Protected by the Rogue Wolf
Protected by the Rogue Wolf
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My first lesson? Freedom came with a price. My friends and family refused to support me.
So I turned to The Real Werewives—not only for the camaraderie of the other she-wolves, but to find the love I deserved.
It's not all lights, camera, fated mate—my ex isn’t ready to let me go.
I met Carlos at a kickoff party for the show. When he stands up to my ex, my she-wolf is all in. But Carlos has a past too, one he wasn’t ready to walk away from.
A past he’s determined to make right.
There are new rules in the Sawtooth pack, but Carlos is playing it anything but safe. When I learn what brought him to Granger Falls, there’s no way I can let him go through with his assignment.
Can the wolf hired to kill my ex be the one to save the pack?
- Growly, protective alpha wolf shifter...who's also an assassin
- A wolf on a mission to avenge his pack
- Curvy single mom heroine
- Challenging old traditions
- Dating Reality Show
- Fated Mates
Read Chapter One
Read Chapter One
My ex-husband had forbidden me from going to The Redheaded
Stepchild, the rough-and-tumble bar on the outskirts of Granger Falls. Which
made me wonder what else he’d been hiding from me.
I stood in front of it, a red carpet beckoning me inside,
and my new best friend, Luna, squeezed my hand when she knew damn well I was
about to flee.
“Come on, we’re going to be famous.” She tugged again. Our
future could be inside that bar. And what I did next would change my life
“I don’t know about famous,” I said with a nervous chuckle.
“I just want to make sure our story gets told.”
“It totally will.” Luna took a deep breath as she surveyed
the scene. Barrel lights crisscrossed in the parking lot, accompanying the tour
bus that proclaimed The Real Werewives had come to town. “We’re obsessed
with the couples from the first season, and soon, people will be watching us.”
The ink on my contract was barely dry, and I was questioning
everything, just like I had been ever since I’d left Tate.
Our alpha, Shadow Channing, had changed the course of the
pack. She-wolves who had been “contracted”—Oh hell, no need to be polite about
it anymore: I’d been sold.
She-wolves who had been sold to their mates were free
to leave the arrangement. After twelve years of marriage to one of the most prominent
members of the pack, I’d shocked everyone by asking for my freedom.
My first lesson? Freedom came with a price. My family and
friends refused to support me.
“The protesters are here.” They’d been everywhere lately. Like
I hadn’t already been uncomfortable enough in this tiny blue dress and these
impossibly high heels. Now my stomach roiled.
Walk past them with your head held high, my she-wolf
pleaded. Your freedom is on the other side of that carpet.
My she-wolf had been waiting patiently for this very moment,
and she refused to let me blow it.
“Of course they are.” Luna fluffed her short electric blue
hair and winked at the protesters. “Shadow Channing freaked out the humans,
announcing that some of us go furry on the full moon. The rest are just haters wishing
they had our lady-balls. It’s our job to show them we can have everything they
won’t admit they want.”
Luna had figured out a way to avoid marrying her mate by
enacting a clever series of loopholes that kept her away from Sawtooth Forest
until it was safe to come back. She was a few years younger than me, and now
that she’d returned, I had a feeling she’d be scooped up by a waiting wolf
immediately. Which led me to my second doubt.
“We just got out of our marriage contracts. Should we really
be Real Werewives?”
“Absofuckinglutely.” Luna tugged on my arm and we started
the endless walk past the angry mob. “We finally have a chance to find our
fated mates. The wolves we were destined to be with. Season one had hunk after
hunk to choose from. I’d be happy to wake up next to any of those guys.”
She always made me laugh, and I never appreciated it more
than I did right now, when people I knew yelled at me, and held signs that said
Willow Go Home. People I’d invited into my house. People I’d worked with
on the Parent Teacher Association. People I’d taught yoga for years suddenly
saw me as a monster.
Prove them wrong, my she-wolf said.
“Waking up alone isn’t that bad.” I chuckled nervously,
turning away from the protesters to the second scariest thing in Granger Falls
at the moment—the press line. Light flashed in my face and a new set of
strangers called my name.
“What are you looking for in a fated mate, Willow?” one of
When I was a little girl, we had a book in Sawtooth Forest
that explained how wolves found their fated mates. It was my favorite bedtime
story, until one night, my mom told me she couldn’t read it to me anymore. She said
my fate had been decided.
“Someone who takes out the garbage without being asked and
That got a laugh out of everyone. Tate had always rolled his
eyes at my jokes. His family thought I was crass. Of course, they’d never said
it to my face, but it had ways of getting back to me.
“What do you want to tell all those protesters?” another
reporter called out.
I wanted to tell them a lot of things that would get beeped
out on national TV. But that would support their theory I wasn’t good enough
for my own happily ever after. And my daughter, Hazel, would never let me live
it down if I swore on camera.
At nine, she was already obsessed with reality TV. Especially
the videos that had recently gone viral from Forever Home Animal Shelter that
had inspired this season of The Real Werewives.
I was doing this for her. But I wouldn’t tell the reporters
“Everyone deserves a chance to find true love.”
Tessa Williams, the executive producer of The Real
Werewives, waved me into the club. She was technically my boss now, but I
was still a little star-struck every time I saw her. Before The Real
Werewives, she’d been a reporter for the Continental Football Association.
This woman took no shit. That was another reason I wanted to be on the show—to
channel some of her tenacity.
“Fantastic job out there,” she said when I came inside.
“I almost threw up when I saw the protesters.”
“Believe it or not, that’s confirmation you’re doing the
right thing.” She looked out and waved Luna inside. “You have an incredible
opportunity to set a new precedent for the next generation of she-wolves in
Sawtooth Forest. Those people with the signs are angry because they know those
young girls will fall in love right along with you.”
“This is amazing.” Luna had stars in her eyes when she
joined us. “Whoever thought Hollywood would come to Sawtooth Forest? Or we’d be
“Your lives are about to change. A camera crew will be
following each of you tonight, but first, I was hoping to bring you into the
confessional to get your impressions before we really get down to business.”
I was actually doing this. I’d signed on to have every gritty
detail of my life exposed to a national audience, who’d dissect it over watch
parties and bottles of rosé, just like Luna and I had the first season. I’d
contracted myself in a whole new way—to go on dates with potential forever
mates. Things would get steamy, and we’d probably head into a hot tub—I’d be
going on national TV in a bikini.
Holy crap, things were going to get hot. With a wolf who
“I’ll do it.” If I waited too long, my nerves would get the
best of me. Again.
Tessa’s face brightened. The Werewives in season one had
notoriously given her a hard time about pretty much everything. “Great. Follow me. Luna, don’t let things get
too wild. You’re next.”
Luna wiggled her eyebrows. “I make no promises.”
The Redheaded Stepchild was already packed, and the crowd
roared as a band took the stage.
“Never thought Granger Falls could be like this.”
She-wolves from the Sawtooth pack wore bikinis and danced on
the bar, swinging around and turning themselves upside down on poles.
“You haven’t seen anything yet.” Tessa chuckled. “Wait until
you go to Red Heaven. Come into the booth. It’s soundproofed.”
The silence was startling after the cacophony in the bar.
The makeshift confessional was a tiny box, barely big enough for the three
people and the camera equipment inside.
“What’s Red Heaven?” I asked.
“I thought it was legend in your pack. It’s a backroom, where
wolves like to take their ladies. Anything goes back there.”
“Oh.” My cheeks reddened at the thought. “I was married
until recently, and Tate never let me come here…” I let the thought trail off,
because I hated sounding weak, especially in front of a badass like Tessa. And I
didn’t want to think about what my ex knew about Red Heaven.
I tugged my too-short skirt as I sat on the stool and tried
to forget about the camera as Tessa settled across from me.
“You’re familiar with the confessional style from season
one, but I’ll remind you because I know it’s nerve-wracking to be in here for
the first time.” She was all business.
“It gets easier?”
She nodded. “Some of the Werewives would ask me to go into
the confessional to get stuff off their minds later in the season. If you ever
just need to talk, we can do that too, and shut the cameras off. We edit the
show to make it look easy. It’s not.”
That made me relax, a little.
“If you struggle with answering these questions, you won’t
be the only one. You’ll get better at it. That being said, a quick reminder of
the rules. The audience never hears my question, so make sure you include it in
your answer. Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
“What made you want to be a Werewife?”
“Why do I want to be a Werewife?” I took a deep breath to
make my voice stop shaking. There were so many reasons I had to do this. It
would either seal my new place in the pack or guarantee I’d forever be an
outsider. “She-wolves in the Sawtooth pack were sold to the highest bidder
instead of being allowed to find their forever mates. I was one of those
Tessa whistled low. “I don’t mean to interrupt, but that is
a perfect soundbite. Keep going. This is great.”
“It’s strange to talk pack business with a human, because
for years we had to hide what we were. Our alpha, Shadow Channing, changed
everything. He introduced our pack to the humans we’d been working beside, so
we could be who we truly are. And he declared all she-wolves free to leave
their contracts if they chose to. I chose my freedom.”
“Another amazing clip. Sorry, I’m getting excited.”
Tessa had done hundreds if not thousands of interviews and
she was geeking out over me?
“How has your life changed since you chose your freedom?”
That was a brutal question, and I considered my answer
carefully. I couldn’t let the protesters and haters get under my skin. “Things
haven’t been as I expected. A lot of wolves, ones I considered my friends, even
my own family, think I’ve done the wrong thing. Some of them are outside this
bar, holding signs proclaiming what a terrible person I am. My marriage… it
wasn’t bad. Tate—I can talk about him by name, right?”
“We’ll edit it out if it’s a problem.”
“Okay. Tate’s an important member of the pack. He owns a big
ranch on the outskirts of town, and honestly, we had a decent marriage. He’s a
great dad. A lot of people think I’m asking too much wanting more, when I had
it good already.”
My she-wolf always questioned that belief. In many ways, Tate
had kept me away from her, my true nature, and from fully being a member of the
pack. Like I was behind glass, watching my life unfold.
“What do you want from a forever mate?”
“I want to know what it feels like to be with my forever
mate. To fall so deeply in love with someone that I can’t breathe without him.
I want wild passion. But at the same time, I don’t want to belong to anyone in
the sense that I’m not allowed to make my own decisions. Does that even make
“You want a partner. A mate,” Tessa said, nodding. “I
wouldn’t have accomplished any of the things I did if I constantly had to ask my
husband Cole for permission. He has his life, and I have mine. I wouldn’t be
the same person without my own passions. What are you passionate about,
I was somewhat prepared to talk about my relationship with
Tate, and I’d been about to ask her to make sure that he didn’t look like the
bad guy if this ever made it to air. I’d spent my entire adult life making him
I was even prepared to talk about Hazel. I was definitely passionate
about her. I could talk about my yoga studio, but it didn’t feel big enough. What
did I really want?
What did I have to offer a potential mate?
Unwanted emotions closed their meaty fingers over my throat,
and I struggled to take in enough oxygen. “I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”
I got up and ran, ignoring Tessa’s pleas for me to try
again. I wasn’t ready for this. Not for the show, not for dating. I left the
box, assaulted by flashing lights and the screaming guitar.
Thirty years old, and I was so naïve.
I scanned the room, and attempted to duck Luna. I’d text her
from the parking lot and tell her I had to go. If I did it face to face, she’d
convince me to stay. Knowing her, she’d be surrounded by wolves convincing her
to give them a chance in no time.
Lost in my own thoughts, I slammed into a solid wall of
muscle. I could tell by his energy he was a wolf, but I didn’t know who he was,
which meant he wasn’t Sawtooth pack.
Not a good sign. Strange wolves were trouble.
“Sorry.” I backed away from him—just a couple steps, because
I had no intention of pinballing through the crowded Redheaded Stepchild. I’d
humiliated myself enough for one night.
Damn, this mystery wolf was hot. Dark hair that skimmed past
his shoulders, cheekbones I couldn’t fake with the world’s best contouring
skills, and haunted gray eyes.
This wasn’t the first time I’d seen him, and my already
scrambled brain raced to place him.
“Are you okay?” the wolf asked.
I dabbed my damp cheeks. I hadn’t realized I was crying.
“Never been better.”
A corner of his mouth turned up into a smile. “That’s a lie.
Need me to go talk to someone for you?”
“Something tells me you do your talking with your fists.”
He shrugged, neither confirming or denying that claim.
Don’t let him anywhere near Tessa. My she-wolf
snarled inside me and overwhelmed me with a feeling I wasn’t familiar with.
Possessiveness. She’d be able to cast a whole season of eligible Werewives
battling over him.
“I can handle Tessa Williams,” I said, trying to convince
myself more than him. “But I could really use a drink. Would you like to join