Alpha instinct, p.12
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       Alpha Instinct, p.12

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 12

 

  Alarm jumped inside him. Noah was one of his newest pack members, but he’d always been so protective of Erin. Hell, the wolf acted like they were already mated. Connor couldn’t imagine him doing anything to hurt her. “What do you mean?”

  “I know he means well, but Erin’s still dealing with … what happened to her. She needs her space, and he can’t keep hanging around the house, checking on her like she’s an invalid. If she’s ever going to heal, she’s got to take charge of her life again and that starts with learning to take care of herself. ” There was a surprising note of authority in her voice.

  Shock reverberated through him as her words sank in. “She told you what happened to her?”

  “Yeah. We stayed up last night, talking. ” Carmen didn’t expand on the comment. The sadness that rolled off her struck him right in the chest. It was potent, like the harsh winter winds of his homeland.

  As far as Connor knew, Erin hadn’t told any of the pack what had happened to her. When they’d found her she’d been naked, beaten, bloody and bruised, behind a Dumpster at a truck stop off Interstate 10. If she’d been human, she’d have been dead from the abuse she’d suffered. And no human would have been able to hurt her like that, so that meant one of their own kind had. Which was why he couldn’t understand why Erin wouldn’t tell him or at least Noah who’d hurt her. That kind of violence was rare, and all it would take for them to punish the transgressors would be for her to either tell him—and he’d mete out his own brand of justice—or call the Council. They might drag their feet sometimes or get too consumed with politics, but they wouldn’t stand for anything like that against a female. They’d send the enforcer—Jayce Kazan—to handle whoever had hurt her. That wolf was seriously skilled and would rip anyone apart who got in his way.

  “I’ll talk to Noah. I promise … Did she tell you who hurt her?” Erin might not be willing to tell him, but maybe he could kill the bastard or bastards himself.

  Carmen eyed him warily as she nodded. “Yeah, but I’m not telling you who. Sorry—I know you’re my Alpha, but she trusts me and I won’t break that. ”

  He wanted to demand that Carmen tell him, but couldn’t. If Erin had found a friend and someone she actually confided in, he wouldn’t take that away from her. “Okay. ”

  “Thanks. And tell Ana that I finished up with the guest house—your house. ”

  He murmured thanks and strode back across the yard. Leaning against one of the giant oak trees, he waited.

  After what felt like an eternity, Ana stepped out of the side door of the parking structure. She wore jeans, boots and a thick turtleneck. Too much clothing, his inner wolf shouted. She didn’t notice him until she was a few feet away. Something must be on her mind for her not to scent him.

  She faltered for a moment. “Hey. ”

  That’s when it hit him. He scented someone else on her. A human. A man. “Where have you been?” The question came out more harshly than he’d intended.

  She shrugged, and immediately he sensed her defenses going up. “The hospital. ”

  “Why didn’t you tell me where you were going?” The last thing he wanted to do was drill her, but it was as if she were being intentionally difficult.

  She bristled at his question. “You didn’t tell me where you were going to be all day. I didn’t realize I needed to check in. ”

  “I’m your Alpha. ” Not only did he have a right to know, but he also needed to know where she was. It was his job to keep his pack safe. Especially her. If an Alpha couldn’t keep his mate safe, he wouldn’t stay Alpha for long.

  She muttered something under her breath as they neared the front steps to the guesthouse.

  Our new place. His blood heated at the thought. He might have promised to give her space, but they’d be sharing a bed tonight. He wanted her with him whenever possible. The closeness would prove to be torturous, he was sure. But it would be worth it to have her by his side.

  “Have you been inside yet?” she asked.

  “No, and don’t change the subject. ” He opened the front door.

  The soft scent of orange-oil wood cleaner and some sort of fresh detergent lingered in the air. Ana hooked her purse on the coatrack by the door as he shut it. “I found out the human who was hurt last night is my friend, so I went to see her. It’s not a big deal,” she muttered.

  “So why do you stink like a man?”

  “I stink?” Her espresso-colored eyes flared.

  “That’s not what I meant. ”

  To his surprise, she shrugged haughtily and turned on her heel. For a moment all he could focus on was the soft sway of her backside, before a burst of anger surged through him. He trailed after her to find her pulling a beer from the newly stocked refrigerator.

  “Want one?” she asked as she casually held one out.

  He snatched it from her hand and placed it on the table before advancing on her. He went at her fast, before she could move, crowding her until her back was against the counter. Caging her in with his hands, he flattened his body flush against hers. His canines had started to pulse with the need to extend, and he couldn’t hide his lustful scent even if he wanted to. He rolled his hips once against hers. Even though she could no doubt smell his hunger, he also wanted her to feel what she did to him.

  The pulse point in her neck beat out of control and her dark eyes widened. A trickle of fear—and desire—rolled off her.

  “Whose scent is on you?” he asked quietly.

  She swallowed hard. The animal in him craved her submission, but his human side didn’t want to scare her. Still, he smelled someone on her and he’d get an answer.

  “Kaya’s son. He hugged me at the hospital. That’s all. ” The truth was in her words and her scent.

  He leaned closer so that their faces almost touched. “Why didn’t you just tell me that?”

  “I don’t like this dominating side to you. ” Her words were barely a whisper.

  “Sweetheart, I’ve always been dominant. I was born to be Alpha of my own pack. You know that. ” Chuckling, he angled his head and sucked her earlobe between his teeth. It would be so easy to lean down a little farther and rake his teeth against her soft skin. Kiss her, mark her.

  She gasped at the contact but pressed a firm hand against his chest. He didn’t give her the space she obviously wanted. Her chest rose and fell rapidly as she stared at him. “When we first met you were different. You were my best friend, and for a while I thought maybe you wanted … more. But then you left. ”

  Lifting his head, he looked at her and hated the pain he saw there. He’d left exactly like she said, but … “I never wanted just friendship from you, Ana. And if I’d stuck around to say good-bye …” He couldn’t finish the sentence. The truth was if he’d waited to say good-bye, he wouldn’t have been able to leave her. He’d had to make that clean break and walk away without looking back. It had been for her own good.

  But he couldn’t tell her why he’d gone. Couldn’t risk her knowing the real reason.

  Ana’s throat constricted as she stared into Connor’s green eyes. Even in the bright lights of the kitchen they looked darker. Hell, everything about him looked darker tonight.

  Hungrier.

  Almost feral. But in a sexy, edgy way. Definitely not scary. Her skin heated under his stare. Why did he have to look so good?

  She stared at him, waiting and wanting him to do something to ease the ache she felt inside. She briefly thought about asking him why he’d left, but bit the question back. Maybe there had been someone else. That thought stung impossibly deep and she didn’t want to hear the answer. If she pushed harder and he told her there had been another female … that would be worse than not knowing. With his hard length pressing against her abdomen and distracting the hell out of her, it was hard to think of anything other than what he would look like naked. Yes, she wanted to keep some control, but she was also a femal
e and wanted him to want her as much as she did him.

  Finally she broke the silence. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you where I was today. ” She hadn’t meant to make him worry. She wasn’t used to checking in with anyone but her sisters. And checking in with him meant she really did have a new Alpha. That the males of her pack were truly and utterly gone and the Cordona women were moving on. In a way they were luckier than humans because they lived longer, but by the same stroke they were cursed. Her entire life was wrapped up in her pack, and when so many of them died it had been like part of her had died too.

  Now she was letting Connor into her life. At least when he’d left her she’d been young and had been able to move on, but now things were different. They weren’t just friends anymore. He might have agreed to let her wait, but soon they’d be mates. At least temporarily. They were going to know each other in the most intimate way possible. Her resolve to keep him compartmentalized in her life was strong, but she was afraid that once they slept together it would be a whole lot harder.

  “The pack has to know you and I are a solid team. ” Connor’s voice broke into her train of thought. “Your sisters and cousins will follow your lead, sweetheart. If you don’t respect me, they won’t either. ” His words struck a chord.

  She was so used to being the leader by default that she’d forgotten what it was like to have an Alpha. And what was up with him calling her sweetheart? That wasn’t part of the plan. He’d never been romantic before. Playful and teasing, yes, but not romantic. She didn’t want him to start now, even though the word on his lips made something foreign inside her chest twist with an emotion she wasn’t sure she wanted to define.

  Right now she needed to build up a resistance to his charms. If she could keep some sort of control between them, she’d be okay.

  He raked his teeth along her jaw, sending desire straight to the building heat in her belly. It blossomed, waiting for someone to give her the release she desperately needed. All her thoughts short-circuited. Why was he nibbling against her neck? This was so not part of the plan either.
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