Authors: Lia Davis
Robyn peered into Shay’s face longer than what she was comfortable with. Her tiger even started to stir and felt a little threatened by the elder wolf. Finally, Robyn lowered her gaze and smiled. “You’re in your first heat cycle.”
Shay felt her cheeks grow warm, and she averted her gaze to the nightstand and focused on the framed photo of Travis and Josie. He had her in a bear hug from behind, and both were laughing as though they ruled the world.
Feeling Robyn grow still, Shay’s heart stopped for a microsecond. Dread cut through her like ice. She looked at the female and noticed her staring at Shay’s upper thigh. She swallowed hard, afraid of what the woman might be thinking of her now, of the symbol tattooed into her skin.
Just under the denim, but poking out enough, was the brand she’d worn her whole life. The dark moon rising out of the clouds. The mark of the Onyx Pack.
Robyn lifted her gaze to Shay’s. “I’m the adopted daughter of Keegan Andrews from Ashwood Falls,” Shay blurted out.
Robyn drew her eyebrows together as if in thought. After a few moments, she relaxed. “You’re the white tiger?”
Shay nodded, and Robyn set the washcloth inside bowl of pink-tinted water. “I heard that Keegan had adopted a daughter after his mate passed.”
It broke Shay’s heart to think about the loss her father had endured at the hands of the enemy. “My oldest brother, Blaine, found me hidden in a burrow when I was two. When I was older, they told me my parents had escaped the Onyx Pack.”
“That explains the mark. They mark all their Pack members when they are born.”
Shay shuddered and was glad she’d been too young at the time to remember the torturous event. It was utterly cruel to tattoo an infant. Then again, the rogues weren’t known for their nurturing natures.
“Have you thought about getting it covered?”
Shay shrugged. “A little. But I keep it as a reminder of my parents and their sacrifice to protect me.”
“Has Travis seen it?”
Shay nibbled her bottom lip. “I’m not sure.” Had he? Oh God, if he had, he must think she was working with the rogues. No, if he thought that he wouldn’t trust her, or bring her here where his daughter was.
A pinch followed by a sharp pain made her yelp, and she cut a glance to the female with the smirk across her face and her hand extended, palm up. A gray chuck of metal lay in her hand.
“It didn’t go in far.”
Shay felt her lips lift in a smile. “You distracted me.”
Robyn laughed and gathered up the bowl and scissors. “And it worked.”
Shay laughed and softly moved her leg side to side. The sharp pain was gone, and the skin around the opening tingled as it slowly began to knit together. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll get you something to eat and the phone.”
Shay perked up. “You have a phone? That works?”
“Yes. It’s a satellite phone that Travis insists on having for Josie and me.”
Shay snuggled down into the pillows behind her. “Thank you.”
Robyn nodded and left the room. That was when the panic started. She’d have to call home. Maybe she could get away with talking to Cam and avoid her father and brothers altogether. She groaned, knowing the chance of that was the same as a snowball had in the heat of summer.
Shay’s hands shook as she stared at the small phone in her hand. God, what was she going to say? Telling her father she was fine and not to worry about her was wasted air. Telling the Alpha not to worry about his only daughter was like expecting a balloon to inflate itself.
She’d stalled enough though and taking as long as she could under the hot spray of the shower after Robyn had helped her hobble to the bathroom.
The clothes Travis’s mother brought her were slightly baggy, but they fit better than the male’s joggers. Although the thought of being in Travis’s clothes ignited the tiny flame inside her, making it stand up at attention and wait for the chance to consume her again.
“Are you going to call someone?”
Shay raised her head and smiled at Josie, who had crawled up on the bed and sat cross-legged in front of her. “Yes. I need to call my brother.”
Damn. She didn’t want to call Blaine either, but figured neither he or her father couldn’t kill her over the phone. Even with Keegan’s telepathic abilities, he couldn’t use them unless he was within one hundred miles of someone. So, she was safe over the phone, right?
“What are you doing?”
The husky, but stern voice made both of them jump. Shay snapped her gaze toward the door. Travis leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed over his broad chest, his hair damp from a recent shower.
“Daddy!” Josie scooted off the bed and ran at him, hitting his hip with her hands when she reached him. “You scared us.”
Travis scooped his daughter up in his arms and tickled her until her giggles turned into shouts to stop. Shay couldn’t help but laugh at the pair while, at the same time, she had a dull ache in her chest. God, she missed her family and her Pack.
With a sigh, she dialed her older brother’s cell number. She heard, and felt, Travis leave the doorway. Most likely to give her some privacy.
Blaine answered on first ring, and her heart sank. “Blaine here.”
The hard edge to his voice made her want to hang up and call Cameron, but instead she spoke softly. “Hi.” Oh, God she was such a chicken.
“Shay. Where the fuck are you?”
She narrowed her eyes, even though he couldn’t see her, and pushed her fears aside. “Love you too, Blaine.”
“Shit. Sorry. We’ve been worried sick over you. Where the hell are you?”
She sighed. Blaine was the brother to go to when the big bad was after you. Okay, so maybe she needed to talk to him right now. But, what should she tell him? “I’m somewhere safe.”
A low growl filtered through the phone. “Where is safe?”
“I’m not sure really.”
Because I was unconscious when I got here.
Oh, yes. That would go over well.
“No. Listen to me, Blaine. I don’t need you getting all pissy with me right now.” Her fear turned into annoyance at her pigheaded, alpha-male brother. Why hadn’t she called Alec?
There was silence on the other end of the phone, then her father’s voice came in, loud and clear. “Shay? Are you hurt? Where have you been?”
She leaned back against the headboard, letting her head bounce off the wood in frustration. She called Blaine because she knew he’d most likely be with their father. It was better to go straight to the top. If she hadn’t then it was a huge possibility that both the wolf Pack and the leopard Pack would be out searching for her. That would only make the situation with the rogues worse.
“Hi, Dad. You might as well put the phone on speaker.”
There was a
, and then she heard more hushed voices. “Who’s all there?”
“Hi, hon!” Cameron chimed in.
“Hi, baby girl, Luna here.”
Shay closed her eyes. If the Alpha female wolf was there, then they were plotting a search party.
. “Hi, Luna.”
Luna had inherited her Pack from her mate when he’d died during the raid on her den, killing over half of the Pack. The wolf pack loved Luna, and from what Shay had heard, they would follow and protect their Alpha female anywhere.
“That’s it, just the four of us,” Blaine said. “Now, explain why you don’t know where you are.”
Shay’s temper flared, but she tamped it down and considered Blaine wasn’t getting enough sex. She giggled at the thought before she could stop herself, which only drew another growl from her brother. Taking a few breaths to clear her head, she gathered her strength and recapped the last twenty-four hours, leaving out the going-into-heat part. Her father and Blaine didn’t need to know that right now.
When she finished, the men burst into curses and demands.
“You need to be home,” Blaine growled.
“I’m ordering you to come home now.” Her father’s stern voice sent chills down her back.
“Who is this Travis?” Luna’s cool tone silenced the males.
“His last name is Hunter. He’s a wolf.”
“Damn,” Luna cursed. “I thought the entire Hunter Ridge Pack was killed in a rogue attack about two years ago.”
Shay’s chest tightened. Two years ago? That would mean Travis’s mate…no, she couldn’t think about that right now.
“Shay, you do need to come home, dear. Ask your wolf if he will come with you.” A rustling sound indicated that Luna had moved away from the speaker.
“Yes, ma’am,” Shay said softly. “He has a four-year-old daughter. We’ll have to prepare for travel. And his mother will be coming with us.”
She heard her father blow out a breath in an irritated sigh. “Fine. But be on the road in two days, no later.”
She didn’t have time to respond before a soft
sounded over the line then the echoing background noises silenced a second before Cameron’s voice filled her ears. “Hi, hon. Are you truly okay?”
Shay sagged into the pillows behind her and drew the bedspread over her. “Is everyone gone?”
“Yes. Luna lured the men out with talks of moving the nursery and the school to a more centralized location.” Cam laughed. “She winked at me as they left. That damn wolf is so intuitive.”
A smile tugged at Shay’s lips. “Yes, she is.”
“So…” Cameron prompted.
“I’m not sure. I mean. I’m well, despite my injuries, but inside…”
“Inside is like a rollercoaster of need and heat.”
Shocked, Shay asked, “How did you know?”
“Little sis, I’ve been there. Besides Blaine and I put it together this morning.”
Cameron laughed again. “Your juvenile acts, the emotional outbursts, and the attempts to get away from everyone around you.”
“He says I’m his mate,” Shay whispered. Cameron was so silent Shay thought her best friend hadn’t heard her. “Cam?”
Cam cleared her throat then, with a shaky tone, asked, “What do you think?”
Shay shook her head out of habit. “I’m not sure. He’s the first male I ever…”
“You should feel an overwhelming attraction, a need so feral it threatens to consume you.”
“That’s the heat cycle.”
Cam sighed. “It is similar, but controllable, where the attack of your cycle is not. It may take another day or so before you are clear headed enough to know the difference.”
There was silence again, and Shay’s gut twisted as homesickness started to settle over her. “We’ll head home tomorrow.”
“No. Take an extra day to get your urges out of the way before facing your father.”
Yes, that would be wise. “Okay then. I’ll see you in a couple of days.”
Travis leaded against the doorframe, watching Shay stare at the phone in her hands. Her white-blond hair cascaded over her shoulders, begging for his fingers running through the silky strands.
“I don’t want to go. Not yet.”
Her soft-spoken words brought a pang of worry to his chest. He stepped inside the room and moved toward the bed. “Why not?”
She looked up at him and offered a weak smile. “I’m being a chicken.”
Chuckling at her beautiful, yet anxious, expression, he sat on the edge of the bed. “What are you afraid of?”
She shrugged. “I’m scared for you. I have two overprotective brothers and a father who will kill to keep me safe.” She looked away, breaking the eye contact to peer down at the phone again. “They’ll know.”
Yes, her family would know she’d mated. Even without a bite to mark her perfect, creamy skin, they’d know to whom she belonged. Travis’s wolf had made sure of that when he made love to her last night.
“I can take care of myself,” he said, leaving the smile in his words.
She lifted her gaze to his. One side of her sensual mouth lifted in a smirk then she tilted her head slightly. “Luna seemed to recognize your name.”
It was his turn to break eye contact. “Not surprising. There were rumors that I fed my Pack to the Onyx bastards.”
He stood and walked to the dresser, giving her his back. “I was Alpha of Hunter Ridge. That was until the den was attacked two years ago.” Releasing a sigh, he turned back to face her. There was no judgment in her eyes, just concern and curiosity. “My most trusted enforcer led the Pack to its destruction. I lost everyone I loved, except Josie and my mother.”
“I’m so sorry.”
He shook his head. “I’ve been hunting them, one-by-one, and shutting them down. I’m close to finding their new location.”
“New location?” she asked.
“They move frequently. It’s almost impossible to track them, but your attacked confirmed my theory.”
She scrunched up her face, making him want to go to her and claim her mouth, along with a lot of other body parts. “Me?”
“Yes. I had thought the number involved in rogue activity was on the rise. The last twenty-four hours leads me to believe they’re looking for you.” He advanced toward her, pinning her with his gaze. “That brand on your upper thigh proves it.”
Her shoulders dropped. “The mark was there when Blaine found me. I don’t remember not having it.”
“The rogues brand all their Pack members from birth.”
Anger sparked in her blue gaze. “I’m not a Pack member to those monsters.”
He smiled, a sad, yet understanding one. “No, but they think you are.”
She pursed her lips and glared at him for several seconds before speaking. “They can think that all they want. My home is Ashwood Falls.”
He felt his mouth twitch at her stubborn tone. The only reason he hadn’t lashed out when he first saw the Onyx mark was the scent of her fear and the hint of anger that followed when she woke. “I won’t let them have you.”
She flicked her gaze to his. Confusion and worry played across her slightly rounded face before she dipped her eyebrows in a frown as if realizing something. “He knew,” she whispered, pain and something else he couldn’t quite grasp in her tone.
“Who?” he asked, not liking the sudden change in her voice. It was calm, too calm.
“My father. He knew they’d come for me.”
Shay’s brothers had always called her a spoiled brat and teased her about being “daddy’s little girl.” She had never considered the truth behind their teasing words while her tiger snarled and pushed her to rebel against being cooped up behind the secure barriers of Ashwood.