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Little Red & Ryder Wolfe (Iron Hills Pack Book 3), page 1

 

Little Red & Ryder Wolfe (Iron Hills Pack Book 3)
 


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Little Red & Ryder Wolfe (Iron Hills Pack Book 3)


  Little Red & Ryder Wolfe

  Jessica Coulter Smith

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

  This is a work of fiction. All characters, places, businesses, and incidents are from the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual places, people, or events is purely coincidental. Any trademarks mentioned herein are not authorized by the trademark owners and do not in any way mean the work is sponsored by or associated with the trademark owners. Any trademarks used are specifically in a descriptive capacity. Font used in this novel is Book Antiqua.

  Cover Artist: Jessica Coulter Smith

  Stock photos from CanStock Photo

  Edited by Ilse Shaffer

  FIRST EDITION

  ©2017, Jessica Coulter Smith

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Iron Hills Pack

  Thank You

  About the Author

  Other Paranormal Series by Jessica

  Chapter One

  Saxen crouched in the closet, peeking through the thin crack in the door. Her heart hammered so loudly in her chest that she was surprised no one else could hear it. Martin had been drinking, but even worse, she was almost certain he was using again. Her hands shook as she tried to cram herself further into the corner of the closet. The raised voices of angry men carried through the small apartment. Two bodies crashed into the bedroom in a tumble of limbs and profanity. The door hit the wall with a loud crack and embedded in the plaster, as Martin and another man tumbled to the floor.

  She stifled her gasp as Martin rose to his feet and pulled a gun. There was a slight tremor in his hand and a pallor to his skin.

  “You thought you could cheat me?” Martin yelled, spit flying from his lips. “You’re five thousand short. What did I tell you would happen if you didn’t bring the full fifteen thousand?”

  “I can get it.” The man cowered at Martin’s feet. Blood smeared his busted lip and his eye was already turning black. “I swear, I’ll get it. I just need some time.”

  Martin cocked the gun, the sound ricocheting through the room. “You’re out of time.”

  There was a click as he pulled the trigger and the hammer came down. Then a deafening blast that rocked the walls. Saxen had to stifle her scream as blood sprayed all over their bedroom and the man fell face first onto the floor. She whimpered and tried to keep as still and quiet as possible. Martin didn’t know she was home, and she hoped like hell he didn’t figure it out.

  He cursed and put his hands on his head as he paced the area. Martin spun on his heel and fled from the room. A moment later, Saxen heard the front door slam. Cautiously, she crept from her hiding space, trying not to stare at the dead body. She stifled a sob as she grabbed a bag from the closet and threw in some clothes. Slipping in the blood, she bolted from the room.

  As her hand gripped the knob of the front door, her heart felt like it might burst at any moment. Without transportation, she didn’t know where she would go, or how she would get there. She crept down the stairs to the parking lot below. A truck was parked at the edge of the lot, a tarp thrown over the back. Saxen slipped under the crinkly plastic and curled up amongst the boxes, hoping like the hell the owner was moving out and not in. She nearly wet her pants when she heard voices approaching.

  “Thanks for coming all this way and handling this, Ryder,” a male voice said. “I just couldn’t hang onto this stuff another moment. If you can store it at your place until you can donate it, I’d appreciate it.”

  “No problem. Let me know if you need anything.”

  The second voice sent chills down her spine, but in the best of ways. How she could get turned on by a voice, at a time like this, she didn’t know. Saxen waited, hoping he wouldn’t check the bed of his truck. If she was discovered, she would have a lot of explaining to do. The cops would be called and she might even be considered a suspect. She knew it looked bad, that she was fleeing the scene without calling for help, but no way was she sticking around, waiting for Martin to come back.

  She heard the click of a door opening. The bed of the truck vibrated as someone settled onto the seat and then closed the door. A moment later, the engine roared to life. When the truck began moving, she said a silent prayer of thanks. With some luck, she’d make it far enough away from the apartment that she would be safe a little while longer. The truck picked up speed and she wondered if they were on the highway, and if so, where were they going? Anywhere was better than Crosgove Corners. The more distance between her and the town, where she’d grown up, the better.

  The rocking motion of the truck eventually put her to sleep. When she woke, she noticed the truck was still. She peeked from the edge of the tarp and realized it was getting dark. She didn’t know how long they’d travelled, or how long they’d been parked. Saxen tried to see whether the owner of the truck was nearby, but her vision was limited from where she sat. Shrinking back against the boxes, she listened to see if anyone was close.

  The tarp was ripped back and she gave a cry, scuttling further back into the bed of the truck, her red hoodie snagging on the corner of a box. The man holding the blue plastic stared at her with wide eyes. His gaze skimmed over her and locked onto her bare feet.

  “Are you hurt?” he asked.

  Saxen shook her head.

  “I think it’s best you come out of there. Since I didn’t make any stops on the way home, you’re from the apartments in Cosgove Corners, aren’t you?” he asked.

  “Yes. Please. Don’t make me go back there.”

  He lowered the tailgate on the truck and held out his hand. Her fingers hesitantly slid against his palm as he helped her from the truck. The gravel from his driveway dug into the soles of her feet and she winced. As Saxen stared into his brown eyes, she felt a calmness settle over her. Whoever this man was, she didn’t think he would hurt her. His touch was making butterflies take flight in her stomach and she felt the stirrings of desire.

  She quickly released his hand and backed up a step.

  “My name’s Dr. Ryder Wolfe. Can you tell me your name?” he asked.

  “Saxen Blake.”

  His gaze skimmed over her again, pausing on her slightly rounded stomach. She placed a hand there protectively and inched back another step. He motioned toward a two-story farm house.

  “Why don’t you come in? You can get cleaned up and have something to eat.”

  “You aren’t mad that I hid in the back of your truck?”

  “There’s blood on your feet, and you say you aren’t hurt, so it’s not yours. I’m guessing you’re running from something because you don’t look big enough to harm anyone. I’m hoping you’ll trust me enough to share your story with me. Maybe I can help you.”

  She nodded and followed him into the house. The little rocks in the driveway bruised the bottoms of her feet, but she slowly made her way to the front steps of the house, then up onto the porch and through the door. Saxen followed as Ryder walked through to the back of the house and pulled out a chair for her at the kitchen table. Saxen sat and waited to see what he would do next.

  He pulled down glasses from a cabinet, filled them with ice, and poured what she assume
d was sweet tea. Ryder put the glasses on the table, then sliced some cheddar and put it on a platter with some crackers. When he claimed the seat across from her, she found herself staring. He wasn’t just good looking. He was panty-melting, drop dead gorgeous. Despite the horror she’d faced earlier, she couldn’t help but admire him.

  “Want to tell me why there’s blood on your feet?” he asked, nudging the crackers toward her.

  “My boyfriend is a very bad man. I knew he was mixed up with alcohol and drugs, but I didn’t realize how far things had gone. I think he’s dealing now. I was hiding in the closet while he argued with a man, and then, he suddenly shot him! After Martin left the apartment, I came out of hiding, grabbed a bag and got the hell out of there. I saw your truck in the parking lot and I thought it was my best shot at getting away.”

  “So, this Martin doesn’t know that you witnessed anything?”

  She shook her head. “But once he sees the smeared blood, where I slipped in the bedroom, he’s going to know I was there and that I saw the body.”

  “Do you have anywhere to go? Family? Friends?”

  “My family is all gone and Martin made sure I didn’t have friends. I have about ten dollars in my bag and that’s all I have, besides the few clothes I packed.”

  “Shoes?”

  “No.”

  Ryder bit his lip and looked around a moment before his gaze settled on hers once more. “The boxes in the back of my truck contain women’s clothes and shoes, including some maternity clothes. Let me bring them in and we’ll see if anything fits.”

  “The person who owns them won’t mind?” she asked.

  “My friend lost his wife and unborn child a few weeks ago. The things in my truck belonged to her. He couldn’t stand to look at them anymore and wanted them all gone. I offered to help, and now I’m glad I did.”

  “Is there a women’s shelter nearby where I could go?” she asked.

  “We’ll talk about that after we find you some shoes and some more clothes. You can have it all if you want it. Trust me, Bryce won’t care. He’d rather someone get some use out of it.”

  Saxen finished eating the cheese and crackers, then finished her drink while she waited on him to return. When he called out her name, she followed the sound of his voice to the living room. He’d hauled in five boxes and was busy opening them. The first contained shoes. She picked up a pair and noticed they were her size. There were even two new packages of panties and she was thankful she’d thought to grab some bras. After she’d gathered some clean things to wear, Ryder showed her to the downstairs bathroom.

  The water felt heavenly, and she couldn’t stifle the sob that welled in her throat as she watched the blood swirl down the drain. That poor man. And poor her if Martin ever caught up with her. As long as no one paid attention to Ryder’s truck, then she should be safe. When she’d climbed into the back, no one had been around. She only hoped her luck held out. She didn’t want Ryder, or his friend, to get in trouble, just because she’d chosen his truck to hide in.

  By the time she was clean and dressed, she was beyond nervous. She had no idea what would happen to her next. She knew she needed to contact the police about Martin, but she didn’t want him to know she saw everything. Saxen had never felt so torn before. That man deserved justice, but she needed to stay safe for her unborn child. Maybe Ryder would know what to do.

  She found him in the kitchen making dinner. The scent of ground turkey and spaghetti sauce filled the air as he chopped onions and diced garlic. She stopped by his side and peered into the pot. As far back as she could remember, she’d never had homemade sauce before. It smelled really good.

  “Can I help?” she asked.

  “I think I have it under control. I’ve already rolled and sliced the noodles. Just need to throw them in some water.”

  Her brow furrowed. She’d definitely never known anyone who made their own noodles before. “How long was I in the shower?”

  “About forty-five minutes. I figured you needed to decompress after everything you’d been through. If you’d have stayed in much longer, I’d have checked on you. Do you feel any better?”

  “Not much. I have no idea what happens to me now. I need to report what I saw, but then Martin might figure out how to find me.”

  Ryder stirred the sauce then set the spoon aside. “I’m just going to throw this idea out there. Why don’t you stay here a while? You don’t have to call anyone or tell anyone where you are. We’re about two hours away from your town, so it’s doubtful anyone will think to come here. And if they do, I’m more than capable of protecting you.”

  He faced her and his eyes glowed. He flashed her a hint of fang as he smiled and her heart kicked in her chest.

  “You’re a werewolf?”

  He nodded. “You’re in Iron Hills Pack territory in Grover Falls. No one is going to mess with you as long as you’re here.”

  “Why would you protect me?”

  He leaned closer and sniffed along her neck. “Because you smell so damn good. Just trust me when I say, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

  She had no idea what her scent had to do with anything, but she was grateful for his help. If he wanted to do weird things, like smell her neck, then she wouldn’t stop him. Besides, having him close felt right for some reason. Saxen sat at the table and watched him cook. When he was finished, and had started plating their food, she got up and fixed drinks for them, remembering where the glasses were stored. It was nice preparing a meal together. Well, he’d prepared it, but setting the table together was nice. Martin had never done anything like that with her.

  “I didn’t think to ask if you had any food allergies,” he said.

  “I don’t. I’m not overly fond of anchovies or olives, but aside from those, I’ll eat anything.”

  “I tend to eat a lot of pasta, but I’ll try to spread it out so you get balanced nutrition. You’re carrying another life in there; you’re going to need all the vitamins and minerals you can get. Do you have prenatal vitamins?”

  She shook her head.

  “The over-the-counter kind will work until I know it’s safe to fill a prescription for you. I don’t want anyone being able to find you for the next few days. I’ll call and ask a pack member to run to the store for me. Is there anything else you need or want? Anything at all.”

  “Some lip balm would be nice. I don’t really wear much make-up, but my lips have been really dry lately. Maybe some body lotion?”

  “You should probably drink some juice here and there. Do you like orange and apple?”

  “I like both. I’m partial to pink lemonade too. I don’t drink a lot of soda.”

  He nodded and took a bite of food before pulling a phone from his pocket. Ryder shot off a message to someone, his fingers tapping against the screen, and then he set the phone side. That was different. Martin usually stayed glued to his phone, or the TV, the entire time they were eating.

  “I have to ask. You are eighteen, right? Because if you’re underage, things could get messy.”

  “I’m twenty-two.”

  “Good.” He blew out a breath. “I was a little worried.”

  “Your wife won’t mind me staying here?” she asked.

  He gave her a strange look. “I’m not married.”

  Relief flooded through her, and she didn’t understand why. It wasn’t like anything was going to happen between them. She might find him attractive, and he seemed to like the way she smelled, but that’s all there was to it. She was pregnant with another man’s baby, and on the run from her psycho ex-boyfriend. And he was most definitely her ex. No way she’d stay with him after he killed someone. If she’d had a way to escape before now, she would have.

  “Is Martin going to come after you because you’re pregnant, or because you witnessed him murder someone?” Ryder asked.

  “The second one. He couldn’t care less about the baby. I didn’t get pregnant on purpose, but he makes it sound like it’s my fault. He
s even questioned whether or not the baby is his.”

  Ryder look deep in thought for several minutes. “That could work in our favor.”

  “How?”

  “If he does find you, we’ll make him believe the baby is mine. I don’t know that it will necessarily make him back down, but it’s worth a shot.”

  “I don’t think he’ll care. He’s going to want me dead, and since he’ll figure I’ve told you everything, he’ll want you dead too.”

  Ryder smiled. “He’s welcome to try. Worse men than him have tried and failed over the years. Before I became a doctor, I served four years in the Marines and did three tours during that time. I’m more than capable of keeping you safe, Saxen. Besides, I can always let my wolf loose.”

  “I’ve never knowingly met a werewolf before. Will I ever get to see your wolf?”

  “Not tonight, but some other time. He would love to meet you.”

  She finished her dinner and cleared the table. When she started the water in the sink, Ryder came up beside her and opened the dishwasher.

  “You rinse and I’ll load,” he said.

  Once the dishes were loaded, and the machine was started, Ryder led her back to the living room. He’d straightened the boxes at some point and they were now neatly lining one wall. Ryder sat on the sofa and patted the cushion next to him. She sank onto the plush seat and nearly sighed; it felt so wonderful. All of the furniture she’d ever had was secondhand and well-used. Ryder’s living room set seemed new, or close to it. She’d never sat on anything so soft before.

  He handed her the remote and showed her how to work it. When she picked a romantic comedy to watch, he seemed content to see it with her. At some point, she ended up snuggled against his side with his arm around her shoulders. Despite the fact that logic told her he was a complete stranger, something inside her responded to Ryder and wanted him even closer. She could trust him, and that wasn’t something she was used to. Men had always betrayed her, but her heart told her that Ryder was different.

 
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