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Authors: R.L. Mathewson

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BOOK: PS02 - Without Regret
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back to staring at the door.

Joshua shrugged his little shoulders. “Nothing,”

muttered, “I just like having you around.”

“Why wouldn’t I be around?” he asked, chuckling.

“Cause you’ll be married and starting a family like mom and dad,” Joshua said, sounding truly miserable.

Chris rolled his eyes and moved his wheelchair over to his brother, ignoring his sister’s dirty looks because he was “exerting”

himself as their grandmother liked to say.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he promised, reaching out and snagging the ball away from his brother in midtoss.

“You’re stuck with me, punk, so get over it.”

Joshua grinned. “You’re the punk, punk,” he said as he took the ball back. “Are you going to have babies soon?”

He just barely stopped himself from cringing. Kids?

Him? Hell no. He would never do that to a child, but instead of saying that to his eleven year old brother he simply shrugged

and said, “We’ll see.”

“But-” Joshua started only to be cut off when the door opened and his father walked in the room with a somber looking Eric.

Chris shifted in his chair, ignoring the slight pull on his stitches and tried to look past the men for his mate.

“Where is she?” he asked impatiently when he didn’t spot her.

His father and Eric, the Sentinel leader for their area, shared a look, a look that really pissed him the hell off.

“Tell me where she is,” he demanded with as much attitude as he could to cover his fraying nerves.

“Why don’t you kids go see if your grandmother needs help making dinner,” Ephraim said quietly.

Jill worried her bottom lip as she headed for the door, pausing only long enough to send Chris a hopeful smile. Joshua looked

like he was going to protest, but one look from their father had him hauling his little ass out of there.

“How are you feeling?” Eric asked, taking Joshua’s vacated seat.

“Cut the shit and tell me what’s going on. Where’s my mate?” Chris demanded.

Eric sighed heavily, running a hand over his red tipped black hair. “As you know there were three girls from your group being

escorted to Boston today,” at Chris’

nod he continued, “two of the girls found their mates immediately.”

“Well, no kidding, Eric. I wasn’t there to meet her.

Where is she? Is Madison talking to her or something?”

he asked, shooting another glance towards the doorway, hoping that Madison would drag his mate in to see him.

“No, she’s not here. The third girl is dead,” Eric said.

Chris’ head whipped around as the words sunk it.

“Dead?”

This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t fucking be happening. His mate was dead? Tendrils of fear crawled up his spine. He

was going to be alone, truly alone for the rest of his life. The one thing he truly feared was happening.

“You killed my fucking mate?” he screamed as he tried to lounge for his friend’s throat.

His father caught him around the shoulders the same time Eric grabbed his hands in his and gently brought them against Chris’

body. Chris couldn’t stop struggling as panic set in.

Alone.

He was all alone.

“Chris, calm down!” his father snapped.

He couldn’t. He just couldn’t. He tried to lash out against the pain as he screamed, cursed and threatened to kill whoever hurt

his mate until he found himself lifted out of his chair and restrained on the floor.

“Calm the fuck down and listen to me,” Eric said, gripping Chris’ chin and forcing him to look at him.

“She wasn’t your mate.”

“Bullshit!”

“She was a minion, Chris. Someone placed a tattoo on her and she found a way to sneak in undetected to the compound. It only

took us twenty seconds before we realized she wasn’t one of us. By that time she’d already pulled out a gun. We had no choice

but to kill her,” Eric explained, sighing in relief when Chris stopped struggling.

Immense relief surged through his body as Eric’s words sunk in. “So….she wasn’t my mate?”

“No.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

Chris closed his eyes as he dropped his head back. Not his mate. That meant his mate was out there somewhere waiting for

him, but most importantly she was alive. That was fine, because it meant he still had a chance. He’d find her and together

they’d take care of his family. He just had to get his ass in gear.

“Eric?” he bit out between clenched teeth as a new and very uncomfortable pain registered in his mind.

“What’s up?”

“I think one of you bastards just ripped out my catheter.”

Chapter 1

Present Day

Seattle, Washington

Okay, this probably wasnt such a good idea, Isabella murmured softly to herself as she gripped the worn shoulder straps of her

favorite backpack tightly.

She stumbled and quickly righted herself. She straightened her baseball cap as she quickened her pace. Okay, so she admitted

she probably had no business being in this area at three in the morning by herself. She was too short, had two large melons that

somehow passed for breasts that constantly threw her off balance, and had the fighting skills of a day old baby. Why she ever

thought agreeing to this meeting was a good idea she really didn’t know.

Well, maybe the prospective buyer of her program had something to do with it. Normally her potential buyers met her at

restaurants, downtown offices and a few times she was flown to Europe. What she wouldn’t give to meet a client in a stuffy

office during the day for this sale. Of course that couldn’t happen with this particular program, it being extremely illegal and

all.

Not that she was in the business of creating illegal programs or anything. This one time had been a complete mistake. Okay,

illegal might be a poor choice of words, but she was pretty sure that was the point the FBI Agent was getting to the other night.

She hadn’t been happy finding her small apartment ransacked. It was more insulting that anything. Did they really think she kept

her work in her apartment?

That would be pretty stupid considering how many Fortune 500 companies were after her work. A few of them didn’t take

being outbid well. Just over this past year her apartment had been broken into thirty-seven times. The only thing they found was

a small collection of CD’s she may have set up to look like her programs.

What they got if they stole them, and they did each and every time, was a dummy program full of virussy goodness. They could

scan those discs until the cows came home and they’d never detect their true nature until after the damage was done.

It took her program twenty-two point six seconds to infect a large network. The sweet part of her viruses was that she was the

only one in the world that could put a stop to them and recover all the work. Well, recover might be an overstatement since

what her program really did was create the illusion of destruction. All she required was an apology and a check to cover the

damage to her apartment and time before she fixed it.

A large figure suddenly stepped in front of her, scaring the living hell out of her. Isabella screeched and stumbled backwards,

falling flat on her ass. She pushed her tan baseball cap up carefully so she could see the imposing figure. The heavy B.O.

followed shortly after, making her gag.

“Have you seen my kitty?” the gruff voice demanded.

Isabella shook her head.

“He’s around here somewhere. He ran out of the house when I was going out to milk the cows. Now I’ve got to look for him

and the cows are gonna have to wait to be milked. They’re gonna be mighty angry with their tits sore from the milk.”

“Oh, ah….I hate when that happens,” Isabella said, not really knowing how she should respond. She didn’t speak crazy, but if

he let her live she’d be willing to learn.

He nodded firmly as he sighed heavily. “I guess I should go check the barn,” he said, heading back into the alley between two

brick buildings.

Isabella jumped to her feet, fixed her hat, and moved her ass. The last thing she needed was for him to come back and mistake

her for a cow that needed milking.

She made her way to the small park and found the bench for the meeting place five minutes later. She sat down and hugged her

backpack to her chest, trying to catch her breath.

In no way was being in a rundown park at three in the morning a smart idea just because she was desperate to get rid of her

program. It wasn’t over money, she was far from poor, but she couldn’t stomach destroying one of her babies or allowing the

government to take it from her. It was pride. Stupid pride that was going to get her a slot on the ten o’clock news tomorrow

night when they found her nude body in some embarrassing position tomorrow, well, really today.

“This is stupid,” she decided to say out loud just to add emphasis to something she already knew. She couldn’t let her program

go to someone who needed to meet in places like this. What in the hell was she thinking? In the wrong hands her program could

do so much damage.

This really was not one of her finer moments, she decided.

Groaning, she got to her feet. Well, she’d have to chop this up to a life lesson and figure something else out.

She started towards the street, hoping she’d spot a taxi that could take her safely back home. She was not looking forward to

the return walk. She idly wondered if her farmer buddy had any luck with his kitty when several figures stepped out of the

darkness in front of her.

“Miss. Smith, you weren’t leaving, were you?” a tall thin man with a slight accent she couldn’t quite place asked in an amused

tone.

“Ah, no?” She forced her eyes to focus on anything other than the scar running down his face and the one across his throat.

Something told her the man wouldn’t appreciate staring.

“That’s very good,” the man said, gesturing to one of the other men to take her bag from her. She resisted the urge to fight him,

reminding herself that she really sucked at fighting. Seriously, it was sad. Her only move was a cross between a windmill

motion and bitch slapping, which usually missed its mark and sent her stumbling.

The man took the bag and opened it. He tossed her candy bars to the ground and she almost bitch slapped him then and there.

What kind of sick bastard came between a woman and her chocolate? Her copy of Lord of the Rings soon followed along with

her iPod, bottle of water, and cell phone. When he pulled out her Netbook she nearly winced at the thought of that getting

tossed into the pile. It wasn’t her main computer. It was just a cheap little computer that she used when she was out and wanted

to play around with some code. Still, she loved it. It was small, cute, and had a picture of a baby groundhog standing on its hind

legs eating a carrot set as her wallpaper. It was really cute.

He handed the computer off to one of his men. A moment later he pulled out three CD cases. “I presume this is what I’m after?”

Nope, but Isabella nodded slowly. She forced herself to remain cool. If they were going to kill her than at least she could die

knowing they just screwed themselves over with no way to repair it. Ever.

“That’s it. Where’s my money?” she asked, trying to sound sufficiently afraid, no problem there.

The man smiled a truly ugly smile. Were those canines long and pointy? She gave herself a mental shake. Her mind was

obviously messing with her in its panicked stricken state.

“Oh, I have something much better for you. You see your skills….well, they’re very useful to my employer.

He’d like to offer you a permanent place in our company,” he said the last word as if it amused him.

The other two men snickered.

Oh, that couldn’t be good……

“Um, thanks, but no thanks,” she said, backing up.

One of the men grabbed her and hauled her back against his chest. One arm went across her chest, keeping her arms pinned to

her sides while his other hand gripped her chin and tilted her head back and to the side.

“Seriously, I don’t make a good employee….I’m always late, I take long breaks, I suck at office politics, my desk is always

messy, I get cranky if I don’t have a constant flow of caffeine, I’ve even been fired from volunteering, twice. I mean seriously

that should tell you something.

Who gets fired from volunteering? If you just let me go I’m sure we can work something out on a contractual basis,” she

rambled on nervously.

“Shhh, you’re annoying me. Now shut up and let me do this. When you wake up everything will be fine,” he said as he leaned

in.

Isabella’s eyes widened to the point that she was actually afraid her eyes might pop out of her head.

Either she was in a fear induced hallucination or those two teeth were fangs. She didn’t have much time to contemplate her

situation before those very long and very sharp teeth were in her neck.

She screamed as sharp pain tore through her. Isabella tried to breakaway only to find herself in a death grip.

She immediately stopped fighting when the grip became more painful than the bite and stood there whimpering as the man

drank her blood. There was no doubt in her mind that’s what he was doing.

He was making slurping sounds!

The man suddenly stumbled back from her. She felt two small drops of hot liquid run down her skin beneath her shirt. Ew! The

man clutched his stomach, gasping.

“What’s wrong?” the man holding her asked.

He sucked in a hard breath and managed to say, “Sentinel.”

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