The Rogue Alpha's Redemption
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After a tragic car accident that took her past, Raechel Bourne has no choice but to forge her own future. She wants a home. A family. A real name. Nothing will stop her, not even her slowly unravelling mind. But her carefully constructed world turns upside down the night she sees the man from her dreams. The man she helplessly craves. Rhys Bourne believes the Fates have abandoned him, but even he can't deny something leads him into the small town. His world stops when he sees her. Rae. The woman who is supposed to be dead. The woman everyone believes he murdered. But she's walking around without a care in the world, living among humans and using his name. She needs to pay for what she’s done, even if his wolf keeps growling that stupid word. "Mine." The woman that was once his downfall could just as easily tear his life apart again. Or she could be his redemption.
I almost shit my pants when the naked man appeared on the dimly lit path. Out of thin air like a ghost and naked as the day he was born.
I stumbled and almost tripped over my trainers when I dug my heels into the pavement to stop myself before I crashed into him. If he was even real. There had been nothing in front of me just a second ago; I was sure of it. I was jogging alone in the park, so I had to be alert.
I should turn back and run. Only people with bad intentions got naked in the park at night. But my feet refused to do as I asked because my gaze lowered and short-circuited everything. The ass was a work of art. Seriously, how the hell did anyone get an ass that looked that good? He didn’t even look like he had to kill himself jogging and working out. I’d been trying for years, but mine was always the chubby, gigantic mess it was.
If I had a quarter— hell, if I had several quarters, I knew where I’d aim them. They would bounce right off.
My mouth watered when I pulled my gaze away from his ass to his back. It was broad, all tattoos and muscle, and I wanted to lick it all over. He had turned me into a pervert in seconds, but I didn’t give a shit.
I took a step forward instead of back, and maybe I made a sound because the man turned around.
My mouth dried up.
He had muscles for days and tattoos all over his chest and arms, too. His stomach was so defined I bet he’d have no trouble picking me up and slamming me against a wall. None at all.
I took another step. He was the most breathtaking man I had ever seen, and I saw many handsome men in Eastown. His long, dark hair blew in the wind as if he was on a movie set. His eyes were a stunning silver grey that I had never seen on anyone before. And he had a chiselled jawline, complete with a short beard. Even his nose was perfect. Everything that I would put in a basket if I could shop for a man.
My eyes went lower and immediately went back up to his face. That was— That was a gift. Fuck, was he gifted.
My cheeks heated up but so did other parts of my body. That should have made me run, but I took another step forward.
I’d lost my damn mind.
My therapist would have a field day if I told her about this, but I don’t think I could explain it even if I tried. My heart was racing, and it wasn’t because of the jogging I’d half-arsed. It wasn’t even that I was scared; because I wasn’t. My heart beat as if it had been dead until that point. It was some weird instant chemistry, fairy tale shit, and that didn’t often happen to big girls like me in this town.
His head cocked to the side, and his eyes twinkled in the moonlight. Twinkled, I swear. I got lost in those eyes and the craziest thing happened. I felt like I knew him. He felt so familiar that, for some reason, it was okay to want him like that. My body had never tingled like that; I went from regular college student to horny slut in seconds. I wanted things in my mouth that had no business being there. I wanted him to pin me down in the middle of a public path in the park and do whatever he wanted to my body.
That felt right.
Did he know me? Was he a part of my past? Someone who could give me answers?
I took another step closer to get a better look at him. His whole vibe screamed danger, but something in my mind said he wasn’t dangerous to me. If I had a mother, she would have warned me about men like him. When he started to walk toward me, my heartbeat went crazy. The muscles in his thighs contracted with each step, and they had me imagining what he could do with them. I squeezed mine together.
Whatever was happening was too much and not enough at the same time.
He stopped before he reached me and said something, but the words drifted off with the wind.
“What?” I asked.
He spoke again, but I couldn’t catch it. The wind blew my hair into my face, and I frowned when I looked up at the rustling leaves. When had it become so windy?
“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?”
The man smiled— a slow smile that hit me like lightning. I had never understood girls who fell for a guy instantly, but I became a believer. He was mesmerising. My body tensed in anticipation and a lusty haze filled my head. I felt lightheaded, and my body started to burn. I needed him to touch me.
He opened his mouth and spoke again; I heard him like we were underwater. How was that possible when I could hear the birds chirping in the trees? When I could hear the leaves rustling in the wind?
“I think something’s wrong. I can’t hear you.”
And for some reason, I was desperate to hear him. I wanted his voice to wash over me.
The man came closer, only inches from my overheating body. This close, I could see the silver flecks in his gorgeous eyes. What was he? Six four? Six five? I had to crane my neck to look into his eyes. My mind vaguely registered that I didn’t need my glasses to see every detail of him— like it knew he was so perfect that it would be a crime if I didn’t appreciate every detail.
I could smell his cologne. It was something citrusy, and every lungful made me feel drunk. I could see his perfect, smooth, tanned skin. There were many little scars and marks on his body that I hadn’t noticed at first, but they added to the dangerous bad-boy vibe. He was someone I was supposed to stay away from. I didn’t do dangerous. I didn’t do anything that forced me to stray from my plans.
But I was still drooling.
He spoke again. And still, I heard nothing.
But his warm breath fanned my cheeks. I felt the heat of his body as he leaned closer, and somehow I heard his heartbeat pounding away like mine was.
My breath hitched when I realised what he was going to do. I never kissed strangers. My best friend was the one who had one-night stands, but I couldn’t afford to. But this god was lowering his head, bringing his full, luscious lips closer.
And I was desperate to taste him.
I was desperate for everything. My heart sounded like one continuous beat as I closed my eyes and waited, and I prayed I wouldn’t have a heart attack before he gave me what I wanted. What I needed. What every cell in my body was craving.
I kept waiting. My tongue darted out to wet my dry lips.
Disappointment crashed into me and forced me to open my eyes. I should have known this was a prank.
But the man was still moving his lips toward me. Slowly. Very slowly. My head reeled back, trying to process what the hell was going on.
It felt like one of those weird dreams where I ran but didn’t move from the spot or where I fell continuously.
“What’s happening?” I whispered.
Was I dreaming, then? Of course, I was. He was too perfect, and I was probably the most sexually frustrated person in the city. My horny mind had conjured him up.
The man didn’t answer. And he didn’t stop moving.
“Move back, please.”
He didn’t. My heart started to beat for a different reason. I wasn’t sure anymore that I was dreaming. Had I gone out and got roofied? Was this a hallucination?
I took a step back from him and then another, yet the distance between us remained the same. I was stuck in the same spot.
Panic set in. I could hear my heart in my ears as I looked at the face that continued to lower to mine and the useless steps I continued to take away from him.
Panic turned to fear. Its icy tendrils shot up my spine. This was the reaction I should have had in the first place. My body instantly cooled down and the lusty haze cleared from my head. Even if this was a dream, I didn’t like where it was going. He was bigger than anyone I’d ever met. The thought of him pinning me down now made me feel very vulnerable.
The man stopped suddenly and opened his eyes. The beautiful smile disappeared from his lips and they curled into an angry snarl. His stunning eyes became ice-cold. My fear turned to terror when I sensed the anger coming from him. I didn’t even know him; why was he so angry? Why did I feel like he could snuff my life out at any second?
Everything around us stopped as if someone had pressed pause. The birds stopped chirping. The leaves stopped rustling. My whole body started trembling as I looked at the hatred on the man’s face.
“Please,” I whispered.
But I don’t know what I was asking for. I had no idea what was happening and why this stranger would want to hurt me.
“It’s time, Rae.”
The voice I had been waiting to hear washed through my body exactly as I had imagined it would. The heat returned and everything messed up. Why was I squeezing my thighs together again, trying to ease the throbbing between my legs when I was terrified of him?
His words penetrated my muggy brain but they didn’t make sense.
“I don’t... What do you mean?” I asked.
“It’s time. Wake up.”
I sat up with a jolt, clutching my chest as my heart pounded against it like it was going to burst. My breathing was harsh as I scrambled backwards on my bottom, that voice still echoing around me.
It took me a moment to realise he was not there. A dream. It had been a dream, after all. But he’d looked so real. Smelled so real.
A breeze blew my hair into my face and I tensed. I knew where I was. No birds were chirping but the leaves were rustling in the wind. The streetlights were dim but the full moon illuminated my path, blurry as it was without my glasses.
I squinted and realised I was in the middle of the park in the same spot I had seen that stranger in my dream.
And I was stark naked.
My panic returned as I scrambled to my feet and used one arm to cover my chest and my other hand over my bits. Not that it would make a difference. I had too much chest for that to work. Any creep who happened to be out in the middle of the night would see everything.
Adrenaline pumped through my veins as I looked around and kept my ears open. There was nothing but the sound of the howling wind. I had been out there at night before, and the park was always full of nocturnal animals, but it was quiet now. Too quiet. The hair at the back of my neck stood. There was something in the air that didn’t feel right. Maybe I was still reacting to the dream, but I couldn’t take any chances. I had to get out of there.
I ran towards the wooded area closest to the exit that led to my apartment and slipped through the trees, feeling my way around the trunks down the narrow trail. Relief washed through me when I saw the branches of the enormous tree I used as a marker swaying in the moonlight. I had hidden my bag in a hole under some rocks and twigs, and when I pulled it out, it felt a little empty.
This nightmare had happened too often that I was running out of clothes. Why did I always end up naked when I wore pyjamas to bed?
I wasn’t stressed, and my life was on track. Why did this keep happening? If I told my therapist, she would think I was regressing, which would delay all my plans. If I told Vickie, she would think I was even more of a freak. But even if I could, what would I say anyway? That I was popping down sleeping pills like candy and drowning in alcohol so I could pass out at night? That I had so many chains and deadlocks on my door, but I still ended up naked in the park?
I’d had enough of being treated like a freak. It was time to move on to the next stage of my life.
Once I pulled my leggings and a hoodie on, I ran back out of the woods. That feeling returned. The air felt chillier, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching me. I started to run toward the exit and didn’t dare look back. Sharp pebbles cut into my bare feet as they slapped the concrete but I didn’t stop.
That feeling pressed into me from behind as if it were real, getting closer. And then I heard footsteps. I felt something dark and cold that made me shiver. I pushed myself to go faster as my survival instinct kicked in, and I finally burst through the gates and ran into the better-lit main road.
Tyres screeched, and my heart stopped for a few seconds as I froze in the middle of the road while a truck hurled toward me. I forgot to breathe.
Please, not again.
The truck stopped just a hair’s breadth away from me, and I finally sucked in a shaky breath. Between my blurry vision and the truck’s tinted windows, I couldn’t see who the driver was. My body started to tremble with the shock of almost being run over. Then I looked back at the park entrance, at the thing still watching me, and I shook for a different reason. Fear pushed me to ignore the driver and keep running.
I could hardly breathe when I made it to my apartment. Sweat dripped down me as if someone had thrown a bucket of water at me. I locked the door and put all the chains and bolts back on it before I slid to the floor.
That hadn’t been the first time I’d woken up naked at the park, but it was the first time I felt with every fibre in my body that I could have died.
There had to be a way to stop this.
“Have you got them?”
I cradled the phone on my shoulder while I pulled my jeans on. The large trees in the woods kept me hidden, but I already knew no one else was around. Nobody in Eastown stayed out that late unless they were up to no good, like me.
Unless I counted that crazy woman who’d run out of the park in front of my car.
My heart pounded against my chest when that face flashed through my mind again. It was the face I saw every night in my fantasies— or my nightmares, depending on the day.
But she was dead! I’d mourned her. Our love had burned for a short time, but I’d paid the price. I was still paying six years later; my scars and fucked up head were proof of it. There was no way that woman had been Rae. My mind must have been playing tricks on me again.
My thoughts returned to the conversation as I zipped up the bags I’d laid at the tree's base.
“Yeah. Sorry, I’ve still got my hands full, Tyson,” I answered
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