Under the Alpha's Protection, page 1
Copyright© 2013 Doris O’Connor
Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs
Editor: Karyn White
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This is for you, Sir. Thank you for allowing me to use so much of 'us' in this story.
UNDER THE ALPHA’S PROTECTION
Copyright © 2013
The scent of blood registered seconds before his sensitive hearing picked up the sound of her tears and the desperate knocks on his door. Raoul yanked the headphones out of his ears and jumped off the treadmill.
The sobs were louder now they were not obscured by the beat of heavy metal, and his beast roared his anguish. He yanked the door to his apartment open, and Nikita fell into his arms. Covered in blood, mud, and with the unmistakable scent of many shifters clinging to her skin, she was a mess. Her shredded top exposed her lacy bra, and Raoul averted his eyes. This was Nikita, his friend, and she needed his help and protection, not to have his baser instincts rise to the forefront.
The blood froze in his veins at the thought of what must have happened to her to get her in this state, and he cradled her against his chest and kicked the door shut. His apartment was bathed in moonlight, and she clung to him even more when she seemed to realize this. Her terrified brown eyes appeared to not register where she was.
"Easy, I've got you. You're safe, squirt."
He tightened his hold on her and nuzzled into her neck, repeating those words over and over, but it wasn't until he clicked the light switch on with his elbow that she ceased her struggles.
A shudder went through her, and he noticed that her tears had cut zig-zag paths through the mud stains on her face. Tears that had left corresponding patterns of misery on the vest top he'd slipped on to exercise.
"I'm sorry. I got you all wet and dirty, and … I didn't know … I'm sorry." Again she struggled to get down, and this time he let her. Her curvy little frame slid down his length with agonizing slowness, and he gritted his teeth and willed his beast to stand down. The last thing she needed right now was to notice the effect she always had on him. He slipped an arm ‘round her waist when she stumbled, and it took every ounce of self-control he possessed to not let his agitation show. Nikita's back was covered in claw marks, as though she had been mauled by a giant animal, and this close to her he recognized the scent for what it was. Wolves, and something else, dry and ancient, that made his hair stand on end.
The moon still shining through his open window mocked him with the intensity of its glare, and he shut his eyes against the knowledge cutting a path of pain through his heart.
"I didn't know where else to go." The heartfelt whisper reached deep down into his soul, and his own wolf whimpered in answer. He knew just how his beast felt.
Raoul sat down, cradling her once again in his arms, relieved beyond measure when she accepted the comfort he was offering after only a moment's hesitation.
"Tell me what happened?" He pitched his voice as gently as he could, but she shook her head and started crying again. Big heaving sobs that had his imagination go into overdrive. If she didn't need him to be here right now, he'd shift and go after the bastards in an instant. But this wasn't about his feelings. This was all about her.
"Okay, you don't have to tell me, but let's get you cleaned up. Are you okay to sit here for a minute whilst I run you a bath?"
"Ye-es." She hiccupped between tears, and he dropped a kiss on her tangled hair and stood up with her still in his arms.
"I'll only be in the next room, okay?" He searched her gaze, and when her red-rimmed eyes connected with his, she nodded. Raoul smiled at her and dropped another kiss, on her forehead, this time, half expecting her to recoil. Her fingers tightened in his vest, and she cried harder, but she didn't push him away, and he breathed a sigh of relief and gently deposited her on his battered old leather couch.
Nikita's sobs tore at his soul, and he had the bath run for her in record time. She put up no resistance when he picked her up and deposited her in the warm water, clothes and all. He didn't trust himself to remove her shredded garments. Nikita did it for him, hesitantly at first, and then with desperate clumsy moves that made the water slosh over the sides, until she sat just in her underwear. Raoul left her to soak for a while, just a quiet presence by her side, until she pulled her knees up and yanked at her bra in an unspoken request.
His fingers shook as he undid the clasp and pulled it away, and his dick hardened to the point of pain at the glimpse of her heavy globes. Unmarred by the attack, they called him. Her nipples were perfect little nubs set in wide areolae, which had his wolf salivating with need, before she hugged her knees again and hid them.
Wordlessly he took the showerhead and rinsed her body off, the murky evidence of her attack swirling down the plughole. If only he could shut off the vivid images imprinted on his eyelids as easily as the water tap.
She had finally stopped crying. The wrenching sobs that had shaken her body had subsided, and he managed to coax her out of the bath. With her body free of the mud and dirt it was just her hair that needed cleaning.
He massaged her silken tresses as gently as he could, forcing his breathing to stay even, to not give away his own anxiety. She'd been so upset, so devastated, that he hadn’t managed to bring himself to ask her the one question that was burning on his soul.
Judging by the knickers she still wore, perhaps she had managed to get away before anything worse could have happened? Surely she would not lean back into his hands if the bastards had done more than scare her silly?
His own beast roared and clawed to be set free, to seek revenge for the trespass on his territory, his woman. She was his, had been from the moment he’d spotted her across the crowded common room.
Raoul's jaws ached with the need to brand, to claim what was his, but that was not what she needed right now. He would stay her friend if it killed him.
With the last of the soapsuds rinsed out of her hair, he wrapped a towel around her head. Slowly and carefully he ran his fingers down her tense arms until he reached her hands wrapped around her thighs in a white knuckled grip. As tense as a bow string, she shivered under his touch, and he swallowed a curse.
He stepped away and took his bath robe off the back of the door, averting his eyes when she uncurled her limbs and stepped into it.
Made for his much bigger frame, it dwarfed her, and she managed a weak smile when he cinched the belt tight around her waist.
"Can you walk, squirt?" he asked, and she nodded and took a hesitant step toward him.
"Good, go have a seat in the living room, while I grab a quick shower, and get rid of the mess.”
Her eyes widened and filled with fresh tears, and he called himself a goddamn fool for reminding her of her ordeal. Eyes darting around the room she looked terrified again, and he couldn't stop his wolf's growl this time.
She dashed away from him and banged the bathroom door shut, and he thumped his head against the wall.
Nikita curled into a ball on Raoul's couch and listened to the sounds of the shower. He had been the first pe
"Such a pretty little bitch in heat, just for us boys. Has your momma never told you to stay inside at full moon?"
He'd smirked at the frantic shake of her head, and she'd watched in morbid fascination as his hand had formed into claws, and he had run one of those wicked looking claws along her cheek bones and down to the hollow of her throat. His other hand had grabbed her shoulder, his claws slicing through her skin, the pain so acute that she had felt sick.
"What shall we do with her, boys? She would make a good snack, after we indulged in her body."
"No!" She'd found her mace spray in her bag and had somehow managed to get him right in the face when he bent down to kiss her.
His angry growl had trembled through her, not unlike Raoul's had back in the bathroom just then, but he had let go, and she'd run. Faster than she'd ever run, wolves on her heels, until they'd recoiled at his snarled command to let her go.
"You can run little bitch, but we'll get you. You're marked."
Nikita had no idea what that meant, and she swallowed the rising bile of sheer panic and willed her breathing to slow down. She was here with Raoul, and she was safe. He'd said so, and he always kept her safe. Raoul, who she had connected with from the first look across the room, when he'd smiled at her and taken her under his wing. In his final year then he'd taken her freshman self and shown her the ropes.
She, Nikita, the geeky girl, who never attracted male attention had the most eligible male on campus at her beck and call. He'd made that first year special, and even once he'd left they'd stayed in touch. He had been her friend, her cheerleader, the strong shoulder she cried on when one of her disastrous attempts at dating had gone wrong. Raoul, always on her side, the big brother she'd never had. Only he wasn't her brother, and lately she had looked at him in an entirely different light. Not that she would ever tell him that. Their friendship was too important to her, and besides he had never given her any indication that he was interested in her sexually. Not until tonight that is.
Nikita closed her eyes and recalled the sensation of Raoul's calloused hands sliding across her skin, erasing the memories of the other claws breaking her skin. The other man's putrid smell invading her nostrils was replaced with Raoul's earthy essence. She couldn't recall him ever having smelled that good, but then she had never seen him in such intimate settings.
When he'd yanked the door open, she had been so relieved to find him in, she had literally fallen into his arms, and with typical Raoul fashion he'd taken charge and taken care of her.
The water shut off in the bathroom, and the door opened moments later. Wearing nothing but a low slung towel, Raoul was every woman's wet dream, and despite the situation, or maybe because of it, Nikita's insides clenched in need. Every feminine cell in her body sat up to take notice of the image of male perfection strolling toward her in that long-limbed gait of his. His inherent grace had always been such a stark contrast to her own dorky self, and Nikita wished with all her might she hadn't lost her glasses in her struggle, so that she could better appreciate every dip and peak of the muscled perfection that were his abs. Droplets of water still clung to his skin, the dark trail of hair disappearing into the knot like a come and get me beacon to her libido.
It had to have been the danger she had been in, making her act so out of character, that she wanted to run across and jump her best friend's bones. Did they not say that? Something about sex being life affirming? Yes, that had to be the only reason why her pussy practically salivated at the sight of Raoul's broad shouldered stance and her nipples did their best to poke through the soft fabric of her bath robe.
Piercing blue eyes regarded her from under heavy set lashes. His ever-present stubble graced a firm jaw and lips that should be too full on a man. On him however, they just added to his masculinity, and her gaze followed his hands as they adjusted the knot on his towel. A towel she desperately wanted him to get rid of. A towel that did little to hide his hardening dick.
"Let me get some clothes on and then we'll talk." There was a hoarseness to his deep voice that she had never heard before, and her fingers itched to trace the firm contours of his ass, as he turned round and walked into his bedroom. He had shoulders to die for, enhanced by the intricate tattoo running down over one side and covering his left bicep. Broad and perfectly proportioned his shoulders tapered down to his lean hips and strong, hair-roughened thighs. Even his feet turned her on. Strong and capable they padded away, making barely a sound on the hard wood floor.
Jesus, what is wrong with you, girl?
Nikita clutched one of the cushions scattered along the couch. Cushions she had bought for him at his last birthday and she smiled through her renewed tears, remembering that conversation.
"You bought me girly cushions?" There had been laughter in his eyes, even though he'd run his hands through his black hair in seeming desperation. It had caused it all to stand up, and she had reached across to straighten it out for him. There had been an odd look in his eyes when she'd done so, a rush of emotion and heat so fleeting that she later thought she must have imagined it. Now she wasn't so sure.
Then she had laughed to cover up her burgeoning awareness of him and thrown one of the cushions at his head.
"You need some feminine touches in this place. It's too male."
He'd snorted and mumbled, "That's the fucking point." The pillow fight that had followed had left them both breathless and grinning like fools, their easy camaraderie back in place.
Nikita jumped when the door to his bedroom opened and Raoul stepped through. Before he could say anything the howl of a wolf broke through the quiet room, and Nikita screamed.
The wolf's howl echoed through the room, and Nikita's terrified scream rang in Raoul's ears. Clutching one of those silly cushions she'd bought him, she'd gone as white as a sheet, and his own wolf snarled, itching to be set free and shred the asshole intent on playing mind games with his girl. Something was very wrong here. Raoul's territory was off limits, so whoever was after Nikita was either a fucking fool or a dangerous rogue. His pack knew he'd staked his claim, even without his mark on her, so this threat was an outsider—one who had already left, if the disappearing scent in the air was to be believed. Raoul ruthlessly squashed his need to comfort the terrified girl and opened the window instead.
He glared at his second in command sniffing at the ground, where moments before the intruder must have stood, and Darius bowed his head in submission.
"How was this allowed to happen?"
"I don't know, boss. I'm on it."
Darius's thoughts projected loud and clear as did several of Raoul's other pack members. All were as outraged and intent on revenge as Raoul was. Not only had their territory been invaded, but their Alpha's protection had been breached. Little did Nikita know that his pack had watched over her from the minute she had accepted Raoul's offer of friendship. Of course a poor dumb ass job they had done of that tonight.
"See to it that you do, or heads will roll."
"Don't worry, boss. Just keep your mate with you, until we find out what the fuck is going on."
Raoul snarled at Darius, and the insolent pup had the audacity to grin a wolfish smirk up at him, before he bounded over the hedge. Not a minute too soon, because Nikita stepped up to the window.
"Is it gone?"
Raoul cursed inwardly at the terror in those few words. If he ever needed any proof that he had been right to not show his true self to Nikita then this was it. Regardless of what his wol
"Is what gone, squirt?"
"The wolf, thing, whatever it is that chased me. Whatever you saw down there right now."
"I didn't see anything." The lie settled in his gut like lead, and he jerked back in surprise when Nikita punched his shoulder with enough force to hurt.
"Do not take me for a fool. You had the same expression on your face that you have when you meet your rugby team." This was news to him, and he turned fully better to see her face.
Some of the color had returned to her pixie like features, and he suppressed a smile at the way her eyes went a bit cross eyed as she tried to focus on him. Without her glasses, Nikita had the most adorable squint, and her little nose was screwed up in concentration trying to see clearly.
"Where are your glasses, squirt?"
She stomped her foot and shrugged her shoulders.
"They fell off when … I mean—"
"When you were attacked?" He said the words for her, and she nodded, wrapping her arms around her middle. The action pushed her breasts up, and his mouth went dry, as the robe slipped off her shoulder. She didn't seem to notice, and he stuck his hands in the pockets of the jeans he had changed into after his shower, to discreetly adjust his hard-on.
Her gaze flipped to his groin, and heat rose in her cheeks before she hastily brought her eyes back up to gaze at his mouth. Her little tongue darted out to lick her lips, and Raoul groaned.
DORIS O'CONNOR SERIES:
Other author's books:
- The Billionaire's Unwanted VirginThe Witch's Protector [The Protectors 2] (Siren Publishing Classic)Lure of ForeverThe Orgasm ProjectSaved by Her VampiresMarked by the Dragon [The Dragon of Skye 1] (Siren Publishing Classic)Under the Alpha's ProtectionAuctioned to the Gentle Dom [The Spectrum Auctions 5] (Siren Publishing Classic)
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