Ashley is riding high after finally becoming a member of the pack. On that fateful night, the best and worst things happen to her. Not only does she turn into a wolf, but she finds her mate. None other than the pack’s nomad alpha, Phoenix. He doesn’t want her as his mate.
All he's ever needed was his bike and the freedom of the open road—until Ashley. Phoenix knows he's made a mistake by rejecting Ashley. Nothing else matters to him. Each time he visits the pack he hopes to see her, but she's perfected the art of avoiding him—until he decides to stay.
Ashley wants to stay mad at Phoenix to protect herself, but with every passing day she learns more about their aloof alpha. She wants to give herself to him completely, but will she be risking more than her body?
He left once. He rejected her once. He’d been cruel. Is there any chance that he's really changed?
Ben and Leah were already upset with Ashley’s decision to leave. They had voiced their concerns and their lack of support. They didn’t want her to leave, certainly not the pack.
No one would understand why she had to leave. It hurt. There was nothing but pain every single day she was with the pack. She had lived with that pain, hoping it would get better, hoping she’d stop thinking about Phoenix, or that she’d at least find someone to move on. But there was no way she could do that to Daniel, even though he offered himself all the time, which made her sad. He deserved someone better than her, someone who was going to love him for him.
“Is that what this is about? You want to punish your parents and your boss because of me?” Phoenix asked.
She snorted. “Get over yourself.” She grabbed her bag and started walking away, heading toward home.
Ashley didn’t get very far, as she wasn’t just stopped but thrown over Phoenix’s shoulder and carried none too gently away from the town. They entered the forest and when they were far enough away, she slapped his back.
“Put me down. I have no idea what you’re doing or why, but you put me down now!” She growled.
Anger worked its way up until she couldn’t control herself anymore and she bit him, on the ass. He was so infuriating.
“Ow!” He came to a stop near his home, where he lowered her to the ground.
Ashley wasn’t able to catch her balance and she ended up on her ass. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Don’t you see?” he asked.
“See what?” she asked, getting to her feet.
He spun her around, wrapped his arms around her body, and made her look across the forest at his home.
She noticed the leaves had been gathered up and made it look … neat. Ashley had always loved the old alpha’s house, not that she’d ever been invited or visited him while he’d been alive. While her parents were busy, she would wander the woods on her own and explore the outside of his home, which she loved. Even now, the house was beautiful. Set back as some kind of villainous fairy tale’s home, she found it had a certain charm about it.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to stay.”
She shook her head. “I don’t care.”
“Damn it, Ashley, what will it take?”
She shoved his hands away and spun around to face him. “Everything. Don’t you get that? You think because you’re sticking around this time and showing me a small bit of kindness, you expect me to what, lay down, show you my belly, and thank you for even giving me the tiniest shred of attention?”
He went to open his mouth but she held her finger up to stop him.
“Don’t even think of answering that with a smart-ass answer. I get it. You think … ugh, you think this is easy for me. Do you have any idea what it’s been like these past five years?”
She hated how her voiced wavered. She wasn’t going to cry. She refused to allow those tears to fall. It wasn’t fucking fair. He was so strong. He’d left town, multiple times. He’d gotten on his bike and ridden off into the sunset like it was nothing. All the time she had to focus on his cutting words of rejection. She had to live with being the first woman and wolf to have been rejected.
“Do you know you ruined one of the best days of my life? I was riding high from my transition. Not only had I graduated high school, I’d gotten through my transition. I was a wolf, finally. I had my place in the pack. The beer tasted rancid, but from everything that happened, I felt sick.”
“A wolf’s first time is hard,” Phoenix said.
“So I left. I … I think I felt you before you were cruel to me. Before you said what you did. Before you rejected me. I felt you, and then, what were you going to do?” she asked. “Strangle me? Get rid of the evidence that you had a fucking fat mate?”
Phoenix frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t do that,” she said.
“I’m not doing anything. I never once told you, you were fat.”