Alphas of Red Moon Ranch - Complete Series (4 page)

BOOK: Alphas of Red Moon Ranch - Complete Series
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Chapter 9

As Jacob’s truck rumbled down the road, he chanced a glance in the rearview mirror and watched Holly turn around and walk back up to his house. That perfect hourglass figure, that ginger hair long enough to wrap around his fist, that
blush
. She was the full package and it was enough to make his heart (and his cock) swell. He tore his eyes away to keep himself from running straight off the dirt road and looked ahead instead. That’s when he noticed it.

For the first time in a long time, his hands weren’t shaking. For the first time in a long time, his Beast had
settled down
in his skin. Sure, he’d felt an ache in his gums every now and then, a near overwhelming need to pin her to the picnic blanket and sink his teeth in her neck, Marking her. But that was different; it wasn’t the exhausting daily turmoil, the bear inside of him clawing at the edges of his mind, begging to come out. The struggle that made his head pound and his hands shake.

They were still as anything now. With Holly, he felt calm.
At peace
.

Oh God,
he thought to himself.
She’s the one
.

Chapter 10

Holly fretted with her blue plaid dress as the truck bu-bumped down the dirt road. She’d chosen this dress for the family dinner because of its cute collar that tucked around her neck, hiding her voluptuous (and admittedly distracting) cleavage, but now she worried about the length and tugged it further over her knees. Glad that she’d chosen black stockings to match and French heels, but she was still feeling incredibly out of her element. It didn’t help that she hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep in last night—her dreams had been vivid and, with Jacob’s old-earth scent ingrained deep in his bedsheets, she’d woken up in the middle of the night crying out his name and clamping her thighs around her swollen clit as it throbbed with torturous, orgasmic bliss.

As if he could sense her discomfort, Jacob glanced over at her. He drew a grin under his Stetson hat. “You look great.”

“Thanks.” She tinkered with her earrings as she stared out the window, watching the ranch houses pass by. She felt Jacob’s hand draw hers away from her ear before he entwined their fingers and squeezed. She felt a small smile curl her lips and the anxiety fluttering in her chest was (at least partially) smothered by his secure hold.

Jacob pulled the truck up to a ranch house and parked it outside. There were already three other trucks lined up in a hodgepodge fashion around the perimeter of the house. Holly said, “This house belongs to…”

“Mama Mae,” Jacob said.

“And inside is your brother Brent, your sister Cassidy, and her husband Dave. They have twins, Tanner and Trish.”

“Look at you.” He grinned.

She shrugged. “If I had a bad memory, I’d make a pretty bad teacher, wouldn’t I?”

He pressed a kiss to her hand. The bristling of his beard sent a shiver through her middle and straight between her legs.
Now if she only didn’t have
that
distraction…

“You’ll do great,” he said.

They got out of the truck and she carried a plate to the door. No ringing the doorbell here—Jacob just pushed on through the open door and called out, “Mama! You got company.”

The place was homely, filled with warm colors and trinkets. Mama Mae barely made it in the room before Jacob scooped her up. She laughed, surprised, and then said, “Good to see you too, honey. And who’s this?”

“This is Holly,” Jacob said.

“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Westmore,” Holly said, extending her hand.

“Well, well.” Mama Mae crinkled her eyes in a smile. She was a handsome older woman with long silver hair. “It isn’t often Jacob brings a woman home. And a respectable-looking one at that. You can call me Mama Mae, everyone else does.”

“I’ll be damned!” A spitfire of a woman tumbled out of the kitchen and rocked back on cowboy boots, a smug grin stamped on her face. This had to be Cassidy, his sister. “Jacob brought a girl home! Dave, kids, come out and see this!”

Holly spotted Jacob catch Cassidy’s arm. “She’s not a zoo animal,” he reminded plainly.

“No, that’d be you, right?” Cassidy winked and nudged him in the ribs before launching herself at Holly, pulling her into a hug. “Cassidy. We’ve been waiting for you for ten years. No pressure or anything.”

Holly—to her credit—took it in stride. She laughed and said, “I work best under pressure.”

“You hear that?” Cassidy slapped Jacob on the shoulder. “I like her already. C’mon in—what’s this?”

“Oh, this is chicken cordon bleu.” Holly beamed, proud. She’d torn apart Jacob’s kitchen just to get the right ingredients.

She was met with Cassidy and Mama Mae’s blank stares.

“It’s chicken and ham,” she explained gently.

“Oh! Why didn’t you say that in the first place? C’mon, let’s get this on the table—”

Chapter 11

Dinner went smoothly enough. Jacob could feel his bear itching at the seams. Surrounded by his family and smells of
other bears
, it refused to give him any rest, tumbling around inside of him like a clumsy child. Jacob shoveled food down so he wouldn’t have to engage in conversation. Easy enough to do, anyway.
Silence
wasn’t a virtue in the Westmore house and Cassidy and Brent took turns drilling Holly with questions, and then took turns chastising the other for being so nosy. Holly—
bless that girl
—took it all with a smile.

“Now, how’d my brother land such a pretty lil’ thing?” Brent asked, smirking.

Jacob growled before he could stop himself. (
Mine.
)

If Holly noticed, she thankfully didn’t draw attention to the sound. “I got lucky,” she said and slipped her hand over his shoulders. Her nails scratched his back absently and his bear groaned.

(
Yes, yes, yes.
)

It took Jacob a second to realize his foot was jack-rabbiting against the floor. Holly gave him a questioning look.

He smiled. “You’re beautiful.” And shoved more food in his mouth to hide his embarrassment.

Down, Beast.

“So if you say yes, are you having the wedding this weekend?” Cassidy asked.

“I mean, I guess so,” Holly said, her hand running over his arm. “We haven’t really talked about it.”

Her hand on him sent sparks through his blood. He could feel his blood pulsing hotly, his fangs lengthening.

(
Mark her. Make her yours. Pin her to the table and bite her
.)

Jacob stared ahead at a framed quilted image of a Native American fire pit and forcibly willed his bear down.

“Brent, what’re you doing this weekend?” Cassidy asked.

He shrugged. “I was gonna take my bear for a walk up the mountain. See what we find.”

“Your bear?” Holly piped up. “Do you have a rescue?”

Brent’s beer stalled on its way to his lips. He glanced down the table. “Uh…”

Jacob’s blood went cold and Holly colored rapidly. “I mean…nothing wrong with that,” she said. “I think it’s great.”

“Jacob, come help me out with the pie, will you?” Cassidy said, getting to her feet abruptly. Her mouth smiled, but her eyes looked lethal.

Jacob took another swallow from his beer, then got up. “You done?” he asked, moving his hand to Holly’s plate.

She nodded. She looked small again, her eyes begging him not to leave her in a room of soon-to-be in-laws who looked like they wanted to devour her. “Yes, thank you.”

He pressed a small kiss to the top of her head and then took her plate and his and went into the kitchen, shoving them into the sink. He wiped his hands and barely made it to the pie before Cassidy hissed at him, “She doesn’t know what you are.”

“She just got here yesterday, I’m easing her into it.”


Easing her into it?
You don’t got time for that. You could be
marrying
her within the week.”

He swiped his finger over the edge of the pie, catching some blueberry filling and sucking it into his mouth.

Cassidy lifted her knife. “I swear to God, Jacob Westmore, you touch that pie again and I’ll cut your damn finger off.”

He lifted a hand. “Gimme that.”

She did, reluctantly, and he began slicing pieces out of the pie. As he did, she leaned against the counter, folded her arms, and said, “I’m guessing she doesn’t know about your condition neither.”

“There’s nothing to know.” His voice was strained, gruff. “I’ve got it under control.”


Bullshit
. I saw you during dinner. You’re pent up. When was the last time you let your Beast out? Your bear is gonna come busting out if you don’t deal with it soon.”

“Can’t,” he said as he plated the pie.

“What do you mean, you
can’t
?”

“I mean
I can’t
. I keep thinking that if I change, that might be my last time. I might not come back.”

Cassidy sighed and then said, softening her tone, “You’re moon sick, baby. You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist and hope it goes away. Jacob.” He felt her hand on his shoulder and she gave him a little squeeze there. “We can’t lose you. Not like we lost Dad.”

“I’m fine!” His voice rang out rough, more like an animal bark than a human voice. In the other room, he heard the conversation come to a halt.

In the mirror behind her, he saw the yellow-gold shimmer around his irises.

(
I’m here
, his Beast purred.
Waiting.
)

Cassidy froze in her spot, her eyes wide. He saw her own animal spark golden hues in her eyes and he felt her nails extend into his shoulder. He was dangerous in this state and—siblings or not—her mama bear would tear his head from his shoulders before she let him rampage around her children.

Guilt cinched around his heart. He leaned in closer to Cassidy, dropped his voice, and murmured so only she could hear, “What do you think I’m doing now? Holly will change everything. When I’m with her…she calms my Beast. She marries me; I’ll be able to control the bear. Then we don’t have to worry about any of this.”

“I hope to God you’re right,” Cassidy said. Her nails retracted and she picked up two plates, swiftly carrying them to the table. “Who wants dessert?” she asked cheerfully.

Chapter 12

When Jacob returned to his seat beside her, Holly could tell something was wrong. She slipped her hand over his and whispered, “Is everything okay?”

He pulled his hand back and murmured, “It’s fine.” But he was cold now, like stone, and she felt him pulling away from her.

Had it been something she said?
Miserable, Holly offered a smile and forced down her slice of pie. Jacob said nothing over dessert, so neither did she, and conversation continued around them. After dessert, she helped Mama Mae clean the table and then excused herself to go outside. She needed a breath of fresh air.

Evenings took on a particular charm on Red Moon Ranch. Out in the distance, she could see the silver glow of the Marble Mountains, dotted with green oaks and firs. The sun dropped behind the mountains, framing them with a golden-red, fiery hue.
So that’s a red moon
, she thought to herself. Trees—large, looming giants—hung over the edges of the ranch, thinning out as they got closer.

At the bottom of the hill, Holly had a good view of the Red Moon Ranch. Her eyes followed the serpentine dirt road up to Cassidy and Dave’s wide ranch house with a robin’s-egg-blue roof. Further up, to the right, perched Brent’s less-taken-care-of shack. Then at the top of the hill, as though watching over all the others, loomed Jacob’s cabin. Around the back of Mama Mae’s house ran a picket fence and Holly followed it, her heels making indents in the soft dirt, until she came to the stables.

The smell of horse—that sharp, earthy smell, but not
unclean
—was the first thing that hit her; it was clear Mama Mae kept her stables in good condition. Red-stained wooden enclosures kept the animals tucked away and piles of hay flowed out from corners. Holly counted two horses in their stables, a dark black stallion and a softer, chestnut mare. She approached the mare, extending her hand over the divide.

“Nice to meet you,” she murmured as she patted the animal’s snout. She swore those eyes could see straight through her. A bucket of oats sat beside the fence and she took a handful and held it out for the mare, who gingerly nibbled them out of her hand with massive teeth. Holly laughed as the animal’s large tongue tickled her palm.

The stallion balked suddenly, pacing backwards and puffing. Holly swiveled around and saw Jacob standing at the entrance of the barn. He lifted his palm towards the horse as though in self-defense, then glanced over at Holly.

He shrugged. Almost sheepish. “The horses aren’t much fond of me.”

“Shhh, it’s okay.” She stroked the stallion’s snout, petting the soft, velvet hair around the horse’s nose. “I won’t let meany Jacob touch you.” The horse huffed once and then calmed down substantially.

“You’ve got a way with animals,” he said. He sounded almost…what.
Hopeful
?

She gave him a little smile. “I like animals.”

Jacob was staring off again, that gargoyle frown back on his face. Holly couldn’t stand the stale air between them.

“Are you mad at me?” she asked, breaking the silence.

He blinked in surprise and, instantly, his expression softened. “Holly…no. I’m not mad at you. Look.” He reached into his back pocket to fish something out. “I was gonna wait until we got home to give this to you, but…now seems as good of a time as any.”

She perked up. Present? When she saw the size of the box, her heart began to wallop against her chest. He set it in his hand and opened the small velvet case, revealing a shimmering diamond ring inside.

“You like it?” he asked as her tongue tied itself in knots.

“I, uh…” Was she sweating? She felt like she was sweating. She swallowed hard and said, “I still have four days--”

“Yeah, I know.” He grinned. “Just try it on. See how it feels on your hand.”

She could tell he wasn’t going to let up until she was wearing it, so she nodded, extending her hand. He took it and eased the ring on her finger. The stone weighed her ring finger down.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, breathless. She felt dizzy with it on.

“You’re beautiful,” he said, staring right at her. There was something new in his eyes, something barely tamed—a possessive look, like the ring was his way of claiming her, Marking her.
Mine
. A deep, hungry look that made her throb despite all her better judgment.

He tore his eyes off of her to glance out the stable doors at the waning sun. She liked the way the reds caught on her diamond, making her finger flicker as though it were on fire.

“Why me?” she heard herself ask, quietly.

“I know a good thing when I see it. And I’m not going to let you slip through my fingers.”

“What makes you think I’m good?” She looked up, a soft grin playing on her lips. “I could be an English teacher by day, serial killer by night.”

“Could be.” He turned back to her, then asked casually, “You ever had sex where you weren’t supposed to?”

What
? Just the suggestion made her flood her panties. Curse her body’s betrayal. “No,” she said, voice small, cheeks colored.

His dark eyes caught hers and didn’t let them go. “Never had anyone lick you under your desk? Or take you in the backseat ’cause they couldn’t wait to get home to have you?”

Oh
. Now she was thrumming in her panties, her body buzzing. She tried not to show it, shifted from one foot to the other, but she noticed Jacob intake a sharp breath, as though he’d caught a whiff of something he liked. “No,” she said. She and Chris had only ever done it in bed. Missionary-style. On the couch a couple times, when they got crazy.

He smirked. “That’s how I know you’re a good girl.”

Her body was aching for release, screaming for his touch. She lingered in silence, hoped he chalked up her nipples poking out of her dress to the cool night air and not to her burning arousal, and then finally said defiantly, “Maybe I’m tired of being a good girl.”

He eyes locked on hers. “Is that right?”

She nodded. “Look at where it’s gotten me. I’m divorced. Boring. Stuck making everyone else’s dreams come true but my own.”

He stepped closer then, leaning in, and his rough hands gently drew her hair behind her ear. “I think good girl looks good on you,” he said.

“Yeah?”

He nodded. “It makes me crazy.”

Well
. So much for trying to keep her composure. Her mouth went dry and she opened it to say something, but tasted his tongue instead. Suddenly thirsty for him, she kissed him back with pent-up desperation and her fingers clung to his shoulders. She felt
safe
to be desperate about him. His intentions were laid bare, and something about his rough and rugged physique stripped away her nervousness.

And then she did something crazy. She took his hand, ghosted his fingers down her side, and then, softly, pressed his hand between her legs. Certain he could feel the heat radiating from her, the wetness soaking straight through her panties.

“You make me crazy, too,” she murmured under her breath.

A noise left him—almost a growl. She could
see
something in him snap, like whatever he’d been trying to contain now had full permission to run free. He kissed her again, this time without abandon, his lips almost bruising hers with their insistence. She felt his fingers curl against her panties and she sucked in a small breath of air, leaning forward on her toes.

“You’re either gonna save me or kill me,” he said, his voice ragged with lust.

“Why can’t it be both?” she heard herself say, and quietly wondered where this female Casanova had
been
all her life.

It worked, too. He backed her up against the wall. Eyes on hers, he tumbled his fingers between her legs, making her burn even hotter. “Don’t change for anyone,” he said.

She nodded obediently, eyes on his, lost in his eyes. Her heart hammered in her chest. She waited for him to look away, but he didn’t—not even when he walked her back and eased her down onto a pile of scratchy hay. His eyes stayed on hers as he crouched down in front of her, took off her heels, and tugged her stockings and panties over her toes. Her breath quickened as she watched him bunch her dress up around her hips, spread her thighs with his strong hands, and then, eyes still on hers—those dark eyes would be the death of her—he leaned in and kissed her right between the legs.

She felt his hot breath, felt his rough stubble brush against her sensitive skin, and moaned at the sensation. She watched as he opened her up like a flower, his thumb and forefinger baring her swollen, pink nub, and kept eye contact with him as he extended his tongue and ran the tip of it up her slit. The sensation sent a shock of pleasure up the center of her body and her hips bucked against his mouth. She gasped; he smiled.
Cocky bastard
.

Cocky
was the right word for it, apparently; when her leg shifted, it brushed against his hard erection trapped in his pants. She thought of freeing it, thought of it inside of her, and that just made her spill more readily into his mouth as he lapped her up like a dog.

Holly felt completely out of control. His hand pushed her dress further up, baring her tummy, casually exploring. She could feel the heat of her skin ricocheting off his palm and she trembled, the cool night air kissing her bare skin. Couldn’t believe she was letting him do this period, let alone out in the open where someone could pass by any second and look up and see them tangled together. God, what a bad first impression
that
would make. The thought made her blush and she gasped as his tongue flicked her sensitive nub sharply. “Wait, wait, wait,” she begged. “What if someone sees us?”

“Let them,” he growled, his voice deeper than before, thick and gravelly with lust. “Let them see you like this. Let them know you’re mine.”

The tone of his voice made the innermost part of her clench and throb. The ache was only briefly relived when she again felt the warmth of his mouth rolling between her legs wetly, his thumb petting that ginger triangle of hair pointing downward like an arrow. But then the ache grew hotter, tighter, and all she could think about was more, more, more—

She felt one of his strong fingers dive inside of her and it ripped a gasp from her chest as she arched into his hand. Just one finger, one, slowly curling in a
come hither
gesture, and yet she was thrashing on the hay, hips pushing closer to his mouth. Her heel found his back and she dug in as she felt his tongue dart around her vulnerable, exposed nub. She heard him growl, and it was such a raw animal noise it sent a new barb of pleasure through her center. Her pussy clenched, she vibrated on the edge, and all she could say was, “Yes…yes, yes, oh, yes—!”

He licked, sucked, and nibbled her over the edge, his beard tickling her. She crashed down around his finger, body tight as a finger trap, cumming with hummingbird pulses. Jacob drew her down from it slowly, easing her out, letting her ride her orgasm on his lips. She squirmed, thighs clutching him. Her head was still spinning when he pulled up abruptly, hunched over her. She felt like a jellyfish, a liquid, taking the form of her container, while he was strength, coiled muscles and that animal, predatory stance. He kissed her, hard, his tongue pressing into her mouth, and she felt dirty—
so dirty
—dripping onto the straw, tasting herself on his lips.

And she felt alive. So alive. It felt as though she’d had a corset laced tightly around each of her lungs and, for the first time in twenty years, the laces had snapped and she could finally breathe. Fresh, clean mountain air. She sucked his tongue into her mouth sloppily and moaned, fingers clinging to the back of his head.

He pulled back and—for a second—she swore she saw a golden fire dance in his irises before it vanished just as quickly. He licked his lips and said, “Would you like to go inside?”

She grinned. She felt like a teenager, sloppy and bare and useless. She nodded once, then admitted, “I don’t think I can use my legs.”

“Lemme help you,” he said and slipped his hands under her legs.

“No, no, you’ll break your back!” she said quickly—she’d banished scales from her bathroom long ago but she didn’t need to know her weight to know it’d take at least three men to lift her. Still, he took her up in his arms and, despite her protests, picked her up. As though she weighed nothing. She’d guessed he was strong but that strength was just, well.
Inhuman
.

“Look at that, princess,” he murmured with a smile, cradling her. “You fit like you belong here.”

She rested her head against his chest, wanted to thank him, but her throat suddenly closed up with emotion. It felt small, trivial, but she’d resigned herself to the fact that she’d never be carried again. Never be able to feel that sense of security in a man’s arms. If he could do this, what else could he do? What other old, forgotten dreams could he pry out of the dusty shelves at the back of her mind if she stayed with him?

She didn’t get to think about it for too long. Her head tucked against his chest and she listened to his heartbeat—so solid, so constant. Before she knew it, she passed out in his arms.

BOOK: Alphas of Red Moon Ranch - Complete Series
12.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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