Blood on the Snow by Viola Grace
Coralynn was busing tables during a lull when Chaz came up and asked her, “Coralynn, can you go and pick up some VIPs that went off the road in the pass?”
“What? In my car?”
“That beast that you drive. Yeah. The owner and his party are stuck at the side of the road. In the ditch. The driver is freaking out.”
She grimaced. “My car can’t fit more than four and me.”
She looked around. “Ask Tommy to go get them. He’s the snow clearer.”
Chaz grimaced. “I tried. He’s on break for an hour and a half.”
“Borrow his rig.”
Chaz gritted his teeth. “I can’t drive stick. Can you?”
She hesitated and was lost. “Yes. Get the keys, and I will go get the VIPs.”
“Yeah, just let me get changed.”
Chaz scowled. “You are on the clock; you wear the uniform.”
She stared at him. “You are kidding.”
“Nope. You can wear a jacket and boots, but the outfit stays. It is the company uniform, and you won’t get paid if you aren’t wearing it.”
“Fun.” She muttered. Cursing at work wasn’t allowed either. “If you get the keys, I will drive it, but don’t tell Tommy that it’s me driving. He’s funny about ladies in his rig. It is like I am going to spray perfume or paint it pink or something. While you do that, I will get the chains from my car.”
He agreed, and she went to get her jacket and stomp into her boots. Coralynn walked out to her car and got the chains that she carried for this kind of event. Her car just didn’t have enough horsepower to haul a limo down the hill with any kind of control.
Chaz met her and passed her the keys, and she scampered up and into the snowplow, getting the rig roaring and ready in seconds. The blade came up, and she got it into gear, trundling toward the pass and finding the stuck limo in ten minutes. She pulled up behind it and linked her chains to the frame, then walked around to the driver and spoke to him.
“Stay in, buckle up, put it in neutral, and don’t move. I am going to pull you out, straighten you out, and then come around front and pull you down to the restaurant.”
He stared at her. “You are?”
She snorted and banged on his door. “Buckle up.”
She climbed back into the rig and pulled them out easily. She straightened them, unhooked, drove up until she could turn around, and then, she cruised past them and parked. She got out, chained the ruined front end by the frame, and she told the driver, “Neutral and don’t start the car. You are bleeding fluid all over the place.”
“How do you know how to do this?”
She grinned and got back in the plow, checking on her load as she hauled them carefully through the pass and down the hill. She glided into the parking lot and settled the limo close to the door but far enough that she could unhook it and put the plow back where she had gotten it. Coralynn pulled the keys, grabbed her chains, and put them back in her car. The occupants of the limo were heading inside, and so was the driver. She shivered and went in through the employee entrance, passing Chaz the keys for Tommy and getting back into her sneakers and lack of clothing other than shirt and shorts. She was pretty sure she could cut ice with her nipples.
Debbie saw her and said, “Geez, Coralynn, you are blue.”
“Have I mentioned how I feel about this uniform?”
Chaz loomed nearby. “Don’t make me dock you for lack of company spirit, Coralynn. Get to your tables.”
“Chaz, my hands are still shaking. I am going to be breaking stuff for an hour.”
“Then, you had better work carefully. I will be with our guests.”
She was shaking and still feeling icy when she dropped the first glass and then had to clean it up. She was on her knees when some very tailored trousers stopped in front of her, and their owner said, “Miss? Are you all right?”
She looked way up and barely paused between knees and hips. Barely. She kept looking up, and a man with golden hair and crimson eyes looked down at her.
She shrugged. “Just a little cold. I will warm up by the evening rush. Sorry to have disturbed you.”
He crouched, and she still had to crane her neck to look up at him. “You are the young woman who got us out?”
She shrugged. “Yes. I believe I missed my lunch, but I am glad you’re safe. It gets cold in that pass when the wind blows.” Coralynn felt the sting of the broken glass and kept her hand moving to collect the rest of it.
“Thank you.” He quirked his lips. “Why didn’t you wear more clothing?”
“Ah. I am on the clock, so I have to remain in the uniform or I won’t get paid, and I need to get paid. Every bit counts.” She rose to her feet with pinpricks of pain in her hands.
He smiled. “When you have wrapped up your hands, come to my table and collect your reward for your efforts.”
She swallowed and had her fleeting thought confirmed. Alpha, through and through. One of the weird ones if she didn’t miss her guess.
“That isn’t necessary. All I want to do is cover my hands, finish my shift, and go home to a hot bath.”
He touched her cheek, and he felt so hot. “I think hypothermia is your next concern.”
She backed away and then sprinted to the back, where she disposed of the glass and covered her tiny cuts with band-aids after a run through hot water.
She was relatively whole and went back to her tables. She had been at it for forty-five minutes when there was a hand gripping her elbow. She looked over, and Chaz was in panic mode.
“Go to the table, Coralynn. They are not leaving until you go by and say hello.” He looked grim.
“Aw heck. I am fired, aren’t I?”
He blinked. “How did you...”
“I recognized the expression in your eyes.” She handed him her apron and walked out.
“I own that uniform, by the way.”
She looked at him in shock, and the restaurant patrons were staring. “Fine. This is why they come anyway.”
She peeled off her shirt, shucked out of her shorts and leggings, and left the slouchy socks and sneakers in the middle of the floor. Clad in bare feet and underwear, she headed to her locker, put on her street clothes, and stomped into the snow. It was the latest in a long line of jobs that required no secondary education and a healthy body. Her attitude always did her in. Nothing fit right.
Coralynn headed for her vehicle and looked at the driver of the limo, talking to the tow truck guy. She swung toward them. “Hey, Steve.”
“Coralynn, is this your parking job?”
“The lot yes, the smashed in front... no.”
Steve chuckled. “I was just telling this other Steve that he needs to call for a replacement.”
The driver looked at her. “What do you think, miss?”
“I think you left most of the fluid in that ditch. Well, I am on my way. Have a good one, Steve.”
Steve frowned. “You are going home?”
“Got fired again.”
The driver’s eyes went wide. “Did you speak with the alpha? He wanted to talk to you.”
“No. I can’t take anything seriously when I am wearing booty shorts.” She shrugged. “Anyway, glad no one was hurt.”
She turned and headed to the beast, starting it up before she got to it. She buckled in and put it into gear, battering through the pile of snow that Tommy had left in front of her car. Her car was where she had put her money when she decided to work in the ski resort areas. It looked like she would have to get back to being an office clerk in a warm and dry location. She drove the twenty minutes home and parked in her own spot for once.
She got out of her car and headed for her apartment. The best thing about it was the hot water. There was always plenty.
Coralynn hung up her coat, kicked off her boots, went to her bedroom, and stripped while she waited for the foaming bubbles to rise in her tub. She ignored her phone. It had been blaring since she left the highway.
With the bubbles in place and the nullifier solution in the water, she eased into the bath with a groan. Her cuts made her flinch under the band-aids, and it reminded her of another aspect of service that she didn’t mind leaving behind.
Chaz was a dick. He treated the women who worked for him as his personal servants and items for display. Coralynn would have quit within the week if she wasn’t fired. She had had her butt patted one too many times, not to mention bills tucked into her cleavage. It took her forever to get all of them out if she worked a Friday night.
“Well, I wonder what is going to happen next?” She sloshed around and set up music on her phone while she blanked her mind. She got warm, she relaxed, and after an hour, when she was all pruney, she got out and eventually left the bathroom in a soft robe while towelling her hair. She checked her messages, and it was Chaz with fear in his voice saying that he was just kidding and that she would be paid for the full day if she just came in and spoke with Alpha Kroan.
She chuckled. “Interesting name, but I just got warm.”
She smiled and listened to the more frantic pleas, saving them to her phone before deleting them from her voicemail. She went through all six, and then came a voice she wasn’t expecting. She paused her deleting finger.
“Miss Legthorp, please know that it was never our intent to get you dismissed from your position. If you allow me to express my sincerest thanks for our rescue and regrets for the loss of your job in person, I would be most obliged. All you need to do is open your door.”
She checked the message, and it was three minutes old. She got up and walked to her door, unlatching it and slowly opening it.
There he stood, wearing unrelieved black in six different textures and finishes.
She stared at him, and he looked her over. A slow smile crossed his lips. “A hot bath?”
“Yup. I got the feeling back in my extremities, so I am going to call that a win. Why are you here?”
“May I come in?”
She thought about it and then noticed one of her neighbours staring. “Right. Come in.”
She opened the door and stepped to the side. This might have been the stupidest thing she ever did in her life, but she wanted to stay here until the end of her term, and nosey neighbours could ruin it.
He walked in, barely clearing the top of her door. He didn’t duck, which showed he knew exactly how tall he was, or he just trusted that the world wouldn’t dare touch him.
“I don’t know if I have any furniture that would contain you. You might want to stay on your feet.” She passed him and walked into the kitchen. “Coffee? Tea?”
He laughed. “I can drink tea if you like. I usually get my beverages directly.”
“I am not sure what that entails.”
He chuckled. “Surely you heard that I am a blood alpha.”
“Yeah, but I don’t know what that means. I am just a lowly beta, remember? I don’t get paid to know which alpha does what.”
She boiled some water and set out a pot. “Herbal or black?”
“Herbal is fine.” He looked around her living room and slowly lowered himself to her couch. There was an audible creak.
She loaded the tea into the strainer, and when the water boiled, she poured the water into the pot and picked up the tray with two cups on it, carrying it over to the coffee table while the tea steeped.
“So, Mr. Kroan, what can I do for you?”
“I sensed something at the restaurant that I wanted to investigate.”
“Oh, so you go around sensing things? Is that the purpose of alphas?”
He smiled at her mocking tone. “Yes. It is part of the purpose. I can sense a liar, taste the smallest bits of contaminants in the air, and can smell a woman in heat from a block away.”
She frowned. “Are you talking about me? I don’t go into heat. Beta, remember?”
He leaned forward and poured the tea. “I do remember, and you do go into heat, in a manner of speaking. You become receptive. You are just leaving that state, which is a pity, but you smell like raspberries.”
She blushed. “I just had a bath in nullifier.”
“I know, but I remember the scent of you in the restaurant, around the car, and on the clothing that you shucked in the middle of the floor.”
She blinked slowly, imagining him lifting her dropped tee and shorts to sniff them.
“I wish I had been near enough to witness it. Chaz will no longer be a concern there if you choose to return to the establishment.”
She snorted. “No, this was just an interim position. I can live without it for a while until I pack up and head south.”
He frowned. “You are leaving town?”
She sipped at her tea. “Sure. There is literally no reason to stay.”
He looked at her over the rim of the teacup. “Can I ask you to go out with me to see if we can develop a reason for you to stay?”
“What would be the point? Aren’t you alphas in endless searches for omegas?”
“Not blood alphas. They don’t serve a purpose, not for what we need.”
“You don’t need to breed?”
His chuckle was wicked. “That is nice and all, but we need blood. Sips per day. It keeps our metabolism working.”
She cocked her head. “Don’t you have a line of sycophants who want to donate?”
“Donors are not created equal. To find someone with your scent is rare. If you let me try you, I can determine if we would both be wasting our time.”
Coralynn laughed. “I am content to not even delve into this particular arena.”
He smiled. “I have been told that the bite is very pleasurable.”
“Pursuing pleasure doesn’t lead to any kind of stability.”
Kroan grinned and showed the standard alpha fangs. “Interesting. Most of the girls at that establishment could and did crawl into my lap at one time or another.”
“And yet, I have never been interested in dry humping a guest at the restaurant. Sorry.”
Kroan sighed. “Just one taste. Please? I am not used to having my desires thwarted. It is making me quite moody.”
She sipped at her tea and emptied the cup. “Will you go after you taste me?”
His eyes brightened. “I will, indeed. But, I may come back.”
“Where do you get it from?”
“Wherever you like.”
She shoved her left hand at him. “There.”
“If I may suggest, your upper arm would be better. Less noticeable. I will heal it, but it will leave a red dot for a few weeks.”
She pulled her hand back. “That sounds like contact.”
“Oh, there will be some contact. It cannot be avoided. I just want to make sure we are both comfortable so that you won’t be able to point to awkwardness as a reason to refuse me in the future.”
“There isn’t a future.”
He smiled slowly. “Shall we see?”
She swallowed. “I am really unsure about this. I don’t fool around with patrons.”
He chuckled. “It’s a good thing you were fired then.”
He reached out, lifted her from her chair, and settled her on his lap.
Her heart thudded in her chest. He was a lot bigger when she was sitting on him. Coralynn twisted her fingers together, and he stroked her cheek and coaxed her into looking up at him. “Now, if it hurts, I want you to smack me on the side of the head. Are we clear?”
“Will that do any good?”
“It will get my attention. From there, I will need to remember to stop. That’s on me.”
She swallowed and nodded. “Right. Now?”
He smiled and stroked her chin. “Please.”
She slid the neckline of her robe down and to the side while exposing her left shoulder and upper arm. Coralynn bit her lip when he made a happy sound.
He leaned toward her and brushed his lips against her skin before he licked at the spot he had chosen. It was closer to the upper curve of her breast than she had imagined. His breath was warm on her skin, and then, there was pressure, and he started sucking. Her body responded like it was foreplay, but she was petrified, so it wasn’t as fun as it could have been.
She yelped when his arm snapped around her, and he held her while his throat worked. There went the possibility of smacking him.
He eventually raised his head and looked at her with hot eyes. “You taste like summer.”
She looked down warily, and there was a tiny red dot. “Oh. That’s it?”
He stroked her cheek. “That’s it. I must admit, most of my partners are aroused by it.”
She opened her mouth and was going to admit to being a little wet, but she looked at his knowing gaze, and she snapped her mouth shut. “Aw... well, sucks for you, so to speak. Have a nice day.”
She wiggled, and he gradually released her.
“You have a strong will.” He smiled. “When I drink from most women, they are blank and eager.”
“That is unfortunate for them. Even worse for you. I would want to have a partner who knew what was going on.”
He slid a hand up her knee, and she jumped off his lap. “Okay, you had tea and a snack. Have a nice afternoon.”
She stood back and settled her robe back into normal lines.
He grinned and stood. “You are dismissing me?”
“Yup. Out. I have to start a job hunt, and I get the feeling you would be rather inquisitive during the process. So, out.”
He laughed. “This is not over.”
“Says the stalker.”
“Please. Uninvited guest.” He stroked her cheek and chuckled. “Softer than rose petals.”
She swallowed and leaned out of his touch. “Still not a pet.”
He chuckled again. “If you insist.”
He left, and she felt like the air rushed out of the room with him, and she drew in a deep draught of air when he was gone. He smelled dark and male and hot.
She latched, chained, and deadbolted the door. Coralynn slid down the door, pressed her head against her knees, and tried to pretend her entire body wasn’t throbbing. She had the feeling that he would know if she ran to finish what he started. Alphas were sneaky like that.
* * * *
Kroan returned to the car and ordered the driver to return to the restaurant. He could taste her with his whole body. Blazing sunshine and bright raspberries, tart and bright.
He needed to get that woman into his circle somehow. He hated looking at CVs, but he would do it if he could find the perfect job for her and offer it to her, then lure her boss into bringing her to his home. Once he had her there, he would spring the trap and keep her with him. He needed more of her. She had set off an addiction that he had not anticipated.
He wanted more of that brightness, and it was all Coralynn.