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Authors: Carina Wilder

Winning the Alpha

BOOK: Winning the Alpha
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Winning the Alpha
Wolf Rock Shifters [1]
Carina Wilder
(2014)

"For twenty-six years I lived, content, without you. I know that I'll go on living even if I don't have you. But I'm not sure that I could ever want to."

A reality show with a howling twist.

What happens when a curvy girl is asked to appear on a cliché-filled television show where twenty-five women are pitted against each other for the affections of one man?

She accepts, of course, when the producer who recruits her is as charming and handsome as Tristan Rivers.

But little does the voluptuous Nikki know that what seems like a run-of-the-mill TV show will lead her into a world of shifters, hierarchy, conflict and ghosts from her past.

Tristan is a strong man with a heart of gold who's willing to make sacrifices for the chosen alpha. But when he meets Nikki and his own instincts begin to kick in, is it time to change things up?

Only time---and love---will tell.

*This lighthearted romance is intended for readers over 18 due to mature subject matter.

This is a standalone novel of 40,000 words, though there will be other books about the shifters of Wolf Rock.*

If you’d like to be informed of future releases and special offers, please sign up:

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The first two books of the Billionaires and Curves Series are available here
:

Taken With You

Crazy About You

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

The
pack stood in the clearing, tense figures facing one another around the perimeter of the circle which for centuries had been reserved for trials and competitions among their kind. Tonight’s confrontation would determine who was to be their new leader, purely through a show of brute strength and physical superiority. The winner was to be the new alpha and the vanquished, if he survived, would be his second in command.

 

The hulking grey wolf padded to the center of the makeshift ring first and stood, tall and arrogant, waiting. If any wolf was capable of looking cocky, it was him.

His reluctant foe emerged from between two pack memb
ers, black as night, his intelligent eyes flashing bright against his fur. It wasn’t the potential of a loss that bothered him; he knew that he could win this fight with ease.

 

But he had no intention of doing so.

 

One:
A Chance Encounter

 

“It looks great on you,” I said, lean
ing against the only bare portion of the shop’s wall. Delicate blouses, skinny jeans and tiny t-shirts covered the racks surrounding me, mocking me derisively with their diminutive sizes. To say that this store and its contents had not been designed for women of my stature was a pretty big understatement.

“You don’t think the cut
of the dress makes me look fat?” asked Kate, turning sideways and examining her perfect shape in the full-length mirror. The red garment hugged each of her curves, flattering her 120-pound frame completely; not that it was in need of any help to look like the ideal female form.

Rather than respond in a way I knew would come out as
nothing more than thinly veiled rage, I literally bit my tongue. It took only a moment for Kate’s face to change to an expression of horror. She turned to me when she became aware of what had emerged from her mouth, a look of utter remorse in her eyes.

“I’m so sorry, Nikki
,” she said. “I didn’t mean…”

“To flaunt your perfect,
sexy body in front of me and imply that you’re fat when we could easily fit
two
of you into one leg of my jeans?”

“I’m an idiot,” she said. “I shouldn’t
have used that word. I know you hate it. And you know I wasn’t comparing the two of us, don’t you? You know I think you’re gorgeous.”

“I know
. But I do hate that word, and I should hook wires up to you and shock the hell out of you every time you use it.”

I
eventually let her off the hook by smiling, though what I really wanted to do was throttle her. She may have been my best friend but even so she should have understood what it feels like to have a skinny girl insinuate that she’s too big. She had no idea what it was like to be a curvy woman; what a challenge it was to walk into a shop like this and know right away that nothing would fit over your left thigh let alone over the rest of you.

It was like my ilk was expected to go to a special mall for rejects, and I despised how alienating it was, and how unfair.

“Come on,” she said after she’d put her own clothes back on and hung up the dress. “Let’s get something to eat.”

Something to eat. Yes indeed, that’s exactly what a girl wants when she feels gigantic.

“You’re not going to buy that
dress? It was perfect for you,” I said, trying to switch my mind into a gear that wouldn’t focus on my own shortcomings.

“I couldn’t buy it. It would remind me of what an ass I’ve been.”

“Silly girl. Now I feel bad.”

“Well, don’t. I need to learn lessons and what better way than to punish myself?”

“All right, but just so you don’t lose sleep over it, you’re forgiven. I know you’ll go home and flagellate yourself with a cat o’ nine tails later, just to make it up to me. Only a proper friend would feel so much remorse. Now, what do you want to eat?” I asked, putting her out of her misery finally.

“Let’s just wander and see what we see. I think there’s a new restaurant at the other end of the mall.
We can make our way down there.”

“Works for me.
But let’s not rush. Maybe we’ll see another dress that’ll be less saturated with guilt.”

We strolled with n
o real destination in mind, glancing at shoes and clothes through windows, but I seemed to have taken the wind out of Kate’s sails and she exhibited no desire to try anything else on. I paused now and then to point out some cute shoes, always displayed under bright lights in pretty assortments of footwear meant to stop women like me in our tracks. Shoes were the one thing that big girls and skinny ones could agree on; I could wear dainty little ones just like my friend could, and I never had to worry about whether they’d fit or not. Extra-extra-large was not a shoe size.

“So,” Kat
e said at one point as we were looking at a pair of sexy high-heeled black ankle boots, “You haven’t told me yet: what are you going to do now that school’s over? Have you decided?”

As we
continued to meander I said, “I still don’t know. I have no idea what my problem is. It’s like I don’t have the will to seek out a career, or even to think about it. And I’m worried about leaving my mother, even though I know I need to if only for my own sanity.”

“Do you think she’ll be
lonely?”

“Honestly, I think she’s been lonely since my father left. She’s so wary and untrusting now
; she doesn’t let anyone near her.”

“Do you ever wonder about what happened ther
e, with your father, I mean? Do you think she’ll tell you one of these days?”

“I wonder all the time.
I wish she’d tell me about it but she’s held it in all these years so it’s unlikely. Those rumours from when I was a kid never went away, you know. The ones about my father being a shifter.”

I seldom talked to anyone about this. Shifters were a controvers
ial topic; some believed in their existence while others didn’t. A part of me wanted to, since legend had it that my father had left because his wolf instincts had kicked in and he’d deserted my mother to be with his pack. They said that he and my mother had a falling out; she didn’t want to bring a child into a wolf pack, especially a half-breed.

The story was elaborate and had seemed like nothing more than a fairy tale when I was a child, but as I grew older I’d become more interested and c
urious to learn the truth. Whatever had happened, my mother had never recovered and she wouldn’t talk to me or anyone else about it.


They’re only stories, Nikki, made up by kids to make you feel bad. You should forget about them.”

“I should, I suppose. But I don’t know. There’s a part of me that would love to understand, to know the truth. I can’t say that there’s such a thing as shifters, but I can’t say that there isn’t.
Deep down I feel like it’s the truth.”

Kate changed the subject. S
he’d never been comfortable talking about this, being the practical-minded girl that she was, and I knew better than to try and keep the discussion going with her.


What about finding a temporary job for now, until you find something more permanent?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’ll hav
e to find something; I’m just procrastinating, truth be told.  I suppose I should start looking on Monday. Even if it’s just a part-time job working in a shop, I think I’d feel like I was getting my life together. Sometimes I wish I’d gotten a sensible degree like you did.”

Kate patted me on the back sympathetically
. Her degree was in medicine and she was starting a residency in the fall, whereas I’d just finished my undergraduate studies in English Literature, and was only now realizing how pointless it might have been regardless of how much I’d enjoyed the process.

I’d been left feeling quite los
t and drifting for a few months, which wasn’t wonderful for my self-esteem. Kate was right to push me a little. Someone like her who was determined, focused and competitive was a good influence on me.

I stopped in front of another shoe shop. A pair of red patent leather pumps was calling my name.

“There’s some good motivation, right there,” I said. “If I want to buy the shoes of my dreams I need to make some cash.”

“That’s the spirit,” said Kate. “You’ll be rich yet.
And may your closet be ever filled with hot stilettos.”

I found myself all but drooling as I looked
longingly at the shoes. Their high heels might even make my calves look shapely, I thought, not to mention how good my plentiful bottom could potentially look. Well, in a perfect world, at least.

I began to assemble an ou
tfit in my mind to go with them as I looked at my reflection in the window. My mind struggled to tell itself that I was attractive, that I could be beautiful with a little effort. In the glass I saw my blond hair cascade around my shoulders, my large almond-shaped eyes peering back and studying the girl before them. I concluded that in fact I looked quite pretty, that is until I noticed the waif-like woman standing next to me in the form of Kate.

 

As I daydreamed about a world without tiny women, another reflection appeared; this one a hulking figure stepping up silently behind me. I could only see the faint outline of a tall man, who for some reason also seemed to be attempting to get a glimpse through the window. Silently he seemed to observe the women’s footwear until a buttery voice behind us said, “Excuse me, ladies.”

My first thought was that it must be one of those men
who hang out in the middle of the mall, selling perfume and implying that passing women are lunatics not to want to try it out. I’d always gotten aggravated at having to explain that I didn’t want their vile, smelly liquid all over me or my clothing.

I turned around
quickly, fully prepared to tell him that I was deathly allergic and that my throat would swell shut, followed by my head exploding and making a mess all over his designer jeans.

Kate turned
too, and I saw her flash the man a smile. When I saw him I knew immediately why she was doing it. He was drop-dead gorgeous: tall and fit, with a head of thick, dark hair. His sculpted jaw was coated in dark stubble and his eyes were light blue and intense against olive skin.

“Of course
,” I thought, rolling my eyes in my mind. “He’s about to try and pick my perfect friend up.” This wasn’t an entirely uncommon scenario, though the men always ended up disappointed since Kate was involved in a serious relationship with a young doctor she’d probably end up marrying.

I should
have carried a sign that said,

 

Eyes off the skinny girl and also:

F
uck Off.

 

“I’m sorry to interrupt your shoe-gazing,” said the handsome man as he smiled at…me? I noticed with shock that he wasn’t even looking at Kate; it was as though she didn’t exist. I wanted to point to her and say, “She’s right there. Just move your eyes a few feet to the right and you’ll be fine.”

“That’s okay,” I said
instead. “Those heels were out of my league anyhow.”

He loo
ked over my shoulder at the shoes.

“Hardly,” he said. “I think you’d be a perfect match.”

I found myself blushing like a silly schoolgirl and grinning like an even sillier one. What an idiot I was.

“So you’re probably wondering why a strange man’s come over to talk to you. I’m
Tristan Rivers. I’m a television producer, but don’t hold it against me.”

“Okay,” I said,
hesitancy palpable in my voice as I tried to defeat my desire to tell him how much I would in fact like to hold pretty well
anything
against him. I imagined that he was in charge of some Jerry Springer-type show where skinny and fat women fight for supremacy and throw chairs at each other, shouting out expletive-ridden accusations of boyfriend-stealing, husband-stealing, ex-husband-stealing and all manner of other womanly bitch-offenses.

Tristan
laughed. “You’re excited about this, I can tell.”

“If by ‘excited,
’ you mean ‘terrified about whatever insane thing you’re about to say,’ you’re quite right.”

“What show do you produce?” asked Kate, smiling sideways at me. She seemed to be thinking more positively than I was.

“I’m working on a new, yet to be named reality program. It’s similar to others that have been done in that it involves a single man and a bunch of women who hope to end up with him. We’re finishing up the recruiting process here in Louiston. I’m sorry…before I go further, what was your name?”

“Mine?” I a
sked, knowing full well that he was looking at me. “I’m Nicole. Nikki.”

“Nikki
.” He extended his right hand and shook mine firmly, a warm smile on his face.

S
omething happened in that moment which made me understand for the first time what people talked about when they said that a lightning bolt had hit them. As I looked into Tristan’s piercing eyes and felt his flesh on mine, a flash of heat shot throughout my entire body, leaving no inch of it untouched. Somehow a small explosion had occurred inside me that had sent shards of tingling matter to every extremity; my knees seemed to go weak and a warmth surged through my chest unlike anything I’d felt before. If I were a slightly more old-fashioned girl I would say that I’d swooned.

Aside from my newfound physical weakness, I was overtaken
suddenly by something in the air around us. There was a musky, sexy scent filling my nose, and it may have been my imagination, but I felt that I could taste Tristan in the atmosphere. I wasn’t sure if the divine molecules had been floating in the air before or had only begun to ease out of his pores when he touched me. I hoped for the latter. And I felt that my own scent was altering as my body became a sea of pheromones, instructing me to find a way to get this man naked at any cost. If only it were socially acceptable to rip a man’s clothes from his form in the middle of a mall.

BOOK: Winning the Alpha
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