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Falke’s Peak – Puma Nights #1

FalkesPeak-300x454ISBN: 9781426890987

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She couldn’t believe her eyes.

Stressed out ad-exec Dakota wandered into Catamount Outfitters in search of a guide for a wilderness excursion. She didn’t expect to be greeted by not one, but five of the most ruggedly delicious-looking men she’d ever seen. Not to mention a live cougar guarding the shop.

The Falke brothers have more than just good looks in their genes.

Eldest brother Axel agrees to guide Dakota on her mountain trek. In cougar form, Axel’s twin, Gunnar, was there as a protection from predators—but he had his eye on the sexy client instead.

Into the wild…

While the rule with clients was “paws-off,” both Axel and Gunnar couldn’t resist Dakota’s seductive Native American beauty and determination. As cold days led to hot nights in the cabin, Axel and Gunnar wondered if they’d finally found a woman strong enough to tame them…


 

The moist smacking of eager kisses, the playful male growl and the giddy female giggle were strikes one, two and three. They made Dakota Tokala regret ever agreeing to this vacation and kept her from enjoying everything the ski resort and quaint, Bavarian-styled town of Leavenworth had to offer.

When Lana first pitched the idea for the ski trip to Washington, Dakota had been led to believe it would be a girls-only getaway for herself and her two best friends. Unfortunately, one week before the trio was scheduled to leave, Lana fell trying to run in her obscenely high stilettos to avoid a rain shower and broke her arm. Then Carrie decided to invite her fiancé to take Lana’s place since he’d been moping over the prospect of entertaining himself for a week without her.

Dakota glanced at the couple in the seat opposite her just in time to see him feed her one of the strawberries they’d stocked up on from the lunch buffet.

Once again, you’re the odd duck. She frowned and took a bite of her salad, unable to savor the taste of herbs and vegetables. Disgruntled, she forked the food around on her plate, then gave up and shoved it away.

As she started to scoot out of the booth, Carrie turned to ask, “Hey, you not hungry?”

“No,” she replied, trying to keep the disappointment from her voice.

“But I thought you said you were famished.”

Her friend looked confused, and Dakota sighed. Carrie was a great friend-had been since they met as freshmen during rush week at college-but things were different when men entered the picture. Not that she faulted Carrie. She was happy for her, but the queen-sized hideaway bed wasn’t as appealing an option for the week when the only bedroom was occupied by a couple ready for a real honeymoon.

Dakota had only claimed hunger to get out of the suite because of the lovebirds. She hadn’t expected Carrie’s fiancé to agree and suggest they all try the restaurant they’d passed in the resort’s lobby after checking in the night before.

“I know. I thought I was too, but you two go ahead and enjoy the meal. I’m just feeling a bit restless and thought I’d do a little souvenir shopping or something.” Maybe the idea of shopping would keep Mr. Testosterone from wanting to follow this time.

It worked. Carrie’s fiancé didn’t say a word. Instead, he stuffed his mouth with a bite of an almost-mooing T-bone drowned in steak sauce.

Though Carrie frowned, she nodded. “Okay,” she said, a hint of apology in her eyes. “We’re still heading for the slopes later, right?”

Dakota smiled. Her friend was trying to keep her included, but that could prove impossible when Carrie’s attentions were diverted by much more interesting playthings.

Grabbing her goose-down jacket, Dakota raised her cell phone and waved it. “Call me when you guys want to go.”

They wouldn’t call. As she walked away, she could imagine them heading back to the room, supposedly to change into snow gear for skiing, and getting sidetracked by warm linens and a soft mattress.

Dakota couldn’t blame Carrie. If she had a man in her life, she might do the same thing. Then again, if she had a man in her life, she wouldn’t feel like a third wheel on a trip that was supposed to have been an action-packed girls’ retreat.

When they first planned the trip, she and Lana had looked forward to the prospects of a few flirty thrills with some hunks on the slopes. They’d even teased Carrie about finding themselves a couple of sexy ski instructors.

But that didn’t mean Dakota needed a man in her life. She did well enough on her own, had a successful career, good friends and a nice apartment in Vegas. She wasn’t interested in finding a husband or even seeking a long-term relationship.

Still, being the odd one out wasn’t exactly her idea of a fun-filled vacation either. There should be plenty to do to keep her occupied while Carrie and Ted enjoyed their premarital lovers’ haven.

Slipping on her coat, she stepped out into the blustery winter day and smiled as she boarded the empty resort shuttle to the main hub of Leavenworth.

Nestled among towering mountains, the village had a unique appeal, which surprised Dakota. Having grown up in Boulder, she’d always liked the wilderness and natural vistas that reached for the heavens. But a college scholarship and fate had led her to the concrete, glitz and neon jungle of Las Vegas. She didn’t mind city life, even when it went on around the clock, but she had to admit an attraction for simpler things and fewer deadlines, being free to stop and enjoy nature-something her parents had encouraged with their annual summer vacations to many of the country’s national parks.

Leavenworth and the Wenatchee National Forest, though, had never been in her parents’ travel plans. She’d lay odds that it was as picturesque in the summer as it was blanketed by new fallen snow.

The shuttle van pulled to the curb, and the driver turned to look over his shoulder. “How’s this?”

Dakota glanced out the window. “Perfect. Thanks. I’ll get it,” she said, keeping the older gentleman from getting out to hold the door for her. She opened the van’s sliding door and exited onto a surreal wintry landscape. If she ignored the cars lining the paved street, she could pretend she’d stepped back in time and into Bavaria. Murals and gingerbread trim decorated the buildings, and the scents of fresh-baked pastries, spicy sausages and melted chocolate spilled from shops lining the sidewalks.

As she meandered down the walkway, peering into windows at the brightly colored gifts for sale, she sidestepped a woman and three excitable children in snowsuits. The woman murmured an apology as she grabbed the smallest one’s hand. Dakota grinned at the cherub in all pink from stocking cap to boots, and resumed her walk. A bright red flier taped to a lamppost made to look like an old-fashioned gas lamp caught her attention.

The advertisement was for overnight expeditions into the mountains.

When she stepped closer to read more, she collided with another pedestrian who dropped a bag of sealed plastic food containers and almost dropped her heavier burden-two twelve- packs of canned cola.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” they both said at once, which made the other woman laugh and Dakota hurry to help retrieve the containers that had fallen onto the shoveled and salted sidewalk.

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” the woman asked.

“No, no.” Dakota rose to her feet, holding on to the bag’s handles. The petite blonde looked as if the cases of soda were more than enough of a load. “I’m afraid I was so busy looking around I wasn’t watching where I was going. Didn’t mean to cut off your path.” She flashed a smile as further apology.

“Tourist,” the woman said with a nod and answering smile, her breath a brief puff of white in the cold air.

Dakota laughed. “Guilty as charged.”

“Welcome to Leavenworth. I’m Heidi.”

“Dakota.”

“Nice to meet you. I would shake your hand, but…” She raised one of the cases.

“No problem.” Dakota glanced at the flier that had caught her eye earlier. She could ask the concierge back at the resort, but decided to take a chance and ask a local. “So, you’re from here.”

“Born and raised.”

“Do you know of a reputable place that offers guided trips into the mountains this time of year?” She pointed at the flier by way of explaining her question.

Heidi grinned. “Sure do. Catamount Outfitters. In fact, I’m headed in that direction. I could show you.”

“That’d be great. Thanks.” She lifted the bag. “I’ll just help carry this for you too.”

“Thanks.”

As they walked, Dakota estimated Heidi was a few years older than her own twenty-four. Blonde and petite, she was a polar opposite to Dakota’s darker skin tone and more average height of five foot six. But she wasn’t frail.

“So, what kind of trek do you have in mind? Horseback? Snowmobiling?”

“Hadn’t thought about it really. This is sort of spur of the moment. I’m booked at a ski resort with a friend and her fiancé.”

“Ah,” Heidi said with a hint of sympathy, obviously reading between the lines.

“Yeah, exactly. Anyway, I guess snowmobiling wouldn’t be bad, but I’d like to do some hiking. Maybe with snowshoes or cross-country skiing? And wouldn’t mind camping out for a few nights if there’s a cabin handy. Not really into canvas tents in the winter.”

Heidi laughed. “So, rustic, but not entirely without civilization.”

Dakota grinned. “Right.”

“I’m sure the guys at Catamount can handle that. Nobody knows the Wenatchee like the Falke family.”

“Great.” Maybe her vacation didn’t have to be a bust after all.

“Here we are.” Heidi stopped at a door and used her hip to shove it open, the movement setting off a jingle to announce their arrival.

Stepping inside, Dakota saw a well-organized store filled with anything and everything a nature lover could possibly need or want. Heavy winter gear, skis, camping equipment arranged on racks and shelves. Kayaks and canoes hung from the high ceiling.

Wordlessly, she browsed the aisles as she trailed Heidi deeper into the store. But when she looked up, she froze. Behind a counter stood two men-obviously identical twins-who belonged on the cover of a fashion magazine instead of in some remote outfitter discussing football. Someone else knelt behind the counter, his hand appearing every other second to place merchandise inside the glass display case, but her gaze quickly returned to the two men she could see. Not even the life-sized, stuffed mountain lion reclining at one end of the counter could turn her head, although she noticed it because it was the only animal in the store. Weren’t most outfitters decorated with trophy bucks and taxidermy’s prized works of art?

The third person stood up and popped off a challenge to something one of the others said. Dakota’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. He looked exactly like the other two!

Blond, tall, rugged-looking, with classic chiseled features, all three men rivaled any model she’d ever worked with at the advertising firm. Wearing the store’s uniform, they were practically indistinguishable from one another. She’d heard of identical twins, but identical triplets were rarer still. She stared, trying to spot some differences between the men.

Heidi chuckled, drawing a reluctant glance from Dakota.

“It never fails,” Heidi said, the humor evident in her tone.

“Fails?” She wanted to look back at the trio of hunks but managed to hold off long enough to get an answer.

“Your reaction.” Heidi leaned closer. “The Falke brothers always surprise the tourists.” She winked.

Well, who could blame them? The brothers were stunning.

Dakota dropped her voice to a whisper. “They’d stop traffic in Vegas.”

Heidi laughed louder. “I bet they would.” Her outburst caught the men’s attention.

An excited tremble ricocheted through Dakota.

Working with fashion models on various ad campaigns was considered a perk at her job; although being somewhat new to the business and at the bottom of the food chain, she didn’t always get to meet the hunks in person. Usually she had the pleasure of going through the proofs, and her coworkers fought over the chance to land men’s underwear clothing contracts.

But these guys weren’t models used to the limelight and fawning females. Not that she was one. Sure, she adored the male physique, and the sight of a sexy man could turn her head any day, but Dakota wasn’t the type to ask for an autograph, something the more arrogant models came to expect.

While the Falke brothers made her mouth water, they were everyday citizens working in a sporting goods shop. And staring was rude. She had to get over the shock of their looks and get down to business. She took a steady breath and tried to think of what that business was.

Oh, yeah. Wilderness excursion. Would one of them be her guide?

“Hey, sis. What’s so funny?”

Sis? These men were Heidi’s brothers?

“Oh, nothing,” Heidi chimed. “Brought refreshment.”

“Excuse me,” a fourth man said as he edged past Dakota to take Heidi’s heavy burden. “You’re the best.”

Where’d he come from? “Thanks, Tor.”

The man, or Tor as Heidi had called him, was yet another copy of the other brothers. Not an exact match, but close enough to testify to a very close family connection.

“Got food too.” Heidi’s grin was bright.

“Awesome. I’m starving!” A fifth man slid past Dakota’s other side to give Heidi a chaste, smacking peck on the cheek. “You’re our favorite sister,” he said with a teasing grin.

Stunned, Dakota did a double take and turned to look back down the aisle to see if any more would appear. All she saw were shelves of propane canisters, lanterns and a canoe hanging from the rafters. Spinning back to face the men and Heidi, Dakota watched with a hint of awe.

Heidi laughed and shoved the kissy one away. “I’m your only sister, Sin.”

He chuckled and went to join the others who were opening the first case of cola.

“Nice and cold too,” one of them said. He popped the tab and took a swig.

God! There were five of them; only this latest arrival-Sin?-looked more like Tor, the fourth man, than the trio behind the counter. The two latecomers were about an inch shorter with slighter builds, and their mussed hair and quick grins gave them a more youthful appearance. She’d guess twins and a set of triplets.

As if seeing double-more than double-she felt lightheaded. She must look the fool, standing there gaping, but damn…

“Did you just call him sin?” Dakota asked in an aside.

“Yep, short for Sindre. Come on,” Heidi said, taking the bag from Dakota’s hand. “Let me introduce them to you.”

She set the bag of home-cooked food on the counter, and the men dug into the plastic containers.

Except for one who eyed Dakota and moved toward her.

She eased closer to the stuffed cat, unsure whether she wanted to come between a pack of hungry men and their food.

“Guys, this is Dakota…” Heidi glanced at her. “Sorry, I didn’t get your last name.”

“It’s Tokala,” she answered, grateful for the distraction.

“That’s an unusual name,” said the brother who drew near, although the counter still separated them.

“It’s Lakota. It means fox.” Why she felt compelled to share that bit of trivia was beyond her, but her answer made him grin. Her tummy flipped.

The man was gorgeous. Their parents must’ve sold their souls to the devil to have had such a number of tall, healthy and handsome sons.

Like his brothers, he wore khakis and a maroon, short-sleeved polo shirt with the company’s name and logo-a stylized cougar head-on the breast. Around his neck, he wore a thin leather collar with a pewter medallion on it that bore another likeness to the wild animal.

Odd. They all had them on, except for Heidi. Strange thing to include as part of a uniform. Stranger still that all five men wore collars at all. Where she was from collars symbolized submissive tendencies in D/s playrooms, but Dakota couldn’t envision any of these men bowing to a whip.

Wielding it, maybe. But submitting to it? Not a chance.

“This is Axel, my oldest brother.”

“Only by a minute!” protested the two others who looked remarkably like him. His eyes were a rich hazel that reminded her of natural forests around Leavenworth-light green with sparks of gold and brown.

“Those two are Kelan and Reidar.” The pair waved at her with matching smiles, friendly and cute enough to make Dakota smile back. “And the pair too busy to stop stuffing their faces are Sindre and Torsten.” The brothers chuckled and winked at her without pause in their lunch. “I have another brother, Gunnar,” Heidi added, “but maybe you’ll get to meet him some other time.”

“Nice to meet…everyone.”

“Please excuse my brothers for eating in front of you,” Axel said. “They can be a bit…untamed…when it comes to meal time…

 

Permanent link to this article: http://annaleighkeatonbooks.com/2014/09/falkes-peak/

2 comments

  1. Joleen

    Puma’s Nights
    I really enjoyed this series Do you have plans to have other brothers have a happy ever after?

    1. annaleighkeaton

      Hi Joleen,
      At this point we do not have plans to continue the series. I’m so happy you enjoyed it!
      ~Anna Leigh

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