Emily Black kicked her shoes off and laughed as they flew across her living room. Godforsaken things. It felt so good to be barefoot. She hated shoes no matter what kind they were. At least the tennis shoes she wore to class were more comfortable than the heels her friends wore. She couldn’t even imagine how much her girlfriends’ feet ached after hoofing it across campus. Even though classes weren’t in session, as the new semester hadn’t yet started, Emily had spent the day going over her options for her upcoming schedule, trying to decide if she wanted to make any changes. She’d brought home the selections her counsellor had given her and she planned to choose in the next couple of days.
She nudged her shoes under the coffee table then stripped off her shirt and jeans while heading into the bedroom for loose shorts and a tank top. Once comfortable, she strolled to the kitchen. The fridge, which she kept overstocked, was cool as she opened it. She grabbed a bottle of water and the Tupperware full of lasagna she had made last night. She placed the container in the microwave then punched in two minutes at high heat. As she waited with the fork in her hand, she jumped up onto the counter.
A human would consider her behavior weird or think that she hadn’t eaten in hours. But for her, it was just another day. She had eaten lunch only two hours ago, but a shifter burned a lot of energy and needed to eat large regular meals, especially when the full moon was close. All her hungers increased as the natural cycle for shifters approached.
She, however, ate many small meals. Especially around the few people she called her friends. All the girls and guys who she hung around with were human and they wouldn’t understand what she hid behind closed doors. No one at school knew about her shifter abilities. Of that she was pretty sure. To them, she was just a quiet girl who liked to study and keep to herself. She was pretty in a traditional way, but not a head-turner. She would leave being stunning and charming to those around her. She preferred to blend in and not draw attention to herself.
Her blinking answering machine light caught her eye, but she wasn’t in any hurry to check. It was probably someone trying to sell her something. She didn’t get many phone calls. All her true friends were back in Pack territory and they usually called on the weekends. She missed them, but was still proud that she’d gotten accepted to the state university a couple of hours away from Pack land.
When she’d first made the decision to attend college out of Pack territory, she’d never thought it would be so hard to be away from them. The longer she stayed in the city, the more her mind drifted back to her friends and family. And the man who her heart belonged to.
The microwave dinged and she yanked the handle to open it up. Even though the food was still steaming, she started to shovel it into her mouth. She was getting better at cooking and this recipe was one of her very favorites. When the container was half empty, Emily finally took a deep breath and set it down, giving her stomach time to process the food she’d practically inhaled.
She hopped off the counter to walk over to the cabinet next to the fridge and grabbed the leftover rolls she’d put in a plastic baggie. As she passed the answering machine she hit the play button.
“Hello, Emily dear.”
Emily smiled at hearing her Alpha’s voice. The man she thought of as a father and trusted above all else.
“I know you have a lot going on right now. Thank you for the email with your final grades. I am very proud of you.”
She always kept him apprised of what was going on with her classes. He was paying for her education, after all.
“Something happened, not here but close by, I need to make sure you’re all right. Please call me right away.”
The last part was an order, and Emily could hear it even over the phone line. She shivered slightly just from the demand. As close as she was to Lamont, he was still her leader and she was obligated to follow his orders. Not that Emily argued with him often. He accused her of being too stubborn for her own good sometimes, but he always said it with love. God, she missed him.
Thinking about her Alpha always brought up the person who she would never be able to forget. When she closed her eyes at night it was always him that she saw in her dreams. Just because she’d never have him didn’t keep Emily from fantasizing about Lamont’s son Cain.
Cain was the Pack Enforcer. A job that kept him busy, and over the years had made him tough but wary. He had a lot of the same duties as a Beta, the Alpha’s second, but in addition was the top guard. Not every Pack had an Enforcer, but theirs did because it was so large. Cain was the number one guy in protecting Pack members and he took his job seriously. He’d always made sure that Emily was safe. Even if he didn’t feel the same way about her as she did about him.
Emily went back to the counter then picked up her leftover food and water bottle before strolling into the living room. She set the items on the coffee table as she sat on the couch. “Let’s get this over with,” she muttered, leaning over to pick up the cordless phone on the end table. She dialed her Alpha and waited.
* * * *
Cain knocked on the door to his Alpha’s study and waited for the grunt meaning it was okay to come in. He entered and remained silent as Lamont finished his phone call. If Lamont hadn’t wanted the conversation overheard, he wouldn’t have let Cain in. Werewolf hearing was better than any device you could buy. With the extra soundproofing throughout the entire house, Cain only heard the other side of the conversation his Alpha was having because he was in the room.
Cain immediately recognized the young were’s voice on the other end of the line. She spoke softly to the Alpha of the Pack, although her tone showed frustration. Hearing her sent a shiver trailing down Cain’s spine, and a jolt to his cock had him hardening. He quickly cut down that train of thought, which would lead him to imagining the things that he wanted to do to Emily Black. She was so far out of his league that he had to forget about her. Let her live her own life and stay far, far away. It would be a lot easier if he knew she was safe.
They all worried about the young were women who were out of the Pack’s territory. In all of the attacks that had recently taken place, the females had been away from home. Showing why he was Alpha, Lamont was calling them home before Cain had thought of it. He wanted to hug his Alpha, thankful that Emily’s safety was being taken care of. He’d always watched out for the young woman when she’d been inside the Pack, but he had limited resources when dealing with trouble on the outside.
“Have some bags packed when your ride gets there,” Lamont said sternly into the phone.
Cain barely held back a smile when he heard the order. Lamont was putting his foot down and Emily would have to obey.
“No, someone will be there to pick you up.” He looked over at Cain. “It will be someone you recognize from the Pack. Do not leave with anyone else.”
Lamont listened for a few more minutes before cutting her off. “No. You will stay in one of the cabins. It will be fully furnished for your arrival.” He waited again. “You’ll stay until we know what is going on and I tell you it’s okay to go back.” That was all Alpha speaking to one of his Pack. Cain knew how Lamont felt about Emily. How everyone felt.
Emily had been found in a cage when she was a young girl. No one knew what birth Pack she was from and they’d never found her family. Even the Alpha Council, a group of Alphas who helped police Packs and keep them safe from humans, hadn’t been able to track down where Emily came from. It was Cain’s grandfather who had come across the house of rogue wolves who’d been keeping young shifters caged. None of the rogues had made it out of the rescue alive and the children had all been sent to foster Packs. Emily had been placed with them, which had led to her and Cain growing up together, since he was only a few years older than her.
He turned his attention to the man who sat behind the desk. A man he respected more than anyone else.
“You know that was Emily,” Lamont told him once he hung up the phone.
“She’s coming home?” Cain asked even though he knew the answer.
Lamont nodded at him. “I want every female home and safe. I knew it would be difficult to convince her, but she finally agreed.”
Cain didn’t understand why he didn’t just order her home and be done with it. He was her Alpha and for everything that they’d done for her, Emily should always listen to her Alpha. It was what being a good shifter was all about. Cain strived to be the best shifter he could but Emily had an independent streak a mile wide. It was why she needed so much protection.
She’d been twelve when she’d been brought home to the Pack. While he’d always tried to keep her out of trouble, it wasn’t an easy task, made harder by the feelings that had developed for her. He was frustrated, but knew that he would feel much better if she’d just come home. At least he was getting that wish…for now. Once they could ensure her safety living outside the Pack, he’d once again have to let her go.
“I want you to go get her and bring her here safely,” Lamont told him.
Cain merely stared at his Alpha. No, he couldn’t do that. He would do anything for his Pack, his Alpha, but that was asking too much. He couldn’t outright refuse, though. “Me? You sure? Maybe Tony would be better,” he suggested instead.
Lamont looked at his second-in-command and raised an eyebrow. The look clearly said that he would not be questioned on this topic.
Cain cleared his throat. “Of course. I’ll leave right away.” He turned to walk out.
“Cain,” Lamont called after him. He waited until Cain had turned around and met his gaze. “I know there’s something between you and Emily that you are trying to fight. I’ve given you both time to sort through your feelings and have not interfered. Do you want to discuss it?”
Cain shook his head. This was the last thing he’d expected to have to talk about. He’d been so careful not to let anyone pick up on his feelings for Emily. If his Alpha had a suspicion, then did the others? “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” There, if he didn’t admit to anything he wouldn’t have to have this conversation.
Lamont stood and walked around the desk. “I’m not asking as your Alpha. I’m asking as your father. You can talk to me. You know I’ll help you in any way possible.”
What could he share with his Alpha, his father, that wouldn’t have him looking like a complete asshole? He was a dominant male. Emily was still young and had already been through so much. He couldn’t subject her to the kind of control that he had to have in his relationships. That wouldn’t be fair to her. She’d already proven that she wouldn’t just let him do the protecting and stay at his back. Several years ago she’d demanded that he train her to fight. Lamont had taken her side and ordered him to teach her. Cain had done his best to get her to change her mind but Emily wouldn’t back off. He’d eventually began to meet with her every morning in the gym and share his knowledge with her.
It was the longest year Cain could ever remember in his life. The attraction that had been blooming between the two of them had seemed to sizzle and burn even hotter. The first time he’d touched her to show her a throw, there had been a spark. He could still remember the moment. The widening of her eyes, the catch of her breath and the feel of her skin under his hands. He had backed away immediately, but the damage had been done. The attraction had been noted and they both knew it.
But the big episode had come at the end of a year of working with her. She’d been eighteen by then, but still off-limits to him. She deserved so much better than the life he could provide her and he wouldn’t hold her back from following her dreams. He had made a promise to protect her, and he would—even from him.
She had just thrown him, and he kicked the back of her knee, having her go down at the same time. He shifted to break her fall, and her body fell onto his. She didn’t rush or scramble off him as she should have.
Their eyes met, and there was that connection once again. Then her mouth was on his, moist and hesitant. It was a feeling he would never forget. Her lips moving and caressing while her hand rubbed his chest. He rolled her onto her back, taking control of the kiss, deepening it, making it hard and rough. He slid his hands under her tank top and rubbed her breasts, pulling at her nipples as he kissed her mouth. She moaned and he felt that into the deepest core of his body. He was between her legs, hard as a rock and ready to plunge into her the moment he could pull her shorts off.
He stroked down from her breasts, past her stomach, to her hot core. He slipped his hand into her shorts and inside her panties, skimming his fingers against liquid heat. As he brushed his hand over her pussy, she pressed against it, begging him to take her. And as she moaned and writhed under his touch, the kiss became brutal. When he dipped his finger inside, she exploded and rocked while screaming at the climax that tore through her body.
He shook the memory away. He hadn’t handled that well. He had come to his senses at the last minute. He’d stopped before it was too late, sent her back to the house and avoided her from then on. After that, she’d begged and pleaded with Lamont to let her go away to college.
Neither Lamont nor Cain had wanted to let her go. Being in Pack territory almost guaranteed her safety. Lamont had held off as long as he’d been able to, had kept her there for four years at the community college two towns over.
Finally, he’d had to let her go to complete her final years of education. At twenty-two, she’d left to go to the closest university. They still worried with her being outside the territory, but she had promised one thing.
If trouble came, if she got a call from the Alpha, she would return home.
The call had come now, and Cain would be the one to pick her up.
She’d returned every summer and for holidays to spend her time off with the only family she had ever known or could remember. So they had been thrown together numerous times but had managed to avoid each other and talking about what happened.
Obviously, they hadn’t avoided keeping everything from the Alpha. From his father.
“No, nothing to talk about. I can assure you.” Cain shook his head.
Lamont didn’t look convinced, but nodded. “Then go get our girl.”
Cain turned and left to go get her. He could guarantee that Emily would not be happy to see him and it was going to be a long fucking ride back.
He stomped through the Alpha house, ignoring the looks he received from other Pack members. If he left now, he could grab Emily and get her back tonight. He did not want to stay in the city, and there was no way in hell he could spend the night in her apartment.
It was just an order by his Alpha that he had to follow. He had no choice and neither did she. A couple of hours on the road and he’d have her back into the safety of the Pack and he could go back to avoiding her.
A simple task that he would fulfill.
As he stepped out of the front door to his vehicle, Cain knew he was kidding himself. As soon as they were locked together in the car her scent would be all over him. It would take every ounce of control he had to keep his hands off her.
Cain jogged forward, praying that he could keep his vow to himself.