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Marked by the Alpha by Adaline Raine – Sample

Marked by the Alpha by Adaline Raine (Post 200x300)Chapter One

“Dani!” Alisha yelled across the store. If it was an everyday sort of thing like a price check Dani knew that her best friend would have simply come and found her, so this must be something more serious.

Sure enough, at that moment Dani felt an unnatural power surge from the front of the store, and deep down she knew that surge of power could mean only one thing. She wiped her hands on her jeans as she stood up, and pressed her hand to her side where she kept her knife—it was small but sharp, and it was made of pure silver. After taking a moment to calm herself, she stepped cautiously out from the back room and was met with an unusual sight.

Mason Daniels was standing at the counter. He stood well over six feet tall, but even aside from his formidable stature she would have known him anywhere—his power was just that intense. She stopped in her tracks for a second and gazed at his broad shoulders and heavily muscled body. She knew that it was all natural, although she guessed that most men would need to work out in a gym on a daily basis to look so sexy…

Sexy? Keep yourself together! Dani nearly growled in her head. She knew very well that Mason Daniels was the alpha male of a large pack, and she had no intention of walking out of here as his mate. Regaining her composure, she strode up to the front desk to find out what Mason wanted.

He was staring at her as she approached and those damn chocolate brown eyes were locked on hers. Damn him! He was sexy. She threw a glance to Alisha who was trying to look nonchalant behind the counter but Alisha averted her eyes.

Dani had kept to herself in all matters, but she was the only red-haired female werewolf in her entire state and a dominant female to boot; she had always known that one day some alpha would try to claim her. She didn’t want to belong to a pack of any kind, however, and she certainly did not want to submit to Mason or any other cocky alpha. Dani wanted nothing to do with that!

Before she knew it, she realized that she had walked up close enough to him that their bodies were almost touching—he had literally pulled her to him with just his eyes. She stepped back quickly.

Mason didn’t waste time with a greeting. “Have you been threatened?” he asked her in a voice that was nearly a growl.

“No,” Dani answered quickly, and then glanced angrily at Alisha who had shouted out “Yes!” just as quickly. Of all the times that girl had to open her mouth!

“It was not that recently,” Dani said firmly, and then shot another look to her friend. If Mason knew the extent of the threats she had received he would pick her up right there and carry her off to the protection of his pack. Some odd part of her tightened at that thought, and Dani flushed. She had been around him for thirty seconds and already she was not thinking clearly.

Mason raised an eyebrow. “Recent enough that you carry a silver knife at all times?” He looked over to Alisha, who crossed her arms in front of her. Alisha shrugged as she looked intensely at Dani. She nodded towards Mason and mouthed, “Tell him.”

Dani ignored Alisha and cocked her head to the side as she shook off the flush. “So, what brings you to my little store?” she asked him, trying to sound casual. Her emotions were spinning around in a vortex of arousal and anger and she was fighting to remain focused. He would be able to sense both aspects of the fight-or-fuck response she was displaying, and that knowledge just increased her agitation.

“I wanted to have dinner with you tonight,” he said simply. His words seemed to brush right against her sex as if he had touched her there. Dani took another step back.

“I have to close the store.” Dani pulled the excuse from her long list and looked away before she could get lost in his eyes again—his aura of power permeated the room with such intensity that she was damn near drooling.

“I can close up tonight,” Alisha offered sincerely. Dani had noticed that she was edging further away from the two of them.

“I appreciate the offer, but unless you would like to do an inventory count…” Dani trailed off as Mason touched her arm and sent waves of heat over her body.

“I would really like to see you tonight, Dani.” His hand was gripping her arm firmly and his voice held a husky undertone that demanded her attention.

Dani tried to draw her arm away from him, but then she gasped from a sudden flare-up in her loins. Another spark went through her and Dani got an urge to roll around on top of him. She growled then, low in her throat, and out of the corner of her eye she saw Alisha retreating into the back room.

Mason dropped his hand but kept his eyes on her. He looked amused and intrigued at the same time. “May I come over for dinner?” he asked again.

Dani sneered. She was furious at the way her body was reacting. Her uncle had hinted years ago that a dominant female would react immediately to her true mate, but at the time she had not been old enough to understand. She shook off the memories and focused back on Mason, putting a slight scowl on her face.

Mason grabbed her chin, gently but firmly. “Such a face does not belong on you.”

Dani balked. “Come over for dinner but don’t touch me,” she stammered quickly. She wanted to pull away from his grasp but, at the same time, she found it deeply arousing.

“I demand respect from you,” Mason growled under his breath. He had let go of her chin and moved so that she was pressed dangerously close to his chest.

“Respect has to be earned,” Dani managed to reply, even though she felt like a small child standing there looking up at him. Hell, her voice sounded weak even to her own ears.

Mason smirked as he moved a piece of hair out of her eyes and tucked it behind her ear. “You will regret saying those words to me tonight, Dani. I will earn your respect even though I am sure you won’t like my methods.”

“You really are an arrogant son of a bitch,” Dani snapped, feeling like she was suffocating from the heat. She had never been remotely intimate with another wolf and the sensations flying through her mind were overwhelming.

Mason’s face darkened as he turned and began to walk towards the front of the store. “I know that you have isolated yourself from other wolves for years, but I will not allow you to speak to me like that.” Mason glanced towards the back of the store. “Apologize to your friend for me. This display was inappropriate.” His stare lingered a moment before he refocused on her.

Dani let out a long breath and pointed to the door. “I need you to leave, Mason. I don’t want you in my store anymore.”

“I will deal with your attitude tonight, Dani, and I expect you to be much more considerate of my position afterwards. I’ll be at your place at seven.” With those words he finally walked out of the store and the fire in her blood immediately extinguished.

His words rattled around in her head and she could not figure out exactly what he meant. He had mentioned that he would earn her respect and then said that he would ‘deal’ with her. What the hell did that mean?

“Are you alright?” Alisha called from the back and snapped Dani back to reality.

Dani turned and walked back to the counter. The trembling in her limbs had ceased and she rolled her neck on her shoulders as Alisha cautiously returned to the front of the store. “I will be. I’m just not sure if I am looking forward to seeing him tonight or not.” She leaned against the counter. “Why did you tell Mason that I was threatened?”

“If you had told him, I wouldn’t have had to mention the threats at all. I know I’m not a wolf, and I don’t have all of your instincts, but there are hunters that appear to be pretty active around here. I know that you have kept really low on the radar, Dani, but if they keep leaving dead rabbits on our doorstep, they’re obviously getting closer to finding your house! Come on, maybe Mason can help you.” Alisha was keeping her pace deliberately slow. She probably thought that Dani’s temper was going to flare again.

Alisha was tiny and, compared to Dani’s tall frame, she looked downright childlike. Even aside from the size difference, the two of them were a study in contrasts. Her friend was dark-skinned, with rich brown hair and hazel-green eyes, while her own hair was a deep, dark red that complimented her dark brown eyes though her skin tone never tanned much beyond pale.

Nonetheless, their physical differences had not stopped Dani from becoming close with Alisha and eventually telling her that she was a werewolf. Dani was fiercely protective of her secret, even though there was a good-sized population of wolves in this part of the state, but she knew that she could count on Alisha to keep it to herself.

“I’m pretty sure he already knows or he wouldn’t have come all the way out here.” Dani did not continue with that thought. Could he be planning to lay claim to her? Was that what he had meant when he said he would deal with her attitude? He would just claim her as his mate and turn her into some pup factory?

“He is just about the sexiest man I have ever laid eyes on,” Alisha said, and looked towards the door as if she were remembering the large man.

Dani growled again instinctively—much to her dismay—and Alisha’s eyes went wide in fear. Dani smacked her hands on the counter. “Damn it! I shouldn’t care what you think of Mason Daniels.”

Alisha walked around the counter very slowly. She wisely stopped before actually reaching out to her. “You do care, Dani. It’s okay to be attracted to a man who you’ve told me in the past is a true alpha. I know there must be more to him or you would not have invited him to your house.”

Dani shook her head. “I don’t want anything to do with that man or his pack.” She was reeling. How dare Mason put her so on edge! “And for the record, Mason invited himself,” she added snappishly, then turned and began to straighten up the store. She did not want to take anything else out on her friend.

“He apparently wants something to do with you,” Alisha said quietly as she moved back behind the counter and began to clean it. “What can it hurt to see what he has to say?”

Dani rolled her eyes. “You’ve known me for five, six—what is it, seven?—years now? Have you ever in your entire life heard me make that damn growling noise?”

Alisha shrugged. “Well, once, when that shelf fell on your head and you needed stitches, I heard you growl at the doctor.” She grabbed a dust rag from underneath the cash register and continued to wipe down the counters.

Dani flushed. “He was a wolf.” She recalled that that particular doctor had known immediately that she was one as well, and he had kept the nosey nurses away when they kept trying to take her vitals. She knew she ran hotter than most and the last thing she had needed at the time was a more accurate thermometer check by an overbearing nurse. She brushed off the memory and refocused on her friend.

Alisha frowned. “So then why did you just growl at me?”

Dani sighed. “I don’t know. Mason comes strutting in here and expects me to just bow down and kiss his furry feet! It just burns me!”

Alisha moved her hand. “Would it really be that bad to have someone else looking out for you?”

Dani huffed again but looked over at her. “Are you actually worried that I can’t take care of myself?”

Alisha looked away and Dani remembered that last month her tires had been slashed. It had been the boldest threat so far. “Last month was a fluke! I’m strong and I’m stealthy,” she argued.

“And the dead rabbits on the doorstep?”

Dani finally gave in to her friend’s insistence. “Fine, you’re right. Mason looking out for me would not be the worst thing,” she muttered.

“Go have a nice dinner with Mason. Just let me know that you got home safe. ” Alisha smiled all the way to her eyes. “Make sure you behave.”

Dani snorted as she studied Alisha’s face. Her words were light but her tone felt off—as if she were deeply worried for Dani’s safety on her way home. “Of course I will. See you in the morning,” Dani said as she grabbed her purse and keys from the storage room and headed out the side door. If she hurried home, she would have just enough time to cook and get dressed before Mason arrived.

* * *

Phil, Mason’s second-in-command, was standing in the small wine cellar studying the much larger man. “I have never seen you have a hard time with making a simple decision,” Phil mused as he watched Mason walk up and down the two aisles.

Mason was looking back and forth on the shelves for the perfect choice of wine. He shrugged as he passed over another bottle.

“Just grab one,” Phil said, exasperated. “I’m sure that she will have other, more important thoughts on her mind than what you two are drinking.”

Mason finally settled on a vintage Merlot. “Dani growled and told me to get out of her store,” he said with a frown.

Phil snorted. “I know what I would have done if she growled at me.”

Mason shook his head and said, “I went there uninvited.” He started up the basement stairs.

Phil followed. “All I am saying is that if you two—”

Mason growled and nearly pushed the smaller man back down the stairs.

“Whoa! Whoa! Hey, man!” Phil lost his balance and held up his hands. He was sitting at the bottom of the landing. “I was not implying that you are going after Dani just to mate her. For fuck’s sake!”

Mason took a breath and pulled Phil back up. “She’s not even mine and I was ready to hurt you over her.”

“No shit?” Phil let Mason pull him to his feet.

“Damn it, why can’t I get this woman out of my head?” Mason let go of Phil and continued up the stairs.

“You just know, man. When you find someone that you click with like that? Just go for it. If you feel this strongly, then you need to show her how you feel.”

Mason frowned. “I’m sorry and, as usual, you are right.”

“Just have a good night,” Phil said, then clapped Mason on the shoulder and ran off.

Mason watched Phil leave. It was not often that he needed to apologize to Phil, but there was just something about Dani that made him fiercely protective of her. Mason stopped to check his reflection in a mirror by the front door before grabbing the wine and heading out. He knew that Dani had to feel some sort of attraction. She had gasped at his touch and, at one point, he would not have been surprised if she had leaned over and marked him with her teeth.

Mason rolled his shoulders. It had taken a lot of control on his part not to scoop her up and force her to be his. That would have ended much worse. He blocked out the negative parts of their conversation and focused on her touch. When she was pressed against him, he had literally wanted her to make a move. Any move. Then, of course, she had opened her mouth!

He was going to teach that woman one hell of a lesson tonight.

* * *

Dani was pacing. She had gone with a very simple steak on the grill, veggies, and her famous mashed potato casserole. She was biting her lip as she brought the food inside. What was she nervous about? Could it be because she couldn’t keep from wondering if Mason Daniels would actually try to claim her in her own house? Could he even do that? She had heard of true alpha wolves having the ability to choose any mate—even against the chosen female’s will—but was it true? She checked her reflection in the hallway mirror and smoothed her hands over her black skirt again. She did not want to impress him, she told herself, but rather to show him just how capable she was on her own.

When the doorbell finally rang Dani nearly jumped out of her skin. When was the last time she had had any company over, besides Alisha? It was common for her friend to randomly show up but, of course, she had a key and there was no need for the bell.

She checked her top again and was happy that she had settled on the gray v-neck instead of the blood red plunge that had been calling to her from the back of her closet.

She opened the door slowly and stifled a gasp. Mason was dressed in a simple pair of black jeans and a dark teal-colored shirt that fit his arms perfectly. She stared for a moment before she got ahold of herself and greeted him. “Please, come in,” she said, and then moved back to let him step inside.

He stepped inside and handed her the bottle of wine. “It goes well with steak,” he said matter-of-factly.

Dani accepted it and smirked in spite of herself. “I am sure that it goes well with almost anything.” She set the dining room table and again pondered how long it had been since she had had company in the room. She kept herself busy pouring the wine and removing the foil from the meat, but after a while she spoke up. “How did you find me?”

“You gave me directions.” He took the wine glasses and set them on the table.

Dani sat down and took a sip. It was deep and rich with the smoothest aftertaste she had ever experienced. She nodded approvingly at the wine and then folded her hands in front of her. “I’m talking about my store.”

“You advertise well?” Mason grinned and then sat down across from her.

Dani waited as he served himself and then accepted the platter. She had made the steak the way that she enjoyed it— just seared—and hoped for the briefest moment that he would like it as well. She took a small portion from each dish and then looked back at him. “Do you have wolf GPS or something?”

“What are you afraid of?” Mason asked with a slight frown, before taking a large sip of the wine.

Dani looked down at her plate and fed herself a few spoonfuls of potatoes. She was not going to give in so easily. If he was there for other purposes then her mentioning him claiming her would just give him the idea that it was something she wanted. “I do not frighten easily, Mr. Daniels.”

Mason reached over and touched her chin so that she was looking back up at him. “Something has you on edge and I want to know what it is.”

“Right now the only thing that has me on edge is you showing up at my store!” Dani snapped as she pulled away and stood up. Part of her was worried that he would try to claim her and another part was equally scared that he would not.

Mason blinked up at her. “Do you think I’m here to claim you, Dani?”

Dani blinked back an uninvited sheen of tears and glared. “I am sure that you have thought of it or you would not have mentioned it just now!” She was breathing heavily as he moved the chair back.

Mason stood slowly. “That is not really my style, though by the end of the night you will learn to treat me with respect.”

Dani huffed and sat down. She drained her glass of wine and focused on eating her steak. That damn feeling of wanting to just roll all over him was really messing with her head. She continued to devour the meat and said nothing.

“Tell me about the threats then.” Mason began to eat but kept those eyes on her.

Dani took a deep breath. “They are just like the ones your pack gets, I’m sure. I’ve had some occasional dead animals in the entryway to my store,” she said with a shrug, trying to sound casual.

“Nothing like that is happening to anyone in my pack,” Mason said, then took another sip of wine.

Dani frowned and dropped her fork. “I thought those sort of things were happening everywhere.” She licked her lips. “You think that someone is actually after me?”

“You are a dominant female and one of the only red-haired wolves in the entire country. I would say that you would be highly sought-after by hunters.”

“And you think offering me your protection will stop the threats?” Dani asked as she poured another glass of wine. Was he trying to scare her into his protection, or were hunters really after her in particular?

“If you become part of my pack, I will guarantee your protection.” Mason motioned for her to fill his glass as well.

“I will not be forced into a pack,” Dani huffed. She noticed that her hand was trembling as she held the glass.

Mason took the bottle from her and filled his own glass. “I am not here to force you to do anything, unless you prove that your independence has made you foolish.”

Dani stood up again. She hated appearing vulnerable and weak. After all the years of being on her own, the last thing that she needed was some alpha male busting into her life like a knight on a white horse. “You will speak kindly to me in my own house, Mr. Daniels.”

Mason smiled. “I have spoken to you with more kindness than most would have, Miss Dixon.”

Dani took a step towards him and he mirrored her immediately. She was fuming for the second time that day. There was something about this man that made her want to either curl up on his chest and stay there or tear him to pieces. It was infuriating.

“Are you like this with everyone you meet, Dani?”

Dani growled. “I let you into my house, but it does not mean that I am letting you into my life.”

“If you growl at me again I will show you right now just how this is going to play out.” Mason’s words came out cool and collected and it just poked at Dani more.

“I am not yours to command,” Dani said fiercely, feeling more off-balance than ever before. One minute she was ready to impress him and please him, and in the next she was ready to force him to claim her in every sense of the word. She took a step towards him.

Mason grabbed her hair and pulled her the rest of the way. She stumbled and wound up on her knees. “You may be dominant, but not with me,” he warned her. He let go of her hair and she glared up at him. “You are going to respect me, Dani, no matter how long it takes,” Mason said, and then reached down, pulled her up into his arms, and set her on the edge of the table. “You should be warned that you will not like how alpha males teach their females respect.”

Dani slid off the table and sat back in her seat while she glared daggers at him. “If it involves bowing down and letting you walk all over me, then you and your pack can go and—”

Mason grabbed her chin. “I tried being reasonable, but now I am going to teach you to respect me.”

“You get your hands off me!” Dani growled. She was done being rational. She wanted Mason Daniels out of her house and out of her business!

Mason shook his head. “I warned you about that,” he said firmly, then picked her up and threw her over his shoulder before she could react.

“Mason Daniels you put me down or so help me—”

SMACK!

Dani jumped. He had smacked her ass! What the hell? She was too shocked to comprehend what he had just done, let alone what he might mean to do next. While she was trying to remember what he had said earlier in the store about respect, he carried her across the room, then set her on her feet in front of him and sat down upon her couch, all the while keeping a tight hold around her waist. Dani tried to escape from his grasp, but she was suddenly yanked over his lap and then pinned by one of his legs. She bucked but had nowhere to go. “I will never forgive you for this,” she spat between her teeth as he grabbed her arm and held it behind her back.

“I am not going to stop until you have learned a good lesson,” Mason whispered as he rested his other hand on Dani’s back.

The nerve of him! Dani had never been in this position before in her life! She bucked up against his palm. “My pain tolerance is epic, Mr. Daniels.”

“I’m not going to spank you because I want you to hurt you, I’m going to spank you because you need it,” Mason said, then lifted her skirt and lowered her panties. He began to smack one cheek and then the other, over and over, harder and harder, turning her bare bottom quickly from pale to pink to bright red.

Dani bit her lip. Though her tolerance was indeed high she was growing more nervous about being held in such a manner. She had never been spanked as a child. Hell, she had been on her own since age ten. When she heard him undo his belt she fought anew to get free, and she really began to squirm and struggle when his belt began to sting her upper thighs.

“You let me go!” she yelled in pain and fury.

Mason continued to rain the belt down on both of her exposed cheeks. “Are you going to start treating me with some respect?” he asked calmly.

Dani kept squirming as the spanking continued. “I hate you!” she finally yelled out as the tears began to flow. True to his word it did not feel like he was trying to bruise her but the intense sting and the humiliation were ebbing away at the wall that she had so firmly kept in place.

Mason finally tossed the belt aside. “Tell me, Dani, why have you been behaving so rudely toward me?”

Dani continued to cry but said nothing. How could she possibly tell him that part of her was secretly hoping that he was here to claim her, and that another part of her hated him for making her think that way.

Mason let out a sigh and began to spank with his hand. “I want the answer. There has to be some reason that you have been so disrespectful to me.” After several moments Dani heard him pick the belt up again.

“Is this what men like you do to your females?” Dani spat the words. Her mood had turned sour and she was deeply confused at the rush of emotions running through her.

Without answering, Mason began to smack with the belt again. The truth was that she did not want him to let go of her… ever… and that thought deeply frightened her. She had never relied on anyone before and the idea that she should trust a complete stranger with her life was completely unsettling. Soon the speed of the strokes increased until even Dani could no longer keep quiet, pain tolerance be damned. “Please! Mason! Please!” she cried out. “Please, stop!”

He didn’t stop immediately, but at last he set the belt aside again. She felt him adjust her clothes and then he lifted her up and turned her around so that she was pressed against his chest. “Tell me now, what is the problem that you have with me?” he asked, gently this time.

Dani wiped at her eyes. He was holding her against him and she was growing more confused. How could he spank her like that and now sit here with such a gentle hand? “I have never reacted to anyone the way that I react to you,” she finally answered.

“Have you never been around an alpha before?” He wiped her tears with the tip of his fingers and Dani fought to keep from pulling away.

“I thought so, but perhaps not,” Dani answered with a shrug. She kept her head down.

“You will learn to respect me, Dani, and I will keep you safe no matter what.”

Dani looked up at him. She opened her mouth to protest, but then his mouth was suddenly on hers.

Her wolf side growled in deep contentment as he began to lick along her neck and nip at all the right places. She pulled the shirt from his pants and began to run her hands over his stomach and chest. He was warm and muscled and he felt wonderful beneath her hands. She decided she wanted more and began to lick the path that her hands had followed. Soon she was nibbling and sucking and then full-on biting.

He pulled her skirt up out of the way and began to nibble along her thighs. His tongue was an odd mix of wet and fiery as it began to delve into her most private places. She stopped biting then as she was surrounded by heat. She drew great scratches down his back, which healed almost as quickly. Dani bucked and writhed and she called out his name as he brought her to climax.

Then, without warning, the rational part of her brain which she had moments earlier pushed aside took control again, and she began to push against his chest.

“No,” she suddenly protested. She was scrambling to get out from underneath him. “No!” Dani said again and pulled away from him, leaving herself kneeling on the carpet next to the couch.

Mason was sitting on the couch staring at her. “What is with you?”

Dani was shaking as she looked around for her clothes. “I just want you to leave. I don’t want anything to do with you.”

“Why, Dani, tell me?” He reached out for her and she scurried away to the other side of the room.

“I can’t think with you touching me, so please stop,” she demanded in a pleading tone. She had managed to put some distance between them.

“Is this some sort of game to you? You think that I would offer my protection to just anyone?” Mason asked her angrily.

Dani shook her head. The power that was radiating off of him was distracting. “Please, just go.”

Mason pulled on his shirt and walked over to her. He clasped her wrists and pulled her up. “I want the truth.”

“I have never had to rely on anyone and I am sure as hell not going to start with you.” Dani snapped, fighting back tears as she gave a tug at her wrists. “You’re just making it worse.”

“If I were truly here to claim you, I would have done it and we would already be on the way back to my house. Is that clear to you?” Mason asked, and then finally let her go.

“Get out of my house,” Dani said, glaring up at him.

Mason leaned over and pulled her close to him. She inhaled sharply as he bit down and tugged with his teeth at the spot where her collar bone and neck met. Her knees turned to jelly and she pushed weakly at his chest.

“Da-damn you, Mason. Get out!” Dani’s head was spinning as he let go of her and walked to the door. She followed mutely as he stepped out.

“Enjoy the wine,” he called dryly as she slammed the door and locked it behind him.

Dani walked to her bathroom and turned towards the mirror. She looked tired and angry and his teeth had left a large imprint on her skin. It would take days to heal, perhaps longer. It was a sign that she belonged to him, that he planned to claim her in the future, and that any wolf that interfered with that would have to contend with him. She touched the spot and growled long and loud.

“Damn you, Mason… and damn me too!” Dani shouted at the mirror even as she felt the wetness between her legs growing. Mason Daniels had marked her without asking, and even worse, it turned her on immensely.

* * *

Mason was furious. How dare she kick him out of her house when she was practically begging him to claim her! He was pacing back and forth and growling as Phil looked on.

“Some women like to play games,” Phil stated simply from the relative safety of the doorway.

Mason continued to pace along the length of the den. “She was not playing,” he growled at last, looking angrily at his second-in-command.

Phil immediately dropped to all fours. “I was only offering that maybe she led you on.” It was not smart to make such a comment to a distraught alpha, but Phil often spoke before thinking.

Mason waved his hand as he continued to walk in great strides up and down the room. “I am not angry at you.”

“Sure, Mason, but you didn’t see the look on your face,” Phil said, still looking at the floor. He had a very submissive, ‘oops, I stepped on your paw’ grimace on his face.

Mason finally gave up pacing and sunk down on the couch. “Dani doesn’t trust anyone, and especially not me. I don’t know why.”

Phil crawled into the room and kept his head down until he was literally at Mason’s feet. “I’d like to talk to you about it, and not really from the floor.”

Mason reached down and patted his head to let him know that he truly was not upset with Phil. “I told you I wasn’t angry at you, now tell me.”

Phil got up and sat next to him. “Turns out she’s been on her own since she was a little kid. Her parents were real fucking losers. They never did anything to take care of her and she went through her first change alone. Her uncle ran a mid-size pack and he tried to do the best he could, at least from what I heard. Still, she had a rough start.” He shook his head.

“What does this have to do with me?” Mason kept his eyes on him.

“She’s afraid to lean on you.” Phil shook his head again and then gave a small smile. “But her best friend is rooting for you, at least.”

“You got all that out of her friend?” Mason gave an incredulous look to the grinning idiot sitting next to him.

Phil smiled. “She wants Dani to lean on you. She told me that she is honestly worried about her.”

“You have a thing for this friend of hers?” Mason leaned back on the couch. Dani’s friend was adorable, but a tiny human would not fit well in a pack of wolves.

Phil frowned. “I don’t have a thing for anyone. I’m just telling you that the only person looking out for Dani is a small human female. She needs you no matter what happened last night.” Phil spread his hands out as if to show that he was unarmed. “You should really go and get her.”

Mason cocked his head to the side. Should he consider Dani’s feelings or just do what really needed to be done? If hunters were getting close to her then it was only a matter of time. “You think the threat is that serious?” he asked.

Phil nodded. “All I can say is that her friend is terrified. That should send up some red flags right there. Usually humans only care about their own little world. She is really scared that someone is going to hurt Dani.”

Mason sighed. “I marked her.”

Phil raised his eyebrows and leaned back against the couch. “You honestly think that your mark will protect her from hunters?”

“No, but it’s one hell of a calling card.” Mason snorted.

Phil shook his head and tried again. “Mason, man, I’d go get her regardless of how she reacted.”

“I have to let her make her own decisions.” Mason sighed and ran his hands through Phil’s hair. The younger man seemed to be seeking attention tonight and Mason was not sure if it was because Mason had upset him, or if Phil was truly worried about Dani as well. “I owe her that.”

“She’s been making her own decisions for years. Don’t you think it’s time to convince Dani that our pack will protect her?” Phil nudged Mason’s hand with his head.

“Convince her how?” Mason let go and stood up. Phil was not usually so affectionate with him. “I don’t know, man. I just hate the fear I saw in Alisha’s eyes.”

“You are dead serious about this, aren’t you?” Mason was not able to tell where this rant was coming from. One would think it was Phil’s potential mate.

“I am not questioning you, Mason; I’ve just never seen you like this.” He dipped his head down.

“I appreciate your honesty. I will take what you said under consideration. Thank you,” Mason said, and then put his hands on Phil’s shoulders. “I’m fine, but I would like to be alone now.”

Phil rubbed against his alpha’s hands. “All right, Mason,” he said, and nodded before leaving the room.

Mason sighed again as he watched Phil go. “Dani, why won’t you trust me?” Mason said aloud to himself before sitting back down on the couch. Why was he having such an issue with this? If she were really in danger shouldn’t he just go and get her whether she liked it or not? Damn it. Mason pounded his fist on the coffee table and it broke into splinters. “You will be mine, Dani,” he muttered, then shook his head and began to pick up the pieces.

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