Home > Ryan (Alpha Geek #13)

Ryan (Alpha Geek #13)
Author: Milly Taiden








As the lights of Miami danced in the waves, Ryan fought back a yawn. He steered around a party boat full of men in suits and women in neon string bikinis and headed for the dock.

“Hey, bro, traffic’s a bitch. You make it to the dock yet?”

A horn blared in the background. Ryan winced. His best friend, Wayne, wasn’t the most attentive driver on the road.

“Just pulling in.” Officially, he’d been scouting for the best spots for oil companies to build offshore refineries. “Man, I saw some weird stuff out there, though.”

“Mermaids?” Wayne’s interest was piqued. “Cthulhu? Is that how you say it? The creepy horror octopus?”

“Ha. Maybe. It wasn’t anything to alert the authorities about, but the seismic activity was messed up.”

“The what now?” A car door slammed, and Wayne’s voice jostled over the line. “Don’t pull out those SAT words on me, dude.”

Ryan rolled his eyes. Wayne had gone to one of the best boarding schools in the country. He wasn’t dumb, just lazy.

“I’m talking about earthquakes under the ocean.”

“Huh. Well, the best place for a tsunami is a yacht.”

“I’m not sure that’s ...”

Wayne let out a string of curses punctuated by a quick breath, followed by more curses. “That son of a bitch. Are you seeing this?”

Ryan set anchor in the space he rented and looked overboard. There was Wayne, looking like a retired football player in vibrant cyan swim shorts.

“My yacht!”

Ryan only rented the space in South Beach because that’s where Wayne parked his party yacht, and now that Wayne mentioned it, the space was conspicuously empty. By the time Ryan gathered his laptop and disembarked, Wayne was scowling at the security footage on his phone.

“Did you call the police?”

This only made his scowl deepen. “It’s my uncle. Again. I’m getting sick of this shit, man. Everybody’s gonna be here in like an hour. Marissa’s coming, and she’s bringing that friend you liked.”

“Eh, I don’t think it’s going to work out.”

It usually didn’t. Ryan got along well with girls, and he got plenty of dates. He had money and personality, even if his arms looked like noodles. There was just something missing.

That didn’t stop Wayne from trying to hook him up. He was a good friend when his uncle wasn’t stealing his yacht. Ryan watched the grainy footage again. There was Wayne’s uncle, Maurice, looking like an eccentric pirate. He’d only gotten stranger in recent years, and he was flanked by several scary-looking men with dead eyes.

“Maybe he’s just taking his friends,” who looked like deadly assassins, “for a quick spin. He’ll probably be back before we know it.”

“No. Uh-uh. I told him to stop this shit.” Wayne looked at his Patek watch. “Everyone’s gonna be here soon. Let’s just go get him.”

“Can’t we just drive up to Boca?” Ryan very much did not want to go anywhere near Wayne’s creepy uncle or his team of possible assassins. “We can take your other yacht.”

“I’m not driving for over an hour. Are you crazy?”

“Then call the cops.”

“I’m not calling the cops on my uncle.” Wayne clapped his hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “Look, I never ask you for anything.”

“That’s a blatant lie.”

“Come on, man. You don’t even have to talk to him. Believe me, I’ve got plenty to say.”

Ryan took a deep breath, and Wayne took his silence for agreement. He swung over the gate and hopped onto Ryan’s yacht.

“Sweet. Let’s track this mother.”

Ryan knew that he’d regret this, but he couldn’t bring himself to say no to Wayne. He’d stood up for him so many times throughout his life, even at the cost of his own popularity. The least he could do was take him to his own yacht.

It wasn’t like his uncle would hurt him. He was family.

The GPS led them deep into the ocean, close to where Ryan had tracked the anomalous seismic activity earlier.

“What do you even think he’s doing out here?”

“Playing with his nuts, man. I don’t know. He should do it on his own damned yacht.” The lights of Wayne’s yacht shone in the distance. “Hey. Wait underneath, all right?”


“In case I need backup or something.”

“Backup?” Ryan’s unease grew. “Are you sure you want to do this? We can still turn around.”

They drew closer to Wayne’s yacht.

“Come on, before he sees you.”

Reluctantly, Ryan climbed downstairs and looked through a porthole as they approached. He heard Wayne shout. He half expected Maurice to run off with the yacht, but instead, it glided straight for them and crashed against the hull of Ryan’s boat.

“Dammit,” Ryan muttered to himself, “what’s he doing? Trying to sink my ship?”

“Hey!” Wayne sounded offended on his behalf. “You’re messing up my friend’s boat, dude. What the hell?”

“Is your friend on board?”

“It’s just me,” he lied.

Something strange happened to Maurice’s face. At first, Ryan thought he might be having a stroke. His eyes bulged, and his mouth twitched and sagged.

But then his short silver beard grew, and his shoulders bulged. His shirt tore, and Ryan realized he was shifting. He’d seen him shift once before on another of his oceanic scouting missions, and it would have shocked him if he hadn’t already been acquainted with the phenomenon.

One saw a lot of strange things in the oceans if they were looking and had an open mind. Ryan didn’t talk about it because he liked not being constrained in a mental health facility, but he’d seen it. He’d watched sharks turn into humans and humans turning into giant squids, seals, and once, a tuna fish.

He’d watched Maurice turn into a giant octopus, and that’s what he expected again. But Maurice grew fur, not tentacles. He stretched his mouth into an unfriendly grin and beat his chest.

A gorilla?

Ryan had finally adjusted his worldview in order to accept shifters. He had no idea they could shift into more than one animal. He hadn’t thought that Maurice would pose much threat as an octopus, not out of the water, but now as his gorilla form leaped onto the yacht in front of Wayne, he saw how much they’d both underestimated the man.

Maurice slammed his fists on the deck, and the yacht reeled. Water dripped onto Ryan’s face, and he tried not to panic. He’d patch the hole and then call the Coast Guard. Everything was going to be fine.

Maurice grabbed Wayne, whose mouth looked like a landed trout, and jumped back to Wayne’s yacht. He tossed the younger man onboard so hard that Ryan could hear the thud.

“It’ll sink soon. Just get out of here!” Maurice shouted to one of his assassin friends.

Wayne’s yacht raced away, and the wake rocked Ryan so hard he nearly lost his footing. More water dripped from the side of the boat, and a drip from above fell on his forehead and slid down his face. Ryan licked his lips and tasted salt.

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