Home > Wolf Gone Wild (Stay a Spell #1)(12)

Wolf Gone Wild (Stay a Spell #1)(12)
Author: Juliette Cross

“I thought you said you didn’t have to work tonight.”

“Oh, well, yeah. Jules said she needed me last minute.” I shrugged, never having been a great liar.

“My four hours aren’t up yet.” He looked downright sad.

Guilt punched me in the gut and called me a total asshole. I couldn’t bail on him because of my own insecurities, just because I was feeling like a failure while he was amazing in every single way—except for turning into a monster once a month when unhexed.

“Um. Yeah. Right. Well, let’s go get that over with.” I strolled on back toward his workshop and settled on the floor like before, yanking out my tablet before he even made his way in behind me.

But I didn’t work on my art as I should’ve been doing. My inspiration had deflated faster than Derek’s ego the night I’d broken up with him. I focused on my own misery and cowardice while I read some comics on the Webtoon’s app for the next hour until my time was up. And I certainly did not peek at the sexy werewolf while he created unimaginable beauty out of little steel rods.

Nope. Not once.

Chapter 8

~EVIE~

“Four hours.” JJ said it like he was repeating a fungus diagnosis—half disbelief, half disgust.

“Yeah. So?” I shrugged and wiped the bar for the third time, my hands moving nonstop since I came on shift two hours ago.

“I thought Jules didn’t like for y’all to work with werewolves.”

“So did I. But apparently, it’s more of a tread-carefully-when-working-with-werewolves policy. Kind of a gray area.”

JJ shook his head as he swiped a credit card on the register, gave me one of his looks, then marched down the bar to pass the receipt and card to the customer sitting at the end.

“He doesn’t think it’s a good idea,” said Charlie, sipping his Poison Apple Sangria with a long straw.

Charlie was JJ’s best friend. He was always impeccably dressed and had zero filter. He was also one of the few humans who knew what we were.

“It’s just work.”

He smirked. “You’re so cute when you lie.”

“I’m not lying.”

“See? So cute.”

JJ sauntered back, doing that accusing eyebrow thing.

This was ridiculous. I planted a hand on my hip. “What?”

“What do you mean what?” He folded his muscly arms across his perfect chest. “I saw him lose control the other night. For a split second, I thought he was going to disembowel you.”

“Oh, please.” I waved a hand in front of my face like that was crazy talk. Even as I remembered the flash of yellow in his eyes back at Bam’s. “He could only do that if he actually shifted into his wolf. And that’s the whole problem. He can’t.”

Which meant I was totally safe, right?

JJ’s gaze narrowed. “I also saw a different look in his eyes the other night.”

“Do tell,” said Charlie, sipping his Sangria with brows raised.

I shifted closer. “Different how?”

“The hungry kind,” JJ said. “Not for blood.”

“You’re imagining things. He needs help. Jules gave the okay, and that’s all there is to it.”

“That’s all there is to it?”

“Yep.” I avoided his all-seeing gaze by scanning my tables. Hell, if I didn’t know he was human, I’d peg him for a vampire with his supersonic intuition.

“So what did you do with your four hours today?” JJ asked casually, nodding to a new customer who settled on a stool.

Charlie snickered.

I shot a glare at JJ. “You told Charlie?”

“It’s not a secret.”

“It was private,” I gritted out.

“Maybe,” added Charlie with a superior air. “But the real reason you don’t want anyone to know is because you’ve got the hots for your hot werewolf.”

See. No filter.

“Whatever.” I shrugged. “We haven’t met yet today. We’re meeting after my shift.” I scrubbed at a nonexistent smudge on the bar-top.

JJ chuckled way too knowingly, taking Charlie’s empty glass off the bar. “Hang on. I need to hear this.”

He popped over to the new customer, retrieved a draft beer and delivered it, then returned to my side.

“Sooo,” he drew out the word with a grin. “Why couldn’t you meet until after dark? And where are you spending your four hours tonight?”

“You can do a lot in four hours, Evie sweetie.” Charlie tossed a bill on the bar.

Rolling my eyes, I informed them in my no-nonsense voice, “Clara needed my help restocking the shelves at the shop, then Jules needed me to run some errands for the kitchen. I mean, I do have responsibilities, JJ.”

He stared up and to the left, mumbling to himself, “If my calculations are correct, that would’ve taken you about three hours. I was the one who delivered the boxes to the shop. Clara’s shipment wouldn’t have taken long nor would Jules’s kitchen errands. So you were either avoiding him purposefully today or you just wanted to wait to meet him for some other nefarious reason tonight.”

“Bingo.” Charlie grinned.

Damn him!

“You’re so wrong.” He was so right. “I do have a life of my own.” True, but I was totally avoiding Mateo. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure why exactly. I just needed some space.

“I’m sure you do,” he said snarkily, sharing a look with Charlie. I punched JJ in the arm.

“Ow.” I shook my hand, feeling like I’d just hit a brick wall. “You need to slow up on the workouts, Mr. Universe.”

“Blasphemer. Shut your mouth.” Charlie swiveled on his stool toward me. “His physique is the perfect bait as my wingman.”

JJ ignored him, keeping his focus on me. “Stop trying to distract me. What are you doing after hours with him?” His expression had turned serious, stern even. He had his big brother face on, even though we were in no way related and I was way older than him.

“Fine. We’re having wild, wolfish sex by the light of the moon.”

“Who’s having wild, wolfish sex?” Violet practically appeared out of thin air right behind me at the bar.

I jumped at her sneaky sidling. “No one,” I snapped.

She grinned. “Oh, Evie. Go, girl!”

“I was kidding! I would never—”

“Oh, yes, she would,” said Charlie.

Violet tsked. Her shoulder-length hair was now dark purple. “Well, you’re crazy to not take that for a ride. The artists are always good in bed. Trust me.” She winked at me then turned to JJ. “Two Abita Ambers and a Grim and Tonic.”

He nodded and opened the cooler.

Ignoring her question, I switched the subject. “I liked the fuchsia. Why’d you change it so soon?”

Wearing a spaghetti-strap black tank top, she shrugged the shoulder with the blue-and-black inked orchid. “I don’t think I’m the kind of girl who can pull off pink.”

I snorted. “If anyone can pull of pink, it’s you. What? Was it too cheery for you?”

“Fuck off, Sissy.”

Violet was the only one who still called me that childhood nickname. I still don’t know how I inherited it as the second oldest rather than Jules. Her sassy attitude switched from low to high beams in a flash. She grinned like a fiend and leaned forward on her elbows.

“So, what’s up with you and that werewolf? Jules won’t say shit as usual.” She waggled her eyebrows.

“Put your eyebrows in neutral. I’m just helping him with…well, I’m not sure how to describe it.”

“I do.” JJ slid the two beers to Violet, stabbing a cocktail straw in the mixed drink. “Apparently, this werewolf is cursed, unable to change into his wolf for the past couple months. And”—he leaned close with a conspiratorial gleam—“he needs to be close to Evie in order to calm the beast within, so they’re”—he air-quoted—“spending time together.” He smirked like the conspiratorial devil he was. “Every day. For hours.”

Violet cackled like a demon, and now they were both waggling eyebrows. Ridiculous children.

With an exasperated sigh, I said, “It’s not like that.”

“Why not?” asked Violet. “It would be like that if I were you.”

“Ditto,” said Charlie.

“This is business. That’s all. End of story.” I flipped my ponytail as I focused on wiping the bar again. “He’s a werewolf.” And he didn’t like me like that.

“So you’ve said,” added JJ.

Violet gave me an are-you-kidding-me look, then passed it to JJ who chuckled. They could clown me all they wanted. Mateo was just a guy I was helping. A job. Maybe kind of a friend. But that’s all.

I rolled my eyes, propping a hand on my hip. “If you two bitches are done, we actually have customers to serve.”

“Yeah,” said JJ, humming with appreciation as he leered over my shoulder and bit his bottom lip. “And you just got a new one.”

In the back corner booth, Mateo was seated with a menu in hand. The unexpected sight of him knocked me stupid for a second, my pulse hammering hard and fast. He glanced up and caught my gaze, giving me a hello nod. I licked my lips and smiled with a little wave. There was tension in the line of his shoulders and a tight expression on his face, but even so, he seemed glad to see me. No, he seemed relieved.

JJ leaned close and whispered, “Looks like someone couldn’t wait till you got off shift.”

“Shut up.” I pushed off the bar and stood straight, reeling in my wayward feelings of excitement at the sight of his perfect, broody features under the dim lamplight. It was okay to be excited about meeting up with a friend. Totally normal. Maybe being this breathless wasn’t, but I’d just ignore that for the moment.

“I so need one of those of my own,” said Charlie with a sigh. “Goodnight, ladies.” He waved to all three of us, then headed for the door.

   
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