Authors: Morgan Rae
Keeper of the Alphas
(The Complete Series: Boxed Set) Parts 1-5
By Morgan Rae
Copyright 2015 Enamored Ink
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Twice the Beast
(Keeper of the Alphas: Part 1)
By Morgan Rae
Cami gasped for air like a dry fish. The sheets underneath her were cold and wet and her body trembled, still wracked with nightmare. It lingered over her like a haze. In the ceiling of her cracked, cramped New York apartment (closet, really, with the square footage), she could still see the images that had jolted her awake. Bare, white tiny feet of a child. Approaching a rustling bush under a full moon. A man—wild and naked—hunched behind the bush. All sinewy muscles. A scar ran over his right eye and took a sliver out of his eyebrow. He saw her. Smiled. His bones crunched, twisted, hair sprouted from his arms and legs until she was face to face with a full-grown grizzly bear.
His roar woke her up every time.
The nightmare was the same, a reoccurring memory she’d had ever since she turned fifteen. She’d been able to repress it over the years with a little therapy and a lot of Ambien. But tonight…
Tonight it’d returned. Like claws piercing her skin. Reminding her that it was there. Heart still hammering in her chest, Cami swallowed her breath and tried to regain some of her composure as her alarm went off beside her bed. 7:00 a.m. She had an hour to make it out of the house and open shop. Bad form to start the day like this, so she inhaled. Exhaled. Counted to ten.
She needed to forget about the dream. She needed a distraction. She needed to release this anxiety clattering around in her chest like bird bones. She needed—
Scissors, brushes, and hair products shuddered on the shelf each time Cami’s thighs hit the desk. She felt her boss’s hand on her back, pinning her down, as he rammed inside her. She spread her legs wider, body pleading for more, and moaned with her panties around her ankles.
Seth was an asshole, but he was a
asshole. And an attractive asshole—tall, dark hair, smooth as a shark. This wasn’t his first time around with Cami either (one of the benefits of having a workplace fuck) so she had him tailored to her specific needs. Maybe he was a little lackluster about it, a little too soft, but he went through the motions, at least. The other stylists at The Perfect Cut needed their morning coffee to get them started. Cami? Her tastes were a little rougher around the edges.
Some people had Xanax, Frappuccinos, and shop therapy to get them through the hard times. Cami had
. Her cure for all life’s ills. Feeling low because he fucked you and never called you back? Fuck
, have an orgasm. Can’t sleep because the nightmares will get you? Shake them off, have an orgasm. Stuck in bed with a fever? Have an orgasm.
Seth wasn’t anything
, but he was just what the good Dr. O-o-
ordered. And she liked the fantasy of Hot Boss and Horny Secretary, even if he lacked the dominance to keep it steamy.
“Harder,” Cami demanded, rolling her hips to meet his. At twenty-four, she was all curves and knew how to work them. She knew where her assets lay, her big tits, her round ass, which was nicely on display bent over his desk. He groaned when she pressed back against him and picked up the pace.
The feeling of him fucking her instantly scattered any spider web whisperings of her nightmare still lodged in her head and she gasped, pistoning herself on his dick.
But there was something lingering.
As she squeezed her eyes closed, she could still see the image of that bear-man in her mind’s eye. Raw, rugged, beast.
It terrified her.
And made her body clench tighter around Seth, the hot arousal making her throb.
She felt seized with an animal lust suddenly, like something nagging from her dream had infected her very blood, and she pushed back against him quickly now. She knew she was a sight like this—ass in the air, humping her boss’s dick—and she could hear Seth reaching his peak behind her, the telling heavy panting, the way his fingers tightened on her luscious thighs. But that burning, aching place between her legs tightened and she needed
, just a little more.
. The phone on his desk chirped, loudly.
“Shit,” she said.
“Don’t get that,” he growled.
She wanted to let it go. Wanted to ignore it. But…
“Don’t cum,” she urged, then grabbed the phone off its cradle.
“Yeah,” Seth muttered but continued to thrust against her.
“The Perfect Cut.” Cami made sure to keep her voice peppy and swallow back any shortness of breath. “How may I help you?”
“Is this Camilla Coltrane?”
Seth gave a telltale shudder behind Cami and then pulled out. She shot him a look. He shrugged. “Told you not to pick up the phone,” he mouthed.
. Cami sighed, wildly unsatisfied, and sat up, pushing her skirt back down her legs. She heard Seth snap his condom off. “Speaking,” she said into the phone, keeping it cool. “How can I help you?”
“It’s about Lynn Coltrane.”
. Cami felt like she’d been stabbed straight through with an icicle.
“Is she okay?”
“She’s dead, miss.”
Seth didn’t offer to come with her.
. He was probably already making an “appointment” with the
cute, bouncy blonde stylist.
Meanwhile, Cami fought the screams clawing at her throat as the airplane engines roared outside and vertigo kicked in. Her center of gravity pulled backwards and Cami shut her eyes tightly.
Count to ten
, her mother Lynn would’ve said. When Cami was younger, her mother would run her fingers through her hair as she said it. As Cami got older, her mother would shout the words through locked bedroom doors as Cami gripped her own hair and cried in fits. Eventually, her mother had just stopped trying to comfort her altogether. Instead, she’d sent her
Evergreen House for Exceptional Girls
. Sounded nice, but it was really a front for a psych ward for girls whose parents couldn’t handle them. So she was put in the hands of “professionals” who would maybe give her some “clarity” and “coping mechanisms.”
Gave her clarity, all right. The second she’d turned eighteen in there, she busted out and gotten a place for herself. In New York.
from her mother, from Tyburn, from all the
that resided there…
And now she was going back to Tyburn. Just for a couple days. Just until the service on Saturday, and then she could go back to her shitty New York closet and her shitty underpaid job and her shitty boss who couldn’t even get her off. Shitty, maybe, but
at least, something Cami could control, and she craved the sweet, bland security. Cami splayed out her fingers and then closed them in a tight fist, her long, sparkly-blue nails like needles against her palm. She tried to banish the swell of emotion in her throat—
. Emotion was overwhelming.
Think of something else
She felt the plane finally start to level out. Fingers still tight in fists, Cami peeled her eyes open. In front of her, a small digital screen displayed the dotted path from New York City to Oregon. Beside her, the skin-tight pants of a hipster with too-big headphones. If she reached over between his legs, could she convince him to join the mile-high club with her?
Still unsatisfied from last night, she felt a throb at the thought.
Just what the doctor ordered.
. Cami reached into her designer purse, popped an Ambien, and slept the rest of the way.
Cami blinked out of her daze and snapped her attention back to the woman sitting in front of her. Adeline Cortez, her mother’s attorney, sat across the desk. Hard oak wood, just like everything else in the office; it made Cami feel like an owl living in a hole in a tree. The spots of the office that weren’t layered in wood were stacked with thick textbooks and proudly framed credentials from Columbia.
“Cami,” Cami corrected.
Adeline smiled thinly. Cami noticed her tight bun and made a mental note that she’d look much less severe if she just let her hair down. “Cami. Do you understand the terms?”
“Not really,” Cami confessed. They had spent the last hour going through her mother’s will and it made her head spin. Many of Lynn Coltrane’s earthly possessions would go to her sister—Cami’s Aunt Sadie—who had a successful, healthy daughter who would have successful, healthy grandchildren. Cami received her cash inheritance (
) and a key to her mother’s lockbox at the bank (
), which all made sense in a numb, clinical way.
But there was one thing that still didn’t add up. “Why would she leave me the house?”
“You were her only progeny,” Adeline explained.
“Yeah, but…” We weren’t close. Not like a mother and daughter should be, anyway.
Adeline seemed to sense the mental ping-pong bouncing around in Cami’s head and picked up where she left off. “In my experience, sometimes people write into their wills the things they couldn’t say in life. Reparations, perhaps.”
“If Lynn wanted to say she’s sorry, she should have said it,” Cami blurted out.
. She hadn’t called her
in a long time. “She didn’t have to give me her house. I don’t even want the thing.”
Just the thought of going back there made Cami’s veins fill with ice. She’d left the house on bad terms and never gone back. There was that nightmare, nagging in the back of her mind, the bear with a muddied snout and sharp teeth—
Adeline pushed a contract in front of Cami and tapped it (with, Cami noticed, short, stumpy nails). “Your mother lived in two properties. She owned the house on Argonne and she rented another on Meadrow.”
“She moved?” Cami asked, surprised. That felt like something she should know, but…
? She hadn’t spoken to her mother. She wasn’t privy to big news, like getting a new job, a new boyfriend, or a new house. She knew no more about her mother these days than she knew about the mailman.
Adeline nodded. “About four years ago. The house should be relatively bare. You’re welcome to sell it. Demolish it. Restore it. The house is yours. I just need you to sign here.”
Cami picked up the pen but hesitated before scribbling out her name.
“Did you just get in?” Adeline asked, filling the pause with polite conversation.
Cami nodded. “I was going to check in at a hotel until the funeral.”
“Looks like that won’t be necessary now,” Adeline added.
I’m not so sure about that
. Nonetheless, Cami signed the paper, quickly, and then pushed it away.
“Do you have a ride to the service on Saturday?” Adeline asked, a new warmth filling the hollows in her voice now that the official business was out of the way.
“Aunt Sadie will take me, I guess.” Not that the prospect of seeing Sadie was particularly delightful. The woman was a whirligig—constantly talking, moving, gesticulating, a flurry of colors and opinions.
“If you need a ride—or anything at all—don’t hesitate to call.” Adeline extended her card.
Cami dropped it in the black hole of her purse. “Thanks,” she said. Intellectually, she could appreciate the familiar gesture. Adeline had probably worked closely with her mother. The two must have had some sort of friendly working relationship. Emotionally, however, Cami was still too numb to feel much of anything, even as Adeline handed her the key to her childhood home.
Cami still considered renting a hotel room. She thought about it the entire time, even as she hopped in a cab and told him to go to 413 Argonne Drive, the address of her childhood home. She second-guessed herself on the twenty-minute drive as the town outside Portland dissolved into twisted orange and yellow autumn withered trees. She thought about it still as the cab rumbled in neutral outside the old Victorian-style house in the middle of nowhere.
The house was weather-beaten, the wooden frame chipped and split in places. The brick stanchions that propped up the porch looked crumpled, and even from below she could see a few dark roof tiles missing. The windows looked intact, at least, even the diamond-shaped ones cut from the attic. A brick chimney stuck up from the center peak of the house and completed the rustic gothic feel of the house.
Turn around, she thought. Now’s your chance.
Her palms began to sweat and the brass key felt like it was burning insistently in her hand.
“Hey—is this the right place?” The cab driver twisted over his shoulder to look at her. No doubt, didn’t feel entirely right about leaving a young girl in what looked like a half-decrepit house. Miles away from civilization.
“Yeah, thanks,” she said and fumbled with the cash before pushing it over to him.
He helped her lift her luggage out of the trunk—a purple roller bag, a duffle bag, and her purse—and then left her in the dust. Couldn’t blame him. This place gave her the creeps too. One look into the deep of the woods and she felt a shudder run through her. A bear.
. In the bushes, dirty muzzle, watching her with dark, hungry eyes.
She blinked. The nightmare receded. All in her mind.
(Count to ten.)
Shut up, Mom. You’re dead. If you weren’t, I wouldn’t have to deal with this in the first fucking place.
She yanked her luggage up the porch steps and then reached into her purse and fumbled around for the key. She was still hunting when the door opened all on its own.
No. Not on its own. There was a man standing there. Tall, broad-shouldered,
, a young forty, maybe. A Nordic nose, deep-set, pale-blue eyes, long, thick nut-brown hair that curled past his ears and dusted his shoulders. His mouth, a thin frown, was framed with unkempt scruff. A loose plaid shirt that revealed a smattering of chest hair underneath, dark jeans—
. Her gaze fixated on his hands.
Big, strong hands. Holding a .22 caliber rifle.