HOW TO DATE A HUMAN:
1. Just say no.
Sunny Hines is the most infuriating female I’ve ever met.
Long hair, big sunny smile, cute little freckles, yoga-tight body.
2. Resist the urge to claim. Walk away.
My wolf wants to mark her, but there’s no way in hell I’m falling for a human.
This pretty little hippie human is driving me crazy.
Two years ago, I had her beneath me, howling my name, until she left.
Now she’s back, but she’s not going to put me on a leash.
3. No…Just no.
But when I see her with another man, I can’t stop myself from
Marking my territory and making it clear:
Sunny is mine.
Publisher’s Note: Alpha’s Sun is an over 50’s romance featuring a dominant, protective wolf with a free-spirited human female set in the bestselling Bad Boy Alphas series. HEA guaranteed!
I park my motorcycle at the Rio Grande gorge bridge and walk down to check out the scene at the end of the bridge.
And it is a scene. There are vendors assembled on the side, some with tables set up, some operating out of buses or the backs of pickup trucks. There are pinon nuts for sale. Local honey. Jewelry. The vendors are a mix of Native Americans and hippies.
A bridge stretches across the Rio Grande gorge, a nauseating six hundred or more feet above the giant canyon. I hear a tour guide telling someone it’s one of the highest bridges in the country. I recognize it from Easy Rider and one of the Terminator movies—favorites of mine.
I scent the air, catching the smell of coffee, ice cream, sweat. The sun beats harder in the high altitude and my leather riding jacket suddenly feels too hot.
I peel it off and toss it over the seat of the bike. I don’t know why, but I have a good feeling about this rest area. Like I’m going to get the information I need from one of these humans milling about here. There’s a positive energy crackling in the air.
Someone knows something. I’m here for a reason; I can feel it.
My alpha sent me to follow up on some intel we received about another Data X lab out in the high mesa of New Mexico. I scouted around Sandia National Labs, because we thought it might be there, but I caught no scent of shifters. I checked out Roswell, because of the alien lore, but struck out there, too. There may be aliens, but I didn’t smell any shifters.
I only know one wolf in New Mexico and he’s a loner. No pack, totally off the grid. So off the grid, he doesn’t have a phone—landline or cell. It’s been years since I’ve seen him. Hell, I don’t even know if he’s still around, but I figure if any of the weird shit that went down with the Data-X guys—any government testing on shifters or disappearances happened in his state, he’d know.
So I’ve come up to the one place I know he always goes in summer—the Taos and Red River area for fishing.
“Titus? Oh my goddess!” A female voice stops me in my tracks and my entire body reacts like a flash flood of lust dumping into my veins.
I’m so not up for this right now.
I rotate slowly, and even though I’m prepared to see the brightness that is Sunny Hines, her beauty knocks my knees out from under me.
I flex my jaw, forcing myself to breathe.
“Sunny.” It comes out like a growl. Like an admonishment, which I guess it is.
This woman is fucking trouble with a capital Fuck.
A free-loving hippie who blew through my life two years ago like a fucking hurricane. Definitely left damage in her wake. And I hadn’t even realized I had anything on the line with her.
She’s dressed in a tank top that shows off her slender, muscular arms and her long blonde hair is woven in a braid that hangs across one delicate shoulder. She hurls herself at me.
You wouldn’t think a woman so tiny could make such an impact, but I have to brace to catch her full weight, and there’s no choice but to pick her up off her feet with a bear hug. Her arms wind around my neck in a stranglehold.
“Sweet goddess above. I knew I’d see you again! It’s so great. Such a surprise.” She barely breathes between sentences. “How are things? Have you been to Tucson to see the kids?”
I try to extricate myself from the hug, mainly because the feel of those soft, bra-less breasts rubbing over my chest is too much. Especially when combined with her unique scent. I don’t know what it is—probably some frankincense or patchouli shit, but on her, it doesn’t smell bad. On her, it comes off as feminine power mingled with mysticism.
It smells like danger.
My wolf doesn’t think so. My wolf thinks she smells like hedonistic pleasure.
And he’s totally down with that.
But I’m not.
Fuck, no. This female—this human female—is the last person I need to get involved with. If I think I made a mistake with my first mate, I know without question this one is a hundred times worse.
At least Barbara stuck around a few years to see Titus Junior grow into a little boy. But maybe that’s not fair. From what I can tell, Sunny was a great single parent for Foxfire, my son’s mate.
But she’s ditzy as hell. Like whacko airy-fairy.
I clear my throat trying to step back, but she follows into my personal space. Damn her. “Uh, yeah. I saw the kids a few weeks ago. All good.”
“Any talk of grandchildren?” The hope in her face is so blinding I want to look away. People shouldn’t show their emotions so clearly. It’s unnerving. Does something squirmy to my gut.
“No,” I say too gruffly. “At least not that I heard. But I don’t go pushing that kind of thing.” I glower at her like it’s entirely inappropriate for a woman in her fifties—a woman who looks too fucking glorious to be in her fifties—to want grandchildren.
Her expression dims slightly and she pulls back.
I’m instantly sorry for being such a dick. My wolf stirs, restlessly, like he needs me to fix it. ASAP. Before I know what I’m doing, I reach out to touch her arm.
I fucking stroke her arm—like I have any right to touch her that way. To caress her sun-kissed soft skin. “I’m sure they’ll come eventually. The kids are still young.”
Some kind of pain flits across her face, something I can’t decipher, but she nods and turns the smile back up. “Well, what are you doing here, Titus? Clearly you didn’t come to see me.”
The idea that I would come to see her is ludicrous, and she must know it because a blush creeps up her neck. It may be adorable to see a woman our age blush, but again—the woman’s got to stop showing every single emotion. It’s fucking dangerous to show so much vulnerability. Especially a woman like her, living alone in that goddamn Airstream. Any guy could take advantage of her. Mow her down.
And that thought leaves my skin prickly with anger.
“I’m on official pack—I mean club business.” I’m not sure if Sunny fully understands what we are. She lives in a different dimension. To her, everyone has a spirit animal, which she can see with her inner eye. So she sees mine as a wolf. She saw her daughter’s as a fox, so she named her Foxfire. But does she really get that we’re shifters? That part is unclear.
If she were a different kind of human, telling her probably would’ve been necessary. But she sort of accepts it all like it’s nothing. I don’t think she’s actually seen a shifter in their true animal form. Tank swore to his alpha she hadn’t, anyway. I don’t believe she knows it is a real thing, not a spirit animal.
She came to my son’s pack run, the one where I lit up the sky with fireworks to welcome her daughter to the pack, but since she’s not a member, I took her on a ride on my motorcycle when the time came for everyone to shift and run.
She stares at me now, open-faced, expecting more.
“It’s private business,” I add. I’m sure as hell not going to discuss serious pack shit with her.
“Oh. Well great. Do you have a place to stay?”
I look around for her Airstream, but I don’t see it. I do see her painted VW bus parked at the edge of the gorge. Daisy, I think she calls it. Insert eye roll. How in the hell did I miss it before? I worked on that thing for a full week, not wanting her risking a breakdown driving around in the ancient pile of screws and bolts.
I don’t have a plan for where to sleep yet, but fate knows I’d never fit in the Airstream, if that’s where she still sleeps. Not that I plan to get anywhere near her and a bed again, anyway. “I’ll figure something out,” I say.
Her smile takes another dive.
My wolf fucking hates it.
“Yeah, sure. Great. Well, if you want to grab a beer or something while you’re—”
“I don’t think so,” I cut her off. I need to get away from this female before she snares me in her feminine web again. I still remember how gutted I felt when she left last time. “But thanks.”
“Sunny!” A good-looking but clearly weak and inferior human male calls out from a table nearby. “You teaching rooftop yoga tonight?”
Oh, no he didn’t.
I seriously think the asshole is challenging me. He may not even understand his own behavior—humans are idiots about pack order dynamics even though they engage in them every day—but I guaran-fucking-tee he saw me talking to Sunny and his nature prompted him to insert himself.
Sunny turns her bright face in his direction. “You know it! Are you coming?”
“Of course. I’m looking forward to opening my hips with you under the sunset.”
Sunny snorts, which only partially mollifies my wolf. Really I’d like to go over there and punch the guy right in his gut. Teach him to fucking sniff around my territory.
Pull back, Titus.
This woman is definitely not my territory. I haven’t marked her, nor do I plan to. The last time I mated a female it ended badly. Lost me my position in the pack and ruined my kid’s life.
But I’m incapable of walking away and letting this guy open his fucking hips with Sunny tonight.
“What’s rooftop yoga?” I snarl.
Amusement flickers over Sunny’s face. “I teach sunset yoga on the roof of one of the cantinas on the plaza. Why? You going to come?” She folds her arms across her chest with a teasing challenge in her gaze.
And my wolf never backs down from a challenge.
I splutter as I try to answer. “Yeah.” The syllable wobbles across my lips. “What time?”
“Seven o’clock.” Her eyes still dance with amusement. “You probably don’t have any clothes you can stretch in, though.”
Is she giving me an out?
I glance over at fuck-face. “I’ll figure something out.”
“Well, great.” There’s false cheerfulness in her voice now, and I don’t particularly like it. Does she not want me there? Does she actually want to have a yoga date with fuck-face? She takes a couple steps back from me. “I’ll see you there, then.”
“On the rooftop patio above La Cantina. Follow the crowd with yoga mats—you can’t miss it.”
Yoga mats… fuck.
As if she reads my mind, she says, “I’ll bring a mat for you.” She tosses a wink before she saunters away, the swish of her hips imprinting on my brain like a hypnotic cue for lust.
Oh hell. What did I just do?
I’m out here on pack business, and I’m letting myself get distracted by a female. There’s a pattern here that’s uncanny. Females are trouble for me. I was kicked out of my pack over a woman. Tank and I wandered around like beggars until Emmett Green took me into his pack in Wolf Ridge, Arizona, north of Phoenix. And now after five minutes with a pretty human, I’m ready to ignore my orders for the most out of character activity on the planet—rooftop yoga.
I must be out of my fucking mind.
I forgot how attractive Titus is. Huge, masculine, muscular goodness. Immovable as a wall, both physically and emotionally.
But he’s an alpha male, so when Chas asked about yoga, he couldn’t stop himself from throwing his dick in the ring. Yeah, mixed metaphor. My specialty.
How emotionally immature.
And slightly flattering.
Well, it might have been flattering if he hadn’t pretty much given me the brush off. So now it’s just annoying. Like he doesn’t want me, but no one else is allowed to have me either? I don’t think so.
I’m not playing that game, big boy.
I’m not playing any game with you. If you want me, come and get it. But if you’re still not ready, don’t waste my time. I have a life to live.
I head back to my tables and start packing things up for the evening. I haven’t sold a single piece today. Which is how it goes. The day felt kinda flat when I woke up this morning, but I still have to get out there and try. I’m fine—money always appears when I need it. The Universe has my back, for sure.
I don’t give into the woe-is-me, I’m a starving artist thing, because I know that can turn into an identity and it’s not one I’m going to choose. I climb behind the wheel of my bus and start her up. She still runs like a dream thanks to the prickly man I just walked away from.
I look around for where he’s parked and spot him saddled up on his motorcycle, staring right at me. I lift my hand with an overly-cheerful wave which he doesn’t acknowledge. Instead, he guns the motorcycle and takes off with a roar.
The guy seriously has way too much of it.
He is definitely not a sensitive new age guy. More like King Kong meets caveman.
And yet I still sense he could be the one. There’s something in me that feels so vibrant when I’m with him. Like he could be my soulmate. Twin flame. Divine partner.
But he’s got his head stuck so far up his ass he wouldn’t know his soulmate if she danced naked in front of him. He’s the bros before hos type all the way.
He has blinders on to almost anything except his precious motorcycle club. And he may be big and strong and fierce, but what he doesn’t know is that sometimes vulnerability takes the most courage. Putting yourself out there. Risking your heart. Your emotions. Your very soul for love.
But I’m not anyone to emulate. I’ve been hurt way too many times. I’m not going to open the door for Titus to walk through unless I know for sure this time he’s ready. That it will work.
So yeah, I guess I’m as big of a chicken shit as he is.
I drive to the plaza and park in the lot, then pull the drapes across the bus windows to change into my yoga clothes.
Rooftop yoga is the highlight of my week. Especially now that it’s summer and we don’t need the heaters anymore. I grab mats and start walking to the plaza, waving to my friends and students also converging.
Taos is a great community—a blend of three diverse cultures: descendants of the original Spanish settlers who still speak Spanish and hold all the government positions, the Native Americans, who own most of the land in the area, and the hippies who arrived in the sixties and opened the bohemian shops.
I love it, but I don’t feel like I’ll settle here forever. I’m holding my breath for grandchildren. If Foxfire gets pregnant, I’ll move back to Arizona in a heartbeat.
I walk up the stairs to the rooftop where Tara, the cantina owner, is testing the sound equipment.
“Hi, girl, how’s it going?” She holds out her hand for my phone, which she connects to the PA. She thought I was crazy when I pitched my idea for sunset yoga up on her rooftop patio last year, but now that she’s seen it bring in a large crowd who stay for food and drink specials after, she bends over backwards to accommodate me.
“It’s good, totally good.”
She squints at me. “Yeah? You don’t seem like your usual floaty self.”
I force a laugh and rub my lips together. “There’s a guy coming tonight.”
“Ooh.” She waggles her brows. “Which one?”
Yeah, Taos is that small. The joke is that once you’ve dated every guy on the list of eligible bachelors, you have no choice but to reboot and start again from the top.
I shake my head. “A guy from Arizona. We hooked up once, but… he doesn’t like women much.”
She purses her lips. “Sounds like a loser to me. Maybe skip this one.”
Something tightens in my middle. Almost like I’m offended on his behalf. Titus is not a loser. He’s a beautiful and flawed human being, like all of us. I have total acceptance of who he is. I just have to listen to my intuition to decide if it’s in my best interest to get involved with him.
Tara cocks her head. “Aw, you do really like him, don’t you? Well, is he around? I want to meet him.”
“He is supposedly coming to yoga, although I can’t imagine how he’ll manage. He’s built like a semi-truck and is about as flexible.”
She lets out a laugh. “So that’s how you like them. I wouldn’t have guessed that. Would’ve pegged you for more of the scrawny yoga types. But then, we go for opposites, don’t we?”
I shake my head. “I’m not going for this one,” I say, like I’ve already made up my mind.
Some sliver of hope in the center of my chest withers when the words leave my mouth, though.
“Uh huh.” She hands me my phone, which is now amplified to play my world beat playlist. I take the headset from her and put it on, testing the mic.
The community is filing in. Chas arrives and sets up his mat right in front. After that stupid display at the gorge, I can’t even look at him.
The patio fills with at least twenty-five people. I get the full range of ages and abilities. I’m not egotistical enough to believe they come for me or my teaching—they love the atmosphere. The rooftop. The sunset. The music and the laidback but still genuine class format. There are young and old, mother-teen combos, super buff river raft guides, other yogis, and the conglomerate of friendly faces.
I wave to my friends, Adele, the chocolatier; Charlie, our postmistress; and Sadie, a kindergarten teacher as they roll their mats out in their habitual places.
I place my hands in front of my heart and bow. “Welcome, everyone. Namaste. Please sit in half lotus on your mat, if that’s comfortable.” I draw in a breath to give them my short suggestion for meditation tonight. I had a plan to talk about being in allowance of others, but it no longer feels relevant.
“Yoga is a practice with rhythm. There’s a timing with breath and movement. You know when to move, when to hold, when to release, when to recover. So is life. Paying attention to timing makes all the difference. Don’t push when something’s not ready. Don’t hesitate when something’s ripe. This week, as you move through life, ask the question—is the timing right for this? Should I bide my time or should I pounce? When is time to release the old? When is time to bring in the new?”
I go quiet, allowing them a moment of silence to reflect on that.
“Close your eyes.” I wait for them to comply. “We’ll begin with three oms. Please release your breath. And after the inhale, we begin.” I make the tone as Titus’ huge form appears at the top of the stairs.
He’s wearing a navy blue t-shirt that molds to his ripped muscles and a pair of sweat-shorts. He looks about as out of place and uncomfortable as a nun in a strip club, so I nod through my om and point to the mat I rolled out for him on the end of the front row.
His brows lower, but he lumbers to the spot and—hilarious—attempts to sit cross-legged. The poor man’s lower back and hips are way too tight to allow his knees to open or his spine to straighten. I’d have a little more sympathy if he wasn’t looking at me like I’m bat-shit crazy.
I know that look. I’ve been getting it my whole life.
And Taos—particularly this class—is a place I can be myself. So fuck him.
We finish the three oms.
“And now come to stand at the front of your mat in Tadasana, or mountain pose.”
Titus’ forehead furrows as he struggles to stand up. I avert my gaze for fear of wounding his pride too much.
“We’ll start with our sun salutations. Inhale arms up. And exhale forward fold. Fingertips on the floor or hands on the shins and inhale, lift your head, lift your gaze. Exhale release your head. Take your weight in your hands and step or jump back to plank on the inhale. Exhale push back to downward facing dog.”
Poor Titus. It was so mean of me to tempt him into coming. I walk around to where he’s struggling to fold his hips toward the sky. “That’s it,” I murmur, although my voice is amplified so everyone hears it. I place the heel of my hand on his sacrum and apply gentle pressure, encouraging his pelvis to tilt so his sit bones roll up.
He gives a sharp exhale.
“Tread through your feet, bending one knee and the other to stretch your calves.”
I slip my hands around the front of his pelvis, thumbs on his back to show him a little more.
I swear I hear a low growl come from his throat. It’s not threatening, but my body responds automatically. I pull my hands away and step back.
Okay, buddy. You’re on your own.
This woman is fucking killing me.
I mean, seriously. I might die. Not just the stretching part, although that sucks. I’m a wolf, though. Indestructible. It may hurt now, but I’ll recover in twenty minutes. No, it’s the fucking cock tease.
I have little Miss Yogi wrapping those heaven-scented hands around my hips—so close to my dick—and there’s only one thing running through my mind.
Pound. Her. Hard.
I have an urgent need to get the woman on her knees and show her the best use for that stretchy lithe body.
And the worst thing is every time she walks anywhere near me, guiding us with that sing-song voice of hers, I get a half-boner, which is really fucking hard to hide in these gym shorts.
This is pure agony. It was absolute idiocy that spurred me into coming. Except that dickless prick from the gorge is front and center, trying to show off his prowess. So yeah. I’m not leaving. And I’m a fucking wolf. My body should do anything, even if I am over fifty. I may never have moved this way in my entire life, but I’m damn well going to. Because I’m not going to be out-stretched by pretty-boy over there.
“It’s not necessary to push,” Sunny intones in that musical voice of hers. Of course, she’s talking to me. “Yoga is not about efforting. It’s about acceptance. Know your limits. Know where your body is today, not where you want it to be. Honor your body. Follow your own knowing.”
Oh for fuck’s sake. I want to shut the female up. With my cock stuffed down her throat.
Okay, that’s crude and disrespectful. My wolf is getting far too rowdy. Down boy. You don’t get to fuck her. We’re not going down that path again. Females are a distraction which I clearly can’t handle, considering I’m up here pushing my ass to the sky instead of following the trail I was ordered to follow.
And she’s not even a wolf.
I’m so pathetic it’s scary.
She directs the group into some crazy arm balance—peacock pose. This I can do. I have ab and arm strength in spades. I press my elbows under my ribs, flatten my palms to the mat and extend my legs behind me, hovering parallel to the mat.
The people around me notice and murmur approvingly.
Eat that shit, pretty-boy.
“Yoga is a personal practice. There’s no need to compare yourself with others. There’s no competition.”
She’d look pretty with a gag. A bright pink one to match all the colors she likes to wear. She’d look lovely tied up, too. Naked, of course. Wrists in another bright color, bound to my headboard. I’d leave her feet free, though, so she can show me just how wide those legs spread. Just how bendy she can get with my hands on her.
Oh thank fuck. The class is finally over. At least I think it is. We’re lying on our backs with our eyes closed doing nothing. Corpse pose, I think she called it.
Oh, now the crazy female is walking around rubbing oil on each person’s neck and pulling their head away from their shoulders.
My wolf starts growling. He does not like her touching every fucker in this class.
When she gets to me, the exotic scent of the oil both calms and excites me. Intoxicates. Or is it her scent? No, it has to be the oil. It’s not like a human could tempt a shifter.
Except I know that’s a lie.
In my day, it was forbidden to even mix with humans. Definitely forbidden to mate with them. But it seems things are changing. My alpha’s son took a human for a mate, and several of his pack members have followed suit.
But I still don’t see how that works. A wolf wouldn’t get the instinct to mark a human for a mate. It’s biologically off. Their offspring may not even be capable of shifting. Why would an animal pick a permanent mate so clearly inferior?
Her small, but deft fingers stroke along the taut muscles of my neck and a low rumble comes out of my chest before I can check it. Almost like a purr, as if I’m a goddamn cat shifter.
She touches between my brows, and I instantly drop into a meditative state. My mind goes quiet. Deep.
I want to ruminate on how that’s possible, but thoughts seem unimportant. The slow beat of the music rocks through my body and my heartbeat syncs to it. I feel tingly. Alive. Connected.
It’s not a familiar feeling and yet it’s like coming home. I know this space.
I don’t know how long it goes on. There is no time. Five minutes? An hour?
From a huge distance away, Sunny’s voice filters into my head with the gentle suggestion that I roll to my side.
Push up to sit.
My body obeys without my mind engaging in thought. I blink my eyes open and find myself sitting on my mat, facing Sunny’s exotic figure. I’m entranced by the chain of butterflies tattooed around her upper arm.
She says some bullshit closing stuff and leads the class through another om and the whole time I just sit and watch her. Trying to figure out what about this human is so damn intriguing to me.
So intriguing she’s dangerous. She’s going to pull me off my mission—that’s something I just can’t allow. I resolve to get my ass up off the mat and get the hell out of there, but Sunny’s musical voice becomes another invitation.
“Thank you all for joining us tonight. La Cantina has food and drink specials for you all, so if you’d like to stick around and socialize, I’d love to have you. Namaste.”
Oh, fuck no.
Of course pretty boy is going to stick around. That’s why he’s so into rooftop yoga. He gets to watch Sunny in her yoga pants and stay for drinks with her. It’s like a fucking date to him.
Sure enough, the guy wears a huge smile as he tucks his rolled up mat under his arm and goes to stand beside her.
I skip the rolling the mat part and crumple it in my fist as I stalk over.
Sunny turns her attention to me, but it’s with disapproval. “Thanks, Titus,” she says drily, taking the mat from my clenched fist.
I growl a low warning in pretty boy’s direction.
He responds by moving closer to Sunny. “Ready for a drink?”
To my satisfaction, she inches away. “I’ll be there in a bit.” She turns her bright face in my direction. “Titus, are you joining us?”
Pretty boy deflates.
My wolf loves it. And my plans to walk away disintegrate. “Yeah. Okay.” My voice sounds rusty. I clear it. “Sounds good.”
She tugs her hair out of the ponytail that was high on one side of her head and lets her long blonde hair cascade down over her shoulders. “Then let’s go.”
Lee Savino has grandiose goals but most days can’t find her wallet or her keys so she just stays at home and writes. While she was studying creative writing at Hollins University, her first manuscript won the Hollins Fiction Prize.
She lives in Richmond, Va with her awesome family> You can find her on Facebook in the Goddess Group (which you totally should join).