SERIES: The Holloway Pack
AUTHOR: J.A. Belfield
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
RELEASE DATE: 5:30:2016
**Cornered contains scenes that some readers might find upsetting**
Daniel Larsen is playing a dangerous game, and he doesn't even know it.
A two-wheeled speedster. A little redhead in a bar. Evenings spent away from his pack. Innocent enough for most, but for Danny, the combination leads down a path of destruction and straight to a hell he doesn’t even see coming.
Entangled in a nightmare that started with his own brother and the cat he brought into their home, Dan’s driving himself toward a solitary existence—except for the curvaceous Olivia Fanella. Seduced by his new companion, and happy to ignore the divide growing between himself and the pack, Danny is oblivious to the trap being laid out for him.
Before long, Danny's integrity gets questioned. His loyalty gets questioned. Hell, he even questions himself.
On top of that, just when he believes life might be going a little better, he gets served the roughest shot he could never have imagined—not even in his worst nightmares—and Danny has no idea how to come back from a hit like that.
Liv studied at Uni and often landed at The Double-H—as the locals called it—to work on assignments. Said the atmosphere helped her to slip into a zone her wall-facing home desk tended to kill.
Not wanting to break her stride, I placed her drink down on her table and took a seat on the opposite bench without saying a word. Didn’t mean I didn’t cock my head to the side to see what she worked on, though.
At the top, in her neat handwriting, she’d penned 'Olivia Fanella’, and beneath that, a load of gobble-de-gook I didn’t understand. She’d once tried to explain what all the codes meant, the one time I’d asked her. It hadn't sunk in, and rather than ask again, I scanned the room for the second time since arriving.
One of the teens, a black kid, lounged over the pool table as he lined up a shot. The other, a pale blond, kept shaking his head, muttering for him to 'miss it’, despite the wonky smile on his lips.
I watched them a moment, almost wondering what it might’ve been like to grow up normal. Human. To have continued on through school until the very end. Through college. Uni, even—like Liv. Instead of hushed phone calls and donations made to school, the day Nate—our Alpha, and Dad’s best friend—decided I couldn’t go back, because I’d experienced my first full body muscle spasm.
I’d been popular in school. Popular with the sporty kids. Popular with the girls. It’d been weeks before I quit sulking over the loss of that popularity. It’d been longer still before I’d been given a new outlet for my energy, because not only did I have to wait until I reached eighteen before Dad and Nate would let me join them at the family construction business, I also had to wait for my first few changes to pass. They’d been some seriously, seriously boring months.
The black kid must’ve potted his ball, because, as he straightened, he outstretched his arms, his face full of smugness. “Man, you’ve either got it, or you ain’t,” he said to his friend.
From the other side of the floor, his volume shouldn’t have been audible. It likely wasn’t, to anybody else near where I sat. I didn’t fall into that category, though.
Studying the guys a bit longer, I took in the fitted cut of their shirts, the neatness of their hair. Despite only wearing jeans and boots, everything they wore seemed to have been chosen with precision. The blonde at the bar looked designer dressed from head to toe, too, and even the bloke on the other stool had on a pressed shirt and trousers, his tie from whatever job he’d left behind still secured about his neck.
Nothing like my stained jeans and scuffed boots, my hair overgrown and a bloody mess. I probably stood out like a tick on a bald cat.
Except for the girl sitting opposite.
I turned my attention back to Liv. The way that red hair of hers hung in her face had a roughness about it, making it—her—seem wild and untamed, despite her quiet demeanour. The hand not holding the pen clutched onto a bunch of the strands, like she needed the anchor to keep her grounded while she worked, showing a glimpse of the black-framed glasses she always wore. Beside her on the bench, her usual parker sat scrunched, leaving her in only a white T, with rolled up sleeves and a Rolling Stones logo on the front, a pair of ratty skinnies leading to the green Converse on her feet. Seemed to be her usual 'work’ gear—she’d barely deviated from the outfit since the first time I’d seen her.
The pair of us looked way out of place, when compared to the rest of the patrons, even if, all things considered, we probably were the only ones in there who actually suited The Hang & Hide, in all its ramshackle glory. Probably what’d drawn me to sit near her in the first place—that, and the way she seemed to want to talk even less than me.
Still, I couldn’t help but lean forward and open my big mouth. “You know, you don’t really look like the kind of female who’d hang around a place like this all the while.” As soon as I said it, I knew I’d sounded like a twit.
“Why’s that, then?” She nudged her glasses up her nose as she lifted her gaze. “Or maybe you just think the place should be full of more like Barbie over there?”
I followed the jerk of her chin, to the blonde at the bar. Like she sensed the scrutiny, the female twisted in her seat, giving me another of her smiles. Another one I ignored. With her movement, her thick waves of hair swung over her shoulder, the colour of popcorn flavoured jelly beans. Her eyes, on the other hand, resembled the liquorice ones.
Personally, I preferred the orangey sorts.
I downed a fat swig of my pint and turned back to Liv, resting my elbows on my knees.
Liv’s attention had already returned to her pad, her coarse wispy strands falling around her face, as she tapped her pen against her bottom lip, creating a smudge of blue there I instantly wanted to wipe away.
“Your hair reminds me of satsuma jelly beans,” I said, before I could stop myself.
“That supposed to be sweet talk, Danny?” she asked, looking up again. “Because you’re seriously crap at it.”
“Just saying.” I shrugged. “I like satsuma jelly beans.”
Breathing out a laugh and shaking her head, she went back to hunching over the table. “Thanks for the drink,” she muttered. “But work on your chatting up skills, yeah?”
Straightening, I lifted a foot and flopped it onto a stool, slouching back as I necked the rest of my lager in a few long swigs. “Who says I’m chatting you up?” I asked when I came up for air.
She dropped her pen long enough to take a drink. As she lowered her glass, she said, “There are always plenty of girls in here you can talk to, yet, you always talk to me. So, either you’re chatting me up ... or you’re gay.”
“Self-flattery.” I let out a low whistle. “That’s ... quite a skill.”
“I’m not going to sleep with you, Danny.”
That got my attention, and I studied her serious expression, the tightness between her brows, the way she fingered her pen like she needed the distraction. My own frown moved in. “Feel better now you have that out there?”
I heard her swallow as much as saw it, before she gave a small nod.
Leaning forward in my seat again and dropping my foot back to the floor, I swiped up my glass. “Good.” I pushed up from my seat, but paused before taking more than a few steps and twisted back to find her gazing my way through her lenses. “I’m not gay,” I said, like that was somehow important. “And I sit next to you each week because I come here for some peace, and you happen to be pretty good at providing that. Just so we’re clear.”
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