Authors: Georgette St. Clair
Bridenapped: The Alpha Chronicles
Copyright 2015 by Georgette St. Clair
This book is intended for readers 18 and older only. It is a work of fiction. All characters and locations in this book are products of the feverish imagination of the author, a tarnished Southern belle with a very dirty mind.
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Bridenapping? That old tradition where the Alpha grabs the bride of his choice and takes her back to his pack’s property to submit to his lustful demands? That’s so 19
Unfortunately, the law is still on the books, and quite enforceable. And even worse, the sexy new Alpha of the Verhold Pack has the nerve to stake his claim – on the human in Lakeville who has reason to loathe him the most. Caitlin Bellefont blames Kristofer for taking her family’s lands, but if she refuses him, it means financial ruin for her entire town.
Now Caitlin’s only hope of escape is to resist the scorchingly sexy man who is determined to show her the pleasures of submitting to an Alpha. Not only that, the whole world is watching – and not all of the eyes on Caitlin are friendly. While TV shows beg for interviews, and social media sites are blowing up with rumors and news leaks, it seems that someone very dangerous will stop at nothing to prevent this wedding. Can Caitlin sort out her tangled feelings for Kristofer, and resolve her family’s bitter feud? She’s got until the next full moon to find out.
: Lakeville, California
“Someone’s got a sense of humor,” Caitlin said drily.
She glanced again at the creamy Manila paper with the artfully ragged edges and admired the beautiful swirling calligraphy. Then she tossed it into the wastebasket next to her desk.
Her friend Lottie stopped typing and glanced over at her. “What was that?”
“A wedding invitation.” It had been addressed to her boss Alberto, but he left the opening and sorting of his mail to Lottie or Caitlin, whoever got to it first.
Lottie’s face lit up. “Oh, who’s getting married? I love weddings.”
“Apparently I am.” Caitlin turned back to her computer screen and went back to work on the picture that she was editing for the county animal shelter’s website. She did freebie work for them during her lunch hour, editing pictures of their adoptable pets. So far, her boss hadn’t busted her.
“Yeah? Anyone I know?” her friend Paige asked. She’d dropped by with coffee and croissants and was sitting on a desk next to Lottie. It was summer, school was out, and her husband was in court. She was bored.
“Just the Alpha of the Verhold pack,” Caitlin said, as she surveyed the special effects menu on her photo editing program. She’d added a starburst-style gleam in that mutt’s eye and a cartoon jaunty hat on his head; dogs with funny photos tended to get adopted faster.
Paige choked on her coffee. “Excuse me; do I need to get my hearing checked?”
“Oh my God. Really? You have to invite me to the wedding!” Lottie squealed excitedly. “I’ve had my eye on Alexander Verhold forever! And you know how many couples hook up at weddings!”
“Lottie.” Paige rolled her eyes impatiently. “Obviously it’s some kind of practical joke. Don’t you think that Caitlin would have mentioned if she were dating, much less engaged to
, the hottest, most eligible, most handsome –“
Caitlin jumped in. “Most obnoxious, most arrogant, most unbearable, dishonest, thieving…”
“The point is,” Paige continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted, “She would have told us. We are her best friends in the whole world.”
“We are her only friends in the whole world,” Lottie said. “She doesn’t have much of a social life these days.”
“True,” Paige nodded. “She really needs to get out more, or she’s going to end up an old maid with 50 cats. And then someday, somebody will find what’s left of her body after her cats eat her.”
“Oh, I read about something like that in the newspaper,” Lottie said enthusiastically. “It was disgusting.”
“Gee,” Caitlin said, squinting at the screen as she applied an artistic blur to the picture’s background. “You guys are the best.” She clicked save, and called up a picture of another dog. Poor little furbaby, she thought. If only her family life weren’t so chaotic right now, she’d adopt them all herself.
“So obviously,” Paige continued, “it’s a joke.”
“Oh,” Lottie nodded, comprehension briefly dawning on her face. Then it was replaced by confusion. “I don’t get the joke,” she said.
“Neither do I, actually,” Paige said, with a slight frown. “Who would send something like that?”
She slid off the desk and brushed croissant crumbs off her beige linen pantsuit. Even when school was out, she dressed as if she were headed to a job interview at a top law firm. She was long and lean and had a commanding, if faintly disdainful, presence.
Lottie, in contrast, dressed as if a pack of starburst had exploded on her wardrobe; she favored bright colors and big dangly earrings. Caitlin dressed in whatever she thought best concealed her curves and bulges. Today she wore a navy blue cotton jacket over her navy dress. She felt less self-conscious when she hid under jackets.
Paige walked over to the garbage can and fished out the invitation. She opened it and examined it thoughtfully.
“This is some fancy paper,” she said. “Expensive. My sister used this paper for her wedding invitations.”
“I know, right?” Caitlin said. “Quite the elaborate prankster, whoever it is. Must be someone who knows how much I utterly loathe the hairball from hell.”
She shifted in her seat, momentarily distracted from her task at hand. Whenever she thought about Kristofer, which was far more often than she’d like, she experienced a strange mixture of emotions swirling through her. It was a bewildering combination of lust and hatred.
Paige was staring at the invitation, shaking her head. “I don’t think it’s a joke,” she said.
Caitlin stopped to look at her friend with exasperation.
“I’m pretty sure I would know if I was getting married.”
Paige waved the invitation in her face. “Did you see the line where it says Kristofer asserts his rights as Alpha to claim the human bride of his choice? And you’ll be getting married at the next full moon?”
Caitlin laughed. “Oh, yeah, I remember they used to call it bridenapping. That’s how my great-great-great aunt got married. She was the town’s schoolteacher. Her and the town’s Alpha were fighting like cats and dogs, or rather humans and wolves, and then he suddenly bridenapped her. They ended up having like 10 kids. Half of the residents of Green Gulch, Nevada, are descended from them.”
“The tradition of bridenapping is actually still very common in some Eastern European countries,” Paige mused. “And that is where he’s from. Heck, that’s probably how his parents got married.”
Kristofer had only moved to Lakeville a little over a year ago, after his pack’s Alpha had died without leaving a successor. Kristofer, a distant nephew of the Alpha, was the closest blood relative who was qualified to take over, so he and his retinue had come all the way from Kerslavia. And promptly ruined Caitlin’s life.
Caitlin’s smile vanished when she saw the look on Paige’s face. It was not Paige’s joking-around look.
“You’re actually serious.” She shook her head. “That law is from the dark ages. Nobody does that anymore.”
“But they could,” Paige pointed out.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Caitlin argued. “That law is like a million years old. It’s not enforceable.”
“It kind of is.”
“Is not,” Caitlin insisted stubbornly.
“Well, I’m just a law student, married to a lawyer, and the daughter of a judge and a lawyer,” Paige shrugged. “What would I know about the law?”
Caitlin was suddenly aware of the rhythm of her heartbeat. She thought she could feel it hammering directly against her ribcage.
“That’s crazy,” she protested. “He wouldn’t do that. Would he? That would make no sense. He hates my whole family. Why would he want to marry me?” She turned around and saw Lottie’s computer screen.
“Lottie, are you looking up bridesmaid’s dresses? You are. Stop that right now,” she hissed. Lottie ignored her. “Seriously, stop it. There is not going to be any wedding.”
“Help me pick a color,” Lottie said to Paige. “And a neckline. Something that really highlights my boobs, and says, hey Alexander, look at me! Take me home and wife me like I’ve never been wifed before.”
“Well, that’s an awful lot to ask of a neckline,” Paige said to Lottie, peering over her shoulder at the dresses. “Although I think this color blue would bring out the blue in your eyes perfectly. But actually, the bride picks out the bridesmaid dresses.”
Caitlin stared at them with increasing alarm. “Guys. You cannot possibly be serious. This has got to be some kind of joke. Some kind of really stupid, not funny, joke.”
They both tore themselves away from the screen and swiveled around to look at her.
“Do not pick out ugly bridesmaid dresses,” Lottie said severely. “This is my best shot at Alexander and I don’t want you to ruin it.”
“Well, it’s her wedding,” Paige chided her friend. “She can pick whatever kind of dresses she wants.” She shot Caitlin a look. “Although if you pick a dress that makes my butt look big, we will have beef. Also I don’t look good in yellow; makes me look jaundiced.”
“Alright, that’s it,” Caitlin grabbed the telephone. “Step off the crazy train, ladies. I’m going to settle this once and for all.”
She called information and asked for the number to the Verhold pack compound. Then she dialed the number, realizing that her hand was shaking. This prank had gotten her really rattled.
“Hello?” she said. “This is Caitlin Bellefont. May I please speak to Kristofer?”
“I will put you through to him at once,” the woman on the other end of the line said briskly.
The phone rang several times and then Kristofer’s voice answered. For a moment she thought that Kristofer had actually answered the phone himself, and her heart leapt into her throat. Then she realized it actually was just his voicemail.
“Hello, this is Kristofer Verhold, thank you so much for calling. If you would be so kind as to leave a message, I will call you back shortly.” His voice was rich and deep and sexy, and even the recorded version of it sent unwelcome shivers down her spine. Although he was from Kerslavia, he’d been educated in English schools, and spoke like an English aristocrat.
What should she say? She panicked, and hung up.
“That’s no way to treat your fiancé,” Paige said stifling laughter behind her hand.
“This isn’t funny! It is possible that the big jerk of an Alpha actually really thinks that he can propose to me this way, and when I turned him down, which will no doubt deflate his massive ego, it’s probably going to cause all kinds of political problems.”
“You do know the price of turning him down, right?” Paige asked.
Caitlin winced. Damn Paige and her encyclopedic legal knowledge. Stupid “Miss Perfect-LSAT score” girl. She strongly suspected that whatever she heard next was going to be very bad news.
“No, I am not up on obscure laws that belong in the Middle Ages. I swear to God, I don’t think anyone’s been bridenapped in America in the last hundred years. I have never heard of it happening.”
“To atone for the injury to the Alpha’s pride and reputation, everyone in the entire town would be forced to pay the equivalent of their previous year’s salary to his pack. And if they don’t, the pack can seize their property and attach their wages.”
Caitlin’s jaw dropped. That could not be. It couldn’t happen. People would be bankrupted. People would lose their homes. People would hate her forever and run her out of town on a rail. Her and her family.
“I know it’s a joke,” she insisted faintly, but her conviction was fading and panic was seizing hold of her. “I’m going to clear this up right now.”
She grabbed the phone and dialed again, with trembling fingers. “Hello, I’m sorry, I was cut off before when I tried to leave a message,” she said.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Ms. Bellefont. I’ll put you through again, or would you like for me to take down a message for him?”
“No, thank you.”
“Oh, and by the way, congratulations. I’m sure we’ll be getting to know each other much better soon.”
Caitlin’s heart dropped to the bottom of her shoes.
This couldn’t be happening.
She was a modern woman with a college degree. This was the 21
century. How was that law even on the books? That wasn’t how Alphas got married these days. They did it the usual way – they went and hung out with humans until they developed a mutual attraction with a human female, and brought her back to their pack lands. It never took long. Alphas were sexy as hell and known to be dominant, aggressive, amazing lovers, and very loyal as husbands.
If only female werewolves could give birth to Alphas…but unfortunately, only the combination of a human female and an Alpha could produce an Alpha werewolf. The human-werewolf arrangement was necessary to ensure that new generations of Alphas were born.
Why didn’t Kristofer just go marry someone who wanted to marry him? Caitlin thought angrily. He was handsome, he was rich, he was sex on legs. Plenty of women would kill to be his bride.
This time, when she heard Kristofer’s voice on the other end of the line, she spoke slowly and loudly, to make sure that he got the message. “Kristofer, I just got a wedding invitation in the mail. Ha ha. And someone from your pack just congratulated me. I am sure that you don’t actually think that we’re getting married. Oh, and please go play in traffic. Fleabag.” She hung up the phone with a bang.
“Very mature,” Paige nodded with mock approval.
“He brings out the worst in me. After all, he is the shaggy son of a bitch who’s ruining my family’s life.”
The door flung open and her boss stuck his head in. He was all smiles. Caitlin and Paige and Lottie all exchanged alarmed glances.
“That’s what he looks like when he smiles?” Lottie whispered. “I’m afraid. Hold me.”
Her boss marched in, beaming approvingly. Lottie was right, it wasn’t a good look on him. Alberto was a very talented photographer, but his personality made Attila the Hun look soft and cuddly.
“Congratulations!” he cried out. “A little bird at the newspaper just told me whose wedding is going to be announced in the paper tomorrow. Three and a half weeks, we need to get cracking! Is my invitation around here somewhere?”