Authors: Morgan Rae
Alphas of Red Moon Ranch
(Complete Series: Parts 1-5)
By Morgan Rae
Copyright 2015 Enamored Ink
Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get on my
pre-launch list. I’ll send you an alert when my next book launches and you’ll ensure you get the
Bride and the Beast
Moonlust screamed inside him. Warm, seductive. Like a succulent beauty whispering in his ear. Jacob sat on the porch, lost his gaze in the stars, and tried to stop his hands from shaking.
The bar door creaked open and released a cacophony of sounds: twangy rock, throaty women’s laughter, bottles clinking. Jacob could pick out Brent’s scent (strong cologne, hair gel, and hand-rolled cigarettes) even in the cloud of sour booze, musty sex, and rough leather that floated out from the Weeping Willow Tavern. The door closed again and muffled the noise. Crickets took over and Jacob heard Brent spit off the side of the porch.
“The hell’re you doing out here? Miranda’s looking for you and, lemme tell you, she’s hungry. Y’might wanna feed her before she rips a piece outta someone else.”
Jacob said nothing as he wrapped his hands around his beer. He didn’t want Brent to see the way they were trembling. Brent dropped down on the porch beside him like a marionette with the strings cut—legs splayed out in front of him, elbows propped up behind. Brent was conventionally attractive with slicked-back blond hair, a strong jaw, and a carefully groomed beard. Brent twisted the top off a fresh beer and handed it to Jacob. Jacob thanked him with a nod. The bottle necks clinked; they drank.
“Bar is hoppin’ with Honeypots,” Brent said. “Y’should join in on the fun.”
“I’m keeping the stars company,” Jacob grunted. His eyes wandered over them sprinkled throughout the inky night sky—so far away, so cold, so alone. Felt a strange comfort being around all that emptiness.
Brent shrugged. “Guess someone has to.” He glanced over at Jacob and paused before asking, “You okay, boss?”
“I’m fine.” Jacob’s voice was gruff, tense.
“Tell you what.” Brent pointed to the sky. “How about I keep lil’ Miss Dipper occupied while you go wrangle Miranda.” He clasped his hand over Jacob’s shoulder. “Get laid, take a load off.”
“I’m fine!” Jacob barked. A flame licked up his insides and his eyes burned amber for a second before the Beast in him simmered down. Jacob turned away; he didn’t want to see the surprise on Brent’s face, or worse, the pity—
poor guy, can’t even keep his Beast tamed
. He hunched over and nursed his beer bottle again, trying to numb the guilt and sedate the animals coiled tightly inside of him.
“More for me,” Brent said, thankfully ignoring the outburst. He killed his beer, tossed it over the porch, and let the glass crack on the asphalt as he got to his feet. The ruckus from inside spilled out onto the porch again and made Jacob’s head throb. Before Brent vanished inside, he added, “Hey, you mind if I ride Miranda tonight?”
“She’s all yours,” Jacob muttered. “Maybe you can lick the crazy out of her.”
“I’m a stud, boss. Not a miracle worker.” With that, Brent was swallowed up in the din before it grew muffled behind him again.
Jacob tried to settle back into his bones, but his calm was damaged, bent. He clawed his fingers through his hair and exhaled, felt the air in his lungs shake. His Beast wanted out. If he didn’t find a way to control it soon, it’d consume him entirely. And then what?
He didn’t need sex. He needed a
. And soon.
Holly was addicted to three simple words:
yes, of course.
When a friend needed an ear or a student needed an extension on his paper or her father needed understanding or a stranger needed a couple dollars, she always answered, “Yes, of course.”
So when Chris Cardell had asked her if she would marry him, she had answered, “Yes, of course.”
And then, twenty years later, after their divorce, when Chris had asked her if he could pawn her wedding ring to buy his new twenty-eight-year-old bride that Tiffany’s necklace she really wanted, Holly had said, “Yes, of course,” and carefully tucked the ring in a plush box, wrapped the box in Styrofoam, and then shipped it off. Same-day delivery.
It was hard to find something Holly wouldn’t agree to with a smile. But as she watched the ice melt in her cranberry vodka, she shrugged with a sheepish smile and said, “I don’t know.”
,” Alice whined. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Holly arched her eyebrows. Alice sighed and waved her hand. “I mean, besides date rape, locked in the truck of his car, yadda yadda. Excuse me—” Alice signaled the bartender and then tapped the rim of her martini. “Can I get an IV drip of this please? Like, inserted straight into my brain? My husband is babysitting our three boys tonight and I need to be sufficiently lubricated so I don’t rip his head off when I go home and find a disaster zone waiting for me.”
The bartender grinned. “Whatever you want, mama,” he said and filled her drink to the brim. The Twisted Nook was a literary-themed coffee shop by day, tavern by night.
Holly preferred this place because it smelled more like books than alcohol, it catered to an older crowd, and Holly occasionally ran into a student from her English class. Still, as she twisted the straw in her drink, she found her eyes straying to her watch. It was still early enough that she could go home and finish grading her finals if she left now. But, as Alice said,
no one grades finals on their birthday
, so here she was. Stirring.
“You hear that?” Alice said, turning to Holly. “
Whatever I want
. So.” She set Holly’s phone back in front of her. “Sign up.”
The site in question? An app called MeetYourMate. Alice had downloaded it onto Holly’s phone and her screen was now littered with pictures of happy couples with wedding rings. Holly pushed a strand of long ginger hair behind her ear distractedly and said, “Online dating really isn’t my thing.”
“It’s not online dating,” Alice protested, scrolling. “It’s online
Tired of waiting for love? Can’t stand one-night stands? Looking for a lifetime commitment?
Holly, this is you to a T. You’ve got to sign up. If you don’t, I will.”
“What will Brad say?” Holly laughed.
“What Brad doesn’t know could fill a dictionary,” Alice smirked.
Alice would find a man on there in seconds,
Holly thought. Even with three boys under her belt, Alice had kept her body fit. Holly had no excuses—no kids, single, and still overweight.
More to love
, as some would say. She had the complete hourglass with tits the size of melons, but as far as she was concerned, they’d done nothing but give her back problems and attract the wrong kind of man (Chris had been a tit man and loved to motorboat them, which had made her laugh at first but then just felt humiliating and did absolutely nothing for her. She was really in the market for an
Alice tapped the screen of her phone with a sharp, manicured nail. Only in California did mothers of three somehow find time to keep up with the salon religiously. “You hear that? Ticktock,” Alice said. “That’s your biological clock.”
Holly groaned and covered her eyes with her hands. “You’re impossible. Okay, okay. Look.” She leaned over the phone and clicked away at the keypad. Entered her date of birth. Her name. Then asked, “What should my username be?”
“Give it here,” Alice said, snatching the phone back. She typed something in and then slid it over to Holly. Holly laughed.
? What does that even mean?”
“You know, because you’re a teacher? And because you’ve got”—Alice cupped her small tits—“
Maybe if those apples were genetically modified to feed a small town
, Holly thought. She set down her phone and said, “There. Done. Now can we talk about real things? Did I tell you about the history professor?”
“Don’t try to distract me, you didn’t do a profile picture.” Alice lifted her phone, aimed the camera at Holly, and said, “Smile.”
Holly pulled a cheesy grin with two thumbs up. As soon as the camera flashed, she felt a blush rise in her cheeks.
. The first thing her potential husband-to-be would see was her acting like a dork with a glass of alcohol in front of her. Bad first impression.
Not that she was thinking about this in any real way. Not that she cared.
I’ll just take the profile down as soon as I get home
, she thought.
Holly nibbled on her straw distractedly and Alice said, “Alright, so what about the history professor?”
. Back to the real world. Holly straightened up and said, “The history professor—Duncan—is leaving. Which means they’ve got a spot open for tenure.”
Alice gasped and clutched Holly’s arm. “You think they’ll give it to you?”
Holly shrugged, trying to appear casual about it. “It’d be nice.”
“Oh God, they have to. You’ve been there longer than anyone. You’re amazing with the kids. I know Scott would be living out of a cardboard box if it weren’t for the education you gave him. Not that I’d put my own son on the street. Probably.”
Holly brushed it off. The compliments, though sweet, made her want to hide under the bar. “We’ll see,” she said vaguely.
“What are you doing tomorrow?” Alice asked.
Holly stirred her drink with the stem of her small paper umbrella. “Um…Chris is taking me out to dinner. I’m not sure if his kids are coming or not.”
Alice’s face fell. “And that’s fun for you?”
Holly shrugged. “Why not?”
“Oh, honey. Your ex is using you for free babysitting. For his new little snot-nosed kids. Kids that he should’ve had with
. That’s not right.”
“They’re not snot-nosed. They’re sweethearts. Jordan…I mean, she’s incredibly smart…she reminds me of her at her age. She definitely didn’t get it from Chris, or her mom—”
“I know she’s your coworker, but you’re being nice. Lacey doesn’t have brains, she has tits.”
“But a very
pair,” Holly said, gesturing dramatically.
“You think she had work done?” Alice asked.
Holly shrugged. “She’s twenty-eight. She doesn’t need work. She probably wakes up with a full face of makeup and perfect cat eyes. And her hair looks windswept sexy, not rat’s nest.”
Alice scrunched her nose and put her hands under her breasts. “You think I should get work done? I don’t need anything serious, just like, a bike pump or something.”
Holly covered her mouth with her hand and she and Alice laughed until tears stung their eyes.
“That’s mean, so mean,” Holly said, drying the corner of her eye. “Firstly, you’re beautiful. Secondly, Lacey is really a nice girl once you break down all that…”
“Plastic?” Alice shook her head. “She’s a home wrecker. That’s it. She was sleeping with Chris before the ink on your divorce papers dried. And before that, I bet.”
“You don’t know that,” Holly said, her good humor suddenly souring.
“You know what I
know?” Alice said, tapping on her phone screen. “It takes two to get remarried. Take the leap, Holly.”
Holly didn’t make it home until two in the morning, which was five hours past her regular bedtime. Her keys clu-clunked off the foyer table and she couldn’t be bothered to reach down and pick them up. She kicked off her shoes as she poured herself a tall glass of water and forced herself to drink all of it. The room was still spinning, but at least she could ward off a Herculean headache in the morning.
Coming home on nights like these, her place felt empty. Always felt empty with only one person in it. Didn’t help that it was completely devoid of character. It’d been a standard, run-of-the-mill shell of an apartment when she rented it (Chris kept the house, of course), and she’d just left it that way. Kept promising herself she’d put pictures up on the walls, but pictures of
She hadn’t decorated her own place since college, and even then she’d let her roommate do most of the work. So, for the past three years, the apartment had stayed barren. She could show it to a new renter tomorrow and wouldn’t have to make a single change.
Well. Maybe she’d pick up a bit. She had to sidestep a couple books on the floor on her way to the bedroom (they seemed to accumulate, like flowers growing through concrete) and set the glass down beside her bed before shrugging out of her clothes. She reached for the phone plug and charged her phone. It lit up, bleeping, with a notification:
One new message from MeetYourMate
She’d nearly forgotten that, but now…
No. It was silly. Ridiculous. A bad idea. She clicked her screen dark and flopped down on her bed, staring up at her mauve ceiling. The fan circled above her. She’d all but torn off her clothes (smelled like a bar) and now, lying in her panties, the cool breeze from the fan should have chilled her.
Instead, she was buzzing. With alcohol and intrigue.
Oh, why not—
Holly reached over and tugged her cellphone back over, opening up the MeetYourMate app. Her mailbox flagged one unread message. She clicked it and read:
Subject: My mate
You’ve got me curious. I’d like to see more. Message me if you want to talk.
Holly clicked on his icon and his picture popped up.
Talk about rugged sex appeal. Sun-tanned skin, curly black hair, and those arm muscles. It was the smile that really blew her away, though. Crooked, charming,
. Melt-in-your-mouth with a kick, like washing down Pop Rocks with Coca-Cola. Holly swallowed. Hard.
She opened the reply box and before she knew it, she’d already typed out a response and hit send. It read, simply:
Subject: YOUR mate?
Hi yourself. You’d like to KNOW more or SEE more? Two distinctly different things.
Dr. Holly Wright
She scrunched up her nose when she reread her message. She had to get out of teacher mode. But it’d been so long since she’d had to try her hand at “sexy,” she barely knew how to start—
Her phone buzzed again.
. That was fast. Was he waiting by the phone? Better yet, was he lying in bed like she was, naked, scrolling through his messages? A man with his looks had to get
. She scanned through her inbox.
Subject: Yes. Mine.
Both. Are you looking for a fuck, doctor?
Her heart tightened in her chest and she felt wings of anticipation flutter up her skin, leaving goosebumps. Unbidden, she felt her panties dampen.
, her body screamed, but her head, even swimming in cranberry and vodka, knew better.
Subject: Impatient much?
Professor, not medical professional. I’m looking for a husband.
Subject: You have no idea
Good. I’m looking for a wife. And children. There are too many honeypots on this site. You’ve got no idea how happy I am that you’re not one of them.
Holly snorted a light laugh. Honeypots?
. She bit her lip, then responded:
I’m looking for a man not afraid of commitment. A loyal man. A family man. And someone who knows English. Know anyone like that?
She hit send and giggled to herself, suddenly feeling twenty years younger. When she didn’t get a response back immediately, however, she felt her good humor fall through the floor rapidly. That was childish, teasing him like that. Had he taken it seriously? Had she hurt his pride? She’d meant it as a joke, but it was so hard for
to come across on paper. Now she was worried she sounded like a stuck-up bitch. She was an adult. This whole thing was completely beneath her.
What was she doing?
She was half ready to delete the app and forget it had ever happened until her phone buzzed again.
High standards. Since you told me your deal breakers, I’ll tell you mine. I’m looking for a good housewife. Someone who can be trained. Family is important to me. I need a woman, not a girl. I don’t want a party animal. I saw you at a bar in your profile picture, is that typical?
Holly’s heart sank.
. She’d been an idiot to let Alice use that picture of her. A blush ran ferociously up her cheeks, quickly followed by drunken defiance.
What right did he have to judge her
? He didn’t know her. She frowned and typed away.
Subject: High standards??
No. My friend took that. It’s my birthday today. I really don’t drink that often.
Subject: Happy birthday
I hope you had a good one. Take another picture so I can see you without a drink in your hand.
Subject: At this hour?
I’m in bed. And indecent. Maybe another time.
Then come out and meet me in person. This weekend. I’ll buy your train ticket.
Holly stared at the message and then shut it, quickly. Her heart thumped in her chest. Even with her phone dark beside her, she could still feel his presence in the room. She tried to imagine his voice. She imagined what he would sound like whispering in her ear as his fingers brushed the hem of her panties.
Her imagination was getting the better of her and her body was burning up. Finally, she couldn’t wait any longer; she kicked her panties off her legs and spread them. The wind from the fan felt cool as it hit her wet core and she gasped, arching into it. She hadn’t felt this turned on in—well—
. Couldn’t remember the last time she’d touched herself for any other reason than to exhaust her body and put her to sleep. Yet now, she found herself reaching into her bedside drawer and lifting out her long-abandoned vibrator.
Pink, sleek, discreet, she rubbed it between her legs to warm it up. She felt her body aching for something inside of her, but she left it on her clit for now. She didn’t expect her pussy to clench the instant she turned it on and let the vibrations purr through her. She gasped, her whole body rocking against the small vibrator, and her thighs tightened around it. Her clit hummed, sensitive, too sensitive, but even when it hit the point of
she couldn’t get enough of it.
Jacob had infected her. Some part of him had enlivened her veins and brought her whole body to life. She thought about his strong arms pinning hers down. She wondered how the scuff of his chin would feel on her face, or between her legs. She imagined him kissing her lips, her breasts, her throat, biting into that soft skin…
Within seconds, she was whimpering, her heels digging into the mattress as she bucked—once, twice—then cried out and came, her body trembling.
A couple heavy rise and falls of her chest later, Holly glanced over at her phone. Still no message. Not that she was expecting one. Not that she was going to talk to him ever again.
Her lack of control surprised her and she shivered at the thought of meeting him in person.
Better to not get involved with that
Better to stay where she was, grading papers
falling asleep to soap operas
She was thirty-nine now
Fantasies were for people who had the time and motivation to make them a reality
She’d had fantasies once. Fantasies of a husband and children and
. But that was before she’d wasted her best childbearing years on a man who’d squandered them on another woman. Mr. Bitesalot was just another figment of her imagination that would dry up like old paper in the back corners of her mind.
Well, it was a
she thought to herself before her exhausted body finally sank into unconsciousness.