Wind rushed past and the dirt bike was obscenely loud between my legs. I couldn’t hear a thing and was grateful for the white noise, an interlude from words that were wreaking havoc with my intentions.
Fucking Rhys Maddock.
His justification of a ‘little transportation’ every now and then sounded plausible, he even sounded sincere with his desire to help out people and the town of my father. My heart fucking drank it up like I was in a desert and his words were an oasis. The sexy farmer wanted to do good despite his bad family and its history of destroying mine.
But he failed to remember that it hurt other people. Wait, it actually stole them. No, I was resolute that I left ‘Soft Kelly’ crying on the floor of my old Seattle apartment. Rhys was trying to dominate me with all the talk of ‘us’ and ‘belonging together’ and she would have lathered in it and lost herself to those ideas until he spat her back out.
No, Rhys was not as good as his looks, and he only wanted me for the legacy of the red wolf. He was complicit with drug running and human trafficking and it sounded like he had every intention of continuing on the trade when he became Alpha. Sure, my body was attracted enough to him that it set itself on fire, but Jolene was right, they all had to go.
I revved the bike up the side of one of the hills, now some way from the farm. The dirt bike was more skittish than dad’s Roadster and more than once I rethought taking off and leaving Rhys at his farm on a bike I didn’t know.
Topping the hill, another hum sounded on my left and before I could look, an arm hooked around my waist and pulled me backward while two bikes sped ahead. God damn, Rhys had followed me.
Together we tumbled off the bikes and onto the soft earth of the field. Rhys hit the ground under me, cradling my body to his, but still using force to hold me to him. We rolled over and over again on the slight decline of the hill until he stopped our descent and pinned my body under his, quickly grabbing my wrist and forcing them above my head.
Heavy breathing and adrenaline pulsed through both of our chests, occasionally forcing my breast to brush against his. His face was wild with excitement or lust and he parted my legs to gain purchase on the ground underneath. I had made a mistake, I had forgotten that you weren’t supposed to run from a wild beast. It only made them excited and right now Rhys looked in a frenzy with his wide blue eyes.
“You only run if you want to be chased, Red.”
My body struggled against his and his strong hands pinning down my wrists against the soft grass.
“That is definitely something a serial killer would say. Do you also think no means yes?”
He grinned slightly, more transfixed by the movements my body was making than the words of protest out of my mouth.
“Get off of me, Rhys. I mean it.” I squirmed again and he pressed closer. Fuck. His need ground right into my groin and my body responded in kind. Dammit feel something Kelly, I chided myself. Feel angry, feel scared, feel trauma, feel something other than being fucking aroused! Being celibate for two months was not a good reason to fuck this man on a hill in the dewy grass. Blood pulsed down between my legs and I felt myself starting to burn up and he knew it, he could feel it. He shook his head slightly, and his voice grew softer like he was in the middle of a revelation.
“No, I don’t think that’s what you really want. I think you want something else. What’s holding you back?” He ground his length against me and an involuntary moan escaped my lips before I realized. His eyes closed as the friction of our jeans made him harder and me wetter. I focused my eyes out of the lust haze and ground my teeth to enforce my seriousness.
“Rhys, off. Now.”
He scanned my face, looking my features over, following the line down my neck and tipping his head down to our bodies, where they connected. Still staring down, he muttered. “No, I don’t think so, I’m not going to let you chicken out again, Red. Stop holding back.”
Ignoring our bodies slowly entwining into each other, I leaned my head up to look at our hands. He had them totally covered, he was too strong. Jesus, his body felt like it was molded to fit right against mine, it felt too good and I had to get out of here. I looked back up at him to see him staring now at my neck intently, licking his lips. My clit throbbed with the action.
Shit, he was thinking of biting me.
“Rhys, stop, think with your other head for fucks sake! You were going to wait till after the moon. We aren’t even mates! You know that!” He ignored my frantic words and kept his gaze on my neck, getting himself more determined by the second.
“Oh, I don’t think it matters anymore either way…” His right hand released mine and it moved down to my head, stroking the line of my neck while he ground into me again, dry humping my body into submission. Holy fuck this was erotic as hell and my brain was having a hard time thinking for itself. Rhys wasn’t paying attention anymore to my words or reactions anymore. He had one thing on his mind, to mark me as his, and his other hand trailed down my neck again to force my head to the side, pushing it into the grass.
“Rhys! Don’t! I do not want this!”
Lies, my body absolutely wanted him.
He leaned his face down onto my neck, kissing the spot that thrummed with my wild pulse.
“I don’t think you know what you want, cariad,” he mumbled into my skin. I felt teeth graze against the soft spot, as if this was foreplay and he wanted me to anticipate the moment he would sink into me. A deep snarl from somewhere in my subconscious reared itself in protest and I had never felt more at odds. My body was on fire for the dominance Rhys was putting it under but my brain was rebelling against him.
Another deeper growl that threatened the surface of my psyche, trying to breakthrough. My eyes widened at the invasion. I had to shut this down.
With my now free hand I raised it to his skull, caressing his temple and placing my fingers into his hair. He took it as acceptance and I felt out his pulse, deep in his brain as I had with Arawn all those weeks ago.
I squeezed it with everything I had.
A second later, all two hundred pounds of the muscular Were dropped unceremoniously onto my body and the air was pushed out of my lungs.
I gritted my teeth in anger and frustration, growling up into the sky. Fucking dammit! Gathering my arms underneath, I rolled the man off and he landed onto the ground, dead to the world. Standing and pacing the ground in front of him, I gripped my hands together and screamed up to the sky again. Fuck! Fucking damn Rhys Maddock with his Alpha male bullshit.
I nervously ran my hand through my hair. Shit, shit, shit, how to explain this? I mean obviously deserved, but shit, this was the kind of thing that would instantly give me away. There would be suspicion of foul play if something else came up. Okay, how to salvage this? I paced the ground a few more times and wrung my hands in irritation at the body before I spotted a fist-sized rock on the ground and the idea came. He had been too close to see my other free hand.
Picking up the rock, I thought of my reaction. I should be angry. Fuck, I was angry at him, pushing something like that on me and making me resort to magic. Sure, he was reading the signs of my body, but my mouth clearly told him to no.
Standing over his prostrate body, I leaned down and smacked him square in the face, the force of it knocking it clear to the side. His eyes fluttered and I hollered down to him. “Wake up, asshole!”.
Taking a few steps back, I stood in front of him, bold and on fire with the rock in my hand. After a few moments of confusion, he finally sat up and looked around, his hand going to his head and his eyes finding me.
I held the rock up casually to let him see it before letting it fall to the ground with a heavy thud. Anger rang through my voice and was unmistakable.
“I said I wasn’t ready and no means no, dick.”
He watched the rock fall to the ground and his hand went to his head again in understanding. Turning my back on him, I walked back the 30 feet to the overturned bikes, picking mine up and jumping on. I glanced back to the man, still on the ground as I started the bike up. His mouth had set in a grim line like he knew he was in the wrong, but also maybe a little pissed I had bested him.
I revved the bike and rode back to the house, coming back into the farmyard and straight into the lamb’s shed. Should I just ride back to Iona’s? I looked down at Rhys’s sweater and jeans, seeing the stains on my thighs and realizing I definitely looked like I had just had a roll in the grass and was not fit to see my elderly grandmother. I needed calm for a few moments and decidedly climbed back into the lamb’s pen and sat in thought, holding one of sleepy looking lambs and stroking it absentmindedly.
I loved Will. I knew that. I was probably a past memory to him now that we weren’t tied to each other, but my body loved him as well as my dysfunctional brain. But Rhys, Rhys drove my blood wild with his mere presence. And when he tried it on, it literally took the wolf inside me to threaten escape before I could come to my senses and lay him out.
Alpha males and their penchant for biting.
At least when Will did it, it was because I meant something to him, he realized we were more than just infatuations to each other. It seemed Rhys was going for it because he was horny and wanted the legacy of the Jones as well as a woman to accompany it. I almost hoped that whatever was readying to come out at the next full moon was the exact opposite of whatever they were expecting, just to give a final ‘fuck you’ to this extreme patriarchy.
Okay, I had to reason this out. If I just hid out at Iona’s I wouldn’t be able to figure out the weak spots and how to pull this off. I was here for a reason. Someone once said that if you’re going through hell, keep going. I had to keep close to him to get through this hell.
Rhys had left me alone at Iona’s for two days, and while I was thankful for the opportunity to get to know her, I also felt like time was slipping through my fingers. I wanted out of this place, to see it to an end. My ceremony in a week felt like a deadline, and I was sure if I stayed longer, there was a serious possibility I would find myself in bed with Rhys and I wouldn’t give a flying fuck anymore to consequences, despite that my heart was across a few oceans.
The sound of the second dirt bike echoed through the shed and a moment later, Rhys pulled up and inside. He stopped short on the bike when he saw me in with the lambs, obviously expecting me to have run back to Iona’s.
After a pause, he unsaddled on the bike and walked it over to mine already in the corner. He faced the wall for a moment, his hands on his hips, before turning towards me.
“You stayed.” I looked up to him but stayed silent. Yes, he thought I would turn tail and run away from the big bad wolf all the way to grandmother’s house. Walking closer to the barrier, he kept his hands on his hips,
“Just so we are clear...you hit me in the head with a rock?”
I pursed my lips and arched my eyebrows at his tone, still stroking the now sleeping lamb.
“You were going to mark me...without consent.”
He leaned over the hay bails, his face holding a smirk.
“You hit me with a rock?”
I grinned at the tone and he stood up and rubbed his hand through his hair, scratching it like he could feel the impact. He sat down on the bail and swung his legs in, his gaze looking down at my sleeping lamb. We stayed silent for a while, when he said,
“I’m sorry…” I slightly raised my brows in surprise,
“...I grew up learning to take something when I wanted it. The castle… it wasn’t the easiest home to grow up in and I’m probably a little fucked up because of it. Please just be...patient with me.”
I shook my head,
“Daddy issues I could understand, but surely girls have said no to you before. Rape is...not okay.”
Rhys straightened up at the word, his face growing concerned before he finally slumped back.
“I guess that’s how you would see it, huh? When it comes to you and that moxy you throw out, I seem to go a little…”
“...wild.” He countered. “And it doesn’t help that I constantly feel like you are about to slip through my fingers like you’re ephemeral or something. It makes me feel on my toes.” He let out an exasperated sigh, “Look, I’m not explaining myself well, just... patience, please.”
I raised my eyebrows at his confession that to him I was fleeting, not knowing how close to the truth he was. I looked him over, slumped on the hay. And despite the shit he just tried to pull, Soft Kelly saw the teenage boy who grew up in a castle full of assholes and wanted to comfort him. Instead, I stifled any words of consolation and gave him a small nod of acquiesce, but quickly looked back down to the lamb. He looked up and out of the shed.
“I’m going to wash up and get a cuppa going. Come in when you’re ready.”
I watched his retreating form, striding across the yard with his long gait. Well, that could have been worse. I stayed with the lamb for a few more minutes, wondering when they had to be fed next before I laid it down and stepped out.
The sky above held some dark clouds now as I strode across the yard to the house. As I moved through it, from around the corner of the house, the front of a fancy black sedan was poking out. Deian was here.
I involuntarily shivered. I gratefully hadn’t seen that bastard in four or five days but I still felt his last touch on my waist and the way he suggested we have some 'fun'. Now he was making house calls. Wonderful.
I took the liberty and opened up the back door quietly, finding myself in a mudroom of sorts and slipped off the muddy boots.
A sound like a skin hitting skin came from what I suspected was the living room and I peeked around the corner. Sure enough, there was Rhys with his shorter father in the living room, the son’s head turned to the side like his father had just given him a slap to his face. His expression held a look like he was controlling his anger and for the first time today I understood him better.
With his head turned towards me, our eyes met and I realized I couldn’t reasonably hide here. Stepping out from behind the corner, from across a kitchen island, the two men now looked to me and I walked in hesitantly. Both scanned me with roaming eyes.
“Hi, sorry to interrupt, Rhys, where is your bathroom?”
I glanced up at Deian who gazed up and down my body, stopping at the obvious grass stains and pieces of hay still on me, and he gave a smug smile.
“It’s at the end of the hall,” he answered, his eyes now on his father watching me. I nodded and headed down a bare hallway, closing the bathroom door behind me, but leaving it fractionally open to hear the two men.
“Don’t,” Rhys clipped out.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that. I think I am very in the right, to be concerned if you’re going to be able to handle that. They don’t call redheads firecrackers for nothin. Although, it already looks like you took a sample.”
“Look at her like that again and I swear…” The father cut him off with a stern tone,
“Enough. I already agreed, and I wouldn’t change my mind unless there was a good reason. Which is why I’m here. Since he is awaiting the meeting in the dungeons and will probably be injured afterward, Vince is out. Meaning you’re in. He already arranged everything, you just need to be on the boats to see it through.”
I couldn’t see Rhys, but the silence from the other room said everything. Another pause and I made sure to hold my breath. The drug run I had overheard Vince arranging.
“The day after the monthly meeting, late afternoon.”
“What is it?”
“It’s everything, we are clearing shop for a while since it seems there will be some big changes coming.”
“You could have told me this over the phone.”
There was the sound of a chair squeaking and the voices got softer, making me strain a little more to hear.
“There was something else…” Deian paused mid-sentence.
“Well?” Rhys grunted.
“The Ellis pack Beta was in the Winchester late last night.”
More silence between the two, Deian continued on,
“Obviously, he could have just been having a drink, but Mikey called me, and said he was snooping around, even caught him upstairs in one of the rooms.”
There was a beat before Rhys asked.
“Mikey said no, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the Were got a look behind the desk at that big book he keeps.”
I strained to hear the ever softening voices, none of this wasn’t making any sense to me, so maybe it was totally unrelated to the drug running they did. Pack disputes probably happened all the time in this area. Since Jolene told me there were about 6 packs in Wales, and Wales was relatively small.
Rhys grunted “I’ve got help here. But I guess I’ll double it now.”
Deian must have agreed because he was suddenly calling out,
I tagged a wet towel from the rack and came out, pretending to wipe my face.
He looked me up and down again.
“Make sure this one treats you right, girl. And if you need anything, you know where I live.”
I pursed my lips together. Actually, I didn’t, since I was hooded and in the trunk of a sedan the first time I arrived at Wolf's Castle. I stayed quiet and simply nodded at the man, as he headed for the door, his son in his wake. Rhys came back into the living room, looking significantly tenser and on edge. Like he had just come out of the boxing ring and still had some fight in him he needed to get out.
“You okay?” I asked.
He swatted his hands to get rid of the extra adrenaline.
“Deian Maddock...,” as if that said it all. He exhaled and I nodded in agreement, continuing to wipe my face while I studied the inside of his home for the first time. A fireplace in the sidewall with two couches facing each other on either side of it. No television, but a bar cart and a bookshelf to the side.
I walked over to the shelf and read some of the titles. Some old and new philosophers, books about the first and second world war. Some biographies on politicians, Sun Tzu, lots of military books and histories, a few local photographic books. A wide range, enough to confuse anyone about the type of man who owned them.
From behind me, Rhys had moved into his kitchen and I heard the kettle boiling. A few minutes later while I was flipping through a book on the area, Rhys returned with a cup of tea for us both.
“Bit of a military nut, huh?”
He smiled and sat on a couch while I took the other,
“Oh, you know, future alpha in training shite. Deian had it in his mind for a while when I was young that packs would constantly be at war in our area and sprung for a tutor for me for a while. The area around here is known for the last invasion of Britain, so, yeah, I guess I am a little bit.”
I looked down, continuing to flip through the pictures of the book, looking at one in particular of a big cliff overlooking the channel of Ireland and Wales, when Rhys hesitantly asked from his couch
“Look, Red, I know I have made a mess of things. But can we try for...normal? Like, go out on a date? Be a little less tense, or at least let me show you I can be? Let me take you somewhere?” His face was hopeful and I looked him over, puzzled.
He was trying to get on my good side, smooth things over after being bested on a hill in the ground. I had just overheard him arranging with his father a time and date that he was going to transport human trafficking victims, drugs, and guns, and now he was talking about dating? I was here with one of the most attractive men I had ever met who wanted me, but also wanted to run an empire built on people’s broken lives. And he wanted a date to feel normal.
I inwardly sighed, I was going through hell, I had to keep going.
I sipped the cup of tea while staring at him over the rim. He seemed sincere.
“A first date, huh?”
He gave a full smile.
“I promise, It will be such a good one, it will be your last first date.”
I stared at that smile, surrounded by his thick beard and the scar that was a testimony to my life. After a moment of mindless gazing, I dipped my head,
“Okay, a date.”
The Alpha-to-be gave a megawatt smile that despite everything, went straight to my groin and I looked back into my teacup. To my side, rain started to ping against the front windows.
He looked outside,
“Right on time. If you can set your watch by anything, it’s the rain in Wales. Come on Red, lets get you back to Iona’s before I do something else stupid today.”
I gave a genuine smile. Yes, it was a high probability we would both do something stupid if I stayed.