Read the first three chapters of Wildcat!

Three Months Ago

“Molly, are you okay?” My roommate Kim dropped her shopping bags in the still-open doorway, her heels clicking as she ran over to me. She stopped short over my body sprawled out in the middle of the living room floor. “Should I call 911?”

“Only if they send hot, single paramedics.” I’d been in the same pajamas for two—maybe three?—days and was in no shape to be entertaining any sort of company, even if they came armed with a stretcher. “Maybe they’ll give me some inspiration.”

Kim’s bright pink lips wobbled into a frown. One of those really disappointed looks that bordered on embarrassment. “Writer’s block again?”

“Yup.” I sat up, smoothing out my hair. “I’ve got to get this book to my editor next week and so far, I’ve got a big nothing burger to send her.”

“Maybe she can add lettuce and tomato?” Kim chuckled but the disappointment came back when I didn’t laugh with her. She picked up her packages and closed the front door. “Sorry. I wish I knew how to help. I have plenty of dating disaster stories but nothing with a happily ever after.”

“Me neither.” I wrote steamy romance novels full of alpha males with washboard abs, hot sex, and happy endings. The words came pretty easily while I was in my last relationship. But once my fiancé decided he was actually still in love with his high school sweetheart and he needed to scratch that itch, everything in my life felt like a lie. I realized I had no idea how to get myself, much less my characters, into a forever relationship. The consequences might not be so dire for myself—although I was staring down the barrel of thirty-six with a newly bare ring finger—but it had put my career on life support.

I’d always been open with my readers when I was living the lie. But now that I was newly single, I couldn’t bear to come clean with them about why there would be such a gap between books, or why I’d been so quiet lately. I didn’t want them to lose faith in me.

“The girls will be here soon.” Which was Kim code for get your shit together. Her face brightened. “Come out with us. Drinks and dancing. There’s a new club downtown, but it doesn’t get super crowded. The DJ plays a lot of throwbacks, and the crowd is kind of mellow. I think you’d like it.”

“You mean old people will be there.” I was ten years older than Kim, and some days it felt like dog years. “Thanks, but I’ll pass. This deadline is no joke. My editor doesn’t have any other open spots until the new year. I already asked. She probably only told me that to light a fire under my butt, and you can see how well that worked.”

Not only did I not want to feel like the chaperone with Kim and her friends—there was no better reminder I wasn’t in my twenties any more than hanging out with people who were actually in their twenties—but all my going-to-a-club-appropriate clothing was from when I was still with Michael. Every dress, each pair of heels reminded me of a night out with him. I needed a whole life makeover. And I’d do it.

Once I finished this book.

“There might be a few old people there. But that’s not why I invited you. I thought maybe you’d get some inspiration—”

“I’m not picking up a drunk guy in a bar.” I still had scruples, even if Kim had a point. The only guy who I ever invited to the apartment was usually armed with a pizza and, depending on how badly the writing was going that night, possibly an order of mozzarella sticks.

“No. But people-watching can’t hurt, right? Maybe talking to a few people would give you some ideas for your story. That’s all you need. You’ll figure out a way to make it work in the book.”

Like it was that easy. Problem was, I had plenty of ideas that sounded great in my head and once I sat down to put them on the screen, there was a logjam. Nothing would come out. And the few words I managed were absolute garbage. I had to keep reminding myself that my editor wasn’t a mind reader, but she could work a miracle or two with some word vomit.

“I promise I’ll come out with you after I finish the book.” I didn’t even believe it, but it would be enough to end this conversation gracefully.

“A change of scenery might do you some good.” Kim bit her bright pink lip. I’d lived with her for nine months and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever seen her without a full face of makeup. “Hear me out. I saw an ad online for a new TV show. It’s called The Real Werewives of Alaska. They’re looking for women to date the players from that new football team, the Bloodhounds.”

“The shifter one?” I’d seen the ad too. I hated to admit I was intrigued. I mean, the plot bunnies. How could I not be?

“Yes, that one. Stop curling your lip. Have you ever dated a shapeshifter? I had a friends-with-benefits arrangement with one in college. The sex was absolutely insane.” She fanned herself. Now I was definitely intrigued. “But he said he was expected to choose his forever mate, and his pack would want him to find another wolf. I wasn’t exactly thinking about forever at the time, but that’s so hot. And it’s perfect for your books.”

Kim read all my books once she found out what I did for a living. And then gushed about them and talked about my characters like they were real. I was letting her down in more ways than one.

“I’ll check it out.” I didn’t have to add the rest of it. Once I finish my book. The entire world waited for me once I typed those two magical words: The end.

“Promise?” she asked. “Just think, what would your heroine do, and then do that.”

I laughed. “I wish real life was like books.”

“Maybe it could be.”

The doorbell rang, and that was my cue to go hide in my bedroom. Kim’s friends were all adorable, even when they weren’t dressed to impress for a night on the town. My pajamas were a little overripe and I wasn’t sure the last time I’d taken my hair out of this bun. It was my deadline uniform.

Once in my room, I cracked open my laptop, the cursor taunting me on the blank page. I couldn’t get Kim’s suggestions out of my head. The going out one was easy to ignore, but the rest of the conversation stuck with me like melted cheese on the top of a pizza delivery box. Once the girls cleared out of the apartment, I was definitely ordering a pizza. Until then, what would my heroine do? She’d check out The Real Werewives of Alaska website.

It was for all inspiration, I told myself as I clicked away from my blank document to the internet. The Real Werewives of Alaska was looking for single women between the ages of twenty-one and forty for potential long-term relationships with members of the Alaska Bloodhounds, a brand new all-shifter football team. The show was run by an all-woman crew, which I liked, and they encouraged everyone within that age range to apply, asking us not to self-eliminate. Interesting.

A page full of beautiful men with short bios followed. Every one of them listed what kind of shifter they were. There were wolves, lions, foxes, bears, lynxes, and a dragon. I recognized some of the players, like Landon Fox and Graham Chase. Michael, my ex, loved football and I used to watch games with him every weekend. I lingered on those familiar names a little longer, star-struck, and I can’t lie—feeling a little devious at the proposition of dating one of my ex’s favorite players.

Especially a smoking hot one like Graham Chase. He did not make watching football a hardship.

I’d never dated a shapeshifter before. There weren’t many living in Boston. Most shifters preferred the country, where they had the room to be themselves. And they'd had fated mates, which automatically took them off the market.

Which made me wonder why these guys needed the help of a dating show to find their mates.

I couldn’t deny it sounded like the plot of an amazing romance book.

It couldn’t be worse than staying holed up in my apartment pining away for my ex, and having my roommate give me that look every time she came home from work and I was still in my pajamas.

Kim was right. It was time for a change of scenery, a new wardrobe, and a whole lot of other new things. Like maybe a forever mate.

What would your heroine do? Kim’s question echoed in my head. A pink paw print at the top corner of the page asked the question Do you have what it takes to be a Real Werewife?

It wouldn’t solve any of my problems with this deadline, but there was always another book to be written. In the name of research, I clicked on the link and entered my information.

And for the first time all day, the story came to me. I’d get this book to my editor and with any luck, then I’d be off to Alaska for my own happily ever after.

Chapter One

Graham

A jaded prick like me could still get butterflies in his stomach. This was the kind of play I dreamed about my whole career. Fifteen years. I finally had a chance to make that dream a reality.

As long as I didn’t fuck it up.

The clock ticked away the final seconds of the season. The game was knotted up at twenty-one, and the defense for the Vancouver Vipers growled from the other side of the line of scrimmage. They were out for blood. This next play decided which team got the final playoff spot.

“Cat! Dog! Cat!” Landon Fox barked from the middle of the line. The words had my animal on point. The ball was coming to me. I trained my whole life for this.

“Hut!”

I broke away from two Vipers on the line of scrimmage. They had the good sense to consider me a threat in this kind of situation. Not everyone on the Vipers was a shifter, but they’d given us one hell of a game. I ran my route, just like we’d practiced all week, and looked back to the line.

Fox gave the ball to Sebastian Connall. The defense froze for a second, but that was all Sebastian needed. Our running back had fire in his veins and anytime he touched the ball, he had to be considered. Respected. The rookie was having a breakout season that was most likely continuing into the playoffs.

I watched his eyes, waiting for his next move. It was what predators did. They read instincts. Problem was, that was what any playoff-worthy defense did too. There was a gap up the middle of the field a mile wide and Sebastian wanted it. He’d want his name to be intertwined with the glory when everyone talked about this play, and how the Alaska Bloodhounds were going to the playoffs in their very first season.

He could keep the ball and make a break for it. But he was sixty yards from the goal line and we didn’t have the right formation to give him the protection he needed. Here I was worried about me fucking up, never considering I wouldn’t get that chance.

Sebastian didn’t fuck up.

The ball came to me with laser precision, and the only one who saw it coming was me. Even with sixty yards to go, Sebastian Connall was the kind of running threat that made defenses forget everyone else on the field. My defenders were only human, and even though they played a hell of a game, they were no match for the Alaska Bloodhounds.

They had fifty yards to catch me. But they wouldn’t. And they’d have the entire offseason to think about how they could’ve stopped the Bloodhounds from going to the playoffs. But they didn’t.

We were going to the fucking playoffs. My guys ran down the field, tackling me to the ground in the end zone in celebration.

Fifteen years playing in the Continental Football Association and this was my first trip to the playoffs. I was considered one of the best wide receivers in the league—it wasn’t just my ego talking—but I had a way of fucking things up. Mainly because I never learned when to keep my mouth shut. Coaches lost patience and my teammates quit on me because they didn’t think I had their backs. So I wound up on shitty teams in their rebuilding years, and getting hurt late in the season because I got myself into stupid situations.

The Bloodhounds saw through my bullshit. They told me this was possible if I was willing to play in their system. It was time to put up and shut up. This was my last chance in the league and I would not fuck it up.

I lay on the bottom of a pile of sweaty football players, clutching the ball, happier than I’d ever been in my life.

Once everyone got off me and headed for the locker room to continue the celebration, Landon Fox held his hand out to me. He’d been on some of those same teams—the heartbreakers and the ones that made me question why I put my body and my soul through this year after year. Landon’s hair was gray now, but he hadn’t lost any of his fire.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” He slapped my shoulder as we walked headlong into a throng of reporters. A few of them had intercepted Sebastian already.

“It’s unreal.” We could win the whole thing. It was always the dream, but now it was the reality. “I thought I’d be ready for this, after the season we had. But I can’t fucking believe it.”

Fox had been to the championship before. Had the big, gaudy ring as a souvenir of his win. The reporters were closing in, and he turned me back to the end zone. The crowd was still going wild in the stands, even more so when I pumped my fist at them.

“This is my last run.” Fox put his hands on my shoulders. Flashes went off all around us. The reporters knew whatever he was going to say was important. “But it’s your first. Of many, I hope. Don’t fuck this up, Graham. You won’t get another chance like this.”

I closed my eyes, letting Fox handle the reporter’s questions as the words washed over me. You won’t get another chance like this.

That was what hit me the hardest. I was all out of chances.

**

Coach liked having us up in Holiday Falls, Alaska. No distractions, he claimed. Ha. Having a new team in the CFA was a big fucking deal, so much that we got a TV show in our honor. The Real Werewives of Alaska. A dating show full of beautiful human women who decided fangs and fur were as sexy as muscles and millions. Some of the guys on the team had settled down with the ladies, claiming they’d found their forever mates.

I thought it was bullshit.

A human couldn’t be our forever mate. I’d been with more human women than I ever wanted to count. My animal never said, hey, this woman is the one. No. Instead he said, have a good time because this isn’t forever. Nothing is.

So I did as I was told. I was a lynx and I didn’t have a pack outside the team. I hunted alone and that included the Werewives.

Our final regular season game had been on the road and the Werewives made sure we came home to a celebration. Bass pumped out of the practice bubble, which had quickly become party central. More reporters and fans welcomed us back. I’d spent most of the flight doing satellite interviews. Everyone wanted to know what it was like to make the catch.

Fucking amazing. It was never going to get old.

I was still floating on cloud nine on my way into the bubble, rehearsing the answers to the questions the local reporters were sure to ask me. And that was how I got tackled by Tessa Williams.

The toughest player in the league had never suited up for a game.

“Nice catch, Chase,” she said as she expertly hooked her arm through mine and led me away from the crowd. Let Sebastian and Fox handle the reporters. I had my hands full with Tessa. “You’re the hero of Holiday Falls.”

For years she’d been a take-no-prisoners sports reporter who saw right through my bullshit excuses about why I never carried my share of the load. Then she’d hung up her microphone and picked up a camera. Tessa was the executive producer of The Real Werewives of Alaska. And I had thought she was tough in the locker room. I had no idea what tough was.

“No good deed goes unpunished, I see.” I slipped my arm from hers and crossed them in front of my chest. I didn’t have ten other guys on the field anymore. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

She shook her head with a chuckle. “The whole world heard Fox’s little speech to you on the field after the game. I’d like to extend that concept to my Werewives.”

Don’t fuck this up… you won’t get another chance like this. I narrowed my eyes in confusion. “I don’t see the correlation.”

“Of course you don’t. Let me spell it out for you.” Tessa mirrored my posture, crossing her arms in front of her like we were in battle. She circled me. “My ladies are swapping war stories about you. Rumor has it you’re a hell of a lay but you are not forever mate material. They’re warning the newcomers to stay the hell away from Graham Chase.”

That hit below the belt. “So what’s the ultimatum?”

“Since you can’t seem to make a choice, I’m making one for you.” Tessa stopped in front of me, looking so fucking satisfied with herself. “Your next Werewife is your last. I’m not letting you use the show as your own personal brothel anymore. Treat her well, Chase. You might be pleasantly surprised.”

I’d been cut off. “I suppose you’ve got some ideas on who that lucky lady might be?”

Tessa grinned, loosening her grip on her arms. “If you’re ready for some serious dating, I can make a suggestion.”

“And if I’m not?”

She shrugged. “No more Werewives.”

My animal growled, but I shook him off. I had enough shit to deal with without him making things messier. “Didn’t think you played matchmaker.”

“Usually don’t have to.” She took a step closer, knowing she had me where she wanted me. By the balls. “Are you going to play nice?”

“Which one is she?”

She brightened. “Molly Clarke.”

I took a second to think about it. “Which one is Molly?”

“She bartends at Ocho.”

“The shy one?” If I was thinking of the right lady, she couldn’t even look me in the eye without blushing when she made a drink. No. My animal put his foot down. This was a trap. “I don’t think we’ll be a good match, Tessa.”

She stopped me by putting her hand on my shoulder when I tried to pass. Tessa Williams had final say over every single thing that transpired between the Bloodhounds and the Werewives. “Did you know she writes romance novels?”

That was cool. “I didn’t.”

“They’re smoking hot. Like, shut the door and need a moment to yourself hot. Maybe you should read them.”

“Maybe I will.” Now I was interested. But I wasn’t giving Tessa the satisfaction of asking for a title. I’d find the books on my own and check them out. Maybe shy Molly would be interested in acting out some of those hot scenes in real life. “Can I go now? There’s a couple of reporters I’d like to talk to before they head out.”

Tessa taught me a lesson long ago: it was in my best interests to keep the press on my side. I’d been labeled as unpredictable early in my career and I needed all the friends I could get.

“Yeah, go.” She stepped aside. “And Graham?”

I turned to face her. She stood alone in the shadows, in stark contrast to the bright lights and the crowd that waited for me. “Yeah?”

“Don’t underestimate my Werewives.”

Chapter Two

Molly

The competition in Holiday Falls wasn’t limited to the gridiron. Battle waged daily in the Werewife compound too. There were very few rules for catching the eye of a Bloodhound, and the ladies played to win. The more elusive the player, the harder the game was played.

Many Werewives initially had their eye on Landon Fox, until his ex showed up, and then everyone fell in love with Jenna, including Landon. So he was off the market. Now there was one Bloodhound left who the Werewives considered a championship conquest.

Graham Chase.

Many Werewives had tried to nail him down, but all had failed. Graham Chase was a smokin’ hot wide receiver who’d made a career of eluding tackles. His skill in his professional life translated into his personal life. Graham was a lynx shifter who refused to take a mate.

A hot fuck. A dirty talker. A giant red flag.

I couldn’t lie, I wanted him.

But I was terrified. Not of Graham Chase. On the surface, what was the worst thing that could happen? I’d have some super-hot sex and get a wild tale for my book. And I’d get to spite my ex, so bonus points for that. On paper, Graham Chase was just what the doctor ordered.

But what if I couldn’t figure out a way to get a character like Graham across the happily ever after finish line? I wasn’t thinking about my books anymore. I wasn’t asking for a friend. This was about me. My latest book still wasn’t done, the season was coming to a close, and it was looking like I didn’t have what it took to be a Real Werewife.

I didn’t have writer’s block. It was a full-on assault on my belief in love and I had no idea how to fix it.

The tiny crowd at Ocho went wild when the Bloodhounds pulled off their trick play in their regular season final game, against the Vipers. Sebastian Connall was supposed to run the ball. My opinion was shared by the defense, who froze in place as he let the ball fly, sailing over their heads and into the waiting arms of Graham, who ran it into the end zone as the clock expired, punching the Bloodhounds’ ticket to the playoffs.

“Champagne for everybody.” Jenna tackled me in a hug, then reached behind me and handed me a bottle of champagne. Not the cheap stuff that we used when couples came to celebrate special occasions, either. She owned the place so she could give out the good stuff. The Werewives were just as much a part of this win as the guys on the field.

“Even Fiona?” I cocked a brow. Jenna and Landon’s daughter was barely old enough to be a Werewife, but that didn’t stop her from immediately snagging a Bloodhound. She was decked out in the jersey of her mate, Tyler Jones, dancing in the middle of the restaurant with our show producer, Tessa.

“Hell no.” Jenna laughed, shaking her head. “She’ll probably wind up doing body shots off Tyler at the party later tonight. There’s no need to give her a head start.”

I nodded, jumping when the cork popped out of the bottle. I was envious of a girl half my age. Not because she found her mate, but because she was completely fearless. No matter what she did, she couldn’t fail.

“Hey.” Jenna leaned against the bar and handed me a glass of champagne from the line of them I filled. She clinked hers against mine and took a long sip, and waited for me to do the same. “There’s a lot of football left. These guys are going all the way and so are you.”

Our Real Werewives of Alaska contracts plainly stated if we didn’t find a mate by the end of the season, we were done with the show. Even though some unsuccessful couples would get an episode, they were only interested in the couples with compelling stories.

I understood their reasoning. I was also in the business of selling the fantasy.

And my fantasy was totally broken.

“I don’t want to go home.” I didn’t have a home to go to. What I’d left, my life with Michael, even my room in the apartment with Kim, no longer existed. “And I don’t want to tell my readers I couldn’t find my forever mate.”

Or that I had no idea how I’d finish this book, the one about my own life.

“It’s scary to put yourself out there,” Jenna said.

“I came to Alaska.” Four thousand miles from home.

“Yeah, but have you been out with any of the guys?”

I shook my head. I’d interviewed a lot of the Werewives and I’d watched the dates like some sort of creep in the name of research, but I failed to capture the imagination of any of the Bloodhounds. I couldn’t blame my age—Jenna was older than me, and Delilah, another Werewife who’d found her mate, was my age. I took good care of myself. I could’ve skipped the occasional pizza or desert or this glass of champagne that was already empty, but I liked those things too much to deny myself. Mostly, I was still suffering from the blunt force trauma of the end of my last relationship, and that voice that wasn’t so little anymore that screamed it was my fault.

And I was fangirling over Graham Chase. I couldn’t even look him in the eye when he came to the bar.

“Tonight I want you to at least go talk to one of them. Congratulate him on the win. Totally easy way to break the ice. Shifters like the hunt, remember that. But not one of them will notice you if you don’t pursue him. There are too many Werewives sending strong signals. They don’t have to come looking for us. Go out there and get what you want.”

I miscounted in the excitement so there was one full glass left on the bar. I snatched it, telling myself I was doing a good deed by downing it before Fiona got her hands on it. “Okay.”

What did I want? Scorching hot passion mixed with some sweet moments wrapped in a sexy package. All the things that critics said made romance novels unrealistic. I thought I had it with Michael until he sent my world crashing down around me.

“I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation.” Tessa gave me an apologetic smile when I jumped. I’d been so wrapped up in Jenna’s challenge and my own fantasy, I never saw her coming. Good thing I hadn’t been out on the field today because I would’ve been run over.

“If you have a Bloodhound in mind, I can make it happen. We’ll spotlight you tonight.”

My heart skipped a beat. Even if nothing came out of her offer, the exposure on the show would be good for my career. Every day I fought to get my name out there as an author. That’s why I was here. Nothing like being on the top-rated show on TV to move a book or two.

But then I’d have more people looking for this new book that I couldn’t finish.

I glanced back at Jenna, who nodded in her mom-like way that said she thought this was a good idea.

“I’m in,” I said.

Tessa’s grin was a mix of surprise and relief. I had a feeling she’d come over to tell me to book a flight home. This was my last chance. Just like the game. Fourth and season.

“Which Bloodhound do you have your eye on?” she asked.

“Graham Chase,” I blurted out before I could second guess myself. Holy shit, what did I just do?

Jenna gasped and grabbed my shoulder. The champagne had gone straight to my head because the room kept moving even after I stopped.

“Are you crazy?” she asked.

“Maybe.” I shrugged, giggling. No more bubbly for me. “I want to see if the hype is true.”

“You’re setting yourself up for disaster.” Jenna shook her head.

“Maybe not.” Tessa drummed her fingers on the bar. I realized that last glass of champagne I’d poured was actually for her. Whoops. “Maybe my shy author is just what the lynx needs.”

“Don’t you dare put her in the line of fire for ratings,” Jenna said.

“I can hear you.” I appreciated Jenna looking out for me, but I wasn’t that much of a lost cause. To snap out of my funk, I needed the major shot of adrenaline that only a hot-as-fuck player like Graham could provide.

Tessa glared at Jenna. “You know I’d never do that. I’m saying I see potential. If Werewives have taught me anything this season, it’s to trust my instincts.”

Jenna shook her head. “As the person responsible for raising the female version of Graham Chase—”

“Who’s now mated to the sweetest guy on the Bloodhounds—”

“True, but lightning doesn’t often strike twice.” Jenna sighed. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pick up the pieces for guys like Tyler who weren’t so lucky.”

They were back to talking about me like I wasn’t even in the room. “There won’t be any pieces to pick up. It’s strictly for my book. Who says I can’t play the player?”

Tessa and Jenna shared a look that said neither of them thought I could play the player.

“Nobody’s asking me to do anything I don’t want to do,” I reminded them. “Maybe the lynx doesn’t have a fated mate. But I have three sex scenes that need to be written for my next book and I’m out of ideas.”

“That’s my girl.” Fiona appeared behind Tessa and frowned. “No more champagne?”

Jenna groaned. “No. And don’t go giving her suggestions for the book, either.”

“You’re the one who started the dirty book club, Mom.” Fiona wriggled her eyebrows. “What is it that you say, Tessa? You don’t script but you’re not afraid to give us a shove in the right direction?”

“It’s a nudge,” Tessa said. “Whatever happens tonight, I’m excited that you want to take this chance, Molly. All the Werewives love you and your books and it’s about time one of the Bloodhounds sees you for who you really are. Even if it is Graham Chase.”

**

“I think you should ditch the little black dress and go for a strategically altered Graham Chase jersey with nothing underneath.” Fiona frowned at my reflection in the mirror.

“Those are see-through!” I cried. The player jerseys were full of holes so the guys wouldn’t overheat on the field.

She shrugged. “If the night goes as planned, he’ll be seeing a lot more than that.”

“Fiona,” her mom grumbled.

I hated to admit Fiona had a point. This dress was a total snooze. I might have worn it to a funeral. “This is worse than trying on bathing suits. And the whole world gets to see it.”

Tessa and her crew huddled on my roommate Shauna’s bed. She’d already headed to the party.

“Your readers will love it.” Naomi, Sebastian Connall’s mate, had joined us, sitting on my bed with Jenna. I had my own personal judging panel. “They’re real people just like you. And now they get to see the behind the scenes story of how you find your mate. I would’ve loved some footage like this for Naomi Harts Travel.”

Naomi ran a travel blog and was much better at promotion than me.

I pulled the dress over my head, cameras be damned. “There’s got to be a happy medium between this and Fiona’s suggestion. Something that means I don’t have to wear Spanx. Nothing’s less sexy in the heat of the moment that a hot guy trying to get me out of my girdle. This thing will snap us both against the wall.”

It was time to get naked with an Alaska Bloodhound. That meant not hiding behind overly aggressive spandex or my misconceptions about love. If I wanted to move forward, I had to let it all hang out.

Jenna and Naomi mobilized, taking to my closet. They pulled things out, shaking their heads and shoving the garments back in.

I was losing control of this situation fast. “There’s a sparkly blue dress in the back of the closet. I bought it during a drunken online shopping spree and I’ve never had a chance to wear it.”

Not exactly true. It was far sexier than anything I'd ever owned. I bought it the night I received the invite to be a Real Werewife. In my wine-soaked logic, it was the dawn of a new era. One where I wasn’t too shy to look Graham Chase in the eye when I served him his beer. But when I arrived in Alaska, I fell into old patterns. I’d packed my fears and self-imposed limitations and brought them with me when I left Boston.

My epic breakup wasn’t the wakeup call it should’ve been. It was the writer’s block. I’d been dumped before. Michael wasn’t the first one to blindside me. But I always still believed in love, for myself and for my characters. It would take a lot more than pretty dresses and CFM heels for me to change my mind.

Going after Graham Chase was career suicide.

The girls whistled low when I put the dress on. I had to agree, I looked hot. I’d curled my long, dark hair, and had half a tube of mascara framing my green eyes. Fiona swiped some sparkly pink gloss on my hips.

“You should wear this every day,” Naomi said. “You’ll have every single Bloodhound drooling.”

“All it takes is one.” Jenna grinned, spinning me away from the mirror so the camera could get a better angle on the dress.

“I’d love to see them fighting over you.” Fiona pushed a curl over my shoulder. “Once the offseason starts, I think Coach should make them all read your books. Holy hell.”

“They’re already reading them.” Naomi wiggled her eyebrows. “Oh, and I meant to tell you, thank you. From me and Sebastian.”

“I don’t have until the offseason. If I don’t find a mate before the last game, I’m off the show.” And if the Bloodhounds didn’t win their next game, next week I’d be emptying out my closet for a very different reason.

“Oh,” the girls all said. I had no trouble making girlfriends and starting a new life in Alaska. But I was also the freeloading Werewife who’d racked up zero dates. I’d kind of missed the point of the show.

“I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen,” Tessa said.

Fiona turned to her. “You don’t script shows.”

“No, I don’t, but I’m not afraid to take things into my own hands when it’s best for the viewers, and especially for my Werewives. Molly’s an important part of our community and production won’t let me keep her here if she’s not actively trying to find a mate. So we’re going to actively help her.”

I kept my groan to myself. I’d refused this exact kind of help before. I wasn’t willing to admit the dating game had changed while I was with Michael. Or face the fact that whatever I was offering wasn’t enough. After all, I was a catch, damn it.

The romance writer was afraid of another rejection.

“Ready to go?” Tessa asked. “I need to get the crew set up at the practice facility before the team arrives. Molly, you’re not bartending tonight. Don’t worry about anything but having fun with the girls. I’ll take care of Graham.”

That’s exactly what I was afraid of.

Wildcat is coming June 21! Click here to preorder now! 

kristenstrassel

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