Loving Her Alphas

Loving Her Alphas

by Ari Thatcher

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781977879752
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Pages: 130
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.31(d)

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CHAPTER 1

With imposing cedar and pine trees growing just beyond the shoulder, Rayne Adler found comfort in the narrow mountain road leading to her grandparents' old place, like she was returning to the womb. Her windshield wipers could barely keep up with the downpour, and the heavy rain caused streams of muddy water on both sides of her, but the center of the road was clear. Luckily there'd been no traffic in either direction since she passed through the town of Silver Bear about eight miles back.

The road curved to the right as the left side dropped off. As a child, she'd always closed her eyes when they came down the mountain — if she couldn't see the edge, they wouldn't fall off. But with the road so wet, the possibility of losing traction was too great, so she couldn't block out her awareness of the cliff.

Instead, she forced herself to concentrate on the slippery pavement, until something large and black leaped out in front of her.

Wolf.

Heart racing, she jerked the wheel to the right, sending the car into a spin. Fearing the drop-off, she overcorrected and slid directly into the rocky bank. Her front end hit with a loud crunch, and a white pillow enveloped her. She bounced off the solid cloud and settled back in her seat.

As the air bag deflated, she could see the front end of the car, which hardly looked wrinkled. The rattle of the engine told a different story.

Damn.

Rayne shut off the motor, and with her heart pounding in her ears, she searched the road for the wolf. Twisting to look where she'd first seen it, she wasn't surprised to find it was gone. The question was — which direction had it run? Was it safe to get out of her car? She was stupid to think she could sit there until help came, given the lack of traffic, so she had little choice.

She unbuckled her seatbelt but didn't reach for the door handle. Get out? Stay safe. Get out? No way. Finally she steeled her nerves, pulled up the hood of her coat, and got out to examine the damage. The bumper and fenders were pushed back against the tires and steam rose from the radiator, warning her the car wasn't drivable. She hadn't hit hard enough to smash it that badly, but regardless, she was stuck.

Inhaling a deep breath tainted with the sweet chemical smell of radiator fluid, she kicked the tire. Damn, damn, damn.

Climbing back into her car, she pulled her phone from her purse. No bars. Terrific. It'd be dark before she slogged back to Silver Bear, and she dreaded the idea of walking alone at night in the woods. The pouring rain would ruin her wool coat, and the mud would destroy her Gucci flats, but she gritted her teeth and pressed a fist against the painful flare-up of her ulcer.

She'd passed a dirt road not too far back. The Whitmore brothers used to live there, their house maybe a half mile from the road. They'd been Grandpa Joe and Grandma Gina's nearest neighbors, always lending a helping hand. But the wolf could be lurking somewhere between here and there.

What had she been thinking, coming to the mountain? She wasn't cut out for this life. Her idea of a tough decision was whether to wear red heels or nude flats with her little black dress.

After shoving her phone into her pocket and grabbing her purse, she trudged down the center of the road to avoid as much of the muck as possible, her eyes darting back and forth watching for the wolf. When she turned up the rutted lane, darkness thickened around her, covering her like a shroud, and she swore she was entering a different world — somewhere between falling down Alice's rabbit hole and stepping into the arena with Katniss.

The temperature dropped. The trees closed in. She tugged her coat more tightly around her, like a safety barrier.

If she was this freaked out just walking a few yards off the road, there was no way she could live alone in Grandpa's old lodge. Her best friend Vivie had warned her not to come. Hire someone to sell her grandparents' land and stay in Chicago, she'd said. When she heard about tonight, she'd jump on the chance to say, "I told you so."

A hundred yards from the road, a deep growl came from her left, jolting her to attention. She froze.

Her nerves had to be playing games with her — it was most likely the chatter of a squirrel — but she couldn't convince herself the wolf wasn't stalking her. With her heart pounding loudly in her ears, she took a hesitant step forward, then another.

Something snapped amid the trees behind her; her breathing hitched. She was definitely being followed.

Rayne wasn't sure which was scarier — the idea of being trailed by a person or an animal. She'd had no fear when she spent summers here with her grandparents. Sitting around the fire roasting marshmallows and singing with the lodge guests, she'd been safe. To be honest, she'd felt like she was part of the mountain itself. Silly childhood imagination.

This trepidation needed to stop. She tried to convince herself she'd heard a deer or a fox, something more afraid of her than she was of the unknown. The rain washed away her scent, so the animals wouldn't know she was there — she almost believed it for all of a few seconds. Her arms were tense; her thighs trembled in preparation for flight.

She searched the darkness for a light, something to tell her where safety lay, but the heavy rain screened her view of the woods. Another crack sounded closer and she jumped, tripping over her feet and almost tumbling into the mud. She began to shake and fought the ridiculous urge to cry.

The low, steady growl reached her ears again.

Deer didn't growl.

She was going to die.

Breathing deeply in an attempt to calm herself, Rayne inched her way to the right edge of the twin dirt ruts. Big deal. The wolf would have to leap half a foot farther when it launched at her neck.

The snarling moved closer, growing deeper, even more threatening.

Her stomach in a knot, Rayne slowly took her keys from her purse and held them with one between each finger like she'd learned. Poke it in the eye ... if its teeth didn't crunch her bones first. The way her hands shook the keys wouldn't help much, but it was all she had.

A humongous black wolf lunged from between the trees, landing in front of her and baring his teeth. Heartbeat hammering in her ears, Rayne screamed and stopped dead. The animal was close enough that the low hum of his growl vibrated down her spine.

She couldn't recall what Grandpa had said — stand still or slowly back away? Playing dead was just stupid. She'd be dinner on a platter. Her heart beat faster still.

Tears welled in her eyes, knowing she was defenseless.

"Get!" With no other weapon available, she threw her keys at him, but he just snarled. Swinging with both hands, she sent her purse flying. It caught his shoulder and bounced off.

Nausea and fear made her head spin.

She'd never seen such a huge wolf; its shoulders were almost higher than she was tall. It crouched and launched at her. As she turned to run, his jaws clamped onto her shoulder, the sharp darts of his teeth cutting through her coat to rake across her skin.

Rayne screamed again, poking at its eyes. She lost her footing and fell, landing with the wolf on top of her. Kicking and pounding with her fists, she yelled, "Get off! Go!" but he let go only to bite lower on her arm. She gasped, her lungs burning. "Help! Someone, please. Help!"

Somewhere beyond the snarling of the wolf came a louder, deeper growl.

More wolves.

"Oh God, no, please." With a sudden surge of adrenaline, she fought harder to escape even as she prayed death would come quickly.

As it stood over her, the wolf dropped her arm, snarling and snapping at another wolf bounding toward them. Rayne cradled her shoulder and curled into a ball, waiting for the next attack. Terror fought with pain for her attention, and black spots filled her vision. She hugged her elbow to her side, afraid to move her arm — afraid to draw either wolf's attention.

The second wolf attacked the first one, near her feet. She peered through narrowed eyes to see which would claim her for dinner. The second wolf was even larger, lighter in color, and twice as mean. His jaw latched tightly on the other wolf's flank and yanked the beast away from her. The first one yelped, but then went on the attack. The two became a blur of fur and fangs, of yips and barks.

Rayne pushed against the mud with her heels to distance herself from the fight. As distracted as they were, maybe she could get away. She rolled onto one knee, swallowed a cry, then stumbled to her feet, the snapping jaws and high-pitched yelps echoing behind her. Her head spun and her stomach roiled. Forcing herself to move through the agony, she ran up the road and deeper into the woods.

Eventually slowing, she listened for the animals, her throat burning from the cold air. Hearing nothing, she bent over to catch her breath, realizing she should have walked to town in the first place instead of heading farther into the woods. The Whitmores might not even be home.

As she considered which direction to go, she saw the light from their cabin through the trees.

Yes! Her vision blurred with relief, her legs suddenly felt like overcooked noodles. All she had to do was make it to the light.

Wait. Wasn't that what they told dying people? Go to the light? She wasn't injured badly enough to die, but she'd likely not seen the last of those wolves.

*
When his opponent finally backed off, Nick Whitmore shifted back to human form. Swiping the blood away from his mouth, he yelled, "What the fuck were you thinking?"

Jagger Emmerson, alpha of an outlaw wolf pack, favored his right leg where Nick had bitten him. "She has to go. She's a Lowell. Do you really want to chance her having the gene?"

Nick slicked his hair back in a vain effort to keep the rain from dripping into his eyes. "She hasn't been here in almost ten years, so I doubt she's back to stay. She never showed signs of having the shifter gene when she was a kid. Her father never shifted. You're worried over something that might never happen."

He left out the part about how he and his brothers had already had this conversation.

"Her father didn't spend enough time up here for us to know whether he had the gene to pass on to her," Jagger argued.

"He grew up here. His wolf would have appeared at some point." Shivering at the cold now that he didn't have fur to keep the rain off his skin, Nick shook his head. "Whether she's a hybrid or not doesn't matter as much as the fact you would have killed her if I hadn't stopped you."

"So? My wolf remembered how hungry it is for blood. She's still alive. She'll recover — and most likely do it off the mountain after tonight."

"You made your point clear enough. Now leave her alone." Nick snarled. Jagger was a worthless piece of shit on a good day, but attacking a human was lower than he'd gone before. "My brothers and I will take care of this. Leave her alone."

"Just don't be too long about it or I'll finish it." Jagger shifted back into a wolf and loped off.

Nick's muscles still vibrated with anger.

Gina Lowell Adler, Rayne's grandmother, was the last full shifter of the Lowell pack, the original settlers of Silver Bear Mountain. In marrying Joe, who didn't have the gene, there was a 50 percent chance the trait would pass on to her offspring. While Rayne's father hadn't displayed any tendency to shift, he could still have passed it on to Rayne. Returning to the mountain could awaken her wolf, and if it did, her mate would be the true alpha of Silver Bear.

The battle over alpha status between the Emmersons and the Whitmores had grown increasingly savage in the years since Gina's death. If Rayne was alpha, all their fighting would be in vain — if she had children, even hybrids, her line would reign again.

Nick had decided years ago if she ever returned to the mountain he'd claim her, wolf or no wolf. The problem was convincing her she wanted it, too — and make it happen before someone killed her.

CHAPTER 2

Seeing the large cabin through the trees, the porch brightly lit, Rayne let out a breath. The four-wheel-drive truck parked beside the house gave her small hope one of the brothers was home.

"Hello? I need help."

After leaning against a post on the porch to steady her shaking legs, she lurched forward and knocked on the door.

There was no sound from inside.

She pounded again, but was met with silence.

"Damn. Now what?" She beat on the weathered wood one last time. "Please, someone help me."

Her legs trembled from the exertion, and her lungs burned. The nearest home — at least when she was a kid — was Grandpa's. Even if she remembered the way through the woods, she was too tired to make it there. Besides, the wolves would probably follow her scent.

Her fears increasing again at that idea, she searched the bushes on either side of the doorstep for the biggest rock she could find. With it in hand, she sank down and leaned against the door to wait for whoever showed up.

After only ten minutes or so, the door opened and she fell back. A large man hovered over her.

"I need help. I wrecked my car and my phone doesn't work. And I was attacked by a wolf." She lifted her shoulder, then hissed from the pain.

"Rayne. Come inside."

He helped her to her feet and relief blanketed her. "Nick."

"How badly are you hurt?"

"I didn't look."

After shutting the door behind her, he led her to a bathroom and eased her coat off. In the mirror, she saw multiple bloody rips in her left sleeve. She reached for the top button of her blouse but then hesitated. Memories filled her thoughts — the two of them naked, Nick thrusting deep inside her as they lay on a bed of leaves in the woods. The warmth sweeping through her wasn't embarrassment, but ten years had passed since that one time together, and she felt awkward undressing now.

As if he read her mind, he said, "Take off your blouse while I get the first aid kit. You can wrap up in a towel."

Waiting until he was gone, Rayne quickly took off her shirt and bra, tossing them on the floor. She grabbed a towel, wet the corner, and began blotting the blood on her arm. Some of the tears looked deep, and the skin around one tooth mark was already reddening.

When he returned, his appearance was so fierce she took a step back before catching herself. His gaze met hers beneath hooded eyelids, his dark eyebrows slashed together. He was huge. Dangerous. So different than she remembered. She quickly tucked the towel beneath her arms to cover her breasts.

He paused and met her gaze, the tense lines in his strong features softening. "It's been a long time."

"You haven't aged a bit in ten years. It's not fair."

Nick lowered his gaze to where her good arm pressed the towel over her breasts, and the corners of his lips twitched. "You've aged nicely."

Heat burned as a flush spread over her skin. What was obviously a compliment made her uncomfortable. Flashing her breasts while making love was a sexy tease. With her hair full of mud and her face streaked with it, she was the farthest thing from seductive.

"I'll do my best not to hurt you, but it will sting." His voice gentle, he approached her hesitantly this time, his manner putting her at ease.

She sighed with exhaustion while he set down his supplies. "It looks pretty bad. Maybe you should take me into town."

"You have to go off the mountain for emergencies — that hasn't changed since you've been here. I don't think it needs stiches, so you'll be fine." He set her muddy bag on the toilet lid. "I found your purse in the driveway."

"Thank you."

He wet a wash cloth and wiped the wounds, bringing on a bout of tears she fought to hold back. The pain wasn't enough to cry over; were they tears of relief that help had arrived?

The more he cleaned, the more she could see how lucky she'd been. If not for her thick coat, those teeth could have torn deep into the muscle. Hell, if the wolf had gone for her throat she'd be dead. She shuddered.

"I'll use butterfly bandages to hold the skin together on that tear. The rest will be fine under a bandage." When he looked at her arm again, his expression darkened suddenly and she fully expected him to snarl in anger. He quickly tore his gaze away. "That wolf wasn't playing around. We need to keep it clean and watch for inflammation. Wolf bites are prone to infection."

Wolf bites.

"How did you know a wolf attacked me? Did you see it, or are attacks common? Why haven't the vicious ones been destroyed, or at the very least, relocated?"

"I heard the fight. Heard your cries. I went looking for you, but you'd already come here."

He didn't answer her other questions.

Rayne refused to doubt the sanity of her decision to live alone in the woods. Her summers here were the happiest memories of her childhood. Regaining that happiness was what she needed in her life. A sense of peace, of being home. She belonged here.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Loving Her Alphas"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Ari Thatcher.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Loving Her Alphas 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
valerie holm More than 1 year ago
Satisfactory Erotic Paranormal Romance Overall this book was decent. Not the best I have read but not the worst either. It would be good for someone looking for a tantalizing paranormal romance. All my opinions are my own and may not match that of others. I encourage all readers to come to their own conclusions. Rayne and Nick had good chemistry and acted on it quickly. When Rayne began to consider multiple partners she did not suffer a lot of inner torment about it being wrong. It gets on my nerves when women in books judge themselves in ménage situations. I appreciate that was not the case here. The frequent sexual encounters were pretty steamy. Rayne showed signs of some anxiety. Her rubbing her arm to stop the desire to crawl out of her skin or itching from the inside out soon seemed like subtle hints toward a shifter transformation. I enjoyed the narrator's approach to this scenario. It caused little twinges of tension waiting to see if, how and when she might turn. The plot itself did not hold a ton of depth. It was mainly an anthology of sexual fantasies. It did not bother me too much until the end. One of the brothers decided to leave the pack for fear of his jealousy tearing them apart. It felt sudden. Until that point, Rayne and the brothers interacted fine. Lacking an emotional tie to them, it just made me roll my eyes. The flow of some of the sex scenes was problematic. For example, a character would be lying on top of another and suddenly would be beside them doing something different with no segue. This issue happened often enough I started backtracking to find where I misunderstood. Feeling like I missed something became annoying. I voluntarily received an ARC copy of this book through NetGalley.