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Running Mate

Jaci Burton


  An Ellora's Cave Publication, April 2004

  Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

  PO Box 787

  Hudson, OH 44236-0787

  ISBN MS Reader (LIT) ISBN # 1-84360-867-7

  Other available formats (no ISBNs are assigned):

  Adobe (PDF), Rocketbook (RB), Mobipocket (PRC) & HTML


  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. They are productions of the authors' imagination and used fictitiously.

  Edited by Briana St. James.

  Cover art by Darrell King.

  Running Mate

  Jaci Burton


  To Briana St. James and Jennifer Martin. Thank you for your faith in me, and for the opportunities you've given me. I'm honored.

  To the management of Ellora's Cave. Thank you for believing in me and for giving me the freedom to let my imagination soar.

  And, as always, to Charlie, for traveling down this road with me and holding my hand along the way. Because of you, I know the magic of love.

  Chapter One

  "Jason Devlin is over there."

  Kelsey Harper spun, looking where her father was pointing. Her heart picked up its usual frantic pace whenever Senator Devlin was mentioned.

  Leave it to Walter Harper to spot a news story in the making. As owner of The Washington Oracle, D.C.'s popular newspaper, her father had a nose for a scoop better than anyone she'd ever seen.

  She'd grown up around newspaper publishing and reporting, and wouldn't dream of ever doing anything else. Kelsey lived for digging up a story, especially one related to politics, although she preferred to get the goods on corrupt politicians and what they did behind the scenes.

  "I don't see him," she said. Who could find anyone in the packed ballroom? She'd just arrived, so she missed dinner and the Senator's speech and wasn't certain he was still around. When Jason Devlin made an appearance, a sellout was guaranteed. Chances were, he was wherever the biggest crowd was gathered.

  The man was simply news, and not only because of his principles. He was the "it" man in politics, and was talked about as a potential Presidential candidate. He was also one of the best looking men she'd ever seen. Six-foot-two and lean, with thick, dark hair and eyes the color of fine whiskey. A gorgeous man with a body to die for and a brain to match. His features screamed 'aristocrat', from his tanned, angular jaw to his straight nose. The most important thing about him was his single status. A perfect package, available for the one woman who could manage to snag him.

  Not that Kelsey was interested in snagging him. She just wanted to uncover his secrets.

  In Washington, D.C., and especially politics, everybody had a skeleton or two in their closets.

  Skeletons sold newspapers. Lots of them.

  "He's looking longingly at the elevators," her father said. "My guess is he's hoping for a little privacy."

  "Perfect." She'd been waiting forever to corner him for an interview. With his rabid, overly protective staff, no way was she getting any one-on-one time with him. At least, not the regular way. "I'm going to get up to his floor before he does, then block his doorway until I get an interview."

  "That's my girl." Her father winked and kissed her cheek.

  Kelsey grinned and slipped away toward the private elevators leading to the penthouse. She stopped as she saw a security guard escorting an attractive woman off the elevator, a sultry, big-breasted blonde in a tight, short dress that hid none of her assets. From the way she was arguing with the guard about what a huge mistake he was making, she wasn't one bit happy about being removed, either. Must be another Devlin groupie.

  Kelsey waited until security was out of sight, then eased into the elevator and pressed the button for the penthouse. She glanced at her reflection in the mirrored walls of the elevator. The long, strapless black gown hugged her curves like a mummy's wrapping. Not really her favorite choice of clothing. Shorts and a halter top would have been more to her liking.

  She applied some lipstick and tucked her chin-length hair behind her ears, comparing her appearance to the Playboy centerfold who'd just been escorted from the elevator.

  Not even close. She had decent-sized breasts, but they certainly weren't as impressive as the blonde's. Her waist dipped in nicely, but she had a little more prominent hippage than Miss "I Eat Carrots For Breakfast, Lunch And Dinner".

  At least she had nice green eyes with a little rim of blue around them. Her father had always told her that her eyes were her best feature. She wasn't certain if that was a true compliment or his way of playing down the rest of her, which was, sad to say, only average. From her brown hair to her not-model-sized body, she really was as nondescript as they came.

  Then again, when had she ever cared about how she looked? Just because she'd attended these functions for two years and not once had Jason Devlin noticed her. Which didn't mean she should be concerned about her appearance.

  After all, she was only planning to interview him, not fuck him.

  When she reached the penthouse, she peeked out the elevator door, breathing a sigh of relief that no security guards manned the hallway. She slipped out and positioned herself near the window by the door to Devlin's suite, determined to confront him and refuse to take no for an answer. Tonight, she'd have some one-on-one time with the elusive senator.

  The sounds of sirens outside blared in the distance, an everyday occurrence in the nation's capitol. To Kelsey, they were like a comforting lullaby. She'd cut her teeth in a gritty newspaper office and had learned everything about the business from the ground up. After her mother died when she was a toddler, her only influence had been her father, and he knew nothing about raising girls. He'd taught her about journalism instead.

  Of course, she'd never tell her father, the award-winning Walter Harper, that her favorite things to read were the gossip rags. He frowned on her exposes about the nation's elite, but always let her print whatever she thought best. Because of his faith in her, she never pushed the envelope between what was news and what was trash. Every story she wrote could be backed up with proof.

  Tonight, she hoped to garner a little "truth" about Jason Devlin. If he was feeling generous, maybe he'd invite her into his suite for an interview.


  The ballroom was filled to capacity at The Sadler, D.C.'s premier hotel. Senator Jason Devlin had shaken so many hands and smiled for so many cameras, his hand and face hurt.

  All he really wanted to do was run through the park until the tension knotting his muscles relaxed. That wouldn't happen for awhile, though. Instead, he was dressed up in his usual monkey suit, smiling, talking and fending off reporters' questions about why the capitol's most eligible bachelor wasn't dating anyone.

  They probably thought he was gay. Good. Better than knowing the truth about him. It wasn't like he could date just anyone. Not with his quirks and strange life. Someday, maybe, he'd find a mate. But he'd choose from those among his kind, never a human. Humans couldn't be trusted to keep his secrets.

  He searched the crowd for his cousin, Brandon King, who was also his aide and beta. He needed to get out of here and couldn't break through the throng of people following him around as if the very act of taking a sip of champagne was newsworthy. Sometimes he hated this part of his job. Politics was for change, not headlines, but because of his looks and the fact he was thirty-eight years old and single, his love life made more news than his policies.

  Brandon approached and sidled beside him. "Need out?"

  "Hell yeah. I need some g
oddamn space."

  Brandon nodded and signaled for security to move the crowd aside. Leaning in toward him, Brandon whispered, "I've got someone up at the penthouse waiting to meet you. One of ours. Thought you looked a little high strung tonight and could use a little relief."

  "Thanks." Great. Nothing like having his beta pimp for him. But Brandon knew everyone in this town, including their own kind. Despite the fact he was alpha of the pack, he didn't socialize with them that often. There were just too many of them and he was too damned busy.

  But his beta was right. He needed a good fuck. It had been too long and the urge was hitting him on a regular basis. Too bad he couldn't just do it the normal way and meet a woman first, get to know her, and then get physical.

  There were definitely drawbacks to being a werewolf in a prominent position in politics.

  After several handshakes and goodnights, Brandon turned to the crowd and said, "The Senator has some phone calls to make. How about giving him a break and letting him through?"

  Leave it to Brandon to give them a smile and a wink and flash the old baby blues. The single women in the room naturally gravitated to Brandon and his California surfer boy good looks, surrounding him like a bunch of ready-to-mate she-wolves. Grateful, Jason slipped through the crowds with the two guards leading the way, breathing a sigh of relief when the elevator doors closed behind them.

  When the doors opened, security stepped out, doing their usual search and destroy mission. Jason rolled his eyes, wondering what they'd think if they knew he could kill them both in seconds with his bare hands. He hardly needed their protection.

  They motioned him out of the elevators and down the hall to his suite. Sitting in one of the chairs near the windows was a beautiful vision. She stood and smiled as he approached and his heart stopped for one brief second.

  Beautiful women were in abundance at these events. But this one was striking. Chin-length sable hair, wide emerald-green eyes, and a curvy body that had his cock twitching to life like a divining rod searching for water in the desert. She looked familiar, too. Maybe he'd seen her with the pack before, but just hadn't noticed. Although how he could miss someone so stunning was incomprehensible. He'd have to remember to thank Brandon.


  "You're not supposed to be here," one of the guards said in a low warning voice.

  "It's okay," Jason interrupted. "I was expecting her. She's with me."

  Her eyes widened in surprise, but she didn't say anything.

  "Come on in." He slipped the key in the lock and pushed the door open, then dismissed the guards, shutting the door behind them.

  His eyes immediately adjusted to the lack of light, focusing on the woman's silhouette. Her fragrance permeated his senses--not perfume, but she must use some kind of strawberry-flavored body wash. That sweet smell coupled with her natural, musky scent took his cock from semi-rigid to "get me the fuck out of these pants now!" in an instant.

  "Um, Senator, are you going to turn the lights on?" she asked, her voice low and gravelly. His balls tightened.

  "In a minute. Call me Jason."

  There was something different about this woman. Her scent, the way she stood rigid in front of him. The she-wolves of the pack were always primed and ready for fucking, especially by the alpha. Normally he wouldn't get the door shut before one would be unzipping his pants and wrapping her lips around his shaft. So far, this one hadn't moved. Maybe she was new to the pack and uncertain about his expectations.

  "If you're afraid, don't be. I don't have any rules. However this goes is up to you and me."

  "I don't think you--"

  "Shhhh," he whispered, stroking her bare shoulders and trailing his fingers down her arms. She shuddered, and the wolf in him wanted to howl at her response. He scented the beginnings of her arousal. Though she wasn't aggressive as the she-wolves he was used to fucking, her innocence and hesitance enticed him more than if she'd done a striptease and given him a blowjob in the hallway. Although he really liked the visual that thought conjured up.

  "No, really, Senator, what I'm trying to say is--"

  He turned her around and slid his fingers into her silken hair. "I don't want to talk any more. I want to kiss you, lick you, taste you all over. Then I want to spend the rest of the night with my cock so deep inside you that we don't know where I end and you begin. And I want that now."

  To prove his point, he covered her mouth with his, silencing the words that she was about to say.

  Chapter Two

  Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, Kelsey knew she should object. She should push Jason Devlin away and slap him soundly. Then, she should hightail it out of there armed with a hot story about how she was nearly assaulted by the senator.

  But as his tongue stroked hers intimately, evoking responses she'd never felt before, she knew that wasn't what was happening here at all.

  Clearly, he had been expecting someone else. He probably thought Kelsey was that blonde bimbette who'd been escorted out the door. She could have spoken up at any time, yet she hadn't, so she had no one to blame but herself.

  Maybe the blonde was a prostitute! Holy hell, did he have to pay for sex?

  No, no that couldn't be it. Jason Devlin could have any woman he wanted with a snap of his fingers.

  So, who was the blonde?

  Oh hell, how could she even think when he was kissing her like this?

  Kelsey inhaled Jason's heady fragrance, an earthy scent that made her mouth water. Her mind was awhirl with sensation as he stroked his lips over hers and gently assaulted her mouth. He held her tight against him, evidence of his arousal rocking against her sex. Her panties moistened with juices she couldn't control.

  Dammit, she didn't want to be turned on by this stranger. She was a journalist. Impartial, uninvolved. She was only here to get a story.

  If she didn't stop him, she'd be getting a story all right, but not one she could put into print.

  "Your arousal fills the air around me," he whispered against her ear. His tongue darted out and traced the outline of her ear, his teeth closing over the lobe just enough to make her shiver. "Tell me your name."

  Her name? What the hell was her name, anyway? "Kel...Kelsey," she managed, the word dragging out of her mouth on a ragged breath as he cupped her breast.

  She'd only known Jason Devlin as a poised, cool politician. What she'd seen in press releases and interviews and on television, anyway. The man holding her in his arms was not the cool and calm senator. This was a man whose body was taut with tension, muscles straining under his tux. A man whose touch was hot, burning her from the inside out.

  "I'm going to strip that dress off you, Kelsey," he said, and she knew he wasn't asking for permission. He reached behind her, found the zipper and slowly tugged it down. His knuckles brushed her spine, sending tingling shots of pleasure to her sex. If ever there was a time for her to put a stop to this, now was it.

  But she couldn't. Her body had stormed to life in a wicked way, demanding satisfaction from an aching need she hadn't even known she possessed. She'd been lost from the moment she'd laid eyes on Jason walking toward her. Their eyes had met and he'd focused on her as if a hunger possessed him, and she was the meal to satisfy him. In that brief second, his eyes had turned from light whiskey to darkened, golden amber, his movements like the slow, sensual grace of an animal predator.

  In that instant, she'd tumbled headlong into a vortex of spiraling sensations that knocked the common sense right out of her.

  "Your skin is so soft, like dipping my fingers in cream," he murmured, palming her buttocks and squeezing gently. When he tugged on her thong, she was afraid she'd pass out.. When he slipped his fingers in the cleft of her ass, her knees buckled.

  "Ahh, so you like to be touched there." To prove he was right, he rubbed the puckered hole with his index finger. "I wonder what else you like, Kelsey."

  She panted into his chest, wanting to rip his clothes off with her teeth and beg him to fuck her. "
Jason, please," she pleaded, shock registering her whimpering voice in the foggy recesses of her mind.

  "Yes, Kelsey. I'll give you everything you want. But first, I want to get you comfortable."

  She shook her head, unable to fathom that they still stood just inside the front door. Before she could move her feet, he swept her into his arms and strode quickly through the darkness.

  Did he have night vision? The drapes were closed and she couldn't see a damn thing, yet he walked with a brisk purpose as if he could see clearly.

  He laid her on his bed. She sat up, trying to clear the sensual haze that made this seem more a dream than reality, but then he opened the drapes, his body bathed by the moonlight.

  With a quick tug, he discarded the bow tie and shrugged out of his tux jacket. Keeping his gaze firmly fixed on her, he unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off, giving her a tantalizing glimpse of a very fit body. A light dusting of dark hair covered his chest and trailed downward, disappearing over his taut abdomen and reforming again right above the waistband of his pants.

  She sucked in a breath, unable to believe this whole night was happening. Later, when logic smacked her in the face like a D.C. winter day, she'd regret this. Now, she wanted it more than anything.

  Her gaze fixated on that slowly traveling zipper. He spread the material apart and slipped his pants off.

  No underwear. God, was that sexy. His rigid, thick cock jutted forward from the nest of black curls surrounding it. She looked up and met his half-smile, her heart slamming against her ribs.

  "Stand up," he commanded.

  She slipped off the bed and stood before him, holding her gown up with her hands.

  "No," he said, pulling her hands away. "I want to see."

  The dress fell to her hips. If she'd been the skinny blonde bimbo, it would have fallen gracefully to the floor. Figured.

  Jason stepped forward and reached for the dress, sliding his hands over her hips. The dress pooled at her feet. He spanned her waist and pulled her against him, her nipples registering the contact with his chest by pebbling into tight, aching peaks. Threading his fingers through her hair, he gave a light tug that sent a flash of need directly to her sex. Her cunt throbbed, demanding satisfaction.