A. K. Kaur
The bitter bite of the winter air didn’t waver Isaiah Iron’s steps.
The night was young as Isaiah made his way through the streets of Manhattan. Although it was dark, the golden streetlights danced on the cold and dark pavement.
Lazarus, the beta of the Iron Blood Pack, wouldn’t approve of his alpha taking a stroll through this part of the town at night—even in the morning, the beta wouldn’t approve.
But Isaiah couldn’t help the need to be on his own, because his wolf was giving him more trouble with that terrible temper of his.
Isaiah burned off his wolf’s raging mood and tried his hardest to get himself under control.
This is how it’s always been between Isaiah and his wolf. There was no bond between the two. But the one thing that Isaiah could count on was that his wolf always had his back.
Isaiah’s precarious past was the testament to that.
Isaiah’s thoughts were interrupted by a quiet ping that buzzed in his coat pocket. He pulled out his phone.
“This better be important, Lazarus,” Isaiah sighed. His hot breath puffed in front of him in the cold air.
“It’s not important,” remarked Lazarus.
“Then why are you calling me?” asked Isaiah when suddenly a chill crept down his spine. He instantly suspected that there were eyes on his back.
Isaiah turned around and spotted a midnight-black Mercedes parked right across the street.
“I was just wondering how long you’re going to be sulking,” said Lazarus. “I’m tired of waiting around for you.”
Isaiah cut the phone and walked over to the black car he knew belonged to his brothers. Zeiden climbed out of the car and opened the back door for Isaiah.
“I told him not to bother you,” said Zeiden with a snicker.
Isaiah grumbled before he got into the warm and welcoming car.
He didn’t retaliate against Lazarus because he knew that Zeiden was just doing his job as head of security for their pack. Isaiah didn’t have any room to argue, nor did he wish to.
Their car glided down the empty street, and they came to a halt at a red light.
Through the tinted windows of the car, Isaiah spotted something unusual. An elegant woman stood next to a black Mustang.
Isaiah wondered how her bare legs weren’t frozen off in this cold weather by now. She wore a satiny black dress with a pink Chanel jacket, which matched her strappy heels.
Isaiah noticed her glossy lips were held in a pout and her eyes were wet; whether from tears or the cold air, he didn’t know.
Isaiah suddenly realized that he’d lost a whole second of his thoughts to this woman. Without even thinking it through, he unbuckled his belt and got out of the car in the middle of the street.
“What the hell—” Isaiah heard Lazarus and Zeiden curse behind him in the car. But that didn’t stop Isaiah.
“Are you okay?” Isaiah jumped the introductions.
The girl’s bright ocean-blue eyes glistened. “Er—no,” she said. “My car’s tire popped.” She pointed to the Mustang behind her.
Isaiah moved around her, which allowed him to get a whiff of her flowery perfume and see her long golden hair, which was stylishly curled to perfection.
“Did you call the towing services?”
The woman’s mouth opened and then closed. “I don’t know their number,” she revealed, which didn’t surprise Isaiah because most people wouldn’t know that piece of information.
Lazarus and Zeiden came from the car and surrounded Isaiah, which was bad because the woman slightly stiffened at their presence.
Isaiah glared at the two men, wishing they’d calm down their overwhelming and domineering energy.
“Call the tow, Zeiden,” instructed Isaiah, and his brother followed through. “Where are you headed?” he asked the woman.
“The Plaza Hotel,” she answered with her honey-smooth voice.
“Where are you coming from?” asked Lazarus sternly.
Isaiah rolled his eyes at his brother for being so stiff.
At first, Isaiah thought that this woman was a bit gullible for talking to men like them. Of course, he wasn’t going to do anything. But one shouldn’t trust strangers.
Although, this woman clearly had no problem sharing information with them. Isaiah figured that she was just desperate to get help, or she was as innocent as a dove.
“Er—I was coming back from the Bacardi residence when my car’s tire just popped on me,” she told them.
Isaiah’s brows furrowed. “Bacardi, as in Czar Bacardi?” he asked. Czar Bacardi was a business tycoon and alpha of the White Wolf pack. Isaiah had a close relation with Czar and his family.
The woman’s stark blue eyes widened. “Do you know the Bacardi family as well?”
“Yeah,” answered Isaiah.
“The tow truck will be here soon,” said Zeiden. “It should take just a few minutes since there’s no traffic.”
“Thank you.” The woman beamed a bright smile to Zeiden, which wavered all three of them. “It’s really sweet that you guys are helping me.”
She moved her purse and keys to her left hand, and then she stuck her empty hand to Isaiah. “I’m Ashley Hartling,” she introduced herself.
“The writer?” asked Zeiden suddenly.
The woman named Ashley brightened. “Yup,” she smiled, “that’s the one.”
“Isaiah Iron,” he shook her stone-cold hand. “That’s Lazarus and Zeiden, my brothers.”
She shook their hands too.
“Would you like to wait in the car until the truck comes? My guys can handle your car for you. You should get cover from this cold.”
“No, I couldn’t trouble you like that,” said Ashley.
“It’s no trouble,” he said. “You’re a friend of Czar, so I can’t leave you in this state.” Isaiah led her into the car. “Make sure the car gets taken care of and returned to the Plaza Hotel for her.”
“We’ll handle it, just get in the car,” chastised Lazarus with a scowl before Isaiah got in the car following Ashley. He closed the door, trapping the cold outside the vehicle.
Isaiah’s keen nose typically smelled the deep scent of cologne and the leather in their car. But right now, it warmed up with the sweet scent of roses and a delicate hint of cinnamon sugar.
“How do you know the Bacardi family?” Ashley broke the silence in the car first.
“Mostly through business,” said Isaiah.
Czar Bacardi was the one who had reached out to Isaiah when he’d newly started his pack. Gabriel Centauri—the alpha of the Centauri pack—was the one who helped Isaiah find safe property to build where his home was now.
But Czar was the one Isaiah watched to learn how to keep his pack and business under control.
“Iron Blood,” stated Ashley. “You’re the alpha, right?”
Isaiah’s steel-gray eyes examined her gaze, which was purely flamboyant. Sitting this close to her, he took notice of her ivory skin—it was smooth and looked softer than the silk that adorned her.
It wasn’t hard to tell that he was an alpha, since his aura most definitely told any wolf a mile away. However, even though he sat so close to Ashley, he could barely smell her wolf.
That was only possible if the wolf spirit was fully in tune with its human body, which was something Isaiah was never fully capable of harnessing.
“I am,” he revealed.
Ashley nodded. “And why would the alpha of such a prestigious pack help a lone wolf like me?” she asked, her eyes clearly amused.
Isaiah lost his words for a quick moment, but it was enough for her to notice. “You looked cold,” he said curtly.
She tilted her head to the side, and a golden lock of her hair fell to the front. “And here I thought that all the gentlemen had disappeared,” she remarked chirpily.
The last thing Isaiah ever thought he would be was a gentleman. In his head, he wasn’t far from being a cold-blooded killer who’d do anything to get his way.
“Are you just visiting New York?” he changed the subject promptly.
She looked confused. “No,” she said. “I’ve lived here all my life.”
Isaiah then questioned, “But you’re staying at the Plaza Hotel?”
Ashley nodded. “Yeah, I live there,” she told him. “When I’m not traveling, that is.”
Isaiah was interrupted when the tow truck pulled up next to them. Lazarus and Zeiden handled the situation swiftly. A phone in the car pinged; it was Ashley’s.
“Well, this is where we separate,” she said. “My ride has arrived.”
Isaiah opened the door to let her out. She climbed out but instantly shivered from the brisk, icy, and intensely brutal air.
“Thank you for taking care of me even though I’m a complete stranger,” said Ashley.
Isaiah nodded. “No problem,” he said curtly, but she held his gaze. It was visible that she found him either amusing or fascinating. He tried to decipher that enchanting smile that she held so purely.
Another car pulled up right behind them. A chauffeur quickly got out, opened the door for Ashley, and waited until she came to him.
But Ashley went to Lazarus and Zeiden first. She thanked them for helping her and gave them the same sweet smile, which kind of bothered Isaiah.
“Have a great night, boys,” Ashley wished them before she got into the other car. And it drove away.
“Isaiah,” Lazarus held the door open so he could get in. They all followed behind him and went on their way.
“She was different,” commented Zeiden.
“I can’t believe that I actually met a girl like her,” remarked Lazarus. “It felt sort of surreal.”
Isaiah knew that his brother was remarking that Ashley behaved like a princess, who probably changed her outfit three or four times a day.
Isaiah couldn’t argue with Lazarus—Ashley Hartling held herself with an elegance that definitely resembled a well-groomed princess.
The brothers were the exact opposite of the Barbie doll who looked fragile enough to break. She wasn’t like them—they were broken down and had to be rebuilt.
Every single part of their bodies was trained to be a weapon—maybe even the souls they had all forsaken long ago.
“That’s how normal people are, Lazarus,” said Isaiah. “We’re the strange ones, remember?”
Lazarus met Isaiah’s absent gaze through the rearview mirror. “That’s true,” he sighed.
“I wonder how she knows Czar though?” inquired Zeiden. “No regular wolf has the connection to personally meet the Bacardi family.”
Isaiah wondered the same thing. There was definitely more to Ashley Hartling than she let on.
But that was all bygone to him now. It wasn’t like that type of girl would be in the same circles as the Iron Blood pack.
Lazarus picked up the speed after they hit the freeway. Isaiah closed his eyes in the back, even though there was no rest for him. His eyes may have been closed, but he was as alert as his wolf.
Ashley shrugged off her heels as she stood in the middle of the white marble foyer.
She navigated through the massive penthouse. With quick steps, she scrambled up the stairs to the second floor, opening the double doors to her enormous king-size bedroom.
Ashley tossed her coat on the chair, which was very fashionable but didn’t do a thing to keep her warm. Although it was her own foolish mistake that she was so poorly dressed for the weather.
Except she could never have predicted that her car’s tire would pop, leaving her stranded on a street.
If that alpha from the Iron Blood pack hadn’t offered to help her, she would’ve frozen her legs off before the driver came to get her.
Ashley flopped down on the fluffy mattress that smelled of fresh linen. Turning on her side, her head started to wander around the alpha known as Isaiah Iron.
He had a rugged look to him even though he’d been perfectly dressed in a black suit. The black shirt he’d sported had a few buttons open, which allowed her a peek at the tattoos inked across his muscular chest.
Isaiah’s hair was longer than she liked for men, but on him it looked undeniably fitting.
His black hair was shaved on the sides and pulled back in a wolf tail. He had a straight nose and symmetrical lips with a sharp Cupid’s bow.
But it was those eyes that made her heart unexpectedly skip a beat or two.
His eyes were as gray as iron and just as firm, like they were unbreakable. She could sense the intensity from them because they resembled a thunderous storm to her.
This alpha was the exact opposite from Ashley’s ideal man.
So then, why am I attracted to him? she wondered. ~Why did I feel strange in my own car leaving him?~
Ashley rolled off the bed and took a hot shower to warm up and distract herself. She even ordered an extraordinary meal, but nothing took her mind off that man.
Isaiah Iron had left an impression on her. It was definitely confirmed that there was a connection between them. Her wolf had grown excited, and her wolf was rarely impressed by people.
Before going to bed for the night, Ashley’s mind rolled into action, coming up with a plan to go meet that alpha again. She needed to know what she found so special in him—she even lost sleep over it.