Authors: Hazel Gower
A Mate’s Escape
By Hazel Gower
© Copyright 2015 Hazel Gower.
All cover art and logo © Copyright Hazel Gower
All rights reserved.
To my amazing family. Thank you for letting me spend hours in front of the computer.
Jess Buffett thank you for your amazing cover art. A huge thank you to my proof reader Lisa Owen. Lastly a shout out to Lynne, thank you for editing my work.
Table of Contents
Books by Hazel Gower
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com, and purchase your own copy.
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales are entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author and publishing company.
Please always be aware of where you are purchasing your electronic books and from whom. Only purchase from reputable, licensed individuals such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, etc. If ever in doubt, let the author know of a suspected site illegally selling their works—remember to include a link to the site where you have found a book you suspect of being pirated. It only takes a moment of your time, but you will forever have the gratitude of an author.
About the eBook Purchased
Your purchase of this eBook allows you to only ONE LEGAL copy for your own personal reading on your own personal computer or device. You do not have resale or distribution rights without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this eBook. This eBook cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer-to-peer program, free or for a fee, or as a prize in any contest. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. Distribution of this eBook, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden. If you do not want this eBook anymore, you must delete it from your computer.
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
If you find any e-books being sold or shared illegally, please contact the author or the publishing company.
Alissa was fourteen years old and probably the only one of her friends who wasn’t dating. No guy had asked her out. She sat in her room wiping tears from her eyes. Three of her friends were out tonight on dates. Last weekend they’d gone on a group date. Alissa was happy for them, but she wanted what they had. Tonight when she wanted to go to the movies and they’d been busy she’d gotten upset.
A knock on her bedroom door had her brushing under her eyes to make sure her tears were gone. She didn’t want her brothers to see her crying. Her oldest brother was home from base this weekend with one of Alissa’s favorite people, Dolton Brown. He was a family friend, a bear shifter, and Alissa’s biggest crush.
“Hey brat, what are you up too?” Dolton opened her bedroom door and stepped in. She gazed at him and when his eyes caught hers they narrowed and he growled, “Who the hell hurt you?”
Alissa shook her head. Her emotions betraying the pain of her friends leaving her out. Shifters had strong senses. “No one.” She sighed. “I just, well I wanted to go to the movies, but all my friends are dating on the weekends and didn’t invite me. I also didn’t get asked by anyone.”
Dolton’s gaze turned warm and he came and sat on the end of her bed. “Your brother and I were about to head out to catch a movie. Do you want to join us?”
Happiness seeped into her and she sat straighter sending a smile Dolton’s way. Who needed her friends and a boyfriend when you had big brothers and their super-hot friends? “Thank you, yes. Give me thirty minutes to be ready.”
Dolton nodded, got up and left her room. Just like that Dolton, changed her mood and the way she felt with such a simple gesture. It was one of the reasons why she loved him.
Alissa grinned as she swayed on the dance floor with Dolton. This was the second formal he’d been her stand in date. She was at her year twelve formal and as usual no guy had asked her to go with them.
Two weeks ago she’d cried her eyes out because she still didn’t have a date and no one had ever asked her out on a date. Alissa wasn’t stupid she knew her brothers and father had a lot to do with why she wasn’t asked, but surely some boy had to be game enough to risk her father and brothers. None had though.
Alissa hadn’t even been planning on going to go to the formal. She’d given up, then last weekend Gary, her brother, and Dolton came home from base and Dolton asked when she was graduating and when her formal was. She’d told him and then he’d asked who she was going with, and she’d told him no one because she wasn’t going.
Later that night Dolton had pulled her aside and asked, “Alissa Maples would you like me to be your date for your formal. I don’t want you to miss such an important event.”
Not able to speak she was so grateful and happy she just nodded. His grin had her almost melting into a puddle of goo. The next day her mother had taken her shopping for a formal dress.
Now Alissa swayed on the dance floor with Dolton and it was like a dream come true. She didn’t care at five foot six to his six foot eight he towered over her and they would look strange. She didn’t care if they thought he was too good looking for her with his muscular body and her fuller figured one. Dolton was handsome and girls were looking at her and thinking how lucky she was to have him. She wasn’t going to set them straight and tell them he came because he was nice and didn’t want her to miss out on her last school formal. Alissa was going to let them believe they were together. Right now she even let herself believe it. She loved Dolton, and right now would do anything for him. If he let her he would be her world. Soon she was going to tell him just how she felt.
Alissa’s stomach fluttered the closer she got to the beach break wall, and the figure staring out to sea. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out, calming her racing heartbeat. Alissa was going to do it, she was going to tell Dolton she loved him. She gave herself one last pep talk, the same one she’d been giving herself for weeks now.
You can do this. Dolton needs to know how you feel in case anything happens to him. He needs to know he has someone who would do anything for him. Someone who loves him. He needs to know so when he comes home and you’re eighteen he’ll know you’ll be waiting for him. He is the only one you’ve wanted and you’ve loved him for as long as you could remember
Dolton was going on his last deployment with the army. When he came home he would have served over ten years, and was leaving to become a civilian. A chef at one of his family restaurants.
“What are you doing brat? You should never creep up on a shifter.” She hated that he called her a brat. He started it when she was a toddler and would chuck a tantrum when her brothers wouldn’t let her join in and play. She wasn’t a brat. She hadn’t been one in a long time. Dolton didn’t seem to notice though.
Letting out a breath she straightened her shoulders and gazed into big chocolate brown eyes. “I wasn’t creeping up on you.” Argh, she sounded whinny. She shook her head.
, she reminded herself. “I came down to tell you something. I, um, well…you see I’ve been...” God, she was choking. She was messing this up.
Dolton came closer to her so they were toe to toe. “You can tell me anything brat.”
Alissa hoped she could, because what she had to say would either further their friendship into a relationship or end what they had. Holding her hands together, she squeezed them tight. “Dolton, when you come home I’ll be eighteen.” She looked down at their feet because right now she couldn’t look into his intense brown gaze. “I want to, no, I need to tell you.” Taking a calming breath she let it out and gazed up at him, she needed to have courage, she needed to say this looking at him, not at her feet.
“I love you Dolton. I’ve been in love with you for as long as I can remember. I want you to give me a chance when you come home. I want to be with you.” She blew out her breath and studied Dolton, his eyes were closed and his lips in a firm line. Alissa knew this wasn’t good, but he hadn’t said no, or well anything yet, so she ventured on confessing all. “I want you to know so you knew you had someone waiting for you who loved you when you came back. I do love you Dolton, and I’ll wait for you. I want to be with you. I want to be your girlfriend. Your mate. Yours. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. Please tell me you want me too or I at least have a chance.”
She gazed at him for what felt like hours, but was probably only minutes, his face barely moved, his lips compressed, and his eyes closed. Finally, his eyes opened and he let out a loud sigh. His hands took hers in his own and his gaze held hers captive. “Alissa.” Choking back a sob at hearing her name for the first time in years, she held her breath hopeful. “You’re my friend, my best friend’s little sister. Not only am I twelve years older than you, but I’m a shifter and you’re human. It wouldn’t be fair to you or me for me to even give you any hope of us.”
Right then Alissa’s heart shattered. “I’m a shifter and I won’t be anyone’s boyfriend or any other relationship status someone may think is permanent because only my mate, the other half of my soul will get to have that, the whole me.”
Closing her eyes Alissa fought the tears that threatened to spill, she would not cry in front of Dolton.
“I’m sorry to hurt you, but I would feel worse if I knew you waited for me thinking we had some kind of chance. I’m sorry Alissa.” Dolton let go of her hands and stepped back.
Devastation like nothing she’d ever felt, consumed her and she backed away from Dolton. Unable to say anything she nodded, turned and ran back to her parent’s house. Never again. She would never let herself be vulnerable. Alissa was going to university and be what she wanted to be. She would never volunteer to put her life on hold for a man again. She would never let a man tell her what she could do or what she wanted. And lastly she would move on and forget Dolton Brown.
Alissa groaned as she struggled to pull herself any further. Her arse currently stuck up and out of the restaurant bathroom window. She looked down at the concrete street. She was so close to getting away and now she was stuck in the God damn window. “Alissa, how do you get yourself into these situations,” she grumbled. She pushed forward hoping to move, but nothing happened.
A healthy size fourteen, Alissa was sure she’d fit through the window, she knew it would be a tight fit, but she was determined to get away. She wiggled herself again then debated if she should yell for help and embarrass herself further. Nothing happened, she didn’t even budge.
Oh okay maybe she was a size sixteen.
She wondered if she could just hang where she was until one of the women came into the bathroom and helped her, or if she risked calling for help and the person she was avoiding came to her rescue. It was the work Christmas party so surely someone would be in soon? Right?
This was all Dolton Brown’s fault. She’d been enjoying herself at the party when Lex, the owner of the club she worked for, came over and asked her to come with him to meet the restaurant’s owner and head chef. Sure, Alissa had happily followed Lex, she was eager to meet the chef of the delicious food they were eating. The back kitchen door opened and it’s when she saw him, all six foot eight, broad shouldered muscular Dolton, with his dark brown hair—longer and almost shaggy, not like the military cut she remembered—big chocolate eyes, full thick lips and a five o’clock shadow that added to his sexiness. He was better looking than she remembered or wanted to remember, and she’d tried hard to forget him.
Alissa excused herself and practically ran to the bathroom. She was just going to compos herself first before she faced Dolton. Trying to stop the aching need she felt for him from just one look, the longer she sat in the restroom, the longer she wanted to escape a confrontation or any added embarrassment with him. Her head fell back onto the top of the toilet and that’s when she saw the window and got the stupid idea to escape.
“Why did this have to be one of the restaurants Dolton’s family owned? I mean why was he working at this one? For Christ sake he’s a five star chef,” well, that’s what she’d heard she grumbled. She heaved forward to see if she’d move even an inch. Argh, nothing. As she repressed her scream, Alissa hoped Dolton with his super shifter hearing wouldn’t hear and find her hiding in his restroom.
There were a bunch of restaurants in the big coastal town where she’d moved to get away from her overbearing brothers and father, so why did this have to be the one Dolton owned? Alissa’s mother had been no help, she thought her husband was just being a dad and her sons were cute when they threatened to kill any man who showed interest in Alissa, or sabotaged any of her attempts to make a life of her own.
With the appearance of Dolton, Alissa knew the life she’d been living for over a year was done. There was no way he wouldn’t tell her parents were she worked and who she lived with. Alissa may have threatened to never visit and to cut all ties with them if they ever interfered her life, but if Dolton told them what she hadn’t, they wouldn’t be able to help themselves from coming and trying to take over. But Alissa wasn’t a pushover anymore.
Dolton’s family and hers had been close since Alissa was little. Her brothers and Dolton were friends. Her family had been big supporters of the shifters when they came out over thirty years ago. The Browns were shifters—bear shifters. The world hadn’t been too shocked shifters existed. TV and books had helped prepare them and the occasional sighting people put down to thinking they were going crazy. Well, Alissa bet a bunch of people left the mental homes after the outing of shifters to the world.
One thing the
had done was almost repeat history. Most shifters were moved to live in Australia like they’d moved a bunch of convicts, to a place where there was the least amount of population they could hurt. Some other designated areas around the world kept small groups of shifters on reservations. There were places where shifters were banned and in some places they even had shifter bathrooms. Alissa never understood why people had done that, unless a shifter was massive and showed his animal, it was pretty hard to tell them apart from humans. Shifters weren’t allowed to own property or a business unless they’d served a minimum of five years in the military. To a shifter it was nothing, they lived twice as long as humans and were much more durable, but that fact wasn’t common knowledge.
Alissa knew a lot of things about the shifter world she shouldn’t. Like mates and what they meant to a shifter. If you were a mate to a shifter they couldn’t ever cheat on you. They extended your life so it’s the same length as theirs, and you healed faster, not as fast as a shifter, but close. If you were lucky enough to mate a shifter, you would be the only woman or man both the human and the beast could love, and have shifter children with. Alissa learned everything from overhearing her parent’s conversations, and just being surrounded by them enough to learn.
Dolton was closest to her oldest brother, Gary. They served in the army together. Alissa had two brothers, the oldest was twelve years older than her twenty-two. Clifton was five years older than her and a cop. Late last year, after graduating from University with a business management and accounting degree, Alissa moved to Sea Breeze to get away from her overbearing, nosey family. She needed to step out of their shadow and become the strong woman she’d always wanted to be. It had been hard, especially getting them to understand she needed to be on her own. She needed space from them before she exploded.
“What the fuck, Alissa?” Cringing as she heard Dolton’s voice, she closed her eyes and prayed the night didn’t get any worse.
Alissa was beyond embarrassed. She was humiliated. Who knew there were feelings beyond those two emotions, she sure as hell didn’t. Alissa had, well apparently still had, a massive crush on Dolton. Crush was a mild way to say she was utterly and completely head over heels in love with him. He knew how she felt, she’d told him over five years ago and he rejected her. It was why she was stuck in here now trying to escape.
She hadn’t seen Dolton since the night before he was deployed when she was seventeen—over five years ago. The night she’d confessed her undying love. She didn’t want to see him now because she knew a shifters sense of smell was a million times better than anyone could even imagine, and Dolton would smell how turned on he made her, how her feelings for him were still the same no matter how much she wished they weren’t.
When she’d been a teenager, her brothers had teased her when Dolton had joked about her scent and her crush on him. Alissa didn’t want Dolton to embarrass her in front of all her new fiends, work colleagues, and her roommate—the guy she was kind of sorta thinking of dating. She’d been trying to avoid it by escaping through the window. Dolton had politely told her she was his friend and his best friend’s little sister and he couldn’t, wouldn’t, be with anyone but his mate. Alissa had been devastated, argh, who was she kidding she was still heartbroken over his rejection. Another reason was, Alissa hadn’t told her parents where she was working, or where exactly she was living and with who. Oh, they’d tried to get it out of her, but she threatened to move to another country if they didn’t leave it alone.
She’d had to threaten to tell every bad secret she knew about her brothers if they didn’t leave her alone and abide by the same rules as her parents. They believed her because she’d moved to Sea Breeze in secret, without them finding out until she was gone, which with her overbearing family had been an amazing feat. Alissa had been to visit them and made excuses every time they tried to come and see her in her new home. She wasn’t ready for them. She was enjoying her new life too much.
“Er, hi Dolton. I um…well…argh….” She really couldn’t think of a good excuse as to why she was stuck in a window. “Fancy seeing you here? I didn’t know you were here.” She really sucked at lying. Alissa groaned when his answering growl went straight to her core, sending warmth over her and a tingling pull. Stupid, traitorous, body.
“Don’t bullshit me, Alissa. You saw me and bolted. Why the fuck are you here and sticking out of the women’s bathroom window?”
“Yeah, even if I wasn’t a shifter you suck at lying.”
“Well…I wanted to leave and didn’t want to go the front door route.” Alissa was glad for shifter hearing so she wouldn’t have to yell and draw more people.
“So you thought going through the friggin bathroom window and falling to the ground was God damn better?” He was snarling now and Alissa knew he was close because she didn’t have to strain to hear him.
Clenching her thighs as his voice turned her stomach to butterflies and her skin got hot, she prayed for divine intervention. She didn’t bother answering him because really what was the point. She knew there was no way she was going to avoid this confrontation anymore.
Dolton’s big strong hands gripped her waist and gave a good pull. Alissa moved with the force of his tug, popping out and falling against him.
Crap that hurt
. She knew she’d have bruises in the morning. Dolton didn’t even grunt when all her weight landed on him. He leaned back against the toilet stall.
Trying to wiggle out of his hold didn’t do any good. Dolton held her tighter and walked towards the exit of the bathroom.
“Put me down, Dolton.”
He ignored her and kept going. Elbowing him, he sighed heavily and turned her and pushed her up and over his shoulder so he had her in a fireman’s hold. Alissa became frantic to get down and away from him. She whacked his back and pushed off him.
“Alissa, so help me if you hurt yourself further you won’t like your punishment.” He slapped her arse and then squeezed it.
Oh. My. God. What the hell was going on? What had Dolton Brown just said and done. Surely he didn’t mean all that in a sexual way. He walked out of the bathroom and turned towards the back of the restaurant.
Alissa pounded on his back. She couldn’t let him take over. She couldn’t let her new friends see her like this. They all thought she was this confidant take charge woman. “Put me down. Let me down now,” she yelled.
Brittney, the girlfriend of Ryan who she worked with and had become a friend too, rushed over. She walked behind Dolton and looked down so Alissa could see her as she hung over his shoulder.
“Alissa, are you okay? What happened? Do you want me to get Lucas?”
Oh crap she couldn’t get Lucas. “No Brittney, I’m fine. I’m um…”
“Hey you, stop. Buddy put Alissa down.” Dolton didn’t listen to Brittney either, and kept moving.
Alissa needed to defuse the situation, something was wrong with Dolton, and as much as she wasn’t happy with him right now, she didn’t want him to get into a fight or in trouble with the law. Shifters, didn’t get treated very well by the justice system. “Brittney it’s okay. Dolton is a family friend. He found me in er…well, in a strange situation and is being a little overprotective. Let me calm him down and I’ll go home. Tell everyone I’ll see them tomorrow afternoon.” Alissa tried holding herself up on Dolton’s back, she couldn’t see Brittney well, but knew she hadn’t stopped Dolton.
Dolton grunted and Alissa saw Brittney better the further Dolton walked down the hall. Brittney followed slowly staring at her as she struggled to hold herself up. Alissa tried to bring herself up again so she could tell Brittney she was fine, but she didn’t have the stomach muscles. Dolton kept walking down the hall until he came to the back.
“I’ll get help, Alissa,” Brittney said leaning down to catch her gaze before straightening and retreating. Alissa opened her mouth to stop her but Britney wouldn’t listen so she didn’t bother.
Dolton opened a door and stepped through shutting it behind him. When the door was shut he slowly slid her down his body. She glared up into the biggest intense brown eyes she’d ever seen. His rusty tree bark hair fell just past his ears and a piece now covered his eyes. Alissa had no idea what come over her, but she reached up, stroked his cheek, and brushed the lock over to the side out of his eyes. He snapped at her hand with his sharp half changed teeth and she jumped back.
“What the hell has gotten into you, Dolton?” That went for her to. Alissa hadn’t ever touched him like she just did. Dreamed of it, yes, but never done it. He’d always been the one to touch her and even then, he was very careful and respectful.
“Who is Lucas?”
“Um…er.” Her mind was blank for a moment, her only thought the sexy man before her. His fresh woodsy smell filled her senses and she basked in the manly scent. She’d missed him. She’d missed the way his gaze never forgot any of the details around him, how he pointed out things she missed, like a butterfly going by, children playing, a raindrop falling, and landing a special way. She’d missed the complements he’d always given her, the way he always smiled when she came into the room. She missed the sound of his voice. She just plain missed him.
Dolton snarled and tilted her head so she gazed directly into his eyes. “Who the fuck is Lucas?”
Oh, yeah, he’d asked about her roommate. Lately Lucas had been trying to be more, but he couldn’t replace Dolton, no one could, no matter how hard he tried. Lucas had kissed her a few times and she’d felt nothing but pangs for a man she could never have. A man that didn’t want her because she wasn’t his mate. Alissa defiantly hadn’t mentioned to any family member she was living with a man. She hadn’t wanted to answer any questions or have the person she stayed with interrogated. “He’s a…a…friend.”