Stripped by Marcia Colette
Alexa Wells wants her life back. She’s just not sure what that life was. The memories inside her head—a stripper’s—aren’t hers, and before she humiliates herself onstage one more time, she sets out to collect the scattered pieces of her mind. The trail leads to Boston, charges of identity theft and murder, and the real bombshell: a forgotten werewolf lover who insists she’s a werewolf hybrid.
Matt York doesn’t care that she looks at him like he’s been smoking crack between court cases. Now that he has her back he’s not about to let her go it alone, even if she can easily kick ass and take names all by herself. Amnesia only scratches the surface of her problems, and like it or not, she’s stuck with him.
She’s also stuck with Robert Gamboldt, a venture capitalist who’s not above murdering his way to the top. He’s not about to lose his prize possession without playing dirty. It’s a simple enough offer. Be his personal assassin, or go to jail.
With options like that, it’s enough to make a hybrid go full-blood.
Warning: Delicious sexual tension with a werewolf who’ll wait as long as it takes for his hybrid werewolf mate to come around.
Free Excerpt: Stripped
Matt’s wild scent came through like fresh cologne. I smelled him all the way over the railing and into the bushes where he had disappeared.
Woods enveloped my surroundings. I leaped over large boulders and rotted stumps, following his trail. Strange that I honed in on it among the woodsy scents. I could even pick out the fresh rabbit trails and deer that had left crisscross paths along the ground. When I came to a small ravine, I slid down the incline and splashed into the frigid brook at the bottom. Matt’s scent had disappeared, but I continued in a straight line anyway. There was no reason why he’d head downstream unless another animal was after him and he wanted to lose the scent. Grabbing a thick root, I climbed up the opposite side of the hill.
I stopped and whiffed the air. Still, no male wolf smell. Damn. Maybe my senses were wrong after all.
Stupid as it sounded, my instincts urged me to go down on all fours. It was a good thing I was in the middle of the forest or I’d never have lived this down. After dropping to my knees, I pressed my face close to the earth and sniffed around for a scent. I must have looked like a wild woman raised by dogs, pushing my way through leaves and twigs.
A smell hit me. On the smooth surface of a small rock, I found a piece of Matt. Excited, I continued searching, picking up more and more until I found the right direction again. I hopped to my feet and darted through a thick copse.
Branches and twigs snagged my sweats and pricked my calves. Twice, I tripped on rocks and thick roots, but they didn’t stop me. I needed to find him before that maniac hunter put a bullet in his ass. I was sure he wasn’t hurt or I would’ve smelled blood on the air.
Something about this experience brought back pieces of my dreams with me running through the woods. I half-expected a pack of wolves to filter out of the shadows and run with me. They didn’t, of course, but in a way, I wished they had. At least those shadows were friendly. Heaven only knew what awaited me out here.
A black wolf leaped from a band of thick foliage. I stopped and threw my back against the nearest tree, cold bark biting into my back.
Matt—my gut said it was him—growled. His ears flattened on his canine head and his lips peeled back to reveal a set of serrated teeth. The only signs of his human half were in his mahogany eyes. However, with the searing hatred burning through them now, I couldn’t be a hundred percent sure about that.
I ducked to the right and threw my fists in front of me, ready to fight him off. I guess I was wrong about anything human behind those eyes once he had turned into a wolf.
Matt landed somewhere behind my tree. A man screamed and stumbled backward. The wolf’s powerful jaws remained clamped around his assailant’s arm. Jerking his head from side to side, he hung on until bones cracked like a person biting into an apple. The yanking had turned into a pull as he tore the arm off and let it fall to the ground. Matt lunged at the man’s throat, silencing his horrific screams.
The savagery of his kill bothered me, though I knew it shouldn’t. If my dreams were correct, I had killed a few werewolves of my own, only I didn’t have sharp teeth to do it with. However, that cute butt and those adorable dimples didn’t seem cute anymore. Part of him was human, but full acceptance meant choosing the beast inside him too. That scared me. I didn’t want to be a savage like that.
Matt stumbled away from the unmoving body. In fact…he stumbled a lot.
Any doubts I had left me. I ran to him and dropped to my knees.
A whine came through his closed muzzle as he walked with a slight limp. Whenever he stopped moving, he lifted his left paw off the ground or barely let it touch.
“Come here, you big baby.” I snatched him by the scruff of his neck and buried his head between my breasts. That might be just the thing he needed to calm down. “Let me see.”
He groaned and pulled away. I got rough with him this time. Matt tripped into me, so I wrapped one arm around his neck and held him still. He was a powerful animal, but I held my own and examined his shoulder. Maybe this was the best way to respect the wolf side of him. Through power and strength, seeing as he seemed to understand that most.
Blood matted his fur. At first, I thought it was from the man he had killed, but even after I cleaned it with my fingers, more appeared. Jagged pieces of skin about the size of a quarter kept pooling with blood. It looked like a graze, which meant he’d be okay. If he were human. Being a werewolf, I couldn’t be sure.
“You need to change,” I said. “You up to it?”
This time, Matt pulled away and settled down on his belly. His head lowered between his front legs and he closed his eyes.
His fur rippled. Seconds later, something began slithering underneath his bubbling coat. Several cracks jolted his legs and back. His tail was the first to go. It began receding into his tailbone until it disappeared. His face broke in several different spots just as his pointed ears began to round off and shrink back to where they were level with his eyes. Clawed paws elongated into fingers, thumb pressing out on the sides. With the exception of his head, his black hair had thinned out like a man balding on a time-lapse camera.
Minutes later, a naked man lay on the ground with one leg bent and the other one sticking straight out at me. Had the circumstances been less urgent, I might have sat there and admired the view.
I got to my feet and hurried to his side. The graze on his shoulder was just that. Although it looked like a nasty burn, at least he’d live. The sissy. He was probably faking just to get my attention.
I combed my fingers through his sweaty hair. More sweat covered his body, glistening under the half-moon sky. Human or werewolf, the man was gorgeous. Not only that, he had saved my life.
Matt mumbled something. His head lifted and he looked at me with a lethargic gaze.
Paranormal author Marcia Colette was born in upstate New York and holds a bachelors degree in biomedical engineering and a masters degree in information technology. She is now living in the south again in the lovely state of North Carolina with her mom and beautiful daughter.
Marcia is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Paranormal Mystery Writers, and Romance Writers of America. The best place to find her is on her blog (marciacolette.wordpress.com) where she loves connecting with readers and other writers. Conferences/conventions where sci-fi, fantasy, and horror reign supreme are a good bet, too, along with the occasional romance conference.