Chasing the Alpha ran longer than the length I’d initially scheduled with my editor, so we had to reschedule for the 5th of March. She’s going to try to get the manuscript back to me as soon as possible, and I’m hoping to have it up by next week.
The beginning of Chasing the Alpha takes place shortly before the ending of Enslaved, when Sten goes to Siluit. Here’s an unedited excerpt from chapter five. I think it’s a fun place to start. First, the blurb, for those who missed it and have no idea what CtA will be about.
After over a year of pursuit, Indigo has finally found the male whose scent calls to her on a primitive level. Strong, intelligent, and unbearably beautiful, she knows that Sten is destined to be her mate.
Brother and advisor to the most formidable alpha in the arctic, Sten is comfortable in his position as a beta male. He has no idea what to make of Indigo, a shifter female nearly half his age, who seems convinced that he’s to be her mate and the sire of her pups. But as chaos and upheaval ripple through the tundra, Sten finds himself with a powerful need to keep the eccentric female by his side, even if it means defying both of their brothers.
Indigo stayed with Ginnifer until the human nodded off. As much as she enjoyed her sister’s company, she was glad when she was finally able to slip away.
After narrowly avoiding her brother in the hallway, she set to tracking Sten’s scent. It seemed to be stuck in her nose, making it difficult for her to smell anything but him wherever she went. Tracing his steps back to an empty map room, she paused outside the door and sniffed the air.
She caught Kuva’s scent a moment before he appeared around the corner. The stocky male had long grey hair, a byproduct of his wolf coloring that had nothing to do with his age, which was only three years above Zane’s. He carried a small tray of meat, and the smell made her stomach rumble.
“Is that muskox?” she asked.
Her nose told her it was, but it had been over a week since the last time she’d had anything besides fish. There were no muskoxen on the island, and the hunting grounds beyond that were too dangerous. The few times they’d ventured out for muskoxen, only the hunters and Ginnifer had been given fresh meat, and the rest had gone to the storeroom, where it wasn’t to be touched unless there was an emergency.
“It’s for our guest,” Kuva explained. “If you’re hungry, you can—”
“Sten? Where is he?”
Kuva was accustomed to being interrupted. He spoke slowly, as he had to mentally translate the words from his native tongue. “He is in the room next to Kya’s.”
Indigo’s appetite abruptly vanished. “Why? There are plenty of other rooms.”
“There was already a bed,” he reasoned. When Indigo continued to frown at him, he sighed and went on to say, “It was Breeze’s room. Now, it is not. You must accept this.”
Another time, Indigo might have been angry. Having lost both of her parents, she was intimately acquainted with death, but the fact that Breeze had bled out right beneath Indigo’s fingers made the admonition all the more aggravating.
“I’ll take that,” she said, holding her hands out for the tray.
Kuva continued walking. “You should go to bed.” His nose wrinkled. “But first, take a bath.”
Indigo could have easily guilted him into getting her way, but she thought better of it. Instead, she gave him the sweetest smile she could muster, and said, “Kuva, did my brother tell you how I’m not allowed to leave the den until further notice?”
Kuva gave a cautious nod. “We are to make sure you do not go outside without Zane’s permission.”
“Well, there are two ways this can go.” She motioned towards the tray. “Either I can be a good girl, stay in my room, keep busy with my silly little projects, and stay out of your hair, or…”
With a low grumble, Kuva stopped and thrust the tray at her. Beaming, Indigo took it, but the beta male did not immediately release his hold on it.
“You are not to leave the den. It is not safe out there,” he said.
“I know,” she replied, tugging at the tray. He still didn’t budge.
“He is not safe either, this Amarok wolf. I do not trust him.”
He released his hold on the tray, giving her a worried look. Now she was the one who felt guilty. She knew that he was only looking out for her, as he always had, since she’d been a pup. She patted the side of his arm, giving him a sincere smile.
“Don’t worry about me. I know what I’m doing.”
Sort of, she thought, as she turned to walk away.
Breeze’s room was down the hall past Indigo’s, but well before the lower chambers where Zane and the betas resided. Breeze had been a beta female, but she’d preferred to sleep closer to where the pups were.
Indigo stood outside of the door, which was obscured by stitched hides. She usually went out of her way to avoid passing the room, let alone going inside. She heard nothing stir within the room, but she knew he was in there.
Why this room? Can’t anything go the way I’d hope tonight?
When she’d imagined finding Sten, this had been the last place she’d expected him to be. She considered going back to her room and leaving the food there, and then using the meal as an excuse to draw him out of Breeze’s room. But if she brought him to her room, he might think that she was trying to seduce him.
Would that be such a bad thing?
That stubborn arousal came back as she imagined getting him back onto her bed, this time without her brother to interrupt them. She wondered what his lips would feel like against hers, and if he would bite her neck, marking her as his own.
But what if he doesn’t want to stop there?
Indigo didn’t think she would have the willpower to deny him, even though mating in her room would be highly inadvisable. Anyone would be able to hear or smell them, and the thought of Zane finding her doing that… Her cheeks flushed.
No, they couldn’t mate in the den. But maybe, if he wanted to claim her, they could go outside.
There you go, already reneging on your deal to Kuva.
And was that really where she wanted to spend her first time with her mate, fumbling around out in the cold and the snow? No, she wanted him somewhere warm and cozy, with furs against her bare back, and his strong body above her, infusing her with his heat as he kissed her, stroked her, and moved inside of her.
“Are you coming in?”
Sten’s cool voice made Indigo jump, and she nearly dropped a portion of the meat. She took a breath to steady herself, and then pulled up the door coverings to step inside.
She managed two steps in before she froze, her wide eyes fixed on Sten. He was lying on his side, his long body making the bed appear as though it had been made for a pup. A carefully placed pelt covered his groin, but nothing else, leaving his torso on full display. Indigo knew that she’d seen him naked once before, but her attention had been entirely drawn to his face. Her body clenched as she took in the rows of hard muscles, gloriously marred by what must have been a hundred scars, like scratched marble.
The deep clearing of a throat brought her attention upwards, where Sten had his head propped up on his hand, and was watching her with a look somewhere between amusement and annoyance.
With the slight maneuvering of his thigh, Sten managed to obscure his erection. Mostly. He wanted to scowl at Indigo, both for hovering around his door and for coming in smelling like she was ready to climb into his bed, but as she gaped at his body, he couldn’t help feeling a little pleased.
For the first time since meeting the female, his wolf offered its input, sending Sten vivid images of grabbing her by the hair, bending her over the bed, and mounting her from behind. He fought the urge to roll his eyes.
Settle down, Sten thought, giving the animal a mental kick.
When it was on its best behavior, Sten’s wolf could make Erik’s seem rational and civilized. If his wolf had its way, Sten would spend his days hunting, fucking every female he encountered, and tearing the throats out of every male who looked at him the wrong way. Sten’s control over the beast never slipped, though it did sometimes weaken when he grew truly angry. Thankfully, it rarely reared its head for arousal, except to flood his mind with perverse suggestions that were more entertaining than bothersome.
He cleared his throat, causing her to tear her eyes from his chest. The color in her cheeks deepened, but when she spoke, her voice was steady.
“You said you weren’t a fighter.”
Sten gave a slight shrug. “I don’t seek fights, but with Erik for a brother, they tend to find me.”
That was partially true. A few of the scars had come from battles he’d been in with Erik. Most had come from Erik himself.
He nodded at the tray of meat. “Is that for me?”
Head bobbing, she came over and cleared the table beside his bed, gathering up the stone figurines before setting the tray down. Sten watched as she took the figurines to the shelves, carefully placing them with the groups of corresponding animals. She took her time, and he would have thought she was stalling to stay in the room, if not for the pained expression on her face.
Kuva, the beta male who had brought Sten to his room, had said in not so many words that the room had belonged to a pack mate that had been killed recently. The female’s scent still clung to the room, and he suspected that was the reason Indigo looked so troubled.
With some effort, he ignored the tray of meat. “How is your arm?”
Her head perked in his direction when he addressed her. Whatever dark spell the room had cast on her instantly vanished, and she padded over to the bed, sitting down on the edge and lifting up the pelt to display her arm. And again, the side of her firm breast. It was hard not to wet his lips.
Sten ran his finger along the stitches. The skin around them was still red. “Do you always heal this slowly?”
With her shifter healing, the wound should have been well on its way to being sealed after an hour of being stitched.
Indigo shook her head, though she never took her eyes off him to look at the wound.
“When did you last eat?”
She looked up thoughtfully. “Yesterday?”
It wasn’t an unreasonable amount of time. Most shifters he knew ate only once a day, and could abstain from eating for several days without being too badly affected. But lack of nutrition had a major impact on the recovery process, and could render their healing as weak as a human’s.
“Have some,” he said, gesturing towards the tray of meat. He helped himself to a slice, but Indigo shook her head.
“I don’t like to eat with my fingers,” she said, primly folding her hands in her lap.
“You’re a very strange female,” he murmured as he sniffed the meat, and then lowered it into his mouth. It was tender, and slightly bloody. His wolf approved.
He thought she might take offense to his comment, but Indigo cocked her head, her lips quirking. “Strange, or intriguing?”
Sten couldn’t stop the snort of laughter. She seemed to take his amusement as a signal to get comfortable, because she drew her legs up onto the bed, pulling them to her chest and resting her chin on her knees. He found her position endearing, if not a touch childish.
“My mother had pale skin like you,” she said. “She was from Alaska, a town called Anchorage. Where are you from?”
Town? The female really was endearing. Inordinately so.
“I was born in Greenland,” he told her.
Her mouth popped open. “Kuva’s from there too, but you don’t look anything like him. Do you speak Kalaallisut?”
“Poorly,” he said. “Only enough to communicate with the native speakers in my father’s pack.”
“Which language did you speak, then? I can tell you have an accent. I like it, by the way.”
Sten wanted to snort again, but there was no telling what she’d do if he favored her with more laughter. His wolf offered a few ideas, and the salacious images heated his blood.
“I’m glad you approve,” he said, giving her a sardonic smile. “I mostly spoke my mother’s language, Danish, though I was also fluent in my father’s Sami dialect.”
“What’s Sami? I’ve never heard of that language. Where was your father from?”
“Do you question all of your guests so thoroughly?”
Her violet eyes seemed to sparkle. “Only the interesting ones.”
“Norway,” Sten said, sighing the word. “My father was from Norway.”
“How did he get to Greenland? By boat?”
“I imagine so. It was over sixty years ago.”
Sten’s father had been around the world, though he’d seen very little of it. He’d been born during a time when shifters were curiosities in many places, caged for crowds like circus animals and forced to shift at the crack of a whip. He had bided his time for years, waiting for his handlers to slip up, and the massacre that had ensued had made humans the world over think twice before trying to imprison a shifter.
“Was he a pup?”
“A juvenile,” Sten said.
“So, that would make him about eighty now?”
“Oh… I’m sorry.”
He almost let slip that it had been he and Erik that had killed him, but that would lead to far more probing questions.
“It was a long time ago,” he said evenly.
“Before you came to Nunavut?”
“And how long ago was that?”
Sten could see the question she was steadily honing in on, and his lips twitched. “I’m unsure of my exact age, but I do know that I’m old enough to have sired you, Indigo.”
She feigned surprise rather well, but her tongue was not so smooth. “That, it’s, I wasn’t asking that.”
Aside from her perpetual arousal, Sten didn’t find Indigo’s company to be objectionable. Now that she was mostly coherent, she was actually quite humorous. That was the problem, though. He didn’t want to like any of the Siluit wolves.
“I know you’re attracted to me,” he said bluntly. “And if you were a decade older and not Zane’s sister, I would have no reservations about having you tonight. But circumstances such as they are, it’s best you go find a male your own age to share a bed with.”
For a moment, she looked stunned, as though he’d given her a verbal slap in the face. It wasn’t nearly as harsh as he could have been, so he didn’t feel bad.
Leaping up from the bed, Indigo’s shock gave way to indignation, and she glowered down at him. “I didn’t come in here to have sex with you.”
She sounded rather convincing.
Sten’s voice was a purr. “You came into my room smelling of arousal, and then you crawled into my bed. What would you have me infer?”
She blushed furiously, but remained indignant. “I was bringing you food, and there are no chairs, where else was I supposed to sit? And besides, if I wanted to have sex with you, I wouldn’t have bothered making polite conversation.”
That was perhaps the funniest thing she’d said yet. Arching a brow, he asked, “Oh? What would you have done?”
He expected her to flounder under the question, but something flickered in her gaze, a feral, hungry look that seemed entirely out of place on such a young, innocent face. He felt another pulse of desire shoot through him, even stronger than the one from earlier in the night. He didn’t understand why. In no way was she the type of female that usually appealed to him. Not that many did, these days.
Sten gave up on trying to predict her, and waited for whatever she was going to do next. He felt the faintest twinge of disappointment when she turned her back on him.
Holding her head high, she said, “I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of knowing.”
“It is my loss,” he said, the words sounding patronizing, even though they were anything but. “Goodnight, Indigo.”