Continued from Chapter 1 Scene 2:
Chapter 2 Scene 1
When I’d shifted to wolf form an hour earlier, I left my clothes in the pool house as a nod toward my stepmother Cricket’s sense of propriety. But now I regretted that action as I neared the door on two bare human feet and smelled a strange alpha’s scent lingering along the stepping stones.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to pick up signs of a visiting alpha as I pattered up the walkway. After all, the outbuilding in question had always been my father’s unofficial headquarters, the spot where other alphas came to plead their cases and to make deals with the all-powerful Chief Wilder. In fact, as a child, I’d spent hours hiding behind the curtains, listening to males posture and bargain while they played a competitive game of pool.
So I wasn’t entirely surprised by the current alpha’s presence, but I was chagrined. Was this really how I would commence taking over the inter-pack-relations portion of my new job? Completely naked, with goosebumps covering my skin more from my father’s verbal smack-down than from the cold? I didn’t feel able to keep so much as a five-year-old under control at the moment, and I definitely didn’t want to spend the rest of this afternoon tiptoeing down the difficult path of striking deals with a visiting alpha. Instead, the mere notion of trying to be intimidating and coy all at once made my shoulders hunch and my steps falter.
For a moment, I even considered heading over to the main house to dress in peace…but alphas never turned tail and ran. And as much as I thought that the other pack leaders’ macho games of oneupmanship were annoying and childish, I was the one who had chosen to take my place in my father’s world. Which meant playing by the other alphas’ rules.
Plus, I would definitely prefer that this stranger’s first impression of me came from the front…rather than having him catch a glimpse of my naked bum rounding the bend as I scampered out of sight.
So I ignored my nerves, attempted to channel my father’s arrogance, and strode into the pool house as if I owned the place. Which I guess I did…for the moment, and assuming that my father didn’t opt to take it all back tomorrow.
“Greetings,” I offered into the room’s echoing silence. I’d managed to catch the visiting alpha off guard, so a tall, broad back was all that met my eye. Taking advantage of the delay, I savored the visitor’s scent, which was significantly stronger now that we were both present in the same room. Stronger…and oh-so-much like Wolfie’s. Pine needles and leaf mold and that barely discernible hint of alpha-male dominance.
But, despite their similarities, I could never have confused my mate with the shifter standing in front of me. Because, underneath this alpha’s primary aromas, I also picked up the barest hint of cold metal, like a gun barrel being pressed up against the side of my brow. And the glimpse of the visitor’s wolf that I caught beneath the man’s skin made my own lupine half bare her teeth in a silent snarl.
Shh, we’re hunting, I warned my wolf, and she gave me that look that could have meant, Duh. How stupid do you think I am?
Or, perhaps, I thought with a shiver, my wolf is warning me not to hunt a hunter.
All of these thoughts flitted through my mind in the time it took for the stranger to turn around, and I caught my breath when I was finally able to make out his countenance. The shifter could almost have been Wolfie’s twin, although this man’s face was objectively just the tiniest bit more handsome than my mate’s due to the stranger’s perfect regularity of feature. On the other hand, I noticed that my visitor’s muscles were a trifle less pronounced than Wolfie’s, a failing that the stranger made up for with words carefully calculated to prompt any young female werewolf to swoon.
“I was looking for Chief Wilder,” the stranger said, striding forward to take my hand in his. Rather than clasping our extremities into a shake, though, the alpha lifted my fingers to brush the lightest kiss possible across the back of my knuckles, making me shiver at the contact. My involuntary tremor was actually caused by a sudden and intense burst of repulsion, but I was glad to see the stranger’s lips curling up into a smirk as he incorrectly diagnosed my emotion as attraction. Better that this visitor think of me as a weak and easily flattered female than that we end up in a battle similar to the one I’d endured just half an hour earlier.
The stranger paused to give my supposedly weak knees time to turn all the way to jelly, then he continued speaking. “But no matter who I was originally looking for, I certainly appreciate the current beautiful company while I wait for your…” he paused, “…father?”
This was my opportunity to tell the visitor that I was the new Chief Wilder and that he could discuss any business arrangements with me rather than waiting for my father’s approval. I also wanted to step closer so the alpha could scent Wolfie’s aroma on my skin, proving that I had been claimed by a much stronger werewolf than the one who had come into my pool house uninvited. Then I would have liked to have given the stranger a verbal slap for trespassing, finishing by sending the handsome-but-totally-unattractive alpha on his way.
But my father, unfortunately, was right. If I hoped to keep our clan under Wilder control during the upcoming All-Pack without risking bloodshed, then I needed to build alliances with as many of the other pack leaders as possible. And since I would inevitably be the smallest wolf present at the gathering in the physical department, those alliances would have to be wrangled in a more roundabout fashion than by leveraging the simple physical intimidation that my father used to get his way.
Which meant batting my eyelashes and flirting and hoping that I could tempt the other alphas to think with a piece of anatomy other than their brains. Because, while I certainly had no plans to break my mate bond with Wolfie regardless of how sticky All-Pack became, none of the other pack leaders needed to know that, now did they?
So, ignoring the annoyance of my wolf (who would have vastly preferred biting the stranger’s head off both literally and figuratively), I pursed my lips into a pout and said, “Justin Young, you really don’t remember me?”
Find out what Justin has to say by reading Chapter 2 Scene 2…