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Authors: Aileen Erin

Becoming Alpha

BOOK: Becoming Alpha
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Copyright © 2013 by Ink Monster LLC

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

ISBN 9780989405010

Ink Monster, LLC.
34 Chandler Place
Newton, MA 02464

www.inkmonster.net

This book is dedicated to my best friend, partner, husband. Thank you for encouraging me to follow my dreams, for your unwavering support in all things, and for believing in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. You have my heart always.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Acknowledgements

Chapter One

The noise from the party raging downstairs seeped into my quiet space. I palmed my blue and red bouncy ball as I lay on my bed facing the wall. I threw it in the air a few times to watch the colors blur together before bouncing it off the wall above my headboard.

It was ten o’clock at night on a Thursday, and the party was just getting started. My parents said that having people over tonight was unavoidable. We were leaving for Cedar Ridge, Texas—a town too small to register on most maps—in a few days, and people wanted to say good-bye. Any other seventeen year old would probably be excited about sneaking a drink or having an excuse to buy a new dress, but not me. I wasn’t much of a party person. Or a people person.

With my stuff already packed up and the TVs unhooked, I was beyond bored. Still, there was no way I was going downstairs.

I’d disappeared to my room as soon as the caterers arrived. Since then, I’d found the end of the internet. Apparently there were only so many .gifs a girl could enjoy. Unless I wanted to pay for crappy re-runs, I was out of things to watch and left with only a bouncy ball to aid in my entertainment.

It’d been a bad idea to pack everything but my essentials so early. Twenty-three small boxes were stacked against the side of my room. Most of them were filled with books. The only stuff that I’d left unpacked would fit into a small duffel bag and my backpack.

But a bouncy ball was better than nothing, and much better than braving the crowd downstairs. I threw it to the beat of the music and counted down the seconds. Those would turn
into minutes, and then into hours, and then eventually back into quiet so I could go to sleep. I was really looking forward to a fresh start. The sooner I could go to sleep, the sooner it’d be tomorrow.

Only three more nights until Texas. Until everything would change. I smiled at the thought. This girl could use some change.

A knock came from my door. “Bathroom’s downstairs,” I yelled. I held my breath as I listened, hoping they heard me.

The knob turned. Shit. I should’ve locked it.

I hopped off my bed. “Hey—”

“Whatcha doin’, Tessa?” My older brother, Axel, swung open the door.

I sat back down on the bed. He knew exactly what I was doing. “What do you want?”

He leaned against the doorframe. He was well over half a foot taller than me, but that didn’t mean much to my five feet and almost nothing inches. We had the same wavy dark brown hair—when he let his grow—and the same dark brown eyes, thanks to our Latina mom. “Dad wants you to come downstairs, even if it’s just for a minute. People are asking about you.”

I made a face. “I’d rather not. Cover for me?”

“What if I said a certain celeb was down there?” He waggled his eyebrows. “The one who I saw you drooling over last week?”

I threw the ball at him and he caught it, laughing. The jerk. Dad’s combo of PR work and law degree made him a hot commodity in Hollywood. He now had an enviable number of high profile clients. If I were more into the LA scene, then maybe the guest list would’ve been appealing.

I chewed on my lip, unable to deny the draw of my latest actor crush—James MacAvoy. Nothing hotter than a guy with a sexy Scottish accent. “He’s really downstairs?”

Axel nodded.

I thought for a second and then sighed. “Still can’t do it. I don’t want to destroy the illusion that my favorite Scotsman is absolute perfection. What if he has a zit? Or spills something on himself? Or worse—what if I accidentally touch him and get a vision? The dream will shatter. And that, big brother, is not worth it. Even if I was willing to risk having a million other random visions, which I’m not.”

He rolled his eyes at me and stepped into my room.

“Hey!” I jumped off the bed. “Don’t come in here. This is a clean zone.” He knew I wasn’t referring to the fact that I was a neat-freak, but that everything in the room was new. Touched by a minimal amount of people. It was my only defense. A quick brush of skin-against-skin, or even skin-against-other-person’s-property, was sometimes enough to give me an in-depth view into their mind. As much as that might sound like fun, it was usually more icky than cool.

He held up his hands. “Please, Tess. I know the drill.” He moseyed his way to my bed and collapsed. “Come here.” He patted his side.

I looked at him suspiciously. “The shirt’s new?”

“Yes.”

I lay down on my side next to him, resting my head on his chest.

A quick vision of a factory in some Asian country filled my mind. The humid heat had me sweating as the clacking of hundreds of sewing machines echoed in my head.

“Are you sweating?” Axel’s voice brought me back to my room. “Christ. It’s like lying next to a furnace.”

I elbowed him as I rolled away. “Your fault. That’s a sweatshop shirt you’re wearing.”

“Shit. I actually liked this shirt.” He pulled it away from his chest, making a face as if it’d suddenly grown mold. “I should let you touch my stuff before I buy anything.”

I wiped the sweat from my brow. “If you like it, then wear it. You already did whatever damage you were going to do by buying it in the first place. You never would’ve known if you didn’t have a freak for a sister.”

He was quiet for a second. “You’re going to have to come out of this room at some point. You can’t hide forever.”

He did this at least once a month, but he hadn’t gotten the family “gift.” I had.

“You’re not Rogue, you know,” he said.

Oh God. He was on variation five-B of the speech also known as The Comic Book Rip-off. “You’re not going to kill someone if you touch them,” I finished for him, mimicking his deeper voice.

“Right. Well. I still think that if you learned to block it out instead of trying to avoid it, then you’d be able to have some kind of normal life.”

Maybe he was right, but you couldn’t wash your mind or un-see things. “Yeah, well, believe it or not, too much information is an actual thing. Like getting the glimpse of when you and Bambi—”

“Blair.”

“Whatever.” I gagged.

“I don’t know why you’re so stubborn. Not letting anyone touch you isn’t the answer.”

I elbowed him again. “Gross! You want people to touch me. That’s so messed up.”

“Shut it. You know what I meant.” He messed up my hair. “I’m gone in a few weeks, and I’m worried about you.”

I glanced up at him. We looked like twins, except he was all angles, whereas my face was round. Axel was only two years older than me, and was, without a doubt, my best friend. “I’ll be fine without your butt stinking up the house.”

He smiled like I wanted, but I wasn’t so sure that I’d actually be fine. Even if he wouldn’t admit it, I knew he’d picked a Texas college because we’d still be within driving distance. I hated that he’d turned down other schools, and hated myself a little for being glad that he’d done it.

He nudged me. “I dare you to find out what the deal is with Dad’s new job.”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s leaving his celeb-filled job in LA to work for some random boarding school in Texas. That doesn’t strike you as odd at all?”

I shrugged. “I guess I hadn’t thought about it. I’m just looking forward to not going back to school here. I don’t think I could take another year of those monsters.” I paused. I shouldn’t have brought that up. “Look. The gloves will work fine in a school that’s clueless as to what they mean. I’m old enough not to talk about what I see anymore. Plus, I’m getting better at minimizing the number of visions I get. It’ll be a fresh start, and I’m not about to poke holes in something that might actually be a good thing.”

“Aren’t you curious? Even a little?”

I thought about it. “Well, I wasn’t…”

Axel sat up so quickly that I almost fell off the bed. “You have to go downstairs, to Dad’s office, and touch some of those papers from St. Ailbe’s.”

“That’s a terrible idea.” Going downstairs during a party where people might actually want to hug me good-bye was a disaster waiting to happen. Add messing around in Dad’s office, and I’d be begging for a grounding. Only a moron would agree to this.

“Come on.” He gave me the look-that cocky, half-grin that told me I was about to get into trouble. “We’ll go downstairs, sneak a glass of champagne, you can get an eye-full of Sir Hunkalot, and then we can find out the real story on this move. We’ll be sneaky, and no one will see us.” He paused. “I didn’t want to have to say this, but I double-dog dare you.”

I couldn’t stop the grin. “What are you? Twelve?”

“What are you? Forty?” He poked me. “Live a little. You’ve gotta start having some fun, Tess.”

I wouldn’t mind seeing Sir Hunkalot. I snickered at the name. Plus, whatever we did had to be more entertaining than bouncing a ball against the wall. “Fine. But if I do this, then you’ve got to do something for me.”

Axel crossed his arms. “Name it.”

I could never think of anything good enough on the spot and he knew it. Then it came to me, and an evil grin spread across my face. “No chicharones on the road trip.” I almost patted myself on the back. Fried pork skins were something that I couldn’t stomach. Even if both he and my mom swore they were positively delectable.

His mouth dropped open. “What! You’re talking about messing with a road trip tradition. That’s sacred stuff.”

I crossed my arms. “They’re disgusting.”

“You’ve never even tried them.” He narrowed his gaze. “They’re delicious.”

“I don’t need to try them to know I won’t like them. Eating pig skin in any form is revolting.” I stared him down. “And they stink.” It might not seem like a big deal, but on a road trip halfway across the country, it was huge. Multiple bags could be avoided. Two days of a chicharone-free car ride was more than adequate reparation for one vision. “Do we have a deal?”

He left my room.

Great. Now I actually wanted the deal, and he was bailing. I wouldn’t give in. If I knew my brother at all, he’d be back in ten, nine, eight, seven—

“Just kidding.” He appeared back in the doorway. “Let’s do this.”

I started out the door and then ran back. I’d only left a few pairs of gloves unpacked. I grabbed the heather gray cotton pair and slid them on, doing up the apple buttons along the forearm as I walked into the hallway. I would’ve changed, but there was nothing nicer for me to put on. My jeans, white peasant blouse, and leather flip-flops would have to do. “Ready?”

BOOK: Becoming Alpha
8.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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