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Alpha Reid by C.J. Primer

Chapter 7

REID I’m closing the front door behind my friends and their mates when I hear a creak on the stairs behind me . I don’t have to turn around to know it’s Serena both because she’s the only person staying upstairs in my wing of the packhouse and because my wolf perked up as soon as her sweet scent registered . I keep discovering aspects to the mate bond that I never anticipated , like how my senses all seem heightened when it comes to her . I’ve been hyper – aware of her presence when she’s near , oddly attuned t o her body language like I can almost read her well – hidden emotions . I turn to look her way , my eyes wandering her form as she hits the bottom step . Join Telegram Group For Fast update and Novel Query She’s evidently gone through some of her new clothes she’s changed into a pair of navy blue high – waisted yoga pants and a white cropped hoodie , her long red hair swept up into a neat ponytail . I’m not sure how it’s possible for her to be dressed so . casually and still look like a goddamn runway model , but she does , and I’m completely captivated . I must be staring at her wordlessly for a moment too long , because Serena . narrows her eyes , tilting her head as she looks back at me . ” What ? ” Her question knocks me out of the trance I’m under and I give a little shake of my head , mumbling ” nothing . ” Then I draw a breath , scrubbing a hand over my face and wincing , ” Sorry about the girls , I didn’t know they were coming over or I would’ve at least warned you . She shrugs , the ghost of a smile dancing across her lips . ” No worries . They were nice . ” ” I know they’re a lot , ” I chuckle wryly . ” Nothing I can’t handle . ” Serena wanders toward the kitchen , shoving her hands into the front pocket of her hoodie . The way that it’s cropped leaves a little strip of her flat stomach visible , just enough to tempt another glance . ” You hungry ? ” I ask , watching her intently as she wanders toward the fridge . She moves so fluidly , like a dancer.   She swivels in my direction , sweeping her tongue between her lips . ” Starving . ” 39 My wolf rises up inside of me in response t o the quick flash of tongue , teeming with excitement , but I’m quick to shove him back down and keep my composure . ” You like pizza ? ” Serena’s blue eyes light up . ” Love pizza . ” I can’t keep the smile from creeping across my face . Any positive reaction from her has me feeling like a hero and makes my wolf stand up . and preen . ” Well then c’mon , little wolf , ” I drawl , flicking my head in the direction of the door . ” Let’s go get a pizza . ” I grab a jacket from the coat tree beside the door , slipping it on and reaching into the pocket for the keys to my Mustang . I’ve always had a thing for fast cars and the Mustang is my latest acquisition , shiny and black with white racing stripes . Serena follows me outside and I click the key fob to unlock the doors , climbing into the drivers ‘ seat as she slips in on the passenger side ,   We make casual conversation on the short drive to Dino’s , the little pizza place in the town square owned by one of the families i n my pack . They mostly do carryout , though there’s a counter and a few tables inside for those who choose to dine in and they’re almost always occupied . I park the Mustang out front and lead Serena inside , and as soon as we walk through the door , every eye in the place flies in our direction . ” Alpha , ” Dino greets from behind the counter , wiping his hands on his flour covered apron and striding closer . ” Welcome in , what can I get started for you ? ” Dino’s eyes flicker from me to Serena several times , sizing her up with interest . Admittedly , I haven’t showed up here with a girl on my arm in … ever ? So I suppose I don’t blame him for his curiosity . He isn’t the only one , either – I feel the tension rolling off of Serena in waves as I glance around the interior of Dino’s , realizing that everyone here is checking out the bombshell beside me ,, trying to figure out who she is and what she’s doing with their Alpha . My wolf pushes forward with a need to comfort our mate and I sidestep closer to Serena , slipping my arm around her shoulders . I feel her relax slightly under m y arm and my wolf settles . It surprises me how natural this gesture feels ; how right , despite having only just met . ” Are you sticking around , should I clear you a table ? ” Dino asks , darting a glance a t the grouping of tables in the back . They’re all occupied , but any of the patrons would gladly give up their spot for their Alpha . I shake my head , not wanting to displace anyone or put Serena through further examination . ” Nah , we’ll take it to go , ” I reply , glancing down at her . ” Is that good with you , Red ? ” She looks up at me , her wide eyes colliding with mine . Fuck , I could drown i n those clear blue pools . ” Yeah , sounds good to me , ” she says quietly , and I swear she tucks closer into my side . My chest rumbles as my wolf growls in satisfaction . ” What do you like on your pizza ? ” I ask , arching a brow .   Serena shrugs her shoulders . ” Anything . really . I’m not picky . ” ” You like spicy ? ” She licks her lips and my eyes track the movement . ” Love spicy . ” ” Pepperoni and jalapeño ? ” ” Mmm , that sounds amazing , ” she moans , and the inflection in her voice makes my dick twitch in my slacks . I wonder if she has any idea how fucking sexy her responses sound to my ears or how affected I am by her delivery . I suck in a breath , turning back to Dino . ” The usual , ” I mumble , giving him a little nod . He tosses me a thumbs – up in acknowledgement , heading through the kitchen door to the back of the restaurant to prepare the pizza . Right as he disappears from view , the chime on the front door sounds out . I turn over my shoulder to see who entered and I’m met with a familiar pair of eyes and a smile that matches my own . ” Hey old man , ” I grin , my arm slipping from Serena’s shoulders as 1 turn around ! o greet my father . ” Son , ” he greets with a nod , throwing an arm around me in a half – hug and slapping my back . I return the gesture , and as soon as we step apart I move beside Serena again , sliding my arm around her shoulders once more . ” Dad , meet Serena , ” I say , gazing down at her proudly . ” Serena , this i s my dad . ” ” Erick , ” Dad says quickly , extending a hand to Serena and flashing her a suave smile . ” It’s a pleasure to meet you . She places her slender hand in his , giving i ta shake as a rosy blush creeps across her cheeks . ” Likewise , sir . ” Dad’s eyes return to mine , and though I can tell he’s got quite a few questions , he keeps them to himself for now . He knows better than anyone how quickly anything said in the presence of pack members can become gossip . ” Sorry I haven’t been over in a few days , ” I grumble , suddenly realizing how long it’s been and feeling guilty over it . ” I’ve been busy . How’s Mom doing ? ” ” She’s alright , ” Dad replies . He steps a bit closer and drops his voice low . ” She’s had a rough few days , you know how that can b e . I swallow hard , nodding in understanding . ” Yeah , sorry to hear that . But that means she’s due for a good one , right ? ” Dad winks . ” Exactly . ” 31 Dino emerges from the kitchen , greeting my father warmly before slipping away again to retrieve his order for him . ” Hey , ” I murmur , leaning in toward my dad again before Dino returns with his food . ” Next good day , why don’t you bring Mom over to meet Serena ? ” ” I sure will , ” Dad replies with a knowing grin , clapping me on the shoulder . I hear the kitchen door swing open and Dad quickly masks his expression , shuffling past me to the counter to collect and pay for his pizza . Every time one of us comes here , Dino puts up a fight about us paying for our dinner , insisting that our money is no good to him . When I was younger , I used to ask my father why we didn’t take more goods and services for free when offered by members of our pack – I mean it seems like a pretty sweet Alpha perk , right ? But Dad always said that it’s important for us to lead by example and support our pack , not take advantage of their generosity and abuse our position . Like many of his lessons , I didn’t realize the value of that one until I got older . As I watch the familiar back and forth between him and Dino , I can’t help but chuckle . Dad , of course , wins , and Dino rings him u p , depositing his change on top of his pizza box and handing it to him . Dad spins back around , pizza in hand , giving a little nod as he moves past me to the door . ” Good to see you , son . I’ll bring your mother by soon , huh ? ” His gaze shifts to Serena and he flashes her another charming smile . ” It was so nice meeting you , Serena . If this guy steps out of line , you be sure to let me know . ” Serena lets out a soft little giggle . ” Nice to meet you too , sir . ” ” Erick , ” he corrects with a wink , turning away and exiting through the door . My dad may be in his forties , but I have to hand it to him , he’s a smooth sonofabitch . I glance down at Serena to see her blushing as she watches after him . Maybe I should be taking pointers from my old man on how to charm her . I lead Serena over to a pair of empty stools at the counter across from the register , both of us taking a seat while we wait for the pizza to cook . Curious gazes continue to flicker in our direction while the two of u s make quiet conversation , leaning in close to one another for some semblance o f privacy . It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to Serena , and I don’t mean in a physical way – it feels like we’re just a normal couple , out for a casual date night . It’s nice . I finally learn some more about her . I learn that her favorite color is green , that she loves to listen to Taylor Swift , and that she likes to draw and once won an award for her art- though I already knew that last one from the file Theo brought . over earlier . I learn that her family raised horses and she once considered becoming a veterinarian , until she realized she’d have to euthanize animals on occasion and decided she couldn’t do that . Brick by brick , her walls slowly come down as I earn another smile , another soft laugh . After ten minutes or so , Dino brings out the pizza and we engage in our usual back and forth before he accepts my money . I tell him to keep the change , balancing the pizza in one hand and grabbing the door with the other , ignoring the whispers of speculation from the other patrons as Serena and I exit and get back in the Mustang to head home . I slide the pizza onto the back seat before I take my position behind the wheel , firing up the engine . ” Your dad seems nice , ” Serena comments as I pull out onto the road . ” Yeah , ” I grin . ” He’s great . The two of us have always been close , probably the whole only child thing . ” 19 She’s quiet for a moment , and I wonder if I’ve struck a nerve by talking about my relationship with my dad , knowing that her own was recently taken from her . I’m again . about to apologize when she speaks up ” Is your mom sick or something ? ” . ” Not exactly , ” I sigh . I glance over at Serena and she’s watching me intently , waiting for me to continue . So I do . ” My parents were in a bad car wreck about six years ago . My dad was okay , but my mom’s injuries were extensive . Her shifter healing helped , but she has permanent damage . ” ” I pause , clicking on my turn signal and cruising around a corner before going on . ” The pack doctor said she suffered a TBI … a traumatic brain injury . She hasn’t ever been the same since , though she has good days and bad days . The good days can be really good , like she’s her old self again . But the bad days … sometimes they’re really bad . Sometimes she doesn’t even know who I am . ” ” 44 Serena reaches over to touch my arm . I’m so sorry , Reid , ” she breathes , her eyes wide . I shrug my shoulders . ” Hey , it is what it i s . ” I glance over at her , offering a small smile . ” We’ve all adapted . I became Alpha so my dad could take care of her full time , and like I said , the good days are really good . I’m just glad she’s still around . It could’ve been worse . ” Serena flinches back , her gaze falling to the floor , and I’m immediately kicking myself for my choice of words . I should be more sensitive , knowing what I do . It’s also the perfect opening for Serena to talk about her own family , but she doesn’t take the bait , and I don’t push . I’m still trying to come up with the right thing to say to lighten the mood and smooth things over when I pull into the packhouse driveway . I grab the pizza from the back and the two of us make our way up the front walk and through the door . I’m half expecting to see Taylor and Cy , but they’ve been making themselves scarce all day , giving me space to get to know Serena . I head straight into the kitchen and deposit the pizza box on the counter , shrugging off m y jacket and doubling back to the front door to hang it on the coat tree . As I do , I ‘ notice something the deadbolt on the front door is in the locked position again . I turn over my shoulder , watching Serena as she walks up to the pizza box and lifts the lid , licking her lips as she peers inside . ” Mmm , this looks amazing , ” she comments , letting the lid fall closed again and turning to me . ” Where can I find plates ? ” ” In the cabinet , ” I reply , pointing out which one . Without missing a beat , Serena pulls open the cabinet I indicated , reaching inside and retrieving a couple of plates for us . ” Hey … did you lock this ? ” I ask , tossing a thumb over my shoulder to indicate the front door . Serena’s head snaps in my direction , her eyes wide , like she’s been caught doing something she wasn’t supposed to . ” Um …. yeah , ” she breathes uneasily , her gaze flickering away as she sets the plates onto the counter . ” Is that alright ? ” ” I mean , we usually leave it unlocked , ” I shrug . ” So the pack has access . 31 Serena doesn’t respond . I stride toward her , and when she doesn’t look up at me I realize I must’ve struck a nerve . ” Hey , ” I say gently , reaching out to touch her hand . Soothing sparks ignite beneath my fingertips when our skin makes contact , her eyes coming to mine . ” You’re safe here , you don’t have to worry . ” P She presses her lips into a tight line , giving me a halfhearted nod . Her eyes flutter to the floor again , and I lift my hand from hers to bring it to her chin , tipping her face up to mine . ” I mean it , ” I murmur , her eyes returning to my own . ” We’ve got a state – of – the – art security system installed on the borders o f the territory and a security team that monitors it and runs patrols . And even if anyone could get through that , you’d still be safe , because if someone was trying to get to you , they’d have to get through me first . ” Her wide blue eyes hold so much vulnerability , her pink lips pouting and releasing a little puff of air . My gaze drops to those lips ; all I want to do is kiss them . Without thinking , I feel myself leaning ” closer , dizzy as her vanilla and tangerine scent swirls around me . My lips are a whisper away from her own when she suddenly presses a hand against my chest , taking a step back ” You don’t have to do that , you know Serena mumbles . I stare at her , my brows drawing together i n confusion . ” Do what ? ” She folds her arms across her chest protectively , staring down at the floor The whole knight in shining armor thing I don’t need to be saved . ” I pause , unsure how to respond . Giving her the space that she clearly needs . I wish I knew how to handle Serena , but it’s like she’s two people- I get glimpses of this light , easygoing side of her , and then there’s this other side where something darker resides , a side of her that’s so damaged that I’m not sure I can touch it ” I can fight , you know , ” Serena mutters , her eyes returning to mine I furrow my brow as I study her face What ? ” ” I’ve had warrior training , ” she replies quickly . ” The girls said you were part of some warrior squad or something , that I should ask about joining . ” Yeah , the security squad . I run it with the other alphas . If you’re interested , you can get involved … ” ” I’m definitely interested , ” Serena interrupts . I nod slowly . ” Sure . I can take you up there tomorrow . ” ” Cool . ” Serena fiddles with the end of her ponytail , her eyes downcast again . Sorry , I didn’t mean to … ” . ” Don’t worry about it , ” I say reassuringly , setting my hands on her shoulders . Her eyes snap up to collide with my own and the pull of the bond between us is so strong that resisting it is excruciating . In her eyes , I can see that she feels it too … I have to say something , anything to diffuse the tension . ” Should we eat this pizza ? ” I ask , and the corners of Serena’s lips slowly turn up into a little smirk . ” Yeah , ” she chuckles , twisting at the waist to grab the plates off of the counter . She hands one to me as I flip open the pizza box , depositing two slices on each of our plates before leading her over to the table . I take my usual seat at the head of the table and Serena slides into the one beside me , eagerly lifting a slice of pizza from her plate and sinking her teeth into it . ” Mmm , ” she hums as it hits her tongue , stringy cheese stretching between the slice and her lips . She bites down , her eyes sliding closed as she pulls back the slice and chews , still moaning in satisfaction . I can’t even take a bite of my own pizza I’m too distracted watching her enjoy hers as my dick grows painfully hard behind the zipper of my pants . I’ve been o n the edge just being around her all night , and the sounds she’s making right now ? Totally tipping me over it . Serena’s eyes pop open and she looks at m e with a sated smile on her lips . ” This is amazing , ” she groans before taking another bite . ” Mmm … ” ” You’ve gotta stop making those sounds , Red , ” I rasp , and my voice sounds pained . She turns to look at me , her eyes wide in question . ” What do you mean ? ” she asks innocently , but there’s a flash of something darker lurking just beneath her sweet expression . Something sexy and playing with . dangerous . Something I wouldn’t mind ” You know , ” I growl , narrowing my eyes . I take a bite of my pizza , not taking my eyes off of hers , and I swear I feel the temperature rising between us . It’s not just me , right ? She has to feel it too . There’s no way I’m alone in this . ” Sorry , ” , ” Serena whispers , but then she takes another bite , making a little humming sound that’s oddly reminiscent of a moan . As she chews , a sly smirk creeps across her lips . Oh yeah . She knows exactly what she’s doing . Driving me crazy as I try my damndest to exercise control- and from the looks of it , she’s enjoying watching me squirm . And just like that , everything I think I know about Serena flies out the window and I’m back to square one .   Previous Chapter