Authors: Crissy Smith
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
“I know he’s an ass but he is my partner,” she explained to her mate.
Rolling his shoulders, Alex relaxed his stance, although Angel could still detect the need inside him to defend his home and people.
“You don’t have to explain yourself to him.” Kieran spoke to her, but his words were no doubt for Alex.
Shaking her head, she tried to hold on to her patience. “While Caspar is talking with the Alpha why don’t I take you to see Emilio,” she offered, instead of continuing the fight Kieran wanted.
Kieran hissed at the mention of Emilio. They’d never gotten along either. Of course the one thing they had in common was their dislike for shifters, but Kieran was a Guardian through and through. He would never have allowed anyone to hurt an innocent. Even if they were a shifter.
Slipping her hand in Alex’s, she tried to make a statement without having to spell it out for Kieran. Alex was hers. She would fight to defend him and his people. Not that she really thought he’d let her, but she knew how to handle her partner. Kieran wouldn’t try to attack Alex again. Putting Kieran in the same room with Emilio meant that for the first time they might get an answer. Kieran could be one scary fucker when he wanted to be.
Dropping his eyes to her and Alex’s intertwined fingers, Kieran lifted the corner of his mouth but remained silent. He spun on his heel so Angel tugged Alex to follow. They might not have shared blood yet but there was a connection between the two of them. Through that link, she knew Alex remained wary of Kieran, but was also curious as to how the Guardian would handle Emilio. Once the mating was complete, she’d be able to pick up pieces of what Alex was feeling. That’s what she’d been told anyway. The sacred bond that formed between Day Walkers and their intended kept her excitement at the forefront while they made their way to the house.
Entering from the patio door that led into the den, Kieran paused at the entry. Angel knew exactly what had stopped Kieran. The first feeling when she’d entered the large den was the noticeable homey atmosphere. The dark walls were broken up by large painted canvases and numerous framed photos. Family and friends were obviously important to Alex. He showcased where his heart belonged by the art he hung on the walls.
Furniture filled the room. To Angel’s way of thinking, Alex’s home must have been used often for family gatherings. She knew that his siblings lived at the ranch also in their own houses, but it looked as if Alex’s place was the meeting point.
There was a large-screen television, fully stocked bar with bottles lined up on a shelf, and the most expensive stereo system she’d ever seen. The first time she’d entered, her breath had caught and the overwhelming feeling of comfort had spread over her.
Kieran would have recognized the same ambiance she had. Her friend recovered from his surprise quickly and his stance relaxed for the first time since he’d been introduced to Alex. Kieran was a creature of comfort and owned just as many gadgets while attempting the same domestic sense in his own place.
Even though Angel never settled herself, Kieran was different from her. Angel felt hope at the first spark of something for Alex and Kieran to share. She wanted the two men to get along. Sure Kieran was hard to care for, but she did.
“Nice,” Kieran said very quietly before stalking through the room.
She glanced at Alex, noting his confused expression. Later she had more to tell her mate. The amount of information he needed to know kept growing. She should probably start writing down a list. If she was being honest with herself, she could admit to being reluctant to get into all of the secrets she held. If Alex wasn’t ready for the strange world she lived in, would he run?
Day Walkers didn’t recover easily from their mates rejecting them. Due to the illness that ran though her body, Angel needed someone who’d anchor her.
“Where is he?” Kieran questioned as they reached the hall.
Snapping out of her thoughts and worries, Angel pushed down what was going on with herself to concentrate on why the other Guardians had come in the first place.
“Upstairs, last door on the right,” Alex answered before she could.
As Kieran stalked in that direction, with Remy at his heels, Alex held Angel back. “You okay?”
Trying for her most sincere smile, she looked up at him. “Yes, sorry, Kieran takes a little to get used to.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” he said, drawing her closer. “I felt waves of worry coming from you.”
In response she simply lifted an eyebrow in question.
“Shifters can pick up strong emotions. You knew that, didn’t you?”
She did, but that meant Alex had to have been paying pretty close attention to her. “Sure.”
“So…?” he pressed. Alex didn’t seem like the type of man who would easily be put off.
“I guess I’m just concerned with so much happening at once,” she tried to explain. “Me and the Day Walkers, the threat to the Pack, and all these strangers. It’s a lot to take in.”
He pulled her until their upper bodies brushed together. She could smell their earlier activities still on them. Of course that also meant that everyone else could too. They should probably clean up but Angel didn’t want to. She liked that her claim was still clinging to Alex.
, her scent screamed to anyone who might wish to steal Alex away. Even though she was fully aware that Alex was surrounded by the same people who had always been in his life, she didn’t know the shifters well. Her instinct was to assert that he belonged to her.
Burying her face in his chest, she breathed deeply. The entire day had been screwed up one way or another. Stating that Alex was her mate in the kitchen hadn’t been smart. Especially with other wolf shifters around, but she hadn’t been able to hold back any longer. Now that her boss and the other Guardians had arrived, they didn’t have the time to sit back getting to know one another forming the bond she wanted.
“Hey,” he said gently, his hand resting at the back of her head. “I might not know everything that is going on but I can help. This is my Pack. We’ll gladly accept the assistance. Besides, that gives us more time to get to know each other.”
While her worry didn’t exactly disappear, Angel did feel better.
Above them, she heard a door slam against a wall and she jumped. “We’d better get up there before Kieran kills Emilio.”
“I don’t get why Kieran would be willing to help when he obviously feels the same about shifters,” Alex commented.
“Trust me,” she assured him, “Kieran is on our side.”
They rushed up the wide stairs before jogging down the hall. The bedroom door stood open and as they reached the entry they skidded to a stop.
Kieran stood in front of a tied-up Emilio. Her partner’s arms were crossed against his chest while he glared down at Emilio. The two shifters in the room were braced for an attack—crouched low and ready to either defend themselves or shift to keep their charge safe.
“It’s okay, guys,” Alex said to the guards, pulling Angel into the room. “I got this. Why don’t you go downstairs and get some coffee?”
The guards straightened and nodded to Alex. Once they’d exited, Alex reached back and gently closed the door.
Emilio was tied by his arms, chest and feet to a sturdy wood chair. He’d been stripped down to only his dirty pants. If would be difficult for him to get loose, but it was possible. That was the reason there had been two guards stationed inside the room with him. He was a trained weapon and if he’d been at full strength, Emilio would be fighting. She’d suggested to the Pack doctor to inject Emilio with enough sedative that he’d sleep through the night. It seemed to have been a good idea.
Looking into Emilio’s clear gaze, Angel was certain the drugs had worn off.
Emilio was glaring at Kieran, not even bothering to acknowledge Remy, Alex or her. Of course Kieran was the biggest threat to him at the moment.
“You broke your oath,” Kieran said to their prisoner.
The words sent a shiver down her spine. Anyone who knew Kieran knew that was the worst betrayal to him.
“Did I?” Emilio challenged.
Angel gripped Alex’s hand and dragged him to the far wall. Caspar wouldn’t have sent Kieran if he hadn’t wanted her partner to interrogate Emilio. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight. Both Kieran and Emilio knew that but Alex didn’t.
“You vowed to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves,” Kieran said coolly.
“I didn’t agree to become a trained pet on a leash,” Emilio threw back. “Admit it, K”—Emilio smiled—“wouldn’t it feel good to get your revenge on the animals that tortured you?”
Kieran snarled and leaped forward. Emilio’s chair tipped back as Kieran gripped the top of it in his hands. “You don’t know me. Don’t pretend.”
Face pale, Emilio was shaking his head, showing fear for the first time. Still he didn’t shut his damn mouth. “I know how it feels to take down one of those dogs,” Emilio said. “To feel their blood in my hands. To watch the life drain out of their eyes.”
Alex had started to growl as Emilio continued to taunt Kieran. She dug her nails into his hand to hold him back. She didn’t need both Kieran and Alex going after Emilio. They didn’t want him dead, yet.
Kieran straightened, letting the chair fall back down. Emilio’s head snapped forward at the unexpected move. Kieran was grinning, flashing his fangs. “How many?” he asked quietly.
A spark of triumph entered Emilio’s gaze. “Six, but we’ve just gotten started,” he claimed.
“How many of you are there?” Kieran inquired, seeming more relaxed.
Emilio cut his gaze to where she and Alex stood.
“Don’t worry about them.” Kieran waved off their presence, but Emilio was shaking his head.
“I know how you feel about your partner,” Emilio told him. “Get rid of them.”
Hands clasped together, Kieran turned his head. Angel knew what he was doing. Trying to let Emilio think he’d be interested in joining the rogue ranks. She knew it wouldn’t work, and, from the expression on his face, Kieran agreed. He turned back to their prisoner. “Nah, I like them here,” Kieran stated cheerfully.
This time it was Emilio who snarled. “You were always weak!”
The grin slowly drained from Kieran’s face until the mask of no emotion was in place. Bracing herself, Angel knew things were about to get worse for Emilio.
Kieran grabbed Emilio’s throat. It was just a blur of movement her eyes couldn’t follow. He was the fastest of all the Guardians. Trying to pull his head back, Emilio was no match for Kieran, especially tied down. Emilio’s feet scraped at the floor but he couldn’t get any push with his ankles secured.
“Who is the weak one here?” Kieran asked, tightening his hand.
It was a myth that their kind didn’t need to breathe. Of course they did. Her heart pumped the same as every other living creature. Blood flowed through her veins just like humans. Cutting off his air supply could kill him, but just as his face turned a faint shade of red, Kieran released Emilio. Emilio sucked in a deep breath only to have it whoosh back out when Kieran punched his chest. The strike echoed around the room with a thud. Emilio was gasping as Kieran knelt in front of him.
“Now, you know I can do this all day,” he told Emilio. “How about you?”
Tears ran down Emilio’s face but he didn’t respond. “You knew the minute you were captured that it would come to this. You betrayed the organization for your own agenda. You’re going to tell us everything you know,” Kieran declared.
Every hit, cut and pound of flesh that Kieran gave Emilio, Angel and Alex stood and watched. Day Walkers didn’t heal like shifters. Especially without blood.
After the first half hour, Caspar and the Pack Alpha joined them. Caspar walked around to stand behind Kieran. Shawn and Remy remained close to the door to stop an attempted escape or someone from entering. That’s what Angel thought anyway. None of them spoke so she didn’t know for sure.
Kieran had barely paused when they’d entered. For fifteen more minutes the beatings went on and Angel found herself struggling with control. The scent of blood in the room was strong. It’d been several days since she’d fed. When Caspar held up a hand to Kieran, Angel relaxed with relief. Power radiated off Caspar like no one else she’d ever been around. Not even Pack Alphas had the same level of authority that Caspar surrounded himself in. Kieran stepped back. He brought up his hand to lick at the blood that coated it.
Angel’s gums tingled with the need to let down her own fangs. Kieran was playing with the shifters in the room, trying to scare them by using the vampire myths against them. She’d seen him do it before. Most people believed all vampires or Day Walkers to be slaves to blood. While Remy showed no reaction, beside her Alex stiffened. Since she was pretty sure that her own needs would be evident to her mate, Angel kept her head bowed. She could still see Caspar kneel in front of Emilio.
“We have most of the others,” Caspar said. “We know who we are after. All you have to do is tell us where they are.”
Emilio lifted his head. “I wouldn’t worry about it. They’ll find you. All of you.”
Shaking his head, Caspar rose. He glanced around the room before motioning with his head toward the door. Remy reached over and opened it before stepping out. Angel hurried to follow. It would be better to get outside in the fresh air, but at least escaping the strong scent of blood would help her gain control.
Two large men—shifters—stood in the hall.
“I don’t think he’ll give you any trouble but watch him closely,” Alpha Shawn told the two men. They nodded before entering the room.
Remy led them away from Emilio. She knew Alex was right behind her as the others fell in step after him.
“You okay?” Alex’s hand came down on her shoulder.
She didn’t stop but nodded. His hand tightened briefly before patting her shoulder then falling away. Everyone was quiet while they descended the stairs toward the kitchen. Angel went immediately to the sink and turned on the cold water. Grabbing the hand towel from a hook, she wet the fabric and used it to cool down her face and neck. She could hear the others moving around.
“I’ll make some coffee,” Alex suggested.