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Surprise Mate

Surprise Mate

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I came to The Real Werewives to help the wolf get the girl. But I never planned to be that girl.
Taking this job was risky. From the start, it was more than another gig. I had something to prove as much as the wolves on Colorado Ranch—that a pack could take human mates and make it last forever. My plan was to produce the shows, and never let any of them know why this meant so much to me before I went onto the next job.
Now we’re on the last episode. Sterling is one confused wolf. He’s brought many Werewives to the ranch, and now he’s decided 
I’m his mate. There’s no way I can be. Or can I? This wild wolf wants to break down the walls I’ve built around my heart and teach me a thing or two about myself.
But there’s a reason I’ve been running, and I can’t fall for him. If history repeats itself, I could be the downfall of this pack.

Main Tropes

  • Protective wolf shifter who's made mistakes but he's ready to claim his mate
  • Smokin' hot hero over 40
  • Cowboys
  • Curvy she-wolf with a broken heart
  • Dating Reality Show
  • Finally finding the place where you belong

Read Chapter One

“That’s not obvious at all.” I
couldn’t be mad at Stephanie and Tessa, even if they had that look on their faces—I’d caught them talking about me. There was only so long I could concentrate
on taking pictures while they whispered loudly in the corner of the front porch, openly sneaking glances at me.

Stephanie’s cheeks pinked when I
called her out.

“It’s no secret what we’re talking
about. We just…” She frowned. “We’re not sure how to move forward. Every time we mention Sterling, you shut us down.”

“Sterling is one confused wolf.” I glanced down at my camera, checking my shots. Saint had asked me to take photos of the
chalet as the pack prepared to reopen it to the public.  I hated to see this gig come to an end.

Things in The Real Werewives
universe were changing by the minute. We’d teamed up with our former network to air Roxy Carole’s interview special, where she was finally able to break free
from a rogue rock star wolf, a nefarious manager, and a wolf pack hellbent on domination, all done live and Werewives-style. Some of my former colleagues
thought we might win awards for our coverage of the drama that was on everyone’s lips, but that wasn’t enough to convince us to keep the show under
control of the network.

We were building an empire, one
Werewife at a time.

And the next Werewife sure as hell was not going to be me. I was all about helping the wolf get the girl, but I was not that girl.

Now that we had total control of our content, we were pushing the boundaries of what we could do like never before. I thought it was a great idea to experiment with making The Real Werewives
an interactive experience, until the audience wanted to see me go out on a date with Sterling.

 Not one of the many willing Werewives he’d called to Colorado Ranch.

Me.

Problem was, Sterling had decided I was his mate too.

And my coworkers? They couldn’t
resist an unexpected love connection. They were good for business.

“Confused is a good way to describe the situation. We’ve gone back and looked at some of the footage with the two
of you. When you were filming his dates,” Stephanie clarified when I raised a
brow.

“There’s definitely a spark,” Tessa
continued. “He’s different with you than he is with us. He seems more comfortable talking to you than with the Werewives we brought in for him.”

“Score one for my interviewing
skills.” I tried to laugh, but my heart was slamming against my chest.

I felt something for Sterling too.

Until now, I thought it was
sympathy. The wolf was having a hard time bridging both worlds and relating to his potential human mates.

I understood. More than I ever
planned to admit.

Tessa gave me the smile I’d dubbed her mom look long before she arrived at Colorado Ranch. An enemy pack had
stolen all our equipment and footage, thinking it would give them leverage in collecting a debt. Instead, it made the pack stronger, the Werewives come
together, and gave the crew opportunities we would never have dreamed of if we’d stayed with the network.

Tessa was a legend, a trailblazer, my idol, and she was not buying my brand of bullshit.

If I was to have an episode, which
I totally would not, my deterrent techniques wouldn’t work on Tessa. 

“Of course you’re great at your
job. But you need to watch the footage. There’s something there,” Stephanie added. “Ever since Sterling declared that you’re his mate, it’s so obvious. I
can’t believe we all missed it before.”

“He missed it, too.” I darted my
gaze away from my coworkers, wishing any of the Werewives still lived at the chalet. Besides Wendy, who certainly wasn’t coming to my rescue. “Maybe we
shouldn’t rush him to choose a mate. Once he marks someone, it’s forever. No changing his mind.”

Tessa raised a brow. “No changing his mind, or no changing your mind?”

“All of the above. If we need
content for our new channel, we should follow Bibi.” She’d quickly become a viewer favorite. Too bad she’d already headed to downtown Sunset Springs for
the night. She was the only resident of the chalet who’d show me any mercy.
“Our inboxes have been blowing up with people who want to know more about her. She’s
got a whole thread dedicated to her in the chat area. And we’d never be at a loss for material. She can do anything.”

“We’ve had Werewives on the fence before. But—”

I winced. So much for diverting
attention away from me.

“Sterling has a pretty compelling
argument for why he thinks you’re his mate. What would you say if another Werewife was in your shoes?”

She was too good at this. “I’d tell
them to give him a chance. If it doesn’t work out, then they wouldn’t have left anything on the table.”

“Good. Then we can start planning your episode.” The relief was visible on Stephanie’s face. “You can be part of it, or you can let us handle everything.”

“I didn’t say I’d do it.”

“It’s scary. I didn’t want to go in
front of the camera, either,” she said. “But I’m so glad I did. The idea of belonging to someone forever freaked me out. That Javier could accept all of
me, just how I was.”

“The two of you are perfect for
each other.”

“You couldn’t have told me that
before I had my episode. I had all the reasons it wouldn’t work. Why I wasn’t good enough.”

I gaped. She hadn’t exactly nailed
it, but she was getting warm.

I headed into the chalet and pulled the camera strap from around my neck. I placed it on the desk and rubbed my neck.
I needed a minute.

Tessa followed me into the office.
“If I didn’t agree to my episode, Jasmine would’ve never found Marcus. There wouldn’t have been a Sawtooth Forest season, which means Stephanie wouldn’t
have met Javier, and we wouldn’t have found the Colorado Ranch pack.”

“And I wouldn’t have a job.”

“Take the chance, Tina. You have no idea what will happen.”

The take one for the team
argument was compelling, but not quite enough to get me to commit.

“What do you think about Sterling?” Tessa asked.

I laughed. “Somehow I just won a
one-way ticket to the hot seat.”

“We’re getting a ton of viewer mail about Sterling.” Stephanie had joined us. “They want to know why he’s having so
much trouble finding his mate. And you know him in a totally different way. So even if you don’t wind up being the one, your insights could help us find his mate.”

“What is it that you always say? You’re here to help the wolf get the girl.” Tessa had no problem using my own words against me.

“But I’m not the girl.”

She sat on the edge of the desk. I slid the chair away and sat down. The hot seat wasn’t a physical location. It was a state of mind. She studied me and frowned.

“You haven’t shared much about
yourself,” she finally said. “I’ve been here for a few weeks now, living under the same roof, and I don’t feel like I know you yet.”

“We’ve been a little busy. The
ladies know how to bring the drama.” It took everything I had not to squirm in my chair. I liked working in television production because the crews came
together and worked closely, pushing our limits, but we always knew it wouldn’t last. It was easy to keep to myself until I was off to the next location.

But not on Colorado Ranch.

I knew things would be different
working on a dating reality show. And I was tempting fate being so close to wolves again.

But we were almost done. Just one more episode.

“You never share anything personal. It’s all business, all the time.” Stephanie frowned. “Don’t get me wrong, I love working with you. You’re great at what you do. But there’s more to you than just work. This business can do that to you. It’s easy to get lost in the craziness of it all.”

“Maybe I wanted to be lost.”

Stephanie and Tessa glanced at each other. I’d said too much.

“We’re here if you want to talk
about it. Even if you decide not to do the episode,” Stephanie said. “I couldn’t have made it through this season without you. I mean that. It’s like you have a sixth sense that kept situations from getting out of control.”

“Wait.” Tessa narrowed her eyes.
“Are you…a wolf?”

Stephanie shook her head. “We’d
know, wouldn’t we? Someone in the pack would’ve said something.”

I was constantly waiting for someone to see it in me. To confirm what I’d been denied for so long. Taking this job had been a giant risk—even more so because I hadn’t been upfront with Stephanie about who I really was. In my defense, it had never come up before now. And I
thought this would be like every other TV show gig I’d ever had in the last twenty years.

Not even close.

If the Colorado Ranch pack had
reacted to me like my last pack, I would’ve been fired. Or worse. Instead, they’d welcomed me with open arms. This place felt more like home than a production location.

Lying to Tessa Williams wasn’t an
option. Even if it meant I could lose everything.

 “I’m a quarter wolf. But I was raised human.”

“Any pack affiliation?”

I shook my head. The admission was painful for me, but the ladies let out a sigh of relief. The pack had just scored a major victory against some enemy wolves, and no one had the energy for
more pack politics. We were saving all our drama for in front of the camera.

“If Sterling’s right and you’re his
mate, this could be pivotal for the pack. Even though there are babies on the way, they’ll be half-human. If you—"

“A wolf can only have one mate,” I reminded them. “And I’ve already been claimed.”                                                                                                                 

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