Alpha Province: Puppet Strings(8)

By: Becca Van

After what she’d experienced at the hands of her last boyfriend, she’d decided she was better off alone. No way in hell was she letting another man touch her with violence. Work was the best and only thing for her. She had no intention of socializing with the locals. She’d do her job to the best of her ability, even interact with the customers, but that was it. She’d learned her lesson the hard way. Going out with men wasn’t worth the effort or the pain. Now all she had to do was convince herself that the three Fox brothers weren’t handsome and sexy.

Piece of cake.

* * * *

Bladen and his brothers had headed upstairs to grout all the bathrooms. He frowned as he ran the trowel over the tiles, pushing the grout into the gaps. He hated that Sage had had a panic attack. He’d wanted to ask her why she had a form of PTSD but didn’t want to put her on the spot when everyone else was there to hear her answer. Although, he had a feeling she would overlook the question and change the subject. When she’d glared at him after he’d fed her some of her breakfast, his hard dick had started throbbing as it engorged even more. He’d never felt such hunger in his life. What worried him most was how his tiger was so impatient and pushing at him to seek her out so he could mate with her. If he didn’t have a tight leash on his animal, he was sure the idiot would take over, stalk their woman, and make her theirs without her consent. He was going to have to be alert where his inner beast was concerned. He could just imagine the hysterics if his tiger managed to escape, and then their chance of being with her would be nil.

He cocked his head and listened when voices drifted up from the story below. When he heard Elsa he relaxed somewhat, but his curiosity was piqued. Pushing to his feet, he hurried out and down the hallway, making sure to keep his body hidden from view. He wasn’t at all surprised when Cason and Daxon appeared on the opposite side of the landing, keeping their bodies behind the wall.

“Breakfast was fantastic, Sage. Everyone loves your cooking,” Elsa said.

“Thank you.” Bladen imagined his mate shrugging away the compliment. Her next words confirmed his supposition. “It wasn’t a la carte.”

“But that’s a good thing,” Elsa said. “The men in this town are down to earth and aren’t connoisseurs. They like what they like and aren’t about to change for anyone. Most folks who visit Ambrose like the hearty, tasty simple faire, too.”

“That’s good to know. Why don’t you want me cooking dinner for any of the guests?” Sage asked.

“It’s not that I don’t want you to, but the diner and pub were here first, and I didn’t want to take away any of their profits.”

“I understand that,” Sage said. “But what are you going to do if there are people staying here and it snows? What if we’re snowed in?”

“Shit!” Elsa sighed. “I hadn’t even thought about that. I don’t think anyone would mind if you needed to cook dinner for that very reason. However, I will need to talk to the residents so they know the score.”

“Why?” Sage asked. “This is yours and your men’s business, isn’t it? Why do you have to ask everyone else?”

“It’s complicated,” Elsa replied. “How is your room? Do you like it? Do you need anything?”

“I love it. I’m glad I don’t have to share a bathroom with anyone, and the location is perfect. Did you have an architect draw up the house plans?”

“No. My mates suggested that a chef would want to be close to the kitchen. I don’t know if you realize, but when we were renovating the original house, a crazy pyromaniac fireman burnt it to the ground.”

“Oh god.” Sage gasped. “I’m so sorry. Was anyone hurt? Did they catch the bastard?”

“I wasn’t hurt badly,” Elsa said,” but for a while there I thought I was going to die. That asshole knocked me out, spread accelerant everywhere, and lit the fire. I was lucky enough to come to before the smoke got too bad. Liam got onto the roof and helped me out a bedroom window before I could be burned.”

“That’s terrible. I mean I’m glad you’re safe and here today, but what that guy did…”