Constance didn’t sleep well.
Dreams of wolves hunting her, unable to turn, plagued her. It was an old dream that had started when she was eighteen. She had them on and off again.
Waking up was always a blessing.
The room Gage had put her in had an en-suite bathroom. Before seeking him out, she took a quick shower, being careful not to take all the hot water, but it felt wonderful.
After he touched her, merely rubbing his arms up and down hers, she’d felt warm for the first time in three days. It was so good to not be shaking.
This morning, the cold was back. Every second that passed, it was like the thermostat of her body was constantly being turned down a degree.
Once washed, she dried her body, got dressed in a pair of jeans and a large shirt, ran a brush through her hair, and made her way downstairs. She didn’t own any fancy or revealing clothes. Her mother had told her it was best to start covering up her body as she disgusted everyone. Constance had gone along with it as it was easier to do as she was told than argue. She hated conflict of any kind. It always unnerved her.
Running her fingers through her hair, she walked down the stairs only to come to a stop at the foot when she caught sight of Tanner.
Instinct told her to run. The wolf within her wanted to claw his eyes out.
A simple no thanks would have done, bastard!
She said nothing, and there was nowhere for her to run to. Tanner looked up. He held a mug of coffee in his hand.
For a few seconds, she paused, looking at him. She decided to ignore him, walking down the steps, getting to the last step, and was about to move away from him, when he captured her wrist.
She pulled her wrist away from him, not wanting his touch or to have anything to do with him.
“You don’t get to touch me.”
“Oh, please, all you women are the same. You all want my touch.”
“Wow, how do you even get through the door with a head that size?” She shook her head, marveling at how big of an a*ssh0le he actually was.
She hated him.
“Tanner, leave,” Gage said, rolling up his sleeves as he stepped through the door. “Morning, Connie. Did you sleep well?”
“Yes.” The lie fell easily from her l!ps. He didn’t need to know how difficult it was for her to relax in a strange house, even if it was the alpha’s.
Tanner had already left.
“Connie, we’re going to go through some … conditions, and one of them is I don’t like being lied to. While you live here, I would like you to be open and honest with me. Do you think you could do that for me?”
“Yes, of course.” She rubbed at her temple. “I slept. I don’t think I slept well, but I slept.” She winced. “It was probably the new house. I was never invited for a sleepover at other people’s houses. I only ever stayed in my bed, and I’m so rambling right now. I will be quiet.” She pressed her l!ps together, hoping the world would open up and swallow her whole.
Gage chuckled. “Are you hungry?”
As if on cue, her stomach chose that moment to growl. “Starving.” Her cheeks had to be on fire, even as she shivered.
“The cold still affecting you?” Gage reached out a hand and touched her.
The moment he touched her, all the coldness ceased to matter. She felt warm from the inside out.
“I was fine last night. This morning, I feel cold.”
“Come on. We have much to talk about.” He took her hand, and she nibbled on her l!p, trying to contain her smile as he led her into the kitchen.
It was a nice modern kitchen. White cupboards, black counters, a pristine stainless-steel sink. She saw a couple of modern appliances such as a coffee machine, food processor, and a mixer. Did he like to cook?
“Take a seat.”
She perched on the edge of her seat and watched in amazement as he pulled some tofu and peppers out of the fridge. “You know I don’t eat meat?”
“Connie, I’m an alpha. I know everything there is to know about my pack.”
Her movement into only plant-eating had been another element of annoyance for her parents. They had been angry with her for choosing vegetables over meat. Her mother had told her if it helped her to lose the fat, she didn’t mind. The fat had stayed, but she’d been happier within herself, and so she didn’t see a problem with eating the way she did.
She sat on one of the chairs and watched as Gage got to work chopping up onions, peppers, and some garlic. He crumbled the already pressed tofu and her mouth watered.
“Do you like cooking?” she asked.
“It relaxes me. When our previous alpha got sick, I learned how to cook for him.”
Constance didn’t have much memory of the previous alpha. The pack spoke fondly of him.
Silence filled the room. The only sounds came from the sizzling of the pan.
She glanced around the kitchen, wondering how to find out what he wanted from her. What did he expect her to do? All night, she had to wonder what this meant. Were they mates now? Boyfriend and girlfriend? The last thing she wanted was for him to see himself as a father figure.
Constance didn’t look at Gage like a daddy. Far from it. With the way her body lit up when she was around him, she did not have thoughts suited to a father figure.
“Talk to me, Connie,” he said.
“Er, I don’t know what to say. I’m kind of confused here.”
“Talk, and I’ll try to clarify any parts you don’t understand.”
She smiled. “Right. Okay. About … last night, I’m not sure what that means.”
“You know what it means.”
“But that’s the problem. Are you helping me out because of me being a member of the pack, or is this more?”
He added in the tofu, along with some nutritional yeast, black pepper, and black salt. After giving the pan a final toss, he divided it onto two plates, presenting her with one and taking a seat opposite her.
She watched him pick up a fork and take a bite. Eating shouldn’t be se*xy. It shouldn’t arouse her, but it did.
This was one of the reasons why she had every intention of rejecting Tanner. There was no attraction there. Not even a little smidgen. Instead, hatred in spades.
She took a forkful and closed her eyes. It was so good. “Thank you.”
He chuckled. “No need to thank me. Now, Connie, this arrangement is up to you. The cold is getting to you. The rejection has already started. If you want me to work with you to bring Tanner back to you, I can. As an alpha, I’m within my right to instruct a period of time for him to give you a chance.”
“God, no. Please, no. I know that he rejected me first and that’s fine. I don’t care, but I had no intention of ever being his mate. I didn’t want to be … his. I … I don’t like him.” She averted her gaze, not wanting to tell Tanner’s father the truth.
She lifted her head in shock. Out of all the reactions she expected, this was the last one. “So now, we have two, possibly three options.”
“What are they?”
“Option one, I’m your friend. You can come to me for whatever you need, and I ward off the cold and the rejection. You open your heart to me. Option two, I’m like a parent, taking care of you.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Option three?” So far, she hated both of these options.
“I become your mate. That means you are mine, Connie, in all things. Mine to protect, to love, to fvck, to claim. Not only do you open your heart to me, you open your mind and your body, and they become mine. I become the mate you need and deserve.”
Her mouth went completely dry.
Had she heard that correctly?
Dreams didn’t come true, not for her, but this sounded very much like a dream come true. But that wasn’t possible. Was it?
Gage had asked her to wait and think about his options. He knew which one he wanted her to pick, but this had to be her decision. She wasn’t his mate, but Tanner’s. If his son decided to go after her, Gage would have no choice but to step aside and give his son a chance.
He fvcking hated the thought, so giving Connie a chance to think this over was the least he could do, even though he didn’t want to.
“How can I give her a job back?” Lana asked.
“Because I told you to.” Gage looked around the library. Connie hadn’t been employed for four days and the place was already a mess. Books not in their rightful place, people looking pissed off.
Lana looked ready to quit. The library was a good place for people to take their kids, a quiet space. Kids were now running rampant as well, and he knew it was because Connie wasn’t there to supervise.
He’d been to the library when the place had been overrun by kids wanting their parents’ attention, screaming. She would get them all to sit and enthrall them with a story. Connie was a natural with kids.
His thoughts quickly turned to her swollen with his kid, and he had to push the idea away as it made him hard as fvcking rock.
“Look, she got rejected and then people didn’t want to deal with her, okay? They felt she’d be some kind of curse. I don’t know. She had to go.”
“Wow, this all magically happened within twenty-four hours.”
“Fine. I fired her. Okay? If your son didn’t want her, neither did I.”
His hand clenched into a fist. “I want her. Connie is mine. You will hire her.”
Lana froze, her hand going to her chest.
He felt the power of his wolf rushing forward.
She began to nod her head. “Yes, Alpha, I’m so sorry.” She bowed her head, submitting to him.
Lana was one of the women who had thrown herself at him in the hope of getting the place by his side. Like all the other women in the pack, he’d turned her down.
“She will start tomorrow.” He turned on his heel and left.
The way the pack reacted to her, anyone would think his son was the fvcking alpha, not him, and it pissed him off. He was in charge of the pack. Not Tanner. His son didn’t have what it took to lead this pack.
Walking across the street, he raised his hand in acknowledgment of anyone who called his name, trying to gain his attention. No one else stopped him, and for that, he was grateful. Arriving at his home, which was situated a couple of miles from the main town, surrounded by the forest, with only the barest hint of civilization, he went straight to his office.
He came to a stop when he caught sight of Connie.
Jeans and a large sweater, again.
He missed the day she went to the pool in a swimsuit.
A one-piece that had hidden so much and hinted at everything. The back had dipped low, almost showing off the curve of her a*ss. Temptation wrapped up in one se*xy, fulsome package.
“You’re back?” she asked.
“Tomorrow, you’ll be working back at the library,” he said.
“Oh, I will? That is … great news. Thank you so much.”
He watched her, unable to tear his gaze away. She tucked some hair behind her ear, and he was curious as to why she was here.
“That’s what I want. Option three. I get it if you don’t want that, and I will completely understand. You were only being nice and everything. I’m rambling again. I’m nervous. Er, I’ve never even k!ssed a guy let alone considered a mating.”
He closed the distance between them. “You’ve never k!ssed anyone?”
She didn’t move back. “No.”
“Do you want to be k!ssed?”
Her cheeks were a nice shade of red. He also noticed the way she shivered. She was so cold, and he needed to warm her up. The thought of her hurting in any way pissed him off.
He gripped the back of her neck, pulling her close. Connie didn’t fight him, for which he was grateful. He only had so much restraint, and when it came to Connie, he seemed to have zero.
“I didn’t give you the option to take it away. I will be your mate, Connie.”
“Then that’s what I want. If you will have me.”
He smiled. “How about we seal it with a k!ss?”
The scent of her arousal was heady in the air. He had no idea no man had tasted those luscious l!ps. They looked too good to deny. When she didn’t make a sound of protest, he drew her close and pressed his l!ps against hers.
The first touch was like being shot by lightning. It was instant, hot, and he couldn’t do without a taste. Sliding his tongue across her l!ps, he heard her gasp. He plunged inside her mouth, deepening the k!ss.
Gage turned to her more fully, putting a hand on her h!ps, holding her in place as he ravished her mouth.
She tasted like coffee and spice. The addiction was heady.
Melting against him, she moaned his name, whimpering for more.
He had so much he wanted to give her.
Moving her back, she hit the shelves, and he tugged her close, letting her feel the length of his c0ck.
If she’s never been k!ssed, she hasn’t had a c0ck. She’s a v!rgin. Pure. Innocent.
Gage broke from the k!ss and stared at Connie’s face. So open, so beautiful, all his.
Letting go of her h!p, he stroked his knuckles across her cheek and watched her sink her teeth into her l!p.
“You’re going to have to tell me what you want, Connie,” he said.
“I want you.”
“I know about your crush.”
Her eyes went wide, and she shook her head. “How? I never … I never spoke about it to anyone.”
He smiled. “I’m a very observant man.”
“I can’t believe you know.”
“There is a lot I know.” He n!pped at her l!ps. “And there is a lot I want from you, Connie.”
He pressed his stiff d!ck against her. “Don’t you feel what you do to me? This is what I want from you.”
“You can have anyone.”
“And it’s you I want. I will give you the world, baby. No one will ever toss you aside again. You will never feel cold or rejected. All I want in return is you, how I want you, when I want you, at my beck and call.”
Running his fingers down, he brushed them across her br*east, hearing her deeply inhale. If she didn’t want him to touch her, he’d stop immediately. He’d never hurt her. It was the last thing he wanted to do.
Having Connie to himself was a selfish act.
“Is that what you want?” he asked.
“Yes. I want you.”
He cupped her face, tilting her head back.
The other women in his life had always wanted his position, the power offered at being his mate. Connie didn’t want the alpha, the title, she wanted him. She looked right at him.
Slamming his l!ps down on hers, he ran his hands over her body, going to her a*ss, lifting her, and pressing between her spread legs. He wanted to warm her up, to take her from his son, to own her, to fvcking love her. The quickest way to do that was to knock her up. He needed to pump his cvm inside her, to get her pregnant.
It wasn’t ideal, taking his time. Getting her crush to turn into love was the plan. Tanner was unpredictable. He’d rejected her, but at any time, he could change his mind.
Finding the hem of her shirt, he lifted it up and over her head.
With Connie wrapped around him, he was able to move her toward his desk. He placed her down, breaking the k!ss to throw everything out of his way.
The scent of her arousal filled the air, and it was a heady smell. One he wanted her to always be feeling.
He cupped her tits, pressing them together. The lace b*ra she wore didn’t hide them, but enhanced them. His c0ck was so fvcking hard, but he wasn’t about to take her on his desk, not her v!rginity.
Dropping his hand to the bu*tton and zip, he took care of her jeans, sliding them down and off her legs, spreading her open. “You need to start learning to wear dresses and skirts.”
“I’m cold all the time.”
“When you feel that, you come to me. I’ll warm you up. Do you feel cold now?”
“Good. Because I’m going to have you fvcking sweating.” He pressed his palm against her core.
He was probably moving too fast, but he didn’t care. He’d been the good alpha all his life, and now it was time to be very bad and dirty.