Authors: R.L. Mathewson
“Oh my god, you’re pregnant!” he heard his sister Jill shriek happily from the foyer. Cursing under his breath, he quickly made
his way over to the double doors and shut them, hoping she was too wrapped up in Madison’s news to notice.
For the past ten years she’d been taunting the hell out of him about his mate, but thankfully not in a bitchy way. Her bitchy days
were long gone, thank god. He’d probably have killed her by now if she was anything like she was the first time he met her.
When she first arrived in Rerum, New Hampshire with Madison, Joshua and their mother Candy, she’d been a Class A bitch,
much like Candy. At least for the first week of her arrival, then she kind of simmered down a bit. He wasn’t sure what the hell
happened, but he had a feeling Madison and Grandma were behind the change. She’d still been a bit of a spoiled bitch at times
after that, but he’d done his best to stay the hell out of her way when he moved in.
Back then he’d been too damn scared to really care what Jill said or did to him. Back then this house had been a boarding
house with very little privacy for them and easily the best place he’d ever lived in. It had been too good to be true at the time
and he’d been scared shitless that he’d screw up and they’d kick him out, or worse send him to foster care.
For the first few weeks he’d been too scared to act up and cause any problems, afraid he’d upset Madison or Grandma. So, he
made it a point to stay out of everyone’s way and do what he was asked the first time without any bitching. He even made sure
to do extra chores without being asked to so that Grandma and Madison would want him to stay.
At night he waited for everyone to fall asleep before he silently snuck into Joshua’s room and made a bed for himself on the
floor right by the door. Joshua had only been ten years old at the time and had been more than happy to have Chris stay in his
room. He viewed it as secret sleepovers. Chris had viewed it as keeping the little boy safe.
He hadn’t cared how nice the men who rented rooms from Grandma seemed. They were still men he didn’t know and therefore
didn’t trust. It was one of the life lessons he learned early on in foster care and one that took the first time.
His hands clenched into fists almost painfully at the memory of that long ago night. It hadn’t been his first time in foster care or
even the first time he’d had the shit kicked out of him by an adult entrusted with his care, but it had been the first time a man
tried to crawl into his bed.
He could still remember the smell of beer and body odor coming off the old couch he’d been forced to sleep on as he did his
best to stay warm. His foster parents gave him a decent amount of blankets, but they’d been thin and worn and didn’t do much
to keep him warm in the cold room.
At some point during the night he considered going to their room and asking if they would turn the heat on in the living room,
but the split lip they’d given him earlier that day when he spilled milk stopped him. He didn’t want to know what they’d do if
he woke them.
After getting dressed he considered leaving and walking back to the trailer where his mom lived, but he hadn’t been sure if she
was still in jail or not. Even at six years old he knew she’d be serving at least thirty days for solicitation, not that he’d known
what that meant at the time, but it was the usual reason she went away.
To this day he thanked his lucky stars that he hadn’t been asleep on the couch when Ted, his foster father at the time, came into
the room. If he had…..
He didn’t even want to think about what could have happened if things had been different. It was bad enough that he ended up
in the hospital with a broken arm and three cracked ribs. A broken bone or two he could handle, but what that man and several
others after had in mind for him would have broken him.
They were the reason why he still went to bed with a weapon nearby and why he slept on Joshua’s floor ten years ago. He
didn’t want the sweet little boy hurt. He wasn’t sure if Madison or Grandma knew what was going on. If they did they never
said anything to him and Joshua certainly never told anyone. The only person who knew what he was doing as far as he could
tell was Ephraim.
Of course it hadn’t been exactly a shock that the man knew what he was doing. His father was a Pyte after all.
Of course Chris wasn’t sure if his father knew he was in Joshua’s room because he heard him or smelled him since Pytes also
had an incredible sense of smell, almost twice as strong as a shifter’s and easily a hundred times stronger than a vampire’s.
When he patrolled with his father it was like working with a living GPS unit. The man could hunt anything and anyone down
with very little effort, which is why it wasn’t too surprising when he discovered Chris sleeping on Joshua’s floor.
Three weeks after Ephraim bought the house and tossed all the boarders out, not to mention adopted him, and Chris still hadn’t
been able to sleep at night unless he knew the little boy was safe. It wasn’t because he thought Ephraim would hurt the boy. He
trusted Ephraim, probably since the first time he’d arrested Chris when he was still a detective for the state police.
He also knew without a doubt that the man would tear anyone stupid enough to hurt the little boy apart with his bare hands. No,
the problem was Chris couldn’t accept that he was safe and loved for the first time in his life.
When he woke up that night to find Ephraim standing over him he thought for sure his father was going to yell at him. Instead
Ephraim looked down at him with so much compassion in his eyes that Chris had almost wished the man would yell or hit him.
Just when he was about to give his father some lame ass excuse for sleeping on a ten year old’s floor, Ephraim sat down on the
floor next to him, stole his pillow, and laid down. Chris would never admit it to anyone, but that night was probably the first
time he slept like a baby, because he knew Ephraim would protect him.
The next night Ephraim silently joined them, probably after he exhausted the hell out of Madison, because she never once came
looking for Ephraim. After a week, Chris decided it was safe to sleep in his own room and trusted Ephraim to keep an ear out
for Joshua’s safety.
He was a little surprised when Ephraim walked into his room after he crawled into bed and sat down in the corner.
For three weeks straight Ephraim did that for him.
He’d come in quietly and sit there all night and go to work the next morning exhausted as hell, but he never once complained. It
was one of the hundreds of things his father did to let him know that he was loved and cared for and the reason why he’d
sacrifice anything for his family.
Even his mate.
“…so as you can see this has all been a terrible misunderstanding,” his mate said, pulling him out of his thoughts.
She stood up almost hesitantly. “I’ll just be going now,”
she said, stepping to the side, making sure to keep plenty of distance between the two of them. When he sighed and stood up she
held up her good hand, gesturing for him to take a seat.
“You don’t have to get up. I’m sure I can find my out,”
she said brightly, never slowing in her little escape attempt. She kept her eyes firmly on him as she backed up towards the
door. “Well, have a nice life,” she said, reaching out blindly for the door.
He watched as she fumbled with the doorknob, finally managed to open the door and turned to flee only to slam into Ephraim
and stumble back, falling on her very adorable ass.
“I’m sorry,” the man who by all rights should be on the cover of a GQ magazine said, reaching down to offer her a hand. “Let
me help you up.”
Isabella scooted back as she prepared herself for the wave of lust that should be hitting her any second now thanks to the drugs.
When she didn’t feel anything even remotely like attraction for the man she frowned, wondering, heck hoping, that the drugs had
She was just about to push back again when strong arms wrapped around her and picked her up. Much to her shame she let out
a startled little squeak that had the GQ model’s lips twitching.
“Let’s go, Munchkin,” the big jerk said even as her body registered his touch and she practically moaned in pleasure.
What in the hell was wrong with her?
Those drugs should have her drooling after every man she ran into, but so far she’d only felt an all consuming need to tear this
jerk’s clothes off. Maybe they used hypnosis, she thought as she was carried back over to the couch.
“Hey!” she gasped when she felt him nuzzle her neck.
“Put me down!”
“Sure thing,” he said, dropping her on the couch. She bounced twice before she managed to sit up and move to the end of the
couch, away from the man that was causing her hormones to go crazy.
“I lured the women into the kitchen with about ten tons of chocolate so we should have a half hour before they tear down the
door, demanding to meet your mate,” the GQ model said, making her frown so hard she was afraid her face was going to break.
“Thanks, Dad,” Chris said, taking a seat across from her.
Seriously, what was it with these people and referring to her as this man’s—wait a minute, what was this now?
Did he just call GQ guy “Dad”? Isabella took in his short black hair, incredible blue eyes, chiseled good looks and a body to
kill for and had to wonder what kind of game this cult was playing. GQ couldn’t be older than thirty.
There was no way he was this man’s father. Then again their relationship might be similar to one they all seemed to think she
had with Chris.
Maybe they just went around claiming people?
GQ nodded in acknowledgement to her. “My name is Ephraim. It’s nice to meet you Isabella.”
When she said nothing Chris muttered something and lazily gestured towards Ephraim. “This is my father.”
“Sure, okay,” she said, deciding to go along with it for a moment. There was no need to debate the whole thing when she
needed to use her energy to figure out how she was going to get her hands on a computer or maybe a cell phone, she thought as
her eyes drifted down to the silver cell phone attached to Ephraim’s belt.
She licked her lips as she shifted in her seat, trying not jar her hand too much as a plan formed, a simple one, but one she hoped
they went for.
“Is there any chance I could make a call?” she asked, forcing her eyes to stay on Ephraim so that she could think clearly since it
was more than obvious to her that her brain had a tendency of playing hide and seek when she looked at Chris.
“No,” Chris said firmly.
“But I need to make a call,” she bit out, not liking being controlled one bit. It was one of the reasons she did so poorly with a
nine to five job, that and she had a tendency of oversleeping and not caring.
“No, you don’t,” the infuriating man said calmly, drawing her attention against her better judgment.
“What you need to do is answer our questions and then listen to what we need to tell to you.”
“No,” she said, stubbornly, crossing her arms over her chest and biting back a wince when her broken fingers brushed against
“No, what?” he asked, while the other man leaned back in his chair, looking bored.
“No, I’m not going to answer your questions and I don’t care about whatever it is you think you need to tell me.
All I care about is going home.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” he simply stated, pissing her right the heck off. Who the hell did he think he was?
Isabella took a deep calming breath and then another one when she didn’t feel any calmer before she spoke.
“Look,” she said evenly, making sure to glare at both men, “I’m not going to give you my program. I don’t care what you say or
how long you hold me against my will so you might as well just cut your losses and let me go. I promise that if you let me go
right now I won’t go to the police.”
“What program is that?” Chris asked, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
“The program you will never touch,” she snapped, irritated, hungry, tired, and losing her patience with these games.
“You didn’t answer my question, Munchkin. What program?” Chris asked in a calm voice, further pissing her off.
“I have a name,” she bit out.
He simply shrugged. “I like munchkin.” He gave her a sexy smile that she forced herself to ignore. “It’s cute, just like you.”
“My name is Isabella,” she bit out slowly.
“Okay, Isabella,” he stressed her name, further pissing her off. “Why don’t you tell us what you were doing hanging out at a
park at three in the morning?” he asked casually, but she couldn’t help but notice his jaw clench almost as if he were pissed.
What the hell business was it of his what she did?
Oh, that’s right. The hot psycho cult member thought they were married, she reminded herself with a mental groan. Even though
his little claim really irritated the hell out of her, she knew she may have to play along at some point if it meant escape.
“Shopping,” she said, biting back a smile when both men’s eyes narrowed on her.
“At three in the morning?” Ephraim asked, arching a brow in question, somewhat reminding her of the FBI agent she spoke to
the other day. The man had authority written all over him in a bad ass kind of way, much like the jerk she couldn’t stop
“No crowds,” she simply said, biting back a smile when both men glared. She really shouldn’t find their expressions amusing,