Book of the week

The Alpha’s Mate

by

Beth Laycock

🖤MM shifter romance

🖤Enemies to lovers

🖤Sexy men that shift into adorable dogs

🖤Hurt / comfort

🖤Kindle Unlimited

Buy or read with Kindle Unlimited – http://mybook.to/TheAlphasMate

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6A649FAF-652E-4B94-8F3B-5AFB72CA0BB2Alpha of the Penhul pack with a human mate? Never going to happen.

Addison knows grief can do strange things to people, but when he’s wandering Pendle Hill and witnesses a dog leap out of thin air, he thinks he must be going crazy. When the border collie morphs into a man—a very naked man—he has to be dreaming. Only when he wakes to find himself cold and alone, locked inside a bare stone room does he wonder if it was the start of a nightmare.

As the youngest alpha the Penhul pack has ever had, Drake knows he has a lot to prove. Increasing their dwindling numbers is hard enough but convincing his pack they can do so by working alongside humans is like trying to teach an old dog new tricks. He was taught, as all familiars are, that humans can’t be trusted, especially not with their secret. It’s no surprise, then, that he has no idea what to do when a member of his own pack brings a human prisoner to their den. But he’s definitely not prepared for the reaction the human elicits from him.

Can Drake put aside their differences, and Addison come to accept their similarities, to save the Penhul pack from danger? A threat that may end up costing Drake not only his life but that of his fated mate? 

This M/M romance from Beth Laycock features enemies to lovers, forced proximity, fated mates, sexy men that shift into adorable dogs, and of course a happy ending. Book 1 of the Penhul pack series.

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Excerpt

“He’d be so pleased with the turnout today, Addison. You’ve done him proud.”

I glanced around the living room strewn with glasses abandoned haphazardly on any free surface as people traipsed past me with their shoes tracking dirt across the carpet and trailing crumbs behind them. He’d be grumbling like usual, not proud, but I didn’t argue the point with what had to be the hundredth member of Dad’s bowling team I’d spoken to today. She gave me a shaky pat on the shoulder with her gnarled fingers before she turned to head for the front door. I tried not to let out a sigh of relief as I followed her. 

Finally, I closed the door behind the last person to leave and … silence, the ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece and the hum of the boiler the only sounds the house made. All afternoon I’d just wanted to be left alone. Now that I was, I wasn’t sure which was worse: the never-ending, well-meaning but useless “I’m so sorry for your loss” comments, or the all-consuming silence.

I wandered back into the kitchen. Half-eaten sandwiches and mini quiches littered the table. Dad hated quiche. They should be wrapped and put in the fridge, but I couldn’t bring myself to give enough of a fuck to do anything with them.

Memories of the three of us gathered around the table for Sunday lunches hit me hard. Like the time Dad had swung the fridge door open a little too enthusiastically, not knowing I was beside him, and smacked me in the gut with it. And just like then, the memories left me struggling to draw a breath.

His walking shoes still sat by the back door. The peppery smell of his cologne still hung in the air. I could almost convince myself he’d popped out to buy the paper or a pint of milk. Almost.

I couldn’t stay there any longer. Grabbing my keys from the bowl, I cast one final look at the remnants on the table, then headed for the front door. As I pulled it closed behind me, I had no idea where I was going. I just needed to walk. Needed to escape the confines of the house where memories were threatening to drag me under. Needed some fresh air and to be out in the English countryside that normally brought me such peace.

But without my walking partner the trek felt strange. My feet led me to Dad’s favourite spot to walk with me since the first time I was allowed to accompany him as a kid. My lips twitched at the memory, the pride I’d felt over my new walking boots that I’d broken in around the house on Dad’s advice, and how grown up I’d felt climbing Pendle Hill as Dad regaled me with tales of the Pendle Witch trials that the area was famous for.

But halfway up the hill I realised coming here had been a mistake. Instead of easing the ache in my chest, it made it ten times worse. Only highlighted just how alone I was. For the first time since my dad had died—seven long, grief-laden days prior—my vision blurred.

I tilted my head back and blinked rapidly. Twilight darkened the sky to a bruised purple colour, wrapping me in a shroud of darkness and despair. The only thing visible was the distinctive curve of Pendle Hill above me and the few stars peeking out from behind the clouds. A soft breeze brought a chill to the air and an involuntary shiver down my spine. The still of the evening was broken as a sob tore from my throat and the first tear spilt.

I had no family left, an orphan again at twenty-eight. Well, apart from a spiteful old aunt that I’d happily never set eyes on again, and the feeling was more than mutual on her side. Except my dad hadn’t abandoned me like my biological parents had.

I dropped to my knees, the fall cushioned by the heather, and let the tears fall. My shoulders shook and I clasped my hands together, nails digging into the skin as I gave in to the overwhelming emotions and cried.

Until there were no more tears left.

Until a scream pierced my grief.

My head snapped up, searching for the source of the sound. There. Down to my left. The outline of two people.

“Help. Erasmus, help me.”

The scream sounded again, and my brain finally caught up with what was before my eyes. The shriek came from a woman struggling against the hold of a man. A man who was tearing at her jacket with one hand while the other slipped beneath her skirt.

Rising from my knees, I glanced around but there wasn’t a soul in sight. I had to help. But the guy was massive, and self-doubt told me I wouldn’t be much use. But I had to try.

I lifted my foot, then froze. Blinked. Shook my head as though that would change what was in front of my eyes. Because I had to be imagining the sight. A purple haze hung on the air, pulsating and shimmering like a living thing. The fog parted and from within its folds leapt out the largest dog—wolf?—I’d ever seen. Giant paws tipped with razor-sharp claws emerged, followed by long muscled legs and the largest jaw imaginable. One that hung open to display shiny white canines that looked like they could pierce you with the ease of a knife through softened butter. Its huge paws landed on the man’s back and sent them both sprawling to the ground.

I gasped, then covered my mouth with my palm and held my breath. The last thing I wanted to do was attract attention to myself.

The dog lifted its head and it reminded me of a giant border collie. Then it wrapped its jaw around the man’s arm and dragged him off across the ground. The man twisted and turned, kicking against the ground, but the dog never eased its hold on him, and they disappeared behind the trees.

The sound of the breeze was replaced by the whooshing of blood through my ears. I watched in disbelief still as the woman clambered to her feet. My breath caught as the massive border collie padded over to her and stopped right beside her. She reached down and ran a hand over its head. The dog nuzzled against her thigh in response.

I let out the breath I’d been holding and took a step back. There was no reason for me to hang around any longer. Before I turned away though, the air around the dog shifted and took on substance with a purple hue. One second the dog stood beside the woman and the next—gone. Instead replaced by a tall, muscled man. A very naked, very muscled man. If I could believe what was before my eyes, I’d have found him attractive. But it couldn’t be real. Naked men didn’t appear out of nowhere. Maybe in my fantasies. Definitely not in real life.

I took another step back. Obviously, grief was doing funny things to my brain. As my foot hit the ground, the snap of a twig broke the quiet. The man and woman whipped their heads round in my direction. For a moment we stared at each other across the heather. I wasn’t sure what I had seen was real or not, but I wasn’t about to stick around to find out. I pivoted on my heel and ran.

The thump of paws behind me grew louder and I glanced over my shoulder to see the giant border collie right behind me. It leapt. Two paws landed on my back. I cried out as the claws sank into my skin through the material of my jacket and jumper. Throwing my hands out in front of me to break the fall, my face still landed in the heather with the weight of the dog on top of me.

“I’m so sorry, Erasmus. I panicked and called out for you. I should have dealt with it myself, then he’d never have seen anything.”

Those words from the woman were the last thing I heard before darkness took me under.

***

I woke with a stiff neck and chilled to my core with my back pressed to a damp stone wall. The earthy smell of soil filled my nostrils. I stretched and, in the faint light, wondered where the hell I was because nothing looked familiar.

The floor was covered with rough stone slabs, and high up on one wall, a single small window. The thick wooden door to the room had a small opening to whatever was on the other side but had several bars criss-crossed over it.

Pushing to my feet, I grabbed hold of the wall as my head swam and my stomach rolled. With a deep breath, I stepped over to the door and turned the handle. It spun uselessly in my hand and the door rattled when I pulled on it but refused to budge an inch.

I tugged again as the awful thought that I was trapped in this room had my heart trying to escape my chest. I twisted the handle both ways, but it wouldn’t open.

Lifting onto my tiptoes, I peered through the bars across the opening but there was nothing except a dimly lit corridor. Shadows danced along the length of it from the flames of the lit torches in the sconces embedded in the wall.

My knees buckled and I slumped, grasping the bars to hold myself up even as they held me prisoner. I dropped my forehead against the cool metal hoping it would help me think. How the hell did I end up here?

But then flashes of earlier came back to me. The woman on Pendle Hill. The black border collie. The naked man with black curly hair. The smell of heather as my face was pressed into it when the huge dog brought me down.

Was that who had brought me here? Who had locked me up like some common criminal? Except I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Lifting my head, I peered down the corridor again, but I couldn’t hear anyone. “Hello? Is anyone out there?” I yanked on the bars, the rattle of the door the only response to my question. “Hello?”

Nothing except the echo of my own voice. I paced back across the room, my cell suddenly seeming a lot smaller than before, as if the walls were closing in on me. Were they just going to leave me here alone to die? Nobody would know to look for me because I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. I had no plans for the weekend with anyone. My boss had told me to take as much time off work as I needed, so even he wasn’t expecting me back at work on Monday.

Would I still be here by Monday? Still alive? How long had I been locked up already? I shuddered and pressed my back against the wall.

Four solid stone walls, a barred window, and a locked door. There was no way to get out unless someone let me out. With that thought, I slid down the wall until my arse hit the floor. I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them as despair tugged at me.

I had no idea where I was. Completely alone, they had me trapped. 

Buy or read with Kindle Unlimited – http://mybook.to/TheAlphasMate