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Authors: Lea Barrymire

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Alpha in Hiding

Lea Barrymire

 

It’s tough being the Alpha’s
daughter. Emily Prescott spends half her life helping to manage the pack’s
business and the other half putting horny he-wolves in their place. When her
father sends her on a mission to bring a weak wolf into his shifter side, it
seems like just another pain in her ass—until her bitch perks up and takes
notice.

Seth has spent years fighting to
keep his wolf at bay, but something about Emily brings out the animal in him.
Wild sex with Emily turns into an uncontrollable urge to mate her and make her
his. But Emily needs a strong mate—someone who can dominate and defend her. If
weak, geeky Seth wants to woo her, he has some changing to do.

 

Alpha in Hiding

Lea Barrymire

Dedication

To one of my dearest friends Kay who has
become a sister, a daughter, a confidante. Thank you for being supportive in
all the things I’ve done, and offering advice and criticism with loving
frankness.

 

Chapter One

 

Disgust curled Emily’s upper lip. Used tissues, partially
eaten pizza crusts and a random selection of cereal boxes adorned what she
assumed was the coffee table. A precarious pile of dirty glasses and plates sat
next to the table like a new domestic version of Jenga. Clothes lay haphazardly
on the furniture and floor. The grime coating the window she peered through did
nothing to mask the slobbish mess laid out in front of her. What the hell had
her father gotten her into?

She turned from the window and stepped away from the house.
Her cell phone was in her hands and she was dialing before she’d taken two
steps. Her anger spiked. There was no fucking way she could do this. No matter
what her father offered, she couldn’t take on this job for him.

“Yeah.” Her father’s gravelly voice was powerful even
through the cell phone. He was Alpha and with that position came both physical
and telepathic powers. She gritted her teeth against the invisible push from
him to submit.

“No.”

“No what, Emily?”

“No I’m not doing this. I can’t. Have you seen how he lives?
Christ, Dad, he’s got plates in there that could walk themselves to the
kitchen.”

“Em, come on. At least meet him before you call it off.”

“Why do you care so much about this one guy? He obviously
doesn’t want to be involved in the pack. He’s turned your invitations down
repeatedly.” She shrugged, then a thought struck her. “Is he dangerous to us or
something?”

Her father sighed. “No, it’s nothing like that. I knew his
parents and sort of feel like I need to try to pull him back into pack life.
You’re my last-ditch effort. If he won’t let you in then I’ll stop trying.”

“Fine, but I want more. Not just a pass for this month’s
pack run. Maybe a new car or something.”

“You’re lucky I’m letting you out of the run, Em. Don’t push
your luck.” Power surged at her, pressing against her mind. She felt her knees
buckling. Damn, her father really could put someone on the ground with just his
voice through a phone. She braced herself and pushed back. She wasn’t as strong
as he was but she could combat his power enough to stand against an order.

“Are you kidding me? Have you seen his house? I can smell
the mess out here. You owe me.” She forced her voice through clenched teeth.
Sweat beaded on her forehead with the effort of fighting her father’s
compulsion.

“I hate it that you aren’t cowed by my power.” He huffed.
“Fine. I’ll owe you something but I’m not buying you another car.”

“Fine.” She closed her phone without saying goodbye and
turned to face the house again. It was just a normal, run-of-the-mill
ranch-style house. The white-sided dwelling was adorned with black shutters, a
carport and a small piece of lawn. At least the male kept the outside in decent
repair. The few pieces of grass were cut, the driveway was clean and the trash
cans—instead of the yard—held the garbage. After seeing the inside of his home
she wouldn’t have been surprised to find piles of tires and rusting car engines
strewn across the lawn.

With a sigh she approached the house again. The things she
did for her father. Too bad she hadn’t listened to her hunch yesterday and
ignored the call from him. When he’d asked her to dinner she’d known something
was up, but again, it was her dad, so how could she refuse a meal invitation?

Damn it, I should have.

No one but her was allowed to turn down the Alpha. She
rarely did, but yesterday should have been one of those times. When he’d opened
the conversation with the bribe she should have listened to her instincts. A
way out of the pack run had been the offer. The idea of avoiding another night
of beating the shit out of a bunch of the single he-wolves in the pack was too
good to pass up, though. She’d agreed to help someone who needed it before
finding out what the problem was.

Well, now she was standing outside a house that contained
the man supposedly in need of her assistance. What her father wanted was
stupid. This male had ignored the pack’s invitations to participate in events
for years. According to her dad, the pup was weak and had characteristics so unlike
a shifter that someone needed to figure out what had happened. Was it a genetic
defect or something entirely different? Her job was to try to bring the male
around. Try to force his shifter nature to come forward by hanging out with him
and seeing if that fixed his weaknesses.

“Fuck,” she huffed under her breath. With a quick rap on the
door she sealed the deal. She would try to get this guy out of the house and
see what happened if he was around another shifter for a couple of days.

She listened to the silence on the other side of the door
for a moment, then pounded on the wood with a closed fist. Patience wasn’t one
of her stronger traits. She tapped her foot, counting time until she could just
bust the door down and let herself in. Finally she heard movement on the other
side of the door. The sound of someone tumbling out of bed was loud in the
early morning silence. She knew he pawed through some clothes and stumbled to
the door. A lock and chain were disengaged before the door swung open.

Bleary brown eyes looked at her from under dark lashes.
“Yeah?”

Emily stared at him and barely kept from baring her teeth.
He was unshaven, un-showered and disheveled. She glanced up and down his frame
and couldn’t find one redeeming feature. His dark hair was shorn close to his
head. Glasses perched on his nose. Glasses, for cripes sake. On a shifter. That
was almost unheard of. He’d thrown on a wrinkled concert T-shirt that was way
too big for his slender frame. Sweatpants hung low off his hips. She swept her
eyes back up and wrinkled her nose at what she saw. The whole package wasn’t
impressive at all. Great. That would make her job so much easier…
not
.

“Are you done scoping me out and gonna tell me why you’re
out here pounding on the door this early?” His voice, at least, was nice.
Gravelly from sleep but deep and penetrating.

She stuck her hand out. “Seth Seymour, right? I’m Emily
Prescott. My father sent me to speak to you.”

He glanced at her hand before stepping back, eyes wide with
fear. He didn’t take her hand and she slowly dropped it back to her side. She
sighed, rolled her eyes and stepped forward, pushing her presence into the
house. For every step forward she took, the male took a step back. She held in
the snort of disgust. Weak males made her twitch. Being the daughter of the
Alpha made her sought after, but so far she hadn’t found a he-wolf who could
actually make her or her bitch submit. Seth was pushing every dominant instinct
she had. She wanted to see how far she could dominate him before he was curled
on the floor whining and licking her boots.

The only problem with that idea was the reaction of her
wolfy side. Her bitch had woken and was interested in this male—and not in a
chew-toy sort of way. Feelings of possessiveness rolled from her animal. Maybe
the animal saw him as a child or an injured pack member. In either of those
instances, her animal would perk up and feel some sort of protectiveness. A
niggling feeling in the back of her head pointed toward something totally
different, though. Her wolf wanted her to sniff him and give his throat a lick.
Very bad idea, very bad.

Down, girl, bad wolf!

“Um. I really don’t want you in here.” He stumbled back
against the arm of the couch and had to sit or fall over the furniture. He
plopped awkwardly onto the couch arm, eyes darting around, searching for an
escape route. With a shaky hand he pushed his glasses up his nose. “I’ve
already let your father know I’m not interested in being involved in the pack.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m not really thrilled about being here
either, but he’s giving me something worth the trouble.” She looked around the
house and grimaced before perching on the edge of a chair. “Look. Here’s the
deal. The next pack run is in a week. This is one of those important ones used
to push mates together. I don’t want to be involved again this year and you’re
my ticket out. So for the next couple of days, you and I are going to hang
out.”

“I’ve got work to do, though. My allergies are driving me
nuts. I have things I’m supposed to do this weekend.” His arguments were weak
and she could tell he knew it by the look on his face. His voice trailed off.
He ran a shaky hand across his short hair.

“I know that, and trust me, I don’t want to wrap my weekend
around dealing with you, but that’s the way it is.” She sighed and ran a hand
through her hair, irritated that she had mirrored his action. “My dad has
tasked me with bringing your inner wolf out to play. Now if after the weekend
you’re still against the pack, then I can leave and we’re all good. You won’t be
approached again by any of us.”

He shook his head and stared out of the window. “My inner
wolf? I don’t want anything to do with that beast. Not that I’ve got any
control over it. If I could get rid of it I would.”

A growl rumbled in her chest. The thought of someone wishing
away their animal was sacrilege, worthy of a beating or worse. She squinted her
eyes and rubbed at the pain forming in her forehead. This wasn’t going to be
easy. She’d hoped to walk into this guy’s life and just push him into something.
If he hated his other half there wasn’t much she could do to change that.

An idea crept into her thoughts. Perhaps taking him out of
his element would help. Her father had a couple of cabins stocked and ready for
use in the hills. Maybe a little weekend retreat would do some good. She
glanced up to find him watching her.

“Okay, I think I know what we can do. I was planning on just
talking with you, but I think we need something a little more drastic. Pack a
bag. We’re going camping.” She stood and headed for the door. “I’ll be back in
an hour to pick you up.”

He sputtered behind her. “I can’t go away for the weekend. I
have stuff to do.”

She spun and faced him, digging deep for every dominant
piece of her mind. She pushed her thoughts into his and grinned when he
grimaced. “You will pack a bag and will be here in an hour, waiting for me.”

“How did you do that? You’re still echoing in my head.” He
reached up and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Alpha powers, baby. Being the strongest female and the
daughter of the pack Alpha has its high points. Now you do realize I can track
you, right? So, if you aren’t here when I come back I’ll just sniff you out.
FYI, I like to chase down my prey.” She gave him a little finger wave and
sauntered out of the door.

* * * * *

Holy shit
. Seth sat on the couch arm for a few
minutes, playing the conversation through his mind. The Alpha’s daughter had
just ordered him to pack so she could take him camping. Not that he didn’t
enjoy camping—he actually loved being in the woods. But to be there, with her,
concentrating on the animal that lived inside him? That wasn’t the way he’d
planned to spend his weekend.

He snorted and pushed his glasses up. Well, he might as well
pack. He didn’t want to take on the infamous Emily Prescott. He didn’t spend
much time with other shifters, but even normal humans talked about the woman
who routinely beat the shit out of males who had the audacity to look at her
funny or get in her personal space.

If he’d met the tiny female without knowing her background,
he wouldn’t have believed the rumors. She barely reached his chin and was built
with curves to spare. The T-shirt and jeans she’d worn when she’d flounced into
his house had hidden nothing. Ample breasts and curvy hips had made looking
away from her almost impossible. Red hair curled and bounced around her angelic
face. Emerald-green eyes flashed under strawberry-blonde lashes. Nothing in her
looks would ever tell you that she was both strong and tough. When she’d
wrinkled her nose at him at the door he couldn’t feel insulted. Not when her
nose was dotted with freckles that just begged to be kissed.

The fact that the creature living under his skin had lifted
its head and whined when she’d knocked at the door didn’t sit well with Seth.
He tried to keep the animal quiet and docile at all times and only at the full
moon, when he couldn’t fight the change, did he give in and let it out. He
limited the number of people he was around, limited his exposure to stress or
anything that was of interest to the beast. Ever since that fateful night when
he was fourteen and his other half had awoken, he’d tried to stop the change.
Every month he still was forced to give up his humanity and let the wolf out.

He moved through his room and threw clothes into a gym bag.
When he’d zipped it closed he took a look around the room and tried to see it
through someone else’s eyes. Clothes were piled around the room, magazines and
newspapers covered his chair and the foot of his bed. A resigned sigh flowed
from his lips. He was a slob. With quick strides he walked to the hall closet
and gathered a few trash bags. He didn’t look very closely at the reason behind
his new need to clean up the mess. Sweeping trash into the bags helped to
eliminate some of the stress he was feeling. With a smile on his lips he worked
through the living room and the kitchen, tidying as he went.

* * * * *

Emily pulled into Seth’s driveway almost exactly sixty
minutes after leaving. She couldn’t say that a weekend away would be a bad
thing, but to be saddled with a man who didn’t want to be with her, had no
desire to enjoy his wolf and didn’t really seem capable of dealing with her
personality—well, that just put a damper on the whole camping idea. She sighed
and climbed out of her car. They would take her vehicle, another way to keep
him at the cabin with her. She would do whatever it took to keep her father
away from her and give her a way out of the pack run. If that meant kidnapping
Seth, then so be it.

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