Red's Wolf (MF)

Etopia Press

Heat Rating: Scorching
Word Count: 52,589
0 Ratings (0.0)

The deeper the woods, the darker the secrets...

Arden Wilde is at the top of her game. She's got a gorgeous, attentive boyfriend on the fast track to a promising medical career, she attends the best culinary school in the nation—the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and is nearly finished with her externship with an eminent chocolatier. But when she's called home to Grimm Lake, California to help care for her ailing grandmother, Arden agrees without hesitation.

Running through the woods becomes one of her passions, and she runs every day on her way to help care for her grandmother. Until she meets the enigmatic Tate Foster, the darkly handsome, tattooed manager of the Little Bear Brewing Co., sunbathing nude by the path to the lakeshore. He invites her to swim with him, but Arden declines—she has a boyfriend, after all. But it isn't long before thoughts of Tate become more than she can ignore.

When she mentions him to her grandmother, she's given a stern warning. The Fosters are "old Grimms," from one of the original founding families in the town, who keep mostly to themselves. There are legends, ugly stories, about the old families and their Germanic roots, and about the Grimm wolves—shapeshifters who lived double lives as wolves and humans. Arden doesn't believe a word of her grandmother's fairy tales, until a night of Tate's fierce, skilled sexuality drives all rational thought from Arden's mind.

When a tourist is found murdered in the woods, savaged by animals, Arden isn't sure what to believe. She knows she can never go back to her old boyfriend in New York. And the brazen, feral Tate has no intention of letting her go anywhere...

Red's Wolf (MF)
0 Ratings (0.0)

Red's Wolf (MF)

Etopia Press

Heat Rating: Scorching
Word Count: 52,589
0 Ratings (0.0)
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CHAPTER ONEArden was sick of Valentine’s Day. It was still two weeks away and already she couldn’t stand the colors pink and red. Her least favorite shape was the heart. Her hair, clothes, skin—every part of her—were infused with the aroma of chocolate. And that wasn’t a good thing.Daniel Cho Confections was neck-deep in its busiest season of the year, and she was exhausted. Apprentice chocolatier to the Willy Wonka of the Hudson Valley was much, much harder than she’d anticipated when she’d accepted the externship. She was on the verge of graduating the Baking and Pastry Arts program, and then the culinary world would be her oyster. Or something like that. She had fifty grand in school loans to pay off before she could think about getting a place of her own.Arden had always wanted one thing: to be a chocolatier. She wanted to own a chocolate salon like the ones she’d seen in Belgium, Switzerland, France…shops like jewelry boxes filled with treasures for the palate and the eye instead of the finger and wrist. The thought of owning her own place made the long hours with this crazy boss tolerable. And she couldn’t deny she was learning. A lot. Daniel Cho might be mad as a hatter, but he was a genius of chocolate.When Arden had sat down in her advisor’s office at the Culinary Institute, she’d flipped through a book of externships that all looked exciting and fun. Pastry positions in Key West, San Francisco, Boston, Singapore. But her advisor, Chef Werner, a small, dapper Austrian man with a tight mustache and a loose temper, had flipped past all those and thrust his stubby finger at one near the back of the binder.“Zis one,” he said, jabbing again at the page, “iss for you.”Assistant chocolatier at Daniel Cho. In Staatskill, less than thirty minutes’ drive from her apartment in Hyde Park. She’d hoped for something with a little more glamour. Something away from winter in New York. She missed California during this bleak season on the East Coast. Even though it got cold and sometimes snowed on the West Coast, winter didn’t linger with such relentless bitterness there.Here, her thin West Coast blood was chilled from October till May. Even on the nicest days, where the sun blazed off the white snow and the sky was as blue as a robin’s egg, the cold was inescapable. Arden had taken to wearing her Spandex running tights under her jeans, even indoors. Her body was tired of shivering.Chef Werner saw her expression and shook his head. “Daniel Cho iss ze best. You vant to learn how to make chocolate like a master, no? Zo, you go to one.”She applied for and was accepted to the externship, and fast-forward to today, she was standing in Daniel Cho’s confectionary kitchen and hoping that he was going away for the whole weekend so they could skip their Saturday-morning meeting. “Jam sessions,” he liked to call them, for no discernible reason. Every Saturday before the shop opened, they’d sit down for an hour, drink espresso, and “jam.” Which meant, for the most part, he’d ask her for her ideas, listen to them with a blank expression on his pudgy face, and then discount each one with a wave of his hand. Daniel Cho liked to run his own show. And she was fine with that. She just didn’t like the pretense he made of actually listening to her, only to make her feel like an idiot by rejecting all her ideas out of hand.Whatever. When she had her own shop, she’d make whatever she wanted. But for now, it was Cho’s way.Arden checked her prep list, which seemed to get longer rather than shorter every time she looked at it. She needed to make the fillings for the chocolate creams she was assembling tomorrow. This was February, and that meant all Valentines, all the time. That was the point, because after the holiday, there would be the dreaded dry spell till Easter, which came late this year, at the end of April. Cho wasn’t stressed about this. He’d be spending the off-season traveling and “absorbing influence and ideas.” All of which he’d probably dismiss, Arden thought snarkily.At Daniel Cho’s Confections, about three quarters of business was mail-order. Cho’s candies were a big deal in the city. In many cities, actually. As Daniel was fond of saying, they were “known.” Late January to Valentine’s Day was the money-making season. Everyone was working nearly round the clock to hand dip truffles, wrap lollipops, assemble gift boxes of chocolates and other candies. Their biggest seller was the Lover Collection of truffles. For about sixty bucks, you could have nine truffles in a black box lined with gold tissue paper. The construction of the Lover Collection had been a huge project, necessitating jam sessions starting in late December, just after Christmas. Finally, after extraordinary deliberation and secret after-hours sessions in his kitchen, Daniel gathered his staff and announced the nine chosen flavors.The nine Lovers of Daniel Cho:Baciami: Blood orange puree + CampariMamelon: Pink peppercorns + passionfruit + candied rose petalsFrench Kiss: White peach puree + ChambordCaliente: Guajillo chilies + cinnamon + tequilaHoney Lips: Coriander blossom honey + bee pollen + pulverized chamomile flowersLady Chatterley: Candied violets + kirschwasserSmoke Gets in Your Eyes: Smoked sea salt + ScotchGood Morning, Sweetheart: Champagne + glacéed cantaloupeMidnight Ménage: Triple varietal chocolate ganache mousseOrders began to pour in almost before he finished speaking. Completely over the top, ridiculously indulgent, and wildly popular were the Lovers. Especially with the Upper West Side crowd that came to the shop on their weekends “in the country.” Thursdays and Fridays were mostly given over to stocking these nine flavors for the weekend. The rest of the week, production was mainly for mail order.Candied violets* was the next item on her list, so Arden cracked a couple of eggs, separating the whites from the yolks. The yolks she put in the walk-in refrigerator for later, and the whites she poured into a chilled mixing bowl. She was reaching for the balloon whisk hanging over her workspace, when her cell phone vibrated in her pocket.Arden wiped her hands on a side towel and fished it out. Chase.“Hi there,” she answered. He was going to ask about dinner. Please don’t ask about dinner. She felt limp just thinking about getting through the rest of the workday.“Hey, gorgeous. Want to grab a bite after work?” Chase asked.No, she did not. She wanted to go home, heat up a pot of soup, and watch a movie on Netflix. But how could she say that without hurting his feelings?“Sure. It’ll have to be an early night, though,” she said. “Meeting in the morning.”“No problem. Pick you up at sevenish?”“Great.” She closed her eyes in resignation. “See you at sevenish.”She hung up and shoved the phone back into her pocket. It was twenty degrees out and pitch-black by five o’clock. She’d really been looking forward to cozying up on the couch with soup, a movie, and her cat. Oh well. She’d grab dinner with Chase and then call it a night.

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