Thorne by B.J. McCall

Thorne by B.J. McCall

Thorne

Thunder Wolves, Book 1

by B.J. McCall

Changeling Press

Ebook ISBN: 07084-02282

[ Paranormal Romance, MF ]

She’s a loner. He belongs to a wolf pack. He wants forever. She’s just surviving day by day. One night. One sexy werewolf. Madison’s life is about to shift.

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Chapter One


Madison Campbell touched up her lipstick, slipped on her suit jacket and left her office through a back door that opened into a private corridor. She tapped lightly at a closed door before entering the executive office.

Heels sinking into thick gray carpet, she stepped inside.

Dressed in a dark gray suit, her boss, Hadon Strong, was staring at his computer screen.

“Good morning, Hadon.”

He looked up, focused his gray eyes on her and watched her walk to the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the city. The view was impressive to those privileged enough to be invited into Hadon’s office. “Nice suit.”

Nice meant he approved. Hadon had groomed Madison for the position of personal executive assistant and he’d made it clear from day one that she was to complement him at all times, but never to overshadow. Madison wore dark or muted colors and kept her jewelry at a minimum.

Five years ago he’d pulled her out of hell, rehabilitated her and given her stability and direction. In return, she gave him loyalty, usually worked a minimum of twelve hours six days a week and never took a sick day or requested vacation time.

Although she had an office at Strong Structural Design, Madison wasn’t on the company payroll. Hadon paid her salary.

“Are we meeting the client here or in the conference room?”

“Here. I want this bridge contract.”

Hadon divided business clients into groups, those he deemed worthy enough to meet personally and those who were fobbed off to the chief architect or chief engineer. If Hadon wanted to build the bridge over the Thunder River, he needed Thorne Thunder.

“Have you memorized Thorne’s dossier?”

“I have,” Madison said, thinking that information on the Thunder wolves was sketchy. “Shifters are difficult. I can’t guarantee my impressions.”

“He may be a freak, but he’s male. Find out what he’s thinking. What he wants.”

Madison’s spine stiffened at the idea she’d give less than one hundred percent to the job. Using her empathic skills made her an asset to Hadon. He was a difficult boss, but she wasn’t an ordinary employee. Public places and crowds agitated her. The barrage of impressions she received brought on the anxiety she’d suffered as a child.

She hadn’t understood her gift until she was in high school. Her schoolmates thought she was a freak, and unfortunately so did her parents, but knowing what she was hadn’t made life easier.

Hadon had given her a job and a method of using her skills, while allowing her minimal face-to-face contact with the clients and staff. She performed most of her tasks over the phone or on the Internet, arranging Hadon’s schedule, appointments and travel. She had a private office and complete access to the executive wing of the building.

“You may have to do more than sit in on our meeting,” Hadon said. “Take Thunder to dinner, buy him drinks, make it personal, but get the job done.”

Understanding her dislike of public places, Hadon didn’t often ask her to entertain clients. She was lousy at small talk, but the werewolf fascinated her.

“If he’s available, I’ll take Mr. Thunder to dinner.”

“See that he is,” Hadon said. Do what you have to do was what Hadon meant. Her boss wanted results, never excuses.

Madison had read and reread the dossier compiled on Thorne Thunder. He held a degree in land management and any construction or land use permitted on Thunder pack land had to have his stamp of approval. Just thirty-two years old, Thorne was a respected wolf in his pack. Time and again, Madison had brought up the photos of Thorne on her laptop, just to look at him.

What was it about him that she found so compelling? He was handsome, but not in a movie star way. His chin was strong and his hair as dark as coffee. It had to be his whiskey brown eyes. Even in the photos his eyes projected wildness, something feral and untamed. Maybe it was the alpha male she found so captivating. Yet, he seemed so at ease, looking as comfortable in a tailored suit as he did in cargo pants and a T-shirt.

Madison hoped Thorne was as interesting in the flesh.

“Bring the beast in,” Hadon said.

She didn’t understand Hadon’s aversion to werewolves, but Madison acknowledged the shiver of excitement that slid down her spine as she left Hadon’s office to retrieve Thorne Thunder.

* * *

Thorne checked the time on his phone. Hadon Strong had a reputation for keeping his business associates waiting. Thorne had arrived on time for the meeting and he’d allow Strong two more minutes. After that, he was leaving.

The Thunder pack wasn’t thrilled about the state highway that would cross their land or the bridge that would span their river. The loss of forest and the possible negative effectives on their water supply had the elders concerned. Thorne had spent more days than he liked convincing the state to give his wolf pack a voice in approving the design of the bridge. Strong Structural Design needed the elders’ approval to win this lucrative contract. Thorne’s recommendation would weigh heavily on that decision.

After two minutes, Thorne stood and tucked his phone in his pocket. A door opened across the hallway and the scent of woman and citrus floated through the air. Thorne’s nose twitched, not an unusual occurrence when being around humans. Heat and female pheromones struck him. Desire coiled and snaked through him, taking him by surprise.

He turned, wondering if the vision would compare to the olfactory sensation.

Thorne’s heart thumped and his blood rushed.

He took in the black high heels, delicate ankles, shapely calves, black skirt and jacket that displayed a good figure. Her white top revealed a single gold chain around a slender neck. Her blonde hair was pulled back. The severity of the style meant to downplay her looks only served to accentuate the delicate bone structure of her face. Her eyes were blue, her lips pink and her skin fair.

The blonde extended her slender hand in greeting. Her nails were short, manicured and polished in pale pink. “Mr. Thunder, I’m Madison Campbell, Mr. Strong’s personal assistant.”

Thorne knew Hadon Strong was single and pondered the extent of that personal relationship. He glanced at her left hand and saw no ring. “Ms. Campbell.”

“Mr. Strong is ready to see you.”

She escorted him across the waiting area to a set of double doors. Although his time in the city was coming to a close, Thorne would willingly extend his stay in order to get to know Ms. Campbell more intimately.

He followed her into a sterile office of leather, chrome and glass. The gray palette of the room fit Hadon Strong. The businessman was edging toward fifty, slender in build and wearing a gray suit and red tie. His salt and pepper hair was short, his face was lean and his gray eyes were sharp. His handshake was overly firm.

The hair on the back of Thorne’s neck stood on end.

“Have a seat, Mr. Thunder. I hope you don’t mind if my assistant sits in on the meeting. Would you like coffee? Madison makes excellent coffee.”

Thorne slid into one of the leather chairs opposite Strong’s glass desk. “Thanks, but no coffee for me.”

Thorne tried to keep his gaze on Strong despite the distraction of Ms. Campbell taking the chair beside him and crossing her legs. Her high heels drew his eye for a brief glance, but it was her stimulating scent that proved the most difficult to ignore.

A slight smile flickered across Hadon Strong’s face. Having his sexy assistant remain in the room was a deliberate act. Strong wanted him disturbed and distracted.

Thorne fixed his gaze on Strong. “You said you had the final design ready?”

“It fits all your specifications. Madison?”

Again, Thorne’s attention was drawn to Ms. Campbell. Her movements were graceful as she rose and bent over Strong’s desk to pick up a remote control resting within an inch of her boss’ hand. She turned toward the wall on Thorne’s right.

Thorne was aware of the large flat screen television descending from the ceiling, but looking at Ms. Campbell’s shapely backside was unavoidable.

The slide show began and Ms. Campbell returned to her seat. Drawings of the proposed steel bridge from several angles were displayed. The design was good. Thorne had evaluated several designs and he planned to present the best two to the elders, giving them the final choice. Meeting the people behind the design was essential to his recommendation.

He asked Strong several questions about the footings of the bridge. The discussion continued for several minutes. Ms. Campbell was silent, but Thorne was acutely aware of her presence. Every breath he took was infused with her womanly fragrance.

“Our proposal keeps the impact to the river and the surrounding environment at a minimum,” Strong said.

Thorne liked the bridge. “It’s a good design.”

Hadon Strong leaned forward. “It’s the best design for Thunder River and it’s beautiful from any angle. My bridges are well designed. My engineers are the best in their field.”

“Your company has an excellent reputation,” Thorne said. He considered asking Strong about how he felt about werewolves. Thorne had heard the rumors. Many humans weren’t fond of werewolves and although they were entitled to their opinion the elders saw no reason to do business with them.

Hadon Strong smiled, a smile that did not reach the man’s eyes.

The hair on the back of Thorne’s neck rose again. The bridge design was ascetically pleasing, but Thorne trusted his instincts and he didn’t want to award the contract to Hadon Strong.

He didn’t trust him, a purely visceral reaction. Thorne’s reaction to Ms. Campbell, however, was also visceral. His desire for her was primal and raw, and the wanting of her had grabbed him hard and held him fast.

If he wasn’t going to give Strong’s company his recommendation, the proper thing to do was to stay away from his sexy assistant. Any man would be drawn to Ms. Campbell, but there was more to the woman than just her looks.

Thorne sensed something more. Something deep. Something special. But first he’d have to douse the fire she’d ignited. Just looking at her made him burn.

Perhaps Ms. Campbell might confirm Strong’s feelings about werewolves.

Thorne rose and held out his hand. “Thank you for your time, Mr. Strong. This is an important decision for my pack.”

“Thank you, Mr. Thunder. Ms. Campbell has a portfolio for you and will forward the necessary documentation by email.”

Thorne turned to Ms. Campbell. “It was a pleasure.”

She handed him a portfolio. “I’ll show you to the elevator.”

Thorne nodded and followed in Ms. Campbell’s scented wake. As they approached the elevator she asked him if the hotel she’d recommended had met his expectations.

“I’m very comfortable, thank you.” While they waited for the elevator car Thorne asked for her card. “In case I have any questions.”

She removed a card from the pocket of her jacket. “How long are you staying in town?”

He glanced at the card, noting it had her number written by hand on the back. “Until tomorrow,” he said, changing his plans on the spot. He’d already checked out of his hotel and had his bag in his SUV. For Ms. Campbell, he’d rearrange his schedule and rent a suite.

“Any plans for dinner tonight?”

Thorne realized her invitation was likely part of Hadon Strong’s strategy for winning the contract, but he didn’t care. He wanted to bury his face in her soft curves and breathe in her scent. “I’m free.”

“The restaurant at your hotel is famous for their steak. How does eight sound, Mr. Thunder?” Her voice held a seductive edge. She raised her hand, her fingers hovering an inch from his arm, but she didn’t touch him. “Dinner on the company, of course.”

“The bar stocks excellent wine and spirits. How does seven sound, Ms. Campbell? On me.” All over me. Before me. Beneath me. Those beautiful legs wrapped around me.

The elevator arrived and the doors slid open. Ms. Campbell’s gaze met his. Her eyes were bright and her lips trembled.

Thorne sensed her rising heat and her fragrant female scent pulled at him. He wanted to move closer, to take her into his arms, but Thorne didn’t move.

“Seven. I’d be delighted.” She leaned toward him ever so slightly. “I’m going to convince you that Strong Structural Designs is the company you want.”

The sultry tone of her voice added to the sensation. Thorne’s reaction was hot and heavy. She was going to fuck him. He knew she was getting paid to do it and his pride smarted, but Thorne wanted her, at any price.

* * *

When the elevator doors closed, Madison sucked in a deep breath and exhaled, anything to ease the heat and need overwhelming her. The walk to the elevator with Thorne had happened in a matter of seconds, but keeping her desire in check had made the distance feel like a mile.

In the meeting, she hadn’t gotten a good read on his thoughts about the bridge design. Perhaps, she was too distracted by his looks and the intense sexual energy that surrounded him like an aura. Hot, alpha male energy unlike anything she’d ever encountered.

She’d wanted to touch him, throw herself into his arms, but somehow, she had managed to control herself.

She’d been admired, flattered, cajoled and pawed by Hadon’s clients, but this was the first time she had ever been tempted to sleep with one of them.

Was it because Thorne was a werewolf? Was she responding to the wolf as well as the man? Madison glanced at the wristwatch Hadon had given her last Christmas. Nine hours to wait.

Nine long hours to tremble, to hunger and keep her business face on. She didn’t want Hadon to know about her unusual reaction to Thorne. Hadon was observant and if he saw what he perceived as weakness, he had a nasty habit of using it against others.

Madison straightened her jacket and headed for Hadon’s office.

When she walked into the office, her boss was sitting in his chair, facing the window. She didn’t have to see his face to sense his anger. What had happened in the last ten minutes to upset him?

“So, tell me about Thorne Thunder,” he said, without looking at her.

“He’s difficult to read,” she said. “I think he liked the design, but he controls his emotions. I’ll know more tonight. I’m meeting him at his hotel for drinks and dinner.”

“Good. Use the company credit card. Buy him the best.” Hadon swiveled his chair around and drilled her with his cold gray eyes. “I want results.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“Your best is his recommendation. Give him anything he wants, understood?”

“You’re upset. What happened?”

“Don’t worry about me. Concentrate on getting Thunder on our side.”

Why was this particular project so much more important to Hadon than the others that the company was currently biding on? Was it the competition?

“Is Delaney biding on this project?”

“Thunder met with him yesterday. That traitor isn’t beating me out of this project.”

Six months ago Derek Delaney had quit and opened his own civil engineering firm in direct competition with Strong Structural Design. Recognizing Delaney’s talent, Hadon had hired the young engineer right out of college. Over the next three years, Derek’s designs had earned him an excellent reputation. Hadon had felt betrayed. Madison’s short affair with Derek hadn’t helped the situation.

Madison turned away and walked to the door.

“Where are you going?”

Madison paused, but didn’t look at Hadon. “Shopping. I’ve got a werewolf to impress.”

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