Drew (Pack Trouble Book 1)

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Her scent changed everything.

Alyssa Mayer’s scent is intriguing. It’s sweet, sensual and ignites Drew’s blood like nothing before. His body burns for her, his mind is occupied with thoughts of her, meaning only one thing. She’s his fated mate.

The problem? He doesn’t recognize her from a local pack, nor any pack he’s ever smelled before. Is she human? She is his fated mate, but if she’s human will he dare to break the species barrier? It wouldn’t be the first time a wolf shifter mated with a human, but such a bonding brings its own mess of troubles, and that’s before considering a neighbouring alpha wants Drew to agree to an arranged mating.

After spending her youth drifting from one foster home to the next and spending her adolescent and adult life homeless and alone, Alyssa wonders how long she’ll be able to stay in the small town. She can’t risk anyone discovering her secret. All she wants to do is paint and find a forever home, but as an oddity, a freak of nature, she knows that can never be, no matter how much she’d like to stay.

When she meets Drew, her instinct tells her to run, but for the first time she might just have a reason to stay, but pack pressures and hidden foes are threaten to keep them apart.


Chapter One

“What the hell are we doing here?” The beta grumbled as they paid the admission fee before pushing between patrons in the brightly lit lobby. “You don’t really expect me to believe you suddenly appreciate art?”

Singularly focused, Drew glanced around the room, searching for his prey, but finding only elite guests and gallery staff. Most of the attendees were well-to-do couples, mainly businessmen with their trophy wives looking to purchase a wall hanging from the next up-and-coming artist. Likely something overpriced that they could later brag to their stuffy friends about.

Drew wasn’t interested in the art, but the artist. One in particular, whose work was being showcased tonight at Platinum Delight Art.

Callum shook snow from his coat and continued to bitch. Normally they’d be at the bar on a snowy evening like tonight, or out on a run with the pack.

“Quit whining. We’ll be going on a hunt later tonight. Just indulge me in this first.” Drew glanced over the pamphlet they had handed him at the door and reminded Callum, “You didn’t have to come, you know. In fact, I don’t remember inviting you.”

Callum grinned. “When you said you were going to an art show, I knew there had to be a reason. I can suffer through this for a bit to ferret out whatever’s at the root of this sudden interest.”

Shaking his head, Drew walked toward the first room, exiting the small, crowded lobby.

With Callum’s long legged stride, he caught up in no time. “I’m betting it’s a woman.”

“Enough.” Drew whispered as he surveyed the room. She wasn’t here. Before trudging off toward the next art filled room, Drew told Callum, “Just look at the fancy pictures on the wall, and leave me the hell alone.”

Behind him, he heard his friend chuckle. “Yep. Definitely a woman.”

Ignoring his beta, Drew examined the canvases that crowded the walls. Suffer, as Callum had put it, might just be the right word. Neither Drew nor Callum had an artistic bone in their bodies. Drew owned and operated a company that manufactured grills and BBQs. Many of his pack members worked for him, either in the factory, or at the bird sanctuary he’d created. Years ago, he’d invested in a large wooded property, using a portion of it to create a sanctuary where injured birds were rescued and rehabilitated. The land was over a hundred acres of forest that also accommodated his home and gave his pack a safe space to run and hunt.

Drew spent his days working with his hands, crafting new models, building grills for the showroom, and staring at spreadsheets for hours on end. Art was not his thing.

On one wall hung a painting of something that looked like an alien. Drew was pretty sure it was supposed to be a person. Or maybe horse. Or hell, a fucking flamingo. What the piece was trying to say, he had no idea. In another room was a mural taking up an entire wall, featuring a creature with big teeth and horns. A troll, perhaps, but Drew had no clue why anyone would design such a thing, and even less understanding of anyone who would actually purchase it.

With so many people around, Drew squashed the impulse to cringe at the nasty-looking thing. Nearby, an elder couple oohed and ahhed over it. Next to him, Callum was barely muffling his laughter.

Ignoring his beta, Drew continued farther into the room to examine a group of marionettes, all of which had long faces with elaborate face paint. Callum wandered over and shuddered. “I fuckin’ hate clowns.”

Drew had to agree.

So far, he had seen nothing like what he’d been expecting. He was sure she’d told him her paintings were landscapes. None of the art he’d seen so far fit that description. Maybe he’d misunderstood her. Maybe her showcase was another night. He glanced at the pamphlet and saw Alyssa Mayer. He hadn’t misheard her, but how many more rooms would he have to search before he found her? How big was this place?

In the adjoining room, as they stood viewing a sculpture made completely from dice, Callum took an appetizer from a passing waiter. “At least the food is good.”

Fighting a grin, Drew shook his head.

“What the fuck do you think this is supposed to be?” Callum’s whisper echoed in the bare room, drawing the attention from the few patrons around the perimeter.

Growing frustrated, Drew no longer cared what the others thought of them. He suspected this was a waste of time. He motioned to the die fastened together. “How long do you suppose it took to make that?”

“It took him four months,” a female voice answered from behind them.

Finally. Turning, Drew nearly swallowed his tongue as he got his first sight of her in something other than a bulky sweater and leggings.

In a slinky black dress that exposed one long slender arm, and bared the opposite well-toned leg, Alyssa stood looking magnificent. Big gold hoops hung from her ears, and silver dangles encircled her wrists. Her heels gave her unnecessary height. She was gorgeous. As a shifter, he’d known many beautiful women. Their kind were muscular, fit and firm, and proud. But until Alyssa, he’d never met a woman who called to him on such a basic level.

At first, Drew wondered how she’d snuck up on him. His sense of smell was excellent and her natural sweet scent had drawn him in at the coffee shop yesterday. Tonight, he should have been able to smell her long before now. Drawing a deep breath, he realized it was perfume, a warm and spicy scent, with a hint of coriander. It was sexy, but didn’t fire his blood the way her natural scent had.

Callum nudged him. “Art.” He snorted.

Alyssa’s gaze darted from him to his beta and back again. “I hope you gentlemen aren’t bored.”

“No, of course not,” Drew lied. Callum snorted again. Drew amended. “Maybe a little out of our element. This is my business partner, Callum.”

“Hi.” Callum directed his normal, charming smile toward Alyssa as he held out his hand.

“Hello, I’m Alyssa Mayer.” She exchanged greetings politely.

Tucking his hand into his pocket, Callum asked, “When Drew said he wanted to see the exhibit, I gotta to admit I wasn’t sure what to think.” His grin spread. “How’d you two meet?”

Alyssa tucked a strand of black hair behind her ear. “At the coffee shop yesterday. He grabbed my coffee by mistake.”

Callum laughed. “Did he?” Likely, Callum knew Drew’s mistake had been a purposeful act to gain her attention. Mischief was in his eyes, but he said nothing.

Alyssa tilted her head to the side, watching them both. “I take it, this, much like yesterday, isn’t your cup of coffee either?”

Rather than admit any of his less than flattering opinions on her fellow artists, Drew replied simply, “You mentioned you paint landscapes. I don’t think I’ve seen your work yet.”

“Come.” Her heels clicked on the floor as she motioned for them to follow her. “I’ll show you.”

He tried not to stare at her ass as she led the way through the gallery, but his gaze kept dropping. Despite her heels, she moved with a natural grace, and he found himself admiring her toned legs and the sway of her hips.

When he caught Callum staring at the same fine features, he gave him a subtle shove. Around a laugh, Callum leaned over to whisper, “I knew it wasn’t about the art.”

She trotted into yet another room, and toward the first painting, her bare leg played peek-a-boo with each step as the black fabric danced around her. “Everything in this room is mine. They’re highlighting my work this evening. As a new member of the community, I’m extremely grateful.”

“Now, this is more like it,” Callum exclaimed as he and Drew studied the first few paintings. “This stuff I understand.”

Drew glanced over and caught her watching him as he examined each piece. “I’ll admit I don’t know the first thing about art, but these are great.”

She beamed. “Thanks. I like to find inspiration in nature.”

Drew looked back at the paintings. There were a few cityscapes, and the occasional barn or hunting cabin, but mostly, her work displayed various forests and nature scenes. Though he didn’t understand art, he could tell that with each brush stroke she’d brought the trees to life. He could almost smell the pine needles and dirt. They were earthy, real.

“I’m very lucky that I found Zelda.”

He glanced over. “Zelda?”

She nodded, her gaze focused on a canvas depicting a wagon wheel leaning against a fence row. “She’s the gallery owner.”

It was a small town, likely he’d met Zelda before, but he couldn’t place the name.

“She’s also my landlady. When I first showed up in town, she was at the supermarket and I overheard her speaking with the cashier about needing a new tenant. We got talking, and one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was showing her my paintings.” Alyssa sighed, happily. “It was like destiny or something.”

For a moment he stared at her, taking in her long nose and dark brows, the light pink eyeshadow over her lids, and the dusky hue of her lips. Drew swallowed back his longing, cleared his throat and replied, “Sort of like when I ran into you yesterday.”

She turned abruptly, blinking at him. He waited, wondering if she would confirm or deny what he already knew—she was his destiny. She surprised him by placing her hand on his forearm. He still wore his winter coat, and her light touch made him wish he’d used the coat check. “I’d like to show you something.”

There were a lot of things he hoped she wanted to show him, like all the bits her dress covered, but Drew schooled his lust. Suppressing a growl, he nodded. “Lead on.”

Blushing, she moved away from him.

Each innocent movement made him want to pounce. Yesterday, his wolf had immediately recognized who she was, and as much as the beast wanted to claim her, Drew knew he had to tread carefully.

She stopped next to a large canvas, possibly the largest in the room.

As he gazed at it, he could feel her stare. What he thought of this piece mattered. Clouds moved over a blood-red moon, but the rays still beamed down upon the trees. Perhaps it should have been a little eerie, the way the light almost seemed to move, but it lured him in, calling to him on a deep level. It was animalistic, raw, and almost erotic. Leaning closer, Drew noticed the paw prints on the ground, soft little imprints in the soil.

He glanced over at Alyssa. “When did you paint this?”

“Last night.” She tucked her hands behind her back and rocked on her heels. Avoiding his gaze, she looked at the canvas. “Normally a painting this size takes days, but once the idea came, I just couldn’t stop. I’m so glad that Zelda made space for it at the last minute.”

“Zelda. The landlady, right?”

Alyssa grinned at him. “And gallery owner. You’ve probably seen her around. She’s pretty unforgettable.”

“You said you painted this last night?”

She nodded. “And part of today. I was up all night working on it. I had a little catnap before the show, but I’m still pretty tired.”

So she’d created this after they met? He pointed at the painting. “So this idea came to you after we met at the coffee shop yesterday?”

Her blush was telling. Instantly, her cheeks flamed. She gave the slightest nod.

Drew took a closer look at the paw prints. Were they a manifestation of the connection they’d shared at the coffee shop? He’d inspired her. The feeling was unique, not until this artist had that ever happened.

She had to be feeling the same attraction that he was experiencing. The second she’d walked into that shop yesterday, he’d felt it. Need had coursed through him like never before, and when he spotted Alyssa, he understood why. She was his mate.

Which confused the fuck out of him. She was new to the area, unattached to any pack he knew of, and her scent, while alluring, was different. She could be a lone wolf, but that was highly unlikely. It was rare for a female shifter to roam. They preferred to stay with their pack while the males went in search of their mates.

So that left two possibilities. She was a half-breed, or a human. If she was a half-breed, she should have understood the mating pull and agreed when he’d asked her to join him for coffee. Hell, she should have been willing to race with him to the nearest bed or secluded corner. Instead, she’d turned him down. Which left one alternative.

She was human.

And he was fucked.

Released: October 1, 2022

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