Read the first three chapters of Makeshift Mate
Makshift Mate by C.E. Black
“This single father gig isn't so hard. Not hard at all. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about, really. It's been a breeze! Or so I thought.”
When Alpha Locke Winfield’s pack decided it was time for him to step up and take care of his own child for once, his whole life turned upside down. Too busy for tea parties and ballet recitals, he hadn’t realized his daughter, Sara, was no longer a little girl. And preteens, he was learning, were a whole other breed.
Locke needed a woman. One who could do more than take care of his daughter. He couldn’t remember the last time a woman had taken care of him. Which was why he joined the online dating site, Alpha Singles.
Sara needed a mother. And Locke needed a mate. ASAP.
There were thousands of women out there. Surely he could find one who was willing to take on a workaholic Alpha Wolf and his moody preteen daughter.
“If this land deal doesn’t go through, then we’re going to have a serious problem on our hands. Have you heard back from the realtor?”
Theo, my Beta, grunted on the other end of the line. “Yes, but he doesn’t have an answer for us. The owner is still thinking about it.”
I rocked back in my chair and shoved my free hand through my hair. “What’s there to think about? There’s no way he can get more money for that lot. We’re offering twice the asking price.”
“Dad. Can you take me to school?”
“The impression Dan gave me was that he’s thinking about not selling,” Theo replied.
A growl slipped through my lips and I threw the pen I’d been fiddling with onto my desk. “You have got to be kidding me! The Pack’s population has exploded over the last six years. We have to expand.”
My head snapped up, surprised to see my daughter, Sara, standing in the doorway. She wore her school uniform, khaki pants and a burgundy sweater, and her book bag hung off her back. I checked the clock.
“Hold on a sec, Theo. Why aren’t you in school?” I asked Sara.
“I’m late,” she replied.
I ground my teeth together when she offered up no more information. “Yes, I can see that you’re late.” I glanced at the calendar on my desk. “Where’s Tess?”
Sara shrugged her small shoulders. However, they didn’t look as slight as I remembered them.
“I don’t know,” she mumbled.
Sighing, I reached for my phone before remembering I was still holding it next to my ear. “Theo?”
“Tess didn’t show up to take Sara to school today. Find her,” I told him. “Make sure she’s okay, then send her over here. And call Jake for me. He can take her place today until we find out what happened.”
Holding the phone with my shoulder, I closed the file I’d been looking at and slid it to the end of my desk to put away later. I really needed to hire a secretary.
“He’ll need to take her to school,” I said. “But seeing how she’s already late, a few more minutes won’t hurt.”
Theo cleared his throat. “Tess is fine.”
I paused. “She is? Well… Then tell her to get here, ASAP.”
“She’s unavailable. And so is Jake”
“Okay.” I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Then send someone else. Lynn or Rebecca.” Damn, this wasn’t rocket science. My Beta knew the drill. One of them drove Sara to school every day. And picked her. And watched her after school and weekends.
“No. And… no,” Theo said, causing my hackles to rise.
“What about Brandon?” I didn’t have time for this. I glanced from the mountain of work piled on top of my desk to my daughter still standing quietly at the door and groaned.
Theo paused before saying, “Locke, we need to have a talk. Tess tried, but you wouldn’t listen. We can’t keep this up.”
I whispered harshly as I turned away from Sara, “What do we need to talk about? I thought this matter had already been settled.”
When my life had turned upside down, the pack stepped up and helped me through one of the hardest times of my life. When my father had died, I’d inherited the pack. At thirty-five years old, I was the youngest Alpha in the Wild River Pack’s history.
And if that hadn’t been stressful enough, days later, fate sent another blow, when my mate suddenly collapsed. She’d never woken up, leaving behind a demanding toddler for me to raise alone.
There’d been hard times, I won’t lie, but over the last five years, Sara and I had gotten along just fine. She pretty much stayed to herself. I worked long hours—being an Alpha is no cakewalk—but I paid the bills and gave her everything she needed. And the pack helped by doing the stuff I didn’t have time for.
“I just don’t see the problem,” I said.
Theo sighed. “And that is the problem.”
“Excuse me?” A dull ache bloomed behind my eyes. My Beta wasn’t making any sense.
Sara shifted from one foot to the other catching my eyes. Head bowed over her cell phone, her fingers sped over the screen.
“I don’t have time for this,” I said to Theo. “Call me if you hear from the realtor.”
I hung up before dialing Brandon’s number. New to the pack, Brandon had joined about eighteen months before when he moved into the area to attend college. There had been plenty of colleges near his home pack in North Carolina, but he’d needed to put some distance between him and a girl. Always a girl, I thought with a chuckle.
“’Lo?” Brandon answered, his voice raspy from sleep.
“Brandon,” I said, using my Alpha voice. “Do you have any classes today?”
“No, sir,” he replied, much more awake now.
“I need you to take Sara to school for me. Please,” I added as an afterthought.
There was a pause before Brandon said hesitantly. “I’m not sure…”
“Brandon.” The command went left unsaid.
“On my way, sir.”
I tossed the phone onto the desk and gave Sara a triumphant smile. Problem solved. “Brandon is taking you to school. He shouldn’t be long.”
Now that I’d fixed that issue, I switched focus. Back to work.
“Why can’t you take me?” Sara’s whisper was so light I almost didn’t catch it.
I turned away from my computer to face her. “You know I’m busy, June Bug.”
Sara looked up from her phone, her eyes flashing. “Don’t call me that,” she snapped.
“Sara June Winfield,” I began but the words died as she stormed out of my office.
Well, that was new. The Alpha wolf in me was a little irritated by Sara’s attitude, but there was no time for it. Plus, I had everything under control. I trusted Brandon. He’d take care of Sara while I got back to work.
As far as the pack, I was sure everything would be back to normal tomorrow. They wouldn’t refuse to help their Alpha.
“What do you mean you refuse to help me anymore?”
Gaze sweeping the room, I let them hear the growl in my voice. A few flinched, others ducked their heads. All of them lowered their eyes.
This was just another complication to add to the day from hell.
Brandon had taken Sara to school, but had failed to pick her up in the afternoon. Which, I could admit, was my fault. I hadn’t asked. So, I had to abruptly end an important phone call to do it myself.
Then had been the issue of what to make for dinner. But after a moment of panic, I’d remembered the pizza menu tucked away in a kitchen drawer. Presto! Dinner had been served!
However, when the quadruple meat pie had arrived, Sara informed me she only ate veggie pizza. After complaining she wasn’t hungry anyway, she’d run upstairs to her room, making sure to slam the door hard enough to rattle the windows.
I’d been ready to pull out my hair when I’d gotten the call from Theo about a pack meeting.
Sitting in a circle, with me standing in the center, fifteen of my thirty-three pack members had gathered at the community center. Then surprised me with this… this…
“What is this?” I demanded.
Pacing the circle, I sought out Theo. Looking at us, you’d think Theo was the dominant wolf in the room.
He was sitting in one of those folding metal chairs, but if he stood, he would have been at least four or five inches taller than me. He wore a thin, cotton t-shirt that displayed thick muscles under his umber colored skin. Especially, when he crossed his arms like the way he was doing now.
Though both of us were actually the most dominant wolves in the room, Theo’s wolf wasn’t as powerful as mine. Which was why I was Alpha.
His dark brown eyes flashed gold, meaning his wolf was close to the surface. I held his glare with one of my own, but within seconds, he dropped his eyes.
“An intervention,” Theo finally said, clearing his throat.