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Riding Red(8)

By:Alexa Riley

“Hi. Can I help you?” I can hear the tremor in my voice, and I’m trying not to panic. Being a female and being on your own in a situation like this is scary as hell. I’m not sure what this guy is capable of, but I don’t want to make any sudden movements. I get the distinct feeling he would lunge after me if I were to turn and run right now.

When he doesn’t answer me, I start to repeat the question, but suddenly he moves. He takes a slow step forward and then tilts his head up, inhaling deeply. Some of his hair falls away from his face, and I can’t help the gasp that escapes my mouth. His features are jagged and rough, with a hard square jaw and high cheekbones. His appearance—and his teeth—remind me more of an animal than a man.

Slowly, trying not to startle him, I make a move to get into my car. I’m desperate to get in and lock it, but he’s instantly in front of me. Holy shit, he can move fast for someone so big. I could reach out my arm and touch him if I wanted, but believe me, I don’t want to.

“Mine,” he growls, inhaling deeply again like he’s trying to breathe me in. Is this, like, a Colorado thing where people just smell each other all the time?

Making my voice as soft as possible, I say, “Sir, I’m sorry, but—”

My words are cut off by a deep, resonating sound to my left, which makes me snap my head up. I see Dominic standing there, shoulders hunched forward, arms in front of him, his chin tucked. His stance is strong and he looks like he’s about to attack. His silver eyes seem to be glowing, but it must be a trick of the light. This is absolutely the scariest I’ve ever seen him look, and I lean back against my car to try to get as much distance from the two of them as possible.

I watch as Dominic’s chest expands as if he’s breathing really heavily. The stranger sidesteps, and he’s suddenly right in front of me, standing between me and Dominic, like he’s blocking me from him. Something inside me starts to panic at the separation, and I’m more scared than before. The urge to get to Dominic claws at me.

“Mine,” the stranger says through his sharp gritted teeth.

“She’s already spoken for, Xavier. Back away.” Dominic takes a step toward us, and the stranger—who I guess is named Xavier—takes a step back, getting closer to me.

I move my body a little so I can see Dominic better, the sight of him melting a little of my fear. Dominic doesn't look scared at all. No, he just looks pissed. If I had to guess, Dominic can take him. Even though Xavier is taller and scarier-looking, he doesn't look healthy. Maybe if he was in top shape, Dominic would have a reason to worry.

“I smelled it, she’s mine,” Xavier says, taking a step toward Dominic, blocking my view again.

“No.” The word comes from deep in Dominic’s chest, and I peek around Xavier's body to see what’s happening. “Step away from her or I’ll rip out your throat. It’s my right, and I’ll take it.”

Jesus, how did this escalate so fast? One second I was taking cookies to old people, and then all of a sudden I’m in the middle of a backyard brawl with people talking about ripping throats out.

I can see Xavier hesitating, and then he inhales deeply again. What is happening? This is just like that episode of Cops I watched where the guy ate some bath salts and then stole Funyuns from the gas station. It’s crazy!

“Scent her again, Xavier. She’s mine.”

Scent me again? Is he fucking nuts? I’m not letting him smell me! He could snap me in two! “Hold up a second,” I say, leaning around Forest Creature Xavier so I can give Dominic a piece of my mind.

Dominic locks his glowing eyes with mine, and I feel a chill of desire shoot down my spine, somehow pushing my fear out. “Not now, sweets.” he says, his tone completely changing when he addresses me.

“But I scent mine,” Xavier growls, turning his back to Dominic, his eyes running over me in clear confusion. It’s a mistake he turned, because Dominic is on him and tackles him to the ground instantly.

They both make growling sounds and gnash their teeth as they wrestle. I don’t know what to do, so I just stand there like an idiot, holding a basket of cock cookies watching two dudes fight it out. I should call the cops, but Dominic is the cops. I don’t even think this little town has a deputy. After a few moments, Dominic has Xavier in a chokehold from behind, his legs wrapped around his waist, caging the guy.

“This is your warning, Xavier. The next time you scent her like that, I’ll end you. I don’t care what arrangements we have. Do you understand me?”

Xavier looks at me and then looks away. For a second I thought I saw something sad flash in his eyes, but it’s gone before I can be sure. He’s probably not exactly happy in his situation right now, so I don’t dwell on it.