It’s hard enough being an inn manager, serving at everyone’s beck and call, making sure all the guests are happy and the employees are paid on time. Add to that being a werewolf, a recovering alcoholic, and a pack leader. Add to that a brother who is trying to tear the pack apart and a dark past he can’t escape. Needless to say, Carl is under a lot of stress. Not helping: Justin, the inn’s human massage therapist—who Carl is trying not to fall for—has offered Carl a massage to “lower his stress levels.” As his boss, Carl can’t tell Justin his hands might lower stress levels, but they would raise something else.
Despite Carl trying to put him off, Justin won’t give in. Carl’s friends won’t leave him alone, and the divisions in the pack are near exploding. And it’s tourist season. The last thing Carl needs are wolf wars in the lobby. Like it or not, Carl is going to have to rely on Justin and the wolves who love him to teach him how to let go and get through everything without falling
“Come on, just give it a try. Five minutes, that’s all I’m asking for.”
I snarled at the purple massage chair that Justin, one of the summer employees, had set up in the courtyard of the staff area. He’d decided all the staff deserved chair massages after surviving Fourth of July week at the inn. I did not want this patchouli-smelling human putting his hands on me, no matter how hot his long, lean body was, no matter how many times I’d thought about what it would be like to pin him under me and ride him until he was begging me for more. I didn’t need a massage, and I didn’t need a drink either, no matter how much I craved one even after all these long years of sobriety. I needed to give my brother a kick in the ass and tell off a few overbearing hotel guests. Then I needed a big, fat steak and a long run in wolf form.
“I can tell how tense you are by the way you’re standing.”
I snorted. “No more tense than usual.”
“Which is why you need regular massages; all the staff do. It’s a stressful job trying to please the guests.”
Not to mention run a pack of unruly wolves, fall for the wrong man, and help as much as I could with the shifter rehab clinic in Atlanta. “There are plenty of worse jobs.”
Justin nodded. “And there are worse things than giving a massage a chance.”
I didn’t need some hippie telling me how to relax. While I loved and needed the touch of my wolves, a massage seemed like a frivolous waste of time. Being in wolf form relaxed me. Breathing deeply of all the scents in the woods always made me feel better. Maybe I tensed up again as soon as I returned to human form. That didn’t mean I couldn’t handle my responsibilities.
“Even shifters need their muscles loosened up. You’ll run even better as a wolf if I do this first.”
I stared at him. How did he know I was thinking about shifting and heading for the woods?
“Fine. I’ll give you five minutes. Then you’ll let me go and quit pestering me.”
He looked me slowly up and down. “If I have to.” Then he licked his lips and something glittered on the end of his tongue. Fuck, he had a tongue stud. How had I missed that in the six weeks he’d been at the hotel? I’d been told that kissing a man with a tongue piercing was exquisite and having his mouth on your dick was mind-blowing, like I need another thing to further my ludicrous attraction.
Heat rose into my face. What was I doing thinking about Justin sucking me off, his tongue stud sliding up the length of my cock? We couldn’t be more different. He was a laid-back human who drifted from one place to another without a care. I’d sworn off humans a long time ago; sticking to wolves was safer. Humans were too fragile, especially this skinny boy who probably didn’t even eat meat. Why the hell was he flirting with me anyway?
“Do you look at all your clients like that?”
Justin flushed and looked away. “Sorry. I got carried away.”
I hadn’t meant to make him feel bad. I was grumpy after spending the afternoon in a meeting that included my brother, and Justin was a convenient target for my frustration. “No. It’s okay. I just—”
“Sit down and let me see if I can do anything for you in the few minutes you’re giving me.”
His tone was professional, and I missed the sultry edge to his voice. I wanted to see heat in his eyes again, which showed just how crazy the stress of the last few months had made me.
Despite the loss of sexy banter, he was going to be touching me, pressing up against me. No way was I going to be able to relax. Ever since he’d come to the hotel for an interview,
Justin had gotten under my skin. I wasn’t normally attracted to hippie boys, the kind who would fit in perfectly in the West Asheville neighborhood where Justin had spent the spring.
I could easily imagine him waiting tables in a vegetarian farm-to-table restaurant, his long, shaggy blond hair pulled back, maybe even twisted into a little knot. Late at night he’d sit on his porch playing music and smoking weed, wearing nothing but those tiny running shorts he was so fond of. He didn’t seem to find clothes or shoes particularly necessary. Most of the time when I caught a glimpse of him on the hotel grounds, he was just a tall stretch of tan skin with the little strip of cloth covering his cock and ass, his bare toes flexing against the ground.
But really, he wasn’t at all my type. The last thing I wanted was a lover who’d try to make me drink healing tinctures after spending an hour sitting on my ass meditating. Not that I really had a type, unless you counted messed up werewolves in need of rescuing. Mostly I just wanted to care for those rehabilitated men, at least until Shane. Why did it still hurt to think about him? He belonged with Matt. I’d accepted that and moved on, but sometimes I remembered something we’d done together and a knot formed in my stomach. I’d been an idiot to get too close to him, but he’d been so needy, even more than others I’d helped after their time in rehab. If I had to be honest, what I missed most since Matt had come to work at the inn was spending time with Shane everyday, having someone to talk to, someone to hold. I was lonely.