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Alpha’s Strength

By:Rebecca Royce

cks. What the fuck? What the hell is she doing here? He took a deep breath. Why did she smell different? Hybrid wolf, yes that had stayed the same, but why had she coated herself in vanilla? This close, he liked the smell. It made him dizzy, as if he needed to sit down for a while.

Cyrus steadied himself on the back of an empty chair and stared at Lilliana. She was petite with blonde hair that fell to her shoulders and curves in all the right places. He’d always been attracted to her, but she’d smelled too much like Travis, and something—indefinable—had been missing. She’d never really done it for him before. His eyes widened as he realized what he should have cued into immediately. She didn’t smell like Travis anymore.

Something’s wrong.

He walked over to her and threw himself down in the chair across from her. “What’s going on, Lilliana? You know you shouldn’t be here without permission. Very clear rules. I don’t send my people to wander around Philadelphia. Explain yourself and why you smell different.”

Lilliana sat back in her chair. She stared at him for a few seconds, her brown eyes punching his gut as though she had struck him. He’d barely blinked when she looked down at the table.

“I’m sorry. I think you’ve made a mistake. My name isn’t Lilliana.” Her voice was softer than usual. She bit down on her lower lip. “Unless this is some kind of joke, sir.”

Shock rendered him speechless. Holy shit. The girl in front of him was absolutely not Lilliana. She sounded different, she smelled different, and Lilliana would never in a million years be as submissive as the half-breed she-wolf sitting in front of him.

Lilliana knew nothing about her blood family—humans had adopted her. Since she’d been a latent shifter—unable to turn into a wolf—she hadn’t even known she was a werewolf until Lake had healed her. Was it possible this woman in front of him was Lilliana’s twin sister? They had nearly the same face.

The only slight difference, at least that he could see, was the woman in front of him had freckles across her nose, whereas Lilliana had none. On this unnamed she-wolf, the freckles were adorable.

Mate.

The thought slammed into him. Was such a thing possible? He’d never believed in a true mating. Most of the folklore about their origins was a bunch of crap. People mated for political maneuvers and strength. Sure, every young werewolf believed they’d grow up to find the other half of their soul, but, like him, most eventually grew out of believing in fairytales.

Life was all about choice, except, in this case, his wolf side seemed to have other ideas.

Meantime, the she-wolf across from him wouldn’t look at him. He’d liked that in the boardroom. Now, not so much.

What was the last thing she’d said to him before his mind had tilted sideways? Oh, right. She’d asked if this was some kind of joke.

“No.” He cleared his throat since his voice had actually cracked. He rubbed his forehead. Could that be any more humiliating? Alphas didn’t lose it, not even when they met their mates. Or at least he didn’t think they did. Other than Travis, he’d never known any wolf to actually find a true mating.

“Then I think you’ve made a mistake.” She looked around the floor.

“Could you look at me? Please?” Wow, he really wanted her warm brown eyes to meet his.

She raised her eyes to his. He had one moment to drown in the caramel-colored windows of her soul before she turned red and looked down again.

Okay. He knew how to instill confidence in submissive wolves. No one in his pack cowered from him. He might growl a lot, but he never bit. Unless they did something very, very bad.

“Could you tell me your name?” He tried to keep his voice calm. All he wanted to do was to haul her over his shoulder and drag her back to his penthouse where he would keep her forever. If she was a full-bred wolf or had been raised in a pack, she wouldn’t object. She might even bite him or run to make him chase her. But she was a half-breed and, if she was like Lilliana, actually latent. She might think she was human. Hauling wouldn’t work with her.

He needed to figure out how to behave.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She took a sip of her coffee. “You’re some psycho who sat down here and said a lot of weird stuff. I don’t tell my name to strangers, let alone deranged ones.”

He laughed, a long, hard sound that surprised him with its intensity. All right, so she had claws. His nameless she-wolf wouldn’t look at him, but she’d tear at him. The new discovery made him obscenely happy.

Now she raised her eyes. For a full thirty seconds, she stared straight at him. “That was funny?”

“No, but I found it amusing just the same.” He dug into his pocket and pulled out his card. With a flick of his fingers, he slid it across the table to her. “I’m sorry I seem deranged. This is a case of mistaken identity. I have a friend who looks an awful lot like you. I thought you were she, but you are fantastically not. That’s my card. I’m not insane. Google me.”

She picked up his information and studied it for a second. “Are you somebody I should know? I don’t watch the news or read the papers. I’m new to the area.”

“I don’t know that I’m somebody you should know. But you are going to know me. Count on that.”

“Look, I think you should go. It’s not right, you sitting here.”

Now that was a statement. “Why isn’t it right?”

“Because it’s not.”

He tried to keep his tone soft. “Look at me when you say that, and maybe I’ll believe you.”

She gripped the table in front of her. Her knuckles turned white, and she raised her eyes again. But he couldn’t meet her gaze. Not this time. Not now that he’d noticed her left hand. It had been in her lap the whole time.

The she-wolf who was his mate—even if he didn’t yet know her name—wore a diamond on the ring finger of her left hand. He couldn’t seem to pull his attention from the spot. It was a tiny piece of jewelry. Square cut at

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