Seducing the Wolf

By: Maureen Smith

To all my loyal Wolf Pack addicts





1





Manning Wolf slid from the rumpled bed and crept soundlessly across the shadowy hotel room to reach the chair where he’d slung his clothes the night before. Guided by the sliver of daylight that seeped through the heavy drapes, he began getting dressed—a task made easier by the way he’d methodically layered his clothing over the back of the chair. Boxer briefs on top, followed by his undershirt, socks, pants, broadcloth shirt.

He always waited until his lovers fell asleep before he got up, gathered his strewn garments and arranged them on the chair so he could make a clean getaway in the morning.

As he quietly shrugged into his Armani suit jacket and slipped on his shoes, a shadow of cynicism curved his mouth. Just when had he become the proverbial love ’em and leave ’em type? When had he become a shallow playboy who could bed a different woman nearly every week without feeling more than a pang of guilt?

Once upon a time, he’d dreamed of having the kind of relationship that his parents had. A deep, passionate, unshakable love that could weather any and every storm. He’d expected—hoped—to find that same blissful perfection with the woman of his dreams.

A woman who could complete his sentences, and could set him on fire with just one look.

A woman who rode his mind whenever they were apart.

A woman he loved unconditionally and couldn’t live without.

Once upon a time, he’d hoped to have such a woman by his side. But as the years passed he’d lost his sense of optimism, lost his will to believe. Lost his reason to hope.

Shaking off the gloomy musings—which reeked of self-pity—Manning stuffed his silk tie into the pocket of his suit jacket and turned to regard the shadowy outline of the woman lying beneath the white covers. She was sleeping soundly with the sheets twisted around her nude body, exposing one shapely thigh. Her tousled dark hair spilled over her face, concealing her features in a way that seemed oddly symbolic given that Manning would probably forget what she looked like by the end of the day.

Grimacing at the thought, Manning crossed to the bathroom to splash cold water onto his face and rinse his mouth with the hotel’s complimentary mouthwash.

When he emerged, he was relieved to see that his lover hadn’t stirred. He’d worn her out last night, making her come so many times she’d been delirious by the time they were done. So it’d probably be a few more hours before she woke up.

Manning lingered for a moment, eyeing the cherry bedside table. Leaving his business card would give her the impression that he wanted to see her again. Leaving money—even for a cab—would make her feel like a cheap prostitute. Neither was the message he wanted to send.

So he left the table empty and headed for the door, making a mental note to have his secretary send flowers with a note from him thanking her for a good time.

He paused at the door and glanced over his shoulder at the sleeping woman. His conscience pricked him as he imagined her waking up and looking around for him, her confusion quickly turning to disappointment when she realized that he’d left without saying goodbye.

Sorry, Manning mouthed to her. It’s nothing personal.

With that, he turned and left without a sound.

As he sauntered down the elegantly carpeted corridor, his cell phone vibrated. He dug it out of his jacket pocket to check the text message.

We still meeting at Mike’s tonight? Mason Wolf wanted to know.

He was referring to their cousin’s popular soul food restaurant, where the five Wolf brothers were supposed to meet that evening to finalize plans for their parents’ surprise anniversary celebration.

Manning typed back: Yeah, tonight. And don’t be late, Pipsqueak, or I’ma kick your ass.

Mason retorted: Whatever.

Manning chuckled softly.

It didn’t matter that Mason was a grown ass man and one of the NFL’s top wide receivers, boasting the kind of stats that had guaranteed his future enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. It didn’t matter that everywhere he went, fans clamored for his autograph and women slipped him their panties and phone numbers scrawled in lipstick. As far as Manning was concerned, Mason would always be his kid brother—aka “Pipsqueak.”

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