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Undercover Alpha: BBW Paranormal Werewolf Romance, page 1

 

Undercover Alpha: BBW Paranormal Werewolf Romance


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Undercover Alpha: BBW Paranormal Werewolf Romance


  Contents

  Undercover Alpha

  About Zoe Chant

  Other Books You Might Enjoy

  Undercover Alpha

  By Zoe Chant

  Copyright Zoe Chant 2015

  All Rights Reserved

  “You look fine,” Frieda said, leaning into the open bathroom door. “Let’s go.”

  “You’re not even looking at me,” Ophelia protested. “You’ve been doing your makeup for half an hour. You’re not going to look any better than that.”

  “You’re a terrible sister,” Ophelia said.

  “I’m the worst,” Frieda agreed. “Now get out of the bathroom, O, we’re supposed to be there in twenty minutes. Poor Lucy’s been waiting for you for an hour.”

  Lucy, doomed to be the middle sister, stood up. “I’m fine. I’ve been reading.” There was nothing makeup could do to hide the fact she had three dress sizes to lose, after all. Ophelia had picked out a dress for her that she insisted was flattering, but Lucy just felt like she was draped in a tent.

  It didn’t matter anyway. No one would be looking at her. They’d be looking at Ophelia, and thinking about her money.

  None of them were used to being the ones with the money. Two months ago, Ophelia was a waitress working her way through community college, and Lucy was teaching high school art. Frieda was on a farm, working with sheep. Now they were about to hit the town as benefactors, and damn wealthy ones at that.

  Lucy still didn’t quite believe it. An inheritance from a great-uncle she’d never met sounded like something out of the movies. But their mother had been the only family Oliver Rome had, and she’d died when O was a baby. Even Frieda didn’t really remember her. Dad had never really gotten along with her family, from what Lucy could tell, so maybe it wasn’t that much of a surprise that they’d drifted away. But all that money...that was a surprise.

  “If your mama came from money like that, she didn’t tell me,” Dad had said, and he’d seemed genuinely shocked.

  It was a lot of money. Frieda called it “Fuck you money.” Lucy kept thinking someone else would claim it. A nurse. A long-lost relative. A girlfriend, or a boyfriend. Anyone. But there was nothing. No legal challenges, no formal complaints.

  Just the animals.

  They might have been coincidence. They might have been anything. But they gave everyone the willies. All the girls had been staying with Dad while the inheritance thing was finalized—Lucy was on summer break, and Frieda said she was getting tired of sheep, anyway. Maybe it was just an angry neighbor who kept leaving dead rabbits and squirrels on the back lawn. Or some crazy stalker, or a pack of feral dogs. Maybe.

  Whoever it was, it was creepy, and it was making Dad seriously nervous. He’d bought a shotgun and kept it in his bedroom. Lucy was pretty sure she would’ve felt safer without it, but she couldn’t blame her father. He’d also insisted on a bodyguard tonight. He’d suggested getting three, but the girls had put their foot down at that.

  Lucy just hoped he wasn’t some kind of creep.

  “Maybe he’ll be cute,” Ophelia said. “Do you think he’ll be cute?”

  “What, the bodyguard?” Frieda said. “Are you seriously thinking of picking up the bodyguard?” Ophelia shrugged. “If we have to hang out with him all night, he should at least be cute.”

  “Speak for yourself,” Frieda said.

  “Let’s just get going,” Lucy said. “I’m nervous enough about this party already.” “It’ll be fine,” Frieda said. “We’ve all volunteered for Second Chances. This time we get to be donors. Show off a little.” She was wearing a cream suit that looked amazing against her dark skin. She was the tallest as well as the oldest, and her work on the farm had given her a build that caught a lot of attention. Statuesque. She kept her hair short and natural.

  Ophelia was slender, a little shorter than Frieda, and the lightest-skinned of them all, lighter even than Dad. She always looked elegant to Lucy, like an actress. She had a beautiful dress on, a long, beautiful column in a deep bronze color, that really did make her look like an actress.

  Lucy had always been the ugly duckling. Round and dark-skinned, with dimples and freckles in the summer. Nothing fit her right, not even the blue tent she was wearing. At least it was soft. And she liked her shoes. Her feet were a good size. That was about the only thing that was the right size, but at least she had that.

  She’d tried everything. Diets, exercise, juice cleanses. The exercise was good—it helped her sleep better, and she was killer at Zumba—but those extra pounds just never went away, no matter what she did.

  So she had a beautiful necklace and nice feet. That would have to be enough.

  At least this event wouldn’t be full of strangers. Some of the other volunteers for Second Chances, the local crisis center and domestic violence shelter, were donors. Lucy knew that they weren’t all rich jerks, either. The overnight crisis line manager was a retired hedge fund manager. She might have more money than Uncle Oliver had left, but she never treated anyone around her with anything less than respect. Even when they sometimes didn’t deserve it. Lucy had thought of her when she’d looked at all those zeroes and thought maybe money wouldn’t have to change her.

  She had already made mental plans to search Sophia out first. Maybe Sophia would have some nice friends, and they could just chat in the corner for most of the night. Frieda actually seemed excited about it; Lucy wondered if she had lost patience with farming and thought this would be the best way to get a fresh start. Ophelia seemed to think it was some kind of pickup session. Lucy just wanted to get through it. It couldn’t be too hard, could it?

  “You girls about ready?” Dad called up the stairs. “Jason’s here.”

  “Jason?”

  “The bodyguard.”

  Frieda sighed. “Of course.” She started down the stairs. “We’re coming.”

  Lucy followed Frieda down.

  The man waiting next to her father had to be six feet tall. He looked like his name should be Erik, like a Viking prince. White, dark-haired and blue-eyed, he had big, broad shoulders and close-cut hair. He was handsome. A lot more handsome than Lucy had expected a bodyguard to be. “I’m Jason Murphy. Nice to meet you ladies,” he said. “Where’s Ophelia?”

  Of course he was looking for Lucy’s youngest sister.

  “How’d you know she was the missing one?” Frieda said, sounding suspicious.

  “Your father’s been showing me pictures,” Jason said, gesturing at her father’s phone. “You all look alike, but not that much alike.”

  “Hm,” Frieda said. “Well, you’d better get used to O being last.”

  “I’ll make a note of it,” Jason said. He seemed to be totally serious, but Lucy wondered. “Now, I’ve taken a look around the facility, and my partner’s already there. I don’t think there will really be any problems, but with what your father’s described—”

  “It’s not that big a deal,” Frieda said. “It’s probably just one of Dad’s neighbors. Out here in the woods, sometimes—”

  “I moved out of the city ten years ago,” Dad said, rocking back on his heels a little to give Frieda the side-eye she deserved. “You’re still not used to it?”

  “You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that went down at The Wool Yards,” Frieda said, narrowing her eyes. “People do weird things with animals sometimes. I saw—”

  Lucy didn’t want to hear any of this. “Ophelia!” she called up the stairs. “We’re leaving. Now. Without you!”

  “I’m coming,” Ophelia called back. “Just hang on!”

  Four pairs of eyes watched Ophelia come down the stairs, ta
king careful steps in her new Louboutin heels. “We won’t be late, anyway,” she said. “We’re right, right? Rich people are only fashionably late.” She took one look at Jason, and Lucy could tell he was just to her tastes. “You’re Jason?”

  “I am,” he said. He was polite, and he smiled, but he wasn’t as blown away as Lucy had expected. “Pleased to meet you. You’re all ready?”

  “Let’s get going,” Lucy said, walking for the door. She was wearing heels, but nothing as lofty as Louboutins. They were a low heel, and really comfortable, even as they looked great. That was one of the reasons she liked them. She loved her sister, but she wasn’t comfortable drawing attention to herself the way Ophelia did. Frieda gave Lucy a look as they walked out the door. She didn’t seem too impressed with O either. I mean, this Jason guy was good-looking, but that didn’t mean anything. Lucy had meant plenty of handsome guys who were real jerks. Even dated a couple who acted like they were doing her a favor. Lucy knew she wasn’t a model. That didn’t mean she deserved to be treated like a troll.

  James said, “We’ll be taking my car, I hope no one minds.”

  “We have any choice?” Frieda asked.

  “Well, I am getting paid to handle your security, so….” He shrugged. “It’s a nice car?”

  It was a nice car. A big silver Lexus. “I call shotgun,” Ophelia said. Of course she did. Frieda rolled her eyes.

  James held the door for all of them. “I’ll do my best to stay out of your way,” he said to Lucy as she got in. “I know none of you chose this.”

  “It’s not so bad,” Ophelia said. “I mean, there’s worse things than going to a fundraiser with a handsome man on your arm.”

  “I’m afraid I have to look after all three of you,” he said. “So I can’t keep any of you beautiful ladies on my arm.”

  Lucy couldn’t see Ophelia pout, but she could swear she could hear it. What a baby. Frieda rolled her eyes.

  “I hope you can all manage to have a good time anyway,” he said. “Seat belts buckled?”

  “Yes, Dad,” Frieda said.

  James chuckled as he pulled out of the driveway.

  ***

  Well, James had no doubt now. The Queen was one of these women. Oliver had been certain the line would pass to one of them, and his senses agreed.

  Each of them had their own distinct scent, but they had spent so much time together they were intermingled, and the instinctive drive to protect the Queen extended to her family. At least he was getting paid for it.

  Not that he needed the money. His Clan was large and powerful. That was why Oliver had extended the invitation for an alliance. And now Jason was obligated to protect the new Queen, whoever she was. Oliver had suggested marriage, but that had seemed like way too much. An alliance didn’t have to be cemented by mating.

  Though if that beautiful middle sister turned out to be a queen, that would be all right. He wouldn’t mind that at all.

  He put the thought out of his mind. This wasn’t at all how the alliance should have happened, and it was hard to say if any of the sisters would go along with their great-uncle’s plan. Oliver hadn’t even been certain they knew the truth about their lineage. “Karen died so young,” he’d said. “I know she would have told them all the truth, but even the eldest would have been…well, maybe in kindergarten. And I’m fairly certain she didn’t tell their father. I’m not sure she ever would have.”

  How would he even start? “Hello. I’m a werewolf. Your great-uncle and grandfather were werewolves too, and your mother carried the werewolf gene. It’s been passed on to you, though you were probably unaware of it. The dead animals are probably just a tribute from the local werewolves, since one of you is the Queen of the Cambridge clan.”

  There was nothing about that that didn’t sound completely crazy. Nothing.

  There was always the chance that something more than just tribute was going on. Their father had seemed plenty spooked, and his scent had indicated he wasn’t easy to scare. Men who married werewolves—even dormant werewolves—rarely were. Jason wished he could have asked about the kills in more detail, but there was no way to do that without sounding like a weirdo. This party should at least help him get the lay of the land. Ian would help too. He was his best friend and his second in command, and his ‘partner’ for the purposes of this job. He actually owned Okami Security, and let Jason work part-time when he was needed. This was definitely a case of ‘needed.’ Ian hoped that they could learn more about the will under the cover of their investigation, but they hadn’t managed to get that close yet. Until they knew what the girls knew, they needed to stay close, and they needed to be ready for anything.

  It was about a twenty-minute drive from the Wood house to the Opera House where the benefit was, and Ophelia managed to talk for about nineteen of those minutes. It was their first time at an event like this, but of course Jason already knew that, of course he did, and she’d helped everyone pick out their outfits, and how great were these shoes, right?

  She was young and she was nervous, and it was mostly the young and the nervousness talking, but Jason really wished she’d be quiet long enough to let her sisters talk. Frieda seemed as grounded as her father; if she was the Queen, she would be an excellent choice. And of course Lucy….

  All he really wanted to do was get Lucy alone. She was incredibly beautiful, and her scent was something exquisite, spicy and rich. The blue dress she was wearing made her skin look like satin. “So how does this work?” Frieda said, jolting him from his thoughts. “Do we just stride in with you on one of our arms? Do you hang out in the back?”

  “Hanging out in the back was my plan,” Jason said. “I paid my fifty dollars, I’ll be just another guest who cares about protecting the victims of domestic violence. It’s not just a women’s issue, you know. That’s a misperception.”

  Lucy laughed. “You’re good at this.”

  “I believe it,” he said. “That helps.” And protecting women (and once or twice, a man) from angry werewolves was not always easy, that was for sure. Ian took those cases pro bono. But they weren’t easy. This was a fundraiser he didn’t mind being part of, no matter how glitzy the party might be. A good cause and a chance to find the clan Queen. A win-win situation, for sure.

  He pulled into the parking lot. The Opera House was lit up, glittering and golden. He held the door for all three women: Frieda walked out on her own, strong and tall, and Lucy smiled pleasantly enough at him, and it was only a friendly smile but it still made his heart melt. Ophelia tried to hold onto his arm, but he managed to gently steer her toward the door without it being too awkward. “Remember,” he said. “My job is to blend into the background.”

  He could already smell that Ian had been around the perimeter of the Opera House, maybe more than once. He would have sent a text if anything had seemed strange. That was fine. A nice quiet event was exactly what they were both hoping for. Maybe if it was really slow, he could even sneak in a little time with Lucy. Just some ‘getting to know you’ conversation. After all, he couldn’t expect them to trust him if he’d never even spoken with them.

  He let them walk ahead, which let him get a better look at the three of them, but it was Lucy, her round curves and confident posture, that kept holding his attention. She was an art teacher, and a high school art teacher at that. That must mean she had some ability to command. If she was the Queen—

  But Frieda was the eldest, which meant she was probably the Queen. She was beautiful—she should have been a model, not working on a farm—but she wasn’t beautiful like Lucy was.

  He was getting way too far ahead of himself, anyway. The clan alliance hadn’t even been codified with Oliver. There was no saying that the sisters would go along with it—and from what he’d seen of them so far, they’d all want a voice, no matter who was the Queen. It was nice to see a family that was so close, even if it would make things more difficult for him.

  He reminded himself, not for the first time, that he shouldn
t be thinking like a clan leader right now. The clan could wait. Right now, his job was to protect these women—if they needed protection—and make sure they had a lovely time at this event. That was all he needed to do right now.

  The Opera House ballroom was a big room with a high domed ceiling, topped by a window that showed the stars. It really was a lovely room. Four exits, two in the front, one on each side. One elevator, up in the front. Pretty manageable. He could smell Ian over by the food. That sounded like Ian, all right. It did smell damn good; smoked salmon, fresh vegetables, something with fresh bread and cheese. Hard for any werewolf to resist a spread like that.

  Jason closed his eyes for a second and fixed the sisters in his mind: Lucy, over with a gray-haired white woman, talking like old friends. Frieda, walking toward Ian and the food. Ophelia—

  “It’s nice, isn’t it?” Ophelia said.

  “Lovely,” he said. “Your father said you’d all volunteered for them?”

  “Yeah, Frieda got us all into it. Good cause, good organization, all that. Can I get you something from the buffet?”

  “No,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ll be fine.” He noticed Lucy looking in their direction. Was that sympathy in her expression? He needed it. “You go and have fun. Making sure you three have fun is my job tonight, remember?”

  “Well, let me know if you need anything,” she said, sauntering away. How old was she? Eighteen? Nineteen? They’d said she was a college student. She had a lot of growing up to do. He had at that age, too.

  Ian nodded at him from his spot near the table. He had a plate now, and was doing his best to fade into the background. He wasn’t as tall as Jason, and he was usually better at pulling it off.

  The music stopped, and a woman at the front of the room held up her hands for attention. “Friends,” she began. “It’s so wonderful to have so many of you here—”

  She introduced a few of the benefactors—not the Johnson family, they were too new to money for that—and started talking about the organization’s mission. “No one,” she said, “should have to live in fear.”

 
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