Taming His Mate

By: M. Limoges
Chapter One

A high-pitched howl reached through the barrier of sleep and tugged Kate Matthews into semi-consciousness. Rolling onto her side, she groaned and smothered her head beneath her pillow. Another bay penetrated the memory-foam fabric jammed over her ears. Throwing the cushion on the other side of the bed, she flopped on her back and stared at the ceiling fan as yet another howl shattered the last vestige of sleep.

Damn it, Stephen.

Kate flung the covers off her legs, jumped from the bed, and stomped across the chilly hardwood floor to her bedroom window. Squinting in the darkness, she spotted one of her tennis shoes beside her foot and grabbed it. Armed, she jerked the window open and hurled her makeshift missile at the large, gray wolf loitering on her back lawn. The beast swerved clear of the canvas bomb at the last second.

An iridescent pop of light gave way to the human form of Stephen Dorsett. As moonlight illuminated his nude body, he gazed up at her, wearing an amused expression that pissed her off and turned her on at the same time.

“And a good morning to you, Sunshine.” His voice oozed with syrupy sweetness, infuriating her more.

“You’re really starting to annoy me with this shit.” She pushed the words past her gritted teeth.

“Aw, did I wake you up?”

She snatched up a second shoe and chucked it at him, this time smacking his bare shoulder.

The man just laughed and shook his head. “Come for a run with me, Kate.”

“Are you out of your feeble mind? Go away.”

“Well then, come out and talk to me a minute before I head home. Or you could just invite me in.”

“Jesus Christ, Stephen.” She glanced over her shoulder at the digital clock on her bedside table. “It’s four in the morning!”

“Please.” He tilted his head to the side, and his bright eyes glinted. “Come on, Kate. Just for a minute.”

Hell, she’d never get rid of him if she didn’t. The idiot would stand outside and howl himself hoarse.

As if he’d plucked the thoughts from her head, a lazy smile curled his lips. “You know I won’t leave until you do.”

Kate scowled a moment before slamming the window shut. Stumbling around her room in the dark, she grabbed a sweatshirt and pair of pajama pants that had seen better days and threw them on over her nightshirt. She trudged down the stairs and through the house then out the backdoor, the screen banging closed behind her.

And there he was. The man she’d secretly been in love with since she was a girl.

She leaned her hip against the wood railing and allowed her gaze to sweep over him. Clad in a pair of jeans he’d gotten from God only knew where, he sprawled on the swing at the other end of her porch. She tried in vain not to notice the sinewy contours of his chest or the golden trail of hair running the length of his chest and disappearing into his pants. Only he could manage to pull off the seriously hot look at four in the morning.

The smug bastard.

Suddenly aware of her old, ratty sweatshirt and worn pajama pants, Kate straightened and tugged at the bottom of her shirt, pulling it over her hips.

Stephen patted the opposite side of the swing. “There’s plenty of room for you. I won’t bite.” He winked. “Unless you want me to, Sunshine.”

“Are you always such a pervert?” She shot him a frosty glower and, against her better judgment, crossed the porch to sit beside him. “No wonder you can’t get laid.”

“I’m holding out for one woman in particular.” He stretched his arm across the slat of wood behind her neck. “She keeps playing hard-to-get, though.”

All it took was one innocent touch or a few sweet words and the heart she’d given him long ago fluttered erratically in her chest. She inhaled the cool, early morning air and forced herself to maintain focus, which was difficult when his arm brushed the nape of her neck as the swing rocked back and forth.

Of course, it never took reality long to intrude and remind her that a life with him was out of the question. As long as she was unable to shift, she had nothing to offer.

Thankfully, no one in the Black Hills Pack suspected her secret. Or if they did, they’d never confronted her with it. How she’d managed to avoid the pack’s notice this long still astounded her, but it was only a matter of time before someone learned of her affliction.

As a young girl, while under Magnum’s rule, she recalled the pack’s treatment of one shifter who suffered the same infirmity. The poor man had been regarded as nothing more than a pariah, an outcast among his own people, and driven out of town with the threat of death. It hadn’t taken the man long to disappear. If that’s truly what happened to him….