Reborn (Alpha's Claim Book 3)

BOOK: Reborn (Alpha's Claim Book 3)
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Reborn

Alpha’s Claim Book Three

By

Addison Cain

 

©2016 by Blushing Books® and Addison Cain

 

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Published by Blushing Books®,

a subsidiary of

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The trademark Blushing Books®

is registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.

 

Addison Cain

Reborn

 

Cover Design by ABCD Graphics

EBook ISBN: 978-1-68259-831-3

 

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Chapter 1

 

Collar of his coat flipped up to protect his neck from the growing cold of the halls, Shepherd returned at last from being called away by his soldiers. He found his mate nervous, the acrid scent of Omega fear spoiling the air. But, mostly she was expectant and blissfully unaware of just what was going on above ground.

And he would never tell her.

Shepherd made no move to approach the panicky woman, he simply stood as Claire looked him over from boots to skull. The Omega searched out any hint of what had called him from her, looking for blood splatter, or the swelling of his knuckles, relieved when she found nothing out of the ordinary.

His Claire was angry, but far more reassured that he’d returned seeming
normal
.

When the Omega stepped forward to touch him, to initiate what had to be done to seal their bargain, Shepherd spoke. “You are hungry, little one. We will eat first.”

We
will eat first?

Shepherd did not go to the door to fetch food. Instead, he went to where he stored his clothing and began pulling off his coat, armor, and boots. Bunched muscles flexed, he pulled his shirt over his head, handing it to her. Unthinkingly, Claire took it and put it, as he expected, in her nest.

Distracted by the task, the Omega chewed her lip, taking time to arrange the scented fabric and remove something old to be washed.

A knock sounded, Shepherd barked for the visitor to enter.

Jules came in with their food, set it down and left in seconds—the trivial familiarity he shared with Claire completely concealed by his indifference. She found it minorly amusing, especially the way Shepherd shifted to put his body between her and the Beta.

When the door closed, Claire found it very difficult to suppress a snort.

“What is funny?” the male growled, narrowing his eyes.


You
are funny, Shepherd.” Claire arranged herself at the table. “That man has brought me meals dozens of times when you are not here—so you must trust him. Yet there you are, glaring at him as if he were not your friend. You have serious issues...”

Shepherd only grunted in answer. Dressed only in trousers, he came to the table. “It is a natural reaction for an Alpha to guard his Omega from dangerous men.”

But not dangerous women...

Glancing at the food, Claire felt wholly disillusioned. She began to comprehend what was going on, what he had arranged for himself. This, the meal, was a show—a show where she was not spectator, but entertainer. She was expected to perform for the man lowering himself into the seat across from her. Reminding herself their agreement only required she initiate sex, nothing more, she picked up her fork and chose not to argue. Instead, Claire focused on the beautiful dinner, the male mirroring her movements and tasting the food.

It seemed awkward, the silence, and out of habit and good manners, Claire found herself wanting to make small talk, knowing it would be both pointless and something Shepherd would not respond to.

Except, he began it. “I have been told this is one of your chef’s most famous dishes.”

Cocking a brow, Claire looked up from the steamed fish and nodded, momentarily confused. “My chef? You do not eat his cooking?”

“Her cooking, and no.”

That seemed strange. “What do you normally eat?”

“What my men eat. Communal food amongst those who’ve endured the Undercroft bears an importance I do not expect you to understand or submit to.”

There were a great many things about the man she didn’t understand.

Seeing that the woman was puzzled and still tense, Shepherd offered a modicum of explanation. “After years subsisting off mold, our digestive tracts have altered.
Followers’
diets must be bland, and the required nutritional additives have an unpleasant taste and smell. The bulk of my meal was consumed before I returned to you. This is… supplementary.”

Was that why he never ate in her presence? She looked at the beautifully arranged plate. “Well, considering all your other physical attributes, I think it’s only fair you have one restriction.”

The male smirked, gratified. “Physical attributes?”

“You are very tall,” Claire quipped flatly, taking another bite, not at all interested in padding the Alpha’s ego.

His foot bumped hers under the table. “List another attribute.”

Dodging Alpha pride was something Claire had years of experience with. “You are bald. It must save time not combing your hair.”

Narrowed eyes matched his agitated reply. “I shave my head.”

Claire sneered, pleased her slight had pricked him, and took another bite of dinner.

“You are playing with me, little one,” he added, intrigued, once he saw her mischievous expression.

Gesturing with her fork, Claire explained. “You’re arrogant enough. I am not going to feed that beast.”

Shepherd countered, his own evil smirk appearing. “You will later. When I move inside you tonight, you will hum about my prowess and strength… You will want to say all those things and more.”

The self-satisfied expression, the fact she knew what was coming—worse still, the fact he could inspire such a declaration—made Claire’s cheeks flame. She would cry out for him, admire him physically with her hands and tongue, but she would keep her words to herself. “We shall see.”

The grin that spread his scarred lips, the absolute hunger in his expression, only added to the Alpha’s excitement. “A challenge from the coy, little Omega...”

For a second, Claire believed he might reach across the table and devour her. Even the way Shepherd breathed as he watched her eat implied his exercise of control warred with his impulse to mount her.

“You seem like you are in an awfully good mood.” Claire thought back to how he had left her earlier, lingering anxiety matching the disapproval in her voice. “What did you do today?”

“Nothing of importance, aside from wondering what would be waiting for me in this room when I returned,” Shepherd purred, charmed by her attempted interrogation. “I think of you often when we are parted.”

Gods, even his scent was dripping sex.

The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent. -Sun Tzu

Sucking her lower lip into her mouth, Claire tried to figure out if he was trying to distract her, or mislead her. Looking at him, at the exposed musculature of his chest and arms, she found Shepherd sat with arrogance and authority, as if her regard were his due. Claire cocked her head, she tested. “If you were so eager for the remainder of our bargain, then why are we eating together?”

“Out of respect for my mate. I had fine food prepared and we are engaging in conversation, as you stated you desired... and as Dome culture dictates.”

Claire understood at once, this was not just a shared meal. It was Shepherd’s attempt at another courtship custom—like the foam flowers in her coffee. Pushing her hair behind her ear, her nervous blush deepened.

He exercised the softer expression he saved for the kill. Claire saw it, and knew at once her assessment was correct. Shepherd was, in his way, trying to woo her.

Unsure, Claire murmured, “This is to relax me.”

“Yes.”

“So I perform better for you?”

He gave her a long look that said yes, no, and a thousand other things. Unsmiling, his head just a tick to the side, Shepherd grunted. “You do not appreciate the effort?”

There was definitely a wrong answer, and that was the only one she wanted to blurt out. Biting her tongue, she looked at the shirtless man and said, “You are courting me.”

“According to your customs, yes.”

She was not sure what made her curious, but Claire had to ask, “Wouldn’t they also be your courtship customs?”

The man seemed momentarily at a loss for an easy answer. “There was no concept of courtship in the Undercroft. Men just took what they wanted. Violently.”

All too familiar anger bubbled under her skin, Claire aware that was exactly what he had done to her. “So that is the culture you choose to identify with?”

It seemed like such a simple question, but Shepherd took his time measuring his reply, as if tailoring it in his head first. “I choose to identify with military culture.”

The corner of her lips curled, Claire took another bite, wondering how on earth the crazy man across the table existed.

Shepherd disliked her reaction. “You find my answer unsatisfactory.”

Waving her fork, she stated blandly, “I find it unique. Very Shepherd-like.”

“Explain.”

Claire leaned forward and met his eyes with a harsh look in her own. “You have strong opinions on
my
culture, have made several claims of our failings and vices... but you do not have a culture of your own. Considering the aspersions you cast, it seems your personal experience with real society is negligible.”

The male straightened in his chair. “I have extensively studied Dome life for many years. I lived above ground and below. I watched, learned, followed, and remembered.”

The man was completely missing her point, or he was redirecting her on purpose. “Have you participated in
my
society before you tried to ruin it? Only watching doesn’t count. Your military culture, the ethos you created for your Followers, is just Undercroft society tailored to conveniently meet your manifesto.”

Shepherd warned, “We have our own traditions and an honorable philosophy, little one.”

“That’s right, a whole army of honorable monsters who probably roast humans on a spit for fun.”

The man answered with a very droll, “We only do that on high holidays.”

Claire almost choked when Shepherd actually make a joke. Coughing into her hand, chuckling despite herself, she found the male very pleased with himself for rousing her amusement.

She could feel the wheels in his mind turning, understood he had tried to banter in the same manner he’d witnessed between her and Maryanne. It was very strange to witness the way Shepherd’s mind processed and adapted; he was like a sponge that absorbed interaction but didn’t quite know how to apply it. So he practiced, usually falling short. Except that time... that time had been perfect.

Taking another bite so she could hide her smirk, Claire asked, “Enlighten me, Shepherd. Where do Omegas fit into military culture?”

Shepherd began to consider. It seemed like such a human gesture, the way he sucked his plump lower lip into his mouth, so totally normal, Claire could not look away. A moment later, Shepherd offered, “Napoleon was an Omega.”

Claire blinked, cocked her head, and argued. “No he wasn’t.”

Shepherd grinned, he leaned closer. “It is a well-documented fact, little one. A fact pointedly removed from the Dome’s retained version of history. Unlike you, I am not afraid to read forbidden books.”

If such a thing were true, then why was it considered dangerous to know?

Claire did not believe him. “Are you telling me an Omega pillaged through Europe’s monarchies and created an empire?”

Self-righteous to the core, Shepherd nodded. “That is exactly what I am telling you.”

The idea he might be right, made Claire doubt herself. “Why would that knowledge be forbidden?”

“Because it did not fall into line with the Callas family’s crafted society all those living under the Dome are slave to.”

“Or maybe it was because that man was a megalomaniac and a monster. Napoleon was insane and not the best role model for Omegas.” Even as Claire disagreed, she didn’t support her own bad argument. It was obvious in her uncertain tone and disappointed expression.

“Napoleon’s rule, even his ultimate defeat, led to enlightenment, art, and the emancipation of the slaves in Britain. Napoleon changed the world through his violent actions and commitment. He was a very clever tactician devoted to his cause.” Shepherd offered what he perceived as a compliment. “Would such an outcome not please you,
little Napoleon
?”

Her soft breath conveyed trepidation. “Is this where you try to convince me he was a good man despite all the terrible things he did? That you are a good man?”

“No.”

Claire ran a hand through her hair, a nervous habit, and offered, “You could be a good man, Shepherd.”

He leaned towards her, expression soft and voice natural. “We are not so different in the absoluteness of our dedication to change the world for the better. You gave up your very sense of self to the mob, reprimanding the city with your flyer—exposing who you were, trying to inspire. I do what must be done, because I am strong enough to do it, and I understand truly evil men in a way I pray you will never know. So you must grasp that I cannot be, in my duty, what
you
define as good—just as you could never safely live amongst Thólos society as Claire O’Donnell ever again. We both sacrificed our lives for the greater good.”

She didn’t know why she felt compelled to ask, but the question came before she could stop herself. “What was your reaction to my flyer?”

BOOK: Reborn (Alpha's Claim Book 3)
13.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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