I hadn’t expected him to be tanned, lean, with sandy brown hair, broad shoulders and narrow waist. He looked to be a few years older than me, though it was hard to judge. His features had a very boyish cast to them. Half a foot taller than me. Fit. Amazing.

He smiled, sizing me up, and his entire face transformed. From smooth and prettily-boyish, he became stunningly beautiful. The smile took over his entire face, flashing white, and displaying the most heart-breaking set of dimples I’d ever seen.

Holy crap. I’d been hoping for mediocre at best. I’d gotten a male god.

Immediately I suspected a trick. I studied his face again, but I didn’t see anything that called out ‘alpha’ to me. He had heavy eyebrows over light-colored eyes, and a blunt nose and tapered chin. My father had been craggy and fierce, my brother a massive hulk of a man. The man moving toward me was tall, but the cheerful cast to his features was throwing me off.

My hand clutched the shovel a little closer and my greeting snapped shut in my mouth. Was this some joke on Roscoe’s behalf? Was I the victim of a prank?

He didn’t seem overly alpha, I thought. Sure, he was scrutinizing me, but his manner was open, friendly, positive. My brother and father – both alphas – had been surly and foul-tempered, and their method of greeting a stranger usually involved a fist. It was a bizarre change.

“Are you…” He glanced down, pulled out a folded piece of paper and read it, then looked up again. “Alice Savage?”

Instead of replying, I held my free hand out, the other clutching the shovel close. “Can I see some ID?”

“I need to see the same,” he said to me and extended his hand. His nostrils flared slightly, and I knew he was sensing his surroundings, prepared. The same way I was. His gaze settled on me, and I felt it.

Strength of will. The need to obey and please him. It was some innate sort of sense that came with alphas - natural leadership, a human would call it. Except I wasn’t human.

This guy was definitely an alpha. He didn’t need to swagger – he just needed to show me he was competent. Alert. Ready to defend his surroundings. I recognized the other alpha from posture and manner and sensed he was who he claimed to be.

But I still wanted to see ID.

To my surprise, he held out his entire wallet. I gave him another skeptical look before reaching out to take it, and then flipped it open. His driver’s license stared up at me, very serious. And the man in the picture looked… different. The name was the same – Jackson Wilder. I stared down, then back up at him again, suspicious. “That’s not you.”

“I get that a lot,” he explained in a mild voice. And broke into another smile, studying me. His dimples flashed again. “When I smile, I look different.”

As if to demonstrate, he assumed a serious face, and looked like the photo once more.

Me, I was still mesmerized by the dimples.

He pointed at his wallet. “My pack ID is in there. Behind the license.”

Digging for it meant I’d have to drop my shovel. I gave him one last skeptical look and then propped it against the metal barrel as the fire crackled and popped behind us. The fact that he knew that he had to have a pack ID was a good thing.

Sure enough, I pulled out the card and ran my fingers over it. Pack Ids were cheap things, mocked up to look like a social security card. No numbers were assigned, and there were no pictures. Usually they were issued by the alpha of the pack upon birth, and you received a new one if you left packs. I only had the one, and it was tattered and worn after being in my wallet for 24 years.

Jackson Wilder’s card was fairly new, the edges still crisp with plastic. St. James Pack, South Carolina, the ID read. Issued in 2008, which made me still with concern. Wolves could be made by a bite instead of born into shifting, but they rarely ascended to higher than beta. On a hunch, I slid my finger under the ID and met the grainy feel of an older slip of paper behind it. “You’re not a new wolf?”

He shook his head, the amazing smile (and dimples) disappearing. “Left for new ground a few years ago and met with the St. James pack.”

An alpha joining an established pack? That couldn’t have gone smoothly. I replaced the card and snapped the wallet shut, then held it out to him. “So why’d you leave them?”

“A fire,” he said, boyish face serious once more. “All died but myself and Dan.”

I swallowed. “Dan?”

Oh no. Was my new, pretty alpha…gay?

And why was that disappointing? If he was gay, I’d be safe from his attentions, after all.

Another car door shut, and my eyes flicked to the handyman truck even as I reached for the shovel once more. A boy slid away from the passenger side, lanky and uncertain. He was tall, but that was all he had going for him. A bit too thin, with haunted eyes and pale hair. He gave me a faint smile as he moved to stand behind Jackson.

Ah. Not gay. Just had a kid with him in his pack and hadn’t left him behind. I understood that.

“Dan,” Jackson pronounced. “I brought him with me. He’s the only living member of the St. James pack.”

“Other than you,” I corrected.

“Other than me,” he repeated.

I waited for the smile to return, but it didn’t, and I felt a little disappointment. I liked that smile. It had put me at ease. Oh well. At least he wasn’t gay. For some reason that made me happy, even as it filled me with anxiety. I stared at them both, wondering what my pack would think of two more males to be added to it? Trina would be thrilled, but Holly was shy. She’d be nervous.

“So…what are you doing?” Jackson gestured at the fire behind me.

“Burning my underwear,” I replied.

Dan flushed and looked at the ground. Jackson just grinned. “Couldn’t wait for tomorrow?”

“Not when it was sopping wet with some other guy’s leavings, no.”

His eyebrows raised and he shifted on his feet, the tension returning to his body. I recognized the tension. Possessiveness. Strange to see it in someone I’d just met a few minutes ago, but I guessed that meant he was staying. And that I should explain exactly what had happened.

I handed the shovel to Dan. “Can you handle this? I’ll show Jackson what the other guy did to my kitchen.”

Dan nodded and took it immediately. He was clearly not an alpha. With my shovel in hand, he began poking at the fire and sending up a shower of sparks.

I glanced over at Jackson, then headed for the back door of the house. “Come with me.” I kept my face impassive as he followed behind me, and I held the door open. “Oh, and welcome to the Savage pack.”

“Nice place,” Jackson murmured as he entered the house.

I flushed in embarrassment at his words, seeing nothing but dirty laundry and even dirtier dishes piled everywhere. Dead flowers on every inch of table-top. God, I was a wreck. “We’ve been grieving,” I said sharply, more sharply than I’d anticipated. “I haven’t had time to keep house.”

He nodded, and placed his hand on one of the wooden beams scattered through the large, messy living room and I flushed uncomfortably. Perhaps he hadn’t been talking about the state of the house after all. As Jackson’s gaze moved over the furniture, I snatched up a dirty sock laying over the arm of a chair.

“Is it just you that lives here?” Jackson said in that mild voice, glancing around the house.

I knew what he was doing – mentally sizing up how many wolves were in the pack. My house was large, and my family had lived here for three generations. We had plenty of bedrooms, but not all of them were filled. “Just me right now,” I said lightly, keeping the control in my voice. “I sent the others away while I…recovered. Our alpha died recently, and it’s left us all in a turmoil.”

Me especially.

Jackson moved forward, his fingers brushing against a dried rose, hanging over the edge of a crystal vase. “I remember.” He glanced back at me and his face was so serious that it made me wonder if the boyish smile had just been my imagination. “You said someone had left you a message?”

I nodded, swallowing hard. The visual was still fresh in my mind and still creepy. I pushed ahead of him. “In here.”

Вы читаете Single Wolf Female
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату