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Claimed by the wolf (bww.., p.1
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       Claimed By the Wolf (BWWM Erotic Paranormal Romance) (The White Wolf Billionaire Book 1), p.1

           Candi Jackson
 
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Claimed By the Wolf (BWWM Erotic Paranormal Romance) (The White Wolf Billionaire Book 1)


  Claimed by the Wolf

  (The White Wolf Billionaire #1)

  By Candi Jackson

  Copyright 2015 Candi Jackson

  All Rights Reserved

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author or Red Hots Books.

  Claimed by the Wolf

  (The White Wolf Billionaire #1)

  By Candi Jackson

  “Just one more,” John coaxed, holding up the paper bag overflowing with fast food. The smirk on his stupid, acne-riddled face made me want to vomit. “Come on, it’s not that hard.”

  Just how had I gotten into this mess, anyway? Only two weeks ago, I’d been about to finish my nursing degree. I was going to make sure no little kid ever suffered the way I had. I’d been about to start planning my wedding with my fiancé, the man I thought I’d be spending the rest of my life with.

  I’d been thinking about how life couldn’t get any better.

  “One more Big Mac,” John said, his smirk bigger than the stupid McDonald’s arches looming just outside the drive-through window.

  I sighed and reached back over the grill to grab the patty. I had loved a good hamburger until I started working here, and now the very smell of ground beef turned my stomach to acid. This what was I got for trusting things to be good. I wouldn’t make that mistake again in a hurry, that was for sure.

  “Better hurry,” John said. “They’re getting impatient out there.”

  I turned my death-ray glare on him, but he’d already gone to collect the customer’s money. Stupid kid, all of what, sixteen, and lording his seniority over me? I glanced past him out the drive-through window. Big mistake—the line of cars full of hungry people wound around the building, each one probably craving all the hamburgers I could possibly grill up and all the fries I could throw in the deep-fat fryer baskets. It reminded me of a giant snake, ready to devour animals much bigger than it should reasonably be able to eat.

  And here I was, stuck pretending I hadn’t already gotten burned twice this shift by splattering grease.

  All because my ex had thrown me out after I’d caught him in bed with the neighbor, ungrateful bastard.

  The worst part wasn’t even that I worked under a teenage boy. You’d think it would be, but no. Actually, the worst part was the fact that I knew most of the customers who came in and demanded food from me didn’t even see me. They saw a big black woman in a hideous uniform with a cap I’d never put on my hair if I had a choice and thought I was a cliché. One more black woman who didn’t know anything about the world outside the ghetto. One more black woman who didn’t aspire to be anything more than someone’s baby mama, as if that was all any of us ever wanted.

  My throat burned with tears. Before Avon had broken my heart and then tossed me out, I’d actually had secret dreams of going to medical school. I wanted to be a pediatrician and help all girls learn they were worth something. I wanted to teach them how to take care of their bodies—to value them the way no one had taught me. I wanted to do my part to erase the ugliness girls faced every day just for being girls.

  Well, there was one thing I could do, at least. I raised my head high. Even though I hated this job so much, I would keep it long enough to take my final exams and pass them. What I didn’t know was how I would get by without Avon’s help, but surely I could manage a couple months like this.

  The problem was more that nurse jobs were few and far between these days for grads fresh out of school. Just a few years ago, hospitals couldn’t keep positions filled; turnover was a huge thing from burnout, from exhaustion, from leaving to raise your own kids. But now, with the recession destroying any illusion of job stability, everyone had grown cautious. They weren’t nearly so quick to leave a good job, even if they didn’t really want to be there.

  Which left near-grads like me in a quandary. When I thought I’d be with Avon forever, I hadn’t worried. He made a good living as a postal clerk, and he promised it wasn’t a problem if it took me awhile to find a spot. He wanted me to be happy, he’d said.

  The image of his hands wandering all over the blonde neighbor’s body flashed before my eyes. Clearly I hadn’t been the only one in the neighborhood he’d wanted to make happy.

  “Zenobia!” yelled John, making me jump. “Are you going to take this or not?” He shook his head. “No one wants to work these days,” he muttered.

  I stared at him. “How old are you, twelve?” How dare this little jackass barely out of diapers talk to me like that? What did he know of life? He couldn’t get any girls to pay attention to his greasy face? Oh, boo-hoo.

  “Sixteen, thank you very much,” he said, and jabbed a finger toward the fryer. “I still need that last order: large fry and Big Mac, hold the pickles. Seriously, Zenobia, don’t make me go to the manager about you.”

  As if in response, the car outside honked. My shoulders stiffened, but I counted to five, then forced myself to grab a bag of frozen French fries and dropped them into the fryer basket.

  “No salt on these,” John called. I nodded distractedly and ran to help the customer who approached my register.

  After I’d taken that order, I finished the burger for John, holding the pickles, and quickly wrapped it. The timer on the fries dinged, and I rushed to raise the basket out of the oil to drain. Then I scooped out enough for a large order and sprinkled salt on them before putting both the burger and the fries into a bag along with napkins and two ketchup packets.

  John peeked into the bag. “Zenobia! I. Said. No. Salt. What are you, deaf?”

  That was it. I saw red, like someone had squeezed a case full of ketchup packets onto my eyes.

  It was stupid to be goaded by someone like this idiot. I knew it. I knew I should just keep my head down and scoop out more fries. I knew that, too.

  But I couldn’t take it anymore. I tore the stupid cap off my head and stomped over to the manager’s office. Gabriel glanced up from his desk. “Zenobia—?” he began.

  “I’m done,” I said, my voice quiet. “You tell that little pisser out there that he might want to learn some respect.”

  Gabriel held up his hands. “Zenobia, you can’t let him get to you. There are always going to be jerkoffs in the world. What, you’re going to let every one of them get under your skin?”

  I dropped my hat on the desk in front of him. “I’m done,” I repeated. “I’ll be back to drop off my uniform and collect my last check.”

  Gabriel studied me for a minute, then let out a long sigh. “All right,” he said. “Your decision.”

  I pulled on my coat and hat and stalked out of there before I could let myself consider what I’d just done. But once outside, with the raw winter wind ripping at my cheeks, I wanted to kick myself. Hot tears ran down my cheeks, almost instantly chilling, and I swiped at them with clumsy, glove-covered fingers.

  This was all I had. What was I supposed to do now?

  I got in my car, holding my breath while waiting to see if it would start in the cold, and said a prayer of thanks when it did. Then, trying not to freak out, I drove home to my tiny room in Mrs. Basil’s basement.
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