Read Single Wolf Female (Midnight Liaisons) Online

Authors: Jessica Sims

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Single Wolf Female (Midnight Liaisons) (6 page)

BOOK: Single Wolf Female (Midnight Liaisons)
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“Len, don’t even start,” I said.

He reached for my arm — only to have his hand batted away by Jackson.

“That a challenge?” Jackson asked in his low, careful voice.

“It’s not,” I said quickly, trying to push between them. “Len doesn’t even want me. Not really. He just wants to be in charge, but he doesn’t realize—“

“Oh, it’s a challenge,” Len said, refuting my words.

“No,” I began, but no one was listening to me any longer.

Over my head, Jackson seized Len by his shirt, and before I could blink an eye, he’d thrown Len against the kitchen wall and held him there, pinned. Jackson’s lips were bared in a snarl, and as I watched, he stared down Len. Just stared at him. No thrown punches, nothing.

A long, tense moment passed…and then Len edged his chin up, showing throat.

It was over so quickly.

Jackson released Len’s shirt, now stretched out from his fists, and Len collapsed against the wall, chest heaving as if he’d ran a mile. He stared at us for a long moment, then bolted for the door.

I needed to go after him, smooth things over.

Trina had the same idea. She got to her feet, intending to go after her brother.

“No,” Jackson said, pointing at her. Then he looked at me and gave a slight shake of his head, as if he knew what I was going to do.

Trina thumped back into her seat, eyes wide.

“Let’s finish breakfast, shall we?” Jackson’s voice was easy. “It’ll make Alice unhappy if we waste all this food.”

I didn’t give a shit about the food. Every instinct in me that wanted to keep the pack together screamed that I should go after Len. It was hard to ignore that and sit back down, but I did, the thump of my seat echoing Trina’s from a few moments ago. I forced myself to pick up a sandwich, unwrap it, and take a big bite.

Following my lead, the others began to eat.

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

When breakfast was over, the kids scattered to unpack their things and return their rooms to normal. Holly, always the thoughtful one, offered to help Dan set up his room. Trina naturally wanted to help as well, and tagged along. Before I knew it, they were all hanging out in Dan’s new room, pointing out how he should arrange furniture and asking him what sports he liked, what TV shows he and Jackson watched.

They seemed to be settling in okay. “Jackson and I are going to run and visit the rent houses. You have my number if anything comes up, right?”

They nodded. Holly smiled gently at me. Trina texted into her phone, ignoring me. Heck, things were almost back to normal.

“Okay then,” I said, and left them upstairs. I headed back down to where Jackson was hanging out in the living room. He seemed to realize that hovering would only make everyone more anxious, so had split off from the group once he’d finished eating. I headed in to the living room and his gaze immediately went to me, though he didn’t get up off the sofa. “I want you to come on a business call with me.”

“Sure thing,” he said, voice easy.

“Unless you have somewhere you need to be?”

“No plumbing calls at the minute,” he told me. His gaze didn’t leave my face, though. “Business is slow when you’re new to an area. I imagine that’ll change soon enough.”

Thinking about the future made me all flustered again, especially when he was looking at me like that.

We got into my truck, since I insisted on driving. Jackson was fine with that - again, not something I was used to. Cash would always fight me on this sort of thing, because he liked to be in charge of everything. Just one more way that Jackson was different than the alphas I was used to.

Of course he’s different
, I chided myself.
The others were your family. This one’s your mate.

The thought of having a mate freaked me out a little. I cast another nervous look his direction, my hands tight on the steering wheel as I turned the truck onto the local farm road.

My phone rang, and I fumbled for it, grateful for the interruption in my thoughts. “Hello?”

“Hi, is this Alice?”

I frowned at the female voice. I hadn’t looked at the number before I answered, my concentration on the road. I noticed Jackson’s posture had changed. He was listening; werewolf ears were so keen that we could pick up phone conversations from several feet away. Likely he was just being protective, knowing I’d been harassed lately. It still bugged me. “Who’s this?” I asked, my voice brusque.

“Oh, this is Bathsheba Ward-Russell, from Midnight Liaisons. I thought I’d call and see how things were going. I noticed your profile was updated and attached to Jackson Wilder’s. Have you guys made a match?”

My mouth worked silently as I tried to process this. I hadn’t updated my profile? A quick glance over at Jackson and he raised his eyebrows at me, as if challenging me to answer her. “Match?” I asked, the nervous squeak in my voice again.

“Tell her we’ve mated,” Jackson said in a low voice, not wanting to interrupt my conversation. Despite the soothing tone of his voice, I still felt that irresistible urge to please my alpha. It was not a comforting feeling. Jackson was an alpha with a strong personality, despite his charming demeanor. Whatever he wanted, he could get, just by a smile and a softly worded command.

“Um. Profile. Yes. I updated it,” I lied. “Jackson and I have combined our packs.”

“Mated,” Jackson corrected again, off to my side.

I ignored him. “So yeah, I won’t be needing your services anymore.”

“Oh, that’s great,” Bathsheba said, her voice happy. She was oblivious to the tension on the other side of the phone. “Then that brings me to my other reason for calling. My husband Beau wanted me to invite you two out to dinner to discuss the possibility of the Savage pack - though I guess it’s the Savage-Wilder pack now - joining the Alliance?”

“I don’t think—“ I began.

“We’d love to go,” Jackson told me, his voice firmer and louder. “Tell her that.”

I cast him an irritated look. “Would you shut up for two seconds?”

“I’m sorry?” Bathsheba said, confused.

“Not you,” I told her quickly, glaring at Jackson and trying to drive at the same time. “I have a backseat driver that won’t be quiet.”

He simply grinned at me, amused by my surly attitude. “Just tell her we’ll go to dinner and I’ll be quiet.”

I didn’t
want
to go to dinner. Not with the Alliance, who were a bunch of busybodies that stuck their noses in where they didn’t belong. My pack didn’t need the Alliance. That was for shifters that didn’t have pack support. We had everything we needed now that Jackson had arrived to lead us.

Except my new leader? Had some ideas I wasn’t keen on. I glared at him again, and found him giving me a challenging stare. An alpha stare. I continued to glare at him, not willing to break gaze. The first one to look away would lose the challenge.

“You’re about to run over that mailbox,” Jackson murmured at me, eyes still locked with mine.

Shit. I broke gaze, righted the truck on the road, and gritted my teeth. “We’d love to go to dinner.”

“Perfect,” Bath said happily.

We made plans for over the weekend. A double date (god) over dinner. When the conversation ended, I clicked off my phone and tossed it into my purse, glaring at Jackson out of the corner of my eye.

“Challenging me while I’m driving is totally not playing fair.”

“The Alliance would be good for the pack,” he said.

“I disagree.”

“And that’s why I had to challenge.”

“Yeah, but while I’m driving? Not cool.”

“I guess I could have used other methods of persuasion,” he said in a husky voice. “Would you prefer those next time?”

A ripple of awareness ripped through me, and I remembered his mouth on my neck, licking my skin. I sucked in a breath, my nipples going hard. “A challenge is fine,” I said flatly.

He laughed.

A few minutes later, we pulled into a tiny suburb sprawl in the midst of nowhere. Jackson gave me a curious look when we took a right on Alice Lane. “Is that a coincidence?”

“Nope,” I told him. “I own all these houses.”

He looked impressed, staring out the window at the small ranch-style houses, neatly lined up on acre plots. “How many are there?”

“Fifty-six,” I told him. “I wasn’t joking when I said I was a slum lord.”

He chuckled. “These aren’t slums to me. They’re nice houses.”

They were. I was proud of them. “My dad was a builder,” I told him. “Worked for other people for the first twenty years or so, and then came into some money when his father died, and left him a couple hundred acres out in the country. My father decided that he’d do something with that land and that money, and built a bunch of houses so he could rent them out to people that needed housing but couldn’t really afford it.”

“Your dad sounds like a great guy,” he murmured, still looking out the window.

“He was,” I said, my throat getting tight as I thought about my father. Gone five years now, still missed him every day. I swallowed and cleared my throat. “We could probably get a grand a month for each of these houses, but we only charge three hundred. Everyone that lives here needs some sort of assistance. We have a lot of single mothers, elderly, disabled, you name it. Lots of shifters, too,” I said, glancing over at him. “Gotta look out for our own people.”

“Of course.”

“Anyhow, our pack does fine with what we bring in a month. Fifty-six houses at three hundred a month is still a good living, and we’re helping people out. I can’t bring myself to do it.”

I’d argued with Cash about it time and time again, too, because he didn’t have the same generous spirit that Dad had. I got a vague pang of worry about Jackson. What if he thought the same way that Cash did? That fifty-two grand a month instead of fifteen was worth putting the squeeze on our poor residents?

But he only looked over at me. “You got any plumbing issues? I’m more than happy to help out.”

And that was why I was starting to think that maybe this could work, despite our issues. “All the time,” I admitted with a smile. “Summer tends to be heavy on electricity issues, though. Air conditioners going on the fritz and such. I do a lot of quick maintenance on them, but I have to call someone out every now and then.”

He grinned at me as we pulled into a driveway. “I’m starting to learn that you’re a rather self-sufficient woman.”

His praise made me feel warm inside. I couldn’t help but watch him as I introduced him to my tenant and we stepped inside the already-warm house. I tinkered with the AC, checking the p-trap and resetting the breakers while Jackson chatted with Eliza and even held her baby while she pointed out issues with the toilets running and making their water bill climb.

Luckily, the AC fix was an easy one, and I had it blowing cool air again within an hour. Jackson fixed her toilets, a leak in the kitchen sink, and by the time we left, had completely charmed Eliza. I drove him out to another house that I knew had leaky faucets, and we got those fixed as well. With fifty-six houses to maintain, I pretty much ran out to visit at least one a day. That was my job - making sure everyone was taken care of and collecting rent. Once we were done, though, I drove around the small suburb since Jackson seemed interested, and gave him a tour of Alice Lane as well as Cash Drive, June Court (my mother’s name) and Donald Way (my father’s name). We unofficially called them the Savage Estates, and even though it was just a bunch of ranch houses out in the boonies, I was proud of them and what they represented. Jackson seemed pleased at them, too. I then gave him a tour of the rest of Savage property, since my big Victorian was situated on a couple hundred acres in the other direction. They’d been seeded with a lot of fast growing trees and barb-wire fenced some time ago so we’d have a safe place to run and play and be wolves without fear of getting shot by hunters. It was a rarity in this day and age, and I loved the freedom we had.

The Savage pack was self-sufficient. We didn’t need anyone. We especially didn’t need the Alliance.

And part of me kind of hated that we needed Jackson. The fact that he made me feel all weird and fluttery inside? Felt a bit like betrayal. Like being attracted to him meant I was somehow doing a disservice to my pack history.

 

~~ * ~~

 

The day was a long, long one.

By the time we’d finished running around the Savage Estates and touring our property, we came home and ordered pizza. I found that the rest of the pack seemed to be getting along great, with the exception of Len, who had returned but was still sulky. We all hung out in the living room and watched movies together, eating pizza and popcorn and chattering through the movie.

Holly held the baby, and I noticed that Dan sat next to her on the loveseat, though he was stiff and awkward.

I knew how he felt. I’d sat on the sofa and Jackson had promptly sat right next to me, draping his arm over my shoulders in a possessive move that Len hadn’t missed. I knew it was for show. Jackson had to push his role as alpha and my mate onto the others. Once they accepted it, they’d relax and settle in and things would smooth out. Len would step back into his role as beta and be fine with Jackson.

It was just me that was skittish. Me that had a hard time relaxing when Jackson’s arm lay over my shoulders or played with my hair. And when I yawned through the second movie and Jackson suggested that
we
head to bed? I was pretty sure that everyone scented my nervousness, even though no one commented on it.

We headed up to my room after saying our goodnights to the others. Our Victorian was split, bedroom-wise, and the alphas had rooms opposite from the rest of the pack. Our rooms were bigger than the others, and the room that Cash had shared with Joanne was currently empty. Jackson could always take that one once his dominance was firmly established.

But for now? While we were still establishing pack hierarchy? He’d be bunking with me.

And that made me nervous and on edge.

His hand was on my back as we entered my room. My bed was a full size and stood in the center of the room. I stared at it as I entered, painfully aware of just how small it would be with two normal-sized people in it. I turned and shut the door, trying to think. There was a chair in my room, but I was aware that Jackson hadn’t slept much last night. Putting him back in the uncomfortable chair would be unfair to him, and I needed him strong.

BOOK: Single Wolf Female (Midnight Liaisons)
9.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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