Cassie’s not having a good week. She’s tired of dealing with the mixed signals from her boyfriend and she’s attacked by a large dog. Then it gets worse. Said boyfriend is keeping secrets and possibly using her for his own ends and the dog that attacked her? Yeah, that was a werewolf and now she’s going to be howling at the next full moon.
Not only does she have to deal with a deranged werewolf, intent on killing her but she’s got her boyfriend’s father pushing them to mate. Did she mention her boyfriend was a werewolf too? It’s going to take all she’s got to handle these alpha men and get what she wants too. Things can only get better. Right?
If you missed Chapter Four, you can find it here.
The next morning Cass woke to the sun shining through white eyelet lace curtains. She hadn’t paid much attention to her room last night, too tired and overwrought but this morning, she could see what she had missed. The room was done in white and light blue with light oak furniture. The serene color scheme soothed her tattered nerves.
Her bags piled on and around the chair near the door. All at once, the gravity of the situation came rushing back. She wasn’t here for a weekend visit or a holiday. Some crazed werewolf was out to get her and Alex, the man she’d thought was The One who had been lying to her from the beginning of their relationship, was her best chance at survival. She didn’t even want to think about that mess. Shaking the negative thoughts from her head, she decided that all this angst wasn’t helping the situation. Time to face it straight on.
Cassie got out of bed and pulled the covers up. She padded over to her bags and rummaged around in them until she found her toiletry bag and some clean clothes. After her shower, Cassie headed downstairs to find Alex and get some answers. She felt more like her old self and wanted to take charge of her life, figure out what her future held, and make some decisions.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she heard arguing. Alex had company and she couldn’t deny the smidge of relief. While she wanted to put on her big girl panties and demand the truth about her situation, nerves fluttered inside her stomach at the coming confrontation. She debated going back upstairs, but the mention of her name propelled her forward to an open door. The large desk indicated it to be Alex’s office. Not wanting to intrude or eavesdrop, she started back the way she’d come, but again, heard her name. Cassie leaned against the wall next to the door, not sure if she was prepared to hear something potentially life-changing.
“If she’s your mate as you say, claim her. Perform the Mate Bond Ritual.”
She gasped and shrank back from the door. The man moved into her line of site. Her heart pounded in her chest. Mate?
“She’s been attacked twice, Dad. She doesn’t even know about all that.” Alex’s voice cracked on the last word. A strange smell floated out to her, one that smelled almost like Alex yet different. As if he were distressed? Could she smell emotions now? Holy crap.
Why would he be upset? What was this ritual?
“Then you need to explain it to her. You can’t be Pack Alpha without claiming her.”
The air rushed out of her and the blood ran away from her face, leaving her shaking. Did Alex’s protection come with a price? He would use her just like Dirk the Jerk, but this time would kill her. Her feelings for Alex already surpassed what she felt for Dirk. She was in trouble. The next comment brought her attention back to the conversation.
“Perhaps now would be a good time.”
“Now?” In her mind’s eye, she could see Alex running his hand through his hair, a nervous habit she’d noticed him doing more often lately.
“She’s at the door. What better time?”
Cassie’s eyes widened and her breath lodged in her throat. She whirled away, intent on escaping to the security of her room. Though she’d planned to get some answers, she found she wasn’t as ready for them as she’d thought.
The thump of Alex’s footsteps chased her to the door. She locked it as the knob turned. Her heart galloped in her chest, much the way she had. It might be nice to have these extra perks from turning hairy once a month.
“Please, let me explain.”
Ha! What was there to explain? That he conveniently forgot to mention that he needed her for some ritual? That he had not only lied to her continually, but planned to use her? That he’d broken her heart? She leaned against the door, breathing hard. “I heard everything already. Go away!”
A soft thud from the other side of the door sent her scurrying across the room. Backing toward the bed, she eyed the barrier. Just a thin door, he could probably bust in or even find the key and unlock it. She sank down into a huddle on the floor.
“I need to clear up what you think you heard.” Alex’s muffled words filtered through the door.
A bitter laugh escaped. “You planned to use me so you could be the next Grand Poobah, or whatever. It’s pretty self-explanatory.” Blinking away the tears, she squared her shoulders and sat up straight. She would not let him know how much he’d hurt her.
“It’s not like that. I swear. Please let me talk to you.”
He sounded so sincere. No wonder he’d fooled her so easily. He deserved an Academy award.
“Leave me alone or I’m out of here. I mean it.” She held her breath, not releasing it until she heard him move, back toward the stairs. Once assured she was alone, the tears flowed. Her heart broke in tiny pieces as she sobbed.
The tears finally dried up, leaving her feeling worse than before. Her throat was raw and her eyes were swollen and gritty. She was a fool. Why else would a man like Alex want her, but to use her? Hadn’t she thought all along that he was too good to be true? At least she had the hollow comfort of not making love to him. Those memories would make it much harder to get over him and get over him she would. While the sun had moved through the sky, she realized what she needed to do.
She would stay until Alex dealt with the man who had tried to kill her. It was his fault she’d been attacked, after all. Once the threat had been taken care of, she’d find some other city to call home. Cassie couldn’t take the chance of running into Alex.
Then she’d start the process of rebuilding her life and her heart. Until then, keeping her distance from him would be difficult considering she was staying at his house, but it was also imperative. She couldn’t weaken her resolve. Not if she had hopes of ever moving on to find someone who would love her for herself and not what she could do for him.
It was several hours past dinner before Cassie ventured downstairs. The shower earlier had gone a long way to refresh her spirit, though she wasn’t sure if she was ready to see Alex yet. She’d preferred to wait until tomorrow to chance seeing him, but her stomach rebelled so she resorted to slinking through the house like a thief in the night. Of course, that was exactly what she was. She grinned to herself, the first she’d managed since her attack. Now, what to eat? She was starved.
Cassie turned on the light over the stove, more out of habit than necessity since her new senses gave her excellent night vision. She headed over to the refrigerator to check out her options. As she reached for a plate of cold chicken, the overhead light snapped on. She whirled around and came face to face with the man who’d broken her heart. Heavy beats thudded painfully in her chest as a searing pain pierced through her chest at the sight of him.
“I thought I heard you down here.” Alex’s words whispered across her ears and a shiver raced down her spine.
She cleared her throat and looked for an escape route. “Sorry. I was hungry.”
“Please don’t run. Eat.” Shoulders tense and dark circles under his eyes, he still looked so damn hot she couldn’t keep her eyes off him.
Hugging the plate of chicken to her chest, she watched him for any sudden moves or ulterior motives. Her stomach chose that moment to remind her how long ago her last meal had been when it growled into the heavy silence between them. Alex reached behind him and grabbed a loaf of bread, placing it on the counter.
At her quelling look, he backed up, his hands raised in surrender. She pulled out the rest of the sandwich fixings and proceeded to make her dinner while keeping a wary eye on Alex. God, how could she be so stupid? Why didn’t she hear him before he surprised her? Would he try and trick her? Did he have to be so damn gorgeous?
“Cass, please let me explain. I can’t stand this distance between us.” He ran his hands through his hair, obviously upset. She almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
“I came down here to get some dinner, not listen to the next batch of lies.” Cassie shook her head when Alex opened his mouth, fists tightened to keep from reaching out to him, to stay strong. “I don’t want to talk about that conversation. I’ll stay until you get the guy that attacked me – if you stop this nonsense. Otherwise, I’m leaving and taking my chances.”
“It’s up to you. I’ll be down for breakfast in the morning. You can give me your decision then.” She grabbed her sandwich and took off for her room. After locking the door, she sagged against it and slid to the floor.
It took all she had to keep from throwing herself into his arms and begging him to love her. She couldn’t stay locked up in this room the entire time, but she couldn’t take his anguished pleas and sad eyes. If she stayed, there would have to be some ground rules. Hopefully, her attacker would be found quickly and she could end this torture.
After a sleepless night of tossing and turning, Cassie headed down the stairs toward the heavenly smells coming from the kitchen. The sandwich she’d had last night had barely held her over. The butterflies in her stomach warred with her hunger, the desire for food winning out over her apprehension.
Alex was at the stove when she entered, looking better than a lying bastard should. He wore faded jeans that molded to his body and a tight t-shirt that emphasized his broad shoulders and muscular chest. Her breath caught in her chest as her hand itched to explore all of that brawny splendor in a bed. Giving herself a mental shake, she shivered and pulled her gaze away. Despite his strong, virile presence, his bare feet gave him an air of vulnerability that she refused to acknowledge.
He must have heard her because he turned around as soon as she crossed the threshold. His smile was enough to blind her. The difference between this Alex and the man that had been in this same room with her last night was like, well, night and day. She blinked rapidly.
“Good morning, sweetheart.”
“Uh, g-good morning.” She stood in the doorway, uncertain what to make of this about face. It threw her.
“Sit down. Breakfast is almost ready.” Alex turned back to the sizzling bacon.
She wavered for a moment, and then shrugged. Maybe he realized his lies weren’t going to work anymore. That would make things easier for her. So why did she feel like he’d given up too easily and why did it leave her with an emptiness inside that had nothing to do with food?
It took all of Alex’s restraint to turn away from her so casually, but he had to stick to his plan. If he ever wanted a chance to win her back, he couldn’t push. So he would act as though he accepted her decision until he could worm his way back into her heart and make her understand the truth.
He finished breakfast and joined her at the table. They ate in silence until he was sure Cass was no longer hungry.
“I imagine you have some questions about being a wolf.”
Cass jumped and looked up at him.
“You know I do.” She fiddled with the silverware next to her plate and he watched the blush rise from her chest up to her cheeks.
She was so adorable when nervous. He leaned back into his chair and crossed his arms to keep from reaching for her, to keep from begging her to love him. “Go ahead. Ask.”
Cassie cleared her throat. “Does it hurt?” She quickly looked down at the silverware she played with.
“Does what hurt, baby?” Could she be referring to his feelings? Would she listen to the truth now? She dashed his hopes with her next question, however.
“When you shift, does it hurt?”
He could see the trepidation in her eyes when she looked back up at him. He’d never given it much thought since he’d been born a wolf, but he could see where it would worry her.
“No. You’re what we call a made. Your first shift may be uncomfortable, but it won’t hurt.” Her shoulders sagged in relief.
“Good. I’m allergic to pain.” She flashed him a weak smile.
Some unknown emotion opened inside his chest at the sight. He hadn’t seen one of her lovely smiles since before the attack. Would things be okay? He’d have to go slowly. Her body relaxed and released some of the tension that had held her body rigid.
“Okay, so tell me more about being a werewolf.”
Please return on September 21st for Chapter 6 of Power Play.
If you missed any of our previous posts and would like to catch up, you can purchase the Digital Digest Volume I and Digital Digest Volume II anthologies as ebooks for only $.99!
Copyright © 2011 Riley Quinn
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.