Reading the spine of the book, Constance found the place it needed to be and slid it right in. There was a time she used to love doing this.
The peace. The quiet. Working at the library had been a fun job for her. Today had been … awful. The kids had been great. Their parents, not so much. They still saw her as the rejected. Someone they didn’t even want around their kids, and it svcked big time.
Lana wasn’t much better.
Tanner was a fvcking pr!ck. No doubt about it. She wondered if she had rejected him, whether he would’ve been cast out or pitied.
The lack of equality set her on edge at times and only served to piss her off. This was a fvcking nightmare.
She gasped as someone wrapped their arms around her waist.
“I’ve got you.”
She relaxed, realizing it was Gage.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, spinning in his arms after sliding a book back into place.
“I came to see you. It’s time for lunch.”
“Already? Wow.” The time had stretched on and on. She had to stop watching the clock.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“You’re lying. I don’t like lies, Connie.”
She sighed and tucked some hair behind her ear. “I don’t know. Everyone is…” She felt a shiver rush through her.
All morning, the cold had been seeping to her core, threatening to swallow her whole.
Gage pulled her in close, and the mere touch of him was enough to make her warm.
“They will come around.”
“Yeah? When?” She shook her head. “Ignore me. I’m just … I’m moody, and it’s not your fault.” She pressed a hand to his chest. “You’ve done nothing but be good to me.” She went onto her tiptoes and kissed him.
“I’m taking you out to lunch.”
“I can’t just leave here.”
“You can. I’m the alpha. I’ve got to eat, and you are mine.”
A thrill rushed down her spine as he said those words. Last night, she hadn’t gone back to bed. Gage had kissed her long into the night until she eventually fell asleep. This morning, she’d woken up in his arms, and it had been the highlight of her entire life. She loved being in his arms. Loved feeling him around her.
She put a hand to his chest. “Then I guess I better not argue if this is a direct order from the man himself.”
“You’re damn right it is.” He pressed a kiss to her lips and then took her hand, locking their fingers together.
He didn’t take her by the reception desk to let Lana know. They walked out of the library hand in hand. She was acutely aware of everyone looking at them, watching.
No one pointed, but with their stares, she ended up looking at the ground, hoping no one saw her true feelings.
She couldn’t believe Gage knew about her crush this whole time. It had started so long ago, and he’d never said a single word. Did that make him the perfect gentleman? The man she had thought he was and the one she saw in private were like two different men, and she wanted them both.
The way he touched her body, the command of his voice, it spoke volumes.
Gage was stopped a couple of times by members of the pack. He answered their questions politely, dealt with their problems, and arranged a follow-up meeting with them. No one else interrupted them as they entered the diner.
The silence was deafening.
They were all watching, clearly wondering what the hell he was doing with her. She had to wonder the same thing, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
Gage walked toward a spare two-seater table and eased out her chair. She sat down and he leaned in close to kiss her cheek.
The cold affected her.
When she was alone with Gage, she felt the warmth, the acceptance. The pack, they made her feel cold and lonely. She stifled a shiver, not wanting to spoil lunch.
“What do you want?” Gage asked.
Picking up the menu, she saw instantly the veggie burger and fries.
The waitress, who happened to be Tiffany, rushed over. She turned her back on her and focused her attention on Gage.
Constance didn’t mind. The less cold attention she got, the better.
“Hello, Alpha. What can I get you today?” Tiffany asked.
He gave his order and just when she thought Tiffany was about to turn around, she, in fact, walked off, but she didn’t get far as Gage grabbed Tiffany’s wrist and emitted a low, warning growl.
Heat filled her cheeks as they became the center of attention. Gage never seemed to do things small or low-key. This fvcking svcked. She hoped the ground would open up and swallow her whole.
“I don’t know who you think you are,” Gage said. “But you will take Connie’s order.”
“Sir, she isn’t pack anymore. Tanner made sure of that. I don’t know who she thinks she—”
Tiffany never got to finish. The growl had Constance going to her knees in submission, as did the rest of the pack.
“The last time I checked, I was the alpha here. I’m the one to expel people from the pack. Constance Button is a very active member. I picked her as my mate, and as such, you will all treat her with respect.”
Constance could only see his boots in front of her face. Chancing a look up at him, she saw his hand was poised for her to take. Part of her wanted to shake her head and tell him no, but this was Gage. The alpha of the pack, and there was nothing she could do to offend him.
“If you are ready for my son to take over from me, then I suggest you arrange for my expulsion at the town hall in three weeks.”
“I don’t want your position, Dad.”
With all the commotion, Constance hadn’t even seen Tanner inside the diner.
She saw him, though, on the floor with the rest of the pack, submitting to his father. Had Gage known he was here? Was this a test to show the pack his son didn’t have what it took to lead?
Either way, Constance pressed herself against Gage’s side, not wanting to look at anyone but him.
“Now, you will take her order, or so help me God, you will be on a warning strike, Tiffany. My son’s piece of a*ss or not, that doesn’t guarantee you a place in this pack. Understood?”
Constance had never known him to expel anyone from the pack. He was known for being a mild-mannered man. There were sides of Gage she had never even witnessed before. Who was this man?
She didn’t fear him. He didn’t scare her, but she was intrigued by who exactly was he.
Gage had her sit down in the chair and then demanded the others get back in their seats.
With her hands in her lap, her appetite was long forgotten.
Tiffany was a little shaken, and she saw tears in the girl’s eyes, as well as hatred. Tiffany had never liked her. This went back to them being kids.
“What can I get you?”
“A vegetable burger and fries. Thank you.”
She glanced away, finding Gage looking at her. Tiffany wrote it down and made her escape. The diner was so quiet.
“You didn’t need to do that,” she said, keeping her voice low.
“Connie, I will not have you treated that way. You’re a member of this pack, and they will treat you as such.”
She wanted to dispute it but figured he’d already shown his alpha colors for one day, and she didn’t want the pack to think he was angry with her. They already hated her.
Locking her fingers in her lap, she stared down at the table, not knowing what to say.
Gage rested his hand across the top, his palm open, inviting her to take it. She lifted her hand and put it in his, feeling the warmth of his touch.
“It is going to be okay,” he said.
“Look at me. Lift your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
She wanted to argue with him, but he was still her alpha and she had to do as he told her. Looking up, she stared into his beautiful blue eyes. She could spend all day looking into them. They reminded her of the ocean, sharp, clear, deadly.
Gage was a good alpha, soft, gentle, and yet firm. She had never seen him fight but had heard rumors of the days he was a young man, like Tanner. How he commanded attention, earned the respect of the pack, and why they allowed him to take over without a challenge when his grandfather became too sick to rule.
“Your place is right here, by my side, and I don’t want you to forget it.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
Later that night, Gage was in his office, dealing with some last-minute emails from his adviser on the stock markets. Being an alpha was a full-time occupation, but he liked to play the stocks. It was how he was able to pay for the life he wanted, the nice house, and to fund any necessary problems the town came into contact with. His father had taught him how to do it, and to do it well. This was the life he knew.
A knock at his door had him looking up to see Tanner in the doorway.
“Come in,” he said.
Tanner walked toward the seat opposite his desk and sat down. “Did you need to do that with Tiffany today?”
Gage finished his email, sending it before closing down his computer. He was done with it for the evening.
He sat back and stared at his son. “You think I didn’t?”
“We both know why you did it,” Tanner said.
“And why is that?”
“To show them that I’m not strong enough to stand against you.”
Gage tapped his finger on his thigh as he looked at his son. “You do not have the power or the authority to remove Connie from this pack.”
“I know that.”
“Yet, people seem to think you have done exactly that. By rejecting her, you have made her life a misery. It must have escaped your notice that in the height of summer, she is wearing thick sweaters.”
Tanner shrugged. “So?”
He smiled. “I seem to recall Connie wearing shorts, crop tops, dresses, skirts, in the height of summer, and yet, this one, she is in jeans and thick sweaters that should be making her sweat, but she isn’t. Do you know why that is?” He knew very well that Tanner was aware of Connie’s clothed state.
His son had rejected her, but the wolf inside him still wanted her. There was a need there.
The alpha in him knew he needed to deal with that. The man, he wanted to squash it.
Sitting back, he felt at war with himself, to do the right thing rather than the selfish thing.
“No, I don’t.”
“She is cold all the time. The warmth of the pack is no longer with her. When she is around me, she can remove the sweater, she feels warm, protected, safe. She belongs. We’re pack animals, Tanner. By you rejecting her the way you did, the town did as well, and because of that, she doesn’t feel part of it. She is freezing cold all the time unless I help her.” Gage gritted his teeth. “Do you think I don’t see the yearning in your gaze? How you’re constantly watching her?”
Tanner stood up.
“Sit down, boy!” He made sure to put every ounce of alpha power behind it.
His son immediately sat his a*ss down in a seat.
Gage wasn’t in the mood to be playing around, that was for sure. The very thought of doing this, of giving his son a chance to win his mate back, sickened him. He’d never been selfish. Connie made him want to be selfish.
She belonged to him. No one else had a right to her.
She’d come on his tongue. He’d felt her mouth on his d!ck. The softness of her lips on his. His touch warmed her up. Every single part of Connie belonged to him.
But he wasn’t always a selfish man. He was an alpha first.
“This is going to be the one and only time I offer this. Do you want to revoke your decision?” he asked. “You will need to think carefully. This is a one-time offer. If you say no, then that is it. You don’t get a second chance.”
Tanner shook his head. “No.”
“I told you to think about it.”
“I don’t want her.”
“Then tell me why you were at the fvcking library today! Why did you follow us into the diner? Why are you always watching her?”
“Because I can’t help it, okay? I don’t want Connie. I never have. She is fat and ugly, and I want Tiffany. She was supposed to be my mate. We had it all planned out when we were kids. This isn’t supposed to happen.”
Gage laughed. “You’re an idiot, boy, but I now take your decision.” He stood. “As your alpha, you will not follow her. You will not keep watching her. You have no right to her.”
“What are you doing, Dad?”
“I’m making sure you do not make a single fvcking mistake when it comes to her. I gave you another chance, and you didn’t take it. Now Connie is mine. She is not ugly nor is she fat.”
“Dad, you’re fvcking blind.”
Gage smiled. “And you’re a fvcking idiot like your mother was. Get the hell out of my office.”
Tanner got to his feet. “You ever thought she left because you’re a fvcking a*ssh0le?”
“No, she left because she didn’t want the responsibility of raising a kid. Believe me, Tanner, with the way you are, she would be proud.”
His son stormed off.
Sitting back down, he took a deep breath. The moment Tanner began to say shit about his woman, he’d been ready to kill the little bastard. He loved his son, he did, but these feelings were not normal. He knew that.
Gage fired up his computer and clicked back on his email, seeing one from another pack alpha. Before he had called the town meeting to stake the claim on Connie, he’d sent out a request for information regarding a rejected mate.
Only one other pack had experienced this.
A rejected mate can be claimed by a family member, but you must proceed with caution. There is a period of time where the main mate can stake his or her claim, and you must allow this to happen. However, our rejected was claimed by another male, and within a month, they were mated. The male wolf who claimed her as his own experienced instant changes as he made the decision. If you’re rejected and the female in this case accepted him, then there is a high chance of them becoming true mates. It doesn’t take long either. Once you are true mates and no one can challenge your claim, the party who rejected cannot reverse his decision. It is final.
Gage stared at the email.
He should be doing everything for his son, to make sure he was happy with the decision he made.
There was a knock at his door, and he looked up in time to see Connie in the doorway. He closed down his emails, turning off the computer at the switch rather than shut it down.
“Hey,” she said. “Er, I was wondering if you’d like to have some hot chocolate?”
“I’d love some.”
She smiled at him.
The moment she appeared, he’d noticed the shorts that came to mid-thigh. She was all woman.
He wanted those thighs wrapped around his waist as he pounded inside her pvssy, tearing through the thin piece of flesh of her v!rg!nity. Gage had never been this primitive, this needy.
She turned on her heel and he stared at the fullness of her a*ss.
His c0ck was already hard as fvcking rock. He wasn’t some randy teenager and yet, when it came to Connie, it was like he was finally living his fvcking teenage years again.
Glancing back at his computer, he was very much aware of the changes his body was going through. The feelings that were rapidly causing him to act like a mated male rather than an alpha. This wasn’t a game to him.
Tanner’s decision was final as far as he was concerned. His son cared more about his appearance than about what he wanted. Gage couldn’t be held responsible for the bad choices he made.
He’s still your son and you’re still alpha.
In his mind, his grandfather’s voice echoed like a permanent ache of the kind of alpha he should be. He wasn’t the kind of man to push his son aside. That wasn’t who he was.
Getting to his feet, he didn’t look back at his office. He made his way to the stairs but then stopped as the scent of chocolate filled his senses.
His son was probably in his room, but the call of Connie was even stronger. Even his wolf wasn’t behaving tonight.
Gage didn’t go upstairs but ended up in the doorway of the kitchen.
Connie had put on the radio, and as she stood at the stove, her back to him, he caught her dancing. He didn’t recognize the song, but he was mesmerized by the shaking of her a*ss.
What little control he had snapped. There was no way he could go talk to his son before he felt her coming on his fingers.