And a Good Book: Protector of the Alpha
Important things first, are these sheets silk or cotton?
I miss silk sheets. I’d love to see Zak stretched out on them, completely naked, waiting for me to…wait. One sec. (Jake furrows his brow, then sighs.) Zak said I’m not allowed to tell you any of that. Sometimes having your mate being able to read your thoughts is pretty sucky. Our sheets are made from a fibrous material we grow in the enclave. They’re not exactly uncomfortable, but they sure as hell aren’t silk.
What are you wearing? I don’t wear much around the enclave in case I need to shift quickly. When we first got here, I was a little uncomfortable about it, but the people are used to nudity. It’s actually kind of hot to see some—sigh, Zak says I can’t talk about that either. *Whispers* I’ll draw you a picture later.
What are we snacking on in bed while we read tonight?
Cyndil, one of our servants—god, can you believe we have servants?—made up something she called crudités. I don’t know what that means, but they’re some pretty kickass veggies and dip.
If I open this nightstand drawer, what will I find? Casey made me some special salve to use on Zak’s—Oh for gods sake, Zak, if you were going to keep interrupting me, you should have just done the interview yourself.
Do you roll up in the blankets like a burrito, or kick the covers off during the night?
I’m Zak’s blanket. I hold him close all night.
Can I put my cold feet on your calves to warm them up?
That depends. Do you want our Alpha to command me to eviscerate you? I mean he probably wouldn’t—oh. Yeah, he says he would.
|Cover Art by Laura Harner|
What are we reading?
Protector of the Alpha by Parker Williams
Adopted at an early age by a wealthy family, Jake Davis has always seemed to have an easy life. Even in college he was blessed with good grades and an apparently clear path to a pro football career. Good thing his best friend keeps hanging around to keep his head from getting too swollen.
Zakiya Incekara has always been...odd. Being fluent in six languages and having a flair for international cooking should open the world to him, but those skills leave him isolated.
When Jake sees Zak for the first time, with water beading down his slender form, something inside him shifts, and it hungers for Zak. To have him. To claim him. And Jake knows that whatever it is, it won’t be denied.
When they are approached by a man who claims knowledge of a secret past they share, Jake and Zak are thrust into a world they would never have believed existed. The forests of Alaska might seem an odd place to find your destiny, but these men will meet the challenges head on, as they learn that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to be Protector of the Alpha.
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Tendrils of fog clung to Steven Lawrence as he ran. A soup so thick, he would have thought he was in London, instead of the streets of Englewood, Illinois. He ran as though the hounds of hell were on his trail, certain he wasn’t far off with that belief. He’d barely escaped from the stranger who had tried to drag him into the alleyway. Only luck, and the fact he was able to shed his jacket and take off, saved him at all.
The man laughed and set out after Steve, whispering harshly, “Run, little pig. I enjoy the hunt.”
Steve had tried shouting, but no one in this neighborhood would get involved, especially this late at night. If he hadn’t needed a job so badly, he’d be safe and warm at home with his family.
Each footfall caused a splash on the rain-soaked street. Louder still was his panted breath and whispered entreaties for safety. He cursed himself for being so out of shape. He ached from the exertion, muscles he hadn’t used in years screaming for oxygen. Desperate to find a way out, to keep the man from finding him, Steven scurried into an alleyway behind a restaurant. He found a disgusting dumpster overflowing with garbage and vermin that he hoped he could hide behind. Ducking behind it did little good as the patter of his assailant’s steps on the wet pavement continued at their maddeningly slow pace. He was being hunted. He couldn’t call it anything else.
No matter where he went, he could hear the man still approaching, stalking him. He’d catch a glimpse every now and again of the wicked grin on the man’s shadow-darkened face. Steve wondered if he could confront the man directly, but decided escape offered a better chance of survival. Though Steve wasn’t built, he could hold his own. His stalker outweighed him by at least fifty pounds and towered over his near six-foot frame. He couldn’t put this man off. If he hadn’t left the goddamn gun at home, maybe...there was no time for self-recrimination. He’d make sure that everywhere he went from now on, that snub-nosed .38 went with him.
Steve heard the bells toll eleven p.m. and rushed toward the old church, its stone façade weathered by the elements. A lapsed Christian, he could almost appreciate the irony of hiding out in a church. Still, it offered sanctuary. He made a mad dash for it, grateful to find the doors unlocked.
The inside was much like the outside. The stained glass windows were thick with a buildup of grime, allowing no light into the church. Dust covered the altars. Obviously the building had seen better days. He rushed forward and dropped to his knees, then began babbling any prayer that came to mind.
“Bless me father, for I have sinned. I've not been to church since I was a wee lad, but I pray thee to have mercy on me this night.”
A damp breeze ghosted over Steven’s skin as the door opened, and his heart began to thud painfully against his chest. There would be no answer to his prayers. Still, he tried. He begged to be saved, for more time, arguing that at twenty- one, he had not yet lived. He apologized for all his wrongs. Then, as the shadow fell across the altar and he knew his time was done, he glanced at his wedding ring and prayed once more for his family, for his wife and their twin boys. That they would grow up strong. That she would move on and find love with someone who earned it. He prayed—
Large hands wrapped around his throat, lifting him off the floor like a rag doll. The pressure choked off all but grunts as his lungs screamed for air. Hot, fetid breath hissed against his ear. He tried to kick, gouge at the man. Something— anything—that would give him another chance to run. It was to no avail. The body was like granite, and Steven’s blows were useless against it.
“Please,” he begged, his voice choked. “I have a family.”
A low, guttural laugh was his reply. In that moment, Steven accepted his situation and hung limply from his captor’s arms.
“It was a good chase,” said the raspy voice that had dogged him since earlier in the night. “One of the finest. You are not one of those I seek. Still, I won and claim my prize.”
Steve’s ring was torn from his hand, ripping off the finger at the knuckle, but the pain paled in comparison to the hand that was crushing his throat. “I’ll not make you suffer, though. You have given me good sport this night, but the hunt must continue. And don’t worry, I promise I’ll take care of your family. You’ll see them again very soon. It’s taken us years to track you all down, but I will ensure none of you mongrels survive. The purity of the enclave will be preserved.”
The hand tightened again. Steve’s spine screamed as his head was pulled back. Intense pain radiated through his body as sharp edges drove into his throat. Then he felt nothing more than warmth rolling down his chest. He could hear the gurgle from where his larynx used to be and an odd roughness against his skin, lapping at the wound.
Then Steven Lawrence shuddered as the blackness fell over him, knowing the leering face of his attacker would be the last thing he would ever see.