Authors: Viola Rivard
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Coming of Age
|Number I of|
Running With Alphas
|Viola Rivard (2014)|
|Tags:||Literature & Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal & Urban, Werewolves & Shifters, Coming of Age|
Just when she thinks her life can’t get any worse, Taylor meets alpha wolf Alder - the most caring, gallant, and handsome man on the planet. On the run from the police, there’s no way she could possibly get involved with him.
But somehow she does anyway.
Alder seems to be convinced that the two of them are going to live happily ever after in his mountain territory. But between looming pack wars, her dicey past, and his twin brother -
the most obnoxious, sadistic, and handsome man on the planet -
Taylor has a feeling that her new life among werewolves may be just as complicated as her human one.
RUNNING WITH ALPHAS: TRUST
is a 100 page book and the beginning of Taylor’s journey. The story will contain themes of life in the wilderness and ménage romance. Due to sexual content, it is not recommended for readers under the age of 18. For the full release schedule, please refer to the Author’s Note below.
© 2014 by Viola Rivard
All rights reserved.
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 written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Men who looked like him weren’t supposed to exist, not in real life anyway. They were supposed to live in movies, magazine centerfolds, and Photoshopped pics on the web. Where women like Taylor could drool over them on their lunch breaks or in between trains on the daily commute. There was a certain comfort in knowing that men like him didn’t actually exist, though most women didn’t realize it.
He pulled up to the gas station in a white pickup truck. It was covered in a clay-like mud, compliments of the unpaved North Carolinian back roads and a summer rainstorm. Taylor watched from inside as he got out to survey the state of his vehicle.
She studied him, trying to find some obscure flaw somewhere between the strong cut of his jaw, his broad chest, and his long legs. A leather jacket was draped over one muscular arm while his free hand combed absently through shoulder-length dirty blond hair. She had never been into blonds, but this man was an exception in every sense of the word.
“Shit or get off the pot.”
Taylor’s palm fisted, but she quickly reined in her annoyance as she turned to face the surly clerk. One of his beady eyes was still and glassy, while the other perused her body, much in the way a man looked at a woman when he knew looking was the best he could get.
She gave him a saccharine smile. “Sorry. It’s the summer heat,” she said, fanning herself with her hand. “Forgot I was standing in line for a minute.”
The man grunted in acknowledgement before spitting an impressively precise stream of tobacco from the side of his mouth into a small bucket on the counter. Her attention was drawn to what was under the bucket, a tobacco-stained copy of the Sunday paper with a nauseatingly familiar photo on it.
“Used to use soda cans,” the clerk said. “But m’boy kept trying to drink from ’em.”
“That’s very considerate of you,” she said, unconsciously inching back from the counter. “Hey, is there any chance I can use your bathroom?”
“Bathroom’s for paying customers only.”
Her eyes flickered over to the demigod outside, who was cleaning the mud from his windshield.
She pointed towards him. “That’s actually my boyfriend.”
In my dreams.
“He’s going to be buying gas.”
“I ain’t see you pull up with him,” the clerk said.
“He dropped me off around back at the bathroom. I honestly didn’t realize you needed a key, so I walked around.”
The man scrutinized her for a moment, and then reached beneath the counter to produce a silver key that dangled from a piece of twine. He placed it on the counter, but didn’t immediately move his hand.
“You got five minutes, then I come in after ya.”
She smiled again, but this time with much more effort. “Sure thing.”
Taylor grabbed the key. On her way to the door, she paused and glanced over her shoulder. The clerk was tucking a pinch of chewing tobacco behind his lip. In a quick motion, she grabbed a copy of the Sunday paper from a rack and slipped out the door.
he cramped bathroom
reeked of bleach, but it was air conditioned, so Taylor couldn’t complain. She shrugged off her backpack and grabbed her empty water bottle from the side compartment, then filled it up with lukewarm sink water. After screwing the cap back on, she set the bottle aside and leaned down to splash the water on her face.
In lieu of paper towels, she patted her face off with her sleeve. The sweltering humidity outside made it impossible for any makeup to stick, so she’d given up on it a few days back. Ten days on the road had given her unusually pale skin a bit of color, which helped to make her look vibrant despite the fact that she felt like she was running on empty. She pinched her cheeks and grabbed the newspaper, taking it with her to the toilet.
Taylor had originally just wanted to fill her water bottle. She’d tried to nick one from the convenience store, but the clerk had been watching her like a one-eyed hawk as she’d meandered up and down the aisles. The most she’d been able to grab was a candy bar, which she munched on while scanning the paper.
No matter how many times she saw the picture of herself, it still didn’t seem real. Not because she couldn’t believe that she was one was one of the most vilified people in America or that she was on the run from the FBI—those two things she could deal with. What she couldn’t believe was the picture they were distributing to the press.
Her roommate Patty had splurged on a camera phone earlier in the summer, and ever since then had been obsessed with taking grainy photos wherever they went. This particular picture had been taken the night of the party, a week and a half ago. For the first, and probably last time in her miserable life, Taylor had gotten drunk. Patty had immortalized the night with a picture of Taylor, slack-jawed and flipping off the camera with the hand that wasn’t holding a beer.
The headline was probably the most amusing one she’d seen yet: THE DARK SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL ASSASSIN. Apparently, she was now a prostitute. Wonderful.
She snatched her bag off the floor and crammed the newspaper inside. Having lost her appetite, she tossed the other half of the candy bar in as well.
Heat blasted Taylor’s face as she exited the bathroom. The sun had come out from behind the clouds with a vengeance, and she lifted an arm to shield her eyes as she made her way around to the front of the store.
A blue Chevy was parked opposite the white pickup truck and neither driver was anywhere to be seen. She looked over at the convenience store window. There was a glare on the glass and she squinted reflexively.
Standing in line, presumably behind the Chevy driver, she could just make out her blond demigod. His head tilted slightly and his intense gaze met hers. Taylor didn’t flinch or look away. She stared back, shamelessly drinking him in while she could.
Men who looked like him shouldn’t exist, not in real life anyway. They should stay in movies, magazine centerfolds, and web pics, where they belonged. Because when they stepped down off their clouds and into reality, all they did was remind women like Taylor of what they would never have.
She placed the bathroom key on the hood of his truck and then turned to walk away. There were six more states between her and Mexico, and time wasn’t a luxury she had.
the female walk away, wondering where she was going and yearning to follow her. It was the same urge he battled nearly every time he set foot into the human territories—the urge to take a mate.
The dirt road curved into a wooded stretch of land. The female disappeared behind a bend, gone from his line of sight. He wondered again where she was going, but this time in a less abstract manner.
He knew the road well. It was the same road he traveled four times a year, at the end of each season. There was a twenty-mile stretch of forest between the gas station and the nearest hub of humanity, a truck stop and an all-night diner just before the entrance to the highway. Was she walking there all by herself?
The patron in front of Alder finalized his transaction. With a tip of his hat and a mumbled goodbye he was gone and Alder moved to take his place.
“Thirty on two,” Alder said, placing his cash on the counter.
Money was a strange concept to Alder. In the four years since Beka had taught him to drive, he had seen the value of money fluctuate wildly, most notably when it came to gas. Where he came from, they would never put stock in such capricious scraps of paper.
“Ain’t going nowhere till your missus comes back with my key,” the clerk drawled. He smelled strongly of tobacco and stale beer. Alder assumed he was intoxicated.
Firmly, he said, “I’d like thirty dollars’ worth of gas on pump number two.”
The clerk still didn’t take the money. “And I’d like my bathroom key back. Already done changed the lock twice this summer, ain’t changing it again.”
“I don’t have your key,” Alder said, pushing the money forward impatiently.
“I know that,” the clerk said, pushing the cash back. “Your girl came in not but five minutes ago and took it. I want it back.”
Alder blinked at him. “The woman who was just here? Pale, red hair?”
Brown eyes, beautiful lips?
The clerk looked around in mock confusion. “You seen any other women around here?”
Alder glanced out the window again. Sunlight glinted off the small object on the hood of his truck. He pressed his lips together before saying, “I’ll be right back.”
Outside, he found the silver key where she had left it. He hadn’t paid attention to it before. He’d been too wrapped up in speculation over who she was, while reminding himself of all the reasons he shouldn’t go after her.
ature had always mystified Taylor
. She had grown up in cities, where stunted trees were sectioned off in concrete prisons and the sky was the color of steel. The only wild animals she’d ever seen were the rats that lurked in subway stations and the pigeons that gathered beneath overpasses and on power lines.
The countryside was a foreign, but not unwelcome, change of pace. Trees of all shapes and sizes crowded alongside the dirt road, sporting leaves of every shade of green Taylor could imagine. Their branches were full of chirping birds and squirrels that flew from tree to tree on little pockets of skin beneath their arms.
Walking down the road at a brisk pace, Taylor imagined that maybe, in some parallel universe where she hadn’t screwed up her life beyond repair, she’d like to live in a place like this. Sure, there were a few downsides to living on the fringes—the places where human civilization thinned and nature prevailed. There was limited government support there, which made for a lot of corruption in the particularly rural towns. Then, there was also the threat of werewolves—if you believed in that sort of thing.
Taylor slowed as she arrived at a wooden bridge. It was weathered, but appeared sturdy enough. She placed her hands on the railing and looked down at the river below. The whimsical child in her imagined what it would be like to live in the forest. She could build a house in a tree, bathe in the river, and dine on wild strawberries.
“And if the FBI doesn’t hunt you down like a dog, you’ll probably get eaten by bears,” she muttered to herself. Forget bears, a well-coordinated team of those flying squirrels could probably take her out.
The sound of an approaching vehicle drew her attention. She glanced back the way she came, somehow already knowing what she would see.
The white pickup truck appeared around a bend, slowing as it neared the bridge. Taylor turned away and tucked her hands in her pockets, trying to look as inconspicuous as a redhead wearing high-heeled boots and a neon orange backpack in the middle of the woods could look.
Apparently, she failed miserably.
The truck slowed almost to a complete stop as it pulled alongside her. She looked up, giving the man a polite smile while focusing on anything but his face. That was one distraction she really didn’t need right now.
“Can I take you where you’re going?”
He didn’t speak loudly, but he had one of those deep voices that seemed to project at any level. It was a rich voice that bore the faintest hint of an accent, though not one that Taylor could readily place.
Can I take you where you’re going?
The question caught her off-guard. She had expected him to say something like ‘Can I give you a lift?’ or ‘Where ya headed?’ but instead, he had simply asked if he could take her where she was going.
She couldn’t stop herself from looking at him then, no more than she could stop her body’s immediate reaction to the sight of him.
People always looked better at a distance. The closer you got, the more apparent their imperfections became. At least, that was what Taylor had always believed, but staring at this man, she was beginning to have her doubts.
He was too perfect. His hair, which she had originally pegged for dirty blond, was actually a rich tableau of gold and brown hues. Tawny stubble covered his strong jaw, accentuating the masculinity of his striking face. There was an intimidating slant to his thick brows, but his eyes—his gorgeous eyes—held a genuine kindness.
Her throat tightened, and she had the rare impulse to be completely honest. To tell him that her life was a disaster and she had no idea where the hell she was going.
Instead, she raised a brow and asked, “You don’t happen to be going to Mexico City?”
One corner of his sensuous lips curved. “Is that where you’re going?”
Was her flirting with her?
“Maybe,” she said, suppressing a grin. “Summer’s almost over. I’m thinking I should head somewhere warm.”
“I can take you as far as South Carolina.”
“Sorry,” she said. “You seem very nice, but I don’t take rides from strangers.”
She openly stared at him as she walked, particularly fascinated by his eyes. They almost seemed liked they were two different colors, but she wasn’t quite close enough to discern which.
“My name’s Alder. And yours?”
Okay, he was definitely flirting.
“Taylor,” she said without thinking.
She mentally winced. It wasn’t the worst thing she could have said, because ‘Taylor’ was technically not her legal name. It was her middle name, the one she’d gone by as a child, because her first name royally sucked.
Alder didn’t miss a beat. “Now we are no longer strangers.”
She pushed a flyaway strand of hair behind her ear. “I suppose we aren’t.”
They were nearing the end of the bridge now, and she really didn’t want to watch him go. For the first time in days, she felt normal. It was kind of nice to pretend, if only for a little while.
A good, considerate woman would have let him down easy and kept walking. A good, considerate woman would never have gotten into his truck—would never have mixed a nice guy up in all of her bullshit.
But good, considerate women generally weren’t murderers. And so, she opened the door and climbed in.