When An Alpha Purrs(5)

By: Eve Langlais


Out the front door of the barbershop she streaked, barely noting the gaped mouths of the other patrons, as well as those of her uncle and cousin who also worked there.

The street noise proved varied and chaotic—engines humming, brakes screeching, voices chattering, the city teeming with life—but in spite of all this, she still heard the slam of a door hitting a wall, the chime of the bells strung on it, ringing in warning.

Even more worrisome was a bellowed, “Get your ass back here, woman!”

The imp in her, which apparently harbored a death wish, flashed him a finger.

Was that a roar? People around her didn’t stumble or react, and yet she could have sworn she heard the echo of a lion in the phantom sound.

It only spurred her to run and dodge faster. By only the narrowest of margins did she manage to dart across the road just before a sluggish bus, with a stream of cars behind it, passed.

She used its bulky girth to cover her dash into the alley. Straight down, then through an open door, into a kitchen she knew well. Aunt Theona’s pizza parlor.

It smelled so damned good. The yeast of freshly made dough, mixed with the tantalizing aroma of breadsticks cooking. If she wasn’t in such a hurry, she would have stopped for a bite.

However, self-preservation kept her moving, leaping over the bucket on wheels full of sudsy water. She spun around the edge of the stainless steel counter and streaked past the hot ovens.

“Kira! What are you doing?” bellowed her aunt, elbow deep in dough.

“Can’t stop to talk. Running from an angry client,” she shouted as she skipped through the swinging kitchen doors, weaved through the white Formica tables, and popped out onto another street, the market one. The throng of milling shoppers served as not only an effective ‘Where’s Kira?’ camouflage, but meant too many witnesses for Mr. Big Shot to kill her.

Skipping through the people, Kira kept to the busiest spots until she hit the fish mart, owned by her uncle, Vince. In she popped, waving hi to him where he stood behind the counter. She headed straight to the storage room at the back. Inside the room, she took the stairs that led to the second floor and the apartment Uncle Vince had rented her when she moved out here a few weeks ago.

The perfect hideout.

A part of her couldn’t help but mock her own cowardice in fleeing the irate businessman. However, she feared more by remaining and… what? Having him put her over his knee for a spanking?

Hmm. That might have been fun, especially if a kinky paddling led to something else.

Wrong.

So wrong.

How could she even be thinking such erotic things about the most arrogant jerk she’d ever had the misfortune to meet?

Probably because he was stupidly handsome.

Despite the fact his personality left a lot to be desired, she couldn’t seem to stop an attraction to him. The asshole syndrome at work.

What was it about her that couldn’t help craving the wrong guy?

Wasn’t her last boyfriend lesson enough? He was, after all, the reason she’d come out here. To escape.

When will I ever learn?

With a sigh, she flopped onto her borrowed couch, the mismatched cushions a reminder of her messed-up life. The phone rang.

One glance at the call display and she grimaced. The hair shop. Probably her uncle calling to ask what the hell was going on. Kira didn’t know what to tell him, so she didn’t answer.

She knew her uncle wouldn’t fire her, especially not once she told them what the big guy—Arik, a name fit for a Viking in a romance novel—had said to her. Heck, her cousins would probably form a lynch mob to confront him. Her family had an abundance of boys, and they tended to get rather protective of their sparse female cousins. A pity none of them lived in the Midwest close to her old home. She could have used them when she was having her problem.

But Arik hadn’t yet done anything that merited their attention, and Kira had already handled the pompous businessman. No, she couldn’t tell them what had happened, but she needed to talk to someone to cool her riled emotions, and she knew just who to call.

Number one on her speed dial. As the phone rang, she twirled a strand of hair around her finger.

“Kira, baby, what are you doing calling at this time? Shouldn’t you be working?” Her mother answered, her voice immediately concerned. Who could blame her, given the events of the past few weeks?

“I was. But something happened.” As she relayed to her mother the events, a gush of words that ended with, “the nerve of that man,” she expected commiseration.

Instead she got…laughter? “Oh my, but he sounds fascinating.”

“Fascinating? You did hear the part where he sexually harassed me, right? Or what about the fact he’s got caveman ideas? I mean come on, Mom. He claimed I wasn’t good enough to cut his hair because I’m a girl.”