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Control. Obsession. Alpha.
Mateo’s soulmate may be out there, but Mateo has no intention of finding him. Being bound to Mateo would be a punishment. He doesn’t have the charm or patience of his pack mates and he refuses to let fate force a person to be with him. As the mission to save the world continues, his once small pack is growing and Mateo can see there is no place for him and his disdain. The day was always coming when Mateo would say goodbye to his pack brothers and he’s put it off long enough. It’s time he did everyone a favor and disappear.
Bruno learned as a child that family didn’t mean forever. Not when every time he falls asleep, he becomes a danger to everyone around him. With a body that has more padding than muscle, he looks harmless. But beneath his curvy exterior lurks a monster that doesn’t care who it hurts. Bruno lives separate from the world, avoiding anything that might make him lose control. Until he meets Mateo accosting a vending machine in the middle of the night. The man is assertive and hotheaded. And, for some insane reason, decides Bruno’s protection is his responsibility.
Bruno is exactly the type of man Mateo should stay far away from. He’s gentle, sweet, and in trouble. He’d also be a good liar if Mateo couldn’t hear his heart patter each time Bruno tries to tell Mateo he’s fine. He isn’t, but he also won’t tell Mateo what’s wrong. Too bad for him, Mateo is stubborn, and he’s not leaving Bruno’s side until he finds out.
But Bruno isn’t the only one with secrets. He has no idea Mateo is a wolf shifter or that shifters exist. Ignorance is bliss—and safety—except, when Mateo’s interest becomes a full-blown obsession, keeping his hands to himself is not just impossible, but unacceptable. He wants to do more than touch Bruno’s body, he wants to claim him. But first, he’ll have to convince Bruno he’s powerful enough to face the monster lurking in Bruno’s nightmares.
Wrath is the third book in the Wolves of Resurrection Road series. It is an action-packed, unrestrained romance into a world of angels, demons, mystery, and mpreg like you’ve never seen before. For maximum enjoyment, this series should be read in order.
Wolves of Resurrection Road
Series in the Wolves of World
Wolves of Walker County
Wolves of Royal Paynes
Demon of Royal Paynes
Wolves of Resurrection Road
The slim pack of ranch-flavored corn nuts hung at an angle, stubbornly clinging to the metal spiral. I smacked the side of the vending machine, making the lights flicker and watching the package sway tantalizingly behind the glass as though giving me a mocking wave.
I kicked the metal panel, doing nothing but leaving a dent the size of my boot. It was unsatisfying and only stoked the rage already building inside of me. When I was like this—when it felt as though the anger had built up so much it was ready to pop out of my eye sockets—it was best that I stayed away from people. Which was why I thought it would be safe to stop at an empty bus station rather than visit the convenience store I’d passed a mile ago.
Vandalism was marginally better than assault. I strove to keep those to one count a day, and I’d already used my quota. After fighting with my pack Alpha, Abel, and leaving him at a rest stop about 500 miles north of where I currently was, I’d charged down the highway flipping off half the state—was there a law against using turning signals in California?—until finally stopping in the parking lot of a Trader Joe’s. There, instead of resupplying my stock of protein bars, I kicked the ass of some guy trying to steal a lady’s purse.
I hadn’t been able to hit him nearly as hard as I’d wanted—humans were soft and breakable—but I couldn’t kill this vending machine, so I had a green light. I’d leave cash behind to replace it, and maybe destruction would finally help get rid of the ants crawling in my veins.
All I’d wanted was to indulge in my one guilty pleasure—crunchy, salty, satisfying corn nuts—and this metal box was standing in my way. If my other packmate, Camel, could see me now, he’d laugh in that effortless way he had and tell me to lighten up. Then he’d probably say something asinine like, I know how much you can’t wait to get those salty nuts in your mouth.
Sometimes I thought that kid just liked getting smacked.
I grabbed the metal box on both sides and shook it. The packaged junk food within jostled around inside the machine, but the corn nuts acted as though welded to their spot. Through my efforts, I’d released a package of M&M’s, two Twix bars, and a pack of Red Vines, but my snack of choice still hung, daring me to just punch through the glass and take what I wanted.
If I got myself arrested, Abel would come and bail me out, looking at me in that annoying way he had, like he knew me better than I did.
“I have a dollar if you need one.”
I pivoted on the ball of my foot, crouching into a defensive stance that in no way matched the man I faced. There was nothing hostile about the way he lounged on a bench ten feet away looking at me with an expression that was a mix of amusement and trepidation.
It wasn’t the man that was alarming but the fact that I’d been certain I was alone in front of the bus station. There was one employee inside the terminal who barely looked away from his phone long enough to see that he was at work, but as I’d parked my bike, I’d been sure there wasn’t anyone else around. People didn’t sneak up on me; humans certainly didn’t. I was an alpha wolf for fuck’s sake. I could hear the birds rustling in the trees from half a block down, and yet this man had sat ten feet away without me ever having a clue.
I didn’t blame my anger. That was what kept me vigilant. The hotter I burned, the more acute my senses became. That was normally the case, anyway. Maybe my yearning for corn nuts had blinded me.
Now that I’d noticed the man, I filed away details about him with the same urgency that a small animal had when stashing away food for winter. He had shaggy dark brown hair that fell in careless waves around his round, olive-skinned face, framing a set of downturned eyes that were somehow blue, green, and brown all at the same time without ever seeming hazel and lined by jet-black lashes. He looked to be about an inch shorter than me and with about thirty more pounds on his frame, giving him curves that my fingers ached to explore.
I kept my fingers to myself, though, and tried to remember what it was he’d said. “It isn’t the dollar.” My growl was deeper than it would’ve been normally: half my sour disposition, half the desire that had slammed into me like a sucker punch to the nose. “It’s the principle.”
The man’s full, peach-colored lips cracked into a lopsided grin. “The principle? You’re fighting a machine.”
“I thought I was alone.”
The man sat back, his right hand now squeezing around the backpack that occupied the seat beside him.
That had been quick. His smile was gone, which wasn’t an odd occurrence for people after spending a few seconds with me. What was odd: how I wanted to say something to bring the smile back.
“Why are you here?” I barked the question out, my tone completely at odds with my goal to make him happy again.
Astoundingly, the corner of his lips twitched. He looked around pointedly at our location outside of the bus station. “To catch a bus?”
“Now? It’s the middle of the night.” What I’d meant to say was that it was dangerous for him to sit outside by himself. Why not sit inside in the warmth and bright light?
He offered no further explanation, and I had no reason to expect one. My anger for the vending machine had passed. These pieces of shit were too expensive to replace anyway. There was no reason I shouldn’t have been getting on my bike except for the fact that this man was here, alone.
“When does your bus come?” I’d joined him at the bench and now stood with my shadow cast over him.
I didn’t want to fight this guy, despite what my tone sounded like. I wanted to get my hands on him. But not for violence. And for that reason I should’ve hopped my happy ass on my bike. Instead, I glared down at his round face and scowled.
His eyes tightened, his expression growing guarded.
Why? Were there people after him? People who wanted to hurt him? Did he feel like he was in danger?
And why would he feel that way, Mateo? It isn’t as though some hostile man that he just watched accost a vending machine is standing over him.
If he thought I was so dangerous, then he should’ve called the police. Did he have no sense of self-preservation?
The more important question was—could this man do anything that didn’t seem to irritate me?
He looked away and reached into his front pocket, pulling out a black vinyl wallet. He scooted out from in front of me, to the end of the bench—there wasn’t any room for him to get up where he’d sat without bumping into me.
I watched, dumbfounded, as he pulled out a dollar in front of the vending machine, slid it into the cash receptacle, and pressed the buttons that belonged to the corn nuts. The pack fell, along with the second one that dropped down into the dispenser with the other candy.
I shamefully ogled as he bent over, thrusting out a luscious ass as he reached his arm through the metal flap. He returned silently, gently shoving both packs of corn nuts into my chest. “I get hangry too,” he murmured.
He looked down at the other snacks clutched in his fingers. “You want these?”
I took the corn nuts and shook my head.
He returned to his spot on the bench and opened the pack of M&M’s, setting them on his knee and grabbing a paperback book from his backpack. He popped a red, candy-covered chocolate into his mouth and flipped the pages to a slip of paper that looked like a receipt that must’ve been holding his page.
I sat at the very end of the bench and pulled open the top of the blue foil package. I tossed a handful of kernels into my mouth and chewed, the sound like rocks crunching between my teeth.
If the noise annoyed him, the man didn’t let it show. He turned the page, lifting it high enough for me to see the cover.
His Mountain Man.
The cover made it clear that the book wasn’t a reference on how to survive living on a mountain. A burly, broad-chested male stood unashamedly in front of a forested mountain, most of his face concealed by shaggy hair and a bushy beard.
I couldn’t stop my scoff. Dudes like that were all show. The model had probably never spent a day camping much less years in an isolated cabin. “Some light reading?”
He dropped the book, eyebrows knitting together as his gaze twitched to the cover. “Does that offend you or something?” His soft voice trembled.
Because he thinks you’re homophobic, dick.
I leaned over in my eagerness to clear up the misunderstanding, and the man flinched back. I pulled away with all the sharpness of a snapped rubber band. “No. You can read what you want. The book doesn’t offend me.” I cleared my throat. People misunderstood me all the time, but normally, that was their own mistake, making assumptions from my appearance. I didn’t ever talk long enough to put my foot in my mouth.
“It’s just…” Why the fuck was I still talking? “…that’s the kind of guy you like?”
I could take that asshole in a fight—no matter how much his muscles glistened. But my black hair was shaved close, and I didn’t let my beard grow longer than stubble. It formed oddly around my scar.
His peach lips curled as he visibly relaxed. “I suppose.” He shrugged. “It’s not the looks so much as the attitude. More importantly, the book is stimulating. Can’t fall asleep or I might miss my bus.”
I knew exactly what kind of stimulating he meant, and as much as I wanted to take his confession as an invitation to stimulate him in other ways, it wasn’t. Clearly, I was living a romance novel in my head.
He twisted the top of his M&M’s bag, blocking the remaining candy from falling out, and stuffed it in his bag, retrieving a blue-and-silver can of Red Bull.
“Those things will rot your gut.” I knew it was a shitty thing to say immediately after saying it. That was the trouble with talking—the wrong stuff always came out.
“No way. They have vitamins.” He turned the can so I could see the nutritional facts.
“And enough sugar to negate any good those vitamins might do.”
This man must’ve not been a violent person, or else he would’ve already hit me, and I would’ve deserved it. My own pack hated when I ragged on their food and drink choices. At least they understood there was good intent behind my complaints.
This man didn’t know that, and his face fell exactly the way it should when a stranger was being rude to him.
I got up and walked to my bike. I should’ve swung my leg around and driven out of there, leaving this poor man alone. It didn’t sit well with me, letting this guy wait outside alone, drinking something that would only dehydrate him.
“Here,” I said, holding out the bottle of water and protein bar I’d retrieved. “You can just have these.”
He stared at my offering the same way an innocent bystander might stare at a flasher opening his coat. “No, thank you.” Once again, everything about him was closed off: his face, his tone, his body language.
“You don’t have to have them now. You can save them for later—”
“I get it, okay?” He didn’t sound angry but defeated. “Fat guy eats trash. Pretty funny, I know. But I don’t want your stupid food. I want to drink my drink and read my book. It just got good. The mountain man saved the other guy from a bear, and they’re back in his cabin, and he’s realizing that there is only one bed. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to escape inside this world right now.” His shoulders rose and fell, his breaths turning deep as though he were making an effort to calm himself down.
Fuck this world and fuck every person in it who’d ever made this man feel like he wasn’t perfect just as he was. I could’ve told him how badly I wanted to be balls-deep inside him, massaging his curves as I thrust. Thankfully, I wasn’t a complete idiot and knew speaking my horny desires aloud wouldn’t come out like words of comfort.
I’d have to think of different words to clear this up. “I wasn’t trying to say any of that. I just thought that your tummy would hurt when you finished your drink, and I wanted you to have something that could make that stop.”
He cocked his head to the side, thinking over what I’d said. “My tummy?” He watched me for another silent moment.
Fidgeting beneath his scrutiny, I scratched the scar that ran along the underside of my jaw from one ear to the other.
“Is that really true? You are just worried about my tummy?”
His blue-green-brown eyes narrowed, but I didn’t look away. “It is.”
“Well that’s different then. I’m sorry I called your food stupid,” he said with actual remorse. “But I really won’t ever eat that.” He plucked the water bottle from my hand, leaving the bar. “They taste like sawdust.”
“The mocha ones only sort of taste like sawdust.”
He took the bar and faced it toward me. “This one’s peanut butter.”
“Good point.” I reached out for it, but he dropped it in his backpack.
“In case the bus breaks down and I’m in one of those lost-in-the-wilderness-with-a-mountain-man situations,” he said.
I withheld my snort. “I’m on the road a lot, so I’m looking for something to fill me up quickly and give me the nutrients I need. I don’t often go for taste.”
He scoffed, the sound truly offended. “And that’s probably why you have a body of an underwear model.”
He couldn’t truly see my body beneath my dark jeans, gray tee, and leather jacket, but my wolf preened anyway. “You think I have a nice body?”
I tried not to flex, but not very hard, and the man let out a snorting giggle. “You are really strange, Mr.…”
Mateo. That name used to be whispered gently, lovingly, until it was screamed. Now, I didn’t let just anyone call me by my real name, using my biker name instead. Even if I’d suddenly lost my sense and wanted to hear this man say my name, I wouldn’t tell him. I didn’t deserve the pleasure. “Badger. No Mister—just Badger.”
He frowned, tilting his head to the side like a confused bird. “Badger? Like the animal? No, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make fun. Bruno.” He stuck a tentative hand out for me to shake.
I took it. His hand was soft, and I didn’t want to let go. I’d gotten used to not following my first response around this man, though, so I released his fingers, murmuring, “It’s nice to meet you, Bruno.”