Authors: Lia Davis
The rogues had found them.
Anger burned in his brown eyes, making the gold undertones brighten.
“Do as I say,” he gritted out. She locked her jaw to keep a retort from escaping her lips. He narrowed his eyes. “I mean it.” He leaned down and kissed her hard then sat up and pulled her up with him. Heavy footfalls grew closer by the second.
“Can you run?”
She looked at him, dumbfounded. “Hell yeah.”
His lips twitched. “Good.”
He grabbed her hand and rose, taking her with him. She gasped as he took off toward the house, causing her to stumble a couple of steps before regaining her footing. Travis tugged her through the back door and down the hall. Inside the bedroom, he finally let go of her hand to enter the closet.
“Travis, why are you worried about clothes right now?” Shay jumped at the sound of glass breaking. Voices rang through the small cabin, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. “Travis.”
He came out of the closet with a shotgun and a small .22. Handing her the pistol, he said, “I hope you know how to shoot.”
She palmed the gun and smiled. “Sure do.”
“Good.” He handed her a fistful of bullets. “It’s already loaded.”
Nodding, she pocketed the rounds and clicked off the safety. She moved to the door but stopped when Travis placed a hand on her elbow. Turning to meet his eyes, she swore she saw a flicker of fear. No, it had to be concern or worry. He was much too strong of a male. She’d sensed the Alpha in him when she’d woken.
“Be careful.” It came out as a demand, and she smirked as he let go of her and stepped around her to exit the room before her.
Yep, definitely an Alpha.
They got two feet down the hall and froze. A very large half-wolf, half-man stood at the other end, blocking all hope of exiting through the front of the house. She glanced to Travis, who stood glowering at the creature. A tic formed in his jaw, and moved to block her from their sight.
“You can’t face them alone. Those creatures are strong,” she gritted out in his ear. When he didn’t answer, she asked, “What is he waiting on?”
Before Travis could answer, the male raised a gun. She screeched as Travis pushed her to the floor and fired his shotgun at the same time the rogue shot his. More shots rang through the hallway, and she yelped at the burning pain in her lower thigh. She instinctually grabbed the area and cried out as pain shot up her leg. Fear pierced her gut, but she didn’t dare look. The warm liquid seeping between her fingers was blood; she knew it.
With her ear pressed to the floor as she tried not to make any more sounds, she heard more footsteps coming into the house, another round of shots, and then silence.
He slid his arms under her, and then she was lifted off the ground. “You’ve been shot. Damn it!”
Hot tears ran down her cheeks, and she pressed her face into his shoulder.
She didn’t want to be weak. She didn’t want to be the one that had to rely on others.
She tried to calm her breathing, hoping the pain would ease or she would become numb to it. “I know…”
“Shh. Don’t speak. I got you.”
Then the world spun as he started moving at inhuman speed. Her eyelids grew heavy, and her head felt light in a dizzying kind of way.
“Shay, hang in there for me.”
Travis’s words were the last things she heard before everything went dark.
“How much closer are we to locating the Onyx den?”
Blaine flinched at the harshness in his father’s tone. The Alpha damn near split a vein when Blaine had told him about Shay’s disappearance. What made it worse was Blaine knew she’d taken off, and at the advice of his little brother and Cameron, he’d let her go. They’d said she needed her independence. And, they were right.
Only Keegan Andrews, Alpha of the leopard Pack, formally known as Ashwood, didn’t see it that way. So here Blaine sat, in his father’s office, having his ass chewed.
“When we get close to discovering where the den is, they move. I think they are sending out red herrings to keep us searching.” Blaine kept his tone cool and unemotional, because getting an attitude with his father would only make things worse.
“We’re starting to see a pattern.” Cameron spoke from her perch next to the window. “And this time they fucked up by taking one of ours. It gives us the green light we’ve been looking for to use force.”
“I’m getting too old and too tired for this shit,” Keegan muttered before focusing back on Blaine. “I know she wants her freedom, and she deserves it, but you know as much as I do, Onyx will use her magick.”
Blaine nodded. Shay possessed a rare ability to weave spells. His father had recently discovered that her biological mother had been a very powerful witch, who, with her white tiger mate, died fleeing the rogues. At least the couple had left Shay, only two at the time, hidden inside an abandoned burrow right outside Ashwood territory. “I know, Father. But she is strong and had passed every training exercise we put her through.”
His father slammed his fist on the desk. “You don’t think I know this? Did it also fail your observation that there is a reason I tell all the enforcers never to go out alone? These genetic fuck-ups give me nightmares.”
Blaine closed his eyes and leaned his head against the armchair he sat in. He’d run into those creatures. The Onyx Pack had created a group of genetically altered beasts as their version of enforcers, except they were more like assassins. The creatures were frozen in mid-shift, forever stuck as a half-man, half-animal.
One of those creatures had attacked Jared this past winter during a Hunt challenge against Nevan. The image of the large black alpha jaguar with his throat torn open and barely breathing made Blaine’s blood boil. It also intensified his fear for his adopted sister.
Cameron’s phone beeped, pulling Blaine from his dark thoughts. When she lifted her gaze to lock with his, he narrowed his eyes. “What?”
As usual, she wasn’t fazed by his clipped tone. “It’s an email from Shay. She says she’s safe and needs to clear her head.”
“Clear her head? What the fuck for?”
His father sighed and flung himself against the back of his chair. “We had an argument after dinner.”
Blaine grounded his molars together. “What about?”
“Damn it! You didn’t mention this? Why? If I’d have known her state of mind, I’d have stopped her from leaving.” Blaine stood and started pacing.
“I didn’t think anything of it. It’s not like her to run off because of an argument. Especially one we’ve had many times over.” Keegan sat up and leaned over his desk, propping his elbows on it to place his face in his hands.
Cameron added, “She hasn’t been herself lately. She’s had too much energy and hasn’t seemed to know what to do with it. I’d say she was becoming bored with being cooped up in the den all the time.”
A spark of amusement rose in Blaine from remembering how antsy Shay had been acting lately. “She reminds me of how you were when you came of age.”
Cameron laughed. “That was one hell of a weekend. Remember we ran off, and no one knew where we were until we came back all sated and…holy shit.” Dawning lit her golden gaze, quickly followed by fear. “She’s going through her first heat cycle.”
Shayna woke as soon as the earth stopped moving. No, that wasn’t right. The earth didn’t actually move unless there was an earthquake. Looking around, she noticed she was inside a vehicle of some kind.
“How are you feeling?”
She jumped at the sound of Travis’s voice. He covered her hand with his and squeezed it gently. With a sigh, she felt his warmth seep into her skin. “I’m cold,” she choked out.
He released her hand and got out of what she now recognized as a truck. A second later her door opened and Travis lifted her out of the cab. After shutting the door with his shoulder, he carried her toward the entrance of a…cave? “Um. Are we seriously going to stay in a cave?”
He chuckled. “It’s a home and safe. You’ll see.”
She shivered and snuggled into him. He shifted her in his arms to free one hand. The movement caused her bullet wound to throb more than it had been.
“Sorry,” he whispered against her hair. Raising a hand and facing his palm to the rock face of the cave, he muttering a chant too low for her catch every word.
“An illusion spell.” The magickal vale fell away to reveal a one-story house with a wrap-around porch. She was too tired and cold to be excited. She’d tried to create illusions and cosmetic spells, and something had always gone wrong. “You’ll have to teach me how you did that.”
Before he could answer, the front door flew open and a little girl ran out, skidding to a halt inches from them. “Daddy?” The concern in the tiny child’s eyes melted Shay’s heart.
“Josie,” Shay whispered.
Josie propped her fists on her hips, and she cocked her head to the side. “How do you know my name?”
“Joselynn, be nice and go get your nana.”
Her lower lip trembled, but she turned and ran back inside.
Shay fisted Travis’s shirt, but he shook his head as if knowing what she was about to say. “Don’t let her see your soft side. She’ll have you wrapped around her finger in no time.”
“Like she has you?”
He chuckled. The sound vibrated from him to her, and suddenly she wasn’t as cold. She closed her eyes as hot desire began to rise within her. Talk about bad timing. This was not the time for her newfound sexual urges to come out to play.
She noticed that the muscles in Travis’s arm tensed. Peering up into his face, she saw his nostrils flare. Embarrassment and shame flooded her. She didn’t want to make him “help” her. That is just what she had done from the moment they’d met. If she wasn’t jumping his cock, she was getting beat up or shot. God, she felt so weak.
Soft cotton touched her skin as Travis lowered her on a bed. He placed a hand on each side of her face, cradling her head, and kissed her softly on the nose. “Stop thinking so much.”
She was about to ask him how he knew she’d been thinking when a slender woman with hair as black as night and eyes so light they appeared white drifted into the room with a chatty Josie by her side. The woman wore a pale pink shirt and black jeans and didn’t look a day over thirty-five, even though Shay knew she was much older. Her aura and the way she carried herself told Shay the woman could be older than her father, who was over seven hundred.
Realizing she was staring at the woman, Shay glanced around, taking in the bedroom. Like the one at the cabin, there wasn’t much in terms of décor, but there were pictures of Josie in multiple stages of her young life scattered around the dresser.
The movement of the mattress brought Shay’s gaze to Travis, who had moved to give his mother room. She looked Shay over and frowned. Turning to peer over her shoulder at Travis, she said, “Josie hasn’t eaten lunch yet.”
Travis gave a short nod, turned a quick glance to Shay so their eyes locked briefly, and then lifted Josie in his arms. The little girl wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek.
“I missed you, Daddy.”
“I missed you too, princess,” Shay heard him say as they walked away.
“Read me a story.”
Shay smiled and guessed Travis said yes to story time. Bringing her gaze back to the woman standing next to the bed, Shay didn’t know how to react or what to say. Uneasiness rose and lingered in the air between them, making the room grow cold again. Maybe it was just Shay who was cold, most likely due to the blood lost from the bullet still lodged in her thigh.
She tried to lift herself on her hands to get more comfortable, and immediately wished she hadn’t. She let out a sharp hiss as pain shot up her leg to her hip.
The woman cursed softly and rushed forward. Placing a warm hand on Shay’s arm, she said, “Don’t try to move. I’ll have to cut your jeans off. I’ll be right back.”
She disappeared into the bathroom, and Shay leaned her head against the headboard to study the ceiling. Her thoughts went to her father and the argument they’d had before she left. Sadness fell over her, almost out of nowhere. Her vision blurred, and warm tears spilled over her lids and ran down her cheeks.
Reality was a bitch. He’d said it wasn’t safe outside Ashwood, that the Rogues would hunt her down and find her. He’d been right. Onyx Pack hounds had found her.
She would be dead right now, if it wasn’t for Travis.
The bed dipped, startling her out of her thoughts. Wide-eyed, she stared into Travis’s mother’s gentle gaze. At the closer distance, Shay could see that the woman’s eyes were blue, an ice blue with a silver ring around the pupils.
The woman smiled, breaking the eye contact. “My name is Robyn.”
“Hi. I’m Shayna. Everyone calls me Shay.”
Robyn held up the scissors. “Ready?”
Shay winched. She really loved these jeans. “I guess it would be less painful.”
Robyn frowned. “I’m afraid so. I may have some things that will fit you.”
Shay smiled at the kind offer and nodded. Robyn stood, removed Shay’s shoes, and let them fall to the floor with soft thuds then proceeded to cut the right leg of her jeans. Robyn stopped at the top of her thigh and pealed back the denim to reveal the wound.
Her leg was swollen, red, and covered in half-dried blood. Shay felt sick.
Robyn picked up a basin and washcloth from the floor. Setting the large shallow bowl on the other side of Shay’s legs, she wrung out the washcloth. The cool terrycloth touched her skin, and she clenched her teeth together, trying to will the pain away.
“This is why I sent him out of the room.”
Confused, Shay studied Robyn’s beautiful features as cleaned the wound. “Huh?”
“Travis. He wouldn’t like to see you in pain.” When Shay didn’t reply, Robyn continued. “You’re his mate, right?”
Shay sighed. The older woman would have smelled Travis on her and vice versa. “That’s what he says.”
The female stopped and met her eyes. “And you’re not sure?”
Shay shook her head. “I just don’t know. I mean, I’m confused and emotional and…I just met him. He saved my life.
. So I owe him.”