Primal Instincts - Melissa Schroeder

Primal Instincts

Book 1 in the Lonestar Wolf Pack Series

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This book was previously entitled The Alpha's Saving Grace.

As Alpha of the Lonestar Wolf Pack and Mayor of their small Texas town, Jacob Sanderson has more than enough on his plate to handle. When women from his pack start getting killed, he knows his best resource for solving the murders is Sheriff Alexandra Littlefoot. Now, if he can keep his hands off her, everything will be fine.

A bad shooting and the loss of a partner caused Alex to leave San Antonio. She sees being sheriff of the small town as penance for her sins. Working with Jake isn’t exactly what she would call ideal, but he insists on helping with the investigation. Close working conditions make it impossible to ignore their attraction, and one kiss leads to more than either of them expected.

After one night together, he knows this is no casual encounter, and walking away is impossible. He knows she’s his mate, and while she isn’t a wolf, he knows she has some connection to the pack.

As secrets rise to the surface, the killer’s violence escalates and threatens to destroy not only their fragile new love, but the entire Lonestar Pack.

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Primal Instincts

Primal Instincts

Book 1 in the Lonestar Wolf Pack Series

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Primal Instincts

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Alex came awake with a scream, the stench of death surrounding her, filling her nostrils, and causing her stomach to roil.  A bead of sweat rolled down her back as she fought for a clean breath. As she gasped for air, she sat up in bed, the last remnants of the vicious nightmare fading away. It’d been chasing her for over to a year. A year she would rather forget.

She ran a hand through her tangled hair, wincing when one of her fingers caught on a particularly nasty knot, and looked around the motel room. Early morning, sun streamed through a slit in the heavy curtains, telling her she had made it through the night, at least. Nights like last night didn’t happen that often, but since taking the job as sheriff in Sanderson, Texas, they were becoming more frequent. She hated to admit it, but her old chief might have been right about leaving San Antonio after the shooting. Running away didn’t always solve problems, but it had sounded like an option at the time.

Absently, she fingered the scar that marred the flesh on left her shoulder.  Such a small indention, barely visible if you weren’t looking for it, but it had ruined her life as she’d known it. Even now, she wasn’t ready to be philosophical about what she had gone through. It was still too fresh to ignore, the emotional aftermath of her mistake.

Noting it was after six, she forced herself up and out of bed and into the dingy little bathroom. After turning on the shower to let the water heat, she clipped up her hair and washed her face. As she wiped away the water, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and winced. Her Native American heritage stood out starkly on her face, her high cheekbones more pronounced since she’d yet to get back to her regular weight. She couldn’t remember a time she didn’t have bags darkening the skin beneath her green eyes. Damn, but she was sick of looking at that face. There had been a time when she hadn’t looked so haggard, and she truly wanted to be there again.

Shaking herself out of her morbid thoughts, she grabbed her toothbrush and ordered herself to get a move on. It was Monday, and Mondays were always busy.

By the time she got into work, she had left the memory of the dream behind her and had her mind focused on Monday Morning Mayhem, as everyone at the department called it. Not that it was much of a department, with two deputies, two dispatchers and one secretary. For someone who had cut her teeth at SAPD, it didn’t measure up.

Forget about it. This is your life now, kid.

The scent of burned coffee assaulted her first. She’d been teased unmercifully when she first started on the force because she refused to drink the coffee. Alex viewed cop coffee as a biohazard, and figured she could endure a good ribbing rather than lose her stomach lining.

The phones were ringing continuously, as they did every Monday morning. The townspeople of Sanderson apparently thought it too much effort to call in complaints over the weekend, and waited until the first day of the workweek to bombard them. Most of them would be nuisance calls, but they had to check out every single one. At least it gave them something to do, and her force of four officers didn’t seem to mind.

She pulled off her cowboy hat and set it on the rack hook. Not big enough to even handle their tiny department, the office was old and in need of a good paint job. The gray walls matched the gray tiles, and the counter had seen better days.  The buzz of conversation continued as if she hadn’t even come in, but she noticed Dee Dee, the secretary, waving her over. Alex turned to walk in her direction but was stopped by one of her deputies.

“Hey, Chief, about time you got here,” Dillon Sanderson said as he sauntered around the counter. “We already have someone in to talk to you this morning.”

Tall, well over six feet, with the lean, athletic build that all of the Sandersons possessed, Dillon was an attractive man, and unfortunately, he knew it. Tawny hair, golden-green eyes, and a poet’s mouth, he tended to talk just about every good-looking woman under the age of forty into his bed. Alex hadn’t even ranked a flirtation. He’d been ticked when she’d gotten the job over him, but with her time in at SAPD and being seven years his senior, she’d edged him out. The fact that his cousin was mayor apparently hadn’t helped him. And wasn’t that just a bitch.

“Gee, Sanderson, I was under the impression that I worked Saturday night for someone who had a hot date with the new waitress at the truck stop out on Highway 82.”

Because he was still too young to hide his feelings, his face flushed with embarrassment. “Uh…yeah, about that—”

“Give it up. Just remember not to piss on the people who watch your back,” she cautioned.

He gave her an odd look and nodded.

“So, who’s up to bat first?”

He smiled. “Well, Drunk Wilbur’s wife is here. She says she wants to speak only to you.”

“Aw, damn.” Mondays truly sucked.

“Yeah, and this time, she’s pressing charges.”

Alex rolled her eyes and grabbed up a report that Dee Dee had been waving in the air. A week had not gone by in the three months Alex had been there that Mildred Foster didn’t attempt to press charges. Alex figured it was Mildred’s way of dealing with the embarrassment of being married to the town drunk.

“What’s it about this time?” She motioned with her head to her office and started off, knowing Dillon would follow.

When he didn’t say anything, she glanced over her shoulder to find him just a step behind her with a smirk on his face.

“She claims that you detained Wilbur because of your fixation on his manly person.”

She stopped so abruptly that Dillon ran into her back.  Well, shit. Most of the town, including the mayor, would know about it before lunch. Just what she needed. The idea that she would step over the line with someone she’d arrested, let alone a man who drank to forget he was married to one of the bitchiest women in town.

“So, let me get this straight. I arrested Wilbur, like you all do each weekend, but this time, it’s because of my lusting after him?” He opened his mouth to answer but she didn’t let him. “Wilbur, who is sixty-four and weighs over three hundred pounds? Never met a bottle of whiskey he didn’t like or a bar of soap he used properly?”

“That’s right. Apparently, she had some worries about your…sexual preference—”

“She thinks I’m a lesbian?” She shouted the question before she could stop herself. It had been years since she’d faced that absurdity, and that was only from a few guys she’d gone to the academy with who couldn’t talk her into bed. A lot of women had to deal with that when they had a career in law enforcement. She had ignored it for the most part, giving as good as she got to some of her fellow cadets and later to her coworkers. Once she was working on the force, no one cared. Her reputation had been stellar.

Now, though, hearing it from her deputy was a little too much to take for a Monday—before she’d had any coffee.

Jed, the other deputy, snickered. steely eyed When she turned her attention back to Dillon, he had no problem making eye contact. In fact, the bastard was grinning at her.

“She’s worried. A woman like you, taking a job like this…” He motioned with his hand to indicate the minuscule office. “That just doesn’t seem right.”

She snorted. “And what would the illustrious Mildred Foster think I should do?”

“Marriage was mentioned, but she would feel better if you would at least date a man.”

“Date a…” She threw her arms up in the air in exasperation. “Who the hell does she think I’ve been seeing?”

“You haven’t been dating anyone, and that seems just a might strange,” he said in a perfect imitation of Mildred’s condescending voice.

“I’m gonna show her strange.”

Dillon laughed. Placing his hand on the doorframe behind her, he leaned in. “I could help you change the misconception, being friendly and all. We could drive into Marble Falls, take in a movie.”

Okay, she could take nightmares, Drunk Wilbur, his wife calling her a lesbian and accusing her of making Wilbur her jail bitch, but she could not handle twenty-three-year-old egos. Not on a Monday morning and without any caffeine. Why did God feel the need to test her? Although Dillon was not the root cause of her anger, he was enjoying himself a little too much at her expense, and it was time to teach the little butthead a thing or two.

“Really,” she said, deepening her voice and moving closer to him. Apparently, his hormones still hadn’t settled down since puberty, because his eyes widened then darkened with interest.  This was almost too easy. He licked his lips, and she could have sworn he sniffed at her.

“Tell you what. I’ll let you know my answer, right after I fire you.”

He jerked his head back and all the color on his face drained.  It was sad she got so much satisfaction out of doing that, but she did. Alex figured after being called a lesbian, she deserved it.

“What the hell are you going to fire me for?”

“Sexual harassment.”


The sharp reprimand had Dillon turning on his heel, almost hitting her in his bid to face his cousin, the mayor.

One glace at Jacob Sanderson’s face, and the chilling look in his golden-hazel eyes, told her he had heard the whole conversation.

Aw, damn, Mondays really did suck.

End of Excerpt

Primal Instincts

by Melissa Schroeder

is available in the following formats:

This book was previously entitled The Alpha's Saving Grace.
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