The Werewolf Prince and I (The Moretti Werewolf #1) by Marian Tee

Part One: My Werewolf Prince Commands

Domenico Moretti gazed down at the young woman walking swiftly towards his building, a twenty-floor skyscraper that was one of the innumerable properties he owned. He was – to put it simply – an extremely wealthy man, yet he knew instinctively that wouldn’t matter to her – just as she would likely be indifferent to the fact that he was one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. A hackneyed phrase to be sure, but one he also deserved. For four years straight he had his lawyers constantly send legal notices to People’s magazine to ensure that he would not make it to its list of Sexiest People Alive. His kind shunned such publicity, for more than the usual reasons.

Then again, Domenico had a feeling he would still have chosen her even if she happened to be a shameless golddigger. Pressed for time as he was, he would settle for just about any woman who could truly accept him for what he was, fur and all.

His eyes strayed back to the woman he was observing.

Her dark hair was so straight it didn’t curl inward to frame her face. It simply shot straight past her shoulders, revealing her ears, which were adorned by a pair of tiny silver hoops. Long lashes made her gray eyes more defined. They dominated her small, heart-shaped face and complemented her rosebud lips. Those lips begged to be kissed and Domenico knew sometime today, they would be. She wore a loose white blouse matched with a black skirt that flared wide from the waist, emphasizing its trimness even while it also served to conceal most of her magnificent legs away from sight.

He supposed she wanted to keep her curves hidden, but if she did then she had failed drastically. Loose as her blouse was, there was no denying how her bountiful br**sts strained against its confines, pushing against the thin cotton, a tantalizing hint of her gloriously voluptuous body. Perhaps she wanted to imitate the toothpick figures most women had today? One day, he would tell her she had no reason to aspire for another woman’s figure. Her curves were a rare blessing – made to be shaped by a man’s hands.

His hands.

And nobody else’s.

Misty Wall.

He smiled at the irony – the oxymoron that made up her name. A misty wall? There must be a reason why she was named like that. His kind was superstitious, after all. For them, everything in this world had a meaning to it, a deeper purpose to fulfill.

“Mine,” he couldn’t help whispering, couldn’t help staking a claim.

She stopped just before entering the rotating glass doors of his lobby, raising a hand to shield her eyes from the sun. Then she looked up.

Her gaze was an arrow striking his heart, making him catch his breath, freezing him in place.

It was as if she was looking up at him, sensing his regard even though he was hundreds of feet above her, an unseen figure behind tinted windows. Even this far from her he could feel the tug of sexual attraction, a promise of the intense chemistry that would explode between them once they finally – irrevocably – cross paths.

It was a connection, he thought with satisfaction as she took one last look before disappearing into the building.

Domenico took that as a good omen for the wedding he had already planned, never mind if the bride he had so carefully chosen didn’t know about it yet.

Chapter One

8:12 AM

A crack is exactly what’s going to happen to my head if I have to read one more word of the report. The rest of the words printed in a squint-inducing font size swims before my eyes. I take a deep breath.

I can do this, I can do this.

The pep talk doesn’t work on my eyelids, and they fall heavily close.

I shake myself awake, forcing my eyes to open. I am going to pry them open with screws if I have to.

God, I’m bored.

10:24 AM

Tony stops at my desk, Cubicle #55. It is the end of the line, a long way from home for Tony, who occupies Cubicle #07 at the East section of the office. I’ve noticed him since day 1, not because I like him or anything – we’re batting for the same team – but mostly because I’m fascinated at his ability to wear bowties with everything. I’ve seen him pair it with tuxes (acceptable), leather jackets (questionable), and even a sleeveless Hanes undershirt (remarkable)!

“Hi, Tony!” I hope it’s not obvious I’m dying for even the tiniest bit of interaction. The organizational hierarchy of Moretti Inc. is very easy to understand. Each promotion gets you a bigger cubicle and – eventually – a move to a higher floor until you reach the 17th, where the corporation’s five top executives work in the lap of luxury. They have their own gym as well as an indoor pool, a regularly stocked bar, and their own shiatsu therapist.

I work at the Administration Department. We share 4/F with Maintenance, and we’re the level directly above the building’s two-floor indoor parking. You get the picture, right?

Admin is a death trap. I’ve been to most floors, being everyone’s favorite errand girl, and none of them is as murderously tedious as Admin. Most floors are like beehives, people constantly rushing around. They’re too busy to bitch at each other – like the women in my department frequently do.

But Admin?

Let’s just say that if Moretti Inc. was a hospital, our floor would be Ze Morgue and we’re all its zombie attendants.

Tony wordlessly hands me a stapled set of papers.

Absently tucking my hair behind my ears – I usually keep it tied but I couldn’t find my elastic band this morning – I thanked Tony for taking the Supplies Inventory Update Report to me. “I can get it from your cubicle next time---”

But I’m already talking to his back.

Like most people in Ze Morgue, Tony doesn’t think I’m worth even the semblance of small talk. It’s not just because I’m an unpaid intern, which basically means I get the privilege of being at everyone’s beck and call. No, what really makes me Ms. (Un)Popular here is the fact that I’ve also been hired to be their Grammar Nazi.

As proofreader and copy editor, I get to know all their dirtiest secrets on paper. Suffice to say, it doesn’t endear me to the rest of the zombies one bit. They’ve even gone as far as exiling me to an isolated corner of the office, since Cubicle 55 has the honor of being located between the door and the giant trash bins.

Supervisor Ed – he’s the guy I report to - says I’ve been moved to this gloriously exclusive spot because my esteemed colleagues think the location’s strategic. Being next to the constantly swinging doors – which occasionally send my papers flying all around the office - is supposed to remind everyone to get their stuff spell-checked before they leave the office.

I had nodded and pretended I’m as clueless as he is. I didn’t have the heart to break his illusions about his happy place by letting Ed know that all was not fine in Ze Morgue.

I try to concentrate at Tony’s document but fail. Sometimes, their hatred really gets to me because I know I don’t deserve it. It’s not my fault that the orphanage I came from only had Scrabble as a board game. Honestly, I wished it was Monopoly instead.

Glancing at the report like it could detonate any moment, I take another deep breath before diving straight into yet another grammatical quagmire.

SUPPLIES INVENTORY UPDATE

Four (4) AA batterys

Forteen (14) ballpens (black)

Three (3) AAA batterys

“Misty?”

I perk up. Tony’s back and – even better - he knows my name! Most people here call me Minnie. I tell myself it’s accidental and not because I’m so wimpy I remind them of a mouse.

I beam up at Tony, all the while crossing my fingers under the desk. Please let him not ask about how he’s doing. It’s such a friendship killer.

He returns my smile with an upper curl with his lip. “I forgot to change something in my update.”

Oh. Right. Maybe he’s too busy for a friendly chat. There’s always tomorrow.

I give Tony his papers back.

“Thanks,” he says stiffly a moment later.

I look back at the document, wondering which of his mistakes he’s corrected.

SUPPLIES INVENTORY UPDATE

Four (4) Five (5) AA batterys

Forteen (14) ballpens (black)

Three (3) AAA batterys

  

Right.

It’s time for another breathing exercise.

After, I pick up my red-ink pen with a sigh. Tony’s going to hate me even more when he gets his update report back and sees all the red circles, strikethroughs, and text inserts I’m about to make.

God, I’m bored.

12:00 NN

Lunch break in Moretti Inc. is a torture. Outcasts like me eat alone. Taking my lunch bag from the bottom drawer of my table, I lock everything up and quickly leave Cubicle 85 and the rest of Ze Morgue behind me before the zombies blast me with their pitying looks again. If they pity me so much, why don’t they just give me a chance and let me have lunch with them?

But of course I know the answer to that. They don’t really pity me. They just plain hate my guts for whatever reason.

Finding a private space to enjoy my peanut butter sandwich and orange juice is never easy. You see, my workplace also happens to be one of the city’s major tourist attractions, thanks to its 18th floor viewing deck, which continues to snap architectural awards left and right. Veganista is also located on that floor, a world-renowned restaurant that caters exclusively to human herbivores. It’s always fully booked for months ahead, but twenty of its 200-plus seats are reserved every day for walk-in patrons. The lines for those twenty seats sometimes force me to take the stairs instead.

I take a short trip to the ground floor lobby to see if there are any available spaces on the lounge areas left. There’s none, with every seat occupied by Asian tourists. I smack my forehead. I forgot about that. A memo’s been posted about it since last week, telling us that we’re having busloads of tourists from China for some cultural exchange project Moretti Inc. has with a Beijing company.

Stepping back into the private employees’ elevator, which is surprisingly empty, I swipe my card then punch 5 on the digital keyboard. It’s where the library and records center is, and in the two months I’ve been working here I’ve never bumped into another soul there.

I take out my peanut butter sandwich and start eating. It’s been my favorite since my orphanage days, mostly because we only get to choose between this and rice broth for breakfast. My BFF then, a Chinese girl named Mei Li, was the only one who went for the rice broth. Nothing against it, but my Western mind’s been preconditioned to only have it when I’m burning with fever in bed.

But there’s always a first for everything, I think moments later with a sinking heart. The good news: there are finally employees than myself who appreciate what 5/F has to offer. The bad news: we don’t appreciate it for the same reasons. I come here for the free books, these two come here for the free --- privacy, I guess? Or so they thought.

In full view from the elevators is Janice Rudely, the glamazon lipstick monster who works as receptionist of Ze Morgue. She’s on her knees, head bobbing up and down, like a constantly bowing servant.

Before her is William Grant, the balding octogenarian mid-management executive from 10th floor, pants pooled around his ankles.

Ding-dong. It’s the elevator, alerting the lovers to the fact that they have a reluctant Peeping Tom in their midst.

Oh, shick.

It’s a word I made up for the twins and me so we don’t end up swearing in front of Nicole and Andy. And if this moment isn’t shicky then I don’t know what is.

I spin back to the elevator, stuffing my half-eaten sandwich into my mouth so I can slam my free hand on the down button.

Sharp fingers dig deep into my shoulder.

SHICK!

Clawed into place, I turn around to face Janice with a weak smile, but she’s clearly less than thrilled to see me.

“Hello, Janice.” But the words come out all wrong since I’m speaking with my mouth full.

In the background, I see William Grant hastily tucking his shirt back into his pants, which are still unzipped, revealing a protruding, limp---

I do my best not to gag.

For the love of---

That was so---

Okay, I’m gagging.

“Fuck!” Janice jumps back as I puke out the last bites of my sandwich on the carpet. “God, you’re gross!”

I was gross? That’s rich, coming from a woman who thinks nothing of---

I gag again.

“You will not tell anyone what you saw.”

I nod in wholehearted agreement. In fact, I’m already wishing I can forget the entire nightmarish episode.

“Swear it,” she screeches.

“I swear,” I mumble, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I take several gulps from my plastic tumbler. Powdered juice has never tasted this great.

“I’ll kill you when I hear one word about this,” she says when I finally force myself to meet her eyes again.

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