THE HEIR APPARENT'S REJECTED MATE
coming SPRING 2022
I’m ten feet from Rosie’s trailer. It’s quiet except for distant voices a few yards away and a muffled television from inside.
The screen door on its rickety frame is propped open with a—is that a paw? It spasms.
That must be the uncle. Dewey Kemble. The man of the house. His back leg shakes as if he’s chasing rabbits in his dreams.
Do I knock?
She knows I’m here.
If I can scent her, she scents me. What do I smell like to her?
I sniff my sleeve. I smell like the dry cleaner.
She won’t come out. Not after earlier. She hates me.
Or maybe she will come out. She’ll have decided on a price. She’ll have red lips and her tits out and she'll purr “want to put something in my box” like her cousins do.
My muscles swell and harden. My cock jerks. I’ll scrub her face clean if she does that. Her mouth, too.
Where the hell did that come from?
That’s not me.
I don’t—I just don’t.
“What’s he doin’?” It’s a stage whisper from inside the house. The raspy female isn’t Rosie. She’s older.
“Standing there pissed off.” That’s Rosie. Her words roll over me. It’s a rush. Like when you’ve been running hard for miles and the second wave of endorphins kick in.
She's grouchy. My lips twitch.
“Why’s he smilin’?” Another female speaks. She doesn’t bother lowering her voice at all.
The females have gathered just inside the door. They share a similar scent although Rosie’s is bright and tangy while the others are mellowed, almost burnt.
“What’s he up to?” The older female sounds even more suspicious than the loud one.
“How would I know?” Rosie answers.
I’m instantly hard as rock. I can only hope the shadows are dark enough to let me keep some dignity.
“Don’t want him,” Rosie says. I can’t stop my smile from widening.
“Is he drunk or high?” the loud one hisses.
“It’s nothing to me.” Rosie’s words are petulant, but even so, her voice is sweet. Terrifyingly gentle and soft.
“He’s gonna draw attention, standing there like that.” The door hinges creak. A female in her late-twenties with Rosie’s black hair pokes her head out. There’s a harshness to her. A wear. This must be the sister Drona.
“It’ll be some kind of hassle, mark my words.” She’s also the loud one.
“Don’t care.” Rosie’s voice is fainter. She’s stepped back.
I don’t want that.
“Rosie, come out.” The words slip from my mouth with a resonance I don’t intend. An alpha command. I tense. I haven’t done that without meaning to for years.
There’s a scuffle in the doorway. A sleepy yip. The dangling paw disappears. Rosie is thrust out. She barely keeps her balance, hopping down the single step to the boards.
“Don’t want no trouble,” Drona says and slams the door behind her.
The air is sucked from my lungs.
My mate is beautiful.
She has her arms behind her, her back pressed to the door. Is she trying the knob?
She’s wearing jeans with rips in the knees, a worn navy T-shirt that reads “Moon Lake Corporate Summer Retreat 2014,” and a hot pink cardigan. Her feet are bare. There’s a silver ring on her second smallest toe.
Who gave it to her? My wolf’s lips peel back from his fangs.
I search her neck, wrists, hands. Bare.
She follows my gaze and tucks a lock of hair behind her ears. Her fingers flutter to the buttons on her sweater. She swallows, and her throat pulses in her slender neck. Slender and graceful. Her collarbones jut, lovely and delicate. So is the slight pinch at the tip of her nose.
The bond is electric now. Alive and flowing. I’m surprised it’s not visible in the air between us.
I’m so hard, my dick digs into my zipper.
Don’t look down.
Her gaze darts to my belt and flies right back to my face. Bright red lollipops burst into her cheeks.
She’s blushing again.
I smile. She’s the pinkest female I’ve ever seen.
She scowls, pouty lips turning down. What do they taste like?
What would she do if I bit them?
My fingers straighten, longing to reach. Seize. They tremble with the effort of holding them at my side.
She raises a hand again to touch her hair, and her sleeve rises.
“You’re wearing my watch.” It dangles from her pale wrist.
Her eyes round, her heart tripping even faster. There is an acrid whiff of fear.
“No.” I raise my palms. “No, I want you to keep it. It’s yours.”
I hadn’t thought about it, but yes, that’s what I want. Need.
A crease appears on the bridge of her nose. Remembered hurt darkens her brown eyes. She yanks off the watchband and thrusts it toward me without coming one step forward.
My gut sours. “No, please. It’s a—It’s a gift.”
Her face falls. My lungs freeze.
“I’m not gonna fuck you for a watch.”
“That’s not what I’m—”
She draws her arm back and pitches it overhand into the marsh. The reeds rustle, and there’s a faint plop.
I catch another whiff of fear, but Rosie’s face is hard. Hard and bright red.
She’s really mad.