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Catching the Vixen

Catching the Vixen

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When I crashed a bachelor auction for The Real Werewives of Alaska, the producers immediately offered me a contract for the show. Problem is, my parents are already contestants, and that hot quarterback I placed the winning bid for? He’s my dad’s protégé.

Those producers want me to do something outrageous to get the viewers’ attention, and I plan to deliver. All my dad’s grumbling won’t keep me away from lion shifter Tyler Jones.

The lion thing could pose a problem because I’m half-human, half-fox, and all wild child. My plan is to play with the big cat and move on. That is, until I shift for the very first time. Now my animal wants something more. Like forever.

I thought dealing with my dad’s disapproval was an issue, but if I’m going to play for keeps with Tyler, I need to win his family over first.

Whoever said being a vixen was easy?

Find out what happens when fate brings these star-crossed lovers together!

Main Tropes

  • Cinnamon roll lion shifter
  • First time shift
  • Quarterback hero
  • Fun and fearless fox heroine
  • Dating Reality Show
  • Dating dad's coworker

Read Chapter One

I had a ritual. Every morning, I made butter coffee and
opened the "Ask a Werewife" webpage. Not one episode of The Real Werewives of Alaska had aired
yet, but we already had people’s attention.

Just how I liked it.

Q: Which one of the
Bloodhounds is the funniest? Who has the best dance moves?

I took a sip of my coffee. I wished my roommates showed some
interest in this column, because my answers were pretty biased.

Wait until you get to
the auction episode. I won’t spoil anything for you, but if this football thing
doesn’t work out for backup QB Tyler Jones, he could join an all-male review.

Q: How does a Werewife
know she’s found her fated mate?

I stared at the screen, realizing I had no idea what the
answer was. A piece of me thought the fated mate thing was total crap. A carrot
they dangled in front of the Werewives to get them to sign the contract. Like
there was some invisible ink tattoo on someone’s forehead that said they
belonged to another person.

I’ll tell you when I
find him.

Q: What’s the most
romantic thing a Bloodhound has done to woo his Werewife?

I hated that I couldn’t brag on Tyler here. He’d been
keeping his distance ever since he found out I was Landon Fox’s daughter. Like
Dad, Tyler chose football over me.  

I wasn’t the type of girl who had to chase after a man. I never
had to. I didn’t know how to handle this.

Don’t miss tomorrow
night’s premiere,
I typed. Sebastian
and Naomi’s love story will make you swoon.

Tessa, my producer, would love that answer. She’d given me
carte blanche with the column, because I was the only one who thought answering
these questions was fun. All she asked was that I plug the TV show.

Q: What do the
Werewives do when they’re not out on dates with the Bloodhounds?

This question came up a lot.

I can only speak for
myself, but I like to spend my afternoons making myself pretty and raising
hell. And nights are all about hot tub time.

It was in my best interest to make them look forward to my
episode. But as I hit send and shut down the site for the morning, I worried
that I didn’t have what it took to be a Real Werewife.

It wasn’t the Tyler thing. There were a couple dozen single
shapeshifters on the team who would be more than happy to play with me. That
was, if my Dad didn’t threaten their lives for trying. The problem was, I never
planned on becoming a Werewife. Mom signed up for the show and dragged me up to
Holiday Falls under the guise of wanting me to spend more time with Dad—which I
was, but she was spending much more time with him too—and now they were back
together. I crashed a bachelor auction, and instead of getting led out in
handcuffs, production asked me to consider sending in an application for the
show.

A chance to star in a reality show? I was made for this
role. Sign me up.

But shapeshifters weren’t into casual dating. I’d never
heard the term "fated mates" until I already signed on the dotted
line. Turns out, these ladies were looking for someone interested in forever.

I’d just turned eighteen. The idea of one guy for the rest
of my life gave me hives. If I wasn’t a fox shifter like my dad, I’d be
stocking up on Benadryl. I just wanted to have some fun and be a reality TV
star. I’d been too busy imagining my face on all the gossip sites and potential
product endorsements to pay much attention to the fine print. It should’ve been
easy to get one of the guys to stir up some trouble with me in front of the
cameras. Most guys I’d dated in the past certainly weren’t looking at the long
haul.

But I’d never dated a shapeshifter before. When they took a
mate, they meant business of the forever kind.

“I knew I’d find you here.” Tessa came and sat with me on
the couch. “Is there any more coffee?”

“Yeah, but we’re almost out of coconut oil.” And the mixer
was in the sink. I wasn’t the only Werewife doing keto, or the only one who
promised their potential mate a striptease. Almost everyone was on some kind of
new lifestyle, as we called it. Diets were frowned upon. “And of course you’d
find me here, where else would I go? We’re in the middle of nowhere, Alaska.”

“I never know with you, Fiona.” Tessa got up to pour coffee
into a mug. She drank it black. “As you know, the show premieres tomorrow night.”

“Sure do. I’ve got a hot little dress for the party, too.”
My plan was to make sure the only show Tyler watched during the premiere was
me.

“Wouldn’t expect anything less.” She grinned as she took her
first sip. “Will Tyler Jones be your date?”

“As long as my dad lets him take me out,” I grumbled.

“Don’t be so hard on him,” she said. She didn’t clarify
which him I should ease up on. “There’s
a hierarchy in the locker room, and those guys put team before everything
else.”

I scoffed. “Don’t I know it.”

Dad had never been a big part of my life. He was always on
the road, playing football. As exciting as it was to have a famous dad, it was
also sobering to realize I’d signed myself up to mate with a younger version of
him. My dad was awesome, but he moved almost every year, and until I moved to
Alaska, I only saw him on holidays.

“It’s a good thing,” Tessa insisted. “It means he’s
focused.”

“I want my mate”—I hated that word, because it implied something
more than I was ready for—“to be focused on me.”

“That’s what I came to talk to you about.” She was up to no
good. Determined women know their own kind. I wasn’t sure if I loved or hated
her for it yet, but I certainly respected her drive. “We’ll be filming the
premiere party, and the network has decided to broadcast it live. We need to
make a big splash with the lead-in to make sure the viewers stay tuned for
Sebastian and Naomi’s story.”

I curled my fingers around my mug and grinned. “What do you
want me to do?”

“You know we don’t write scripts for our couples.” They
didn’t, but Tessa had no problem giving us a firm shove in the direction she
thought was good for the show. She laughed. “And nothing I’d suggest would be
half as much fun as what you’d come up with on your own.”

“So you want something outrageous.” My specialty.

“Just make sure it gets past the censors. We’ll be on a five-second
delay.” She rose from the couch, her work done as soon as my wheels started
spinning. “And don’t piss off the sponsors, either. They’re keeping a roof over
your head.”

“I’ll make sure I horrify everyone.” I laughed when her
mouth dropped. “Within reason, of course.”

“I knew I could count on you.” She winked at me before she
left.

Now to come up with the perfect, just outrageous enough,
thing to do. When I bid on Tyler at the auction, I offered to strip for him in
a champagne bath. Even though he chose it as the winning bid, he had yet to
collect his winnings. Ugh. My dad was running some serious interference in my
dating life. If he pulled this crap on the field, there would be a flag on the
play.

Maybe Tyler’s worried
about forever too.
The sound of another voice made me jump on the couch,
splashing coffee on my sweatpants. I wasn’t often alone in the condo, but my
other roommates were either working with my mom at her new restaurant, or
they’d gone into Holiday Falls for a little pampering before the premiere
party.

I put my mug down and checked the rooms downstairs,
wondering what the hell I’d do if I actually found an intruder. Of all the
times for the camera crew to leave me to my own devices. I locked the doors as
I passed them for good measure. No one was there. It didn’t make me feel
better.

He’d make a good mate.

What the…? There it was again. Now I knew I was definitely
alone and the voice was coming from inside my head.

Crap. It could only mean one thing—my fox picked now of all
times to make an appearance, and I was going to shift soon.

Okay, that was two things. I’d throw in a third for good
measure. I needed my dad.

I was freaking out. I only knew that shifting correlated
with mating. Not choosing a partner, but the making little Fionas kind of
mating. No one was ready for that. Especially me. I traded my coffee-soaked
sweats for leggings and headed to the Bloodhounds practice bubble.

One advantage to having a league MVP quarterback for a dad
was I knew my way around a football facility. I waited for him outside the
locker room. Tyler came out first. He looked so hot with his compression jersey
clinging to his muscles, and those gold eyes. I’d swear they were on fire.

And no, my heart did not skip a beat when I saw him.

Yes, it did.

Oh, shut up, voice. It had gone from terrifying to annoying
in the course of about an hour.

“Looking forward to tonight,” Tyler said. He was close, but
he didn’t kiss me. If I were still in California, I would’ve grabbed him and
played a little tonsil hockey. But on the off chance this was forever…

What the heck was I thinking?

“Tessa said tonight’s party will be broadcast live.” I
wiggled my eyebrows at him. “Ready to play, rookie?”

He leaned in closer, but still no kiss. He smelled good,
like soap and aftershave and I knew he tasted even better. I had a serious
craving for more. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

I heard the rumbling behind me before I saw Dad. I rolled my
eyes, and Tyler did his best to contain his grin. Dad had threatened his
life—and his manhood—on more than one occasion when it came to me.

“I’ll meet you here before the party,” I said to Tyler before
I turned around. “Hi, Daddy.”

“Hey, sweetheart.” He kissed my forehead. “How’s my favorite
Werewife?”

“Mom’s great.” I laughed, nudging him. “But I’m here to talk
about me.”

“My favorite subject.” Sometimes Dad tried a little too
hard. He motioned for me to follow him and led me to the stairwell. “Didn’t
expect to see you until tonight. Thought you’d be getting ready for the party. What’s
going on?”

It wasn’t often that I went to Dad for advice. Until a couple
weeks ago, we were acquaintances who were forced to spend some awkward holidays
together. I usually got back on the plane wondering what I could’ve done to
make him want to be a bigger part of my life. Now that he was in it, he’d been
kinda rumbly lately. Maybe he wanted me to go away again.

He wants to help.
That voice knew everything. He’ll
understand.

Dad wrinkled his nose when I jumped back against the railing.
I never realized I got the nose thing from him. I always did that. Must have
been a fox thing.

“You okay?” he asked.

I gave the mystery voice another chance to talk to me, but
now that I wanted to hear what it had to say, it went silent. Well played, voice.
I took a deep breath. “Remember when I asked you about shifting, and you asked
me about my animal?”

He grabbed onto the railing beside me. “Of course I do.”

“Can you elaborate on that a little bit? I’ve been hearing
these voices in my head and I need to make sure I’m not crazy.”

“That’s always debatable.” Dad smirked when I whacked him. “You’re
not crazy. When my fox talks to me it sounds like someone’s standing beside me,
but it’s in my head because he’s part of me.”

I nodded. My muscles actually hurt as stress left them. The
voice thing freaked me out, even if there had been a perfectly logical
explanation for it. I’d been raised as a human and I hadn’t been exposed to
what it was like to be an animal too. I’d only seen Dad after a shift once,
when he showed up at the Werewife condo totally naked. Embarrassing. “That’s
exactly what it sounds like. I guess that means I’m going to shift.”

“Yeah.” Dad’s face paled, becoming almost the same color as
his gray beard and hair. “I didn’t start hearing my animal until right before I
shifted.”

He’d said he only shifted when he was about to fight or
mate. I was definitely a lover, not a fighter.

“I’m not ready to mate,” I said. Some of the color returned
to his face. “So that’s my fox, as you call it?”

“Sounds like it.”

“What’s the point of the voice? To let me know I’m about to
sprout fur, or does she serve another purpose besides telling me it’s time to
up my waxing game?”

Dad laughed. “My animal keeps it real. Sometimes he confirms
what I’m thinking, and sometimes he tells me what I need to hear, whether I
like it or not.”

“Like what?” I never let naysayers get me down, and I
doubted that would change if the voice was coming from inside me.

But if it was coming from inside me, was that what I really
wanted? Crap. This shifting thing was complicated.

“It kicks my ass into shape when I’m not focused. And it
reminds me what’s really important.” Dad’s gaze fell to floor. “It gave me a
lot of shit about you. I made a lot of mistakes, Fiona. I realize that now. I
always thought I was doing the right thing, but my fox frequently pointed out
that was bullshit.”

I hugged him. “Don’t beat yourself up about that stuff. If
you weren’t such a big football star, I wouldn’t be a Real Werewife of Alaska.”

“The high price of fame.” He pulled away with a groan but
couldn’t contain his grin. “All kidding aside—you’re going to shift soon. I can
smell it. And if I can smell it, it means every other shifter you come in
contact with can smell it, too.”

 “What does that
mean?” I needed a crash course on all things fox. Not everyone would be as
friendly as Tyler. I could be under attack if someone thought I looked like a
tasty little snack.

“They’ll all want to make you their mate.”

No wonder Dad was so rumbly lately.

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