing you’re legal now, though I bet people will still stare because I’m older than you.”
“If anybody stares, it’s because they’re wondering what a goofball like me is doing with a hottie like you.”
“Am I going to find out why it is you think you’re such a goofball on this date? Because I just see a gorgeous guy who’s ballsy as hell.”