The Wolf's Mate Book 4: Michael & Shyne (10 page)

BOOK: The Wolf's Mate Book 4: Michael & Shyne
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Groaning at the ache in his head, he sat up slowly and searched along the leather harness to find the buckle to release the muzzle, and after trying to get his fingers to cooperate with the thick buckle, he pulled it free of his face and tossed it aside.

Just as he was about to stand up and head for the door at the back of the habitat, an angry voice above him shouted, “Hey, you!  What the hell are you doing in there?”  Looking up, he saw the beige uniform of a zookeeper leaning over the railing, pointing an angry finger at him.  Spread out all around the rail with him were the gaping faces of elementary school children.

A glance down reminded him that he was painfully nude.  Fan-fucking-tastic.  He scrambled to his feet and ducked behind a tree to shield himself from the impressionable eyes and called out with a gravelly voice, “Sorry, I think my buddies played a prank on me.”

The habitat door opened and shut quickly, and two angry zookeepers and four security guards stalked to him, giving a wide berth to the wolves who were watching the scene with bored curiosity.

Before he could say anything in his defense, one of the security guards pointed a taser at him, and another one tossed a navy blue janitorial uniform at him.  He pulled it on hurriedly.  The moment it was buttoned, his hands were cuffed behind his back, and he was marched out of the habitat under the watchful gazes of the kids and the natural wolves.  Embarrassment heated his cheeks so deeply he thought he would pass out from the rush of blood to his face.

In something like a holding cell, he was told to sit on a bench and behave, left alone to ponder why a zoo had a holding cell in the first place, because the last thing he wanted to think about was Shyne’s top.  As he’d been marched inside the zoo’s main administrative building, his thoughts kept coming back to rest on that top.  How had those hyenas gotten it?  She wore her workout clothes out of the gym.  Had they been at her house and snatched it somehow?  Or worse, had they asked her for it so they could trap him?  His thoughts shifted darkly.  He knew that Shyne would not purposely hurt him, but they could have tricked her.

A real police officer's voice broke through his thoughts.  “You got a name, son?”  He looked slightly amused.

“Michael Gerrick.”

“You live around here?”

“I don’t know where ‘here’ is, Sir.  I’m from Allen.”

“You’re in Corrine, just south of Louisville.”

Holy fucking shit.  His head dropped on a sigh and groan combined.  The door unlocked and the officer uncuffed him.  “You’re not going to cause me any problems, are you, Mr. Gerrick?”

“No, Sir.”

“Alright then.  The zoo wants to press trespassing charges against you, so I’ll take you downtown and get your story and process you.  You should be able to be out by dinner with a fine, maybe some community service if it’s your first arrest.”

He nodded absently.  He was going to jail.  Even if it was only for a half day, it was still a mark on him.  On his record.  And no one in the pack would let him live it down.

As the police officer led him down a long hallway, he said, “Those friends of yours that you said pulled a prank on you?  You the sort of boy that’s going to say their names or take the punishment yourself?”

Oh, he had a punishment in mind for certain, but it involved making them pay.  Off the books.  “I think my mind is a little fuzzy about last night.”

He hummed in his throat, “That’s what I thought.”

The door opened, and the zookeepers were arguing.  “It’s because of that man, he upset poor Dahlia!”  One of the female zookeepers said.  “She won’t touch her food!”

Another female zookeeper rushed over to him and slapped him in the face.

“You’ve scared our only female gray wolf so badly she’ll probably never recover.  I hope you’re satisfied you juvenile asshole!  I hope you get a cellmate with big hands!”

All the blood drained from his face as he stared down into the angry face of a woman about his own age.  He’d never had anyone wish he was raped before.  “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding,” he said stiffly, “but she’s not eating because she’s pregnant, not upset.  She needs to den.  Give her a place to make a nest for her cubs so she can rest.  That habitat is too open for her.”

He smiled smugly at her shocked expression and walked away with the cop, out of the administration building of the Corrine Wildlife Park and sat down in the back of the cruiser.  A short ride later, he was seated next to a desk in the busy police station.

He’d already worked through possible scenarios in his head to tell the officer how he’d ended up in that predicament.  If he said he’d gotten drunk and wandered in, they could get him for drunk and disorderly maybe, plus it wouldn’t explain the muzzle.  Finally, the best scenario he could come up with was a partial truth.  “I’m a heavy sleeper.  My buddies and I play pranks on each other, and they got me good this time.”  He shrugged and tried to sound like he thought it was funny, when it was very far from the truth.  At least they’d put him in a wolf cage where the wolves wouldn’t look at him like a threat.  If they’d tossed him in with bears or big cats, well, that could have been an entirely different, disastrous scenario.

“You care to name any of your buddies yet?” Officer Gregory asked with a raised brow.  He was about his father’s age and had clearly seen enough in his career to know a snow job when one was handed to him.  As his father would often say, ‘don’t piss on my leg and tell me its rain’.

“Still fuzzy.  Like I said, I’m a heavy sleeper.”  Sure he could legally go after the hyenas, those prick brothers that were trying to snare Shyne into joining their clan.  He could claim kidnapping and being drugged.  It would be sweet on some levels, but not satisfying enough.  If they wanted to play hardball, then Michael would show them why he was second of the Tressel pack.

Turning the desk phone towards him, Officer Gregory said, “Make your one call.  Tell them they can pick you up in a couple hours after the paperwork is filed.”

He reached for the phone and stopped.  “What’s going to happen to me?”

“Nothing much.  It’s just trespassing.  If they hadn’t been so worked up about those wolves, then they probably would have just banned you from the zoo or something like that.  It’s not as if you harmed any of their animals.  You’ll get a fine for sure, but it’s a minor thing so I wouldn’t give it much thought, okay?  Not a felony by any stretch, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I was.”

“Whoever your ‘friends’ are, son, I suggest you find other ‘children’ to play with.”  He stood up with a stack of papers in his hands and smiled down at him for a moment before walking away.

He called Bo, because he could trust Bo not to bring half the pack up for a show like Jason or Linus might.  Bo promised he’d leave right away, alone, and come straight there and wait for however long it took.  Michael was incredibly grateful for his childhood friend and packmate.

They didn’t put him in a holding cell, but in an interrogation room, which at least had the luxury of a padded chair, metal table, and a bad cup of coffee.  Since he had no belongings, he signed himself out of jail after nodding at Bo who was seated in the foyer of the police station.

Just as he was going to ask about paying the fine, Officer Gregory came to the desk and said, “Son, they're willing to drop the charge if you’ll come back to the zoo now and tell them what you know about the wolf.”

“Really?” he asked in surprise.


“No, yeah, I’d be happy to.”  Obviously, he wasn’t a complete idiot.

“Okay, you’re free and clear now.  Just out of curiosity, how did you know that stuff about the wolf?”

“Let’s just say I have an insight into wild animals,” he smiled and left it at that.

“So first we have to stop at the zoo, and then you’re going to buy me something to eat and fill up my truck, right?”  Bo asked, turning on the truck and backing out of the parking lot.

“Shit, you’re an expensive date.”

“Don’t call me a date when I just sprung you from jail.”

“Ha ha.  Yeah, it shouldn’t take long to explain how to help that wolf.”

“No worries.  You given any thought to how you’re going to make those dogs pay?”

He cracked his knuckles.  “Not entirely.  First I have to figure out how they got Shyne's top.  If they lied to her or stole from her, then I need to share that with her, too."

Bo stopped at a red light and looked at him.  “There's no way that she betrayed you.  She's already crazy about you.”

Michael grinned.  "I know.  I'm crazy about her, too.  I just don't like them using her, and I'm pretty sure that's exactly what happened.”

“Me, too.”

After explaining to the zookeepers about the female wolf’s pregnancy and helping them set up a den for her in the habitat away from prying eyes, the woman who had slapped him – Jessie – apologized all over herself and kissed his cheek.  Along with the other zookeepers, she coerced the two men to stay for an early dinner at the zoo’s nice restaurant, and he spent a good portion of the meal fending off her advances.

Jessie, cute in a girl-next-door sort of way with short blonde hair, green eyes and a pouty mouth, did nothing for him.  When she pressed her business card into his hand with her home phone scrawled on the back, he was polite but noncommittal as he thanked her again for dinner and for dropping the charges.

“She’s a cutie,” Bo mused as he started the drive back to Allen.

“Yeah, but she’s not Shyne.”

She most definitely was not.

Bo dropped him off at home, and he changed out of the zoo jumpsuit and into more suitable clothes, jumped on his bike, and headed to Dalton.  The gym was open until eleven.  It was only nine, and he knew that Shyne had a late class.  Cutting the engine, he rolled his bike to the side of the road that led to the gym, walked through the tall grass to the side of the building, and with Shyne’s car in view, waited for her to walk out.

He still hadn’t decided what he was going to do with the dogs yet.  He needed to talk to Jason, not only as his brother but as his alpha, so a plan of action could be made.  But right now, all Michael cared about was making sure that Shyne was okay and holding her tightly in his arms.

He scented her as soon as she stepped out of the gym, and he leaned from the edge of the building to watch her.  She didn’t look right.  Her shoulders were tense, her steps hurried, and her fear was like a bitter pill on his tongue.  She was frightened.  His need to comfort her rose up inside him, and he rushed from the shadows to hold her and protect her.





Chapter 7


Shyne hadn’t been this twitchy since she’d been in a convenience store hold-up when she was seventeen.  This was a hundred times worse.  Her heart was thudding painfully loud, and her throat was so tight she could hardly breathe.  All she wanted to do was get in her car and lock the door and get home.  Get.  Home.  And then she'd call Michael and ask him to come get her.

Loud, fast footsteps rushed towards her, and she screamed and spun, instinct taking over.  With a quick right jab, she connected with the face of the person rushing towards her and heard a snap, and the man took a step back with a groan.

“Oh, fuck!”  Michael pressed his fingers to his nose.

“Michael, shit, I’m so sorry!  I, I, you scared me.”

He blinked dazed eyes at her.  “You punched me!”

“You scared me!” she growled at him and slugged his shoulder.

Dropping his hand to rub his shoulder, he growled back, “Would you hit like a girl?  Shit!”

His nose was bleeding, and she felt terrible.  “Sorry.  Sorry, it’s just been a really bad couple of days.  I think someone is stalking me.”

He frowned and tugged off his tight t-shirt and held it to his nose.  “Why do you think someone is stalking you?”

Fixed on his lovely chest, she didn’t answer him.  A gentle squeeze on her shoulder reminded her that there was a face attached to that chest.  A damn handsome one.  “Sorry, um, well someone broke into my car yesterday, jimmied the lock on the passenger side and scraped the paint up a bit in the process.  The creepy thing is that they took one of my workout tops.  And then last night, I heard talking outside my bedroom window, but the voices were really low.  And then there were…like animal noises?  Snorting and stuff, and it completely freaked me out so I went across the hall and spent the night on Trav’s couch.  This morning there were claw marks in the dirt under my window.  How scary is that?”  She rubbed her arms as a shiver cascaded through her.

He suddenly looked angry.  “I'm going to follow you home and take a look around.”

Relieved, she looked up at him.  “And you’ll let me clean you up?”

“Sure, sweetheart.  It’s the least you could do since you tried to break my perfectly straight nose.”

“Well,” she huffed, “now you know not to sneak up on a girl who knows how to throw a punch.”  Looking around she asked, “Where’s your bike?”

“Up towards the road.”

“Hop in; I’ll drive you up there.”

Complying, he sat down heavily in the seat and pulled his shirt back over his head.  Too bad.  She stopped next to his bike and asked, “Why did you park so far out here and walk to the gym?  You didn’t say why you were here.”

BOOK: The Wolf's Mate Book 4: Michael & Shyne
5.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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