Alisha Knight studied a text from her best friend as she stood at the counter of the store she worked at—Dani’s Place. Her best friend owned it, although she happened to be off today. The quick order gave her pause.
Close up early. You can thank me later!
She replied to her friend then set her phone down.
Busy day. No time!
Even when they were both working together, only a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion could cause the store to close early. Why would she be thanking her later?
Alisha knew she appeared to be a quiet little goody-two shoes, but looks could be deceiving. At five foot three and petite, many underestimated her, although that always seemed to cause problems.
She knew from the one photo tucked away in her safe box at home that she had inherited her birth mother’s smooth mocha skin, which complimented her deep hazel eyes. Alisha knew she was hot, but Dani’s five foot eleven frame and fiery red hair with a temper to match could stop traffic.
Both she and Dani could handle themselves in almost any situation and neither woman liked to back down from a challenge.
Speaking of challenges, her biggest challenge to date suddenly strutted in through the front door. Phil McKenna—Mason’s beta, his second in command. An arrogant smirk played on his face, though she believed his cockiness was a big part of how he kept his position in the pack safe.
Alisha fought to keep a smile off her face as he strode to the counter and rested his palms on it. She stuck up for him once, when he and Mason had gotten into a physical altercation, and he had yet to properly thank her.
How should she play this? It had been a few weeks since that incident. Plus, she didn’t want to acknowledge to herself just how often Phil had starred in her fantasies and daydreams over the past weeks. Did he think about her too?
Alisha leaned down to get a rag to wipe down the counter, then stood up slowly and nearly bumped into his lips on the way up when she realized too late that he’d peeked over the edge to see her.
Flustered and a bit aroused, she narrowed her eyes. “Can I help you?”
Good. Play irritated, then he won’t notice…
Werewolves had an insane sense of smell, so the heady odor caused by the rush of wetness pooling in between her thighs from the urge to jump over the counter couldn’t have gone undetected. She wanted him, plain and simple, and he knew.
“Dani said to close up early.” A wicked grin appeared on his face, and it only added to her agitation.
“Dani isn’t here.” Alisha had decided to finish out the day and deal with her friend’s anger later. Regardless of the issue, Phil needed to be on his way.
She found a spray cleaner behind her, grabbed it, and began cleaning up. She desperately needed to ignore the sexy wolf watching her every move.
“You saved my life. I’m taking you to dinner.”
“I helped out a friend,” Alisha nonchalantly replied.
He stood there, still watching her, as if not hearing her refusal.
“Sorry, but some other time,” she stated louder as she rounded the corner. She’d always felt some sort of pull towards him, even when they first met, but she didn’t want to know why.
She continued wiping the counter, then gasped as Phil moved close behind her. Wolves ran hotter than humans, and the heat radiating off of him felt so hot she could no longer focus.
“I owe you dinner. Tonight.” He set his hands on her waist and turned her around, slowly.
Alisha hated how her body relaxed against his, as that pointed towards a deeper connection between them. She didn’t want to be lured into something they couldn’t engage in. When a human and a wolf got into a relationship, there was a whole unique set of cautions. At least, from what she’d heard. The sources about that weren’t so reliable.
Why the hell am I thinking about a relationship with him?
“I’m busy,” she threw her head back and away from him, but there was not enough room to position her body elsewhere. Alisha was stuck between him and the counter until he decided to let her move. He possessed supernatural strength, but she doubted he would actually prevent her from leaving. His arms looped around her loosely, and his fingers fanned out to rest on her bottom.
“Tell me the real reason you don’t want to go out with me tonight and I’ll leave. No questions asked.”
Alisha swallowed hard. She didn’t have one good reason. Hell, she didn’t have one bad one either. His eyes sucked her in, and she tilted her head forward. Then she balked, suddenly aware of what had almost happened, and he finally seemed to get the message and maneuvered to the side of her.
“Answer me, Alisha.”
“You didn’t ask me a question. You gave me an order and I don’t follow those. I’m not one of your little female—” Alisha threw her hand over her mouth. What the hell had come over her? How did he get her so flustered?
“You should be very happy you’re not. If you were, I’d bend you over this counter and teach you a lesson. You might not think it was a big deal, but Mason saw my argument with him as a direct threat to his standing in the pack.” Phil shook his head as if remembering, then continued. “He wasn’t quite himself that night, but that makes no difference. If he’d decided to fight me, I would have lost since I refuse to raise a fist to my alpha even if it means my life. You refusing to accept my thanks is like a slap in the face.”
Curious about how he actually viewed her, she decided to push his very dominant buttons.
“After bending me over the counter, how exactly would you teach me?” Attitude flew from Alisha’s mouth along with a haughty tone, and suddenly she wished to take the words back.
“Are you asking for a preview, little one?” Phil caught her chin in his hand again. “Because right now, I’m more than happy to show you.”
“You’re not much taller than me. I don’t know who you’re calling little.”
The beta stood no more than five foot six or so, and compared to many of the wolves in his pack, he did have a shorter stature. Her put down directly hit his ego, and she should have known better. No, she did know better, but his presence confused her better judgment.
“I’m going to ask you one question, and I expect an actual answer. Why don’t you want me to take you to dinner?”
“Our first date involved a spanking, so I’d hate to find out what the second one involves.” Alisha tried to sound firm, but his touch made her voice waver. Plus, she knew she’d referred to the experience as a date, and that probably didn’t help the situation.
“Oh yeah? Keep it up and I’ll spank you before dinner.” He smirked and waggled his eyebrows.
“You can get your paws off me now.”
Phil’s lips drew into a tight line. He let go of her, no longer in a playful mood, and growled under his breath. “That was disrespectful and downright rude.” He increased the distance between them, then looked her up and down slowly.
“Like I said, I’m not one of your little obedient pack mates. I don’t have rules to follow.” Alisha found it easier to give him an attitude than to explain her concerns.
“Once again, I’ll say you’re damn lucky you’re not.” He turned away from the counter, then glanced over his shoulder. “Your body likes the idea of mine all up on it, and I bet if I slipped my fingers inside you, you’d be dripping.” Phil shook his head disappointedly, then swiftly exited the store, the door slamming hard behind him.
Alisha smacked her palm against her forehead. She’d pushed too far, and the worst part was that she wanted his hands all over her. Why were her emotions spinning out of control? She’d acted almost angry at him, when truthfully she had no idea what she had to be angry about.
She had been a part of a pack several years ago, though she never told anyone about it, back when her brother Noah had taken her away from their abusive foster parents. They had kicked him out the second he’d turned eighteen, and after he found safety, he’d rescued her from them.
She’d known her brother wasn’t human, but she hadn’t realized at the time just what he was. It had turned out that he was a shifter, which she found out was similar to a werewolf, except for the fact that a shifter could change into whatever creature they wanted, whenever the mood struck them. Together they had found shelter with a mid-sized werewolf pack, but then things had turned sour.
A small clan of shifters had sought him out and threatened his life for being with the wolves. It had turned ugly and had escalated to the point where the alpha had dragged her to a bus station, paid her fare, and sent her far away. It had been for her own safety, but she’d missed the structure, and she’d missed something she never felt in her new home except from her brother—love.
When she bumped into Dani, it was like coming home. She knew immediately the striking red-head was a wolf, an alpha no less, and she’d happily formed a friendship with the woman. She never actually got around to telling her about her past, but being with Dani’s pack had brought up all sorts of memories.
Which led to her crazy attraction to Phil—someone who by all means should be off limits. But of course, you can’t control who you fall for, and she was falling hard for Mr. Beta Blue Eyes. Damn! He was so sexy and authoritative.
When he’d offered her a preview of his lesson, she almost threw herself over the counter and begged, but then her walls had flown up. More than anything she wanted—no craved—his attention, but things were already so complicated.
Dani had been very reluctant to join Mason’s pack, but somehow he’d caught wind of some of the threats being directed towards her. Knowing she couldn’t protect the female wolf, Alisha had encouraged her friend to allow Mason to help her.
Alisha dug her phone out of her pocket and checked the time. The store was technically open for another two hours, but she had to make things right. Phil didn’t know why she’d acted hot and cold. She rose to her feet as she formulated a plan. She would call Dani and ask to come over, then she’d tell the sexy wolf how sorry she was. Maybe she could trust her gut enough to tell him the whole truth.
Phil went for a jog when he got back to the house, which was what he tended to do when he needed to burn off excess energy without shifting.
After his jog, he returned to the main house. It contained seven mid-sized bedrooms, one master suite, three oversized bathrooms with large garden tubs, two kitchens, a den, front and back porches, a formal and informal dining room, two medium offices with a desktop computer in each, as well as the make-shift medical room complete with cots. One hundred acres of land surrounded the house. There were also two additional houses nearby, albeit smaller and with only three bedrooms each. The three houses shared both a front lawn and a backyard with lots of trees.
Mason happened to be an amazing tracker when it came to abducted werewolves, and sometimes they needed a place to stay. The houses were open for anyone in the pack, but the main house was for the three ranking members and their mates only.
Hunters had abducted Mason one night when he went running by himself in unknown woods. The hunters had planned on an elaborate chase with Mason as the star. Thankfully, Phil and the others had located their alpha and brought him back safely.
Phil stripped his shirt off, and as he went inside and headed straight upstairs to take a shower, Portia spied him and followed. She was unmated and sometimes that caused her to act up louder and more dramatically than any of the other females. If she was seeking him for comfort or just attention, it was likely because she felt ignored. Usually she was keen to his moods, but he was sure he was already over what Alisha had said.
“Hey,” Portia called after him and he paused on the steps.
“Yeah?” Phil turned around and found the blonde wolf perched awkwardly on the step below him. She stood six inches taller than him, but now they were almost eye to eye.
“We’re having a guest over in a little bit. So, um, I ordered pizza. I figured if we had some beer, it would make for a fun night.” She smiled, though it appeared a bit forced, and reached out to touch his arm.
“Great,” he replied sarcastically, not really in the state of mind to entertain tonight. Her face fell and he immediately wished he hadn’t spoken like that to her. “I’m sorry. I attempted to take Alisha out to dinner earlier but she was too busy.”
Portia titled her head to the side, as if contemplating what to say, then nodded. “It’s fine.” She ran her fingers along his arm, offering comfort, but he didn’t want to be persuaded into a better state of mind. She usually changed his outlook to a shiny and downright happy one, like she did for everyone. Portia was the most generous and loving woman he knew.
“She told me to get my paws off her.”
“Oh yeah? I bet she said that to calm her own heartbeat.” Portia nodded knowingly. “But when she stood up to Mason… I mean really… I’ve never seen a human ever do that!”
“You think it’s because she has a thing for me? What she said was really nasty.” Phil gave in and took Portia’s hand in his. He didn’t want her to feel bad just because of him.
“I think she does. Alisha acted very brave while she was here. I’m sure it took a lot to even call Mason when Dani went missing.” She nuzzled along his arms until he wrapped himself around her.
Portia shuddered as if remembering the terrible string of events that had occurred over the past few weeks. The only bright spot had been Dani becoming the leader of the females, a true alpha wolf in her own right, and bringing Alisha into their mix.
“Shhh. Don’t think about that.” Phil pressed his lips to her forehead. “We’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Especially the little human.”
His words to Alisha had been true. If she hadn’t gone toe to toe with Mason, he might be dead. He owed her his life without a doubt.
“I couldn’t… I mean ever…”
“Shhh.” He took her face in his hands and smirked. “I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with this bastard for life.”
A hint of a smile found her mouth and slowly tugged her lips upwards. “I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse!” Portia groaned. “Really! Have you ever tried putting up with you?” She arched an eyebrow, still playing, but it was a pointed statement.
Portia had a way of putting his already twitchy palm into action. She would never admit to pushing his buttons in elaborate ways to get there, but he could tell this was one of those times.
“Your butt ought to be pretty pale since you’ve been behaving. Let’s see if it can last another day.”
From the way her eyes immediately darkened, he knew he’d picked the wrong words. She’d somehow taken the statement as a challenge and would act as such.
Aw, fuck. Here we go…
“I don’t need you issuing threats about my ass!” Portia growled as she pulled away from him. “I followed you because you were all grumpy Phil, and now you’re telling me to behave?”
Phil let out a long breath. “I only mentioned that you were behaving,” he said dryly. “I stopped telling you to behave as soon as you got here.” His prior bad mood came back and he decided it would be best to go take a shower now. “We can talk later.” He turned to continue in his original direction when he heard Portia mumble under her breath.
“Yeah, well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Only good little bitches get mated.”
“That’s it,” he clenched his jaw and swallowed hard. “You didn’t follow me because you wanted to see what was wrong. You followed me because everyone else home today is busy and no one is paying attention to you. Am I right?”
“Go to hell! Seriously, you’re just a playboy! You strut around here, offering your palm to anyone who misbehaves and claim it’s because you want to maintain order. I think you just get your rocks off spanking anything you can hold across your lap!”
“Portia.” A deep growl came from the landing, along with a wave of energy. Mason, their alpha, stood nearby with a scowl on his face. He didn’t tolerate disrespect in any fashion since it could lead to others believing they could lead the pack better. “Did you just tell your beta to go to hell?”
Phil could handle Mason’s energy to a degree, but it dropped Portia to her knees.
“I may have offered it as a vacation spot,” she mumbled as she stared up at Mason.
Phil brought the blonde wolf up and into his arms. “We’re going to have a talk,” he said simply.
“If you disrespect my second again, I promise you, little wolf, you won’t be sitting properly for days.” Mason reached forward and took Portia’s chin in his fingers. “Am I clear?”
“Yes, Alpha,” Portia sniffled.
“I’ll take care of her.” Phil looked down to see large tears falling down her cheeks. “Portia seems irritated with me. I’ll get to the bottom of it, Alpha.”
“Mason!” Dani called from the bottom of the stairs. If she’d heard the exchange, she hadn’t let on. Still, she had perfect timing. “Can you please come down here? We need to finish our conversation from before.”
“You have been all out of sorts today, but that does not excuse your behavior.” Mason released Portia’s chin but did not break eye contact. “If Phil can’t adjust your attitude properly, I will.” He waited for Phil to move out of his way, then headed downstairs.
“At one time you were very well acquainted with Mason’s hands. Let’s try to keep his discipline as a memory, okay?” Phil took the last few steps in stride. He moved them to his room and entered.
“I will try.”
“Good.” He set her on her feet. “Now, take off your clothes.”
Portia raised an eyebrow but shimmied out of her shirt and pants. Nakedness was not a big deal to her normally, especially with her medical training, but when used as a tool in a disciplinary setting, it usually realigned her priorities.
“That’s my Portia.” He hoped the affirmation would cause her to bend and tell him what had brought her to this point, but she did not open up. Confused by her behavior, Phil stifled a sigh, then formulated a plan. “Go stand in the corner.”
Portia situated herself in the corner. It was one she knew well, unfortunately, but usually she spent time there after some sort of correction, not before. She laced her fingers together and placed her hands behind her head without being told.
“Good girl.” He rubbed his cheek against the side of her neck. “Stand here until I tell you to move. Understood?” Phil waited for her nod but it didn’t come. Something had her shaken up enough that every step needed correction.
He took a step back so he could land two hard smacks to the very top of each thigh. He normally warmed her up before targeting there, but not today.
“Understood!” Portia’s legs were trembling now. “I won’t move, I promise.”
Phil ran his fingertips over the hand prints blossoming on her pretty porcelain thighs. She hadn’t gotten punished in several weeks, and he wondered if he should bring maintenance up to Mason.
The mated females all had weekly sessions to remind them of their commitment to the pack and to reconnect to their mates, but Portia didn’t have that reassurance. Maybe that was it, that she needed to know someone cared about her behavior?
He moved to the bed and sat down, still thinking on what he could do to help his friend. After a few minutes, Phil called out to the tall wolf in the corner, “Come here.”
She moved immediately, so much faster than before, and in seconds she reached the bed. She said nothing as she draped herself over his lap and set her hands on the floor.
Phil trailed his hand across her back, down her spine, her cheeks, and then finally up to her waist. He tugged her upwards to turn her over, then sat her on his knee. If his theory was correct, she didn’t need to be spanked to let out what was bothering her.
“What is this?” Portia struggled as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her to his chest. “No! No! I thought you were going to spank me.” She wiggled as she tried to get off his lap.
Phil nuzzled against the side of her head. “Let it out.” He could hear her choking back sobs, but already her resistance was fleeing. He didn’t need to turn her bottom red to get through her walls. No, this was getting to the crux of the matter in a different way.
“No! Please, just spank…” Her voice gave out as a wave of tears broke over her face. He felt the wetness on his shirt as her fingers dug into it. “Puh-lease… just…”
“It’s okay…” Phil rubbed her back and shoulders. “It’s okay. Let it out.”
The next few minutes were filled with incomprehensible babbling as her body was wracked with sobs. He sat there holding her, encouraging her to let go, until finally her breathing evened out. Several silent moments passed after that, and he searched for something to say.
“I’m so sorry.” Portia broke the silence as she moved back to see his face. “You were one-hundred percent right. I didn’t really care what was bothering you. I was angry you weren’t around when I needed you. I acted out only to get your attention.” She brushed away a new set of tears as she confessed.
Phil reached down to cup her cheek. “A lot has happened in the past few weeks and it seems like you feel neglected. Before Dani and Alisha came here, you had a lot of eyes on you.”
“Do you think I’m not mated because of my attitude? I don’t bow down and kiss—”
“Hey! None of that.” Phil shook his head, interrupting her rant. “I’ve got it on good authority you already found your mate, but for whatever the reason, he hasn’t laid claim.” He was referring to Cal, whose scent was still strong on her even though he wasn’t in the room. “Have you and Cal talked about mating?”
“A couple weeks ago, Cal asked me if you had mentioned it, but you’re not diplomatic like Mason. I sort of doubt you’d announce it.” Her nipples pebbled at the mention of the idea, and she crossed her arms over her chest. She had never covered herself up before or pulled away from him.
“What was that about? Why are you embarrassed? And who says I’m not diplomatic?”
“That was because of the crazy thoughts running through my mind.” Portia bit her lip, as if to stop herself from saying any more. The tears were completely gone now. A heady smell hit his nose, her arousal obvious as liquid seeped in between her thighs. She suddenly threw herself backwards off his lap.
“You’re not diplomatic when it comes to claiming. Dani told me how you explained it to her. Anyway, I’m getting dressed now,” she announced as she turned away from him.
Phil had reached his limit with women keeping things from him today. He got off the bed and met the distance between them. Then he reached around her to play tug-of-war with her clothes and won. “Tell me what is going on with you.”
“When I was on your lap, I wanted to move so slightly that my nipple would glide into your mouth, so that you could roll it around your tongue. Then after you thoroughly sucked it, you could tug the other one in between your teeth and make me moan.”
Her pupils were dilated, her breathing was faster than normal, and it took every single ounce of control he had not to pick her up and do whatever she wanted. Phil had never viewed Portia as anything more than a friend, but here, in this moment, he wanted to screw like the animals they were.
Portia gave a soft whimper and suddenly dropped to the ground. His energy spiked, though not in anger, and it just added to the mess of his day. Phil forced the energy to disperse, then calmed his rapid heartbeat.
“Things are complicated right now.” He carefully set her clothes by her feet. “You’re my best friend. Always. And I promise you I will be here, but we can’t fuck.”
“You’re mine too. I’ve been sort of stressed lately.” Portia picked up her shirt and pulled it over her head. “Being shot up with silver a few weeks ago and almost dying does that to a person.” She sucked in breath suddenly. “Not that I’m making excuses for my actions.”
“I get what you’re saying.” Phil watched her fumble to get her pants on. “What about Cal?”
“I love Cal. And I’m sure he’s my mate, but he hasn’t claimed me. We talked about it a while ago before we were in the pack.” She growled suddenly, clearly overwhelmed. “I don’t know! Why don’t you ask him?”
“We’re not best buddies, but I’ll bring it up.” He rested his hand on the top of her head. Her tears had stopped, but she was sniffling occasionally.
“I really like Alisha. I want her to stay here. I wouldn’t do something to cause issues between the two of you. I’ve just been really stressed.” She nuzzled against his palm. “Please accept my apology.”
“Of course.” Phil leaned down to kiss her cheek. “We’ll have a nice night. I’ll come get you after my shower.” He helped her stand, then guided her out into the hallway. She rushed off to her room, and he hoped he’d helped get her in a better mood.
Phil made his way to the bathroom to shower, but something else tugged at his mind. Could he be going down the same spiral as Mason had when he found a mate? Why had he gotten thrown off by Portia? Why hadn’t Cal laid claim to her if she thought they were meant to be?
Phil turned the knob in the tub to warm, knowing it would feel cooler to him. He wondered for a moment what he would do if Alisha were in here with him. Hot to her would be stifling to him.
Why the hell am I thinking long term about her again? Could Alisha be my mate?
Phil shook off the thoughts and let the water hit him. He had a feeling he’d be taking a lot of cold showers from now on for more than one reason.
After his shower, Phil sought out a rather unlikely source. Cal. He needed to ask him about his concerns in regards to Alisha, and then there were his questions about Portia. Phil knew the doctor would answer him honestly, despite any previous issues. Cal had never disrespected Phil, but as he told Portia, they were far from being buddies.
“Cal? Hey, do you have a second?” Phil asked as he wandered into the medical room. It had been fashioned quickly, due to urgent need. When Cal and Portia had accepted the offer to become a part of the pack, the room had turned into a more permanent fixture.
Cal nodded, but held up a hand as he finished up a conversation on his cell phone. “It’s fine. I’ll go in early tomorrow so it gets covered.” He ran the hand holding the phone through his hair, irritated as someone bitched at him loudly through the speaker. “What other solution do you have?” He looked up at the ceiling then down again. “Right. How about I just don’t sleep? Then I’ll be on twenty-four seven.”
Phil raised his eyebrows. He remembered Portia mentioned something about staffing issues with the clinic that Cal ran almost solely. Maybe now wasn’t a good time.
“I’ll figure it out tomorrow. Talk to you then.” Cal clicked end and pocketed the cell phone. “Are you okay?” His focus turned to Phil.
“I’m fine, but I had a question. A really serious question.” Phil sat on one of the cots and searched for where to begin.
“A medical question or something else?”
“Both.” Phil sucked in a breath. “If I’m kissing Alisha, not that I have yet, and I bite her, can it turn her?”
“The best answer I can give you is probably not. There haven’t been any studies, obviously, just lots of potential theories. So, you know how a human becomes a wolf, right?” Cal joined him on the cot. “I mean the causes.”
“Sort of. I know that if I’ve shifted, I need to avoid humans at all costs because it’s easy for them to get hurt. I never thought about biting them. From what I’ve heard though, only my teeth are the problem.”
“Yeah. Claws leave a hell of a wound, but it won’t turn a human. Our teeth, however, act like a needle, injecting saliva into the bloodstream. It passes a virus, for all intents and purposes, which wreaks havoc in a human body.” Cal rubbed his chin in thought. “But in human form it shouldn’t be possible.”
“All right, I’ll keep that in mind.” He nodded his thanks but wasn’t sure how to bring up the next topic.
“What’s the other reason you’re here?”
“I’m not telling you what to do, or how to go about things, but Portia seemed very out of sorts a little while ago.” He hoped Cal didn’t think he wanted to claim his friend. “She thinks her actions are preventing her from being mated. It’s causing her stress, and it makes her act out more.”
Cal stood slowly and moved away from the cot. “What do you think?” He went to the large cabinet across the room and fiddled with the instruments there, then marked down some numbers, as if taking inventory.
“Portia isn’t my mate. She’s my best friend.” Phil got to his feet, then met the distance between them. “I have no intention of claiming her.”
Cal swallowed hard, then turned to focus on him. “Before we came here, claiming Portia ranked way up on my list. She is my mate, and I’ve known it since the moment she pranced her pretty blonde head into my clinic. But we’re in a pack now, and there are rules.”
“Bullshit.” Phil folded his arms across his chest. “Unless a female is marked it is rather easy.”
“When I saw the connection you two have, I thought I may have been wrong. If I accidentally took away your mate, and it drove you crazy, I’d never forgive myself. If you’re asking about Alisha though, it’s unlikely Portia is your mate. You just know when you’ve found her.”
“You are incredibly selfless, and I honestly don’t know how to answer you. You’re right. We’ve both seen that happen.” Phil dropped his arms, touched that Cal had sacrificed his own true happiness for the good of the pack and for Phil’s own sanity. “Do you think that could happen to me?”
“It’s not scientifically sound. When you find your mate, you should claim her so we don’t have to find out. But I’m not telling you what to do.” Cal shut the cabinet door and picked up the sheet he wrote on earlier.
“I appreciate your concern. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a wolf finding his mate in a human.”
“Tyler knew Sheila was his mate long before her accident. He told me while she was going through the transformation. He knew the moment he laid his eyes on her, she belonged with him.” Cal cleared his throat. “I, uh, felt the same sort of thing when I met Portia the first time.”
“I think I know what you mean. So, you helped Sheila through her change?” Phil ran his hand through his hair. Tyler had mentioned it to him when he became beta, but he hadn’t given him all of the details.
“I did, before I became part of the pack. Sheila is the only one I’ve ever personally witnessed after such a tragedy. She recovered in a miraculous way. Have you heard the story about what the hunters did to her and Tyler?”
“Some of it. Tyler only told me a little bit of the story.” Something changed between him and Cal in this room, but he wasn’t sure how to explain it. Cal kept quiet for the most part, but there was an undeniable dominance there, though not a threat to his standing.
“They were in a terrible car crash, chased off the road by hunters who didn’t agree with a human and a wolf dating,” he took a breath, “like it’s any of their business. But, she had serious injuries. Some of the injuries could have been fatal on their own. Tyler turned Sheila to save her.”
“That must have been a very hard choice for him to make.” Phil shrugged. “I mean, I just hope I’m never in his shoes.”
“Let’s hope not. So, is there anything else? I’ve got to run over to the hospital in a few so I can be back for dinner. They fired one of the techs who helped out in the clinic, so it’s back to just me and Portia.”
“Listen, I just want the best for Portia. She clearly cares about you a lot. I’m worried about her behavior. She’s been out of sorts.” He clapped Cal on the shoulder, then dropped his arm. He would fix the discord between them somehow. Cal’s admission showed his true dedication to the pack, and it blew any of his previous thoughts about the doctor away.
“Thank you for coming to me about Portia. I really appreciate your concern.”
“Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” Phil gave him a small smile then exited the room in swift strides. Portia, if she’d listened to his order, was still up in her room, and he needed to let her out.
Alisha blew out a breath and tried to explain again to Dani. “I pretty much insulted Phil when he came in here. I really need to come over and apologize.”
Her friend snorted into the speaker. “Uh, well. Normally, I’d just invite you over. Unfortunately, this isn’t high school. If you actually disrespected my beta, then you need to talk to Mason.”
“Can you please relay the message?”
“Nope. Sorry, babe. Hold on.”
A wave of nausea passed over Alisha as she waited for Mason to get on the phone. A few seconds later, his deep voice filtered through in a semblance of a greeting.
“Hi, um, it’s Alisha.” She giggled nervously even though nothing was funny. “Phil came to Dani’s store earlier and asked me to go to dinner.”
“Hmm? From the ten mile jog he took after getting home, I’d bet your answer was no?”
“I’m really sorry about the way I spoke to your beta. Please let me come over and apologize,” she said, her voice wavering. A fresh set of tears broke over her eyes, and she brushed them away, irritated at the way her emotions were spinning out of control today.
“Well, you’re welcome here whenever you want, but you need to understand exactly what you’re asking.” Mason cleared his throat. “Phil won’t believe you’re sorry if you just pout your lips and bat those pretty lashes at him.”
“From what I’ve experienced, whatever happens will probably need to involve his hand and my butt. Right?”
“Riiight.” Mason chuckled. “If you still want to come over knowing those repercussions, by all means, little one, you are invited. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
His words chased away the knots in her stomach and filled it with heat. The thought of actually going over Phil’s lap again, even for a correction, caused her to tremble with anticipation.
“Thank you, Mason. I won’t be disrespectful again. I’ll see you all soon.” Alisha clicked end and set her phone on the counter.
Everything at the store appeared ready for tomorrow. Now she could go home, shower, change, and offer up her most sincere apology to Phil. No problem.
None at all, she thought sarcastically.