Beauty Sleeps (Fairytale Shifter Book 2)(6)

By: Alexa Riley

“Meh.” She just shrugs and goes back to devouring a caramel-covered apple. I don’t think anything would bother her right now while she has her mouth full of food. Her being human and carrying three shifter babies has her in what seems to be a constant state of hunger.

Her mate, and Gray Ridge’s sheriff, Dominic, tucks a strand of her wild red hair behind her ear before it can blow in the wind and get trapped in the caramel mess she’s making. His finger goes to her chin, running it down her neck and tracing a bite mark on her shoulder. The look in his eyes as he stares at his mate hits me hard. Suddenly, I feel a longing I’ve been trying to put aside for months now. People have gone way longer than I have without finding their mates, but for some reason it’s eating at me. I’m only twenty-one and finally just got out from under my brother’s controlling ways. I shouldn’t want to be locked down to a mate now, but I do.

“Do I smell donuts?” Ruby asks, breaking my moment of yearning.

“I swear you smell better than I do now, sweets.” Dominic grabs Ruby, pulling her closer and tucking her under his arm in a possessive gesture. I thought that after their mating, his possessiveness might cool a little, but it seems to be as strong as ever. Every male who passes us on the street in the middle of the fair makes sure to stay about eight feet back from Ruby.

“Well, don’t just stand there. Donuts!” she says after taking the last bite of her caramel apple. Ruby hands Dom the now-bare stick with a huge smile. Dominic swoops down, taking her lips and licking the caramel from the corners of her mouth before dragging her away.

“Doesn’t that count as public indecency?” Winnie asks from beside me.

“He’s not going to arrest himself.” We both giggle while making our way further down the street. It’s hard to get far in a town like Gray Ridge without running into someone you know. Everyone knows everyone unless you’re a tourist here visiting the National Forest. The town's fair seems to have pulled them off the camp grounds and into our streets to join in the festivities.

“He’s cute.” I nod to a boy who looks to be about Winnie’s age, maybe a few years older. He’s standing a few feet from us as we watch some of the street performers. He’s tall and lean with short brown hair, but everyone is tall compared to Winnie. “Why don’t you go talk to him?” I nudge her, but I know she won’t do it. She’s so freaking shy. I’ve spent the last few months trying to pull her out of her shell, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

Winnie looks over at the same time the boy’s eyes land on us, and he takes it as an invitation to talk to us. He zeroes right in on Winnie, and I have to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling. She goes to take a step back, but I lock my arm with one of hers, halting her in a friendly movement.

“You ladies from around here?” His long drawl lets me know that he’s not, and so does his very human scent.

When Winnie doesn’t answer him even though his eyes are on her, I do it for her. “Born and raised.” I nudge Winnie again. “Winnie has lived here a few years now.”

“Winnie. I like that name. It’s cute.” He gives her a wink, but I feel her stiffen at his words, and my shifter hearing picks up her mumbling, “Cute.” She doesn’t like the word. Reading too much into it, I’m sure. From our conversation earlier, I’m thinking she wants to be called something more along the lines of ‘pretty’ or maybe ‘beautiful.’

“Thanks,” she finally says. This might not be her mate, but maybe she can push some of her shyness back. He’s clearly interested. Maybe a few stolen kisses will do Winnie some good. Boost the confidence she shouldn’t be lacking in.

“Winnie could show you around. Tell you which vendors have the best food and make sure you stay away from Old Man Gibbs.”

“Old Man Gibbs?”

“Yeah, he spits and likes to whack tourists with his cane,” I confirm. I used to think it was gross, but now it seems like a staple of the town.

“He’s not very fast so he’s easy to avoid,” Winnie finally chimes in.