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Authors: Jacqueline Rhoades

Tags: #paranormal romance, #wolves, #werewolves, #alphas, #wolvers

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BOOK: The Alpha's Daughter
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He snorted instead and continued to shake his
head. "Are you sure your pack didn't throw you out?"

"Hel… heck no," she laughed, "Those fu… uh,
idiots wanted me to stay so bad, they were willing to fight over
me. Trouble was nobody asked me if I wanted to mate, which I
didn't."

"I gather your father tried to arrange a
mating for you. Did you appeal to your Alpha?"

Jazz laughed harder at that. "You could say
so, but the fu… fool wasn't listening. Couldn't figure out why I
wasn't delighted, his word, delighted to obey. One thing you have
to understand about me, Griz. I won't bow down and lick any man's
boots."

He snorted again. "I'll try to remember that,
Hellcat. Now, why do you keep calling me Griz when everyone else
calls me Doc?"

"Oh, I don't know." She removed her jacket
and folded it neatly over the back of a chair. "Big, hairy, grumpy,
growly…" She spread her hands wide. "Oh! Wait a minute. Grizzly
Bear!"

"I'm not that bad," he said following her
into the kitchen and the way he lifted his nose and sniffed only
added to his bearlike image. "Smells good."

"Roast beef and you are that bad." She opened
the oven and pulled out the pan. The meat was rare and juicy. "I
found some onions for roasting with the meat and some potatoes in
the bin. Give me twenty minutes and we'll have supper. You want
vegetables?"

She didn't eat much that was green, but
unlike many of her kind, she wasn't adverse to the idea. They'd
always had vegetables when she was little and she'd developed a
taste for some of them. Like their wolf cousins, wolvers were meat
eaters and used bread and potatoes to hold the meat or sop up the
gravy.

"Don't know if we have any."

Jazz pointed to the big, open closet behind
the back door. "You've got like thirty jars of green beans back
there and some purple things I think are beets. There's a whole lot
of other stuff back there, too. If you don't eat it, why do you
have it?"

"Because they eat it, so they pay me with
it."

Jazz paused in taking plates down from the
shelf. "They pay you in green beans?"

"Sounds funny when you put it like that." He
reached for the plates and flatware she'd gathered and set two
places at the table.

"Sounds funny no matter how you put it." She
handed him two glasses.

"You don't realize how poor most of these
wolvers are," he told her. "They pay me in cash when they have it,
but mostly they pay with what they can spare; milk, eggs, chickens,
that chunk of beef there, piglets from a spring litter."

Jazz looked out the window over the sink at
the beasts rooting around in the mud. "Those aren't piglets."

"They were when I got 'em."

"You can't possibly eat all that stuff in
that tin box you call a refrigerator," she said. It was packed full
to bursting.

"What I can't eat, I give away."

"So let me get this straight. They give you
all this food to take care of them and you give it right back."

"No," he chuckled, "Those that have it give
it to me and I give it to those that don't. They give me canned
goods, too. Vegetables are cheaper to raise than meat and I've been
thinking a lot about that. Did you know that wolves get a lot of
the vegetable nutrients they need by eating the stomach and
intestines of their kill?"

"No, can't say I did, but I could have
happily lived my life without that picture in my head." She'd never
been tempted to hunt as a wolf and preferred her meat in nice neat
packages.

"Not many wolvers eat wild anymore," he went
on, ignoring her comment and warming to his subject, "Even when we
hunt, we tend to drag it home and process it. There are some
maladies I've heard about and seen that modern wolvers suffer from,
but I don't see those things up here and I'm wondering if that
isn't because these folks are too poor to eat a strict but
nutritionally limited diet of meat."

Once started, the man who didn't talk much,
didn't shut up. He talked while Jazz disappeared into the closet to
retrieve a jar of green beans. He talked while he carved the meat
and she mashed the potatoes. He talked his way through supper and
she listened.

He cared about these people and he took good
care of them without any thought to how much they could pay. This,
too, was new to Jazz whose father and by extension his pack never
did anything for anyone without calculating the profit first. As
she listened, she couldn't decide if her grizzly was simply a good
man or had a screw loose in that amazing brain of his.

And listening to him talk, there was no doubt
in her mind that his brain was amazing. He not only treated these
people with care and respect, he studied them in order to better
understand their species. He wanted to help not only the wolvers of
this pack, but every wolver on the planet.

"That's what all those papers are," Jazz
finally interrupted, "The ones you have scattered all over the
house." She'd taken a peek at some of them, but couldn't make heads
or tails of what they meant. "Those are your notes and
observations, your data." She silently congratulated herself on her
use of the fancy words.

Doc nodded. "I started jotting stuff down
about a year and a half ago after I moved up here permanently."

So he wasn't born here as she'd thought.
"Where'd you come from?" she asked and she could tell the question
threw him. He wasn't expecting it. His eyes shifted over and down
before he answered and she knew his answer was the truth, but not
the whole truth.

"I was born and raised in a place much like
this only out east in the Appalachian Mountains. My brothers still
live there. Same place Eugene Begley was sending you."

"Which is probably why he sent me here, so
you could give me a heads up on the place." Jazz started clearing
the table.

"Which I just did," Doc said as he rose, too.
"You cooked. I'll clean up."

"Oh no you don't. I've seen how you clean up.
You wash. I'll dry. You sweep. I'll put away the leftover meat and
wipe the counters." She poured water from the kettle that was
already simmering on the stove.

"You're awful bossy," he complained, but he
went to the sink and did as he was told.

"Not bossy, organized. That's what I'm going
to do for you in exchange for my room and board. I'll get your shit
together; clean up the mess, sort your papers, that kind of stuff.
Of course, in two weeks when I'm gone…"

"Three weeks," he corrected. "Two weeks with
Ellie, one with Donna." He cut her off again when he saw her mouth
open to protest. "Maybe more if the weather goes bad. It's too
early to put most of the garden in," he explained.

Jazz's first instinct was to protest, but she
remembered that she still didn't have a plan for leaving and when
she finally got around to making one, it was going to involve
money, of which she had very little. And money, it seemed, was not
easy to come by in this little mountain community. She nodded her
head to show she understood.

"Three weeks isn't that long," she said
resignedly.

"For who?" he said, but his whiskers twitched
when he said it.

As he had the night before, Doc retreated to
his office to work, only this time he took the papers Jazz had
gathered from the kitchen with him.

Kitchen clean and bedroom reasonably
presentable, Jazz started in on the living area which was larger
than the other rooms combined. Starting at one end, she shifted
through the debris; papers in one pile, garbage in another, and
clothing sorted into most likely clean and definitely dirty.

The man probably had no idea just how large,
but limited, his wardrobe was; Tee shirts, Henley's, thermals, and
flannels, four pairs of jeans, one set of denim overalls she hoped
to never see him wear, assorted socks and an array of boxers from
snowy white to plaid. This was going to be a problem since there
wasn't a closet or a chest of drawers to be seen. Surely she could
find some baskets or boxes to impose some order.

That started her thinking about her own
wardrobe or lack of one. These people must shop somewhere. Maybe
the grizzly would loan her a few dollars to purchase a package of
undies and an inexpensive bra.

Her musings were interrupted by a knocking on
the door. She waited for a moment to see if Doc would come from his
office to answer, but when the door remained closed and the
knocking became more insistent, she opened the front door a crack
to see a tall, towheaded boy nervously shifting from one foot to
the other. He looked about ten and had recently suffered a growth
spurt evidenced by the new looking jeans that ended above his
ankles.

Opening the door fully, she asked, "May I
help you?"

The boy looked startled to see her and he
opened his mouth twice before anything came out. "Ma says be there
by seven-thirty." He bobbed his head and started to turn away.

"Wait! Who's your ma, I mean mother? Are you
Ellie's boy?"

Jazz could see the question in the boy's
eyes. Who else would he be? And then the look changed to oh, yeah,
she's new. "Sorry. Yeah, Ellie's my Ma."

"All righty, then," Jazz smiled, "I'm…"

"Oh, I know who you are. Everybody does.
You're Miz Phillips. You're the one gave Ma a bloody nose."

"Um, well, yes, but I didn't know…" What?
That your mother wasn't going to belt me?

"Oh, that's okay. Ma's not mad or anything
and Daddy just laughed and said the Doc's found him a right feisty
one." He looked over his shoulder as if he might be watched. "It
was nice meeting you an' all, but I really got to get going. I'm
kind of in trouble for using some of Miz Ezzy's boys to go fishing
and Ma said if I'm not back in ten minutes, she'll tan my
hide."

"Then you'd better get going," Jazz laughed,
"I wouldn't want your hide tanned on my account." The boy took her
at her word and leapt off the porch in that way boys had of looking
like they were trying to fly. "Hey," she called after him. "What's
your name?"

"Tommyboy," he called back.

"Cute cub," she said aloud as she closed the
door. It wasn't a word she would usually use to describe a wolver
child. The ones she'd known were already hard and cold by that age
and fighting for their standing in the pack.

This whole place was beginning to make her
feel dizzy, like the world she knew had been turned on its head and
now spun in a different direction. It was a little disconcerting,
this not knowing which end was up, but it was interesting, too. If
she had to be stuck somewhere, this probably wasn't the worst place
to be, although it would be a helluva lot better with the addition
of indoor plumbing.

Jazz looked over at the closed door to the
office and then out at the darkening sky. She'd forced herself to
go several times during the day, always waiting until she was ready
to burst. It was awful, but in the dark it would be worse, much
worse than the humiliation of asking the grizzly bear to walk her
out and stand guard.

 

Chapter 8

Jazz was up first again the next morning, slipping once more
from beneath the big paw that rested on her hip. She'd lain awake
the night before, waiting for the big man to come to bed. Dozing on
and off, she'd heard the office door open quietly and felt the bed
sag with his weight. It had to have been after three.

The big bear lined himself up along the edge
of his side of the bed, facing away from her. Her being back in his
bed obviously didn't bother him because after rearranging his
pillow couple of times, his breathing regulated to the soft sounds
of sleep.

When Jazz finally relaxed and allowed herself
to drift off, there was an ocean of sheets between them, but in the
morning, like the morning before, there he was, his warmth
radiating along her back, his hand resting gently on her hip. Jazz
wasn't used to sharing a bed with anyone outside of the occasional
sexual romp and she wondered briefly why she hadn't felt the roll
of that big body or heard the creak of the old bed.

She was putting the finishing touches on her
makeup and ready to leave by the time he entered the kitchen.

"Good," she greeted him. "I was afraid I was
going to have to wake you up. Coffee's on the stove. Breakfast is
in the oven. How do I get to Ellie Dawson's?"

He blinked, squinted his eyes, and rolled the
muscles of his back, then walked past her to the stove. It was,
Jazz had to admit, and impressive back. The grizzly was big but
there wasn't an ounce of fat on him. Those broad shoulders were all
muscle and the well-defined outline of the muscles running down
along either side of his spine were almost as impressive as the
washboard abs he carried up front. She watched how they moved as he
poured himself a cup of coffee and took his first sip.

"Good," he said nodding, and then looking out
the kitchen window asked, "What's at Ellie's?"

"Punishment, remember? I'm supposed to do
laundry," she grumbled.

"Good," he said again, "You can take mine
with you." He opened the oven and finally looked over at Jazz. "You
don't have to make breakfast, you know. I usually just crack a
half-dozen eggs into a glass of milk and drink it."

"Eeuw, that's disgusting!"

"It does the job." He shrugged and put the
full plate on the table. "This is better, though."

"It would taste even better with a glass of
OJ," she said as she packed up her make-up. Her mother was human
and never got used to the wolver diet of meat, meat, and more meat.
Jazz ate a lot of things most wolvers didn't.

"OJ?"

"Yeah, you know, orange juice?" Didn't the
man watch television? Then again, without electricity, how could
he?

"I know what it is," he huffed, "but I don't
think I ever met a wolver who liked it."

BOOK: The Alpha's Daughter
10.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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