"New Yorker Ginger Colby, half witch, half werewolf, all curves, has made an immediate and lasting impression on the Alpha of Blue Moon County. Unfortunately, she did it by publicly insulting him – she turned down the smug, sexy werewolf sheriff when he asked her to dance with him at the local honky-tonk.
Now the furious Alpha of her pack is ordering her to make amends with Sheriff Sexy – or risk igniting a war between the Red Wolves and the Gray. The Sheriff’s idea of re-establishing his dominance includes a bare bottom spanking, making her work for him as his new assistant, and flirting with her outrageously.
But is he flirting with her just to get revenge for humiliating him – or does he want something more? And can a liberated big city werewolf find happiness with a dominant small town shifter?
With the mysterious disappearance of an archeology professor, and a jealous Alpha female stirring up trouble…Ginger may not have a chance to find out! "
"“Well, doesn’t he just think he’s all that and a bag of chips,” Ginger Colby grumbled, watching Loch Armstrong, the sheriff of Blue Moon County, gyrating on the dance floor of the Hoot Owl Hoedown.
“Of course he does. Because he is all that and a bag of chips. And I’d like to eat his chips. Sloooowly. I’d lick the salt off them, and…” her room-mate and best friend Marigold picked up a french fry from her plate and swirled her tongue around it to demonstrate.
“Marigold, you hussy, stop molesting that French fry with your mouth. You’ll give these guys ideas.”
“I know,” Marigold smiled wickedly, and sucked the French fry into her mouth.
There were a number of reasons why the sheriff annoyed Ginger, even though she had not yet been formally introduced to him.
The reasons were, in no particular order: he was ridiculously handsome and had muscles on top of his muscles, he had women dripping all over him, and he walked with the typical Alpha werewolf swagger that said “I can get any woman to fall into bed with me, any time, and leave her panting for more.” The fact that it was true didn’t make it any less irritating.
Oh, and the most annoying thing of all: he hadn’t even glanced her way from the moment she’d walked into the bar.
Of course he hadn’t. Why would the handsomest man in the county spare a second look at a fat half-breed werewolf?
As if she’d even be interested anyway. Her tastes ran to more refined men, she told herself firmly. Men like Ashmont Warburton, the very refined financial advisor who she’d left behind back in New York, who’d taken her to the opera and museum galas and who, unlike the sheriff, never strutted. He probably didn’t even know how to strut. Of course, Ashmont had dated her for five years and then dumped her by text for a skinny blonde socialite, but the point was…that was her type. Except for the cheating and inability to commit.
She looked over at the sheriff again. The Gray wolves were the largest wolf species, and in human form, he towered over other men and other members of his pack. He had thick curly brown hair, tanned skin, and cheekbones that spoke of Native American heritage. He was slow-dancing with a slender, pretty bleached blonde with perfectly arched eyebrows and painted on size 2 jeans, and she was rubbing her body against him and staring up into his eyes.
When the song ended, he spun away from the blonde, bowed to her gallantly, and then walked away to the bar, pushing his way through the crowd. The blonde looked crestfallen and tried to follow him, but he didn’t look back, and the crowd closed behind him, with clusters of women pushing and jostling to get close. The blonde stared for a minute, sour-faced, and then stalked off and grabbed the first man she saw, a tall lanky beanpole of a human, and they began dancing together to the sounds of Carrie Underwood.
The sheriff leaned up against the bar and ordered a drink. Ginger found herself openly staring. He was wearing a t shirt and blue jeans which perfectly molded to the muscular half-globes of each butt cheek. From behind, she could see the broad spread of his shoulders, and the swell of his rounded biceps.
The bartender put a tequila shot in front of him and another in front of the woman next to him, a beautiful brunette with carefully waved hair. Ginger watched with rising indignation as the sheriff poured salt onto the woman’s neck and licked it off. The woman threw her head back in pure pleasure as the sheriff licked, and Ginger noticed that he took his sweet time about it, running his tongue slowly up the curve.
Man-whore, Ginger thought self-righteously.
Then the sheriff bit his wedge of lime and slammed his tequila shot, and the people crowded around him roared in approval.
“Caught you looking,” Marigold said.
“Oh, whatever,” Ginger said. “Just passing the time.” She tore her gaze away and turning back to face her friend. Marigold looked like an elf, right down to the blonde pixie haircut streaked with black, an adorable, giggling little elf who always had mischief on her mind. It was part of the fun of hanging out with her.
Except on a night like tonight, when Ginger was still nursing the bruises on her heart and Marigold, as usual, was bouncing around like a bottle of soda that someone had just shaken, just looking for a way to stir things up.
Ginger wasn’t quite ready to dip her foot back in the dating pool just yet. She’d agreed to go out to the Hoot Owl just to observe from afar, and also so she could tell her friends back in New York she’d been to a real live honky tonk. She, Marigold, and their new friend Winifred were sitting at a small table in the back of the room eating burgers and fries and drinking frosty mugs of beer.
So far what she’d seen wasn’t that different than any bar in New York City – humans and shifters mingled happily, the music on the jukebox was modern and ran to songs like Zac Brown and The Band Perry, and everyone but her was having a great time.
She estimated that the crowd was about 60 percent human, 40 percent shifters of various species – mostly wolf, coyote, and panther. As a werewolf, she could tell by the smell, although the eyes gave it away too. Shifters had pupils that were shaped like the pupils of their animal species, and the colors of their irises came from a different color pallete than that of humans.
“You should totally do him, by the way,” Marigold added, tossing a glance in the sheriff’s direction.
Ginger choked on a French fry and coughed so hard she had to drink half her mug of beer before she could talk again. “Crazy woman say what?” she finally managed, blinking her watery eyes.
“Why not? The entire point of this vacation was for you to get over whats-his-dick,” Marigold said, stuffing a handful of French fries into her mouth and chewing. “What better way to get over him than with a hot vacation fling? It’ll be like a palate cleanser.”
Where did all that food go? Ginger wondered idly, and not for the first time. Certainly not to Marigold’s butt or thighs. She’d long suspected Marigold had a tiny black hole in her stomach which ported all calories to another dimension.
She took a deep breath and used her calm, even-toned, “reasoning with a crazy person” voice. “Okay, first of all, he has no interest in me. Look at all these skinny wenches rubbing themselves all over him. He can take his pick.”
“Actually, I have been informed by locals that women of corpulance are considered to be more attractive in this community. And fuller figured werewolves are just about unheard of, so due to your rarity you would be looked upon as an exceptionally desirable mating partner,” Winifred Hamilton said.
Winifred, an archeology student who was staying at the same boarding house as Ginger and Marigold, was studying the room with the fascination of an anthropologist in a remote Amazon village. She was in town with a group taking part in a fossil dig. Ginger and Marigold had dragged her out to the honky tonk with them that night so she wouldn’t spend yet another evening poring over textbooks until her eyes crossed.
She was a pretty girl, probably, but she insisted on wearing her hair pinned up in a severely unflattering bun that she stabbed through with two pencils to hold it in place, and she wore oxford shirts buttoned up to her chin. Then again, she looked at men with purely academic interest, so her lack of game didn’t seem to bother her at all.
“I’m pretty sure what she’s saying is, fat chicks are considered hot here,” Marigold translated.
“Yes. That is what I just stated, although in a more scientifically accurate form,” Winfired said, her eyes puzzled behind her oval gold-rimmed glasses.
“It’s true,” their waitress chimed in, leaning over to refill their pitcher of beer. “I would kill to have your figure.”
“Really?” Ginger said, startled, glancing down at herself.
“Oh, my God yes. I’d be getting so much action.”
Marigold had insisted that she wear a low cut yellow sundress which displayed the generous swell of her breasts, and which kind of made her look like she had a waistline by flaring out over her size 16 hips. She’d sprayed de-frizzing jell on her big mop of red curls and pinned her hair up with a flowery barrette. She had, indeed, been getting quite a few glances since she came in, and even some invitations to dance, but she’d begged off.
She’d chalked it up to the locals being polite, or the fact that as the new girl in town, she was a novelty. Although now that she thought about it, Marigold was also the new girl in town, and she’d literally gotten more attention from the local men than Marigold had gotten, which never happened in New York.
“So, about the affair that you’re going to have with Mr. Hot Stuff…” Marigold nodded her head at the sheriff, who was back on the dance floor, dancing with yet another woman.
“Are you kidding me? I can’t stand him, just on general principle! Look how arrogant he is!” Ginger shot him a disdainful look and turned her attention back to the big plate of salty French fries at their table.
“Why did you even want to come here, if you’re going to deny yourself the pleasure of a mindless vacation fling with a big-muscled Neanderthal?’
“I came here to put as much physical distance as I could financially afford, between myself and that cheating, lying, useless pig of an ex-boyfriend of mine. Not that I’m bitter,” Ginger said, and downed a third of a mug of beer in one gulp.
“No, not at all. I can see that.”
Ginger’s boyfriend had been considerate enough to dump her over the summer, which meant that she had a couple of weeks free before she had to teach summer school.
Unfortunately, on her grade school teacher’s salary, she didn’t have the money to go on a round the world trip or a swinging singles cruise. Instead, she’d settled for tagging along with her room-mate Marigold to Blue Moon County, Florida, where Marigold’s 89-year-old aunt ran a boarding house. They were getting free room and board in exchange for doing chores.
“And if you like him so much, why don’t you sleep with him?” Ginger groused.
“Nahh, I’m going to have sex with the bartender. We’ve been fondling each other with our eyes all night.” Marigold looked at the bartender and winked. He winked back. He was a muscular, handsome werewolf with big arms covered with colorful tattoos, a tight t-shirt and a gold ring in one ear.
What was really going to happen was that Marigold was going to flirt outrageously, then wimp out and flee without closing the deal, but Ginger didn’t bother to correct her.
Marigold, unfortunately, was a love psychic. It was kind of like a curse. She would flirt with a guy, then peer into the future to see how their relationship would play out…and then it wasn’t any fun to follow through with it. She also had the ability to predict the outcome for other people, which is what she did for a living in New York – but she refrained from doing it for her friends.
The music slowed, and suddenly Marigold nudged Ginger so hard that Ginger almost spilled her beer. The sheriff was standing at the bar again, but this time he was staring in the direction of Ginger, Winifred and Marigold.
A slow smile curled his lips. He set his drink down on the bar and wiped his hands on his jeans, and he began pushing his way through the crowd towards them.
Ginger’s heartbeat sped up with alarm and she quickly dropped her gaze. What a player, she thought indignantly. He was going to come ask Marigold to dance with him after he’d just rubbed up against half the female population of Blue Moon Junction. If Marigold ended up going home with him, she’d end up just another notch on his leather belt.
Marigold deserved better than that. Sure, she came off as flighty and frivolous, but she was a fiercely loyal friend and deep down, her whole flirty femme fatale act was just a cover up for her insecurity.
Ginger half-watched him making his way through the crowd, while pretending not to look. He moved with a slow, rolling sensuality and perfect self-confidence, and people parted before him like waves in the wake of a mighty ocean liner. Women stared at him adoringly. Men watched with admiration and envy. As he reached their table, his gaze swept the women from head to toe, and a sensual, self-assured smile curled his lips. His eyes gleamed, and he glanced at Marigold, before his gaze slowly drifted to Ginger.
Unfortunately, his proximity had a strange physical effect on Ginger, one she’d never experienced before, even in the company of the best-looking of men. It was like someone had flipped on a switch to all the erogenous zones in her body and sent lightning bolts sizzling down her neural pathways. Also, her no-no parts tingled and went damp.
She squeezed her thighs together hard and tried to look away, but his golden-brown eyes were strangely hypnotic and she sat there staring at him helplessly, her heart pounding against her ribcage.
“Dance with me,” he commanded, holding his hand out to her to help her from her seat.
Dance with me? He’d actually just ordered her to dance with him? He’d come over to the corner of the room to graciously grant the chubby girl a pity dance, and he couldn’t even ask, he just commanded? Of course he did, because what were the odds that a wall-flower like Ginger would ever say no?
Pretty damned good, as it turned out.
“Excuse me? No!” she spluttered.
Marigold choked on a French fry. Winifred turned to stare at her with avid interest. The waitress dropped her tray and half a dozen drinks crashed to the floor, but she made no move to pick them up, standing and staring at Ginger in astonishment.
Ginger suddenly realized that the music had paused and the entire bar was staring at her. It was like a scene out of a movie. And she had always loathed the spotlight.
The sheriff’s jaw was hanging open and his eyes were wide with surprise.
“I’m sorry…what did you say?” he asked.
“Are you heard of hearing? I said…No!” she said indignantly. “No, I will not dance with you.”
She quickly climbed to her feet, fished in her purse, and threw a twenty dollar bill on the table to cover their tab.
She pushed her way through the crowd, cheeks heating with embarrassment as Marigold and Winifred followed in her wake. Her original plan before she’d come to the bar was to drink enough beer that maybe, just maybe, she’d loosen up and flirt with a few guys, but that was going to be hard to do now that everybody in the bar was staring at her like she’d just grown a third boob.
Walking to the little table in the back of the bar had taken about a minute when they’d arrived earlier. Walking back out, now…that was an entirely different story. Decades passed and new presidents were elected as Ginger made her way through the crowd, who were mostly frozen in poses of complete astonishment.
Outside, bathed in the blinking neon red light of the Hoot Owl Hoedown sign, Winifred glanced at the bar behind them with interest. “That was fascinating. I feel that you may have unintentionally violated some type of implicit and yet unstated cultural mores in your rejection of the Alpha male’s advances.”
“You know, you keep talking like that, you’re never going to get laid,” Marigold said from behind them.
“I fail to see the connection between my speech patterns and the future possibility of my indulging in coitus,” Winifred said. “Then again, I frequently have a difficult time comprehending and correctly processing the thought processes of the non-academic crowd.”
“I think she just called you stupid, but I’m not actually smart enough to be sure,” Ginger said. “Did I ruin things for you and the bartender?”
“I don’t think it was meant to be,” Marigold shrugged. “I looked into our future. It doesn’t end well.”
The night air was warm and humid, and a fat yellow moon hung overhead. Ginger could swear the man in the moon was glowering down at her with disapproval.
They walked across the parking lot towards the pickup truck which Marigold had borrowed from her great-aunt for their visit.
“You know, I think Winifred was right,” Marigold added as they climbed into the truck. Did you see how the crowd stared at you when you said no? I mean, I’m only human, but I’m just wondering…is it a good idea to publicly insult the Alpha like that?”
“Publicly insult…oh, please, he publicly insulted me! Did you hear how patronizing he was when he asked me to dance?”
“Still. He’s the Alpha, you’re not.”
“Hmmph. He needed to be taken down a peg or two,” Ginger grumbled. “Besides, I’m sure it will all have blown over by tomorrow morning.”