I’m a sucker for Alexa Riley’s smutty reads, and Riding Red is now one of my new favorites from her! It’s a sexy, paranormal retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy-tale. If you’re a fan of Alexa Riley, then you know you’re in for a treat with her entertaining, smutty reads full of alpha-males who are obsessed with their heroines, and tons of steam – and Riding Red definitely doesn’t disappoint.
Ruby has just moved into a new town and started her own little bakery, but it seems the townspeople aren’t very welcoming, and don’t go near her and her shop. What she doesn’t know is that she lives in a town of shifters, and the town sheriff has ordered everyone away from Ruby. Why? Because the second Dominic lays his eyes on Ruby, she is his. His mate.
I really enjoyed Alexa Riley’s take on shifters – it was seriously so much fun to read. And I loved how unexpectedly funny Ruby was! Her character is fantastic, and definitely perfect for Dominic, who is uber-alpha. He’s the beta of the pack, but when he finds his mate, his alpha instincts roar like crazy, and there’s nothing that can stop him from claiming her. There’s actually not as much sex as I expected in Riding Red, but that wasn’t disappointing, because the sex that occur will melt your panties off.
Alexa Riley is definitely a go-to author for quick, steamy reads. I’m hoping she’ll be writing more – more about the secondary characters in Riding Red (Gwen and Xavier!?), more smutty paranormal retellings – I’ll read anything by her!
Chapter 1 *Ruby*
“We can’t serve those!” I look down at the cookies, which are shaped like tiny dicks, and I try to convince myself I’m seeing things. It’s 5:30 in the morning, and I haven’t had any coffee yet, so maybe my brain is still putting things together. I scan the tray again, hoping I’m wrong. Nope. Definitely little cocks.
“Why not?” Gwen picks up one of the cock-shaped cookies and bites off the head, making me cringe. I don’t have a penis, but I can imagine that would hurt. “They taste delicious. I added a hint of pumpkin spice. Bitches love pumpkin spice.” She nods her head like it’s a fact that bitches love pumpkin spice. She finishes the cookie, moaning appreciatively. It gives a whole new meaning to ‘swallowing’ here at Red’s Goodie Basket.
“Do bitches like biting the heads off dicks too?”
Gwen scrunches her nose and looks down at the batch of cookies on the prep table. “They don’t look like dicks. They’re broomsticks.” But even as she defends herself, she tilts her head to study them.
“Pubic hair.” I point to what was supposed to be the bristles of a broom, then slide my finger across what I’m guessing should have been the actual broomstick. “The cock.”
She bites her lip, and I can tell she’s trying to find a way to prove me wrong.
“Gwen. If it’s a freaking broomstick, why is it cumming?” The end of the cookie has white icing shooting out of it and clearly looks like cum.
“That’s the magic coming out! It’s a witch’s broomstick!” She says it so earnestly that I’m not sure who she’s trying to convince here, me or herself.
“Yeah, something’s coming out of it all right.”
Suddenly, we both bust out laughing. I should be frustrated, but laughing feels good. It’s something I haven’t done in a while, and I let it out, enjoying the silliness of the situation.
When we finally stop laughing, a worried look crosses her face. “It’s fine.” I try to reassure her. I only opened the bakery a little over a week ago, and I’m sure she thinks I might fire her. What she doesn’t know is, she’s the only person who applied for the job. For some reason I had a hard time transitioning to this quiet little town in Gray Ridge, Colorado.
If it wasn’t for the tourists who pass through, I wouldn’t have any business at all. Lucky for me there’s a national park nearby that keeps my little shop busy. I’m just not sure how long it will last once the snow starts hitting the mountains and the line of tourists slows down. I was told some of the roads get shut down around here after the first snow. Maybe by then the people who live here will start to warm to me. Otherwise it’s going to be a tight few months, and I’ll have to pull more from my savings. As the holidays are fast approaching, I’m hopeful everyone will need desserts.
It’s coming close to the end of October, and I thought some festive Halloween treats would be a good idea. When I mentioned it to Gwen, she jumped all over it, wanting to make them herself. She always seems to want to stay here as much as she can. I had a pile of paperwork to cover last night, so I gave her a shot at the cookies on her own. I went upstairs to my little apartment/office over the bakery and left her to it. This morning I’m seeing the error of my ways.
When I hired her, I knew she didn’t have any experience, but she seemed eager to learn. Whenever I made stuff, she watched my every move, absorbing all the information she could. I had gone to culinary school and was more than happy to teach her all my tricks. It’s been nice having someone to talk to who shares my interests, but she still has a long way to go when it comes to culinary crafts.
“Okay, we don’t have to serve these. What else did you make?”
Gwen makes her way over to the cooler, pulling out more cookies. She walks back over to me, putting down a huge tray of orange pumpkin cookies that read ‘EAT ME’ in giant black lettering.
“Why ‘eat me’?” I ask, looking at the perfectly made pumpkins. Perfect other than the message, of course.
“It’s subliminal messaging to the customers.” She nods her head like she’s been working in advertising and knows this is a selling secret. “People will just have to buy the cookies and eat them because the cookie told them to.”
“Anything else?” I cross my fingers behind my back, praying we might have something we’ll be able to sell today. Now I’m not so sure if I want us to be busy today. I need to whip up some usable cookies and Halloween treats on top of the normal stuff I sell. That would keep me in the back all day with Gwen running the counter by herself.
“I did some cupcakes too.” She bounces back over to the cooler, her excitement clear. Two seconds later she comes strolling out carrying a tray of cupcakes all iced in green, black, white, and orange. The only problem is there seem to be more cocks sticking out of the top of them.
“What is this?” I point to what clearly looks like a dick on top of a cupcake. Not that I’ve ever had experience with a real one, but I do have a Tumblr account.
“Those are fingers. Don’t they look creepy-cool?” I can tell she’s excited about this. I even fear she stayed extra late last night making them. Her face has a giant smile pasted across it, and I can’t seem to bring myself to pop her bubble.
“They’re great, Gwen.” I grab one of the trays, going to load it into one of the cases up front. I plot where I can put them, thinking maybe I can hide them behind a giant stack of Rice Krispie treats and some cakes or something. I could put them on the bottom row, but kids would be at eye level with them then. I guess I’ll have to put them on the top, and I cringe inwardly.
This is not going to win me any favors with the locals who already avoid me. They don’t seem too happy that I’ve taken over the town bakery. It’s the only reason I have as to why so many turn and walk the other way when they see me. I haven’t been in this town long enough to make anyone mad. You’d think I came and stole the bakery or something the way everyone acts. I saw it for sale online and made an offer, and if they didn’t like new people, maybe they shouldn’t have put an online listing for the world to see!
The site even showed you the paperwork of how successful the previous owner had been and explained that the only reason it was for sale was because the owner passed away, and the remaining family couldn’t run it. But business wasn’t quite so booming now that I was running the place.
When I saw this place I knew it would be perfect for me; a fresh start somewhere new, and I could leave the sad memories behind. After my grandma passed, I was all alone. She raised me after my parents died in a car accident when I was five years old. After high school I’d gone to college, got a degree in business, but couldn’t seem to settle into anything. The only time I ever felt happy was when I went home to my grandma’s and when I was in her kitchen baking. That’s when I knew I had to make baking my life if I wanted to be happy.
My grandma pushed me into culinary school, and sadly it wasn’t long after I graduated that I lost her. After I closed her estate, I knew I wanted to open my own bakery, and I searched for the prime place. When I stumbled across this little town with this perfect little bakery, something about it drew me in. When I stepped inside the first time, I knew this was the place; I felt like I fit. It was almost as if the bakery was waiting for me, like my fate was here.
Pushing through the door from the kitchen to the front, I set the tray on the counter and start making coffee while I set up the display cases. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself; I haven’t been here that long.
Gwen follows behind me, and I see her go to the trays in the window of the store and start placing treats on display there too. Shit.
Maybe when we open I can send her on an errand and throw all of them out while she’s gone. I could tell her they sold like crazy, but then she just might want to make more. Double shit.
Finishing our morning set up, I walk over to the window display and move things around a little. Once everything is set, I flip the sign over from ‘Closed’ to ‘Open’ and unlock the door. I head back behind the counter and watch as people pass by the bakery, making their way to their own shops to open. A few people I don’t recognize come in for a coffee, eyeing the Halloween cookies. I went ahead and put the ‘broomsticks’ out too. Might as well if I’m doing the other ones. If they don’t sell, I can always take them to the nursing home down the road like I always do with my extras. Maybe they wouldn’t notice they looked like little cocks.
“I think I’ll run down to the hardware store later and get some Halloween decorations. Add some festivity to the place. I know some of the kids will be trick or treating up and down the street Saturday for Halloween. Maybe some of them will drag their parents in or something if it looks festive.” I try to sound excited, but Gwen just snorts, making her blonde hair bounce. You’d think I’d be making a killing with her working the front counter considering how hot she is. She eats more of the merchandise than I do, but I’m not sure where her lean body puts it. Mine all goes to my hips and ass.
“Gwen, you were born and raised here, right?” I ask, already knowing the answer. I’ve heard her talk about her brother. She lives with him, and she constantly complains that he doesn’t let her do anything. I actually think her applying for this job was an act of rebellion. After seeing all the Halloween dirty treats she made, I’m starting to think she’s sexually repressed. Not that I can point fingers. I’m a twenty-four-year old virgin, and Gwen’s only three years younger than me. But I wasn’t the one making cock treats.
“Yep, born and raised,” she says, turning and leaning her hip against the counter next to the register.
“Was most everyone around here born and raised here?” The town seems so tightly knit, like there’s this club I can’t seem to break into. It’s like I haven’t performed some secret rite of passage yet or something. Every day I keep hoping something will give; that it’s just a fluke people aren’t coming in yet. Maybe they don’t know the bakery is back open, but I’m starting to think in a town like this everyone knows everything about everyone.
She shrugs her shoulders, and I can see her choosing her words carefully. “Most are from here, but Alp— I mean, my brother, likes to welcome in strays from time to time.”
“They don’t seem too welcoming to me,” I mutter, not wanting to insult her brother. Why would it be his job to do the welcoming? I hadn’t even met the man, and if he’s some kind of welcoming committee for the town, then he sucks at it. I’ve been here for three weeks, and I have no idea who he is.
“Well, it will just take some time.” She leans in a little closer to me, and I hear her sniff.
“Did you just smell me?” Grabbing my shirt, I sniff myself thinking maybe I stink or something, but all I smell is sugar. No matter how many showers I take I think it’s ingrained from cooking sweets all the time.
“No,” she says, stepping back from me like I asked her a crazy question when she’s the one sniffing me.
“You like working here, Gwen?”
“I love it! You’re not going to fire me because I smelled you, are you? I can decorate the shop if you like. Halloween is in a few days, and I’ll get it done today. Or it is the treats? You hate them? I can do them over again. Just show me how you like them. Please, you can’t fire me. No one else will hire me. My brother won’t let them and…and—”
“Gwen. Calm down,” I say, cutting her off from her rapid-fire rambling. “I’m not going to fire you. I…it’s just…like a second ago when I made the suggestion about the decorations, you snorted like, “no one is coming in here,” and, well, if no one comes in here, neither of us will be working here.”
“Oh!” She sighs like it’s no big deal, and I just stare at her, not understanding her at all. “They’ll come after.”
“After?” I wave my hand trying to encourage her to finish her sentence.
She hesitates and then looks around the room. “After Sheriff Wolfe stops scaring people away.” She says the words like I pried them from her using torture.
At hearing his name, my eyes shoot to the front window to see if he’s loitering outside my shop again. I thought cops drove around in their cop cars, eating donuts, but the one here walks up and down Main Street all day, eating my cookies and drinking my coffee. He stops in front of my bakery more than anywhere else and glares in here like I’ve done something to offend him.
It was his family who owned the bakery before I did, but I was told that he wanted to sell it. The lawyers explained that he didn’t have the time to run it, which I could understand if he was the sheriff. And no way could I see him running a bakery. He’d eat himself out of house and home.
The man was a jerk-face. A sexy, giant jerk-face who was my biggest customer, but still a jerk-face, and he could barely form a sentence on the best of days. At first I thought maybe he could only grunt and growl. But then I saw he didn’t have a problem speaking to other people. I’d heard him talk to Gwen a few times and everyone else, but with me it was like I was too much of a bother or something. If he couldn’t stand me, why was he always hanging around all the time? Why did he sell me the shop? It’s not like I twisted his big, hairy, muscled arm or something. In fact, it was the opposite. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
When I came to see the place, I was so excited. I knew before I’d even got here I was making an offer. The pictures online showed me it was everything I wanted. The place was even decorated in my favorite color, red. All I’d have to do was get a new sign.
I was so excited to finally see it in person, but the first time I walked inside all I saw was him. I thought he was sitting at a mini table in the bakery, but it didn’t take me long to realize the table wasn’t mini. No, he just made it look that way because he was so big.
I stood mesmerized by him, my whole body coming alive. It was a feeling I’d never felt before, like warmth washing over me. His big silver eyes grew bigger at the sight of me. But then he stood from the table and stormed out of the bakery. Just before he hit the door, he threw over his shoulder, “It’s hers.” He made it clear he was done with me and the bakery. Or so I thought.
For some reason it knocked the air out of my lungs when he dismissed me so easily. I shouldn’t have been so taken aback by him. I wasn’t one to get noticed by men. I’m short, chubby, and have curly red hair that I can barely control. It’s why my parents named me Ruby. So having him all but ignore me shouldn’t have hurt so much, but it did.
Then I found out he’s the sheriff. I felt like he came in here to poke me, and now I find out he’s keeping people away from the shop too. What’s this? Some scheme he does or something? Sells the bakery, drives the bakery person out of business and buys it back for dirt cheap, then does it all over again to someone new? I can’t even report him because he’s the freaking sheriff.
Maybe that’s it. That day he saw me, he knew I was an easy mark. Well, the next time I see him I’m going to give him my two cents. Really give him something to growl about.