by A.C. Melody
(Midgard Úlfrinn, #1)
Publication date: February 15th 2023
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
It’s the one thing they told her never to be, but can she keep that vow when it’s more than just her heart at stake?
Returning to Pine Grove should’ve been a golden opportunity, but things have changed in Reyna’s absence. Her childhood home is full of gorgeous men led by the magnetizing and infuriating Corbyn Bruschard. He threatens to unravel everything she believes is right, triggering her defenses. She’s determined to uphold the promises made to her parents. But the connection she feels to Corbyn makes her yearn for things they warned were too dangerous.
Corbyn walks a precarious line between animal instincts and human sensibilities. He knew Reyna was his the moment he scented her, luring him into a battle he hadn’t foreseen. His beautiful mate is a Valkyrie in Úlfr clothing, her proverbial shield deflecting him at every turn. But Corbyn knows the dangers that lurk in her denial. Their enemies are circling, rising from every direction, and there’s no bigger target than an Alpha’s Mate.
Corbyn will have to use every means necessary to keep Reyna safe, even those she fears the most.
“I’m not going to stay locked up in that house forever, Corbyn,” she stated firmly.
He actually snarled at her. Like she’d seen Breton do to Shayd her first night back. To her surprise, it did nothing but heighten the lust still churning wildly in her gut.
“Do you have any idea the things that went through my head when your brother called, scared to death to find you gone?” he demanded.
Okay. That snuffed the lust like a lid slamming down on a flame. Reyna swallowed hard, but she wasn’t about to back down.
“I know how to handle myself,” she stated stubbornly. “I’m from Chicago—”
“This isn’t the same, Reyna, and you know it,” he cut her off viciously.
“How am I supposed to know anything?” she shot back. “No one will talk to me. You all keep your mouths shut, expecting Serena and me to just follow orders without question yet never give us a reason why. I’m not going to stop, Corbyn. I haven’t answered to anyone in over seven years. I’m certainly not going to start now. So, if you’re going to sit there and tell me that I’m going to be treated like a damn prisoner, I will pack my things today and be done with it.”
Corbyn tensed, his gaze boring into hers as if he wanted nothing more than to call her bluff. But Reyna wasn’t bluffing. He gripped the steering wheel with both hands and glowered out the windshield. His knuckles whitened before he grabbed the gear shift and put it in first. Just as quickly, he changed his mind and put it back into neutral, spinning on her.
“Dammit, Reyna, there’s got to be a compromise here, somewhere.”
“What kind of compromise?” she asked suspiciously.
“No sneaking out at five in the morning for starters,” he stated heatedly, obviously needing to highlight that little tidbit first.
“I like to jog.”
He didn’t budge.
She rolled her eyes with a sigh. “Fine, I’ll wait until after breakfast, happy?”
“No. Sneaking. Out. Period,” he reiterated. “Tell someone. You’ll also be exchanging numbers with everyone today, and start carrying your phone with you at all times.”
Reasonable. It’s reasonable. There’s no need to throw a tantrum.
“Is that all?” she ground out.
“Hardly,” he answered. “Starting today, we will be taking turns staying with you, Serena, and Justin until we feel it’s safe enough not to.”
“And how is that not making us feel like prisoners, again?” Reyna balked.
Forget tantrum; she was going to deck him right in that perfectly sculpted jaw!
“It’s going to happen whether you like it or not,” he informed her. “We can’t focus on what needs to be done if we’re worried about the three of you. Even you pointed that out yesterday while avoiding the real subject.”
Reyna fumed. Damn him for turning her words against her and knowing why she’d used them.
“Sounds to me like your idea of compromising is all one-sided,” she pointed out heatedly. “I have things to do. Can I go now?”
The automatic locks engaged as he continued staring at her. “You’re on vacation—”
“Not anymore,” she cut him off. “My boss is expecting me downtown this morning, and I have to go unless I want to lose my job—which I don’t.”
“Then, Breton will take you,” Corbyn replied, his tone strained as if he were holding back a completely different reply. “And pick you up when you’re finished.”
Reyna’s jaw dropped as she glared holes into his profile. “You can’t be serious.”
“Very,” he deadpanned, though his tone was somewhat calmer.
He looked at her, his eyes roaming her freely again rather than trying to penetrate her bones.
“Won’t that leave Serena and Justin alone?”
“No,” he answered, leveling her with a stern look. “You’re not going to win this argument, Reyna. There’s no way in hell we’re leaving anything to chance, not with those who matter most to us. Now, get over here.”
She scoffed. As if.
“Please?” he added gently.
It took Reyna about ten seconds to reluctantly scoot across the bench seat, leaving a good arm’s length between them because it appeared he wasn’t going to drive anywhere until she did. If Corbyn thought she was done with her side of their little compromising barter, though, he was in for a big surprise.
Reyna inhaled sharply when he hooked his arm around her waist, lifted her, and set her down across his lap. With her feet facing the passenger door across the bench seat, her back was cradled in the crook of Corbyn’s left arm, though he still clutched the steering wheel.
Desire unraveled in Reyna’s veins, starting in her toes and working up to the roots of her hair. Every inch of her was once again hyper-aware of every inch of him, and she fought hard to keep her composure intact.
“Do you really think distance keeps you safe, falleg?” Corbyn asked softly, tugging her ponytail out from between the back of her head and his shoulder.
“Did you just call me fugly?” she snapped.
“Not even close,” he replied. “Answer the question, Reyna. I’m on to your evasion tactics.”
Well, aren’t we clever?
A.C. Melody is a hybrid author of Erotic Romance and all its savory sub-genres. Confessed javaholic, introverted geeky girl with a twisted sense of humor and a wretched muse. She has a weakness for hard ass Alphas and the strong women who capture their hearts, without damaging their rough edges.
A lifetime lover of fairytales, myths, legends, and ancient pantheons, A.C. spends more time researching than writing. Her biggest goal is to provide new, captivating angles on old, favorite tales with enticing twists and characters that redefine preset expectations.
She’s 100% guilty of placing all her money on the underdogs, anti-heroes and shameless whores.
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