The next best series in romance for 2023
I can’t stop thinking about Darius.
He’s in the back of my mind, no matter what I do. No matter where I go.
His icy blue eyes. His angular jaw. His perfect muscular body.
I want to be with him, to feel his touch on my skin.
But I know that’s a fantasy. I’ll never see him again.
I feel my stomach constrict. My eyes grow wet.
Stop it. Stupid Penny. Focus on the professor.
The lecture drones on. I stifle an urge to yawn. Why am I here again? Oh yeah, to have a full college experience.
I glance around me. I’m the only werewolf here in this lecture hall. The only werewolf among the sea of humans.
Oww… An elbow pokes me, and I turn to scowl at my human friend Lily. She just giggles and grabs my arm to pull me closer so she can whisper into my ear, “Look at that hottie over there.”
She draws an arrow on my notepad pointing toward a guy sitting two rows in front of us. I can only see the back of his head, but he seems okay.
Tall, broad shoulders, short dirty-blond hair. So this is the guy my three human friends were giggling and whispering about.
What were the chances that I’d find like-minded girls who are just as boy crazy as I am in a college like this? Huge. I made friends with Lily, Amanda, and Keisha the first week I got here.
“Promising,” I jot down on the pad next to the arrow.
“Promising? Penny, he’s hot!” exclaims Amanda in a loud whisper as soon as she sees what I wrote. A few students turn to look at us in irritation.
Lily turns to the others, and they start whispering and giggling again. I fight an urge to roll my eyes. They’re so like high school girls.
Well, maybe that’s because they came here right after high school. I had three years to grow up a bit, though I doubt I look a day over eighteen…or, if I were honest, behave much better myself.
I try to copy the notes and the names of authors and titles of suggested reading scribbled on the board.
“Okay, Miss Promising,” whispers Lily, turning to look at me again. “We dare you to go and talk to Mr. Hottie right after class.”
She looks at me smugly. Oh, I don’t chicken out from dares. Ever. She knows that.
“What do I get out of this?” I quiz her.
“Cappuccino from your favorite café for his name and phone number,” answers Amanda from beside her.
“Your whole lunch, and that includes fries, paid for if you get him to join us for lunch today,” adds Keisha.
“Plus that cappuccino?” I ask them. At their nodding heads, I say, “Done!”
I start to gather my things together. I have to be quick to catch this hottie before he leaves the lecture hall.
I’ve been here almost a month now. I’m living with the lycans, but I’ve been trying not to spend all my time with them. They just remind me of him. Darius.
The lecture ends, and our target is getting up. Time to move my ass before hottie gets away.
“Get your money out, bitches. Get ready to pay for my lunch,” I mutter to them with a grin and a wink as I get up and sashay my way toward the hottie.
The view from the front is actually quite nice. The hottie isn’t that bad-looking at all for a human. He’s about six feet tall, nice body, dark-gray eyes, and dirty-blond hair.
Not anywhere near as good-looking as Darius, says a little nagging voice in my head that wouldn’t shut up.
I shake my head a little. I’m here to forget all about that lycan. Forget all about the three years I wasted on a man who doesn’t want me.
There I go again, thinking about him. I can’t help it.
Even as I hurry up to the hottie and tap him on the shoulder, my mind is on Darius.
More specifically, on the night we met, the night that started this whole mess.
It was three years ago, on my eighteenth birthday.
^THREE YEARS AGO^
My birthday was a big deal for me because we can sense our mate when we turn eighteen. That’s why I had planned a big party. It was going to be epic!
If you didn’t find your mate on your eighteenth birthday, people talked behind your back.
So I invited all the good-looking boys I have a crush on. Well…that’s basically all the unmated werewolf boys at our school.
I know, call me boy crazy, but who knows, one of those boys could be my mate, right? I was just being thorough. I’m a very dedicated she-wolf.
I’m waiting by the door to welcome my guests. I can see cars parking on the street and handsome boys, all looking amazing in suits and ties, getting out and greeting each other. My mouth waters.
I’m also excited to see my friend Genesis. She’s a lycan, and she’d been kidnapped (trust me, long story). She had only just made it home tonight.
As my first guests make their way up the front steps, my wolf, Juno, starts jumping around wildly inside me. Maybe she senses her mate. I hope so.
I cross my fingers behind my back.
Three hours later, my excited mood is gone. I’ve shaken hands with every unmated male here and didn’t feel the slightest spark with any of them.
I’m beginning to get worried that I won’t find my mate tonight after all. That would be humiliating.
What if I have to go to school tomorrow and endure the whispers and pointing?
I shudder. I don’t think I could handle that.
I look around at the party. Drool-worthy boys everywhere. Dancing, drinking, flirting with girls.
But not one of them is my mate. Damn.
There’s a knock on the door and I go answer it.
“Genesis!” I pull my bestie into the biggest hug as soon as I get the chance.
“Oh, Penny…happy birthday, love,” she whispers in my ear while she squeezes me a bit harder.
“I thought I’d never see you again. Don’t you dare do that to us again,” I scold.
“Not if I can help it,” she manages to say before our other friend Reese pulls her away.
After I release Genesis, I straighten up and gasp. Literally gasp like one of those girls in old movies.
On the doorstep behind Genesis is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.
Obviously, he’s a lycan. He’s so gorgeous. And lethal.
He has thick blond hair, so pale it’s almost white. It’s slicked back and suits him perfectly.
His sharp features look like they’re molded from granite.
His red lips contrast beautifully with his fair, flawless complexion. His perfect top lip is firm, yet his bottom lip is full and sexy, at odds with his tough exterior.
But the most fascinating thing about his appearance is his eyes.
They’re icy blue and have a sinister, dangerous air about them.
And they’re fixed right on me. He’s staring at me as if I’m the only person in the room.
His gaze sets all my inner alarm bells ringing.
But it also sends Juno galloping around my insides, burning with excitement and attraction. Somehow I know this isn’t just a regular lycan.
Genesis looks back and forth between us with a knowing look in her eyes.
Finally, she speaks. “Penny, allow me to introduce you to Darius Ivanovic Rykov.”