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Wolf’s Fake Bride (Shifter Marriage Service Book 1)
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He needs a wife. She needs an escape. What could go wrong?
Jocelyn is on the run from an abusive ex-husband who tormented her because she did not bear his children. Desperate and penniless, she finds an advertisement for a job to be a fake bride. Dale’s only terms—complete discretion and no children under any circumstances.
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Jocelyn felt tired. No matter what she did, it was wrong. There was no pleasing Carter and she had long stopped trying. Now, it was just a matter of keeping the peace as much as was even possible with him, but there were times that was just impossible. Like today.
There had been a time when she couldn’t wait for her husband to come home, craved his touch, but those days had passed them by when the affairs had begun. She had excused the first one, overlooked the second, and come to no longer care by the third one.
Every day, she considered leaving him, but something always seemed to stop her. She couldn’t quite put her finger on what nagging little sensation kept her here, in this misery she shared with such a narcissistic, selfish man.
“How many times are we going to have this conversation?” Jocelyn groaned.
“As many times as it comes up,” Carter barked back at her.
Jocelyn turned and began walking away, only to find herself being grabbed by the arm and yanked roughly backward. The liquor on his breath was pungent. He’d been out drinking all night with his boys and turned up back here smelling like strippers and whiskey. It was nothing new. The escalation in physical violence, however, was a recent addition. Flinging his hand from her arm, she jerked away and glared at him, her gaze full of venom.
“You smell like a fucking whorehouse,” she spat at him.
“I guess you missed the part of our marriage ceremony where it mentioned forsaking all others.”
“I guess you missed the part of the deal where you’re supposed to be fruitful and multiply.”
The first time he had talked so callously about her inability to conceive, she had felt wounded. Now, it didn’t bother her in the least. He couldn’t hurt her anymore. She had wanted children at one time. They had tried so hard to get pregnant after the first year of their marriage, but it had never happened for them.
Jocelyn had been tested, submitting to any test the doctors would do in hopes they would find some way to fix whatever was broken inside her, but they could never find anything wrong. Still, nothing had been successful. Instead, they recommended that he be tested. He had refused, at first, saying he couldn’t possibly be the problem. He had gotten his high school girlfriend pregnant years ago, but she had miscarried. His claim was that while he was not a father, he was perfectly able to do his part.
“Please, Carter. That was ten years ago. Let’s just rule it out.”
In the end, he had agreed to see his own doctor and get tested, eventually learning that he had no issues with mechanics or sperm count. Whatever the reason was for them not getting pregnant was a mystery, so they just kept trying and hoping. Jocelyn even began to take fertility treatments to increase their chances. All had failed and now, so had their marriage.
“You’re a real bastard when you drink,” she said calmly before turning to walk away, but he wasn’t having it.
Jocelyn wasn’t prepared for the physical altercation that followed. He had gotten a bit more hands on lately, grabbing her roughly and sometimes shaking her, but now he had escalated to full on assault. She tried to defend herself against his blows, pulling away and falling down in the hallway. The result was a sharp kick in the side with his wingtip shoes.
“No,” she screamed, summoning every ounce of rage within herself and coming up off the floor unexpectedly, catching him by surprise. She was shocked by her own strength as her arm seemed to take on a life of its own, shooting upward and clocking him squarely in the nose.
Water poured from his eyes as he grunted in pain. Blood began flowing down his face as he stumbled backward, away from her.
“You fucking bitch!” he shouted, his voice sounding quite high pitched as it whistled through his impaired nasal passages.
She was shocked at how quickly he regained his bearings and lunged for her, trying to grab hold of her hair and pull her down, but she ducked to one side, avoiding his grasp. There was a darkness in his eyes, pure menace. It was something she hadn’t seen before.
She didn’t know what he would do next and had no intention of finding out. Instead, she sprang for her handbag that lay on a nearby counter and snatched it toward her, running for the front door while trying to fish out her keys. Her hands shook as she fumbled across them and yanked them free, dropping them on the front stoop and snatching them up again.
Inside the car, she tried to steady her hand as she started it up and began backing it out of the driveway. She had no idea where she was going, but she knew she couldn’t stay here with him. Still, she sat there frozen, until she saw him running out the front door toward her. His nose had flooded the front of his shirt with blood. It was enough to jar her from her temporary paralysis.