Alpha's Gamble (Haven City Series # 7) First Chapter Sneak Peek!!!

Alpha's Gamble (Haven City Series # 7) comes out in one week! Next Monday, March 2, 2015, the book will be live on all channels, barring some sort of unforeseen delay.

Until then, I'll be working on more of Lost Wolves Book Four. I haven't titled that one yet. I know. Bad writer. But at least I'm working on the right book now.

Oh, and obvs, fangirling over Destiel. Who doesn't?!?!

And now for the first chapter of Alpha's Gamble. Davis Harrison returns home, but he doesn't get the welcome he expects. And Ken drinks wine because wine is delicious. Also, angst. Glorious angst!


Davis Harrison ruined things. His life. His pack. His future.
In this case, he ruined Ken Isben’s chance of getting a good night’s sleep. At least, that’s how Ken saw it.
The evening started well enough. Ken got off work on time, for once. Sure, his brain felt numb from staring at a computer screen all day. Spreadsheets and numbers fumbled through his mind, but that was normal. Accounting had that effect.
Carolyn, Ken’s best office friend, threw her scarf around her neck and winked. “You going to meet Sam?”
Ken struggled not to smile. “At the bar. It’s not a big deal.”
“You never know. It could be true love,” she said and made a kissy face.
He flicked her in the shoulder to get her to quit.
Ken’s chest ached at that suggestion. Sam wasn’t true love. That title belonged to someone else—someone who didn’t love Ken the way Ken loved him. But he didn’t say that to Carolyn. He shrugged and convinced himself it was possible.
Just as he got off the elevator he realized he’d left his favorite pen on his desk. That meant Gemma, the office klepto, would end up with it the next morning. Damn! But it was just a pen, and he wasn’t about to go back up and tuck it into his desk. Not when he had a sort of second date with Sam from marketing. Well, Ken thought it was a second date. Maybe it was just drinks and making out behind a bar again.
Ugh. A bar.
He’d really prefer a restaurant and a glass of merlot. Oh, and a large medium rare steak. But that was the wolf shifter talking, and Sam from marketing was only human. He wasn’t even one of the humans with magic – a member of the shadow folk.
Nope. Just plain old human, which meant his appetite didn’t approach Ken’s even if Ken was a mere omega. But his rank didn’t matter when he didn’t have a proper pack. Not since. . . well, he didn’t want to think about that. About Davis and the pack that might have been (which was overly melodramatic, but also mostly true). Because thinking about Davis caused Problems with a capital P.
Thinking about Davis led to a whole bottle of wine down his throat and a delightfully light head that turned into a slight hangover the next morning. Thinking about Davis led to pulling out the high school yearbook and reminiscing about prom. How Davis said they should both go stag. Pick up chicks inside. Only they didn’t do that.
Once there, with all the other students dressed in cheap gowns and rented tuxedos and the cheesy streamers fluttering over their heads with the breeze from the air conditioning unit, Davis yanked Ken toward the line for pictures.
“As a joke!” he said, with that smile on his face – that charming grin that fell lopsided on the left and curved up a bit more on the right. It danced in his eyes, and Ken couldn't do anything but say yes.
He always said yes.
 Yes hurt more than he knew at the time. Yes felt good.
But, fuck. Yes didn’t last.
So, thinking about Davis Harrison was strictly off limits, but Ken already went there as he walked toward the bar attached to one of the many local breweries in Haven City.
His steps slowed, and he took a deep breath of the crisp fall air. The trees were almost bare. Their colored leaves littered the sidewalk, pressed into the cement with rain.
Yeah, Davis ruined things because he made Sam from marketing seem like a poor consolation prize in comparison. But Ken couldn’t ever have Davis (with his charming smile and those soulful brown eyes). And not just because Davis left Haven City years ago.
That was an obstacle, but one Ken would’ve been willing to cross if Davis were gay.
He wasn’t.
Yeah. Davis the Ruiner, for fucking sure.
So Ken went into the bar and met Sam from marketing for a drink. Beer. Not his thing, but Sam swore it was the best new place. They talked about work, and it was fine. Normal. Everything a second date should be.
It was supposed to be a cold winter, Sam said.
Ken pretended to shiver.
Sam chuckled, but his smile wasn’t lopsided. His features were all too even. No spark lit in Ken’s gut when he looked at Sam. But what the hell did he expect? At least the guy was here. And available.
Good enough, overall. Though a fellow shifter would’ve been even better.
Davis would be the best, his asshole of a brain reminded him. He shoved that thought aside.
Then, as they parted ways, Sam said they should do it again sometime. He stood very close so his arm brushed Ken’s. Their shoulders touched. He smelled like beer, sweat and his own bland human scent.
Ken smiled and nodded.
Then Sam from marketing kissed him. It was wet and warm and passable in most ways.
Not passionate.
But Ken kissed Sam back. He almost invited Sam over. Why the fuck not? What was he waiting for?
Well, someone who abandoned him a long time ago, for one.
Ken didn’t ask. Instead, he turned and started toward his condo on the lower north side of town, about twelve blocks from downtown and just over the river. The neighborhood was lively at this time of night. The puddles shimmered in the streetlights, reflecting the moon that was nearly full.
Ken sighed, and his stomach grumbled. He stopped at a local steak joint and ordered a meal to go since he was too tired to cook. His brain felt even number after that ‘date,’ and his mouth tasted unpleasantly sour. Was it the kiss or the beer? He blamed both.
When he got to his apartment he ate alone at the table. He needed that wine now. Please and thank you.
And whatever you do, don’t think about Davis.
Then his cell rang, and he jumped. Ken wiped his mouth on a cloth napkin and answered it.
“Mr. Isben? We have a Mr. Harrison down here at the station. Would you like to pick him up or let him stay in a holding cell overnight?” The voice on the other end was familiar. All too familiar, really. Tasha, the local booking officer at the police station.
Just what Ken needed tonight.
The breath hitched in his throat. Mr. Harrison. But it was the wrong Mr. Harrison. Not Davis, but his younger brother Tyler. “What did he do this time?”
“Shoplifting. They’re not pressing charges since he returned the items,” Tasha said and sounded as tired as Ken felt.
“Yeah. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”
Good thing he’d only had one glass of wine. Still. He decided against driving and set out back into the night.
Ken and Tasha had this routine down. When Ken arrived, he flashed his ID, and she led Tyler out of the holding cell and gave him back his things.
Tyler’s tongue flicked over his lip ring, and he wouldn’t meet Ken’s eyes as he tucked his wallet and cell phone back into his jeans.
Neither of them said anything until they stepped outside. “You want to talk about it?” Ken asked and shoved his hands into his pockets.
“Nope,” Tyler said and his nose wrinkled. He didn’t look exactly like his older brother, but there were similarities. Striking ones if Ken looked for them. Tyler’s brown eyes held the same kind of warmth, but they were sharper around the edges. Tighter.
Ken’s breath puffed in the cold air. “Are you using again?”
Tyler snorted and brushed a hand over his hair. It was black this week. Who knew what color it’d be next. It suited his tattoos better than plain old brown did, however. “I’m clean. I go to meetings every day. Ask my sponsor if you want.”
The thing about addicts was you couldn’t take them at their word. Only, Ken didn’t have any proof otherwise. Tyler looked the same as always. Haunted. Tight-lipped. But he wasn’t skinny and slight as he’d been at the height of his addiction. He’d put on muscle over the last two years of sobriety. That was a good sign.
“Okay. I trust you, but what were you doing in that store?” Ken asked and nudged Tyler’s shoulder.
Ken was shorter than Tyler by nearly a head. But it didn’t feel like Tyler was much bigger than him. Hell, he remembered when Tyler was the annoying little brother who wouldn’t leave him and Davis alone while they tried to play video games. Now he got into the habit of bailing Tyler out of jail because Davis wasn’t around to do it.
Things sure as fuck changed.
Tyler shrugged. “I was bored. Fuck, Ken. I got away clean. Then, I realized it was stupid and went back. They called the cops because I returned the shit.”
Ken fought the urge to smile and lost. “Wait. You almost got away clean and you went back? Am I rubbing off on you?”
“Shut up. I even told Tasha not to call you. The only reason they brought me in was because of my record,” Tyler said and kicked a pebble down the sidewalk. It skidded and landed in a puddle. “Oh, and you reek like booze and humans, by the way.”
Ken’s cheeks heated. “Booze and humans? Well. I had one glass of wine and one glass of beer – grudgingly.”
Tyler didn’t press for answers, but he raised an eyebrow. “Are you fucking a human?”
“No!” Ken said and thanked whatever possessed him not to invite Sam over to his place that night. If he had – shit – he didn’t want to think about it. “I went on a date with one. No big deal. Guy from my work.”
Tyler nodded. “You hear from Davis lately?” he asked and pulled out a cigarette. He didn’t light it, because Ken told Tyler often enough how he felt about smoking. Tyler tucked it into his lips and held it there. Ready.
“Few months ago. Did you give him your new number?”
Tyler shrugged, which could mean anything, as they reached the cross streets that led them in different directions.
“Do you need a place to stay tonight?” Ken asked. Because he always asked. Even if he knew the answer.
Tyler shook his head. “No. I’ll take the tram the rest of the way. It’s still running. See you around. And, uh, thanks.”
Ken nodded tightly and watched Tyler walk away.
When he got to his condo for the second time that night, Ken needed to finish that bottle of wine. His eyes stung, and he picked up his cell phone three times. Brought up Davis’s number and almost (almost!) pressed the call button before he thought better of it.
What was he going to say?
The same damn thing he said each time they talked. “Oh. Hey. Your little brother needs you. I’m doing everything I can to deal with it, like we would if we were a proper pack, but we’re not because you ran off and skirted your responsibility to us. How are you?”
Ken set the phone down and drank straight from the bottle. He took two long swallows and shoved it back into the fridge. If he didn’t, he’d finish the damn thing.
Then his night returned to normal.
He showered. Brushed his teeth. Collapsed into his fluffy, expensive mattress with eight hundred thread count sheets and fell asleep.
But no one on Earth, not even Tyler Harrison, could ruin a night like Davis.
Ken bolted upright in bed and blinked at the digital clock on his nightstand.
Two a.m.
Someone was knocking at his door at two a.m.?
What the hell?
He threw off the comforter, slipped on his slippers and shuffled to the door. His brain wasn’t awake enough to tell him not to open it. Ken undid the lock. Swung open the door. And –
“Hey, Ken. Long time. You gonna let me in or not?” Davis Harrison said and smiled. Lopsided and charming.
Ken’s heart jumped into his throat. Any cloud of sleep that still clung to his mind dissipated with that voice. That scent. The sight of Davis. There!
Not a million miles away.
Not in Los Angeles or New York or Miami but on his doorstep.
So Ken did the only thing he could do. He slammed the door in Davis’s face.
Or, he tried to do that.
However, Davis was still an alpha. Strong and fast, no matter what his other (many) shortcomings may be. He caught it with his forearm and pushed. “Oh, come on. It’s been years! I haven’t seen you since Vegas.”
Vegas. Why did he have to remind Ken of Vegas?
“No!” Ken said and pushed against the door with his back. “I need to get to sleep. Go see Tyler. He’s got a place.”
Typical Davis. He wouldn’t take a hint even if someone clobbered him with it. “Ken. Come on. I’m here to see you. I’ll see Ty tomorrow. We need to talk.”
Davis sounded so serious Ken forgot what he was doing. He stopped pushing, and Davis slipped inside with his duffel bag, and loomed over him. “Better lock up. Don’t want any weirdoes to break in.”
Ken widened his eyes and balled his hand into a fist. The fist met the solid wall of Davis’s chest. The alpha stumbled back a step. Hell, it was better than before when Davis didn’t move an inch if Ken slugged him. Not that Ken liked hitting Davis, but sometimes the bastard deserved it. Like now!
“What the hell? It’s two in the morning. You could’ve waited until a decent hour. Also, what are you doing here?” Ken hissed and brushed his hands through his hair.
Davis moved toward the kitchen, his eyes slipping over everything in the room. The neat modern furniture and the art on the walls. “That’s not the tone of voice of someone who’s happy to see me. Lighten up, Ken! I know it’s late, but my bus just arrived, so I thought I’d head over. Why did you give me your address if you didn’t want me to use it? I couldn’t call Ty because I don’t have his new number. Now, you got something to eat?”
Ken crossed his arms and watched, helplessly, as Davis opened the refrigerator and pulled out a package of salami, mustard and bread. He held up the bottle of wine and raised an eyebrow, as if he were offering it.
“Yes. Wine. I think I’ll need the rest of it now,” Ken grumbled and grabbed the bottle out of Davis’s hands.
“You want a sandwich? You look thin. Are you eating enough?” Davis asked as he threw the meat and bread together in a way that should’ve looked sloppy but managed being presentable instead.
“Yes, and I eat plenty. You sound like my mother,” Ken said and pried the cork from the bottle. How had he even managed to push it back in so far? No idea. He yanked with his teeth and got it free.
Davis pushed the first sandwich across the countertop and made a second. His brown eyes stayed glued to the task, and Ken watched Davis’s hands as he worked. They were rougher than before. Tanned and calloused, but they were the same hands he remembered.
He swallowed. Hard. Then took a long sip of the wine.
“Easy there. You need a glass?” Davis asked and placed the top slice of bread on his sandwich.
“No,” Ken said and wiped his lips. “Not tonight I don’t. Tell me why you’re here.”
“You don’t even want to sit?” Davis asked and pointed at the kitchen table.
Ken gritted his teeth and bit back the urge to scream. Because screaming at Davis didn’t do any good. It never did any good. And he knew that, but it didn’t stop the impulse from filling his bones. He shoved the sandwich in his mouth instead and stared at Davis as if his gaze could will his best friend into telling him everything.
Davis shrugged and leaned against the counter. As Ken chewed, he noticed Davis’s hands weren’t the only things about him to change. It’d been fifteen years since Davis left Haven, and nearly ten since they’d last seen each other.
The Davis he remembered best was still slightly gawky – too tall and growing into his build. Davis grew well enough. His shoulders were broad and strong. A fitted T-shirt stretched over his muscular chest, tucked into his jeans. His brown leather jacket had seen better days, but it suited him.
Ken’s mouth dried out, and he took another swig of wine.
“So. Nice pajamas,” Davis said and brushed the crumbs from his lips.
Ken scowled. “Talk or I kick you out. I thought you said you could never come back. Now here you are! What the fuck?”
Davis opened his mouth and closed it twice. Then he yanked a glass out of the cupboard, filled it with water, and drank the whole damn thing before he answered. “Well, it turns out I can come back, so I did.”
Ken narrowed his eyes. “Just like that. Fifteen fucking years of running away and now you can come back? Lucky us!”
Davis shrugged. “Look. I told you I didn’t want you to get involved. But the trouble I was in got cleaned up. You know that gang war that went down last summer? Well, that took care of my problem. So, here I am. I thought you’d be happy to see me. You said you wanted me to come back, and then you practically leave me on the street. Hungry. Alone. Is that what friends do?”
Ken reached for the final swallow of wine, but Davis lifted the bottle from the counter before he had the chance. Then, that bastard alpha, slipped his mouth over the edge, and he drank it. A drop landed on Davis’s bottom lip, and he swept it away with the enticing tip of his tongue.
Ken wiped his sweaty palms on his pajama pants. “That was years ago. But you’re right. I don’t want to know what the trouble was. I don’t want anything to do with your messed up life, because you left me here to deal with one fucked up member of the Harrison household and that’s enough for me, thanks.”
The words stung, and he didn’t really mean them. Not entirely. Tyler was like a brother to him more than anything else. And Davis was, well, Davis.
“Yeah. I—how is he?” Davis asked and set the wine bottle down with a clink that sounded louder than it should have.
“Fine. He was arrested for shoplifting again. No biggie,” Ken said.
Davis’s jaw clenched, and he nodded. “Look. I’ll talk to him. Okay? That’s all I can do. I can’t promise he’ll listen to me.”
Ken laughed. Short and bitter. “Oh, he won’t! But he’s better. Clean for two years. You know things were bad after your dad died, but when your mom went it just got worse. He needed you.”
Davis pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yeah. I know. Is this going to turn into a lecture because I don’t need another one of those. If you don’t want me here, I’ll go. It’s just. . . I get back into Haven and you’re the first person I wanted to see. Don’t tell Ty. I want to see him too, but I thought you’d be glad I was back.”
Ken squeezed his eyes shut and let out a slow breath through his nose. Davis Harrison everyone. Guilt tripper extraordinaire. And it worked. Ken’s stomach did a stupid juvenile backflip at those words. If Davis told Ken that in high school, he’d have convinced himself it was true love. That they really were mates and years of a fruitless crush finally meant something. Now, Ken shoved the sensation aside. “I – I’m just tired. It was a long day, and I have work tomorrow. You surprised me. I wish you called.”
“Maybe I wanted to surprise you,” Davis said with a smile.
Ken shook his head and glanced at the duffel bag next to the front door. It was as beat up as Davis’s jacket. “Do you have someplace to stay?”
“Nope. Is this a two bedroom? It’s really nice. But I always thought you’d want a house in the suburbs.”
“Well, maybe you don’t know me as well as you think. It’s a one bedroom, but you can take the couch. Let me get you a blanket,” Ken said, voice as sharp as he could make it.
Davis flinched, and it should’ve felt more satisfying than it did.
Ken flitted through his cupboards, gathered a few things and set the bundle on the couch. “Put the sheet down before you sleep. I don’t want your musk ruining the leather. Here’s a towel if you want to shower. Bathroom is down the hall. There’s an extra toothbrush, brand new, in the cupboard. Please use that.”
Davis nodded. “Thanks.”
Then, as Ken turned to leave, a strong hand snagged his shoulder. He tensed under the grip. It’d been so long. And the last time – oh fuck! The last time he made such a fool of himself. He took a breath through his nose. “Tell me one thing. Are you staying for good or not?”
“I’m not leaving this time. I promise,” Davis said, his voice gruff and rich. It seeped into Ken’s skin, and he felt like he could drink it.
Ken nodded tightly and slipped out of Davis’s grasp. He stepped into his room and shut the door, leaned against it, and balled his hands into fists so tight his nails bit into his palms. He wanted to believe Davis, but after everything that happened Ken knew the painful truth.
That alpha abandoned the wolves who were supposed to be his pack. His promises meant nothing.
Ken trudged to the bed and climbed under the covers. His mouth tasted like salami and wine, but he wouldn’t have gone back out there for anything. Well, maybe Davis naked in his bed – no!
He shook that thought away, and put a pillow over his head as the shower burst to life. Which meant Davis was naked and wet.
Ken squeezed his eyes shut and tried to sleep.
Don’t think about Davis Harrison?
Now it really was impossible.


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