Naughty by Nature

By: Judy Angelo

CHAPTER ONE



“Man, talk about a whirlwind romance. How did you pull that off so fast? I still can’t get over it.”

Wolf Spencer crossed his arms as he stood by the huge mahogany desk, looking down at his friend and business associate. Stone Hudson sat relaxed in a high-backed leather chair and on his face was a broad smile.

“Cupid was hard at work, that’s all I can say.” Stone chuckled as he waved Wolf over to a nearby chair. “Let me tell you something. The day you meet that woman who will make your life complete, you’ll know.”

You'll know. The words echoed in Wolf’s mind. Stone had met the woman of his dreams and he’d known right away, it seemed. Was he falling under the same kind of crazy spell?

He pushed the thought from his mind. He was here on business and, as far as he was concerned, business trumped pleasure any day.

“We’ve got the series ready, Stone. All thirteen episodes.” He reached out and dropped a folder on the desk. "For this documentary series we made sure not to focus only on the people but also on their environment. We’ve included lots of shots of the landscape. I think you’ll love it.”

Stone nodded. “I’m sure I will. Your production team never ceases to amaze me.” He picked up the folder and read the title. “The Peoples of Canada, Volume I,” he said aloud then he began to leaf through the pages, nodding every now and then, and raising his eyebrows from time to time. “You’ve got a lot of good information on the various First Nations groups and cultures. Good.”

“Yes,” Wolf said, leaning forward. “It all starts there, then we move on to the first immigrants then early settlement then nation building. It closes with a look at twenty-first century immigration and its impact on modern-day Canada.”

“Good stuff and right on time as usual. It’s always good working with you, man.” He reached out a hand.

Wolf smiled. “Same here.” He took Stone’s hand and gave it a quick, firm shake.

Wolf had been doing business with Hudson Broadcasting Corporation for over six years, producing video materials and television programming season after season. Over the years he and Stone had become much more than business associates. In fact, they were so close that Stone had invited him to attend his wedding all the way in South Africa.

He’d gone, of course, without hesitation. He would have gone to Timbuktu if Stone had asked. He loved and respected him that much.

But what had floored him wasn’t the fact that Stone was getting married so far away from Canada. It was the sudden announcement of the wedding that had knocked him back on his heels. As far as he knew, Stone hadn’t been seeing anyone. If he’d been in a relationship Wolf would definitely have known. That wasn’t something his friend would have kept secret.

Then Wolf traveled to India for a few weeks to visit friends there, and the next thing he knew he arrived back in Canada to hear a message on his machine – “Get that tux out of the closet, Wolf. You’re going to be my best man.” And within five days of receiving the message he was on a plane to South Africa to stand by the side of his friend.

And it was there that he’d seen her. The woman who made his cold and cynical heart lurch inside his chest. A little blonde pixie who looked at him with eyes dancing with mischief. She was the chief bridesmaid and she’d been introduced as Miss Tessa Tyndale.

“You still with me, man?”

“Huh? Yes.” Wolf dragged himself back to the present.

“You look like you’ve got something on your mind.” Stone frowned at him. “What’s up?”

Feeling like a fool, Wolf shrugged casually. “I’m cool. Don’t worry about it.” He must be going soft in the head, sitting there daydreaming about some woman he’d only met once.

“No, you’re not.” Stone’s tone was adamant. “You’ve got something on your mind. Now give.”

Wolf almost glared at his friend but then he shook his head. Stone knew what a stubborn ass he could be sometimes. He’d felt something that day in South Africa, that rose-colored evening when he’d met Tessa Tyndale. And he’d been denying it ever since. Now it was time to be honest – with Stone and with himself.

“Okay, I will.” He leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms. “Tell me about Tessa Tyndale.”

Stone frowned and looked confused. “Tessa? What do you want to know?”

“Everything you can tell me about her.”

As Wolf expected, the confusion lifted from Stone’s face and in its place was a look of gloating. “Ahh, now I understand. Good old Cupid has struck again.”

Wolf snorted. “You know me, Stone. I don’t believe in that crap. Love at first sight and all that mush.”

Stone cocked an eyebrow. “No? So why the questions about Tessa?”

“I didn’t say I wasn’t interested. Yeah, she piqued my interest, but that doesn’t mean I’ve gone and fallen in love with her.”

“Mmhmm,” Stone murmured, nodding slowly and looking like he knew something Wolf didn’t. “Maybe not, but just maybe…”

“All right, you’ve had your fun.” Wolf uncrossed his arms and leaned forward. “What do you know about her, Stone? Where can I find her?”

Stone chuckled. “Okay, I’ll put you out of your misery.” He leaned back in the chair and clasped his hands behind his head. “Her name is Tessa Tyndale and she’s Indie’s best friend.”

“I know all that,” Wolf said. "Of course she’s your wife’s friend. Why else would she have been chief bridesmaid? But where is she? And how can I see her again?”

Stone shook his head and in his eyes was a look of mock pity. “You amaze me, Wolf. It’s been three months since the wedding and I know this thing has been burning you up yet you’re only now asking me about Tessa? You obstinate fool, you’ve been fighting it all this time? Why didn’t you ask me before?”

Wolf glared at Stone. “Because I wanted to see if it was just one of those passing things. I wanted to see if I’d forget her.”

“But you didn’t. Instead, it got stronger.”

Wolf gave him a rueful grin. “Yeah.” There was no use denying it. Tessa Tyndale had gotten under his skin, a thorn that would not let him rest until he had seen her again.

“Sorry to tell you this, Wolf, but you’ve got it bad.” Stone was grinning openly now, looking like he was enjoying Wolf’s dilemma. But then he wiped the smile from his face and gave Wolf a serious look. “But let me warn you - Tessa and you are like oil and water. That rigid, stick-in-the-mud personality of yours won’t fly with her, I’ll tell you that now. She’s a handful, Wolf, and I don’t know if, with your surly style, you can handle her.”

“Let me be the judge of that,” Wolf said, although inside he was wincing at Stone’s harsh but accurate description. “Just give me the girl’s number.”

“No can do.” Stone reached up and began loosening his tie, and he was laughing at Wolf. “But I can give her yours. I’ll have her call you.”

“Fine.” Wolf shrugged and got up. “Make sure you give it to her tonight.”

“Oh, anxious, are we?” Stone was still chuckling. “You’ve waited three whole months. You can wait a few more days. In fact…” he pulled the tie from around his neck and threw it over onto the sofa in typical messy-Stone fashion, “…I’ll do better than just giving her your number. I’ll have Indie invite her over for dinner on Sunday. Consider yourself invited, too. Then you can give her your number yourself.”

“Sounds great.” It was a damn good idea. His usually cranky mood was lightening at the thought. “What time?”

“Around six. And come with your game face on. I’m warning you, Tessa won’t take kindly to a grump asking her out.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Wolf said, dismissing him. “I can handle her.”

“I don’t know, she can be a challenge…” A look of concern crossed Stone’s face. Of course, it was fake. “If she gets to be too much, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Wolf could only laugh as he headed for the door. “I’ll be all right,” he said over his shoulder.

After all, who couldn’t handle a pretty little thing like Tessa Tyndale?

******





“I’m telling you, Manuel, get down off that desk before I take you down.” Tessa’s voice was firm as she stood at the front of the classroom. It didn’t matter that the boy she was addressing was, at eighteen years old, already a man and twice her size. He was disrupting her class and it was going to stop. Right now.

“He’s drunk, Miss Tyndale.” Jackie’s voice piped up. “They dared him to drink three beers and he did and look at him now.” The girl stared at her classmate with huge eyes as if the whole scenario was just too much for her.

“Drinking while under age and getting intoxicated on the school grounds is bad enough, but acting like a lunatic-”

Tessa was cut off when Manuel jumped off the desk...and fell on his behind at Jackie’s feet. She shot up with a shriek that made the class erupt in peals of laughter.

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