Please enjoy this sneak peek of Scorned, book two in the Never Marry a Shifter duology. Theresa’s story continues!
My picture-perfect world shifted irrevocably.
In the form of an oversized arctic wolf, my new husband glared at me with eyes that glowed in the dark. He bared his fangs, perfectly shaped for shredding flesh and muscle. His piercing growl made me shiver, goosebumps sprouted along my exposed arms and legs. At the exact moment when my joy from rescuing him transformed into fear, my husband ran away from me. The white wolf fled at the unwanted sight of me, and the growing hostility of his mutinous pack. Left to fend for myself while trapped in the arms of Ward, another wolf shifter, I took the easy way out.
I fainted. It’s not as easy as someone might imagine. Feigning a fainting spell takes a little planning and a lot of effort. The soft groan, sudden fall, whispered prayer that I suffered minimal bodily harm, and concentration needed to stay relaxed with my eyes closed. I could only hope I wouldn’t hit the earth face first.
Ward’s muscular arms effortlessly encircled me. One hand under my hip and the other cupping a healthy dose of sideboob, he swiftly turned my body until he could comfortably lift me up.
The moment before, when I faced the white wolf, felt overwhelming. This moment, being held bridal style by the handsome and dangerous Ward, felt shockingly familiar. I’ve known him for less than forty-eight hours, and yet our intimate moments were quickly adding up.
My head rested against his broad chest. My arms were curled up in between us. The transportation and warmth he provided without discussion seemed to be exactly what I needed. I didn’t feel safe. I knew I wasn’t. And yet, what started out as imitation became reality. I drifted off to sleep as he carried me away from the worst moment of my life.
My foggy brain allowed me to mumble one thought out loud before I passed out.
“He left me.”
Taking one of those long showers best suited for analyzing life, I used up all of the hot water in the house. I felt dirty. No, I felt unwanted. Something a little harder to scrub off, even with hot water and quality bath soap. Still, I tried to rid myself of the feeling. As incredible as it seemed, I was forced to acknowledge that paranormal creatures were real. Accepting that I saw white fur, a muzzle, and tail sprout from James’s hot body was one thing. Accepting that the man I easily called handsome and charming had abandoned me was something else entirely. Why did he look at me like I was his enemy? Why did he run away without me?
I crouched down in the large tub. My hands stopped massaging my scalp with conditioner and turned into fists instead. Without thought, I tugged harshly on my thick, tangled curls. And with that punishing pull of my hair, I clamped my jaw shut and let out a muffled scream. The once hot and now lukewarm water from the showerhead above rained down on me. My eyes stung, but at least I wasn’t crying. My hands moved across the front of my body and gripped my shoulders. A tight hug. A shiver. Then my nails scraped their way down my arms. Yes. I was done crying. I had moved on to self-harm.
Ten minutes later, I emerged from the bathroom, calmer than a jilted wife had a right to be. The self-inflicted body aches were superficial and, in some twisted way, helped me feel grounded. I knew it wasn’t the best way to handle my situation, but I also wasn’t ready to stop. I felt like paper, something flimsy and discardable. Utterly clueless about how my life became ruined so completely in one day, I felt the need to make sure that I was still here, still alive.
Dry-eyed and clad in a towel, I walked across the log cabin and up the stairs to the bedroom in the loft. A rapidly evaporating trail of wet footsteps highlighted my path. The large, green towel provided adequate coverage despite my curves.
I worked hard to stay slim and encourage an hourglass figure. Lord knows I was one tub of ice cream away from wearing size twelve, stretchy jeans again. While there was nothing wrong with being cute and chubby, it was a size-six-in-skinny-jeans kind of body that secured my job, piqued the interest of the young Dr. Patrick, and grew my Insta follower count daily.
The bed was empty. The messy sheets were already out of sight in a laundry hamper. The smell of freshly made coffee and sizzling bacon invited me back downstairs. After trying on three combinations of borrowed men’s clothes, I felt presentable. For a second, I imagined what cosmetic magic I could have whipped up with the right foundation, lip stick, mascara and eye shadow. My fleeting smile couldn’t survive my reality. I had no one to dress up for, no one to talk to and nothing happening that was normal enough to share on social media. I didn’t recognize myself.
The ground floor of the skillfully made cabin was open-concept. Without walls dividing the rooms, Ward and I made eye contact as I walked toward him. His striking, light brown eyes held my glaze. After days of him frowning, I wondered if I’d ever see his half smile again. Then again, his happiness would probably infuriate me more.
Comfortably straddling a barstool at the island in the kitchen, Ward’s muscular arms crossed his chest. While I knew now he was a carpenter, I still referred to him as Pro-athlete Guy in my head sometimes. I watched Ward’s gaze land on my left shoulder. He sniffed audibly and then his frown deepened. I froze, waiting for a criticizing question or direct accusation about the shallow scratches running down my arms. Although I wore a long sleeve shirt, I had to accept that he had the ability to smell the blood from my fresh cuts. My blushing cheeks and averted eyes highlighted my discomfort. He said nothing.
When I looked up, Ward continued to eat his breakfast. On the kitchen counter, I took in the sight and smell of cheesy scrambled eggs, crunchy bacon, and buttered whole wheat toast. I bypassed the heavy breakfast foods that Ward cooked daily and reached for the freshly made fruit smoothie in the blender. Each day he switched up the combination of fruits, and whether it was made with almond milk or coconut water.
Sitting in the seat furthest away from him, I settled down and sipped my breakfast smoothie. The mixture of coconut water, pineapple, mango, and lime was divine. I closed my eyes and sighed into the cup I held to my mouth. Delicious. Only when I consumed the last drop did I place the cup onto the island and look his way.
I didn’t say, “Thank you,” and he didn’t expect me to.
For three days, we lived in his bachelor pad. Unbelievably, we haven’t spoken more than five words at a time to one another since he brought me to his place.
“I want to go home!”
It was the first thing I said when I woke heartbroken and disorientated. My plea hung in the air between us, ever-present and woefully ignored.
Copyright © 2021 Azaaa Davis
She’s the only one that can stop her cursed husband’s murderous rampage.
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