Avengers heat, p.19
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       Avenger's Heat, p.19
 

         Part #4 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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  He nodded once, the handsome man’s full lips quirking up. “I do indeed. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Detective McCarty.”

  Erin quickly shook his hand. “I need to clear the crime scene and entire front yard so I can attempt to pick up the scent of the perpetrators.” And she wasn’t asking.

  The detective nodded and started shouting orders at everyone to move.

  She glanced at Noah to find her sexy wolf watching her without a flicker of emotion in his gaze. She hated that she was likely the reason for that. He was trying to keep his wolf on lockdown. What happened between them last night had probably only exacerbated his need. God knew it had for her. She was agitated, sexually frustrated, and her own wolf wanted to know what the hell was wrong with her for denying him. Too bad her human side knew better.

  As soon as the area was free of humans, Erin made her way across the driveway, but jerked to a halt as she reached where the concrete met the grassy lawn. Shifter blood was on the ground below her, the scent strong, but that wasn’t what made her blood run cold.

  She could scent two males she’d never wanted to scent again. Never wanted to see again either, unless she was shoving blades through their black hearts. For just a second the other day when she and Noah had been leaving the Full Moon Bar she’d thought she scented them but had convinced herself she was crazy. This case had been making her insane so she’d chalked it up to frayed nerves. Now she knew she was wrong. She scented them clearly.

  Chris and Malcolm Tyson. Chris, her former lover, the male who’d tried to murder her and left her for dead. His psychopathic brother had taken part in trying to kill her and was just as evil. Their strong scents nearly overwhelmed her now, making her take an involuntary step back as if just the smell of them could taint her.

  It had taken her almost an entire year to get back on her feet, to admit what she’d lost, to admit she was still a warrior at heart and could survive anything. But now she felt like that wounded shifter again as she struggled to drag in a breath. It was as if her lungs refused to expand, making it difficult for her to breathe. Chris and Malcolm were here, in New Orleans. And were likely behind the kidnappings and murder.

  Erin wasn’t sure how long she stood there frozen, but she eventually felt more than heard Noah behind her, his strong hands settling on her shoulders as he turned her around.

  “What is it?” he asked softly.

  “I think I know who’s behind the kidnappings.” While she wanted to break down and tell him everything, she had to act fast. Now that she had their scents, she was going to track them down.

  Ignoring Noah’s surprised expression she whipped her phone out and called Ryan. Now that she had names, Mr. Computer Genius should be able to work a miracle.

  Or she really hoped he could. Either way, she was hunting down these monsters and ending them for good. If she had to chase them across the entire globe, so be it. She didn’t care how long it took either.

  Chapter 15

  Chris and his brother raced through neighborhoods as if hellhounds were after them. He’d never seen a fae before but he had no doubt that’s what that blond bitch had been. Malcolm was limping, moaning, and barely keeping up as they darted down a quiet backstreet. There wasn’t much on this road. Just two long, brick walls lining it and blocking the homes behind them.

  The walls also blocked him and his brother from curious eyes. He scented some spicy kind of food nearby. It mingled with raw meat—steak maybe—and he also smelled marijuana and laundry detergent. The mix of scents was even stronger now that his adrenaline was pumping overtime.

  The gravel dug into his paws as they ran. As scents grew stronger, he slowed then stopped. His brother did the same but collapsed. His tail was completely fried and if he changed to his human form it would accelerate the healing. Which is exactly what they needed right now. First Chris had to find them some clothes though. Grabbing his brother by the scruff of the neck with his jaws, he dragged him into an arched alcove carved right into the wall.

  He’d never understand the jumbled architecture in New Orleans, but this was a decent hiding spot for the moment. Even if someone drove down this desolate road they wouldn’t see his brother unless they were looking. There were voices, a few female and one male, nearby. Talking about the weather and supper.

  Concentrating harder than normal, he let the change overtake him as he shifted back to his human form. The brick wall was only about five feet tall so he remained crouching until he could gain his bearings.

  Going after that feline shifter had clearly been a mistake, but the lure of extra cash from LaPomeret had been too much. The vamp wanted someone in the early stages of her pregnancy and who hadn’t been used yet. Someone he could keep himself. Normally Chris would have balked but when he’d talked to him on the phone the vampire had been desperate. Now he wondered why.

  Peeking over the brick wall he saw the back of a townhome. The rain gutter was rusted and dangerously close to falling off and the small yard looked like a jungle. Scanning the rest of the townhomes, he saw that they looked basically the same. About a foot of space between each one. Two homes down to his left was where the source of the food and voices were coming from. A sheet and a few shirts stretched out over a clothesline covered most of his view, but he could see the male and females he’d heard talking earlier. They were all old humans, probably in their sixties, and he was pretty sure they were the ones smoking marijuana too. He just hoped they were distracted enough because to the right of the house he was behind was another clothesline with shirts, sheets, and pants. Even if they didn’t fit, he and his brother needed some damn clothes to blend in.

  His phone had been in the van and though they hadn’t brought any identification with them, their wallets and cash had been left behind when they’d shifted forms. Whoever that blond bitch was, she was going to pay. Not that she was at the top of his list of problems now. He hadn’t realized the fae were after them too. Or at least involved. He’d heard enough horror stories to know they could be scary motherfuckers when they wanted. Seeing that female shoot lightning out of her freaking hands was all the proof he needed to know it was true.

  Glancing at his brother, he frowned. Malcolm was barely moving, but he was awake. “I’ll be right back,” he whispered.

  Crouching down again, he kept low as he hurried to the next home. After another scan of the surrounding area, he jumped the brick wall. His bare foot slammed onto a broken beer bottle and it sliced deep into the arch. Biting back a groan, he yanked the piece of glass out. Blood trickled off his foot but he was already healing as he limped toward the clothesline. Luckily the clothes from the other yard a few houses down blocked what he was doing from the humans he could still hear laughing. As someone cranked up the music, he pulled off two button-down flannel shirts that had seen better days. They were clearly work shirts. He also grabbed a pair of jeans and one pair of work pants that would definitely be too short. Better than nothing.

  He found his brother still huddled in the small alcove, but at least his eyes were open and Chris could see awareness in them. “Shift, Malcolm. We need to get the hell out of here.” Chris kept his voice low, not wanting to disturb the humans. He wanted to leave before anyone noticed the missing clothes and started raising hell.

  His brother growled low in his throat as he shifted back to his human form, but the music drowned it out. Or even if it didn’t, the humans didn’t seem to notice.

  Malcolm’s teeth were chattering and his entire body shook as he grabbed the clothes Chris gave him. Outwardly he didn’t look as bad as Chris had expected. A large bruise the size of a baseball had formed in the middle of his chest. The ugly black and purple coloring was sharp against his skin.

  As soon as they were dressed, they slowly made their way to the end of the road. Right now Chris had no idea if they were being tracked. His senses were all screwed up and even though he could smell, he was rattled beyond belief. This hadn’t been part of their plan. Too many people were invol
ved and his brother was no use at all. He could barely talk after what that fae had done to him. If he’d been pure human, Malcolm would be dead.

  The street ran right into a four-lane road lined with closed businesses, where at least a dozen people were loitering. Some he guessed were prostitutes, others drug dealers, and there was a string of vehicles parked along the curb for the next three blocks. Some of them looked as if they hadn’t been moved for a decade.

  “Stay here,” he murmured to his brother, who crouched low and leaned against the brick wall.

  Malcolm wrapped his arms around his knees as he brought them up to his chest. If anyone saw him they’d assume he was a homeless person. Just as well.

  Keeping his head low, Chris stepped out onto the cracked sidewalk and headed east. With no shoes and pants that were too short, he looked ridiculous but the few people he passed didn’t notice or even glance at him. When he passed an older-model Datsun with yellow peeling paint and the keys still in the ignition, he didn’t even pause. He glanced around, didn’t see anyone in the immediate vicinity—though the front door to a brick townhome with busted-out windows was open—and jumped in.

  Pulling away, he flipped a U-turn and picked up his brother. Malcolm curled on his side as he collapsed against the passenger seat. Just great. Now he had to take care of him too. As Chris drove, he opened the center console and was surprised to find three cell phones inside. Whoever owned the car was probably a drug dealer or into something illegal to have that many phones.

  Whatever. At least he didn’t have to find a pay phone now. He dialed LaPomeret’s cell phone.

  Bastard finally picked up on the fourth ring. His voice was hesitant. “Hello?”

  “I couldn’t get the female and I think we might have a problem.”

  “Oh, we most certainly have a problem. Angus Campbell is now after me and the enforcer knows that I’m somehow involved in all this.”

  Chris wanted to snort at the way he said “this” as if he was somehow detached from it. Vamp didn’t want to get his hands dirty, but he had no problem paying for the product. “How the hell do they know you’re involved? Did you give them my name?”

  “No, but I unknowingly attacked his only son. He was with that enforcer bitch and he angered me.”

  The giant with Erin was Angus Campbell’s son? Fucking great. Like he didn’t have enough problems already. “My brother and I are leaving town and I suggest you do the same if Campbell knows who you are.” Chris didn’t actually care about the vamp, but the guy was a paying customer. Maybe they’d be able to do business again. While he’d planned to kill Erin, things were way too hot now. And his own brother couldn’t even back him up—and he had no clue how long these effects would last. He would still get her though. In time. He was patient and had no problem waiting to end her life.

  “What are you going to do with the females?” LaPomeret asked.

  He snorted. “What do you think?” Chris took a sharp left, but kept to the speed limit. No need to draw any undue attention.

  “Sell them to me and my partners.” There was an underlying note of desperation in his voice he couldn’t disguise.

  “You know what kind of risk I’d be taking? Besides, I don’t have a way to transport them anymore.” Not after he’d lost their van. Killing them would be easiest. He just needed to get to their place on the outskirts of town, kill the females, kill his assistant, and disappear. Things might not have worked out the way he’d planned but they had a lot of money and he could still make more.

  “I have an SUV you can use.”

  Chris gritted his teeth and glanced over at his shaking brother. They could make so much money, then retire for good. Live the way they wanted with no Alpha or pack breathing down their necks. People respected money. “It’ll cost you for the women.”

  LaPomeret sighed. “I know. Meet me at Barrett’s house. We are all hiding out here until we know more about this enforcer. Campbell has nothing against Barrett and I have no tie to him so we will be safe. Pick up the vehicle here and use it to bring the females to us. He has a dungeon where we can keep them.”

  Chris wanted to say no, but that kind of money . . . “I’ll want half up front. Cash. I’m taking a huge risk.”

  There was a short pause. “Fine. Half up front.”

  He had no doubt that LaPomeret was good for it. The vamp had more money than God. “Good. And get some clothes together for me and Malcolm. I’ll be there in an hour.” He wanted to drive around for a while and if possible switch vehicles. He needed to make sure they weren’t being followed. Leading a tracker back to the vamps he dealt with would be almost as bad as leading them back to his hideout where the pregnant females were.

  When he pulled up to another stoplight, he texted his assistant to start packing up the house. Chris would be killing the guy soon but he might as well get some labor out of him before then. It would save him some extra steps when he and Malcolm split town.

  Chapter 16

  Feeling nauseous, Erin motioned to the others to follow her down the sidewalk as she waited for Ryan to answer her call. The police had moved back in, taking over the crime scene once again. Considering what she’d just discovered, she didn’t need anything from the scene anymore.

  Her mind was working overtime as she tried to come to terms with the reality that her ex was behind the kidnappings. And likely the bombing at Screamers. Two blond-haired lupine shifters, one who wore a wolf ring—just like Meli and that vamp from Screamers had described. Yeah, that was definitely them. And shit . . . probably one of the blond wolves who’d attacked Noah too. She’d have to get a picture from Ryan.

  As soon as he picked up, she didn’t give him a chance to speak. “I think I know who’s behind the kidnappings. Their names are Chris and Malcolm Tyson. They used to belong to Adam Murphy’s pack.” Just like she had.

  After almost a year of being terrified of her own fucking shadow she’d finally worked up the courage to ask Jayce to look into the Murphy pack for her a couple of months ago and he’d come through with some information. Which wasn’t as much as she’d have liked.

  The first time Jayce and she had met he’d thought she was dead because Murphy had reported her as such. Knowing how she’d been found—so close to death behind that damn Dumpster—Jayce had thought her Alpha might have had something to do with it. But he hadn’t. No, just Chris and Malcolm Tyson.

  According to Jayce’s report, the brothers had split town as soon as they’d told Adam Murphy a bullshit story about her being killed by vamps. Of course, Murphy hadn’t actually believed them and had tried to hunt them down himself, but he hadn’t had any luck. It was a big damn world and he had only so many resources. Maybe if he’d reported them to the Council back then the bastards would have been hunted down, but Murphy had only had suspicions, no proof—she knew all this only because of Jayce. And in reality, without real proof, there was little the Council could have done back then.

  Right about now Erin wished she’d been strong enough to report them for dealing vampire blood and for trying to kill her. Maybe then they wouldn’t have come to New Orleans. But she’d been so damn afraid of everything and even though she’d healed physically fairly quickly, her emotional scars were still there. They hurt worse than the physical ones had because they simply wouldn’t go away. The only time they seemed to fade was around Noah.

  “Those their real names?” Ryan asked.

  “Yeah.” She loved that he didn’t even ask if she was sure they were involved. Ryan trusted her and now she prayed he could work his magic.

  “You know their socials?”

  Her file on them was in her laptop, but . . . “Is Jayce at the ranch?”

  “Yeah.”

  “He’s got them both—from a different investigation.” Okay, not exactly an investigation but she didn’t have time for semantics. “Send me their pictures too when you get a chance.”

  “Fuck yeah,” Ryan muttered. “That’s all I need. Give me twenty minu
tes and I’ll see what I can come up with.” Then he disconnected.

  Erin leaned against her car, wrapping her arms around herself as she looked at three questioning pairs of eyes.

  “You know the identities of the shifters behind this?” Brianna asked.

  Erin nodded, but kept her gaze on Noah who was watching her intently. “Remember what I told you about . . . who hurt me?”

  Noah’s eyes went pure wolf, his entire body going impossibly still. “Yeah.” That one word was guttural and deep.

  “His name is Chris and his brother is Malcolm. I guess selling vampire blood wasn’t enough for them. I scented them at the scene.” Her voice cracked on the last word but she held Noah’s gaze. “They’re here. No doubt about it. They’re afraid too—probably because of what Brianna did to them. Considering what they used to be into, kidnapping shifters for their blood isn’t a stretch for them.” Because they clearly didn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. Chris had tried to kill her, someone he’d supposedly loved.

  A myriad of emotions flashed through Noah’s beautiful eyes before he suddenly turned away from her. Letting out an eerie howl, he let his claws extend and slashed through the nearest tree, tearing away the bark like it was paper. Then he went still again, but kept his back to her. His breathing was erratic and unsteady and she couldn’t decide if she should reach out for him or not.

  “These guys are the ones who hurt you?” Angelo’s deep voice and question took her by surprise.

  She didn’t know him as well as Noah and some of the others from her pack, but he’d been there the day she’d been found. And clearly hadn’t forgotten. Nodding, she faced them. Brianna just looked confused, but Angelo looked ready to murder.

  “They’re dead. No matter what happens with this investigation, they will die,” Noah said as he turned back toward them, his wolf right at the surface. Then he hauled her into his arms, pulling her close, practically crushing her.

 
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