The Werewolf Wears Prada
San Francisco Wolf Pack
Genre: paranormal romance
Date of Publication: 4/28/15
Number of pages: 230
Word Count: 67,000
Cover Artist: Curtis Svehlak
Falling in love bites...
Melina Rosenthal worships at the altar of all things fashion. Her dream is to work for the crème de la crème fashion magazine, Eclipse, and she'll do much anything to get there. Even fixing up the image of a gorgeous, sexy public figure who's all playboy, all the time. Even if he's the guy who broke her heart a year ago...
Even if Hayden Dean is a werewolf.
Since his father's death, Hayden's the heir apparent to the San Francisco Wolf Pack-well, once he settles down. Hayden isn't interested in giving up his partying ways, except he's pretty sure he's found his fated mate, and the fact that she's a non-shifter is bad news. Now he must find a compromise between the traditions of his wolf world and his certainty that Melina is his...before fate (or another werewolf) bites them both in the butt.
Excerpt: Chapter One
Life is not a fairy tale.
Melina Rae Rosenthal had lived her entire life repeating that mantra to herself. She’d kissed a long list of frogs, and put up with a lot of B.S. Today, however, made her question whether she’d been wrong, and incredibly bitter, all those years. She’d been asked out by one of the most eligible bachelors on the planet.
Prince Charming had finally arrived.
There was only one thing missing: a fairy godmother who’d wave a glittery wand in front of her face and turn her yoga pants into a puffy blue dress.
“I’ve got nothing to wear.” Melina dove into her walk-in closet, tossing leather pants and a fur poncho onto the bed behind her. “What am I going to do?”
Her best friend Colleen squealed from the bedroom, probably ducking for cover. Not very fairy-godmother-like. “Just calm down. You’ve been skipping around all day like Little Red Riding Hood on Redbull.”
“Not Redbull. Espresso.” Throwing hangers behind her, Melina huffed and shoved two coats apart. “I’ve had six today.”
“Six?” Colleen laughed—one of those witchy cackles Melina both loved and hated her for. She really was more like the Wicked Witch of the West than any fairy godmother Melina had ever seen. “You and Hayden must’ve really hit it off.”
Merely hearing his name made the hair on Melina’s arms stand on end.
He was a San Francisco business mogul, millionaire, and model magnet. He was also scorching hot. Dark brown hair parted perfectly down the center with silky strands that nearly brushed his ears. Creamy chocolate eyes set against golden tan skin. Thick, swooping jaw, and a set of plush lips.
Totally Prince Charming material.
Before today, she might’ve settled for far less. She hadn’t had a date with a real man in months. The ones she’d gone out with had turned out to be mama’s boys, cat-callers, loud eaters, snorters, and scratchers. And if she went out with another guy who called her “Doll” she was going to scratch out his eyeballs.
She’d started to think the good ones were either already taken or dead.
“I’m telling you, it was magic. He’s not anything like you see on E! News.” They’d painted the famous Hayden Dean to be a stupid playboy. A chauvinist who cared for nothing and no one but himself. To her surprise, he’d shown her none of those things. “He’s unexpectedly…charismatic. And caring.”
Two hours interviewing the drop-dead gorgeous hunk, and Melina knew he was the one she’d been waiting for. The guy plucked straight from her dreams. He was tall, dark, and unquestionably handsome—more so in person, if that was possible—so staring at him while she fired questions about his personal life wasn’t the worst assignment she’d ever had.
And she could go off for hours about the trashy assignments she’d had from Celebrity Crush magazine. She’d worked as the Celeb Life & Style columnist for eighteen months, and longed to move up the ranks to Eclipse, the city’s leading fashion magazine.
Every article was one step closer to reaching that goal and leaving the unrealistic demands of her editor behind her.
“I’m stoked you two hit it off,” Colleen said, her voice laced with concern, “but they don’t call him Hook-Up Hayden for nothing.”
A subtle twinge in Melina’s gut warned Colleen might’ve had a point. All those stories about Hayden’s womanizing ways couldn’t have been terribly off-mark. But how could she turn down the chance to see for herself? Guys like Hayden didn’t come around that often, if ever.
“I think I can take care of myself.” Melina squeezed between two Gucci dresses. Exactly how deep was her closet? “If you got to know him, you’d see he’s different. Deep down, I don’t think he wants to be that way…the way everyone paints him to be.”
Colleen huffed. “You really think you know him? Deep down? After two hours in Starbucks?”
“Maybe, maybe not.” Melina’s fingers gripped silky-soft pleats. “Gotcha.”
She yanked a Prada gown off its hanger and burst into the bedroom holding it high. The dress was a gorgeous shade of eggplant. Grecian. Long and draping, with pleats on the gown and a dangerously low V-neck.
“Ooh!” Colleen crooned, jumping off the bed, her platinum blonde locks bouncing over her shoulder. “It looks like the one whats-her-face wore to that huge awards show last season.”
“Yes, but this one’s better. The V-neck is deeper, the skirt is tamer. The differences are subtle, but it’s striking, don’t you think?” She stroked the pleats, seeing the image take form. “I’m going to pair it with glittering gold Manolo Blahniks, nude lips, and the most fabulous earrings I can find.”
What better way to make a splash at the Silverlight Awards?
She still couldn’t believe he’d asked her.
Infamous womanizer Hayden Dean had leaned across their tiny table in the back corner of Starbucks, gazed deep into her eyes, stirring something in her chest…and whispered the words she never thought she’d hear: Be my date tonight?
Not only any date. His date to the Silverlight Awards. She’d walk the red carpet. Mingle with celebrities. Wave to the cameras. If she were lucky, she’d show up on E! News. The minute she’d returned from the interview, Melina had set her TiVo to record the event. Just in case.
“What do you think?” Melina bounced on her toes and met her friend’s bright blue eyes, practicing the show-stopping smile she’d give to the paparazzi that followed Hayden around. “Am I going to rock his socks, or what?”
“Wow, Mel, I don’t—I’m speechless.”
“Let’s hope he is, too.”
“I don’t understand why Hayden is going to the Silverlights in the first place,” Coleen said, her gaze raking up and down the dress. “He’s not in the film industry.”
“No, but I guess his father is on the Board of Governors and is getting some kind of honorary award for his work.” She shrugged, excitement pulsing through her. “Hayden gets two complimentary tickets.”
Colleen shook her head slowly. “And he asked you to be his date…”
Melina flinched at her friend’s disbelieving tone. “Why wouldn’t he?”
“I don’t mean it like that.” Colleen grabbed Melina by the arm and dragged her to the edge of the bed. They shoved clothes aside and plopped down, dangling their legs over the edge. “It’s just that…isn’t he still dating that Sports Illustrated model? You know, the one with the rack?”
“I’ve got a nice rack.” Frowning, Melina grabbed handfuls of her B cups and held tight. “Okay, okay, so they’re not as big as the other girls he’s dated, but at least they’re real! Doesn’t that count for something?”
“I don’t know.” Colleen shrugged. “I’m more of a leg girl.”
Melina snorted into a belly laugh. “I don’t think the size of my boobs matter anyway. He totally thinks I’m hot as-is.”
“Really?” Colleen beamed, snatching Melina’s hands off her boobs. “He told you that?”
“He didn’t say the words, but one glance and I could feel the chemistry. It was like—” How could she possibly explain their connection? It was crackly. Sparkly. Fizzling the air between them. “—Snap, Crackle, Pop.”
Colleen’s smile fell, and she cocked a thinly-plucked eyebrow. “You’re talking about the cereal? Sweetheart, I think we need to get you out more often. You shouldn’t feel anything close to cereal when you’re with a guy like Hayden Dean. You should melt. Like butter.”
“Oh, there was definite melting going on.”
If Hayden had been any hotter, he would’ve melted the panties right off her body.
“All right.” Colleen nodded. “You better get your petite ass moving. He’ll be here in twenty, right?”
Melina gasped, shooting a glance at the clock on her bedside table.
“It can’t be that late already!”
She swept off the bed in a whirlwind, dug around in her drawer for a pair of Spanx, and dashed into the bathroom. Squeezing into the bodysuit, she leaned and tugged as the stretchy material inched up her body. With a groan, she wiggled into the stunning Prada dress. Colleen zipped up the back, oohing and aahing as Melina spun, excitement spearing through her. For the next fifteen minutes, she applied her makeup. Dried her hair. Straightened and smoothed down the fly-aways. If she hadn’t drained her bank account to buy this dress last week, she might’ve had the money to pay for a stylist. But things were tight.
As soon as she landed a job at Eclipse, she’d be fine.
Six-thirty came and went.
Glad to have a few extra minutes, Melina wiggled her size eights into her sky-high shoes and had Colleen strap them. She tweaked her hair. Reapplied her lipstick. Chose a pair of long silver earrings with chunky beads hanging off them. They were high fashion, bordering on gaudy, and they were perfect.
She checked the time on her cell, and just in case, scanned the log for missed calls. There weren’t any.
Nerves settled in, though there was really no room for them in her dress.
“I’m sure he’s having trouble parking,” Colleen said. But her voice didn’t sound so confident.
“Yeah.” Her lips twitched. “Parking’s hellacious around here.”
Melina shrugged off the doubt. As her toes protested the squeeze she’d put them under, she lowered herself onto the bed—keeping her posture straight so the dress didn’t crinkle—and then flicked on the flat-screen mounted to the wall.
“Look.” Using the remote as a pointer, Melina poked it in the direction of the television. E! News flashed over the screen. “People are already showing up.”
“I think they show up early and circle the block over and over again, waiting for the perfect moment to stop.” Colleen sat beside her, crossing her leather-clad legs at the ankle. She was long and lanky—probably six inches taller than Melina, who stood at five-foot-two on tiptoe—and hung her feet over the end of the bed. “I’m sure some like to be there first thing, and others like to make an entrance. From what I’ve heard, Hayden likes to have all eyes on him. I’m sure he won’t mind being late.”
It must’ve been Colleen’s mention of Hayden that made Melina see him emerge from a limo parked at the curb. The camera angle was distant and from the side, so she couldn’t be sure, but this man was the same height and general size, with the same complexion. He turned before she could get a good look at his face. He extended his hand for two blonde bombshells to exit the limousine behind him.
That couldn’t be right.
Blinking quickly to clear her head, Melina leaned forward as worry hardened into a ball in the pit of her stomach.
“Mel,” Colleen whispered, “is that…”
“I don’t think so.”
Colleen had either read her mind, or Hayden Dean was there with someone else. Two, to be exact. As the camera angle zoomed on Hayden’s look-a-like, Melina’s heart dropped to her Blahniks.
Hayden grinned and held up the hands of his escorts as they spun for the cameras, their green silky gowns hiding little of their curvy figures.
It was Hayden Dean. Playboy. Casanova. Pompous ass.
“Oh my God, Mel.” Colleen grasped her shoulders. “What a jerkhole!”
Melina nodded as tears pinched her eyes. She wasn’t crying for him. She wasn’t. She couldn’t be. She’d just been so freaking excited to be going to the Silverlight Awards. That had to be it. She’d spent all day building up tonight’s experience. She’d planned it all out in her head. Of course she’d feel deflated when the fantasy didn’t match the reality.
Cinderella wasn’t going to the ball after all.
Desperate to get a closer glimpse of the television and Hayden’s smug face, Melina crawled over the bed on her hands and knees. When she reached the end, the breath whooshed out of her lungs.
“Are you okay?” She heard Colleen say. “Mel?”
Oh, she was far from the bland emotion. She wanted to rip out Hayden’s tongue and shove it where the sun didn’t shine. The man was a snake in—oh God, was that Prada? They would’ve matched. They could’ve been the perfect pair.
“I should’ve known better,” Melina mumbled. “I should’ve listened to my gut. Somewhere deep inside I think I knew all those magazines couldn’t be wrong.” She shook her head. “I gave Hayden Dean the benefit of the doubt, and two hours of my day. Those are two things he didn’t deserve. I won’t spend another second thinking about him.”
“Good for you.”
Melina sighed. “I guess I just hoped—I just thought maybe for once, the fairy tale could actually come true for me, you know?”
As her legs cramped, she sat back. The ear-piercing sound of fabric ripping hit her ears. She stilled, slowly glancing down. She brushed her fingers over a rip in the Prada dress she’d spent her entire month’s earnings on.
Tears burning her throat, Melina glared at Hayden’s face on the television screen and realized two things.
By ripping her Prada dress, she’d just committed a fashion sin.
And fairy tales were most definitely real. They were. Maybe not for her, but for the girls on Hayden’s arms. They radiated happiness, their wide, innocent eyes taking in the fanciful scene around them. They smiled as she would’ve been smiling. If those blondes could live in a dream, she could too. She had control over her life, including who came in and out of it.
She should be blissfully happy too.
Why’d she have to wait for some dashing knight in shining armor to come riding in on a white horse and sweep her off her feet?
She vowed, then and there, in her torn Prada dress, that she’d make her fairy tale come true…without an arrogant Prince Charming like Hayden Dean on her arm, acting as if he was the one responsible for it all.
About the Author:
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Kristin Miller writes sweet and sassy contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance of all varieties. Kristin has degrees in psychology, English, and education, and taught high school and middle school English before crossing over to a career in writing. She lives in Northern California with her alpha male husband and their two children. She loves chocolate way more than she should and the gym less. You can usually find her in the corner of a coffee shop, laptop in front of her and mocha in hand, using the guests around her as fuel for her next book.