The Reluctant Alpha (West Coast Wolves #1) - Susi Hawke



Hot. So hot. In my fevered state, the room was blurry and spinning. My clawed fingertips scraped at the sweat-soaked sheet before breaking the fabric of the goose down mattress topper.

I spat out a mouthful of the erupting feathers, falling like snow. Sneezing, my eyes grew more watery. How many times had I told Horace I was allergic to it?

A memory best left forgotten flashed through my mind. Oh, yeah. I only told him once. After the beating I received for not appreciating the lifestyle my alpha provided me, I hadn't dared mention it again.

Naturally, once I had enough clarity to remember the hated allergen I slept over every night, barely separated by a few layers of fabric, my rash started to itch.

Itchy. Groaning, I started to scratch my ass where the worst of the small red bumps covering my body clustered, only to scream in agony when my claws scored deep lines across my ass.

Whimpering now, my eyes swelled as I buried my face in the bedding and tried to ignore the burn. The salty sweat seeping into the fresh cuts was almost painful enough for me to forget how badly I still itched.

I needed to get out of this bed before it killed me. Ha. Like I wasn't about to die anyway. Jared had tried to downplay my fate, but it wasn't necessary. I knew the score.

The moment Horace bit the nape of my neck with his laniary teeth and injected the aconite in his mating bite, my life was linked to his. I wanted to live. Even more, I wanted my pup to live. But Horace was no longer breathing, and I couldn't quite summon any sadness.

My baby bump rubbed against the mattress when I tried to crawl away from the feathers. As bad as I hurt—actually ached with the pain searing from the very marrow of my bones—I would spend every moment I had left fighting to survive.

Jared had promised to try. He said he had a Hail Mary move, one I'd never expect and would not simply save my life but make it better. Whimpering, I was curled in a ball now, my body shaking with an unearthly chill signaling the beginning of my demise. The beta probably had no idea whether or not I'd heard him.

But I had. Every word of hope was burned into my brain. During these dwindling moments of clarity, I summoned them to remind myself to fight. Even now, Jared's soft voice repeated over the pulsing heartbeat pounding in my ears.

"My friend Matthias can save you. He should've been the alpha after his father died anyway. I have his number, and I will do all I can to beg him to step in." I hadn't understood why another alpha would possibly matter until he'd spoken a final thought before leaving me to my misery. "Isaac assured me—another alpha's bite is all it takes to end aconite poisoning."

I would live happily the rest of my life without ever being claimed by another alpha—if remaining alive was possible at all. Since fate had never been so kind to omegas, I'd long ago resigned myself to the necessity.

Maybe this next one, this Matthias, would be kinder. Maybe he wouldn't hit as hard. I didn't mind a few injuries. Broken bones mended after a shift, and a good herbal remedy would fix anything lingering. But not always being in pain would be nice. Not always being on the mend from yet another injury. Especially if he let me keep my pup. I would need my full strength to care for the baby.

Stretching, I managed to grab the iron rungs on the headboard. Gritting my teeth, I tried to pull myself away from the worst of the feathers. I didn't have enough strength to get off the bed, but if I could just heave myself toward the side, maybe I could roll off onto the floor.

A fresh searing pain took my breath away when my shoulder dislocated as I pulled. Either my muscles were too weak, or my body really was made of lead now. That's what it felt like.

No. Not lead. Lava.

Yes. Heavy, molten heat flooding through my body and turning it to stone.

Panting, I cleared another inch as I pushed toward my goal. How I would manage to sit up, I couldn't say yet. If I could keep myself awake long enough to get away from the feathers, I might find a little relief.

Relief from what? The room began to spin, and I forgot