Legacy of the Wolf
The Gray Pack, Book 3
by Lori King
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62242-284-5
Adopted brothers, Rafe and Ryley dream of having a family and a legacy of their own. They’ve found their destined mate, but she’s human and dealing with a gut wrenching past heartbreak. A strange twist of fate brings a new wolf to the pack, and she will either tear the trio apart, or cement them together.
“Missus Martin?” The child’s voice was wavering and sounded unusually teary.
“Yes, Clara? What do you need?” Shandi turned from her desktop computer to see the small girl in the classroom doorway. Clara was an adorable little five-year-old with beautiful russet-colored ringlet curls, which were currently full of twigs and leaves. There were bloody scratches on the little girl’s palms and knobby knees. Tears were streaming down her cheeks to drip off of her tiny pointed chin. “Oh, Clara, what happened?”
“Marcus pushed me down! I was climbing on top of the biggest tunnel, and he started telling me how I was just a silly girl, and I couldn’t be the king of the mountain. He said only boys could be the king, and I–I–I called him a noodle head!” Clara wailed like a dying animal, and her tiny body was wracked with heaving sobs.
Shandi hurried across the room to lift the child up into her arms. Glancing at the clock, she grimaced. Recess would be over in just two minutes, and the representative from the fire department would be showing up anytime. She had been planning this surprise for her kindergarten class for a few weeks now, ever since they’d done their class lesson on fire safety and stranger danger. Now she would have to have another teacher pick up the class from the playground, as well as meet the fireman, because she needed to see to Clara’s injuries.
“It’s all right now, Clara. We’ll just run down to the nurse’s office for some Band-Aids, and then you will be good as new. You know better than to call names though, sweetie. I will have to have a talk after class today with Marcus, but don’t call anyone a noodle head again, okay?” Shandi said softly, trying to soothe and distract her patient as she walked the short distance across the hallway to the other kindergarten classroom.
Seeing her pretty friend Jennifer Shea seated at her desk, Shandi sighed with relief. At least one thing went right today, she thought.
“Hey, Jen? I mean, Miss Shea? Clara had a little accident on the playground, and I need to run her to the office. Could you collect my students for me when the bell rings? And the rep from the fire department should be here shortly, if you could just ask them to wait in the hallway until I’m back that would be great.”
“Sure, Miss Martin, I hope Clara is okay.” Jennifer nodded in acquiescence to Shandi’s request, as her concerned gaze scanned over the small girl.
“She’ll be fine, I’m sure. Thanks again!” she said as she turned back toward the hallway, but she stepped out of the classroom and immediately slammed into a wall of some sort. Both she and Clara hit the floor, crying out one in discomfort and one in surprise.
“Crap! Hey, are you two all right? I’m sorry about that. I didn’t expect to have two beautiful ladies come barreling out the door right behind me, or I would have been ready.” The man who spoke was dressed in a full fireman’s uniform, and Shandi’s heart started to race.
Her gaze travelled slowly up from the scuffed black leather of his boots, over the heavyweight uniform pants that stretched tightly over muscular thighs, to the black suspender straps that rested on top of a navy-blue T-shirt with the Battalion 1 emblem on the chest. The thick uniform coat hung open, making his already broad shoulders look even wider, and the helmet sitting on his head couldn’t hide the blond locks of his shoulder-length hair. There was laughter as well as surprise in his blue eyes, and his full lips quirked up in a wicked little grin. That grin was like a shock of electricity that restarted her brain power, and Shandi remembered poor Clara in her arms.
“Excuse me, sir. I’m so sorry, Clara, honey, are you all right?” Shandi stood, gently reaching for her precious bundle. Clara instantly burrowed her tear-stained face into Shandi’s shoulder and hiccupped.
The fireman laughed, but then he seemed to notice the blood on Clara’s knees. Gripping her tiny leg to inspect her injuries, he looked concerned. “What’s this, sweetheart? How did you get all bruised up? And what’s the other guy look like?” he said, drawing a small smile from Clara.
“She fell on the playground playing king of the mountain. I just need to run her to the nurse’s office to get her cleaned up. I’m sorry I’m not prepared for you just yet. Do you mind waiting in the office until I finish with Clara? I wanted you to be my surprise,” Shandi said in a rush, and then she blushed hotly when she realized what she said. His smile was a foot wider, and his eyes held a hint of banked desire. “I mean my surprise for the class. My students will be very excited to meet you.”
For just a second, he looked like he was going to challenge her meaning, but thankfully he let it go. “I happen to have a lot of experience with bandaging bum knees, and I would be happy to help this little princess. Just think of me as your knight in a fireman’s helmet,” he said, and Shandi couldn’t keep herself from laughing with him and Clara.
“Are you a real fireman?” Clara asked, focused now on the big man.
“Yep, are you a real princess?” he asked without missing a beat. Shandi was amused at his teasing chatter, and relieved that he was distracting Clara from her earlier bout of tears.
She took a deep breath as she shifted with Clara, listening to their conversation. It was the wrong move as a delightfully clean masculine scent flooded her nose and shot straight through to her clit. Her panties grew a little damp, and she clenched her thighs together. To her surprise the fireman’s eyes shot away from Clara’s to meet hers, and his nostrils flared. If she didn’t know any better, she might have thought that he could sense her arousal, or read her mind.
“My daddy calls me princess,” Clara said with a nod.
“Well, if your daddy says it then I’m sure it’s true.” He winked at Shandi over Clara’s head. Heat filled her belly just from that gesture, and she felt her knees grow a little weak. Any verbal response she might have had was cut off when a second, equally hunky fireman stepped into view from around the corner.
“Two?” Shandi said breathlessly. The first fireman caught her raised eyebrows, and he chuckled. His laugh was a rumble that vibrated through her chest, and her stomach flip-flopped.
“Yes, ma’am. This is my brother Rafe Whetstone, and I’m Ryley. Obviously, we’re the volunteers from the fire department.” Ryley Whetstone was hot on his own, but paired with his brother Rafe, the two men were stealing the oxygen from Shandi’s lungs. She took in a wobbly breath and let it out in gush, trying to get a handle on her emotions and libido.
“Ms. Martin, I presume?” Rafe asked, as he came to a slow stop a couple of feet from the trio. The black pupils in his clear blue eyes seemed to dilate as his gaze traveled over her and Clara. Shandi would have sworn she could feel his eyes stroking her body, and she shivered a little. Shock was written all over his face, and she wondered what he saw in her that surprised him so much. “I’d offer to shake your hand, but it looks like it’s a bit full. I can take her for you,” he said, indicating Clara.
“Oh no, I’m all right, but I do need to hurry Clara to the nurse’s office. The bell will be ringing any minute for the end of recess. It’s nice to meet both of you. I didn’t realize when the fire chief said he would send a representative that he meant actual firemen,” Shandi said as they all walked back down the hallway toward the front of the school.
“We like to do this sort of thing. The kids always get a kick out of it, and so do we. We even brought along the smaller of the two Battalion 1 trucks. That way the kids could climb up on it and see what it feels like to be a fireman,” Ryley explained.
For some reason Shandi got the feeling that the two brothers were assessing her, like they would a wine they intended to taste. It was a ridiculous notion, considering she was more woman than most with her generous curves. She didn’t generally attract the attention of men like them.
Rafe was just as gorgeous as his brother. He had an oval face with a prominent, aristocratic nose, and just the slightest hint of dimples in both cheeks. They were equal in height at around six feet three inches tall, more than a foot taller than Shandi’s five feet two inches, and they were big. In every sense of the word. Well, at least the parts I can see, she thought deviously.
Ripped muscles bunched and relaxed under their uniforms, and extremely wide shoulders tapered down to narrow hips on both men. Rafe had a sandy-blond color to his shaggy hair, where Ryley’s longer hair was more golden in coloring. The pair of them reminded her of Vikings. What I wouldn’t give for some plundering right about now, she thought to herself wickedly.
“Do you guys have a dog?” Clara asked from Shandi’s arms. Shandi had to shift the little girl to her hip, because Clara was trying to see both men at the same time.
“Nope, sorry. No dogs allowed at the firehouse,” Ryley answered her with a grin.
“That sucks.” Her disappointed response had both men chuckling.
“Clara! You know better than to speak like that. Come on, let’s get you cleaned up so that we can go back to class and hear what the fireman came to tell us today.” Shandi forced her feet to move down the hallway toward the school office with Clara in her arms.
She couldn’t stop the butterflies in her belly as the two men separated and took up a spot on either side of her. She felt very small between the two of them, and it was a little disconcerting. Wondering silently if either one of them felt the attraction, too, she had to mentally shake herself for her irrational thoughts. It was probably just her lack of male companionship that triggered an immediate physical response to the first sexually attractive males she had encountered in the years since Jett.
Clara continued to chatter at both men, but specifically at Ryley while they walked. She had to hand it to them, they handled it like pros. Neither one flinched when Clara asked them if they wore their uniforms to sleep in, and they didn’t hesitate to playfully tease the little girl about taking on a bigger boy.
By the time they reached the nurse’s office, Shandi realized that her nerves had almost completely disappeared. She brushed it off as appreciation for the easy way the men dealt with Clara, and she stepped into the office, bending to set Clara on the end of the small cot centered in the room. As she stepped backward she landed against a wall of muscle, and two hands came up to steady her, gripping her hips. The strong hands relaxed and then moved in a soft caress that caused goose bumps to break out on her skin. Clearing her throat, she fought the urge to moan.
“Sorry, let me just grab some Band-Aids and Neosporin here.” Twisting her head to see which brother was holding her, she blushed hotly when her eyes met Rafe’s. There was a definite flare of arousal in his blue eyes before he released her, so that she could step away from him.
Holy cow! She had never felt such masculine strength pressed against her body. It was a deliciously erotic sensation, and a part of her wanted to do it again and again. Instead she forced herself to walk over to the cabinet and search for supplies. The Band-Aids were on top, but she couldn’t find any Neosporin. Realizing that a new tube was probably in one of the storage boxes under the cot, she dropped to her knees next to the small frame of the bed. There was a sharp intake of breath that had her turning her head to see both men staring at her with an intensity that twisted her belly.
Shivering involuntarily, she made herself look away, and groped in the darkness under the cot for the storage tubs. She heard another male gasp of air as she bent over to stick her head under the bed, and jerked backward smacking her head on the metal frame.
“Ouch, shit!” she yelped, pulling out from under the bed, and rubbing at the sore spot on her head.
“Missus Martin! That’s a bad word!” Clara cried out, as she covered her face giggling.
“Are you all right?” Rafe asked reaching out to check her scalp with his fingers. Shandi froze, motionless, staring up at the two men. Rafe stood directly in front of her, with one arm stretched out to assess her injury. On her knees like this she was eyeball height with the large bulge behind the zipper of his uniform pants. If she wasn’t mistaken that bulge seemed to grow under her gaze. Feeling slightly clammy with the heat in her belly, she pulled her head away from Rafe’s touch.
“I’m fine, just clumsy I guess. The Neosporin should be in here. Would one of you mind grabbing a washcloth from the bathroom so that I can wash her knee first?” Silently, Rafe nodded at Ryley, who turned and went into the small bathroom off of the office. Shandi turned back to the forgotten little girl, trying hard to refocus on what she had been here to do in the first place. “Clara, I’m sorry I said a bad word. I hit my head pretty hard, but I shouldn’t have said that.”
“It’s okay, Missus Martin. My daddy says that word all the time,” Clara said, giving Shandi a toothy grin. Unable to keep herself from smiling back, Shandi set up her supplies next to Clara on the bed.
Ryley stepped back into the room with the washcloth, and handed it to Rafe. Shandi watched in surprise as Rafe knelt on the floor in front of Clara. Taking the little girl’s tiny leg in his hand, he began to clean the wound gently.
“You must be pretty tough to not even cry when you have this kind of injury,” he said to Clara, and she glowed under his praise. “I know lots of big guys who would probably still be crying on the playground if they got hurt like this.”
“You do?” Clara asked in astonishment.
“Sure! Not everyone is as brave and tough as you are, sweetheart. You would make a great firefighter,” Rafe said to her. The whole time he spoke he washed, doctored, and bandaged the tiny knee with his huge hands. Clara never grimaced or even seemed to notice what he was doing. He quickly moved on to clean the gravel and dirt from Clara’s hands, and then her face. When he announced that she was all done, Clara looked just as surprised as Shandi felt.
“It feels better now,” Clara announced, and then stood up. Shandi still knelt on the floor next to them in stunned silence. How was it that this huge man could be so tender and nurturing? The sound of the school bell broke her thoughts just as Ryley stepped closer to them.
He reached for Clara’s hand, as he smiled at Shandi. “Good, princess. My brother is the best doctor there is. We better get back to your class, so that we can meet the rest of your friends. Do you want to sit in our fire truck?”
Shandi remained on the floor as she watched the big man lead Clara out of the office and back down the hallway. As they turned the corner she caught the wink he threw at her over his shoulder, and laughed. He is an intriguing man, she thought to herself. Who am I kidding, they both have my attention. I’m going to have to get it together before I embarrass myself.
Rafe got to his feet, and then held out his hand to help Shandi stand. The jolt of fire that raced up her arm started the butterflies churning in her belly again.
“Thank you, Mr. Whetstone. I think without you and your brother, she might have cried all afternoon,” Shandi said politely, as she put away the supplies.
The room suddenly seemed so much smaller with just her and Rafe in it, and she swallowed nervously when he took a step closer to her.
“My name is Rafe,” he said softly as he moved another step closer. He was boxing her into the corner, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to smack him or open her arms to him.
“R–Rafe, thank you again. Now, we had better get back to class before Clara has them all believing that she lost an arm in the attack,” she said, tilting her chin up at him, and crossing her arms under her breasts.
Rafe’s eyes dropped to her chest for just a moment before he smiled knowingly at her. “Why, Miss Martin, you seem rather flushed all of a sudden. Do you need to lie down?” he asked in that brandy-laced, warm tone. It went straight to her throbbing clit, and she nearly moaned with need.
“No, I’m perfectly fine, and if we’re on a first name basis, please call me Shandi.” She fidgeted nervously.
“Shandi. What an unusual name.” He wasn’t moving out of her way, but he wasn’t moving closer either. Frustration rode high in her body, and she felt herself shiver.
“I’m an unusual person, Mr. Whetstone, I mean Rafe,” she said, and then she took a chance, and brushed past him. His wide arm brushed against her breast as she shifted toward the closet, and she shuddered as both nipples drew tight.
Rafe threw his head back and laughed loudly at her comment. “I believe that wholeheartedly, Shandi. You are an unusual and beautiful woman.”
Shandi couldn’t hold back the snort of laughter. “Hardly. I’m just plain old Shandi Martin, kindergarten teacher. I spend my days mopping up spilled glue and wiping noses while trying to teach them to tie their shoes and wash their hands after using the bathroom.”
Rafe frowned at her disagreement, but after a moment that spark of fire returned to his blue eyes. “And your nights?”
“Alone,” she said firmly, and she shut the closet door resolutely.
He reached out and secured her smaller hand in his massive one, leading her out of the office and into the hallway. “By choice?”
Shandi blushed and turned away from his inquiring gaze. Frustration ran through her body at his inquisition, and she snapped back at him, “Yes, Mr. Whetstone, that is most definitely by choice.” Jerking her hand out of his, she nearly ran the rest of the way to the classroom and the safety of her students.