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Alphas of Red Moon Ranch

By´╝ÜMorgan Rae

Chapter 1

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 mate. And soon.

Chapter 2

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.”

“Come on,” 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.”