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Authors: K. S. Martin

Summer's alpha

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Summer’s Alpha

By

K.S. Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Alpha©2013 by K.S. Martin Allrights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

Chapter 1.4

Chapter 2.12

Chapter 3.20

Chapter 4.35

Chapter 5.48

Chapter 6.58

Chapter 7.73

Chapter 8.85

Chapter 9.102

Chapter 10.118

Chapter 11.131

Chapter 12.137

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

East TennesseeHills2013

 

I have no ideawhat he is up to now, but I watch him splashing around in the water anyway. He’s fun to watch and I’ve been doing it since I was maybe as young as twoyears old.  He lives a few houses away and he thinks that he is somethingspecial.  I never let him know that I think so too.  We’ve been best friendssince about the same time that I started watching him.  He’s accused me ofwanting him but I always make sure that I tell him it is a stupid thing tothink.  He always laughs and says ‘yeah right.’  I can’t admit it because henever has.  “Yeah right doesn’t mean ‘it’s okay because I want you too’.  Itmeans you’re lying.’  Of all the times that he’s accused me of wanting him,he’s never once said I want you Summer or I love you Summer.  He just likes totease me and that’s okay.  I get it that we are friends and that’s all.  Hedoesn’t need to know about the dreams I started having a year ago either, theyare none of his damn business even if he is the center of them.  In one of them,he pushes me against a wall.  I’m facing the wall and he’s pressed against myback, we are both naked and panting like we’ve just finished a run.  His teethgraze my shoulder and I nearly orgasm in the dream, sometimes I really do in mysleep.  Anyway, his voice has been getting deeper and deeper lately but in thedream, it is almost gravelly.  It’s so sexy and just thinking about it nowmakes me shiver.  I can feel his skin against mine and I can’t seem to catch mybreath.  My stomach is full of butterflies and my heart pounds.  His hips areagainst my rear end and I can feel his erection against my lower back, it’shot, hard, and throbbing.  The deep gravelly voice comes out of warm sculpturedlips against my ear.  I’m shaking all over, all the muscles below my waist areclenching, and he says, “I’m going to bury myself so deep inside of you Summerthat you won’t know where I end and you begin.”  I always wake up then,sometimes I’ve climaxed, sometimes not but my heart is always pounding, I’malways sweaty and shaking with what I’ve realized lately is anticipation.  Iwant him.  I can’t have him but I want him.  He’s supposed to mate my sisterAutumn according to my father the alpha.  Since I am an alpha, my dad thinksthat I would be better to lure in an alliance with another pack.  A packlooking to breed their alpha with another, so he will sell me like cattle. That’s not happening.  I’m getting out of here.  He won’t give to some jerkthat I don’t even know.  He used my sister Kelly the same way.  She’s with analpha more than fifty miles away and she is extremely unhappy.  Every time Icall her, she is crying.  I tell her that I will come after her but every timethat I say it, she says no.  I think that Kelly will end up killing herself butmy dad won’t listen.  I worry about my sister.  Her mate, Frank is older andfrom a pack set in the old ways.  Backward ways that allow beating and womenare property.  If it were me that daddy had given him, I would’ve killed him already. However, we have the alliance that dad wanted.  She has no say about anything,no rights, and he treats her terribly.  Kelly has had more than one black eye,which I sincerely doubt she provoked.  Kelly doesn’t argue, she isn’t sarcastic,and she is a real people pleaser.  I know he hits her either because he’s madabout something else or because he’s just evil.  Either way, one day, I mayjust rip his throat out no matter what Kelly says.  He came sniffing aroundhere wanting a submissive she wolf, and there is none more submissive than mybig sis is.  She didn’t even bat an eye when dad told her that she was going tomate Frank.  She simply went and packed her things.  Ten minutes later, she wasready with her duffle in her hand and her head bowed.  It was pathetic and itwas the moment that my dad and I both realized that I am alpha.  I did not takeit lying down.  My dad could not subdue me that day.  Jackson finally got meunder control then dragged me into the woods to calm down.  It was the firsttime he used his alpha tendencies on me and my wolf responded with theseurges.  I’ve always liked Jackson as a person but the day that I submitted tohim my wolf decided that he was for us.  He’d never acted alpha before thatday, but he got me to show him my throat.  The urges have been difficult tostifle since that day and it’s especially bad when I’m asleep.  My wolf wantshim very much.  I do too but he’s Autumn’s mate, and it doesn’t matter that sheis in love with the resident beta Tim.  My dad won’t hear of it.  Dad is a realstickler for pack hierarchy and since Tim is only a beta, he isn’t good enoughfor the alpha’s daughter.  Jackson is an alpha and will lead this pack or willlead his own one day.  My decision is easy, if I can’t have him, I’ll go.  Iwon’t be a bargaining tool for the good of the pack.  I’m sneaking out firstthing tomorrow and I’m going to find my own life in the city.  I’ve never beenwithout a pack but I think that I can do it.  I’m no push over.  I willsurvive.  

“Are you coming ornot?”  I look up into the honey amber eyes for probably the last time and Ismile sweetly.  “You haven’t been listening at all have you?”  He rolls hiseyes heavenward and I laugh.  He’s getting so big lately.  His shoulders arebroad and he has this great chest, it’s smooth and nice.  Wolves don’t stopdeveloping their muscles until they are in their mid twenties then they willlook the same until they are much older.  Jackson is not finished growing butthe most attractive thing about him though is the way he moves.  He has thatstalk like a predator thing down pat.  He’s wet from splashing in the creek.  Ididn’t go in since I’d rather sun myself from my seat on the log beside thedeep spot.  Jackson tugs at my hand and pulls me up from my seat.  “I said momis grilling burgers, are you in?”  I shake my head.  I can’t bear to act as ifeverything is fine and then leave them all.  “Why not?”  He needs a haircut buthis dark hair this long is still sexy.

“Don’t feel likeit.  I want to lie down.”  I put my hand over my stomach but he’s densesometimes and asks the inevitable follow up.

“Why?”  He looksme over and his nose twitches.

“I have cramps.” I know that this will deter him from further questions.  He makes a face andstarts to walk.  Thank you God, I have shut down the Jackson inquisition forthe moment.  Even he can’t smell what hasn’t started yet.  Nobody’s nose isthat good.  He’s stalking away from me.

“You’re lyingSummer.”  He says over his shoulder.  You don’t have to come if you don’t wantto but don’t lie.”  I don’t answer him but I follow.  “I don’t know what’s upwith you lately but I wish you would get over it.  It’s getting boring.”  Isigh knowing he’s right.  I’ve had an attitude since dad said that Autumn wouldmate Jackson.  I don’t know if Jackson knows and I want to know if he does so Itake the plunge.

“Has anyone toldyou that you are to mate Autumn?”  He whirls around to face me and I can seethat he didn’t know.  Jackson has gone all alpha and he is pissed.  His eyesare pulsing amber with anger.

“Autumn?!  Hellno.  I’m not mating Autumn.  Shit, she’ll probably break in half the first timeI fuck her.”  The smile on his face was empty and did not reach his eyes.  Mysister Autumn is a lot like Kelly.  They are both petite, willowy and resemblemy mother.  They are both wafer thin, blonde, and fragile.  My brother Freddyand I are more like dad.  We are tall, strong, and darker with hazel eyes. Freddy’s hair is blue black, mine is dark brown.  Freddy is already six and ahalf feet tall while I stand proud at five feet ten.  I tower over my sisters.

“That’s what Dadhas decided.”  I start walking again.

“Oh yeah?  Who hashe decided thatyou’remating Summer?”  I love it when he says my name. I get tingles in all the good places.

“He’s going to useme as a bargaining chip to draw an alliance from another pack.  We can expandour hunting area and get help if and when we need it.”  I made quotes in theair with my fingers.  Jackson was horrified.

“Like what he didto Kelly?  Doesn’t he see how well that worked out?  He’s crazy.  I’ll talk tohim, you are not for sale, and I am not mating Autumn.  Tim wants Autumn andshe wants him, why not let them be happy?  They’re good together.”

“He’s a beta,you’re an alpha, and that makes you a better choice for her.  I am worth moreto the good of the pack.  He won’t change his mind Jackson and there is no usein trying.”  I start jogging to my house that is in sight now.  I don’t wanthim to see the tears that are starting to pool in my eyes.  I won’t let him seeweakness the last time he sees me.  Dad wants me to stop hanging out withJackson.  He wants Autumn to spend time with him and it doesn’t matter thatneither of them in interested in the other.  Autumn thinks that Jackson is ajackass and instead of calling him by his name, she’d rather use thedescription.  She doesn’t do it to his face and she knows that she can’t use itin front of me very often.  Nevertheless, Autumn does not like Jackass butthat’s okay because he can’t stand her either.  He says she is too highmaintenance for him and he calls her plastic girl.  I have to agree most of thetime.  Autumn is shallow.  She is interested in her hair, her makeup, and hercell phone.  I love my sister but we don’t have much in common, not really.  Wedon’t look alike, think alike, or care about the same things.  Autumn isyounger too but we get along and we talk sometimes, she is my sister.  The onlything that we really share in common is our dislike for our father.  Don’t getme wrong, he’s my dad and I love him, but neither of us really like him.

“Where have youbeen?”  My father booms from the end of the kitchen table when I come in thepatio door startling me.  “I told you to stop seeing that boy.”  The overheadlamp was reflecting on his baldhead.  He was on the internet on his tabletagain.  Ever since he bought that thing, he hasn’t put it down.  He doesn’teven look up when he’s talking to us anymore either.  All you ever see is thetop of his baldhead because he’s always lost in the tablet.

“I told him thathe’s mating Autumn and that we can’t see each other again Dad.  We’ve been bestfriends for eighteen years.  I thought that I at least owed him anexplanation.  It was the honorable thing to do.”  He would understand honor, Ihoped.  He did.  He nodded. 

“Get dinnerstarted.”  I nod and set about preparing the meal.  My mother died giving birthto Freddy so we all do her chores.  When Kelly left, meals became my chore. When I bolt, all of my chores will fall on Freddy and Autumn.  I should takethem with me and let him fix his own damn dinner.  I don’t remember my motherthat well but I remember that Dad changed when she left.  It was he buried hisheart with her and she left us with a hollow, empty, nasty shell.

My duffle ispacked and at the foot of my bed waiting.  I’m staring at the ceiling right nowbut first thing in the morning when I am supposed to be going to work, I willbe hitting the highway in search of a new life.  I would like to leave now butthere is no way I will make it to the car with a house full of werewolveslistening.  I hope that I don’t have that dream again, okay maybe I do.

 

Chapter 2

 

“Get up.”  Autumnshoves at my shoulder.  “Summer, get up.  You have to fix breakfast.”  Istretch and look up into her almond shaped blue eyes.  Her white blonde hair isup in a high ponytail.  “Are you awake?”  I nod.  “Are you …?”  She pointed atthe duffle.  I nod again.  “Okay.  I don’t blame you.  This whole thing sucks. Daddy is being an ass.”  I smirk.  I refuse to talk with him in the house.  Hecan hear everything we say.  His ears are unbelievable.  “He’s in the shower,your secret is safe.”  She hugs me when I stand.  “Where?”  I shrug.  “Okay. Keep in touch.”  Autumn and I have discussed this whole mating with Jacksonthing at length.  She hates the idea because she is in love with Tim.  I hatethe idea because I know that they will both be miserable but mostly becausewith every fiber of my being I believe that he belongs to me.  He ismine,even if he doesn’t feel the same.  He can never belong to Autumn because Iwould rather die than know they are together.  Daddy sucks.    

“I will.”  Sheturns and leaves. 

Breakfast isuneventful.  We aren’t big talkers in the morning.  Autumn is busy with hercell texting someone.  Freddy is eating his eggs with his eyes closed and dadis surfing the internet on his tablet.  I look around at them, my family.  Imiss Kelly.  Her eggs were better than mine are.  Jackson is at the patiodoor.  I motion for him to come in.  “Breakfast if you haven’t eaten.”  I pointat the stove.  He shakes his head. 

“Sir?  May I havea word when you’ve finished eating?”  Dad closes the cover on the tablet andcarries his plate to the sink.  Dad thinks Jackson wants to talk about himmating Autumn.  He probably thinks Jackson is ready to get started.  Boy is heever in for a surprise.

“My office.”  Hegestures at Jackson.

“I’ll clean up.” Autumn offers giving me a look, and I hurry to my bedroom.  Normally I wouldlisten to their conversation through the wall but not today.  I know my dad. Jackson is about to suffer the wrath of my father, you don’t question adecision that he’s made and come away unscathed.  I haul my duffle onto myshoulder and leave a note and my cell phone on my pillow.  Nobody will find themuntil tonight when I don’t come home but I need the ten hours or so to escape. I’d like to kiss Jackson goodbye but he belongs to Autumn now.  I can’t stayhere and watch him with my sister.  It will rip my heart out. 

 

Out on the highway,I watch the signs go by.  I’ve been on the road seven hours now.  I onlystopped for gas and to pee.  I’m getting hungry and the sun is starting to diplower in the sky.  There is a town in ten miles and I wonder if there is a packclose by.  I’ve never known anyone that switched packs but I know it musthappen.  I think it’s best to lay low for a while until I decide if I want tostay and so my dad doesn’t come after his bargaining chip.  I’m further fromKelly since I went the other direction, Dad won’t expect that.  I left my cellphone in my room because he can track it.  It’s too hard to hide from GPS.  Iwill need a new one if I want to get a job though.  My boss knew two weeks agothat I was leaving the parts store, I gave my notice, and he paid me in cash tohelp me out.  He isn’t pack but I can trust him.  He said he would play dumb ifmy dad came around and he would give me a great reference if anyone called. He’s a nice human.  My dad hates humans since a human killed his father.  Whatdid he expect to happen though while he was running around all wolfed out nearthe farmer’s sheep?  Duh!  Wolf or not, you have to be smart.  Stay away fromsheep and the business end of a rifle.  Farmers are touchy about theirlivestock.  I’ve stopped at a hotel that looks run down and cheap but I want tobe easy with my cash.  I have plenty on me but I don’t want to waste any of it,I still have to find a place to live.  It seems like a nice town so far.  It’sclean and I don’t see any of the crack heads or winos’ hanging around that Dadalways harps on when he talks about the city.  I get my key and go to my room. There is a payphone outside of my room so I call Autumn.  I push the star andsix seven so the number won’t show up on her phone.  Dad is smart so, he’lllook for that and drag my ass home.  “Autumn?”

“Hey Sissy!  Wheredid you end up?”

“Not sure yet, Ijust wanted to let you know that I’m okay.  I don’t know if I’ll settle herebut I was tired so I stopped.  Have I been missed?”

“Not yet.  Youshould keep driving.  He talked to Jackson this morning and they nearly came toblows.  Jackson told him that he would not mate me.  Thank God because eww.”  Ilaughed at that.  Jackson is far from eww.  “I know you think that he’s hot andI guess he is good looking but Tim is ….”  She took a deep breath and sighed. 

“I know.  Youshould mate him.  Let him claim you.  Just turn your tail up and let him takeyou Autumn.  Then dad won’t have a choice.”

“Really?  Hewon’t?”  My sister’s a submissive wolf and is certainly not strategically inclined.

“No.”  I reallyhope that she does not mate with Jackson.  I couldn’t bear it.

“Then why didn’tyou do that with Jackson?”  It’s not as if I haven’t wanted to forever.

“We aren’t likethat.  He doesn’t like me that way.  We’re friends and that’s all.  If he’dever shown an interest, I would have.  I hate the idea of Dad destroying yoursand Jackson’s lives the way he did Kelly’s.  Be happy Autumn, have Tim, makehim yours.  It may cost him pack position but you’ll both be happier for it.”

“Thanks Summer,I’ll talk to Tim tomorrow.  For the record, you’re wrong about Jackson.  Idon’t know exactly what he said but he was putting up a good fight for you.  Heygot to go, he’s coming.”  She clicks the phone off.  Neither of us wants dad toknow that I’ve left yet or that she knows all about it.  What did that mean? He put up a good fight for me.  Yeah right.

I crawl under thequilt in my hotel room after a shower and food from the restaurant next door. I have a chair wedged under the doorknob just in case and fall asleep a lotfaster than expected.

I have a dreamabout Jackson.  He’s in the woods howling as if he’s mourning someone.  Iwonder who he’s lost.  I can feel how empty he feels, how hollow his chest isand I wake up crying.  I miss him, not in the sense that I haven’t seen him ina long time but in the sense that I know that I won’t see him again.  It’sweird but it seems like the feelings are real not just a dream.  I should’vetold him but knowing Jackson, he would’ve confronted my dad and told him that Iwould leave.  After that, I would spend my days chained up in the basementuntil my dad and his council decided what to do with me.  No thanks.  Jacksonmay be an alpha but it’s recent.  My dad has been an alpha for forty years andhe is so much better at it than Jackson is.  I shower and brush my teeth.  Timefor breakfast, I eat more fast food which is getting old.  I drive around townand check it out.  I see a few help wanted signs and an apartment building thatrents month to month.  I go into the places with the signs and the woman at thebookstore hired me on the spot.  It was the third place that I applied and I’mthinking that this is fate.  I explained that I was new in town and just strikingout on my own.  She said that I could rent the apartment over the bookstore ifI was interested. 

“It’s small butit’s clean and furnished.  All that I ask is that you keep an eye on theplace.  I can’t afford an alarm company and if there is someone here, it willdeter a break in.  The place next door got robbed a few weeks ago and I am alittle frightened.”  Her deep brown eyes twinkled with mischief and I liked herimmediately.  Her name is Shirley, she’s in her fifties I would guess, and sheseems genuine.  She’s wearing a wedding ring but I don’t scent a male.  Huh. Maybe divorced and can’t let go?  Maybe she is a widow but it’s been awhilebecause she doesn’t seem sad.  Time will tell.  “What do you think?” 

“How much is therent?”  I ask trying to do the math in my head that will tell me if I get toeat. 

“I will tell youwhat, I will give you the first six months for free, but if you don’t work outin the store, you will have to go.  After the first six months, we will do anevaluation and you will be up for a raise, then the rent will be two fifty amonth.  A girl has to eat, right?”  I smile and stick my hand out.  She shakesit.  “No pets, except a fish if you want.”  I nod.  Not a problem, I don’t needanother mouth to feed.  “Okay then, let’s go up, and take a look.  There is astairwell here and one around the back from the outside.  The same key opensboth doors.”  I look around the bookstore.  It’s large to be an independentstore.  I can’t wait to dig into the shelves.  I love to read.  Shirley turnsthe closed sign around and clicks the lock then leads me up the narrowstaircase.  She unlocks the door at the top of the stairs then hands the key tome.  After turning on the lights, she steps out of the way for me to goinside.  It is small but it is so cute that I smile.  The kitchen is definitelya one-butt kitchen but it has all of the essentials and a small table with twochairs.  There is a red checked tablecloth covering it with a salt and peppershakeragainst the wall.  “There are dishes, they’re mismatched, but they work.” Shirley grinned and went through to the living room.  “There is one TV withbasic cable.”  There is a couch against the far wall covered with a quilt.  Awindow seat overlooks the back of the building and I plan to spend some timewith a book there.  A recliner sits in the corner next to a bookshelf full ofbooks.  It’s quaint.  Shirley is going to the bedroom.  A full sized bedcovered with another quilt fills most of the room but there is a dresser and atiny closet.  I don’t have many clothes with me, just what would fit in theduffle.  I will find a thrift store and supplement my wardrobe.  She flips aswitch and I am looking into a tiny bathroom.  It has a sink, toilet and showerstall, perfect.  “What do you think Summer?”

“I think it’sperfect, when can I start?”  Her chocolate eyes dance.

“You’ve been onthe clock for twenty minutes.”  She winked.  “You can move your car to the lotbehind the store.  Your meter is running out by now.”  I hurried outside and shewas right, one minute left.  I pulled my little red compact around the back ofthe store and locked it.  I went inside through the back door and wove my waythrough the kitchenette and tall shelves from the back to the front to findShirley.  She spent the rest of the day training me on how to shelve, price thebooks, and work the cash register.  I am already familiar with most of it sinceI worked in the town library in high school before going to the auto partsstore for more money.  I can’t help but smile every chance that I get.  I’mfree.  I can do for myself, be myself, and take care of myself.  I don’t needmy father to dictate my life.  This is America and I am supposed to have theright to pursue happiness.  Nowhere does it say that my father has the right touse me as bait.  Take that Daddy.

Chapter 3

 

The store closesat seven and Shirley locks the door on her way out.  I am to use the backoutside entrance when the store is closed.  I lock my door and skip down thesteps to the car.  I plan to get gas while I am out, some groceries and find athrift store in case I need anything.  After filling the car, I drive to thegrocery store a block over.  I can walk here if I want to.  It isn’t far. There is a huge thrift store next to the grocery store but it’s alreadyclosed.  It is open from nine to five and I work from eleven to seven becauseShirley plays bingo.  Not a problem, I love to sleep in.  I will come back herein the morning though before work though and look around.  Taking a cart, I travelup and down the aisles with a secret smile on my face.  I am really doingthis.  I can grocery shop for me, buy what I want and eat what I want.  I pickup some turkey breast.  It will make a nice meal now, and make sandwicheslater.  The best part of it is that dad hates turkey but he isn’t here todictate what I buy.  Ha!  Once I’ve paid for my groceries I head home.  Wow. Home.  My home.  It is my home without anyone telling me what to do!

With the groceriesput away, I eat a bowl of cereal for dinner.  Dad would never allow me to dothat at home. A wolf needs meat.  My father’s voice echoes through mybrain.  A wolf needs cereal loaded with sugar once in awhile too!  I can’t waitto sit in that window and read in the sunshine.  I study it thinking about themost comfortable position to sit and read.  I clean my dishes and head for theshower. 

At nine the nextmorning when the elderly woman opens the front doors of the thrift shop, I amthere waiting.  I smile and hear her growl.  Shit, wolf!  I didn’t scent herand that could be dangerous but not nearly as dangerous as the perfume that sheis wearing.  Wow.

“You don’t belonghere girl.”  She hisses.

“I’m new in town. I just got in yesterday.  I didn’t know there was a pack in town.  If you can giveme your alpha’s address, I will check in with him.”  She nodded.

“You go do yourshopping and I will write it down dear.”  That was easy enough.  Now how do Iconvince the alpha that I come from nowhere and that nobody is looking for me? If he calls my dad and checks in, I am going to be in huge trouble.  I don’tfeel like shopping any more but I find a few pairs of pants and some shirtsthat will fit me and are in decent shape.  I bring them to the counter and giveher money.  She gives me a card.  It says Larry Miller – East View Pack andthere’s a phone number.  I stick it in my pocket and thank her then take thebag of clothes.  I walk back to the bookstore.  When am I supposed to call thisalpha wolf?  Perhaps I should just show up at his door.  No, that’s rude.  Crap. I want to be free at least for a while.

“Is somethingwrong Summer?  You seem distracted.”  Shirley was sipping some fruity smellingtea.

“I went to thethrift store this morning and the woman was kind of mean to me.  I’ll get overit, I promise.”  I try for an encouraging smile.

“Evelyn?”  Ishrug.  I didn’t ask the old bitch for her name, I should have.  Then I wouldhave something to call the woman that ruined my life.  “Was she as old as dirt,have blue hair, stink to high heaven, and was she as wrinkly as a paper sack?” I laugh, loudly then cover my mouth and nod.  “And I suppose she growled atyou?”  I nod again.  Where is Shirley going with this, she isn’t wolf, I wouldscent her.  “I was married to the alpha dear.  He passed nearly a year ago in aviolent car crash.  I know what you are so, you don’t need to hide from me.” My mouth was hanging open.  “Larry Miller is in charge right now but he’s onlya beta.  They are looking for an alpha, you don’t know of one that is availabledo you?  I think you may be one but a female won’t do, they’ll want a male orat least a pair.”  My eyes blink hard and I can’t believe my ears.  “I, um,yeah, I kind of do.  He’s young, he’s never led a pack before but he’s smartand I think he could handle it with some time and patience.”

“Are you two…?” Shirley waggled her eyebrows.

“Best friendssince I was two?  Yes.”  I smile gently.  I know where she was going with thatand as much as I’d like, no we two are not.

“Call him.  Theyare desperate.  It’s been a year since Mark passed.  I will speak to Larry onyour behalf and we will set up a meeting with your friend.  What is his name? And how old is he?”

“His name isJackson Reynolds and he was twenty-three last month.”  I nibble my lip.  I’vebeen independent for one day and already I will have to call Jackson.  I’malready looking forward to one of his bear hugs.  I feel the deep hollowfeeling in my chest again.  It’s weird but every time that I think aboutJackson I feel a deep loss, like I’m in mourning.  Shirley was dialing her cellphone and I went back to shelving the books that I didn’t finish yesterday.

“Summer?  Larrywould like to set up a meeting with your Jackson.  Can you get him here?”  Mybrows furrow and I sigh.  I can’t help it. 

“Can I be straightwith you?”  I ask.

“I’d hoped youalready were.”  That sounded like a scolding.

“Oh, I have beenbut this could get me into trouble.”  She pulled me to one of the couches andtugged me down beside her.  “I am the alpha’s daughter.  Jackson is supposed tomate my sister Autumn but they don’t like each other.  I love him, like afriend.”  I corrected when she grinned.  “Anyway, I ran off.  I didn’t havepermission to leave.  My father wants to sell me to the highest bidder inexchange for an alliance.”  Shirley looked angry.  “I don’t know who I want tomate but I don’t want to be used like that.  I don’t want to mate someone thatI don’t know or that I probably won’t like.  My other sister Kelly was and hermate made her his punching bag.  My sister is the sweetest thing to grace thisplanet so I know that her mate is just…evil.  I don’t want that for myself. Even though I am not my sister, and as alpha as I can be, I cannot overpower amale.  I’m just not strong enough.  When he gave Kelly away, we all figured outthat Jackson and I are both alphas.  Point is that if my dad finds out where Iam, he is going to drag me back.  I don’t know if Jackson will be able to getaway without my dad knowing.  I’m scared.  I don’t want to go back.”

“You have theright to change packs.”  She says and I scoff.

“Yeah, tell my dadthat.  As far as he is concerned, he has paid my way for twenty some years andhe owns me.”  I sigh.

“I will and no hedoes not.”  Her brows rocketed up her forehead.  I shook my head quickly.

“I didn’t mean…” Shirley laughed and squeezed my thigh.

“Call Jackson, youcan use my phone.”  Shirley went to the back of the store to the smallkitchenette to make herself a cup of tea.  I swear she drinks the stuff by thegallon.

“Hi Jackson.”  I’dpushed star six seven to block the number.  If this doesn’t go well, I don’twant Dad to find me.

“Where the hellare you Summer?”  His voice roared at me.  Uh-oh, alpha and pissed, that is a badcombo.  There is a long pause and then he sighed.  “Summer, don’t hang up,please tell me where you are.”  His voice is softer now and he sounds differentthan he did at first, nicer.  My guard went up.

“I’m safe.  I havea job and a place to live.  The place where I am needs an alpha.”  I say,carefully choosing my words.  I mentioned that you were available and they wantto meet you.  Their alpha died and they need one.  Would you be interested inthe job or would you rather wait around for my dad to cave and hand it over?” There now, he has an option and if he says no, I will hang up.  He never needsto know where I am.

“Summer.”  Hetakes a deep breath and I know that his eyes are closed.  He is leaning againsta tree because I can hear the birds and his body scratching the bark.  “Whereare you?”

“Yes or noJackson?”  I will not give up my new independence.

“Yes, of courseyes.  I miss you.  Where?”  He sounds so lost and my heart clenches.

“No.”  I have oneof those flashes of brilliance.  “I will meet you and bring you here.  I don’twant you to know where I am, if you don’t know, you can’t tell.  I do not wantto come home.  I do not want him to sell me like a cow Jackson.  If you can’tagree to my terms, I will tell them that you weren’t interested.”

“I won’t tell onyou Summer.  Jesus, I’m smarter than that, don’t you trust me?  I don’t wanthim to do that to you either.  We’ve been best friends too long for that shit. Besides, since you ran off your dad is on a rampage.  It’s probably better if Idon’t know.  I have to get out of here before he grabs my dick and sticks it inyour sister.”  I gasp then giggle.  “Where and when?”  Shirley is lurkingnearby and pointing at her watch mouthing ‘now.’

“He’s like sevenhours from here.  I want to meet him and bring him in blind so if it doesn’twork out he has plausible deniability.”  She nods.

“Who are youtalking to Summer?  Who are you mixed up with?”

“My boss.  Meet meat the truck stop on route nine near Bartles, how long will it take you togather your things?”

“Twenty minutes. I will see you in five hours give or take?”

“Leave your cellat home, he’ll track it if he gets wind of you leaving, and Jackson, make surethat he doesn’t.” 

“You got itbabe.”  The call ended.  Babe?  Since when does Jackson Reynolds call me babe? Weird.  I am nearly giddy.  I can’t wait to see him.  My chest feels lighter. 

I’m in Shirley’swhite sedan waiting for Jackson.  She thought that it would be good for me tobe in a car they didn’t know if they’d followed him.  I’m avoiding interestedstares from truck drivers walking around.  Jackson pulled in and parked in alot off to the side.  The sign said long-term parking.  The truckers must useit while they are out on the road.  He walks inside the store for a few minutesand I see him give the clerk money.  He has a cup of coffee with him and hecomes out and stands on the curb.  I don’t see any other passenger vehiclesaround that I haven’t already identified as people that I don’t know.  I rollthe windows down and I see his nose twitch.  He’s gaze flashes amber when hefinds me.  He looks around and hurries to my car then climbs in.  His arms arearound me in an instant and he’s crushing me against him.

“Summer.”  Hegrowls into my ear.  Oh God that voice.  He nips my neck.  “I missed you, somuch.”

“I was gone a day. Chill out.  Here put this on.”  I hand him the sleeping mask that Shirley gaveme.

“Seriously?”  Inod and he smiles.  The dimples at the corners of his mouth deepen and he pullsit over his eyes.  “You aren’t going to take advantage of me are you?  Please?” His smile broadens.  I take his coffee from him and sip it.  I’m already tiredand I have to drive or give up my location.  I see him stiffen but I start thecar and pull out of the truck stop.

“I don’t want tobe found Jackson.  You know if he thinks that you know he will bully it out ofyou.”

“I know.  I willdo my best to protect you, I promise.  You’re dad is ape shit though.  If youdo go back, you are going to be beaten.  He is livid.  He’s asked every packmember six times about your whereabouts.  He is convinced that we are all in onit.  Meanwhile, Autumn let Tim claim her.”  Jackson laughs, the deep heartysexy sound fills the car and I smile while my core clenches.  This has tostop.  He will scent my arousal and he doesn’t want me like that.  I don’t wanthim to know how stupid I am for wanting him.  “When she stomped up to him inthe middle of the playground and pulled her shirt collar aside for him to seeTim’s mark, he slapped her so hard that I think her head spun around.  When herass hit the ground, she laughed, told him that she was moving out and that shewouldn’t be his pawn either.  It looked bad.  I mean I’m glad that she did itbut she should’ve confronted him at home, not in front of everyone.”  He wassolemn now.  “The pack is getting restless.  Your dad can’t control his owndaughters so how can he control a pack.  The pack is getting restless and he’sgetting more out of control.  Your dad needs a woman.”  I made a face that hecouldn’t see.  Eww.  “Then when Autumn told him that it was your idea, the shithit the fan.  He tore the house apart.  Freddy has been sleeping in the cave inthe woods because he’s scared to death.  If this works out, we should bring himtoo.”

“At least dadhasn’t any plans to barter with Freddy’s future.”  Jackson is reaching for thecoffee and I hand it to him after I take another sip.  I hear a growl rumblethrough his chest when he sips it and I wonder what it means.  I’ve never heardthat one before.

“How long do wehave to go?”  Jackson asks and I hear his cell phone chirp.

“Did you bringyour phone Jackson?”  I nearly wail.  He digs it out of his pocket and I snatchit from him.  There is a text message from his brother that dinner is ready. At least he didn’t tell anyone.  I roll the window down then throw it out.  “Itold you to leave it at home.”

“Sorry, Iforgot.”  He reaches over and squeezes my arm.  “I won’t tell you that it wasexpensive and I need it.  I screwed up, sorry, it won’t happen again.  How muchlonger?”

“An hour.  We’llsleep at my place tonight then you’ll meet Larry first thing tomorrow.  Ifyou’re staying fine, if not I will return you to the truck stop and what you dothen is up to you.”

“And if I’mstaying you are taking me back to get my damn truck.”  I laugh.  His truck is hisbaby.  It was his grandpa’s and willed to him.  Jackson spends most of hisweekends working on it or rubbing it with a diaper. 

“Okay yeah, I cando that.”  I adjusted my grip on the steering wheel.

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