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Riding Red(9)

By:Alexa Riley

He nods his head and relaxes his body, opening his arms and turning his head to the side, exposing his neck. It’s a position an animal would assume were they to be held down on the ground. It’s almost as if it’s a submissive pose, and it strikes me as odd. Dominic then releases him, and they get up off the ground.

I look the guy up and down and see his clothes are in about the same state as when he first walked out of the woods: torn and dirty. He looks thin too. Not gaunt like he’s at death’s door, but slim and in need of a meal.

“Would you like some cookies?” It’s comical that I would offer up food to someone who just tried to attack me, but from what Dominic said, he’d take him out if he smelled me again. And from the part of the conversation I did understand, they know one another. This night is just getting weirder and weirder.

“You should go.” I look over to Dominic, and I don’t know whether he’s talking to me or to Xavier. He looks at me, and it’s then I realize he’s telling me to go. What the hell? This is my home.

I take a step toward Xavier, and I hear Dominic growl. I don’t know what the hell is happening, but this strange guy needs something besides meth for dinner.

“Here,” I say, holding out the basket. Xavier hesitates for only a second before taking the basket from me and nodding his thanks. “Sorry, they all look like cocks. But they taste wonderful.”

He looks up from the ground, and it’s then I see his eyes are glowing as well. The sunset is doing crazy things tonight. I wonder if mine are glowing too. Xavier smiles, just briefly, and then looks away again.

“It’s not her, but I can smell what’s mine,” Xavier says, making no sense, but none of this is.

“It’s not her, so stay away from her.” Dominic’s voice sounds like he’s been eating gravel. Can anyone talk normally around here? Why does everyone growl?

“She’s not mated,” Xavier responds, but it doesn’t sound like he’s challenging him; it’s more of a question.

“Sunday.” That must be Dominic’s go-to word, because for some reason Sunday is the answer to everything around here.

I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m annoyed with Dominic. Turning to him, I put my hands on my hips and give him my best sassy stance, but he doesn’t speak. Fine. Be that way.

“I’m going inside. I’d appreciate it if we kept the fights to a minimum, or at least take them elsewhere.” I walk toward the backdoor of the bakery and pull out my keys, but I turn back in time to catch Xavier before he walks back to the woods. “Hey, anytime you need something to eat, just leave a rock on that picnic table. I’ll leave a basket out for you.” I nod to the table I have set up in case employees need to go outside for a break, or on those rare afternoons when I get to go outside and enjoy a book in the sunshine.

Dominic just stares at me, not seeming to like my offer, but Xavier bows his head in acknowledgement. Ha! Now I got a local customer! He may not pay, but I’m counting it. After a second, I go inside, locking the door behind me and walk upstairs to my bedroom. Once I’m there, I gently pull back the curtains and look down to see that both men are gone. I step back and flop down on my bed. “What the fuck was that?” I whisper to the empty room.



I watch Ruby march her sexy ass inside as I try to get myself under control. The thick metal door slams behind her, hiding her perfect round ass from me. Seeing that she’s back safe in her home calms my nerves but not my wolf. He’s still on edge, wanting to break out and at least mark his mate.

My wolf wants to leave his scent on her so others will know she’s spoken for, but this is the exact reason I haven’t. My grip on him isn’t tight enough. If I could’ve just left my mark on her from the start, this wouldn’t have happened. Xavier would’ve smelled me all over her because no one mate-marks a female unless she’s going to be theirs on the next full moon. I’m sure Ruby saw the change in my eyes. She probably told herself she didn’t really see it or that it was a trick of the light.

I knew my wolf started to show the second he scented her fear from two blocks away. It took everything in me to hold my skin and not shift right in the center of Main Street. The sight of the local sheriff turning into a wolf would have sent any lingering tourists running and screaming down the street.

Taking a few deep breaths, I try to calm myself further. I want nothing more than to use the key I have in my pocket to the bakery. I kept a copy when we closed the sale; no way would my mate be living somewhere I couldn’t easily gain access to. I needed to protect her, something I’ve been doing every night since she moved in, quietly slipping in the backdoor of the bakery and sleeping at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to her room. It calms my wolf—and me—to at least be close to her scent. I’m sure Gwen smells me all over the place in here, but I don’t care; I have to be near her.