There was no question about it, Rhys Maddock was extremely good looking. Hell, good looking nothing, he could have been a Grecian model in another era. He was still no Will Achran with his exotic dark skin and long hair, but Rhys was still a lengthy washboard of masculinity and a damn close second. Dressed now in faded blue jeans topped by a red plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, it fitted his body like a glove, and by the way he leaned on his back leg, he knew it.
Without a hat on, the farmer’s hair was short, but long enough to be styled if he chose, which he seemed to have gone with a just-got-out-of-bed style. After I looked him up and down, standing in a bar full of the town’s locals, our eyes met and that vibrant blue color of his was enough to make mine widen.
“...literally,” he uttered.
Lewis looked back to me quizzically, where I copied his expression. Here we go. Time to put that one Drama class in my freshman year to use and play dumb. I was new here, I did not know anyone or anything, play dumb.
Lewis for his part turned on the man, before the sturdier one cut him off again with an authoritative air.
“Really, Lewis, fuck off, and don’t talk to her ever again. And you can tell everyone else in the village the same thing.”
Lewis paused and blanched before briefly nodding and walking away without giving me a backward glance.
I opened my mouth in shock. Even if I wasn’t totally aware of the decades long promise, this was still the biggest dick move anyone had ever made towards me in a bar. I sat up in my seat and lifted my chin to him, now moving directly in front of my stool. I was pissed.
“Hey, asshole. I’m really sorry I saw you and your girl break up this morning and caused you some embarrassment, but can you not cock block me? I mean, what the fuck?” I motioned now towards Lewis’ back and made sure the farmer heard the fire in my voice.
The cocky bastard leaned back on his leg and folded his arms in front of him, smiling like he was amused at my anger as he looked me over. The crowd in the pub seemed to be giving us a wide berth and were noticeably not looking our way, the bulky men either side of me had moved a foot farther from my stool.
“Actually, it’s not a cock block. I’m just replacing cocks, Red.”
An incredulous laugh bursts from my lips and he just continued that fucking provocative grin. His scar made a curve along his cheek and for a hot second my brain flashed with an image of that cheek resting on my inner thigh. Holy shit. I shook my head to clear the image but pretending it was at his audacity.
“Okay, wow, where to start. First of all, buy a lady a drink first before you swoop in and try that line. Second. Never. ...Ever.” I stood and forced him to step away, and looked back to the barkeep on the other side. I grabbed his eye and made a motion that I would be in the dining room and he nodded in acknowledgment. I turned back to Rhys and caught him covertly trying to smell my hair. He had stepped close again and his own smell of musk had invaded my personal space. He was too much man to be so close and I steeled myself to ignore the handsome face and gave him a death stare.
“Last, the name’s not Red.”
Those blue eyes fell down to my lips again and I felt them everywhere.
“Oh, I know your name.”
I moved past him and glanced back, feigning nausea,
“Ugh, dude, take the hint.”
The grin stayed on his face and he made me feel like my retorts were cute: that they had no effect on him or his plans. Turning on him, I pushed my way past the few men blocking my path and moved to the dining room and to its back corner, out of sight from the bar.
What a dick. The nerve, so self-assured and arrogant. I couldn’t blame him, a typical Alpha attitude but with a face and body to back it up. However, if he thought this was a good way to approach women, no wonder he had blow ups with his girlfriends at 9 am.
Sitting down, nervous energy still jiggled at the balls of my feet. I should skip dinner, I could almost feel him in the other room. I had to be out of sight for a while. I was sure that even if I wasn’t looking at him, I would still be able to feel when that hot gaze was on me as sure as if it was his hand on my skin.
About to get up and leave, the younger bartender came into the dining room and spotted me up the back, placing my fish and chips down in front of me. He gave a brief smile before leaving quickly, a noticeable change from last night. Well that was that. I guessed Rhys’ little neanderthal display put any chance of a social life or even conversation out of reach for a little while.
Eating in silence, I watched the sunlight slowly fade from the front window, and more men and women made their way past it and into the main bar. Across the road, boats were swaying to and fro with the incoming tide and I briefly wondered if my battered fish had come from one of the Maddock boats.
A man with short sandy brown hair, matching eyes and a soft face, a little older than myself walked past the window and I heard him step into the main entrance, and then turn left to the dining room. Calling out as his head popped inside to scan around, “Da?”
We caught eyes and he straightened up. I tipped my nearly empty bottle to him in conciliation,
“Sorry, no dads here.”
His lips twitched to the side and he moved into the room to face me.
“No, there are not. But I’ll not complain about it.”
Giving him a simple grin, I drained my bottle and half stood, ready to head back upstairs and get to bed. The man nodded towards the bottle.
I sat back down in the seat and looked at the empty cider bottle. Oh man, this was so tempting. To fuck with the man who proclaimed to a whole pub that I was ‘literally his’. I thought about it for a second longer and looked the guy over. A little on the shorter side, cute but not hot, but seemed kind enough. He was too far away to tell what he was, so probably a nice human.
“Umm, you know what? Sure, except make it a Merlot.”
He gave a wide grin and left the dining area for the main bar. I leaned back in the chair again and studied the front window and the harbor beyond. The sun was totally beyond the horizon now and the street lights were flickering to life.
What was the time in Washington? If it was 7 pm here, probably around 10 am this morning. Will would probably be sitting at the kitchen table with his dad or helping Jess with some handyman work around the Res. More likely though he was in that office, doing tedious but necessary paperwork for his people. It was nearing six weeks since we had seen each other and my brain was giving me hell for it. I wondered if he had found someone new. Probably. That man was sex in low slung jeans and tight black tops. I highly doubted he spent much time alone after he realized our connection was broken and was probably hurt when he realized I had willingly left with Jolene.
I let out a heavy sigh, always on my mind, Will.
A heavy tread walked across from the bar and in came Rhys carrying a beer and a glass of Merlot. I threw up my hands.
“Are you fucking kidding?”
I grabbed my small purse from the opposite seat and stood, about to walk around the approaching man. He held his hands up with the drinks in them, threatening that they would be sloshed if I tried to get past.
“Wait, wait, wait. Truce, huh? Please, I would like to start over.”
I pulled up short in front of him. Play dumb, play dumb, play dumb.
“Start over for what, exactly? Sorry, dude. I’m not a one night stand, not interested in being a notch on a bedpost, and I don’t think I’m in this town for long.”
His expression turned interested for a quick moment before slightly remorseful.
“Well, at least for the company then,” I opened my mouth to tell him where to shove it before he added, “...for as long as this glass of wine lasts.”
I closed my mouth and looked at the glass. It wasn’t too big, and after a moment of seeing those eyes stare me down in challenge, I hesitantly nodded. Backing my ass into the chair, he stalked forward with me and took the closest seat, placing the glass on the table.
“And no sculling, yeah?” My eyebrow twitched up at the thought, but I silently agreed with a nod. He saw my amusement and mirrored it,
“Kelly, but you knew that, apparently,” I quipped.
He gave a grin and once it seemed that I wasn’t going to run for the door and he had me tamed, he relaxed in the seat. Taking a sip of his beer, he studied my face and I had to look away from those eyes, and gazed into my wine glass.
Finally, after a few moments he asked,
“What brings you to our little coastal town?”
Play dumb, play dumb, play dumb.
“I, uhh, recently found out I may have some family in the area.”
He took another sip of his beer and casually nodded his head, as if this was old news.
“Ahhhh, that’s right. You are her neighbor, huh? The farmer breaking hearts in his front yard.” He gave a playful smile, swirling his glass on the tabletop.
“You don’t know that, I’m pretty sure you aren’t a Welsh speaker yet?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “You don’t need to know the words when the tone says everything.”
He gave a laugh, his jawline more pronounced with the movement. I took a large sip of wine and tried to not look at that bearded face. Holy shit this man was handsome. Trying to keep the conversation civil and boring, I asked without real interest,
“What do you farm?”
He put his glass down and I felt his gaze on me.
“A little bit of everything. Sheep, obviously, and some Heifers for the local milk. Mostly vegetables and berries in the summer.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
He raised his hands behind his head, elongating his body and stretching his legs in front of him to cross right at my feet, giving me a clear view of his physique. I quickly turned my head to the front window and took another drink. Fuck.
“Not too much. I have farmhands for the tilling and harvesters when it’s time, the sheep and cows take care of themselves eighty percent of the day.”
Nodding my head, I held my glass in one hand and let my fingers play with the rim of it, sliding on the edge of the glass. The silence between us grew and became awkward. Those friggin eyes were still on me and I was set against laying mine on any part of him again.
“Do I scare you, Red?”
I scoffed at the insinuation. “Not at all. Just not trying to give the wrong impression and lead you on.” I looked back up to stare right at him, pretending indifference, “Sorry man, you’re just not my type.”
His lips turned up at the ends, and he brought the glass to his full lips, confident that he was everyone’s type. After a moment, he leaned across on the table.
“Well, I don’t know if I’m a bad decision, but I know I’m certainly a fun one.”
Goddamn my sassy mouth from this morning. Raising my eyebrows at the imagery he had just forced on me, I drained the last of my glass and stood, placing it clearly in front of him to show it was finished, making the point I was leaving.
“Fun or not, I’ve had a long day. Thank you for the bribery wine. Goodnight and goodbye.”
Without waiting for him to respond, I headed for the doorway and heard him call out after me, “I’ll see you around, Red.”
I took the sharp turn up the stairs and absolutely did not stop until I was on the safe side of my door, letting out a long exhale as it shut. Holy mother, there was simply just too much testosterone in that man, he was definitely not street legal. When Jolene told me about Rhys Maddock, future Alpha, I had only focused on the sins of the father tainting the son. I had wondered what he looked like and hoped for the best, but at no time did I think we would ever have enough chemistry to make my body ignore its brain and logic.
Shaking out my hands as if it could get our exchange out of my system, I looked to the shower. A cold shower, that’s what people did, right? Stripping off the day’s clothes, I jumped into the temperate water and tried to push the thought of that long body out of my head. By the time I emerged, the only carnal thoughts running through it were of bed and rest.
Sleep did not come easily, but I didn’t really expect it to. In the whole ten or fifteen minutes I had spent with him, Rhys was too goddamn unnerving. Something about him was too similar to my Will. Something with the Alpha blood perhaps? He was definitely an apex predator. That size, the attitude, the ease with which he swept aside others tonight showed privilege. And of course, he expected it, why shouldn’t he?
His family had stolen from mine and was given everything that came with it apparently. The title of Alpha, the lands, the money, and of course the power. He had been handed everything at the expense of Ewan Jones. The more I stewed on it, the more the cockiness of the man boiled my blood and made me forget the superficial aspect of his looks.
Laying on my bed and thinking about the farmer for too long, my eyes eventually became heavy with sleep and darkness.
Hands traveled up the length of my body, lightly tracing along the collarbone. They dipped above in the hollow of my neck and heat pooled in between my thighs. His chin, covered in more stubble than normal, brushed up against my ear and caused me to shiver in anticipation. I turned my body to his, arching for as much skin to skin as possible. My eyes were still closed, trying not to ruin the moment and just trust that it was happening. I leaned into his neck and kissed and sucked his skin while our legs entwined and we wrapped around each other.
Will. Always Will.
Lips lightly kissed my forehead while I began to thrust and grind myself against him, slightly feeling his tip brush my mound. His warm hands circling my waist, began to travel up, kneading every inch of skin.
“Kelly Jones…,” his deep voice whispered, almost cloaking its identity. But there was no mistaking this dream. No one had ever wanted me like Will did.
His hands were like fire, the way they moved and demanded. Even physically they felt...hot. Like, really hot. They kneaded my breasts and I winced at the harshness of them, their heat and grip on my body. Unlike Will. Fuck, was I dreaming?
My eyes flared open to meet the owner of those hands and they were met by Will’s own penetrating gaze.
But they weren’t his eyes.
His beautiful face was contorted with lust, but where his hazel eyes usually stood, in their place was fire. Like someone had scooped them out and an inferno was burning inside his skull. The hot palms scorched my breasts. I opened my mouth to scream but nothing escaped and the hands moved to my side ribs to pull us even closer. His mouth opened, and the deep voice that was Will’s but not Will’s spoke again.
“Kelly Jones... come to me.” I gripped his strong arms and tried to push away, terrified. It had no effect and the man that was wearing Will’s body dragged me back and opened up the flaming portal of his mouth to kiss. Our lips collided and suddenly everything everywhere was all blazing in a sea of flames.
I bolted up in the bed. Sweat coated my brow and body, and my lungs had set a brisk pace. What the actual fuck, brain? That was certainly a first. One of my wet dreams turned into a nightmare. I brought my knees up and hugged them, trying to push the terrifying image of the Will that wasn’t mine out of my vision. That was certainly not my mate, at least, not the one I remembered having in my bed six weeks ago. Was my inner wolf starting to get pissed and try a new tactic for sending me back home? I had no clue, but my attention was suddenly overtaken by my open window from the sound of a car stopping on the road outside the pub.
The clock on the bedside table glared 3:12am. The pub had been closed for about an hour, and I bet that in a small town like this, most everyone would be in their own beds by now. I crouched out of bed and over to the window, just peeping over the sill. Two of the shiny black sedans I had spotted my first day in town had stopped on the road, directly in front of the pub entrance. Their doors opened simultaneously and a man exited from each one. Shit. Eight?
They sent eight men? I guess I should feel...scared or...proud?
I crouched away from the window and went back to my bed, throwing on the sweatshirt on the end and climbed back in, facing the door. From the floor below, there were muted voices. They weren’t trying to be quiet. Had they come across the barkeep? How were the front doors secured after lockup?
I closed my eyes and focused my hearing on what was happening downstairs. It had gone quiet below and a creak from down the hall now sounded. Squeezing my eyes shut, I took a deep breath. Calm. Keep calm.
My door suddenly flew open with a boot falling from kicking it through. I mimicked myself earlier and bolted up in bed, looking bleary eyed and held my hand up against the light coming in from the hallway. Silhouetted were three bulky figures, almost filling the doorway.
“Wha….” I began to say before something from behind me covered my head. Roughness scraped against my cheek and a thick cord hemmed and tightened against my throat. Shit. One of them had climbed up and in through my window and from the smell, slipped a potato sack over my head.
Unplanned screams erupted from my throat and my hands went to the cord around my neck but were swiftly grabbed by stubby, thick fingers and held tight at my back. Arms circled my waist and a strong body lifted me up and was pressed against my backside where something secured my wrists together.
I couldn’t breathe and suddenly I was back in the cell underground, in the caves. Carlyle’s palm was clamped down on my face and my lungs were on fire. The blackness inside the sack started to close in on me and the image of the two men who tortured me with asphyxiation hovering over my body, grabbing it and stroking themselves, returned.
Inside the room, I twisted and squirmed in the intimate embrace from behind and I felt other hands grab me by my hips and legs and lifted. They said nothing. Not to me. Not to each other. They were just hands in the dark.
Terror incapacitated my lungs and voice. I knew I was hyperventilating but I couldn’t stop, just like I couldn’t stop those hands covering my face down in that dirt cell. The cord was too tight and through frantic whelps inside the sack, I tried to plead with the hands in the dark.
By the time they had carried me into the hall, one of the sets of hands must have noticed I had stopped screaming and the cord loosened marginally, enough to give a little alleviation to my breathing, but not my position. Fuck. this was bad. The sack felt heavy against my face and my heart hadn’t calmed, despite being able to breathe.
Through the burlap over my eyes, the lights in the hallway flared as they carried me down and the Weres carrying me briefly paused in confusion. Fuck fuckfuckfuck. Breathe Kel, in and out.
In and out. I went limp in the arms, not caring what they thought of my new weakness. I could not have another treaty night 2.0 in the middle of the pub.
I breathed in and out, and focused on the words of my mother.