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Becoming A Vincent (The Wild Ones Book 1)

By:C.M. Owens

Becoming A Vincent (The Wild Ones Book 1)
C.M. Owens

       The Wild Ones #1




When you live in a place where "turbo speed" internet is a slight step  above dial-up, men carry on nine-year beard-growing challenges out of  stubborn pride, and your brothers do things like nail all your shoes to  the floor of your cabin just for funsies, you tend to be a little crazy.  You can call it a locational hazard, if you will.

That's Tomahawk for you.

We rank people based on just how crazy you are. And the four craziest families in town are called the Wild Ones.

I'm on the bottom tier of those, so technically I'm not as crazy as the  other Wild Ones. In fact, if it wasn't for my brothers and their endless  antics, I wouldn't be considered a Wild One at all. Ahem. Sure. We'll  go with that.

Anyway, I have a best friend who endures it all with me. Benson Nolans is my one constant favorite person.

Without him, I'd probably go really crazy, and not the fun kind. It'd be  ridiculous, after three years of a flawless friendship, to mess that  all up by falling for him.

I mean, even if we did get a little too close one night, it'd be  reckless endangerment. Even if we did suddenly feel the chemistry that's  always been there and stop toeing the line, it'd be a foolish risk to  take.

It'd be stupid to start hoping a really fun, but completely irrational, night with zero inhibitions might accidentally happen.

Really stupid …

Right?





Chapter 1



Wild Ones Tip #189

You only have two legs. Animals with sharp claws and teeth have four.

Never get caught in the woods without your gun.





LILAH



"You big bastard! Get away from the tree, and no one has to die," I  shout at the hostile cougar that is debating whether or not she wants to  climb up after me.

I even wiggle a puny stick at her like it's Excalibur or something.

How did I end up in a tree, wielding a stick like a mythical sword,  while a cougar decides if I'm worth the trouble of mauling to death or  not? Two reasons: Hale and Killian Vincent.

Those are my brothers.

I'm one third of a set of fraternal triplets. My theory is that all the  oxygen in the womb was cut off from the two jackasses who are  responsible for my current predicament, and I'm the only one who escaped  with functioning brain cells.

Sometimes they act like geniuses, other times … they leave me in the woods  with a freaking cougar! And not the kind of cougar who has a hankering  for a younger guy. Nope. I'd like that cougar.

I'm talking about a cougar with sharp claws, sharper teeth, and a lot of power that could destroy me.

The cougar groans or growls or both. I'm not really sure.

I don't speak cougar, but I think that was a sound of frustration, and  fortunately, she decides not to shimmy up the tree after me.

I blow out a breath of relief as the cougar slinks off into the thick  woods, a kitten cougar joining her at her side, and they slowly  disappear from sight. Obviously I don't get in any sort of hurry to  climb down, just in case that momma cougar is tricky and is playing me.

Fun fact: most animals are faster than humans. Much faster. Like, you  can't possibly outrun most four-legged creatures no matter what the  movies try to tell you.

Shotguns sound in the distance, and I glare in their direction.

Those assholes are going to end up with me shooting them with buckshot in the asses. Again.

This time it will be on purpose.

Slowly, warily, and all too shakily, I start the treacherous climb down,  stepping on a few questionable branches that creak and quiver as I do.

More shotgun blasts continue, at least staying in the opposite direction  of my cougar stalker so that I don't have to worry about it being  driven right back at me.

As soon as my feet hit the ground, I sprint. In my head, I'm an Olympic  runner right now, and nothing can catch me as I put on a gold medal  performance.

My heartbeat thumps in my ears as I run harder and faster than I ever  have, leaping over fallen trees or bushes like they're intentional  hurdles. And I run for a solid mile or more, right to my aunt's cabin  where people are everywhere.

I collapse as soon as I'm surrounded by gun-wielding, bearded men.

"Lilah! Why are you so sweaty?"

I'm wheezing for air, barely able to lift an arm to signal that I'm  alive, haphazardly sprawled on the ground, and my aunt is furiously  inquiring about my sweatiness.

Awesome.

"You okay?" I hear someone ask.

Benson. That's Benson. I think. My ears are still letting me hear too  much of my heartbeat too loudly to be sure. Please let it be Benson.  He'll save me.

Surely he'll realize the after-running effects are slowly killing me, and he'll have to save me.

Oxygen. I need a lot of it.                       
       
           



       

"Lilah?" the guy asks again, but I just wheeze out an unintelligible sound, struggling to catch a breath.

Despite what my mind thought during that muscle-burning sprint for my  life, I'm not actually an Olympic runner. I'm a run-to-survive-only kind  of girl. I'm always suspicious of those people who say they run for  fun.

Personally, if you're running regularly, I assume you're hiding  something nefarious and practicing your getaway for whatever is coming  after you. And I don't want to be your friend, because I hate running.

Someone scoops me up, and my eyes roll around lazily, taking in the bearded face of my lifter.

Benson. I knew it.

I groan a sound that is supposed to be appreciation, and he cradles me closer.

More gunshots from farther out have me narrowing my eyes again.

"What are those jackass brothers of yours shooting at when we're having a party?" my aunt demands.

Words still aren't working out so well for me, so I just continue to stare and wheeze.

Did I mention I hate running?

They're shooting to "guide" me out of the woods, as though I don't know which direction to go. Pricks.

The gunshots grow silent, while Benson continues to hold me. His beard  is annoying me at the moment, causing me to fidget. Really, who needs a  beard that long? It's tickling my stomach on the sliver of skin that is  showing where my shirt has risen up.

I hate beards. And I'm constantly surrounded by them.

"Lilah, I'm going to ask you one more time-"

"Cougar," I manage to say, interrupting my aunt.

Her eyes grow wide.

"Kai Wilder's cougar?" she asks, unconcerned.

"Ha! No. Wild momma cougar," I say, my pants growing shallower as my breaths come easier.

"You sure?" she asks, putting her hands on her hips.

"Pretty fucking sure, but I didn't hang out to check her belly for a scar, since she was trying to kill me or whatever."

Benson snorts, and my aunt turns about ten shades of red.

"Go get cleaned up. Use the soap on your mouth. Your date is coming to meet you in … well, shit. He should already be here."

My date. How did I forget the date?

My aunt has been trying to marry me off since I turned eighteen. That was six years ago.

She's old school. I'm surprised she waited until I was eighteen, if I'm being honest.

If it'd been up to her, and if I had been more mature-pfft-I'd have been  married by sixteen and popping out babies by eighteen, like my mother.  But it wasn't up to her. Still isn't. And I'm still not mature enough  for tiny human making.

Women cook. Men bring home the bacon. Yada yada yada. Her mind is set in stone on how things should work.

I'm self-sufficient as far as finances go, so no thank you to the husband's paycheck.

"Right," I say, knowing appeasing her is easier than arguing with her.

Benson lowers me to my feet, making sure I'm steady before he releases  me, and I thank him, patting him on the chest and ignoring his beard  that tickles my hand.

I head in, wash up, check to make sure I'm not a solid shade of red from  all that exertion, and reemerge just in time to see … Mr. Fucking  Gorgeous.

Yep.

The guy is so pretty that my eyes hurt.

Wow.

Where the hell did she find him? Not that I want to date him. The guy is  too pretty to be anything less than suspicious, but still …

"Oh! Lilah, this is Liam. Liam, my niece-Lilah."

Liam. Nope. Two L names would just cause confusion.

I still drink in the sight of him, because Liam is pretty, and I like  looking at him. It's been a while since I saw someone past puberty  without a beard.

He thrusts his hand out, and I note it's tan and a little calloused,  meaning he possibly spends time outside and working with his hands. Or  he jacks off outside a lot. One of the two.

His blond hair looks incredibly touchable. His smooth jaw is definitely a  refreshing sight next to all the overgrown beards in this place.

This place being Tomahawk, Washington, a small lake community in the  middle of no-damn-where, and a hop, skip and jump away from the Canadian  border … which is also right in the middle of no-damn-where.

I'm always leery of newcomers, because … back to that running thing.

If you didn't grow up in Tomahawk, then the only reason you'd be here is to run from something somewhere else.

"Nice to meet you," I say, smiling.

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