The Alpha’s Choice

M_ACcoverThe Alpha’s Choice

Katarina Bennett stopped believing in fairytales a long time ago. Prince Charming doesn’t exist. Careful planning is what makes dreams come true and that’s what she’s spent most of her life doing. Now those plans have fallen apart. She’s lost everything; her fiancé, her job and her home. Determined to make a new start, Kat takes a job as a governess and teacher for five orphaned children and finds herself in an old Gothic mansion in the middle of nowhere with people who aren’t what they seem. Charles Goodman is the Alpha of his wolver pack, the modern descendants of an ancient line of man/beasts who’ve hidden among the human race for centuries. Charles has his hands full with taking his pack in a new direction and dealing with dissention in the ranks and doubts about his own abilities to lead, but when he meets his feisty new employee, he begins to believe in a future he didn’t think possible. Together, Charles and Kat, Alpha and Mate, set out to prove all things are possible and fairytales do come true.

 

So much fun! …you want it to keep going…can’t wait for the next… Amazon Reader

Another winner! ..Plenty of action and humor, twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end…wrapped around a juicy love story that will make your toes curl. Goodreads Reviewer

Another great book! …new departure from the usual Alpha wolf book  Amazon Reader 

 …wonderful tale of finding oneself, true love, faith and confidence, loving redemption, danger and ingenuity. Goodreads Reviewer

 

Excerpt from The Alpha’s Dilemma Choice (All right, let’s be honest – This is the entirety of book thus far.) It’s finished and in its final edit! Hallelujah!

Chapter 1

Someone had stolen the idea for this house from one of those Gothic stories she used to read as a girl, the ones where she’d shout aloud at the not very bright heroine, “Don’t go down those dark, drafty basement stairs in the middle of the night with only a candle to light your way, you idiot!” You knew, you just knew, that such subterranean excursions would come to no good end.

But no, the brainless twit never listened to her. The heroine had to go to the cellar of the old Victorian house where something awful was always about to happen. How else was the heretofore ill-humored hero supposed to rescue said twit from the clutches of the evil uncle-brother-pseudo-suitor-someone she trusted? How else could the hero fall in love with the plucky bravery of the heroine who went off investigating on her own and almost getting herself killed in the process.

She didn’t know why she yelled. She knew she was wasting her breath. That totally-unaware-of-her-remarkable-beauty ward/governess/poor relation’s fate was sealed the moment the book was sent off to the publisher. Kat knew this. That’s why the library put that great big F on the book’s spine. Geesh!

Still, she always yelled. Worse, she always followed the stupid girl right down those cellar steps to whatever fate awaited. Hey! The twit always got the guy, didn’t she?”

Yep, this place was that kind of house, except she hadn’t met the cantankerous caretaker yet. She hadn’t met anyone who looked remotely like a hero either, and she wasn’t going down those cobwebby basement stairs until someone replaced the light bulb and tossed a bug bomb down there.

On the other hand, if she didn’t go down those creepy stairs, how was she going to get her bedroom linens clean since the spiral bound notebook on the kitchen counter said ‘laundry in basement’.

Kat was beginning to think this whole thing was a mistake.  Mr. Begley wasn’t kidding when he said a large Victorian home. There must be fourteen rooms in this house, but light housekeeping? Oh, please. This place hadn’t seen any housekeeping, light or otherwise in fifteen years. A thick layer of dust covered everything, including the bed she was supposed to sleep in tonight.

She’d pulled up the overgrown driveway about four o’clock this afternoon and found the house key right where Mr. Begley said it would be, under the flowerpot on the front porch. Kat had to laugh, because when she slid the key in the slot, the door creaked open, unlocked. It was now eight o’clock and opening that damn door was the last time she laughed.

And just to show you how things change and evolve here’s Chapter 1, Take 2 

ac_paperbook-coverSomeone had stolen the idea for this house from one of those Gothic mysteries she used to read as a girl, the ones where she’d shout at the not very bright heroine, “Don’t go down those dark, drafty cellar stairs in the middle of the night with only a candle to light your way, you idiot!”

The brainless twits never listened to Kat. They had to follow the clues to the damp and musty cellar of the old and creepy house where something awful was guaranteed to happen. How else was the heretofore unattainable hero supposed to rescue said twit from the clutches of her villainous uncle/brother/pseudo suitor/someone-she-trusted? How else could the handsome, brooding fellow fall in love with the plucky fearlessness of a heroine who went off investigating on her own and almost got herself killed?

The pragmatic Kat never understood why she bothered yelling at those books. She knew she was wasting her breath. That totally-unaware-of-her-remarkable-beauty ward/governess/poor relation’s fate was sealed the moment she entered that house.

The romantic Kat always shouted her warning anyway. Worse, she followed the daring darling right down those cellar steps to whatever fate awaited, praying the hero would arrive in time to save his one true love so they could live happily ever after.

Kat was a big girl now and knew there was no such thing as fairytales or happily ever after and if she was ever in need of rescuing, she damn well better do it herself. No handsome hero was going to do it for her. She’d learned her lesson on that score.

Cat rechecked the directions from the manila folder she’d received from the agent. Yep, this was the place.

Mr. Begley, the man who’d hired her, called it a former hunting lodge and Kat envisioned a rustic country retreat, a one story log structure perhaps, with a broad front porch and a stone fireplace. It would be a cozy, masculine place with worn leather furniture and scattered throws and a moose head over the fireplace built from stone hand carried from the nearby creek. She wasn’t enthusiastic about the moose head, but she’d lived with worse and it was a former hunting lodge after all. She’d add a few softer touches of her own once she saw what was needed.

The place in front of her had nothing in common with her bucolic image, unless you counted the stone. Lots and lots and lots of stone. Three stories worth of stone, all of it square cut and gray. Dark gray. Even the window frames were painted dark gray. This was not what she would picture as a cheerful home for orphaned children.

Keeping with her gothic theme, a sinister looking gardener viciously snapping at the shrubbery with a wicked pair of shears would not have looked out of place. But if this place had ever had a gardener, sinister or otherwise, he was now standing in line down at Unemployment.

Hell Hall, as Kat already dubbed it in her mind, might not look quite so dreary with a little bit of landscaping, but the patchy spots of green that she suspected were weeds and not grass ran from the curved edge of the gravel drive right up to the stone foundation. There wasn’t a shrub to be seen.

Two walls of the same ugly stone jutted out from either side of the huge square structure, cutting off the view of the rear of the house. Arches were built into each wall about halfway down their length, their keystones rising another two feet above the row of short spikes capped by fleur-de-lis finials.

This place looked more like a prison than a home. Torn between investigating what lay behind the garden walls or facing the horrors she was now convinced lay inside, Kat chose the interior. If there was a stern looking housekeeper dressed head to foot in gray bombazine waiting to greet her, she’d best get it over with.

Exiting her little compact car, Kat felt tiny fingers of warning crawl up her spine and she looked both right and left and up to the windows towering above her. No eyes peeked around the corner. No telltale curtain moved. Mr. Begley assured her the house was vacant, but she had the strangest feeling she was being watched. She shook the feeling off and laughed at herself.

“There you go letting your imagination run away with you again,” her practical side scolded. “It’s the silence that’s getting to you. No traffic, no car horns, no flashing lights or sirens, no clatter of feet on the sidewalk. All this quiet is downright creepy.”

Boldly, she walked to the wide front door and took the key that Mr. Begley had given her from her pocket and fitted it into the lock. It was an unnecessary action. The door swung inward at her touch.

The little girl Kat used to be was shouting, “Don’t go in that dark and creepy house all alone!”

But the grown-up Kat knew her fate was sealed the moment she signed the contract and she was done with scaring herself over nothing.

“You’ve lived in creepier places than this,” she told herself and pushed through the door calling, “Hello! Is anybody home?”

And then laughed at herself again. If anyone had answered her call, she would have been back in her car with the doors locked before she could say, “Whoa, shit!” The entrance hall was huge… and dark… and creepy. A ghost wouldn’t feel out of place at all.

Kat’s eyes skimmed across the dark paneled walls searching for a light switch and finally located a row of four, none of which turned anything on that she could see. The electricity was either turned off or, heaven forbid, there wasn’t any to turn on. She waited until her eyes adjusted to the dimness.

Ahead and to the right, a wide staircase climbed up one wall to the second floor and looking up through the towering height of the ceiling and a balcony rail, she could see where it continued from the hallway above up to the third. Pocket doors, their glass panes neatly covered in brown paper and blue painter’s tape opened to either side of the foyer leading to two large rooms. Both appeared to be sitting rooms judging by the shapes of the sheeting covering the furniture. Each of these rooms had four large windows swathed in dark and deeply fringed draperies that kept out the light. Both were dusty and dirty with cobwebs hanging in the corners and from old fashioned chandeliers.

This was not the place she’d envisioned when she planned to spend a few days relaxing on her own. A highway rest area would be cleaner and more inviting.

She passed more doors on her way to the back of the house, but assumed those rooms would be in the same condition as those at the front.

On the right at the end of the hallway, she found the kitchen and it made her rethink what she’d seen of the rest of the house.

“Holy…” She snapped her mouth shut and wandered into something out of a magazine. Someone had taken great pains to combine the essence of the house’s origins with every modern kitchen convenience.

A bank of windows ran along the back wall above a row of white cabinets topped by a black granite countertop that ran the length of the kitchen to either side of a soapstone sink that looked big enough to bathe in.

Three of the four walls of the long room were broken up by doors behind which were two large pantries lined with overflowing shelves; one with food, the other dishware. A large, minimally furnished bedroom with attached bath was behind another and then two sets of stairs, one leading up which Kat assumed was for the long ago servant’s use and one leading down to the proverbial dark and drafty cellar.

A quick inspection of the cabinetry separated by the doors revealed not cupboards, but appliances; two refrigerators, a freezer, a fully stocked wine cooler and a series of drawers holding enough soft drinks to supply the small army being fed with the food that stocked the freezer and fridge.

A monstrous looking eight burner stove was centered on one wall capped by an elaborated exhaust hood and backed by beautiful tile.

Someone had spent a small fortune on the renovation of this kitchen. Kat flipped a switch and cheered aloud as the kitchen was flooded with light from strategically placed fixtures throughout the room. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

She ran back along the hall, opening the doors she’d neglected before. Directly across from the kitchen was another room with a full wall of windows that appeared to be a small dining room or breakfast room, she corrected when she opened the door to what was obviously the ‘real’ dining room. There was another small room with a desk and computer and two more that were empty. Every room was clean and freshly painted.

“See?” Kat laughed with relief, “Nothing to worry about.”

Mr. Begley wasn’t exaggerating when he said it was a large Victorian home. There must be at least twenty rooms in this house, but the light housekeeping part of her contract? This place was going to take a lot more than light housekeeping to keep it tidy, but they were paying her a helluva lot more than she’d ever been paid for anything else. She’d see they got their money’s worth.

She hadn’t realized how worried she was over her first impression of the house until the weight of it was lifted from her shoulders. Kat was a planner, an organizer. She hadn’t done a spontaneous thing in her entire life and yet she’d fallen for everything the agent, Mr. Begley, told her about the job and the place where she would live. She’d been hurt, angry, and not quite in her right mind when she’d spoken to the man and feared she only heard what she wanted to hear. Not that there was anything she could do about it if that was the case.

After the mess she’d left behind, she doubted her ex-landlord would let her back in even if her old apartment was still available and if he did, she had nothing with which to pay first and last month’s rent. Every dime she’d made in the last eight years had gone to The Bastard in one form or another. Now he had everything and she had nothing; no job, no home, no family and no future prospects.

Mr. Begley insisted the house would be vacant and no one would be inconvenienced by her early arrival. He promised to make the arrangements, but surely all that food in the kitchen was not for her alone. Once more she was beginning to doubt her decision.

The bedroom at the top of the stairs chased away those doubts and the view from the kitchen window sealed the deal.

Her bedroom and she knew this because of the notes Mr. Begley had given her along with directions, was larger than her first apartment. A huge four poster bed took center stage with a mattress raised so high off the floor the little set of steps alongside weren’t just for show. On one side of the room, two wing chairs angled toward a fireplace with a hand carved surround and mantle. A desk filled the corner on the other side of the bed leaving plenty of room for a dresser between two doors; one of which led to a luxurious bath, the other to a closet the size of Rhode Island.

It took ten minutes to run down to her car, grab her bags and unpack every piece of clothing she owned. They filled a corner of the closet.

In spite of the open wall of windows, Kat hadn’t bothered to look outside the first time she was in the kitchen, but when she finally did, the patio beyond the kitchen made leaving the house impossible. She instantly took back every bad thing she thought about the landscaping. Who cared about the hellish front of the house when the back was heaven?

Within fifteen minutes, she had a piece of salmon on the grill and a patio table set for one with real dishes and flatware, a cloth napkin and a glass of white wine. The wood for a fire was laid ready in the pit with a lounge chair beside it where, after her delicious dinner, she would relax and enjoy another glass of wine. Or two.

If The Bastard could enjoy a vacation, why shouldn’t she? Kat filled her plate and sat down to enjoy her surroundings.

In addition to the fire pit and outdoor kitchen, the backyard paradise included a heated pool, a hot tub, two dining/seating areas and a putting green. Her former students vacationed at fancy hotels that didn’t equal this and beyond the grassy area on the far side of the pool it was evident more was planned.

Beyond that, the land went wild, beginning with open field and ending in forest. She wondered how much of it her employer owned. There didn’t seem to be another house for miles.

For the first time in years Katarina Bennett felt completely relaxed and at ease. With a bath towel wrapped around her shoulders and a small fire to ward off the evening chill, she closed her eyes and exhaled noisily as she allowed her body to collapse in her patio lounge.

She was barely thirty years old and yet she felt old and worn out and for what? What did she have to show for all those hours and years of hard work? Except for her degrees? Not one damn thing, that’s what.

She had no savings or investments and even her 401K was minimal. Her checking account had a whopping seven hundred and thirty five dollars in it.

She owned a twelve year old car and enough clothes to fill two beat up suitcases. She’d disposed of her half of the furniture which was purchased second hand to begin with and was worth nothing now. The Bastard’s portion was still in the apartment. All her worldly possessions were stuffed in her compact car. Nothing of hers was left behind unless she counted her half of the flat screen TV. That was something she found too difficult to divide so she’d left it with a table leg sticking out of one side of it, a table leg from his half of the ancient kitchen table.

It took her eight years, but she’d learned her lesson. From here on in, Kat came first. She was still young enough to make a new start and the year she would spend at this job would give her that. The pay was excellent and she would have none of the expenses she’d had before.

She laughed bitterly and poured herself more wine. Her major previous expense was somewhere in the Bahamas with his pregnant new wife.