Home > Claiming Her Forever : An Alpha Mountain Man Romance

Claiming Her Forever : An Alpha Mountain Man Romance
Author: Alexis Winter


Prologue

 

 

QUINN-Two Months Earlier . . .

 

 

“Quinn, sweetie, we need to leave.”

I don’t know how long I’ve been staring at the casket that’s been lowered into the ground. My toes have gone numb from standing in my uncomfortable black heels that I bought for the funeral. My mother’s funeral. The words bounce around my head as if I can’t actually believe them. I reach over and grab my cousin Genevieve’s hand, which is resting on my shoulder, and squeeze it gently.

“Okay, I’m ready.” I look toward the sky, holding back my tears even though I know there’s no more left to cry. I run my hand down the smooth, cool wood of the casket, saying goodbye one last time.

“Are you going to be okay in that house tonight? You know you can stay with Livy and me.”

I link my arm through Gen’s as we make our way toward her car.

“I know, and I appreciate it. I promise I’ll be okay. If I’m honest, I think I just need to process everything. It still doesn’t feel . . . real.”

She pats my arm before we separate and climb into her car. “Well, Livy is always excited to see her Aunt Quinn, so please let me know if you need anything or just want to chill out, drink wine, and look at old pictures.”

I know I’m not technically Livy’s aunt, but Gen and I have always considered ourselves sisters, and I’ve always been Aunt Quinn to her daughter.

I give her the same pathetic smile I’ve had plastered on my face all day. Gen and I have been close for as long as I can remember. We’re the two youngest cousins and spent most summers and weekends together. She even lived with us for a few months when her parents were dealing with some pretty serious marriage issues when we were in grade school. They ended up separating for a few years, but they eventually worked things out and have been together ever since.

“Your mom is . . . was . . .” I see her glance over at me quickly before turning her eyes back toward the road, “the most amazing person, Quinn. I know you know this, but she was always there for me when I was a kid, ya know?”

“Yeah,” is the only word I can muster as I feel my eyes glaze over.

I know everyone means well telling me these things, but I’m exhausted emotionally and mentally, and not just from the activities of today. The last two years of my mom’s life were a horrible fucking emotional roller coaster. I’ve always heard that the only thing stronger than fear is hope, but I never realized the truth in that saying until my mom went through cancer. You can’t help but cling to any sort of hope as you go from oncologist to specialist desperate for second opinions and answers. You start putting faith in statistics that are so not in your favor, but you’re desperate.

“When my parents were going through their shit, and when I got pregnant at 16, she was the first one to show me love and support instead of judgment.”

Gen is two years younger than me, so when she got pregnant at such a young age, her parents didn’t take the news very well. They felt they were losing control. Now they worship the ground that Olivia “Livy” walks on and there are no hard feelings between them.

I don’t respond, and instead just watch out the window as she drives me back to my childhood home. I’m not looking forward to all the things that need my attention now that my mom has passed away. I know I have to go through all of her things and put the house on the market. I briefly considered keeping the house since it’s paid for and it’s all I’ve ever known as home, but I need a fresh start.

A few nights ago, I reached out to the owner of an Airbnb in Colorado. I’ve had this fantasy since I was young, where I’d find this gorgeous mountain retreat and spend a few months writing my novel. It sounded silly once Mom was diagnosed with cancer and our entire world was turned upside down, but now it’s all I have to cling to.

My mom and I were best friends, always. We did everything together and despite the fact that the last few years of her life were hell for her, she never stopped encouraging me to pursue my dreams. For the longest time, I lost sight of those dreams. I felt guilty for even imagining what my life could look like had I not been taking care of her 24/7.

Gen pulls into the driveway and puts the car in park before turning to face me. I don’t feel like another heartfelt you’re going to be okay talk. I pull her in for a hug before she can say anything.

“Gen,” I pause, not wanting to cry again, “thank you.” She gives me a tight-lipped smile, clearly picking up on my exhaustion, and I exit the car.

I don’t look around as I walk into the house. I’m not ready to take that trip down memory lane without my mom’s hospital bed in the front room. Instead, I head straight to the bathroom to strip out of my funeral clothes and wash the day off of me.

I let my head lull forward as the water runs over my tense shoulders. Every time I close my eyes, I see my mom’s smiling face. Something that always brought me comfort is now a reminder of loss. I can feel tears start to bubble up again, so I shut off the water and grab my towel.

The music streaming from my iPhone on the counter is interrupted by the ping of a text message. I slide the screen open and I’m immediately greeted by a message with a smiling selfie of Liv and Gen, their faces smooshed together.

Gen: Hey, just checking in . . . we looooove you.

I laugh—a genuine laugh—something I haven’t done in weeks. I type out a response and snap a selfie making a kissy-face toward the camera and hit SEND.

Me: I love you guys so much.

After lathering my face and body in lotion—because mom always taught me to never skip it no matter what—I grab a bottle of red wine and make my way to my couch. I pick up my laptop and plop down to check out the Airbnb in Colorado again.

I sent a message to the owner this morning, asking him if three months would suffice for his request of long-term tenants only after he’d previously replied with a very curt NOPE—yes, in all caps—to my request to stay for a month. I open the app and see a red dot indicating I have a message. I open it and read:

 

* * *

 

Miss Prescott,

Yes, three months will suffice.

—Sawyer

 

* * *

 

My heart jumps a little at the message and I smile. I haven’t told Gen yet, but I’ve decided to move away from Idaho just to focus on myself and try to figure out life for a little bit. The cabin I found in the Rocky Mountains looks like the perfect retreat to finally write my novel—a dream I thought had passed me by. I don’t overthink it, and instead just reply back to him:

 

* * *

 

Mr. Archer,

Great! I’ll take it!!

—Quinn

 

* * *

 

I hit SEND before I can second-guess the number of exclamation points I included. I select the dates on the calendar, enter my information, and hit BOOK. I scroll through the photos of the cabin again and squeal a little to myself that this gorgeous place will be mine for three whole months.

The listing states that the upper floor of the cabin is the owner’s private residence, though it doesn’t give any information about him. When I look at his profile picture, it’s just the back of a guy’s head looking out over a ravine. His dirty blond hair is long enough that it brushes the bottom of his thick neck.

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