Bonus Scene from The Alpha and His King by Kiki Clark
(Best if read after TAAHK.)
The story of Jamie seeing Rick's office for the first time...
James “Jamie” Foley sat in his tiny compact car and took three deep breaths to try and settle his agitated bird. He’d been part of the Kincaid Pack for a couple years, but he’d never been summoned to the alpha’s home before.
Alpha Kincaid had called him personally yesterday evening and asked him to come to the manor the next morning to discuss something “very important.”
“Oh feathers, stop being a wimp,” he muttered, pushing open his door and climbing out. He marched toward the intimidating front door, ran his hands down the front of his freshly pressed button-down, lifted his chin, and knocked.
One of the pack betas opened the door, her face splitting into a grin. “Hey! Jamie, right? Rick’s waiting for you. Come on in.”
Clearing his throat and shoving down his panic at making his alpha wait, Jamie stepped into the large entrance and looked around. He’d been to the manor a handful of times for open forums and his interview with Kai King. It never got less impressive or beautiful, and the scent of pack in the air always calmed him.
He frowned at the reminder of the meeting with Kai and Jessica though. During the interview, he’d thought things were going well, but then he’d received a generic email a few days later letting him know he wasn’t one of the ones chosen to work in the manor.
Which… was fine. Okay, it wasn’t, but he was trying not to let it get to him. It had been silly to apply for a job cooking and cleaning the alpha’s home anyway. He had zero experience, only a desire to give back to his pack. But that hadn’t been enough apparently.
Nothing he ever did was enough.
“This way,” the beta said, still smiling as she gestured to Jamie’s left.
As they walked along, Jamie rubbed his fingertips back and forth on the sides of his thighs. “I’m sorry if you and Alpha Kincaid have been waiting long. His email didn’t specify a time.”
The young blonde chuckled humorlessly. “Yeah, he’s been a bit… out of sorts lately.”
Suddenly, he felt awful. God, here he was worried about himself when the pack was in crisis. “Oh, of course. How is Mr. Hayes?”
She paused beside a closed door and twisted her lips together, the acidic scent of her anger and sadness spiking. “He’ll live.”
Jamie nodded, not sure what else to say. He didn’t know Drake Hayes that well, nor any of the other betas or Enforcers really. He’d spoken with Enforcer Vanessa a few times about a program the pack was developing, but they hadn’t become friends or anything. “I’m glad to hear that.” He cleared his throat and glanced at the closed door. “I’m sorry if you were waiting by the door for me though.”
She gave him a small smile and reached for the doorknob. “It’s my turn to be on door duty. No worries.” Sticking her head in the room, she said, “Rick, Jamie Foley is here to see you.”
“Send him in.”
Jamie glanced back the way they’d come, thinking about what she’d said. He’d never realized a pack beta was stationed at all times at the front door of the manor. But it made sense. The pack was large and Alpha Kincaid was as involved as he could be—Jamie was sure there were always people looking for face time with him too.
He jerked his head around, flushing at the laughter in her voice. “Of course. Thank you…”
“Ericka.” She winked and left him standing in the doorway of the sitting room.
Wishing his heart wasn’t beating so fast, he entered and quickly found Alpha Kincaid at a large table on one end of the room. He had a slim manila folder in front of him, but he was talking on the phone, so Jamie paused several feet away.
“I understand that, Doc, but I’m telling you he’s in a lot of pain. There isn’t anything else you can do?” Alpha Kincaid was scowling at the table, running a finger along the edge of the folder as he listened.
Jamie tried not to pay attention, but Dr. Bell’s worried tone caught his ears. “You know I’m doing everything I can, Rick. The wolfsbane was a rare strain, so the antidote I have isn’t a hundred percent effective. He will heal though. It’s just going to take time.”
“And until then, he suffers.” It wasn’t a question, and Alpha Kincaid didn’t give Dr. Bell a chance to respond, ending the call and tossing the phone onto the table with a disgusted noise.
Feeling like an intruder, Jamie contemplated slipping back out to way in the hallway. Before he could make up his mind, Rick took a deep breath, held it, then released it and a little of the tension in his shoulders. He met Jamie’s gaze and gave him a tight smile. Jamie noticed the scent of his anguish wasn’t as strong now either.
“Take a seat.” Alpha Kincaid’s deep baritone reverberated through the room as he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“Yes, sir.” After sitting, he folded his hands in his lap to hide their tremor.
“Relax, Jamie. You aren’t in any trouble.” There was the tiniest smirk on the alpha’s face and that, more than anything, calmed his racing thoughts.
“Thank you for saying so, Alpha Kincaid. When I received your phone call…” He’d assumed the worst. His family always said canine and felid shifters regarded winged shifters as little more than prey or playthings, but he’d never gotten that feeling as a member of the Kincaid Pack. But he’d still jumped to conclusions as he’d tossed and turned last night.
Alpha Kincaid dipped his chin. “You assumed it was something bad.”
“Well…” He wouldn’t lie, but he also didn’t want to admit he’d panicked. Would Alpha Kincaid think that meant Jamie didn’t trust him? Because he did! He just… panicked easily.
“It’s okay.” Alpha Kincaid reached over and grabbed the folder. He opened it and glanced at the few contents. “Someone I trust suggested I call you.”
Jamie was very confused. “Alpha Kincaid, I’m not sure I—”
“Call me Rick.”
Flustered, Jamie squirmed in his chair. “Sir, I don’t think that would be very appropriate.”
Rick chuckled. “Why not?”
Jamie furrowed his brows and glanced away for a moment. Is this a test? “Alpha Kincaid—”
“Alpha Kincaid, a person in your position deserves deference. I’m very uncomfortable not giving that to you when I respect you so much.”
Rick closed the folder and placed it on the table, then stared at Jamie with narrowed eyes. “Most people don’t have the guts to stand up to me like that.”
Guts? Me? “I don’t see it as… having guts, sir. It’s simply good manners and common courtesy.”
Rick stood. “Come with me.”
Jamie had to rush to stand and hurry after him. He realized right away they were headed back toward the front door. Apparently, “having guts” wasn’t something Rick actually liked in his pack members.
Ericka hopped off the stool she’d been on, slipping her phone in her pocket when they entered the entryway. “Can I help you with anything?”
Jamie frowned. Earlier she’d called him Rick, and now she didn’t even use an honorific. Such failures of protocol made him wonder if everyone in Rick’s inner circle lacked basic respect for his position.
“What’s wrong?” Rick had paused and was looking back at him.
“Hmm? Oh, nothing.” Jamie dropped his eyes and stayed a half a step behind Rick, even though they were only about ten feet from the door.
A large, warm hand landed on the back of his neck, and he jumped a little, but Rick just gave a little squeeze. “You don’t like how she spoke to me, do you?”
“What?” Ericka squawked, hurrying toward them. “What’d I do?”
Jamie could feel the heat in his cheeks. “It’s not my place to correct anyone, sir.”
“That’s a yes,” Rick said, chuckling. He kept his hand on Jamie’s neck and steered him away from the door and toward the grand staircase. “Don’t worry, Ericka. Jamie will get used to our informal ways.”
He couldn’t think of a thing to say in response to that, so he simply allowed himself to be led upstairs. When they reached the third floor, Rick paused and looked to his left. Even Jamie could scent the blood and pain coming from that direction, so he knew it had to be overpowering for Rick. Instead of heading that way, Rick steered him to the right.
“Sir, um, may I ask where we’re going?”
He could tell they were headed toward Rick’s private quarters, but he wasn’t worried. He mostly ignored the gossip that ran through the pack like wildfire, but even he knew that Rick and Kai King were an item—even if Kai had moved out of the manor for some unknown reason. There was speculation amongst the pack, but no one knew for certain. All Jamie knew for sure was that Rick had been willing to start a war with the McAllister Pack over Kai; there was no way he was going to try and seduce or force Jamie to do anything intimate.
“I want to show you something.”
Silently sighing, Jamie decided to just trust his alpha and attempt to go with the flow. Not usually his strong suit, but he could try. When they reached Rick’s bedroom, he removed his hand and opened the door, pointing toward the right.
“Through that door.”
Curious, Jamie ignored how inappropriate it felt to be in his alpha’s bedroom. Stepping into the adjoining room, he stopped dead. “Oh feathers…”
Rick snorted a laugh behind him. “Bad, huh?”
Jamie ran his eyes over the overflowing filing cabinets, the massive piles of haphazard papers on the desk, and the boxes of books and more papers scattered around on the floor. “Is this… Is this your office?”
“Supposed to be,” Rick said, stepping around a half-full box and sitting on the desk chair. He gestured toward the small couch that had some three-ring binders on one cushion. Jamie sat carefully and righted the binders when they tipped over. “What do you think?”
“I think there’s no way a person could find anything they needed in here,” he blurted out.
Rick smiled. “I usually can. It just takes time, which is a commodity I don’t have a lot of.”
Nodding, Jamie glanced around again. “Where do you usually work?” There was no way Rick normally worked in a sitting room so close to the front door. He’d be interrupted nonstop.
“The library. It’s off the main floor but I still have to pack up and bring everything back here whenever I’m not working. There’s too much sensitive information in some of these files to leave them laying around.”
“Seems like a lot of extra work,” Jamie murmured, eyeing a calendar that was showing February.
It was June.
“Which is where you’d come in.”
Surprised, Jamie stared at Rick. Sure, he enjoyed sorting things and putting them in order, but how would Rick know that? “Would you like some help organizing your office, sir? I’d be happy to lend a hand with that.”
Rick’s mouth tipped up into a sad smile. “He was right. You are perfect for this job.”
Jamie tried not to frown at his alpha, but it was difficult. “Sir?”
Shaking his head and scrubbing at his face, Rick chuckled. “Kai. He told me I should hire you as my assistant, and he was right. Because of course he was.”
Stomach swooping like he was diving from the top of the tallest tree in the territory, Jamie could barely breath. “Your assistant? Sir, I’m not sure I could—”
“I need help, Jamie.” Rick spoke softly, face vulnerable for the briefest of moments.
Jamie finally noticed the dark smudges under his eyes. My alpha needs me. “I’d be honored, sir.”
“Thank you,” Rick murmured, then pulled out his phone and frowned. “I have to go. I’m supposed to be in a meeting right now.”
“Oh, of course!” Jamie jumped up and grimaced when the binders tipped over again, but he left them that time. “I can find my way out.”
“If you don’t need to get back to your current job right away, you can have Ericka grab Nico and he’ll set you up with some paperwork to fill out and whatnot.”
“Oh, okay.” Jamie gulped. This is really happening. “I took the whole day off since I wasn’t… um… I wasn’t sure what to expect from our meeting.”
“Sure,” Rick said, smirking and standing. “Well, once you’re done with Nico, you’re welcome to come back up and start working. I’ll be around the manor all day. If you have any questions, just come and find me, okay?”
Nodding, Jamie took a couple deep breaths to calm his racing pulse. “Yes, sir.”
By the time Jamie made it back down to the main floor, he was pretty much freaking out. Getting hired as Alpha Kincaid’s personal assistant was the last thing he’d expected when he’d applied to work in the manor.
God, he really owed Kai King a large thank you. Maybe a gift basket.
Ericka grinned at him as he approached. “So you got the job? He’s been so resistant to help, most of us didn’t think he’d go through with it.”
Unable to come up with anything to say to that, Jamie just nodded. Finally, he said, “I’m supposed to meet with Enforcer Nico about some paperwork?”
“Sure thing. Hang on one sec.” Ericka pulled out her phone and typed a quick message, then pointed to a few chairs clustered a dozen or so feet away in the corner of the entrance. “You can sit if you want. Nico will only be a minute.”
“Thank you,” he murmured and headed over on unsteady legs. He needed to let his boss know as soon as he could that he did end up getting that other job he’d applied for. Well, not that job really, but his boss was human and wouldn’t understand the dynamics of the pack even if Jamie tried to explain. But he had always been supportive of Jamie wanting to find a job “closer to home,” which had been code for “with the pack.”
Angry footsteps approached from the back of the house, jerking Jamie out of his musings.
“Ericka, have you seen Kieran McAllister at all today?” Enforcer Bennett Young, Alpha Kincaid’s second-in-command, stormed into the room, scowl on his usually cheerful face.
“No. Should I have?” Ericka didn’t seem put out by Bennett’s fierce expression, simply curious.
Bennett growled and turned away, taking the steps two at a time. “Yes, you should have.”
Jamie and Ericka watched until Bennett disappeared from sight, then they exchanged surprised looks.
“Well, that was a little weird,” Ericka finally said, and they both laughed.
A few minutes later, Enforcer Nico popped into the entrance hall and grinned at Jamie. “Hey, man. I hear congrats are in order. Why don’t you come on back to my office, and we’ll get you all set up to start trying to help Rick get his shit together.”
Nico and Ericka both laughed, but Jamie frowned as he stood and approached the gregarious man. “I’m sure Alpha Kincaid doesn’t need that much help, but I’m happy to offer him any assistance I can.”
Nico laughed in his face and slapped a hand on his shoulder. “That’s adorable. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.”