Beautiful Moves(Shifting Steel Book 3)(9)

By: Stephanie West

You’re doing it again. Damn it.

Wolf shook his head when he realized he’d spent half an hour sitting outside trying to get a bead on the woman, and the only thing it had earned him was a hard-on.

Son of a bitch.

Wolf got out of the car, and adjusted his jacket to hide his wayward libido. Otherwise, she’d take one look at him, and know she had him right where she wanted him. Wolf put on a stern unaffected expression as he entered the office.

“Bella Roulant” Her name rolled off his tongue and she turned with a surprised look.

“Yes. Call me Ella. So, you own this place?” She asked, appearing slightly surprised.

“Yes. My sister, Char, said you needed to meet with me, Bella.”

Wolf refused to call her by the shortened version of her name. Not only was the name on her lease gorgeous, like the woman, but Ella was a nickname, and as much as his inner beast wanted to get familiar with Little-Miss-Straight-Lace, they weren’t.

Ella stood and presented her small hand. Her long delicate fingers, with manicured nails, hung in the air, waiting for him to shake. Wolf took her hand, and instantly a strange shock moved up his arm, as she gripped him in her firm grasp. Ella was stronger than she looked.

Wolf’s beast decided to make itself known. Most of the time he had a handle on his primal side, but every now and then something sent it surging to the forefront. Sex and violence being the biggest triggers.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Wolf.” The reply came out sounding deeper than he intended.

“Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Wolf. Sorry that Wright bit you last night.”

“It’s just Wolf, not Mr. Wolf, and don’t worry about your pup.”

Wolf still held her hand, trying to determine why Ella made his beast come to attention with a simple touch. It’s not like he hadn’t touched gorgeous women before. Shifters didn’t have trouble in that department.

Ella lowered her eyes and Wolf realized he’d been staring at her. The shy look caught him off guard.

“Okay, Wolf, thank you for meeting with me.” Ella extricated her small hand from his much larger one, and the strange sensation disappeared. “I’ll get straight to it, and not waste your time. I’m going to be rather late on my second month’s rent. I am willing to pay a late fee if possible.”

Wolf practically had to shake himself to get his beast under control. It was begging him to grab hold of her again.

“I appreciate that you let me know. But you just moved in, and you’re already going to be in arrears?” he asked, attempting to not let too much of his animal leak into his voice.

“Yes. I’m sorry. I feel awful asking this.”

“Rent’s not that much. If you don’t have the money now, what makes you think you’re going to have it later? And then again the month after that?”

Wolf watched as Ella’s face hardened and that barrier went up. It was like a light switch had been flipped, leaving him in the dark. It was uncanny and disconcerting.

“You are correct. I will have my things out by the end of the month.” Ella nodded curtly.

Wolf caught a flicker of something in her eyes as she turned to leave.

On one hand, he had to hand it to her, for not bawling and trying to manipulate him with tears. He’d known more than a few chicks that used waterworks, when their tits didn’t work to get them what they wanted. Instead, Ella sucked it up with just a small slip. But on the other hand, her stoic response pissed him off more than if she had tried the weepy routine.

What the hell kind of woman shoves down her emotions so effectively? How does she do that? Some Shifters weren’t even that good at shielding themselves.

“Is that it? You’re just giving up, and moving?” Wolf found himself demanding.

Ella turned and looked at him. The veiled pain that snuck past her calm mask nearly leveled him, before she again schooled her features.

“Would it matter? You don’t know me from Adam. And I don’t know your situation. You probably need every dollar you earn to pay the mortgage. Thank you for your time.” Ella pivoted toward the door on her stiletto heels.

Man, she’s one tuff cookie.

“Bullshit,” Wolf barked and Ella gasped. She was indeed straight-laced if cussing offended her. “You can’t give me a single reason why I should extend you a favor?”

“Wolf, my excuse shouldn’t matter.” Ella straightened her shoulders. “I assumed that by coming to you openly, if you could afford to help me and were so inclined, you would. You say that you cannot. I accept that. No argument.” She was aggravated, but she also appeared tired.