Authors: Jamie Klaire,J. M. Klaire
The Complete Series, Parts 1, 2 & 3
By Jamie Klaire
writing as J. M. Klaire
The Complete Series, Parts 1, 2 & 3
By Jamie Klaire
writing as J. M. Klaire
New Adult Paranormal Romance
Emma is a typical cop's daughter, who is very rarely held accountable for her actions, until the day she gets caught shop lifting with her best friend and partner in crime, Kate. Desperate to turn the girls back towards the straight and narrow path, their fathers send them to live with Emma's deceased mother's "people."
Emma is first shocked to learn that her mother has "people," and then she is even more surprised to learn those people...aren't completely human.
Thomas is the aging Alpha of a hidden werewolf pack, whose two sons, the mysterious Elam and the dark and sexy Galen, soon find themselves enamored of the two new women, vying for Alpha, and starting to uncover the secret of Emma's mother's past.
Emma knew the clichéd stereotype about being a cop's daughter, and she fit it to a tee. The fact that her best friend Kate was a preacher's kid, and neither of their parents were around very much, didn't help matters at all. The pair had learned early that the world was their playground, and no one had the nerve to turn them in. Until today.
Emma and Kate had decided to spend Emma's 18th birthday the way they spent most weekends- shopping. Shopping, for them, meant shoplifting. Emma and Kate were quite proud of the fact that they hadn't actually spent any money in a store for a couple of months now, preferring to challenge each other to see who could steal the choicest stuff on each 'shopping' trip.
Kate usually won, being much more daring, but today Emma had been damned determined to win. It was her birthday, after all.
Their biggest mistake, as Emma saw it, was leaving the county in which they lived, and in which her dad was the Sherriff, and trying their skills in the neighboring county's big city mall.
Because here, her daddy's name meant nothing.
"Please, sir..." Kate tried pleading with the store's manager, to no avail.
"I know, I know. It's your first time to do something like this, it was a dare, you've never done anything like this before, your parents will kill you if I call them, can't I just let you go this one time, you've learned your lesson and won't ever do this again."
His sarcasm shut Kate up, her big brown eyes confused. She was used to getting her way, based purely on her looks, with Emma's daddy as her back-up plan.
Emma wasn't sure if it was Kate's not understanding that her boobs weren't getting them out of trouble this time, or if it was the manager's been-there-heard-that eye-rolling that amused her, but she couldn't help the snort that escaped her lips.
Kate shot her a
look, but Emma just shook her head at her friend, trying to tell her with body language that nothing she could say would help here. Now if they had stayed closer to home, instead of trying their skills here...well, that would have been different.
But Kate wasn't quite ready to give up just yet. "Do you know who we are? Who
is?" Kate carried on, desperate.
"Not a clue. And honestly, I don't really care." Was the manager's response, as he waited for the police officer he had already called to show up.
" She said it like it would mean something here.
He just looked at her, eyebrows raised, his look clearly saying, "Who?"
Kate kept on, trying to dig them out of this hole they found themselves in. A hole they were not used to being in. Damn, why had they left Catt county?
"Sheriff Hayle's daughter?" Kate insisted.
"No idea who that is, sorry. But she does look kind of like, umm, what's her name? The one always getting into trouble out in Hollywood? That redhead, the one who used to be cute? Only, taller."
Emma knew which actress he was referring to, there were only so many redheads, and she got compared to all of them over the years, but she didn't help him out with any names. She was determined not to open her mouth in here and give anyone any ammunition to use against her. Although, taller was not the word she was used to hearing when someone compared her to someone else.
"Sheriff Hayle's kid?" A new voice spoke up, pulling the girls' attention to the office door that had opened silently.
An older, grizzled-looking police officer filled the doorway, his tired eyes looked over the girls, and settled on Emma.
"No, she doesn't look like who you mean. She looks like that other one, the one who plays that author's daughter on that TV show. Only...bigger."
And there it was, Emma thought. That's the word she was used to- bigger.
Emma did stand inches above most girls her age, but it was that word, bigger, that most people settled on when they talked about her, trying to be nice. She knew that petite would never be a word she'd hear aimed in her direction, but she herself preferred words like statuesque, or shapely, to the harsher words she always heard muttered around her growing up.
Determination to avoid a discussion about her looks made her finally open her mouth.
"You know my dad?" She asked the question while trying to place the uniformed man in her memory. He didn't fit.
"No, not umm, personally. I have heard about him, though. Lots of, shall we say, weird goings on happen on your side of the county line, don't they?"
Great, Emma pouted. We've gone from discussing my Amazon-woman looks to discussing
rumors. Awesome. Next he'll be asking me if...
"So, your dad ever find any of those Sasquatches he's always going on about?"
"What? That's not...oh, never mind. Are you arresting us or not?"
The officer's face went from bemused, comparing her to famous redheads and teasing her about her dad, which she was used to, to seriously contemplating his next move.
The store manager jumped in, "We will press charges, officer. I'm tired of these damn kids coming here and thinking they can..."
"I think arrest may be a bit premature..." The officer said, interrupting. He continued with, "How 'bout we call your daddy the Sheriff up real quick? Let him decide, huh?"
"That's how this is going to go?" The manager got red in the face. "He has no jurisdiction in this county. Damn it, I should have called the state police instead of..."
"State troopers? For shoplifting?" The officer laughed. "Good luck with that. Now, if I'm not mistaken, this is their first offense, correct? Just do what you normally do. Take their pictures, pin them up on your wall of shame, and I'll call their parents. I'm quite sure that one's dad," he pointed at Kate this time, "will make it worth your while to stay quiet about this. And, if he holds true to what I've heard about him, he will probably buy those pictures off of you, as well. Come on girls, let's get you two home."
Against the manager's protests, the officer herded the girls through the office, out the front doors of the store and into the waiting patrol car. As they pulled away, Kate blew the manager a kiss from the back seat, and Emma just grinned, convinced that this, the first time they had actually gotten caught, would be swept under the rug, along with most everything they had ever done. She wondered how big the pile under that rug had to become before her daddy would notice the lump, but she was happy to hide it if everyone else was.
She rolled her eyes, smiling at her friend as Kate started to pour on the charm. So far, any time they had ever come close to getting busted, Kate's not-so-innocent looks and outrageous charm, coupled with the threat of upsetting Emma's dad, was enough to smooth over any hard feelings.
"So, Officer Hot Stuff, what do two poor, down on their luck girls gotta do to get you to let us out of this car and send us on our way?"
Emma rolled her eyes, still grinning. That line always worked, even on old guys, like this officer. They'd never had to actually back it up with anything, the offer usually made guys blush and fall all over themselves to please the gorgeous Kate, and the intimidatingly quiet Emma. They weren't quite sure what would happen if anyone tried to take them up on it, but so far the line, delivered with one of Kate's bright smiles, was all that was ever needed.
"Sorry Lucy and Ethel, you're in my county now. I didn't have you arrested, purely out of professional curtesy, but the only way you two are being released is to your parents, at the police station. You guys can cool it in the drunk tank until someone comes for you. It's conveniently empty right now, although I can't promise that it smells very good."
"Lucy and who?"
"Sorry, am I showing my age again? How about Thelma and Louise, then? Is that better?"
Emma looked at Kate, confused. Had he lost his mind? Kate mouthed to Emma, "He's as crazy as your old man!"
Emma nodded, her conviction that all would end well sliding into her stomach and starting to burn. No one had ever called her dad before. She turned panicked eyes back to Kate. Kate had always pulled them out of the fire, Emma usually only ever had to pull herself up to her full height, quietly give people
look, and let her name do all the work for her if Kate's boldness ever failed.
Actually having to face their sins, at a strange police station, waiting behind bars for their parents was new. Neither of them was looking forward to it.
Emma watched as Kate paced back and forth in their small cell. Even locked up and desperate, Kate looked beautiful. All dark hair, dark eyes, and a smile that promised not only sensual pleasure, but pure, uninhibited fun.
"Wait, back up." Emma ordered Kate, quietly. "Now turn a bit, look all pouty and worried, staring off into space again. You reminded me of someone, and I just couldn't place...oh! Megan Fox. That's who you just looked like. And now you ruined it."
Emma giggled as Kate crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue, most un-Megan Fox-like.
"I wish I looked like you," Emma sighed, trying to kill the time before their parents arrived by pretending she wasn't locked in a drunk tank, waiting on her dad.
"Me? Whatever for?"
Emma was about to elaborate, comparing herself and her giantess height, garish red hair and fair coloring to her friend's beauty, lingering on the size of her stomach, ass and thighs, but she stopped when her dad stepped in front of their little cell, led by the officer that brought them in here, and followed by Kate's father, who was bringing up the rear of the small group.
Emma couldn't help but smile at her dad's appearance in front of her. Every time she saw him, which wasn't very often as he was always gone or working, he reminded her of the cartoon dad in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, only taller.
She'd always been told she got her fiery looks from her mother, who died shortly after Emma was born. All she knew was that she didn't see any of herself in her father, Henry, at all.
His prematurely white hair stood up in little poufs where he had obviously run his hands through it, probably worrying about her. That thought made Emma feel guilty.
His moustache twitched as he took his time, preparing to speak.
Henry looked at the girls, nodding an acknowledgement at Kate, and focusing in on his daughter. His eyes drooped a bit, always making him look like he'd lived a tough life, but when you looked past his face, and into the eyes themselves, there was a calmness in their depths that made even strangers want to trust him. It was part of what made him such a good and well-respected Sheriff, once you got past his eccentricities.
"Emma, you aren't going to like what I have to say, I'll tell you that much right up front. But it's got to be said. I haven't done right by you, not by a long shot."
Emma started to protest, standing up in a rush to face her dad. She was just as tall as he, looking him eye to eye for a few years now. She was used to it. She towered over most women, standing eye to eye with most men since she'd turned sixteen or so.
He stilled her protests with a small motion of his hand and a narrowing of his eyes, and kept talking.
"I've been easier on you than I ever should have been, not having your mom around to help me and all. I'm gone pretty often on police business, and I've left you to largely raise yourself, relying on the proverbial village to help raise you. I knew it wasn't right, but it is what it is now."
He cleared his throat, obviously buying himself a little time before continuing.
"I've done you a disservice, and I know it. You have a choice to make, and I'll have your answer before I let you out of here. In the old days, men that were headed down the path you ladies seem to be headed down were given the choice of jail or the military. That, and pressure from your mom's family over the past few years, is where I got the idea."
Emma's heart sped up at the mention of her mother's family. Dad hardly ever spoke of them, and hearing them brought up here, now, made her breath come in quick pants, and her eyes widen in surprise.
"I can easily leave you here, to be processed as a criminal, letting the store manager press charges, and resulting in you having an official criminal record. You're an adult now. Happy Birthday, by the way. Or, you can choose to spend one year with your mother's people."
Emma shook her head in shock and confusion. Her mother has people?
"They aren't very far away, but they do keep largely to themselves. It's a rather, how should I say this?" He paused, his eyes darting to Kate and to Kate's father beside him, before continuing in what felt to Emma as a more guarded tone.
"It's a rather contained, traditional, almost tribal population. They would be good for you. They'd teach you respect, honor, things I seem to have failed to instill."
"Dad, don't! Don't send me away, please. It's my first offense, I've learned my lesson, I swear."
He just shook his head saying, "No, Emma. It's just the first time someone held you accountable. I've known about all the other times, you two aren't nearly as good at being bad girls as you think you are. In town, the shop keepers just keep a tally of what you take, and they send me a bill."
"What?" Kate beat Emma to it, standing up and facing her own dad, who was nodding beside Henry.
"You knew, you both knew? So what, you just made fools of us? Following behind us and cleaning up after us?" Kate's voice got louder.
"You've made fools of yourselves, actually," Kate's dad spoke up. "But yes, we did clean up after you. I'm just as guilty as Henry here. I know what preacher's kids are supposed to be like. I kept hoping it was a little phase you two were going through, together. And hoping you would get over it."
Henry spoke again, "I was trying to figure out how to best handle you, but then you guys went out of my county. I have no jurisdiction here, we're just lucky that they called us instead of booking you."
"So that's it? Those are my choices? Spend a year with my mom's family, whom I've never met, and didn't even know existed, or stay here?"
"It is still my first official offense. What would they do? Make me pay a fine? Give me some jail time? Way less than a year, I bet. Maybe community service?"
"An arrest record, fingerprints, a mug shot. A history that will follow you forever. Good luck getting into college, or getting a good job. Telling some future fiancé about your past, telling your kids why mommy has a record. Choosing your mother's people will avoid all of that. And, think of it this way- you get to know your mother's family. Where you come from, their way of life, people who knew her, grew up with her. They are a bit...different, but they are good people. Honorable people."
He shot a look toward the others again, obviously still not telling her something. But he had always been closed and quiet about her mother, so Emma didn't think much about what he could be leaving unsaid.
Emma thought about it, and didn't really see much of a choice here. It was your classic no-brainer. She could stay here in jail, or get a second chance that most other petty criminals didn't get, and also get to see where her mother came from.
The more she thought about it, with the shock of her dad's ultimatum wearing off some, the more her mind raced. Her thoughts circled. She'd always heard vague whispers when her mom's name would come up, rumors and secrets never being exposed to the light of day. Either rude, staring eyes or averted gazes were the norm when her mom's name was mentioned.
Before she could answer, Kate's dad injected, "Would Kate be welcomed, too?"
All eyes flew to him, Henry being the first to speak, "I'm sorry?"
"I'm just kidding. I was going to tell Kate in the car, but this seems like a good time for my news as well, with her being behind bars and all."
He turned to Emma's dad saying, "My wife and I were offered a transfer, through the church. The mission trips that our congregation supports, they go to Africa every chance they get. To help out, to teach, build houses, clean up their water, and all that. They lost their pastor. We'd been discussing whether or not to take the position, to move the family to Africa for a while, and the phone call we got telling us to come here to collect our daughter from jail cinched it for us."
He turned back to Kate, "Your mother and I are taking the post. Moving to Africa. You are coming with us. No stores to lift from there, I'd guess. It would give us a chance to start over, to steer you better. You are 18, I know that. But I also know that you are nowhere near being able to support yourself here. So, you are coming with us. Unless of course, you'd rather stay here, taking your chances with the legal system and having to find a real, self-supporting, bill-paying job. It's your choice."
Kate cried, yelled, bargained and cajoled, as Emma sat and thought. It wasn't an ideal choice, but as she sat, watching Kate try to persuade her father, Emma's mind was elsewhere.
A year was a long time, yes. Especially when it was spent with strangers, in what her dad had said was an odd, contained, traditional, almost tribal community of her mother's family.
It sounded almost like a cult to Emma, but she trusted her dad not to send her somewhere dangerous.
As Kate started to wind down beside her, accepting her fate, Emma started to get excited at the chance to see where her mom came from. She looked at her dad, searching deep in his eyes. She saw trust there, and love, and as always, for as long as she could remember, a large amount of heartbreak.
She knew somehow that her dad, in trying to save her, was also offering her a huge opportunity. But she also saw a dark, hidden knowledge buried in there. A secret that her dad had never been willing to talk about, that she knew she'd soon be a part of.
His eyebrows rose in silent question as Kate and her dad came to their own agreements. Somewhere deep inside Emma, a restless part of her that she often fought to tame, or at least to understand, stirred again. With a mixture of excitement, dread, and a large dose of fear, she nodded her acceptance to his terms.