Break Her

By: Jenika Snow & Sam Crescent


Odessa was of age now, and Garrison wanted her. He stood in the doorway of her father’s home, his alpha, and the man he watched over as his enforcer. Garrison wasn’t an easy or gentle male. He couldn’t be with the life he led. If he failed their alpha could be taken away, and it would be Garrison’s fault.

“Garrison, I’m surprised to see you here.” The alpha of their lion pride, Yosef, nodded to Garrison. The scent of strength came from the older male, and it had Garrison’s lion coming to attention, prepared to lay his life down for him.

He wasn’t going to beat around the bush about this, because Garrison wasn’t that type of male. “I’ve come to ask for your daughter’s hand in a mating, alpha.” Garrison was a large man, stronger than anyone else in the pride. He had to be brutal at all costs. But standing in front of Yosef, asking him for the hand of Yosef’s eighteen-year-old daughter, Odessa, had nerves swamping Garrison. He wasn’t used to this feeling, wasn’t used to being on edge about a female. But this wasn’t just any female. This was Odessa, the only female he’d ever wanted for more than one night. He wanted her to be the mother of his young, to be his mate until they were old and took their last breath.

“You want my daughter as yours?” Yosef asked.

Garrison nodded. “I do, sir. I want her as mine, and only mine.”

Yosef was silent for a moment. “It’s her choice, Garrison. I want Odessa to be able to choose who she is mated with.”

Garrison gritted his teeth, knowing Yosef had every right to make that declaration, but he’d hoped their alpha would just give Odessa to him, as so many of their pride members had done. But he didn’t argue, and instead nodded at his alpha.

“Odessa, come here,” Yosef said, his focus staying on Garrison. “I’ll present her your offer, and although I believe you’d be a very good mate to her, Odessa needs to be able to choose who she wants to spend her life with.”

“I understand,” Garrison said. He was older than Odessa, but being lion shifters they were naturally more mature at younger ages, and ready for mating earlier than humans. But would Odessa want a mate that was an enforcer, and killed people with his bare hands?

She came out of the backroom, her hair damp from a clear shower, and her clothes loose around her curvy body. Instantly his body tightened, and his lion rose. The truth was he loved her, had loved her since he’d first realized he wanted her as his mate. The time had passed from then until now, and his emotions had grown right along with it. It was strange for a brutal male like him to care so deeply for a female that probably hadn’t thought twice about him, and who was probably frightened of how he lived his life. But he’d never been surer of anything than he was of wanting Odessa as his mate.

“Yes,” she said softly, her eyes wide as she looked between her father and him.

“Odessa,” her father said, “You know Garrison?”

She nodded and licked her lips. “I do, of course.”

The space between them became tense, and his nerves grew even more pronounced.

“Odessa,” Garrison said, took a step toward her, but stopped. He looked at their alpha, saw Yosef nod and move back a step, and that was Garrison’s cue to proceed with his offer.

“Yes,” she said softly again.

“I’ve come to offer a mating with you.”

She was silent for a moment, looked at her father, and then turned her focus back to him. “A mating? With you?” Her eyes got impossibly wider.

He clenched his jaw at the shock in her voice. “Yes, a mating with me.”

She still didn’t respond, and after several seconds passed he exhaled.

“I understand your reservations—”

“I’m only eighteen,” she said.

“Yes, I am aware of your age.”

“Isn’t that too young for you?”

Okay, his lion was rising up at the challenge. There was no doubt she was a strong female, and that was one of the reasons he wanted her as his mate. He didn’t want a female that was a shrinking violet. He needed a female just as strong-willed as he was. “You’re eighteen, and in shifter terms plenty old to mate.” Of course she knew this. Every pride member knew this well. “And in regards to our age, I don’t think that should factor into anything.” Yes, he was in his thirties, but he was experienced in life, and strong enough to protect her. “I think I am a worthy male to take your hand in a mating.”