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Authors: JoAnna Grace

Pride Before the Fall

BOOK: Pride Before the Fall
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PRIDE BEFORE THE FALL

Book I of the Blake Pride series

a novel by
 

JoAnna Grace

Copyright © 2014 by JoAnna Grace

Cover Design/Cover By:
JLeeAnn.com

Book design by Dark Red Press

Published by Dark Red Press

All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

Edited by Path of Least Revision, C.L. Stegall

Visit author online at www.authorjoannagrace.com

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing: February 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0-9893243-8-0

Of Note

"Vivian, Kasey, and their families have lived in my head and my heart for a long time. At first I didn't know if I was the right person to share their tales. But now I'm glad they chose me to be their voice. I'm honored to be one of the Pride."

- JoAnna

PROLOGUE

Vivian Blake knew the moment she'd become more than just another dominant female tigress. It was the moment her muzzle became covered in the life blood of her alpha, a male lion twice her size. His sadistic games had led to her captivity and near insanity. Now she'd overpowered him and others were watching, waiting for her command. Those four lives might not have been many compared to the hundreds of Pride members, family and friends they had left behind, but Vivian would kill a hundred more alphas if it meant protecting them. This was her new family, her new Pride, and God help the bastard who dared to take them from her.

CHAPTER ONE

Kasey Blackburn sat behind his executive desk and peered at the five people in front of him. To the untrained eye—or nose—they might have appeared nervous. But he knew better.

These five people were not nervous.

They were alert.

Their eyes noted the four other men in the room standing guard. Every exit had been memorized. Every object that could be used as a weapon had been cataloged. Predators.

However, Kasey was just as observant. Sitting in the middle of the three women was a tall, statuesque dame with seductively powerful brown eyes—their alpha. She sat proud and straight with her legs crossed. Vivian Blake. Bountiful in every way, the woman had curves that made his blood boil. From her reddish-brown hair in a long ponytail to the miles of jean-covered legs, she was built strong and hard. If he were completely honest with himself, she was the sexiest damn woman he'd ever seen. It took monumental self-control to keep his arousal in check. There were nine other shifter noses in the room, after all.

"What can I do for you, Miss Blake?"

"We came to let you know we will be residing near your territory for an unknown length of time."

Kasey leaned back in his chair, casually resting his chin on one hand. "Where exactly?" He fiddled with his tie like he couldn't care less about them. The truth was quite the contrary.

"We've rented a space above the Chinese restaurant on 8
th
."

"You haven't done your research, Miss Blake. Blackburn territory covers the entire city. It also extends into the mountain and includes most of the state forestry land."

Luscious lips pinched together and her jaw tightened. "That's quite a spread. We were told the bears controlled the mountains."

"They do. And I control the bears. They joined my Pack a few years ago."

"Well, good," said the feisty blonde sitting on Vivian's right. "I do hate making two of these calls." Amilynn, who was number two or three in the small Pride, was a loaded gun waiting to go off.

The busty sex kitten looked ready to fuck or fight anyone in the room. He'd noticed all his men had given her a second glance when she sauntered in and flipped her abundance of blonde and black hair. It didn't help that she was wearing a naughty school girl costume complete with the short plaid skirt and matching tie hung loosely around the opened top buttons of her white shirt. The black nail polish and combat boots were a contradiction but suited her more than the skirt. She couldn't have been a couple inches over five feet tall but, then, dynamite came in small packages, too.

Kasey sat up and put his elbows on his desk. "Vivian, I'm afraid I can't offer your Pride sanctuary here."

"We don't need your protection," barked out the blonde. She received a quick glance from Vivian and it was enough to quiet her.

The feline alpha spoke as calmly and respectfully as she could, given the circumstances, "All I am asking is that you allow us to stay here for a while and work."

Alias, one of Kasey's council members, spoke up. "The Blackburn Pack does not harbor fugitives."

Vivian speared him with a hard, steady glare. "You haven't done your research either. We aren't fugitives."

"Maybe other alphas you've visited aren't as well informed as I am. I know who you are and why you left your Pride." Kasey pinned Vivian to her chair with a look, yet she didn't waver in her eye contact.

With her chin lifted slightly, she replied, "We simply left our Pride on bad terms and they've held a grudge."

Kasey laughed out loud. "Bad terms?" He laughed again. "That's putting it mildly, don't you think?"

"With all due respect, Mr. Blackburn, you weren't there. You cannot begin to understand the reasons why we left, so don't try. Now, can we stay in your territory for a while or not?"

"How do we know you're not a threat to us?" Sampson, Kasey's Beta and brother-in-law, spoke just as rationally as Vivian. There was no bitter taste to his words. It was a genuine and legitimate question. Vivian had killed her alpha after all.

"We don't want trouble. We just want to work for a while."

Kasey studied the group for a moment. Behind the explosive Amilynn and the barely controlled Vivian stood a male the size of a Mack truck—all muscle, not an ounce of fat on him. Conall. He stood with his hands stuffed in his pockets. He remained quiet but his square chin pointed high and eyes that had seen too much scanned the room every few seconds. Military trained, if Kasey had to guess. He didn't have to do anything but stand there to be intimidating. He was the muscle where Amilynn was the mouth.

On the female alpha's left was the only submissive in the group. The petite young woman was related to Vivian, sisters based on facial structure and similar scent, though they looked little alike. Melissa cast a softer impression with bright blue eyes and long black tresses that faded into a deep burgundy. She was a modern Snow White. Where Vivian was tanned, Melissa had a milky complexion with glowing pink cheeks. Her right hand rested on Vivian's arm. The touch of a submissive was calming to more aggressive personalities.

Behind Melissa stood a man Kasey had kept his eye on from the moment he'd walked into the room. Tyrone was a walking shadow. He prowled silently as he had entered and had an aura of darkness about him that was frightening even to a man like Kasey. His head was covered with a solid black hat that barely showed his eyes. All of his black clothing was baggy enough to hide weapons underneath. What little skin was showing had tattoos. He looked more thug than soldier. The only thing that Kasey saw as a weakness was the way one of his hands rested on Melissa's neck, his thumb stroking over her pulse. They were a mated pair, but how? One was a ray of light and one was the very shadow she cast.

"Vivian, I find it hard to believe that we won't have problems. Even though my men searched each of you upon arrival, I know at least two of you remain armed." He shot a look at Tyrone and Amilynn. His man at the door came over and Kasey raised his hand to stop him. The guard stood beside Amilynn. "Am I wrong?"

Amilynn looked up at the man and gave him a smile that could have seduced even the Pope. "I guess you'll have to search a bit more...
thoroughly
next time, big boy." She giggled at the guard as he swallowed a lump in his throat. Martin was an excellent soldier, but this woman challenged his stoicism.

When Amilynn turned her gaze to Kasey, it held none of that sensuality and all of the danger of a predator. "You'd be a fool to think we would go anywhere unarmed." She tilted her head in a feline manner. "Not that we need the weapons to protect our alpha." She leaned back in her chair and crossed her black combat boots.

"I'm sure you don't." Kasey laughed off her performance. He didn't give two shits about her silly threat. She was the decoy anyway. It was the one in the middle who interested him. The exotic looking female had taken on her previous alpha and left him one heartbeat away from death. This was the woman he needed to pay attention to. No female should be able to take on her alpha and win. He looked at Vivian giving him a lazy, confident grin. "What kind of work?"

"We were scouted by a club manager here. We're musicians, performers."

"What club?"

"Does it matter?" Vivian tilted her head to the side.

"Yes, actually. I own several businesses around town, including a nightclub or two."

"Bristow's. He saw us while on vacation in Vegas. He offered us more money. We came."

"Bristow's, huh? Not one of mine. Surprising that he offered you money at all. You must be impressive."

"We have our skills."

Amilynn looked over at Martin and said, "On and
off
stage."

Kasey couldn't help but grin at the way Tyrone rolled his eyes discretely. He took a deep breath and held it for a second before letting it out while he analyzed the dynamic of this Pride. Vivian and Amilynn: dominant, unmated females. They clearly made the decisions for the group. Melissa was fragile. Fear in her eyes indicated she'd been hurt and it made sense now that she gravitated toward the strength of Tyrone, an assassin as deadly as a man could become. Conall was the odd man out. He smelled of both the unmated females, so he either lived with them or was sleeping with them both. No, not that. Two dominant females would never share a male. He was the protector of the protectors.

"Six months probation," Kasey said, rising from his chair and buttoning his dress jacket. Vivian rose with him and her Pride with her. "When was the last time you ran?"

"I only ask for a once a month free run."

Kasey looked up at her with brows dipped low. "Is that all you've been getting? Once a
month
? No wonder you are all barely contained! Is this what you call leading a healthy Pride, Vivian?"

Vivian hissed at him and for a brief second her cat shone in her eyes. She stretched out her fingers that had already shifted into claws. "I do the best I can with what I'm given. The last territories we were in bordered cities: Minneapolis, Vegas. Hunting was harder. We were only granted free runs once a month. We got used to it."

"You can't stay human that long. It agitates the animal and, as you just displayed, makes them surface harder and faster. It makes you dangerous. You have once a week runs in the forest. Sampson."

Sampson pulled up a map and showed them places where they could freely shift and run. It was a vast area. The look on Vivian's face said she was relieved. He took this moment, when she was bent over a map on his desk, to get an eyeful. Under the black leather dress jacket she wore nothing but a white tank top that hugged the curves of her modest breasts and showed off the flat plain of her stomach. Jeans accentuated wide hips and lush thighs. Her hair spilled over her shoulder and his fingers longed to muss it up.

Control. Damn it. He had to keep control. One wrong scent or look and things could go south quickly. "Take your family out this weekend," he said as everyone straightened.

"Thank you." Vivian stuck out her hand cordially. "You've been generous and we won't forget it."

Kasey took her hand in both of his, stepped up close and looked into the bedroom eyes of a dangerous cat. And damn if that sexy feline didn't hold his stare like the powerful alpha she was. Deep within him, his wolf awoke. Here was a woman who challenged him, defied him in front of his men, and yet the bastard wanted to mount her right there. The wolf wanted to give her something. He wanted to show this woman he could provide for her. "If you need anything, call me."

"I can handle my own, but thanks." She turned to leave and he couldn't help but be thankful for the chance to see her walk away.

As the Pride filed out, Sampson noticed that Melissa had left a sweater hanging over the arm of her chair. He picked up the sweater and approached the woman with a shoulder tap. In less than a blink, Tyrone had a knife to Sampson's throat and Melissa safely tucked behind him. Kasey stepped in just as Vivian touched Tyrone's shoulder. Sampson held up his hands in surrender, showing the sweater. "I just wanted to give her this."

"No one touches her,
ever
. Got it?" The man's voice was rough like the sound had to pass through a layer of gravel in his throat.

BOOK: Pride Before the Fall
4.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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