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Riding Red(12)

By:Alexa Riley

She snorts, and it’s an unladylike sound. She rolls her eyes and turns to make her way up the stairs to get away from her brother and me. I reach out to stop her, wanting to know what she means by ‘hurting my mate’ but quickly pull my arm back. The idea of touching another woman, even someone who’s nearly a sister to me, makes my stomach cramp.

“Gwen, how am I hurting her? I’m trying everything I can not to hurt her.” My words make her stop her retreat, and she turns to look back at me.

“She’s new here and thinks the whole freaking town hates her, Dom. I mean, come on. She’s alone here, she’s just lost the only living relative she had, and now you won’t even let anyone near her. Yeah, you’re being a dick and hurting her.” With that, she turns, her blonde hair bouncing as she stomps up the stairs.


“Glad to see I’m not the only one she lays into,” Stone says from behind me, making me turn to look at him.

“You look like hell.” I take in his wrinkled flannel shirt, his overgrown beard, and the dark circles under his eyes.

“Yeah. Three weeks on the road from pack to pack will do that to you,” he says, dropping his big body down on the sofa and kicking his feet up on the coffee table. He takes a drink of his beer and then sighs. “Want one?”

I’d love one, but it’d take me twenty to get drunk, and either way I’d end up on Ruby’s stairs. At least if I’m sober I won’t knock down her door trying to get in and scare the shit out of her. After the verbal blow from Gwen, I’m really wishing I could pound back a few.

“Nope, I’m good.” I take the chair across from him, hoping this will be a quick chat. Not much has gone on around here. Well, not much I care to share about at the moment.

“How is everything? Besides you letting my sister take that job in town. Oh, and the fact that you found your mate, two things you seem to have left out of our weekly chats.” I can hear the slight irritation in his voice but no real anger. Either he’s as tired as he looks, or he isn’t as bothered about it as he lets on.

“I had to let my mate buy the bakery. I didn’t have a choice. She would have been gone, and I would have had to follow her. I couldn’t let her leave…unless you wanted to get a new beta.”

“I know, I know,” he says, polishing off his beer and getting another. The message is clear. Where my mate goes, I go. If that meant leaving my pack, then I’d be gone without a second thought.

“But did you have to let her hire my sister?”

“I can’t control your sister any more than you can, Stone.” I see the stress on his face. He worries about her more than he should, but with both their parents gone I can see why. They lost them at a young age, and I’m sure Gwen hardly remembers them. Stone is more like her father than her brother.

Losing parents is hard on shifters because they usually follow each other to the grave. When one goes, the other will soon go next. I used to think it was terrible that fate would do that to people, but having only known Ruby a short time, I don’t think I would want to live without her either. She’s already ingrained in me. But it looks like all I’ve done is hurt her, and here I was, not even hours ago, scolding Xavier on being a good mate.

Stone doesn’t respond to me, but there really isn’t much to say. He’s about to get a whole new reality check when Xavier comes knocking on his door. No, scratch that, I have a feeling Xavier isn’t gonna knock on a door to get to his mate. He’ll most likely tear it off the fucking hinges.

“She’s going to find a mate soon. You’ll have to let her go,” I say lightly, trying to ease into this conversation.

His face actually looks somewhat happy and makes me feel a little more comfortable. Until he opens his mouth. “I made some really good alliances while I went from pack to pack checking in with other alphas. I got to meet a lot of good shifters too. Some were looking for a change of scenery, and a few of them I’m planning to invite here would be a good fit for Gwen. I’m really hoping one will be her fated mate. I think I’d be at ease with her being with one of them.”

That’s great. All we need is Stone to bring in shifters he hopes will mate with Gwen.

“Speaking of mates, I really need to get back to mine,” I say, standing up. “Like I said, not much happened while you were gone, and there was no stopping Gwen from working at the bakery. Trust me, I’ve been in the place. Nothing is going to happen to her.” I try to reassure him because he needs to get some rest. Maybe he needs to let his wolf out for a good run before we get into the whole Xavier and Gwen thing.