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Authors: Kathi S. Barton

Marc

Marc
Bowen Boys [4]
Kathi S. Barton
World Castle Publishing (2013)

“I’m talking to you, the least you can do is acknowledge me.”

“Hello. Now get the fuck away from me. I’m on my lunch hour. My time, not yours.” Marc growled low and Jonny’s entire body went on alert; her cat seemed to skim along her skin. She stood up, dumping her lunch on the table and backed up.

“You felt it, didn’t you?” He moved toward her slowly as he spoke low. “You want to come to me, don’t you? You want to touch me.”

“I’m not feeling well. I would like to go home.” He shook his head and continued coming toward her. “You can’t keep me here. I can go when I want to.”

The vending machine touched her back. She knew she was trapped. Looking to her left, she could see the wall, and to her right was another table. He was nearly to her when she looked at him. Putting out her hand made him stop, but when he took it into his hand and then to his mouth, she jerked away.

“You feel it. This attraction between us. You want me as much as I want you.” She shook her head at him. “If I touch you right now, what will you do? Will I smell your arousal?”

Jonny Thomas is on the run. She has just escaped Dawson’s little house of horrors and has no plans of going back. Roy Dawson deals in exotic animals and has a high demand for black panthers…he wants Jonny back at any costs. She thinks she is the only panther shifter in existence and a freak of nature. She has no idea she isn’t alone.

Marc Bowen lost his original mate in a freak accident when they were teenagers. He has resigned himself to stay in the background watching his brothers finding their other halves to find happiness. He’s even considered moving away for a while. Fate, however, has other plans for Marc.

Now that Marc has found Jonny, there is no way he’s letting her go. He needs her to be complete. Earning her trust, however, is easier said than done. Jonny trusts no one and is afraid to love. Everyone she has ever loved has always gotten hurt because of her and she won’t stand around and just let that happen.

Family is everything to the Bowens. Now that Dawson has tracked Jonny down the Bowens band together to protect her. Their plans are nearly fail proof…nearly…what could go wrong? Right? Find out in the fourth installment of the Bowen Boys―Marc.

Marc

Bowen Boys

Book 4

 

 

By

 

 

Kathi S. Barton

 

 

World Castle Publishing, LLC

 

This
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed
as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

WCP

World Castle Publishing, LLC

Pensacola, Florida

Copyright
© Kathi S. Barton 2013

ISBN:
9781629890296

First
Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC November, 11, 2013

http://www.worldcastlepublishing.com

Licensing Notes

All
rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in articles and reviews.

Cover:
Karen Fuller

Editor:
Eric Johnston

 

Chapter 1

 

Jonny tried to control her breathing,
but terror and running were taking their toll on her. She slid into an opening
after slipping into a darkened alley and pressed her body as close to the wall
as she could without becoming a part of it. She closed her eyes, not wanting to
see if they found her until she heard their footsteps coming closer. She held
her breath and let it out slowly, hoping that they wouldn’t be able to hear
her.

“Jonny, you know that we’re going to
find you. It’s only a matter of time. We both know that.” He walked past where
she was, and she could almost touch him. “There are things we can do to make
this better for you, but running away isn’t going to make me want to help you
out.”

He moved deeper into the alley where she
was and then out again. She could see the man he’d had with him when she’d left
the house and knew that he would hurt her if given half the chance. She could
see them whispering to each other but couldn’t hear what they were saying with
all the street traffic.

“I’m giving you one more chance before I
have to kill that little friend of yours. You know the one I mean, the little
girl that comes to visit you sometimes.” She didn’t move, because she knew that
he’d killed her, or had had Anita killed, yesterday. “What will you do about
that? Having her death on your conscience is going to eat at you.”

As soon as they moved out, she let out
her held breath. She wiped at the tears but didn’t move from where she was. She
knew that as soon as she did they could catch her. And she’d rather die than go
back there.

Anita was dead. When she’d been trying
to escape yesterday, she’d been going through one of the offices when she heard
her friend talking. It wasn’t until Jonny was nearly ready to come into the
room that she realized that Anita was being tied to a chair.

“You do this and people are going to
know about it. I want you to let me see Jonny right fucking now.” Jonny had
started into the room, but backed off when she saw the other man in the room
too. She backed away to shift when she heard the soft
pop pop
of a gun,
then the sound of someone cursing. Jonny looked back into the room. Anita was
slumped over in the chair and a second man was being helped to a chair. He
appeared to be laughing, but that couldn’t be right.

And now here she was in a dark alley
without shoes, without money, and with nowhere to go. She wondered if this
could get any worse. Probably. It hadn’t been an easy life for her thus far,
but she hadn’t done anything wrong but been born. Closing her eyes, she wanted
to call her mom and dad but knew that their phones were tapped and she didn’t
want them to be hurt again.

The alley was lit when she woke. Still
being careful, she listened for any sound that would alert her that Roy and his
henchman, Harris Manning, were around. As soon as she stepped out of the alley,
she realized that she had no idea where she was.

Two buildings across from her were typical
stores, a Walgreens and a video store. She looked at the two buildings she had
been hiding near, and one was an empty storefront, the other a business of some
sort. She moved along the empty one, looking for a way to get in. In the back
she found a basement window and broke it.

She waited over an hour before she
slipped inside. She’d learned before that even empty buildings could have alarm
systems that would bring the police, and then Roy and his gang. She bent a
large piece of metal around the opening she created so that no one else would
come in as well. Jonny moved up the stairs and into the main part of the
building.

It had been a long while since anyone
had been in the place. There were no footprints in the dust on the floor, and
cobwebs were in abundance. She avoided this room in favor of finding another
set of stairs that led to the upper floors. She found it in a hall far from the
front.

The stairs had mouse droppings. She
wasn’t worried about rodents. Once they realized she was in the building,
they’d scatter. She found the second level of the building had a great deal of
old office equipment and furniture, and the third one had been used as a sort
of storage room for paperwork. Large file cabinets were lined up in neat and
sometimes not so neat rows.

The fourth floor had a semi apartment. There
was a stove that ran off gas, a refrigerator that was still plugged in but
there was no power, and a cabinet filled with more mouse droppings. She found a
bucket and some rags under the counter, along with a few outdated cleaning
supplies. Moving among the rooms, she found a bathroom with running water, a
shower, and toilet. The last room she found empty save the large dresser, which
was also empty. Smiling for the first time in months, she thought she could
live here for a little while at least.

Without money she couldn’t buy food, but
she wasn’t stupid either. She went to the front of the upper windows and
watched the street below her. She hated to steal, but if she could get a pair
of shoes and some toiletries, she could find a job and repay whomever she had
to “borrow” from; because that’s what it was going to be, borrowing not
stealing.

By nightfall she’d cleaned up as best
she could. She’d found a few more supplies, such as a broom and dust pan, on the
second floor, and had even unearthed a chair that wasn’t in too bad of shape
among the furniture. On the third floor she’d found a brand new yet very old
shower curtain, which she hung with twisty ties she’d found in one of the
cabinet drawers.

By the time she decided to go to bed
that night, the kitchen was spotless and the room she was in was cleared off
all cobwebs and dirt, and she’d even polished the old dresser to a nice shine. Closing
her eyes, she felt safer here than she had in a very long time.

When she woke the next time, it took her
several seconds to realize she was safe. She calmed her cat down with soothing
words and stood up. Looking out the window, she saw a lone car in the lot next
to her. Moving to the front of the building, she watched to see how much
traffic there was and decided that the few cars that went by were far enough
apart that she could do what she needed.

She moved out of the basement window and
made sure that she closed the entrance up again. Moving along the back of the buildings,
she watched for one that looked to be occupied but empty of people. She found
one about three blocks from her new home.

Finding the same kind of low window at
the basement, she broke the glass and waited. A cruiser went by once but didn’t
stop. She waited another twenty minutes and moved into the building. It wasn’t
until she was inside that she realized that it was an old shop that seemed to
deal in used clothing. Excited but careful, she shifted to cat and moved
through the showroom floor to the offices in the back, thinking that the black
cat would be hard to see. She looked around for any sort of video equipment and
even searched through the mess on the desk. She decided that anyone this messy
and unorganized wouldn’t have a clue what they had on the floor. She went to
the bags of stuff the person had tossed on the floor first. Shifting back to
herself, she looked around at the piles of things.

She decided this was to be thrown out. There
was nothing worth saving even if she was going to wear it around her new
apartment. Zippers had been removed and buttons taken off. She did find a pair
of tennis shoes that fit her but they had no laces. Even so, she put them in a
pile she was going to take with her. Next, she moved to the floor. She found
out why the zippers had been removed before being tossed out.

The owner was selling them as “vintage.”
She knew what the word meant but she doubted that the owner did. They were used,
not old. She moved to a section someone had marked as “the ladies” and looked
for something suitable to wear. She flinched every time someone’s lights shined
in the front window.

She had five blouses, three pairs of
pants, and a pair of shoes. She found a nice sweater and had a jacket but
couldn’t make the zipper work well and put it back, wondering if it would end
up in the bag of trash and the zipper in his vintage pile. There were panties
and bras as well, but she refused to think what sort of person would wear used under
things. Moving to the back of the store where the basement access was, she
looked at the cash register again.

She needed money. But did she need it
more than the person selling these things? Jonny looked around the store and
decided that the owner needed it more. Going out before she convinced herself
that she did need it, she slipped out of the basement encasement. Making sure
that the window wouldn’t let anyone else in, she stuffed all her things into a
bag she’d taken as well and made her way back to the apartment.

There was a woman in the alley this
time. She was moving along the lone car as if she were drunk. Jonny waited
until she was out of sight before she moved to the window again and inside. She
was exhausted and moved straight to her room. Laying down, she got back up and
hung all her clothes in the bare closet with some of the hangers she’d found,
and then lay back down. There was something very personal about having her own
clothes in her own closet. She was asleep within minutes.

~~~

“Do we know what killed her?” Marc
looked at his team when no one answered. “We have to have something on this. The
murder happened three days ago.”

“The guy I have at the station says it
was a wild dog. I don’t know, he seemed fascinated with the idea that there
might be a wild dog on the loose.” Dewey Ortiz shifted in his chair and handed
him a picture. “I don’t think a dog would have done that one, boss. More likely
a man with a rake.”

Marc looked at the picture carefully. He
was right, it looked like a rake. He looked up at Mia when she walked in. She
didn’t look pleased, which, looking at her in the later part of her pregnancy,
he could see why. She was carrying twins and looked like she needed a hoist to
help her move.

“Hey girl,” he grinned at her. “You look
very fetching in that blouse. What have you got for me?”

“I have the autopsy report on Miss
Rutledge. According to the report, she was shot once in the back of the head,
and then her body was mutilated with a sharp instrument, probably a rake or
some other evenly spaced equipment.”

He grinned at Dewey when he yelled, then
looked back at Mia. She sat down hard in the chair next to him and glared. He
waited for her to start on him. Marc had had a lot of practice lately with
hormonal women during pregnancy. He had three sisters-in-law. He was getting
well versed on when to say something and when to run. He wished now he could
run.

“I do not look ‘fetching.’ I look like a
beached whale after four days in the sun. And if one more person says to me I
look ready to ‘pop,’ I will pull my gun and ‘pop’ the fuck out of them.” He
barely refrained from laughing, but one of his team did not. “If you say one
word, one single word to me Dennis, I will shoot you.”

He nodded and sat very still. She looked
back at Marc, and before he could tell her that he still had no replacement for
her, the front doorbell sounded. She got up with a “don’t move” and left them. Dennis
asked if she was all right.

“She wants to go home and put her feet
up and say to hell with this job, but she won’t until we find someone to
replace her. Anyone have someone they can recommend? She’s going to kill us all
if we don’t.”

Mia came back and said that one of his
brothers was there to see him. He told everyone to find what they could on
their victim and went to his office. He nearly left again when he saw Khan standing
there.

“Have you found anything yet?” He shook
his head and sat. “Damn it, Marc, you were supposed to find a vacation package
for Mom and Dad over a week ago. What the hell is taking you so fucking long?”

“First you only asked me to look three
days ago. And, second, I’m still under the opinion that sending them away on a
cruise while you remodel the house is a bad idea. Mom likes her house just the
way it is.” Khan sat down and glared. “You can act like you’re pissed at me all
you want, but Monica agrees with me. Mom is going to be pissed when they come
back and find that strangers have not only been in their home, but moved things
around as well.”

“What the hell am I supposed to do then?
You tell me? Their house needs to be updated and modernized or it’s going to
fall down on them one of these days.” Marc agreed with that and wished they’d
just move in with Dylan and Jack as planned. But they were being stubborn and
saying that newlyweds needed their alone time. They were both driving them all
crazy.

“Why don’t you talk to them about your
plans like we’ve been saying to you for weeks? This is going to make them mad
anyway that you’re being highhanded.” Marc left off the “again” in favor of
keeping all his teeth. “Mom’s still pissed at you for buying her and dad a new
car.”

“After we had to go pick her up twice at
the store I had to do something. Besides, when she takes the kids somewhere,
she needs a more reliable car. And for your information, they both like it
now.”

He knew they did. His mom just told him
that morning that she was in love with the little SUV. Marc sat up in his chair
and regarded his brother. He’d never seen him so relaxed before. Monica was
good for him. Having a mate had the exact same effect on his older brothers. And
he was happy for them. Jealous, too, if he was truthful about it.

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