Hearthstone Alpha (Midgard Úlfrinn, #1)
Wolf Shifter Paranormal Romance
Full Length Novel • 1st in Duet that kicks off series
Release Date: February 15, 2023
It’s the one thing they told her never to be, but can she keep that vow when it’s more than just her heart at stake?
Returning to Pine Grove should’ve been a golden opportunity, but things have changed in Reyna’s absence. Her childhood home is full of gorgeous men led by the magnetizing and infuriating Corbyn Bruschard. He threatens to unravel everything she believes is right, triggering her defenses. She’s determined to uphold the promises made to her parents. But the connection she feels to Corbyn makes her yearn for things they warned were too dangerous.
Corbyn walks a precarious line between animal instincts and human sensibilities. He knew Reyna was his the moment he scented her, luring him into a battle he hadn’t foreseen. His beautiful mate is a Valkyrie in Úlfr clothing, her proverbial shield deflecting him at every turn. But Corbyn knows the dangers that lurk in her denial. Their enemies are circling, rising from every direction, and there’s no bigger target than an Alpha’s Mate.
Corbyn will have to use every means necessary to keep Reyna safe, even those she fears the most.
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“You have to stop doing that,” Corbyn said.
He was right up in her personal space again when she pivoted back. Toe-to-toe, eyes-to-mouth.
“Ditto,” Reyna complained, attempting to step back. Fine. She’d thought about it, but her legs refused to obey. “Stop what?”
“This,” he answered, his gaze following his fingers as they burned across her blushing cheek and down her neck. “It’s very distracting.”
“Somehow, I’m sure I’m doing it solely for that purpose,” she said, never having to hold onto her wits with both hands before.
His lips curved instantly, eyes lighting with appreciation. “I like your smart mouth.”
Reyna floundered. She would’ve preferred that he didn’t like it because she could’ve used that as an anchor to keep herself balanced. But it seemed Corbyn wouldn’t be satisfied until he’d turned her inside out and upside down. He ran his hands up her arms, squeezing gently.
“Thank you for staying inside with Serena and Justin.”
He spoke as if she’d gone out of her way to find him the best present in the world, his expression sincere. The sweet ache that bloomed in her chest had Reyna quickly pulling away.
She knew how to handle men, damn it. Or, at least, she always had before. Any relationships she’d had that might qualify as serious had never lasted a whole year, and she could count them with one hand.
Her ambitions had been the center of her universe since leaving Pine Grove for college, and Reyna had never had the patience nor the desire to sacrifice her goals to make a relationship work. None of the men she’d dated had been able to handle the lack of attention, seeking it elsewhere without having the decency to break up with her first.
She’d just landed a new promotion that would likely be taking up all of her time, and the man standing before her was not just a fix for her neglected libido. All of Reyna’s instincts warned her that Corbyn was something so much more. Someone she wouldn’t be able to walk away from so easily if he decided to mimic his predecessors.
So, she stepped back, breaking all contact, and offered him a stiff shrug.
“There was no sense making you guys worry even more,” Reyna said. “What happened, anyway?”
Corbyn stilled, his eyes searching her face for clues to the sudden change in her demeanor. Guilt tried to rise, but she couldn’t afford to cave with Serena’s warnings swirling around in her mind. If Corbyn thought he could rush her into something serious, he was in for a big surprise.
“Nothing,” he answered, his tone generic. “The trespasser got away.”
Reyna studied him, and shoved her internal struggle aside momentarily for the concerns that had plagued her all morning.
“Serena said this is the third time in a year. Is it someone you know? Someone who has a grudge against you?”
He shook his head.
“Then how do you know they’re intending to do any harm when they’ve yet to do anything at all?” she pressed.
The look he gave her made Reyna feel about two inches tall.
“Because I trust my instincts,” he stated.
She swallowed hard. It was no less than she deserved on some level: she was already erecting walls between them, and they’d only met the day before. But Corbyn would never understand why and she couldn’t explain it. So, it came down to her doing what was right, even if it felt entirely wrong.
“Yeah, well, in my experience, instincts are often misleading,” she replied firmly.
Corbyn shook his head with a heavy sigh. “Instincts are never misleading, only the buffering system,” he corrected.
Reyna opened her mouth to respond, but he stepped into her and grabbed her hand before she could speak.
“No more words. I’m sure you’ve gotten pretty good at using them, but I’m even better at hearing everything you’re not saying,” he said before sliding his palm under hers until their fingers rested on each other’s wrists. “Feel me.”
Reyna choked, her face reddening, and Corbyn’s mouth split into a devastating grin.
“Dirty mind,” he purred. “I like that, too. We’ll definitely be exploring that later. Focus on my hand under yours, Reyna. Can you feel my pulse?”
Pulse? She suddenly felt like someone had tossed her into a blender and hit the slush button, and he wanted her to focus on his vitals? Her heart was drumming in her temples, hammering at the base of her throat. Reyna took a deep breath, then another. She forced her tempest pulse to calm, and when it did, she gasped, looking at him with wide eyes.
Despite his calm and collected appearance, Corbyn’s heart was racing against hers, the tempo wild under her fingers. Reyna’s heart switched gears, rising to match his, and the sweet ache penetrated deeper in her chest, spreading outward.
She wasn’t sure if it was an entreaty or just awe, but he seemed to understand. He placed his fingers on her lips, and the desire that never fully dissipated between them ignited again.
“Get to know me first before you try to push me away,” he said softly. “That’s all I ask.”
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