Little red and ryder wol.., p.3
Little Red & Ryder Wolfe (Iron Hills Pack Book 3), page 3
“Anything is better than being trapped inside.”
He nodded and pulled out his phone. She only paid half attention to him as he made the arrangements with his alpha. The TV caught her attention and her eyes widened as the news splashed a large picture of Martin across the screen. She turned up the volume to listen a little more closely.
Martin King was lasted spotted in Willoughby Pines, an hour to the south from his original location of Crosgove Corners. It is believed that he is armed and dangerous. If you spot Martin, you are to contact the Crosgove Corners Police Department at 555-3326. His girlfriend, Saxen Blake, is still missing and assumed to be dead.
Her picture appeared on the screen.
“You shouldn’t be watching that,” Ryder said as he took the remote and changed the channel. “The stress isn’t good for the baby.”
She snorted. “The baby survived me seeing someone’s brains being splattered all over my bedroom. I think the little peanut can handle me watching the news. Besides, it said Martin went the opposite direction. He has no clue where I am.”
“That’s good for us. Zach said he would arrange everything and we can head to the Blue Coyote in about two hours. He was going to make sure the grill would be open so we can eat there. It’s not healthy food.”
She rubbed her hands together. “Then I can’t wait. Not that I don’t love everything you’ve cooked for me, but I would love a greasy pizza, or some fattening bar food.”
Ryder smiled a little. “I can make a pizza for us anytime you want.”
“Will it be a healthy pizza?”
She laughed a bit. “Alright, I’ll try your healthy pizza some other night. For now, I should take a shower and figure out what I’m going to wear. It’s my first time meeting your pack, and I want to make a good impression.”
He curled an arm around her waist and kissed her forehead. “They’re going to love you.”
Saxen wasn’t convinced. Ryder had come to mean a lot to her, and she hoped he felt the same about her. It hadn’t escaped her notice that he woke up more than a little aroused each morning, even though he never commented on it. Not once had he tried to touch her anywhere intimate, and yet there was a closeness forming between them. Ryder was more than just a sexy guy. He was super smart, caring, and genuinely kind to everyone he dealt with. She’d yet to hear him raise his voice.
Ryder had moved the clothes she’d selected into his bedroom, giving her drawer and closet space. Perhaps she should have fought harder to stay in the guest room, but to be honest, it made her feel safe to sleep in his arms. She knew, as long as Ryder was by her side, no one was going to take her against her will. He’d said his need to have her near was a wolf thing, but he hadn’t explained further. She had so many questions for him, but she didn’t want to push. If there was something she needed to know, she knew he would tell her eventually.
Saxen went upstairs to gather her clothes and to take a shower. Mason had brought some coconut shampoo and conditioner for her hair, and a body wash that left her skin silky and smelled divine. Ryder was spoiling her with the clothes, shoes, and now bath products. She hadn’t asked for make-up, but now she wished she had a little to put on before meeting the pack. She wanted to look her best and not embarrass Ryder. There was something between them, but she couldn’t figure out what.
The more important question was, what did she want to have with him? He was so kind and handsome. Why couldn’t she have met a man like Ryder instead of Martin? If fairies granted wishes, she’d wish that Ryder was the father of her baby. She could easily see him cradling an infant in his arms. He’d be a good father, someone a child could depend on and learn from. If her life weren’t so messed up right now, she’d go after what she wanted—Ryder. Every innocent touch sparked something inside of her, made her want more.
Saxen used the hairdryer to dry her long locks, then smoothed some moisturizer on her face and body. By the time she’d pulled on her clothes, she worried that she hadn’t left Ryder enough time to get ready. She was more than a little surprised to see him with wet hair, wearing a pair of low-slung jeans, and rifling through his drawer for a shirt.
“Did I take too long? I didn’t mean to kick you out of your bathroom.”
He smiled at her. “It’s your bathroom too. Since I didn’t think you’d want to share, I used the other bathroom.”
Her cheeks flushed at his words, and she wondered whether or not she’d have minded at all. She’d never showered with anyone before, but the thought of seeing water dripping from Ryder’s muscles wasn’t exactly a hardship. She’d seen him shirtless, had even seen him in his underwear, but she hadn’t seen him naked. She’d be willing to bet that it would be enough to make her throw her inhibitions out the window.
He sauntered a little closer, a wicked gleam in his eye. “Or maybe you wouldn’t have minded so much after all.”
His arm snaked around her waist and he hauled her tight against his body. There was a hint of a smile on his lips and she wondered if he was teasing her. Ryder’s head lowered and her heart kicked in her chest. Was he going to kiss her? At the last minute, he ducked to the side and his lips brushed against her cheek. Disappointment hit her hard and fast, and made her realize that she really did want something more with him. Maybe he just didn’t see her as an attractive woman. He’d said he didn’t have a wife, but he hadn’t said anything about a girlfriend.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” she blurted.
Amusement sparked in his eyes. “Where did that come from?”
Her cheeks warmed again. “I guess I just wondered if you weren’t attracted to me or, maybe, you had a girlfriend.”
The humor left his gaze and his wolf peeked out. “You’ve woken in my arms every morning for the last few days. Does it feel like I’m not attracted to you? I’ve tried to not make a big deal out of it, but I’d think it would be hard to miss how aroused I am in the mornings.”
“I thought that was just the typical reaction of a guy in the morning.”
“Maybe for some, but not for me. I want you, Saxen. But you’re going through an ordeal right now and need my support, not me pawing at you and trying to get you into bed.”
She smiled a little. “I’m already in your bed.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Ryder, I won’t deny that I what I experienced was horrifying, and will probably give me nightmares for life, and it’s no secret that Martin is searching for me, but despite all that, I find myself attracted to you. I know I should be cowering under the bed, but all I really want is to feel your arms around me, and your lips on mine.”
There. She’d been brave enough to ask for what she wanted. Now the ball was in his court. Either he would accept the challenge, and their relationship would change, or he’d keep her at arm’s length, and she’d know that she didn’t stand a chance with him. At least, not as long as Martin was on the loose. She couldn’t blame him, but what she really needed was a distraction, and she’d bet that Ryder would be one hell of a distraction.
His arm tightened around her. “Be careful what you wish for.”
Before she could ask what he meant, his head lowered and his lips brushed against hers. Sparks ignited along her nerve endings, and Saxen leaned into him. Her hands curled around his biceps as she pressed closer to him, opening her mouth to invite him in. Ryder’s kiss left her weak-kneed and wanting more. He ravaged her mouth, making her heart pound and leaving her short of breath. And when he finally pulled away, she clung to him, unable to stand on her own.
He swept her into his arms and carried her to the bed, lying her down. He covered her body with his, careful not to put his weight on her belly. His hand cupped her cheek as he kissed her some more. She ached and needed him in the worst way, but she doubted he would take things very far. He was too honorable to jump her the first time she gave him the green light. He seemed like the type of man who would take his time tormenting her with soft touches and kisses b
The hard ridge of his arousal was impossible to miss as it pressed against her thigh. Saxen couldn’t remember the last time she’d wanted someone so badly. Not once had she ever felt like this about Martin, not even when their relationship was new. No, she wouldn’t think about him, not when Ryder was making her feel so good. His hand coasted along her curves and she wanted to beg him to ease the ache growing between her legs.
He pulled away from her. “If we don’t stop, I’ll go too far.”
“What if I want you to go too far?” she asked.
“You don’t know what you’re saying. You don’t understand.”
Her hand caressed his arm. “Then make me understand.”
“It’s a wolf thing. You’re special, Saxen.” He got off the bed and paced nearby. “You aren’t ready to hear this. I wanted to wait, give you time to get to know me better, maybe wait for Martin to be caught.”
She pushed herself up. “I don’t understand. What aren’t you telling me?”
“Do you know anything about my kind?” he asked.
“Only what you’ve told me. And, of course, the rumors, but I don’t know how much of that can be believed. Do you run around furry at the full moon?”
He smiled a little. “It’s our preferred state during that time, but not a requirement. I was speaking more of how we pair off.”
“You mean the destined mates things?” she asked, her nose wrinkled. “It’s just a myth isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not.”
He stopped pacing, but wouldn’t face her. Saxen got up and went to him, reaching for his arm. Ryder still wouldn’t look at her and it troubled her. She didn’t understand what destined mates had to do with anything. Was he saying they couldn’t be together because he had one out there somewhere? Or was he saying… Her eyes widened.
“I’m your mate?” she asked.
“I didn’t want to tell you. You aren’t ready for something like that, and even now that you know, I won’t expect anything of you.” He reached into his dresser and pulled out a shirt. “We should go, so we aren’t late.”
“Can we talk about this?” Saxen asked.
“Saxen, right now, all I need to do is get as far away from the bed as possible. You have no idea how badly my wolf wants to claim you. It gets harder every day to hold you and not make you mine, but now that you know you’re mine…it’s going to be even harder.”
She let him go when he left the room. After checking her hair, she followed him downstairs. He waited by the door, with his keys in hand, and ushered her out onto the porch. After he locked up, they got into his truck and drove into town. She tried to take everything in, not wanting to miss a thing. It was her hope that Martin would be caught soon, so she could explore the small town of Grover Falls. If what Ryder said was true, it would be her home from now on.
Knowing she was his mate made her both happy and scared. She’d thought being with someone like Ryder was only a dream, and now she knew that he was hers for the taking. But at the same time, what if she screwed it all up? What if he woke up one day and regretted choosing her? Would he love her baby like his own?
“You’re thinking too hard,” he said. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“When you say I’m your mate, what does that mean for my baby?” she asked, rubbing a hand over her bump.
He pulled the truck over to the side of the road and turned to face her. “Do you honestly think I would separate you from your child? Or treat it differently because it’s not mine by blood?”
“I don’t know what to expect,” she said softly. “I’ve never been around a wolf before, and I have no idea how things work in your world. In mine, just because a guy says he wants you, it doesn’t mean it’s forever. But I get the feeling you’re talking about forever when you say you want to claim me.”
Ryder reached over and took her hand. “When I say that I want to claim you, to make you mine, it means forever, and it includes the baby. He or she may not be mine by blood, but will be mine in every other way. This child will have my protection, as long as there is breath in my lungs, and so will you.”
“What does it mean to claim me?”
“When a wolf claims his mate, he bites her on the shoulder. It’s done during sex, so the pain is minimal.” He glanced at her stomach. “But I’ll understand if you want to wait until after the baby gets here. Some pregnant women crave sex more than before, and others don’t want it at all.”
“I want you, Ryder. I don’t want to wait.”
He smiled a little. “Since Zach put everything together tonight, just for you, I think we should at least make an appearance. If you want to go home early, so we can discuss this further, I’m sure the alpha would understand.”
“Is your pack all males?”
“There are some female wolves, and two of the mates are human females. But the majority of the pack is male. It’s probably what’s been driving the Fates to pair us with humans. It wouldn’t surprise me if future pairings had other shifters in the mix.”
“There are shifters other than wolves?” she asked.
“Yes. Anything from bird shifters to other mammals, and even some reptilian ones. I met some during my years away at college and during my residency. To my knowledge, only wolves and humans live in Grover Falls. If there’s anyone else here, they’re flying under the radar.”
“How can an entire world exist, within the world I know, and yet, I’ve never seen it?”
He smiled. “We’re good at hiding, when we feel it’s necessary. Now, are you ready to meet the pack?”
She nodded and Ryder pulled back onto the road. When he parked at the Blue Coyote, butterflies erupted in her stomach. Meeting the pack was like meeting his family. Oh wow. Did he have family? He’d never mentioned a mother or father, or siblings. She’d have to ask later.
Ryder placed his hand at the small of her back as they stepped inside the bar. A juke box was playing in the corner and about twenty men and women were gathered around the tables and bar. She’d thought the pack would be bigger, but knowing she was in a room full of predators was a little intimidating. Saxen reached for Ryder’s hand, wrapping her fingers around his and squeezing tight. A wolf, a little older than Ryder, approached them with a blonde woman at his side.
“Zach,” Ryder said as he shook hands with the man. “And Maggie. It’s nice to see you again.”
Maggie smiled. “Hi, Ryder.”
“I’d like you both to meet Saxen Blake. My mate.”
Maggie rushed forward and wrapped her arms around Saxen, throwing her off guard. Ryder chuckled at her side and Maggie’s mate pried her loose. The blonde smiled widely and looped her arm through Zach’s.
“Zach is my alpha,” Ryder said. “Maggie is his mate, and now that she’s gotten used to us, she tends to be a bit effusive with her affection.”
“I was a mess when Zach found me,” Maggie said. “I could barely talk to anyone and I wasn’t used to people being so open with their affections. And Zach was…well, he was sweet to me, but from all accounts, he was borderline monster when he found me.”
“You keep saying he found you. What does that mean?”
Maggie nodded toward an empty table. “Want to sit and we can talk? Zach and Ryder can get us some virgin daquiris or something.”
Saxen released Ryder and followed Maggie to a nearby table. After they sat, Maggie told her how Zach had found her in an alley, homeless and starving. She talked about how kind he was to her, and Saxen couldn’t help but compare their stories. It seemed the wolfy men had a thing for damsels in distress. She wondered if all the mated pairs had come together over a tragedy of some sort.
As the night progressed, Saxen had fun getting to know Maggie and Weston’s mate, Abril. It was fascinating that Abril was a writer. Saxen found out the only other mated pairs in the pack were the older generation, who had decided to stay home and let the kids have some fun. The pack was rather large at
Ryder placed a hand on her shoulder. “Are you ready to call it a night? We’ve been here a few hours.”
Maggie smiled. “Sounds like someone is anxious to go home and get to bed.”
Abril snickered and took another swallow of her drink, giving Saxen an exaggerated wink. Ryder just shook his head at their antics and helped Saxen stand. They said goodbye to the alpha and beta before leaving, then drove home. It amazed Saxen that she did think of Ryder’s house as home. She’d never felt drawn to a place before, and she wasn’t sure how much of it was the welcoming feel of his house, and how much had to do with Ryder himself.
At the house, Ryder closed the door and leaned against it, giving her a predatory look. He licked his bottom lip before he struck, pulling her into his arms and slanting his mouth over hers. Saxen melted against him and felt her body heat in response. She giggled a little when he swept her into his arms and carried her upstairs to their room. Ryder walked straight to the bathroom and set her on the edge of the counter before starting the shower.
“I took one before we left.” She wrinkled her nose. “Are you saying I stink now?”
“You smell like everyone who hugged you tonight. They might be pack, but my wolf isn’t happy. I’m going to remove their scent and replace it with mine.”
Her cheeks flushed. “You’re going to wash me?”
He pulled his shirt over his head. “That was the idea. And if you’re really good, I’ll be sure to do a thorough job.”
A thrill went through her and she wondered if he planned to claim her tonight. She wasn’t opposed to the idea. Although, she still wasn’t quite clear on whether or not a wedding would ever be involved, or if they would only be mated and not married. Would she still be Mrs. Wolfe either way? She wished she’d paid a little more attention, before now, when people discussed the shifter population.
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes