The Howling Heart by

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An Excerpt:

Chapter Two

The dream lingered when I arrived for work. I sat at my desk and immediately booted my laptop. I should’ve been reading company e-mail, but I went on the Internet, instead. After a quick Google search, I found a photo of a white wolf and saved it as my wallpaper. I immediately closed the browser, my eyes darting around the office. I had to be cautious when browsing the Web. My boss could walk by at any minute, and she didn’t tolerate a moment of company time spent indulging in personal, online pleasures. If she caught you, you had better have a convincing reason, or she’d fire you on the spot.

I took my position seriously and enjoyed my dream job at Elle, a prestigious fashion magazine. I started as an intern five years ago while I was a freshman at New York University. When I graduated last year, they offered me a position as the Assistant to the Creative Editor.

Nina Fuentes is my boss and one of the most respected Creative Editors in the magazine industry. She’s also the first Latina to hold the position at Elle. I’ve always been ambitious and hoped to sit in her office one day instead of outside of it.

My phone rang, and I heard our receptionist, Lacey’s, voice on the other end.

“Nina is on her way up and wants to see you in her office, now.” Her voice sounded serious.

“Sure, but how did Nina sound when she called you? Did she sound pissed off?” I nibbled my bottom lip nervously.

Lacey giggled. “No, she sounded normal. I don’t think you’re in trouble.”

I released a breath. Although I’m ambitious, I tend to be a little absentminded at the wrong times. It’s never intentional, and I hope I hadn’t exhausted Nina’s patience. I couldn’t count the number of instances where I thought she’d fire me. I guess she realized I had potential if I could organize myself better. The BlackBerry she gave me really helped, and I’d gone five months without forgetting anything important. That was a record for me. She was the one who hired me as an intern. I thought that perhaps she saw me as her protégé. Any opportunity she presented to me, I always tried to impress her and give 110%.

After I hung up the phone, I walked swiftly to Nina’s office. I should be sitting in her office when she arrives, not the other way around.

The door to her office was open, so I took a seat on the other side of her massive, birch wood desk. She’s meticulous about her belongings, and everyone in the office knows never to touch anything unless she gives you permission. I sat patiently with my hands folded in my lap and watched the second-hand tick on the fourteen-karat gold Tiffany clock on her desk. I heard her voice within close distance, so I quickly retrieved my BlackBerry from my pocket. In addition to working on my absentmindedness, I worked hard on my preparation skills.

I heard Nina’s voice behind me, her Spanish accent prominent. “Ah, Paige. I needed to see you.”

I turned my neck to look at her, but she quickly walked to her desk. She wore a turquoise dress by Donna Karan featured in this month’s issue, and silver pumps with stiletto heels that clicked on the floor. My gaze followed her every move intently. I was secretly envious. Nina always dressed like she could be photographed at any moment.

“Yes, is everything all right?”

Her black tresses were styled bone-straight with a part in the middle. She put her Coach bag on the desk before she sat in her cream leather office chair. She didn’t answer me right away, and I just looked into her toffee brown eyes in anticipation.

She smirked and lifted an arched brow. “Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble.”

I sighed in relief before I let out a nervous laugh. “Oh, that’s good.”

“I wanted to thank you for helping us get Hilary Duff for the August cover. I saw her photos from the shoot, and they’re beautiful.” She smiled brilliantly with perfect Veneers and leaned back in her chair.

“You’re welcome. When Keira Knightley canceled, I knew Warren would be pulling his hair out and running around like a headless chicken trying to find a replacement. I had the contact number for Hilary’s publicist, so I figured it was worth a shot.”

“When Farrah was injured and went on disability, you stepped in and took the lead on her unfinished projects. The people from Burberry told me they were very impressed with you. I want you to know I appreciate you coming through for us in times of desperation.” Her voice lowered. “I know I don’t always thank you.” She leaned toward me and crossed her arms on the desk. “I’ve noticed how hard you’ve been working.” She paused and sighed. “I know you’ve had problems organizing, but you’ve improved tremendously. I think it’s time we recognize everything you’ve accomplished here.”

I felt my blue eyes widen. The anticipation to hear the rest of her conversation was killing me.

With a smile, she said, “As you know, we’re doing a shoot in three weeks for Vera Wang’s new Princess bridal line.”

I unconsciously leaned toward her and felt my BlackBerry about to slip out of my sweaty palm. I clutched it tightly.

“I want you to lead the project. I’m giving you full creative control. This will be your photo shoot. Consult with me if you need anything that requires my approval.”

I gasped, and her shimmering, glossed lips spread into a wide grin. “You do know what this means, don’t you?”

I swallowed against a nervous lump in my throat, and my voice was a pathetic croak. “No…what?”

She leaned back again but tapped her French manicured nails atop the desk. “I’m promoting you to Creative Designer.”

I squeezed the life out of my BlackBerry. I was so stunned that I gaped openly.

“Yes, you’re excited. I know. I can tell,” she said dryly.

I smiled in relief, and this time, I could appropriately express my gratitude. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

She started typing on her laptop, indicating she was dismissing me. I rose slowly from the chair, because my knees felt weak.

As I turned to walk out, she said, “Wait, I need you to get Marc Jacobs on the phone. I must speak with him as soon as possible.”

“Sure, right away!” I scurried toward the door.

“Oh, and Paige…”

I paused in the doorway and whirled around. “Yes?”

She gave me a hard look. “Don’t let me down.”

I hoped she could hear the earnest conviction in my voice. “I won’t…I promise.”

After I connected Nina with Marc, I went downstairs to the Advertising department to share my promotion news with my boyfriend, Trevor, who worked as a Junior Executive. Relationships in the workplace were not encouraged, but we’ve successfully kept ours a secret for the last six months.

Excitement filled me as I walked swiftly down the hallway. His office had a giant window facing the hall, and what I saw inside made me halt my steps. He had a visitor, and they seemed a little too close for my comfort. Heather, one of the project leaders, was a smitten schoolgirl while she chatted with my man. With her legs crossed, her short, black skirt rode high up her thigh as she sat casually on the arm of his loveseat.

I slowed my steps and proceeded with caution. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, so I continued to observe them. Trevor has always been outgoing and friendly with everyone, but his demeanor toward Heather caused me concern, especially the way he hovered over her and rested his hand on that exposed thigh.

She flipped her long, blonde hair over one shoulder and dipped her head back as she laughed. I knew that move—expose the curvature of your neck so he wants to put his mouth there. Her tangerine top was cut ridiculously low this afternoon and showed more cleavage than was professionally necessary. The closer I crept, the more details I noticed. Her black lace bra peeked out from underneath her top, and Trevor’s long fingers made small circles against her skin.

When Heather put her hand on his cheek, and he encouraged her by moving in closer, I entered his office without knocking. The doorstop twanged as I swung the door open. Trevor jumped away from her, and his hand went to his chestnut hair in a nervous gesture.

He stammered, “Oh hey, Paige. What’s up?” Then, he cleared his throat and glanced warily at Heather.

Busted.

I stood with a fake smile plastered on my face. “Hi, Trevor. Got a minute?”

He returned a tight smile. Then, he focused his blue-gray eyes back on Heather. “Could you excuse us?”

She sucked in her cheeks and threw me a superior look.

I lifted an eyebrow and put a hand on my hip. Bitch, I dare you to say something to me.

She took her time getting up, almost reluctantly. Rolling her blue eyes, she huffed in annoyance. “Yeah, whatever.”

I held her steely glare as she walked past me, and I was tempted to extend my foot. In my mind’s eye, I saw her fall ungraciously into a heap of slutty clothes and cheap hair extensions. I heard her voice behind me, sounding like a seductive purr.

“Talk to you later, Trev.”

Trevor gave her a dismissive wave. “Okay, yeah.”

I heard Heather’s footsteps until they faded around the corner. I waited for Trevor to explain, but he just looked at me with a blank expression. I guess my hard stare was making him uncomfortable, because he moved to sit behind his desk.

“What’s up?”

I marched up to his desk. “What’s up? I should be asking you that question. What’s up with you and Heather? What was that about? You guys were a little too chummy, don’t you think? Your hand was on her thigh, and you looked like you were going to kiss her.” My jealousy bubbled just below the surface, now.

Trevor wouldn’t meet my gaze, and I felt my anger rising. To think that I came here, excited to share my good news. Thanks for bursting my happy bubble with your playboy tendencies.

“I was bribing her, because I need her help with something,” he said nonchalantly. “She’s attracted to me, and I know she’ll give into me if I pretend to flirt with her.”

I scoffed. “Really? You expect me to believe that bullshit?”

He finally met my gaze. “Yes, I do.”

He stood abruptly and came around to the other side of the desk. His six-foot-two stature towered over my five-foot-seven frame.

“I expect you to trust me.”

I sighed. “Yeah…well, it’s difficult when I see you in compromising positions like that.”

His arm encircled my waist. “I’m sorry, babe.” His expression softened. “It was nothing…really. I’m just using my natural, God-given gift of charm to get what I want from her. She means nothing to me.” He winked and gave me a roguish look.

I was about to put my arms around his neck, but I remembered people could see us. My arms remained at my sides.

“What if she wants something else in return? Like a jump in the sack?”

He laughed lightly. “No way. I told her I had a girlfriend.” My eyes widened. “Don’t worry. I didn’t mention your name.”

Deep down, I wished he had.

I sat on one of the chairs in front of his desk. “I came here to tell you some good news.” Trevor smiled and perched himself on the edge of the desk. “Nina promoted me to Creative Designer.”

His brows shot upward. “Really? That’s great, hon.” He put a gentle hand on my shoulder. “Hey, you deserve it,” he said tenderly. “I hear you’re always helping people get out of tight situations and still meet their deadlines. It’s about time Nina recognized it, too.”

“Thanks, baby,” I replied fondly.

He moved from his spot to stand behind me. “Do you know what we should do?”

I felt him massage my shoulders, and a soft moan escaped me. “No…what?”

“We should celebrate.”

“Really? How?”

He moved in front of me, his expression joyous. “What about a little get-together at your apartment? You could serve finger foods and break out the champagne. It’ll be awesome!”

I smiled at his enthusiasm and agreed with his great idea.

My Review :
This book starts off during Paige Donovan’s youth. Her father & mother decide to take a family vacation at a cabin in the Colorado Rockies, unfortunately, her parents are unable to break their normal routine of arguing. After hearing her mother blame part of the problems on her for being too messy, Paige decides to pack a bag & run away. While she’s in the woods that she ran away to, she discovers she ran a lot further than she thought and starts to become scared.
Luckily for Paige, a wolf pup comes to befriend & comfort her. She begins talking to him, and even shares her juice box with him. His pack surrounds them and the young pup convinces his pack that she is a good person, and not to harm her. Paige hears her parents calling her and is able to locate them. When Paige wakes up the next morning she discovers a dead rabbit on her bed. Paige’s mom decides she’s had enough of the cabin, after another dead animal is on Paige’s blanket the following morning.
Fast forward 14 years, and we find Paige dealing with her father’s death, and discovering not only did her father not sell the cabin, but he’s left it to her in his will. Imagine her shock when she discovers wolf prints leading from the window to her bed. After trying unsuccessfully to convince the sheriff that indeed a wolf was in her cabin, she decides to get the neck out of dodge. However, she has a wreck on her way out of town, and is confused when she awakes in the sheriff’s house.
Paige quickly discovers that there is a secret that sheriff & his family are trying to keep from her.
After deciding to stay & discover the secret that the town’s residents are trying to hide, she discovers that the sheriff’s son is the wolf she’d met as a child. Riley convince her that he’s the wolf pup she met as a young girl, and that she’s been his one & only love for all these years.
Paige is faced with wanting to learn about the feelings of love she has for Riley, or leaving for the promotion she’d received the day of her father’s death. Can she give up everything she has, for life as a member of the pack? Or, will the guy who’s always been jealous of Riley & the girl who’s always wanted him, be enough to convince her to head back to New York?

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