Alpha instinct, p.30
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       Alpha Instinct, p.30

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 30

 

  Ana dug her fingers into his side, but he didn’t flinch.

  Matt sighed heavily, then nodded at Ana. “I’ll see you soon. Just … stay safe. ”

  “Thanks for coming,” she said, as he turned away.

  Once he was out of earshot, Ana shrugged off Connor’s grip and glared at him. “What’s the matter with you?”

  “He could have called before coming over. All that could have been said over the phone. ”

  “Is this about a general dislike of humans or is this about you being a jackass?” She placed her hands on her hips.

  “Jackass?”

  “I can practically taste the testosterone coming off you and it’s disgusting. You know he’s not interested in me. It was kind of him to visit, especially when his mom was likely hospitalized because of her friendship with me. We still don’t know if it was Taggart behind the attack on Kaya, but my bet is that it was. Matt and his mom don’t owe us anything yet he came out here to warn us anyway. I’ve never even heard him mention his father before or anything about dream walking, so I imagine it’s not something he freely broadcasts to people. We should be thankful he took the time to see us. ”

  She muttered something else under her breath, turned on her heel and stalked through the front door.

  An apology on his lips, he followed after her. The moment they stepped inside Vivian collided with her and latched on to Ana’s side. “Carmen fell down!”

  Ana’s eyes widened. The panic he saw there pierced him, but he focused on the little cub. “Where is she?”

  With an unsteady hand, she pointed. “Kitchen. ”

  He could feel Ana and Vivian close behind him. His heart jumped in his throat as he entered the large room. Carmen was lying by the small table, eyes squeezed tight, curled into the fetal position, shaking like she’d been submerged in Arctic waters.

  Reaching underneath her, he scooped her up. Despite her shaking she was burning up. They had much higher body temperatures than humans, but the heat radiating from her was scorching and unnatural.

  “Did she have anything to eat?” he directed his question to Vivian, who still hung on to Ana’s leg.

  “She was eating a muffin. ” The little girl’s voice shook.

  On the table there was a half-eaten, crumbled mini muffin. “Did you find her like this?”

  She shook her head. “No. We were talking about making breakfast for you and Ana and that human man and she just fell down. ”

  Ana reached out and felt her sister’s face. Her own complexion paled as the heat touched her fingertips. “Oh, Carmen—”

  “Ana, check on everyone and bring Vivian with you. Don’t let her out of your sight. ” He didn’t like barking orders at her, but if she didn’t stay busy, he worried she might lapse into shock. There was nothing she could do for her sister at the moment. If they wanted to stop what was going on, they all had to keep a level head. Though the truth was, if something happened to Ana, he knew he wouldn’t be able to stay rational.

  “I need to help Carmen. ” A tremor laced her words.

  “Ana, you need to check on the pack. Let me help your sister. ”

  She looked torn, but she nodded and grabbed Vivian’s hand on the way out the door.

  As he rushed up the stairs, panic washed over him when Carmen started shivering even harder. He needed to bring her temperature down fast. Without bothering with her clothes, he turned on the shower in her bathroom and held her under the lukewarm water. He didn’t want to throw her into shock, so he gradually worked the water until it was colder. Her eyes flared open briefly. Confusion fluttered across her face before she passed out again.

  At least she clutched his arms as he held her up. If she hadn’t lost the use of her basic motor skills, she still had a fighting chance. The knowledge that they’d just checked the food and water the night before clawed at his insides. Unless someone had broken into the house overnight, no one had access to it. Carmen didn’t have any puncture wounds on her skin that he could see, so he doubted she’d been injected with anything. Connor wasn’t sure how she’d been poisoned, but he was going to exchange more than words with Matt very soon. He’d been in the house before Connor and Ana had come over, giving him plenty of opportunity to lace their food with poison.

  An invisible pressure weighed on his chest as he hurried across the yard, using trees as cover. He’d seen one of Ana’s female relatives leave through the side door of her home, carrying a trash bag, and he wasn’t going to waste the opportunity to get the young she-wolf alone.

  Since he couldn’t poison the pack simultaneously like last time, he was going to take them out one by one, any way he could. And high doses of silver should do the job since the poison he’d created hadn’t. It should kill them all. Unfortunately he’d have to get a lot closer to these creatures for the silver to work. They’d discovered he’d broken into the storage shed and were now being even more careful.

  The time for patience was over. He’d poison those he could, but he was going to have to take a more direct approach this time. If he could take the females off guard, he could kill them quickly and efficiently. The males would be harder, but with the females dead these loners might leave anyway. They weren’t from around here and had no ties other than the women. From what he understood about shifters, males went where the females were.

  Either way he’d continue killing as many of them as he could. They owed him more than they realized.

  It was early. Too early for most of the pack to be awake. Still, if he got caught sneaking around it would raise suspicion. Something he couldn’t afford. His breath curled in front of him like smoke rolling out of a chimney.

  The morning air was quiet and the sky dark and overcast. A warning of what was to come. Gripping the syringe in his hand, he forced himself to take a deep, calming breath as he rounded the back of the house. They’d be able to sense his fear or agitation.

  If they did, they’d no doubt kill him if they figured out what he’d done. He refused to be killed by these animals. Not after they’d killed his father in such a brutal manner. A bear attack. That’s how the local assholes had ruled the death. But he knew better.

  His heart thumped against his chest like a drum when the young girl—no, animal—closed the lid of the oversized garbage bin.

  When she spotted him, she smiled, revealing a perfect row of white teeth. “Morning. ”

  He envisioned those teeth growing as she turned into the animal she was. He nodded politely. “Good morning. ”

  “What are you doing here?”

  Ignoring her question, he frowned, and with his free hand motioned to her face. “You’ve got some sort of smudge there. ”

  Her hand flew up and she rubbed the imaginary spot. “Did I get it?”

  “No. ” He shook his head and stepped closer. She wouldn’t view him as a danger anyway since they knew each other, but he kept his movements unhurried and unthreatening. “It’s right here—”

  Reaching up with his other hand, he jammed the needle into her skin and shot the liquid silver directly into her vein. Her eyes widened and her pretty mouth opened to scream, but nothing came out other than a choking, gurgling gasp.

  The poison worked instantly. Once it hit her bloodstream it moved with lethal speed. Unlike imbibing it, this method was the most toxic for their kind.

  Her eyes stayed unnaturally wide as she hit the earth with a soft thud. Something dark inside him urged him to stay and watch the life leave her body, but he couldn’t risk it.

  Adrenaline roared through him. He’d succeeded so quickly. He only wished he’d done this the first time. Though it probably wouldn’t have worked with so many males. The females, on the other hand, would be easy to kill if this was any indication. It didn’t seem to matter the species; they were always more trusting. Weaker. Glancing around, he found he was still alone.

  But that would change fast.
The sun started to peek up now, pushing through the dark clouds and bathing the ranch in warmth. It would be only a matter of time before someone found her body. And he needed to be gone when they did.

  Chapter 12

  Ana looked down at Vivian as she opened the front door. “You didn’t eat anything in the house this morning, did you?”

  The little girl shook her head.

  “Good. Don’t run off. Okay? I want you to stay with me while we stop at all the houses. After we check the food, I’ll get you breakfast, but I want to test it first. ” She shut the door behind them and started to ascend the steps.

  “Silver won’t hurt me anyway. ”

  Ana frowned at Vivian’s quiet declaration. “What?”

  The little girl’s shoulders lifted. “I’m a jaguar. ”

  “Oh … right. ” She was embarrassed she’d forgotten that silver didn’t affect felines. If Vivian was going to stay with them, Ana realized there was a lot more she needed to learn about her. “You still stick close to me anyway. Okay?”

  “Is Carmen going to die?”

  Ana’s throat seized at the question. She couldn’t lose her sister. Not either of them. The fates had been cruel the past couple months but they wouldn’t be brutal enough to take her younger sisters away. Not now. Not when their lives were finally starting to turn around. They had a new Alpha, and Carmen was finally looking to settle down with a mate. That thought warmed her more than she’d imagined. She just wanted her sisters to be happy and safe. Ana shook her head sharply. “No one is going to die. ” If she said the words enough and believed them, maybe it would be true.

  “Ana!”

  She turned at the sound of her cousin screaming her name. “Come on,” she murmured to Vivian. They jogged across the grass toward Isabel.

  Though they were the same age, her dark-haired packmate looked as if she’d aged overnight. “It’s … it’s—” She broke off sobbing. The sound was raw and uncontrolled and pierced Ana’s heart.
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