The air was so heavy inside the Stillwater Bar and Grill, it felt like it was suffocating Leila Dupree, and she could feel the sweat sliding down between her breasts. The joint was packed tonight, just like every night, as there wasn’t much to do in this one stoplight town. It smelled of cheap perfume, cigarette smoke, beer, sweat, and pheromones. Of course, ever since she had been turned, Leila could smell things more sharply. She preferred the open spaces of the great outdoors to appease the wildness that lived just beneath her surface.
She paused to lean against the bar and fanned herself with a cocktail napkin. Her eyes drifted to the corner of the bar, where Grandpa Roy strummed his acoustic guitar and sang into a beer smelling microphone about losing his true love. Tonight, he had a bandanna tied around his forehead to soak up the sweat, rather than imitating one of his inspirations Willie Nelson. The old man’s button up shirt was also baptized in sweat, and his face as red as coke can. Leila had already given him three bottles of water on the house, and worried he would suffer a heat stroke.
She waited for Grandpa Roy to finish his song, before she shot a glance at the bartender. Sterling Mount stood behind the bar with ruddy cheeks and his usual knee-weakening grin. He slid a double shot of whiskey across the counter to the awaiting palm of a regular. Even though Leila had enough of men, and had sworn to stick to self-pleasure for those undeniable urges, it was impossible not to notice how irresistible and well sexy as hell the young bar owner was
He had a head full of thick, brown hair just enough for a gal to run her hands through, but not so long to make his mama scold him for. His chiseled jaw was crowned with just the right amount of stubble to give him that rugged look without obscuring the perfect shape of his jaw. Or his pleasantly shaped bow lips. But Leila decided she liked his bright, cerulean eyes best of all. A girl could get lost in those bedroom eyes of Sterling Mount.
A girl could also enjoy the feel of his taut biceps and rock hard abs beneath his tight, cotton shirt. Right now, christened in sweat, the fabric curved deliciously over his skin, nearly making it transparent. She could see the peak of his hard nipples. She wondered what they tasted like. She wondered what he tasted like. She felt her own nipples begin to peak in response.
At least until she remembered she had sworn off men, and contented herself to making purchases from the online store Miss Lucy’s Pleasure Trove, for the rest of her celibate life. Besides, she always got hornier and more restless the night before the full moon. She reasoned that was why she was currently eyeing her boss like he was a piece of meat she would love to devour. That and this damn heat, was getting to her head.
She waited until Sterling caught her eye across the bar, and her heart fluttered inside her chest when she was on the other end of that smile of his.
“What can I do you for Miss Leila?” he crooned, in that deep, raspy voice of his.
“Could you please check the ac again Mr. Mount? Some of the customers are starting to complain.”
She fanned herself again. But being that close to Sterling Mount alone was enough to make the sweat slip down the length of her spine. You really need to get it together girl, she scolded herself as she eyed him so long it was obvious. She stopped herself before she licked her lips.
“Sure thing Miss Leila. Right on it.”
He slung the towel he had been wiping the bar with across his broad shoulder and walked out from behind the bar. Leila couldn’t help but notice how well his Levi’s fit him. Particularly in the backside. She bit her bottom lip and talked herself down from pouncing on him right then and there.
She really should have taken the night off, locked herself inside until dawn, getting by on cold showers and burning through batteries on her toys. No man in Stillwater was safe tonight from the prowess of Leila Dupree.
Well except for that handsy regular Clyde Morton who always rubbed her the wrong way. She would never be that desperate enough to jump that creeps bones. Even now when she looked at him sitting at the bar, already several beers in and it was only nine p.m., he saluted her first with his beer, then grabbed his crouch and smiled. Clyde was not physically all that unattractive, rather average looking with dark brown hair, though it was starting to thin on top so he had resorted to a comb over, a beard and mustache. But his middle was starting to protrude more and more, and his skin started looking a bit on the yellow side. It was no secret he was an alcoholic with one boot already in the grave.
But it was personality that made Leila dislike the man. Things like personal boundaries and No didn’t seem to mean much to him. He reminded her in many ways of several members of her old pack.
But Leila needed this job. She needed the money to pay rent for her studio apartment, to help ensure she never went back to her abusive pack who treated her like an object to be passed around among them.
Watching Sterling swagger across the bar towards the utility room, brought a stab of pain and regret. She knew her time here would come at an end, and she would miss this place. She longed for the day she could just put down roots and stay in one place, not having to look over her shoulder, or move around the country to stay a step ahead of her the pack and the Alpha. She knew that day would never come so long as Uric Blackwood still drew breath.
Stillwater seemed to feel most like home of all the places she had been in the past year since escaping the Blackwood Pack. Perhaps it was just because of this bar. More specifically the people in it.
This place felt like home. It had a log cabin, country feel. A hodgepodge of odds and ends adorned the walls, like the lasso Sterling Mounts great great granddaddy used on his cattle drive to Texas, and the fiddle once played by oldest man alive in Stillwater, Old Henry Jones, aged 104. He was rumored to be quite a troublemaker at the old folks home with three girlfriends, nightly card games, and several nightcaps every night.
Old whiskey barrels served as tables. A mechanical bull named Diablo menaced patrons from his spot of infamy across the bar. Few had survived a full ride on Diablos. Speaking of rides, Leila suddenly envisioned herself taking a very different ride. This time on a stallion she would love to mount. Or perhaps she would even allow him to slam her up against the bar and mount her from behind.
But then Clyde was screaming at her across the bar to be a dear and grab him another beer, effectively obliterating the naughty images inside her head. She muttered a curse and stalked across the bar. She grabbed him a beer and made no effort to hide her annoyance as she slid the ice cold bottle to him. Clyde grabbed her arm and began stroking it.
“Soft as a baby’s ass. I’ll bet your soft like that everywhere darlin,” he said.
Leila jerked her hand out of his grasp. And gave him a distasteful look. She turned to attend to another regular Monty, when Clyde stood up, reached across the bar and latched onto her arm once more.
“Don’t be like that sweet tits,” he said his eyes slipping down to her breasts. “Your body is telling me an entirely different story. I got just what a girl like you needs.”
Leila knew Clyde was taking advantage of Sterling be occupied. Sterling didn’t tolerate such talk to his waitresses in his bar. Not even from a loyal regular like Clyde who had been here religiously since his twenty-first Birthday a decade ago.
“Get your filthy hands off me,” hissed Leila.
Perhaps it was because it was the night before the full moon that made Leila so bold. Perhaps she had just had enough of Clyde and his unwanted touches, or his undesired sexual innuendos. Whatever the reason, she had had enough of men putting their hands on her body against her will. She could feel the wolf clawing at her surface.
Clyde must have seen it on her face. The feralness that lived just beneath her big brown eyes and innocent looking heart shaped face. She had long black hair that laid in silken waves halfway down her back, rosebud red lips, small but perky breasts, and a curvaceous ass beneath a small waist .Leila had been chosen by Ulric for those very reasons. It had cursed her even before Ulric cursed her in another way entirely.
Clyde let go of her wrists and suddenly began very interested in his beer again. But Leila could smell the musky scent of Sterling approaching. Apparently he had witnessed Clyde’s unwanted advances. He slapped the towel against the counter and widened his stance.
“Do we have a problem here Clyde? Are you putting your hands on my gals without their permission?” asked Sterling.
“No problem at all. I was just telling Leila here what a good job she does. A job well done deserves a tip.”
Clyde slid a ten dollar bill across the bar towards Leila. She crossed her arms across her chest and eyed the money with distaste. She needed the money, but she had some pride left. It seemed like hush money to hers. Sterling sensed the bad blood between the pair. He looked at Leila then back at Clyde and his empty beer bottle.
“I think maybe you should call it a night Clyde. You’ve had enough,” said Sterling.
“It’s barely ten. I’m just getting started. I came here for a good time,” said Clyde.
“You can come back by tomorrow night. Half price Bud light from ten to midnight.”
When Clyde realized Sterling wasn’t joshing him, his smile turned into s snarl.
“Well aint this a load of horseshit! Throwing me out on my ear after all these years of my loyal patronage. All over this whore you want to fuck yourself. Well I’m willing to share her Sterling so long as I have the first go.”
Perhaps it was the heat getting to his head. Perhaps Sterling Mount was tired of Clyde’s bullshit, lewd comments, and his groping of the pretty waitresses at the Stillwater Bar and Grill. But whatever the reason, Sterling punched Clyde in the jaw. Down the man went like a bag of rocks. Clyde moaned and clutched his jaw on the bar room floor. A string of curses unfit for any ears spewed from the vile man’s mouth.
“Apologize to the lady, then get the hell outta my bar!”
If Leila had thought she had been turned on before, she was oh so wrong. She could feel the moistness spreading between her thighs and knew sweat wasn’t entirely to blame. Sterling reached down and pulled Clyde to his feet by his shirt collar.
He called for the other waitress on duty tonight Peggy, to get Clyde a bag of ice to apply to his swollen and reddened jaw as he escorted him towards the door.
The whole bar watched the scene in rapt attention. Even Grandpa Roy had stopped strumming his acoustic. Peggy took her sweet old time getting that ice pack. Leila was surprised moss hadn't overgrown on that woman’s backside by now.
She took about fifty breaks per shift, her long nails nicotine stained, hair she dyed red, but it wasn’t her age to blame for her slowness. Peggy was pushing fifty eight, and had been lazy since the day she was born. The only reason Sterling kept her around was because she was an old family friend hired by his father back when he owned the bar before his untimely passing. The nights Peggy was scheduled, Sterling always had an extra waitress come in around 11 or so to pick up Peggy’s slack.
Clyde was still cursing as he jerked the ice pack from Peggy’s thin, skeletal fingers. The woman lived on cigarettes, coffee, mountain dew, gossip, and negativity. Leila had never seen her eat anything in the month she had been employed here. Peggy commented about Clyde being a degenerate as he put the ice pack across his reddened cheek and Sterling forced him out the door. Just on the threshold of the bar, with hot wind coursing through the air, crickets and frogs carrying on a tune of their own from the swamp nearby, Clyde turned back around to his awaiting audience.
“This ain’t over,” he warned.
His eyes found Leila’s and then Sterling’s. A threat and a warning in his bloodshot eyes. But Leila had little to fear from the words of a washed out old drunk. A few minutes later, the A.C. roared to life and an audible cheer arose throughout the bar.
Grandpa Roy started up a foot stomping tune, and the bar came back to life as if it was resurrected like Lazarus himself.
Leila praised the sweet lord Jesus as she stood under a vent and the cold air blasted her from the heavens above. She pulled her sweat encrusted white t-shirt from her skin and allowed the air to her reach her beasts.
When she looked back down towards the table she intended to clear the bottles from, she saw Sterling watching her. His pupils large. He swallowed before he strutted towards her with that lopsided grin of his. Leila found herself fanning her body once more.
“Are you alright Miss Leila?” he asked.
“Never better. Right as rain. Thanks for that. And fixing the A.C. Mr. Mount.”
“No problem. But please call me Sterling. Mr. Mount was my father.”
It was not the first time he had requested such a thing. He was young to be a bar owner, only twenty five. He had inherited the bar a few years back when his father Titus Mount had died unexpectedly of a heart attack right behind the bar in the middle of one of Grandpa Roy’s sets. Young Sterling had been away at college at the time, and wound up leaving school, moving home, taking over the bar and taking care of his mother Lucille.
“I’ll try my best Mr. Mount.”
“That’s all I ask Leila. Why don’t you take a break? You’ve earned it. Besides Zanna should pop in the door any moment now.”
Leila nodded. She could use freshening up in more areas than one.
“Thank you My Mount, um Mr. Mount Sterling, sir,” she corrected herself.
Sterling laughed as her cheeks flushed over her slip of her tongue. Even his laugh was sexy. Smooth and warm like melted chocolate. She knew she had to escape immediately before she did something she would come to regret in the morning.
She excused herself and made a beeline for the bathroom. Luckily it was empty. The bathroom reeked of boob sweat and smoke. Leila locked the door behind her and proceeded to drench her hot body in cold water. She saw the flash of her wolf’s yellow brown eyes in the mirror above the sink. She gripped the porcelain until she felt it began to splinter beneath her fingertips.
“Easy girl,” she said to the wolf starring her in the face through the mirror.
It was going to be a long night indeed. She needed a release. If not, she knew she hate herself in the morning, though some male at the Stillwater Bar and Grill that night would have a night they would be unlikely to forget.
But Leila wasn’t after a bathroom hook up or a one night stand. She attempted to convince herself she wasn’t after a man at all. Leila Dupree didn’t need a man. She slipped her fingers beneath the waistband of her lacy white underwear. Her mind betrayed her heart as images of Sterling Mount replayed in her mind as she stroked. She found herself already slick between her thighs. When Leila climaxed, she bit down the howl threatening to escape her lips. Instead a single name came from her lips as the peak of her self- pleasure “Sterling”.