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Authors: Naomi Jones

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BOOK: An Alpha's Claim
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Nathan made little effort when he attempted to speak to Regine. He’d always end up barking out something. She’d simply nod and move on. Dinner was the only time she didn’t ignore him and that was probably because he wouldn’t let her. Since they sat together, Nathan would make a point to brush his hand against her thigh. Regine pretended not to be affected but Nathan knew she was.

“Give me a few minutes and I’ll meet you by the path near the delphinium flowers,” she said to Anik, maneuvering herself and the bag toward the stairs without looking in Nathan’s direction.

Anik nodded and went back outside to wait. There was both relief and gratitude evident on his face. Something was definitely going on. The question was, what? Nathan didn’t know how but he planned on finding out.

“See you in the morning, Nathan,” his brother called out, distracting him.

“Where are you going?” Nathan asked.

“I have a date,” Dagger said, not sounding too excited about it. “Your mate is upstairs, so I suggest you get your apology ready. Oh, and I think they’re hiding
someone,
not something. Good night.” Dagger left without so much as a backward glance.

Nathan was alone with his thoughts again, which mostly consisted of Regine. He never had any woman infuriate him with her silence like she’d successfully done. How the hell did Regine get under his skin? And could Dagger be right about them hiding someone? If so, why would they? Who?

The soft patter of her footsteps caught Nathan’s attention. He turned to see Regine coming down. The smell of lavender body wash and her natural scent filled his nostrils, bringing him to the edge of insanity.

“Regine,” Nathan called making her stop in midstride just before entering the kitchen. Turning around, she fixed him with a cold stare.
Defiant till the end,
Nathan thought to himself.

“Yes,” Regine seethed through clenched teeth. The irritation in her voice was clear and he suddenly wished it hadn’t been there at all. Nathan should’ve apologized a long time ago but he was the Alpha of his pack. He wasn’t perfect but Regine’s open animosity toward him didn’t make things easy to deal with. Nathan could only blame himself for that. Especially when it came to her.

“I expect everyone who isn’t patrolling to be inside the compound by midnight. So whatever you and Anik are doing needs to be quick.” He left before she had a chance to respond.

Chapter Four

Regine ran ahead, already knowing where they were going. She literally imprinted the path in her head just in case she had to go alone. Anik, however, was always there. As he should be for his expected mate. The lights were on near the patio and the door was slightly ajar.

Anik and Elyse’s daughter had already dropped, so it was only a matter of time before Elyse’s water broke. Regine wanted Anik to bring Elyse to the compound and asked…again.

“Absolutely not. Nathan already hates me and I’ll be damned if I’ll bring Elyse into it,” Anik shouted, making his mate jump.

“I highly doubt Nathan hates you. If he did, you wouldn’t be part of the pack let alone living in the compound. Not that I’m defending him but Nathan has shown nothing but respect to all the women who live in the compound. He can be somewhat of a jerk but never to any woman,” Regine said, defending the Alpha of the Centennial Pack.

“I’m not arguing that she needs to be in the compound. My issue is the animosity our Alpha has toward me because of you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Come on, Regine. You don’t see how he looks at you but I do. Nathan watches your every move.”

“Anik, don’t be ridiculous. The man threatened to kill me.”

“And he still hasn’t made a move on that threat. I’ve been the one suffering for the past few months.”

Regine did notice Anik receiving slightly harsher treatment from Nathan. He was sent to perform longer surveillance runs anytime she stayed in the compound. She also noticed Nathan keeping a closer eye on Anik and herself.

They’d quickly become friends. Regine had confided some of her concerns. Later, Anik surprised her when he confessed that he had mated. Though she wasn’t sure why he kept his mating a secret, Regine trusted that Anik had his reasons and kept his confidence. She didn’t question him about it, but when Anik told her that Elyse was pregnant, Regine had tried to talk him into bringing her to the compound. That conversation became a broken record with Anik constantly refusing to listen to reason. Regine insisted on monitoring Elyse’s progress, which meant spending more time with Anik.

“Nathan has nothing to be angry about. The man can have any number of women he wants. I highly doubt he’d waste his time with me.” Regine found herself disappointed in what she just said.

“Just because he can doesn’t mean he will, Regine. I’ve seen some of the other unclaimed females throw themselves at Nathan and he just shoots them down.”

“Wow. For someone who thinks our Alpha hates him, Anik, you seem to be very defensive regarding his relationship status,” Regine said giving her friend the side eye.

“Keep in mind I started receiving the cold shoulder when you began monitoring Elyse.”

“Thank you again, by the way,” Anik’s mate threw in appreciatively.

“You’re welcome, and Nathan wouldn’t have known about me had you not informed him I was trespassing. All five of you came at me while I was taking a nap naked.” Regine turned to look at Elyse who was having a giggle fit.

“Any other person would find this conversation weird. But, Regine, I do agree with Anik on this. Based on everything he’s told me, Nathan seems to be very into you. He might be angry right now but he’s thanking his lucky stars that Anik found you instead of the others. They probably would’ve claimed you right then.”

“I understand what both of you are saying, but I honestly don’t believe he has a soft side. Except around the pups,” Regine confessed.

“Honey, Nathan is Alpha of one of the most powerful packs in the Colorado. He has to have a shell made of titanium at all times. Nathan is responsible for every single shifter as well as their pups. A few you delivered. Imagine if one of them goes missing or gets shot at. Again. That’s a heavy burden to carry, even with a big group of deadly shifters ready to defend our cubs. Nathan is handling it very well.”

Regine wholeheartedly agreed with everything Anik said. She saw the damage the pack had done to the hunters one night when they were wheeled into the hospital with their arms torn off. It had been a warning to others not to do what these guys did. After that incident, hunters no longer came close to the area.

The Centennial pack was not a pack that should be underestimated. Even in the comforts of their compound they were always on guard.

“How about if all three of us approach him tomorrow morning? If Nathan does suspect something, it’ll all be over once he sees Elyse. He might even lighten up on all the patrolling he’s been giving you. And she’ll be around other mothers.”

Anik was about to respond but Regine stopped him. “Keep in mind your mate is close to her due date. She shouldn’t be alone if her water breaks.”

“I know; that has been on my mind these past couple of weeks.” Anik turned and knelt in front of Elyse.

 “We better get going so we don’t miss curfew. Regine will have to pick you up in the morning because I’ll be on patrol. I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner.” Anik massaged her belly before placing his head against it.

“Hey, we had our reasons,” Elyse whispered, running her fingers through his hair.

Regine looked at the clock on the wall and got more agitated. She couldn’t believe Nathan gave them a curfew. “I’ll give you guys some privacy. Remember, Elyse, my phone is always on. And in case of an emergency, call me or Anik.”

With one last hug Regine bid Elyse a good night and went out on the patio to wait. Making sure no one was around she quickly disrobed and shifted into a black panther to blend in with the darkness. Anik stepped out shortly after looking a little hesitant about leaving. Not that she could blame him, but the mating scar on his shoulder spoke volumes.

Regine had wanted him to stay longer but Anik shifted into his lion form took and he ran off. Certain things needed to be prepared for when Elyse moved into the compound. Regine turned back to see Elyse smiling with tears in her eyes. Whatever he said was only meant for them. She ran off to catch up knowing they’d make it just in time for curfew.

Standing under the outdoor shower Regine let the warm water massage her sore body. The view of the Cheyenne Mountains at night could be seen. She always found herself lost in the beauty of his home and the nature around it. Nathan might be a jerk but he had the right idea when he set this up. It came in handy when running through dirt and muddy water, and it was soothing

She had a tendency to daydream after runs. Especially after being around an expectant female. Seeing Elyse made Regine think about her own mother, Lavi Hamilton.

Regine’s thoughts drifted away at old memories. Their father decided to bail right before Naya was born, leaving her mother to pick up the pieces.

Regine had been seven at the time and to this day couldn’t understand why he walked out. Lavi took the role of mother, father, and trainer. She taught Regine how to retain an image of an animal and shift. She even made an album of animals so Regine could keep track of what she shifted into. Once Naya began showing her abilities their mother made her practice as well. It was different with Naya though. While her mother had been patient with her, everything seemed rushed with Naya. “Your sister is going to need you when the time comes.” Regine had asked Lavi what she meant but received no answer.

She didn’t understand until later. Regine felt the sting of tears in her eyes and let them fall. Her mother was too young to have passed away. Regine was only nineteen and still in school when she took the responsibility of caring for Naya. Because she had to work, Regine could only go to school part time.

As difficult as it was for her, Naya, who had been twelve, took Mom’s death the hardest. She stopped shifting completely and coped by focusing on her schoolwork. As time went on Regine tried different ways to coax Naya into practicing but nothing worked.

Now that she was part of the Centennial Pack Regine knew they’d be happy to help. Regine would catch Naya studying the photo album their mother setup from time to time. Naya seemed almost as focused on that album as she was on her studies in college, which Regine had no complaints about.

Education was important to their family. As fun as waitressing wasn’t, Regine’s nursing license opened up a new world of opportunities. During her clinical rotations she discovered how much she loved assisting in delivering babies. The school offered her an internship in prenatal and neonatal care and Regine jumped in headfirst.

When it came time for Naya to go to college, she too jumped in headfirst. Regine always suspected that Naya picked University of Colorado because their mother was born and raised in Colorado. Maybe it helped her sister feel closer to their mother. Regine didn’t question it. She just applied for a nursing position in both Boulder and Colorado City and crossed her fingers. After three phone interviews, Regine landed an offer. Two months later they packed up all their belongings and headed to Colorado to start a new life. Two years went by without a hitch until Regine decided to take a run and swim on private property. Now she was part of a pack helping to bring more babies into the world. Life couldn’t get any better.

Sticking her head under the shower Regine let the drops wash away the pain at the loss of her mother. Things could’ve been worse for both of them. Naya could’ve been left to fend for herself had Nathan gone through with his threat.

In spite of his behavior, Regine liked it here. She was indebted to Dagger for reasoning with her.
What was his deal tonight?
she wondered. What was he trying to prove by issuing a curfew?

Regine did feel bad for having a slight attitude.
Maybe it’s time to let the past be in the past. And this whole new-curfew thing will definitely be discussed.
She was practically living in the man’s house. “I’m definitely sleeping in tomorrow,” Regine said before blindly sticking her hand out to reach for a towel.

BOOK: An Alpha's Claim
3.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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