Alpha instinct, p.35
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       Alpha Instinct, p.35

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
Page 35


  She glanced down at her body and winced. “I don’t care what anyone says; getting shot hurts. ”

  Careful not to disturb her, he reached out and cupped her cheek. Her skin was soft and the pulse on her neck jumped out of control as he touched her.

  “How did you know where I was?” Her voice was scratchy.

  “I heard you. ”

  She frowned. “That’s impossible. We’re not bonded. ”

  He shook his head. “It was in my head. Loud and clear. You screamed my name and I got a vision of where you were. It was …” Terrifying. He didn’t say it out loud. He couldn’t because he didn’t trust his voice. His inner wolf had howled in pain when he’d heard her cry out for him. It had been so brief. Just one word. His name. And she’d sounded so scared he’d felt as if his heart had actually stopped for a moment. It was an incredibly rare thing for those not related and not bonded to be able to communicate. The knowledge only solidified that he and Ana were meant to be together. Even knowing that he’d likely die inside if something ever happened to her couldn’t stop the burning need that begged him to bond with her.

  She pressed a shaky hand to her sternum and rubbed in small circles, something she did when she was nervous. “Can you hear what I’m saying now?” She stared at him but he heard nothing.

  He shook his head. “No, but I know what I heard and saw, Ana. Maybe we linked because you were so terrified. ”

  Her frown deepened. “Maybe. ”

  The door swung open and Vivian growled as the sheriff stepped inside the room. Connor bit back a smile at the little cub’s protectiveness. He understood how she felt.

  Ana reached down and petted her head, quieting her.

  “How are you feeling?” The sheriff ignored Connor and Vivian and focused on Ana.

  “Like I got shot,” she murmured.

  He cleared his throat as if he were uncomfortable. “We’ve taken two men into custody. They weren’t hard to track down. ”

  “Who are they?” Connor blurted the question even though he knew the sheriff wouldn’t answer.

  “I can’t tell you that. ”

  “Do you know why they went after her?” Connor asked.

  “Not yet, but they were seen leaving a bar right before your attack. One of them has a history of violence against shifters and people in general. It’s possible they saw Ana on the road and this was a crime of opportunity. ”

  This was why Connor avoided towns. Some humans didn’t need an excuse for violence. Ignorance and blind hatred were enough. “I assume you’re going to prosecute them. ” Though he wished the sheriff wouldn’t. Let the bastards go free. They’d never see another sunrise if Connor had anything to do with it.

  He nodded. “This will be considered a hate crime…. Listen, I know this might not be the time, but I want to ask you some questions about your neighbors. ”

  Connor stiffened in his seat. “What about them?”

  “Have you noticed any unusual activity over there?”

  “We’re separated by a large section of land. We don’t associate with Taggart’s pack if we don’t have to. ”

  Ana squeezed his hand. He risked a quick glance at her, and it was obvious she wanted to tell the sheriff about the meth house they’d seen. He squeezed back and shook his head. Sighing, she laid her head back against the pillow.

  “Is there something you’d like to add, Ana?”

  “No. ” She shut her eyes, effectively dismissing him.

  The sheriff rubbed a hand over his face. “I know something is going on over at his place, but so far I haven’t been able to get a warrant and they won’t let me on their property. I want to keep my town—your town—safe, but if you won’t tell me what you know—”

  Connor pushed up out of his chair and stood. “Ana is tired and she doesn’t know anything. If you have any more questions, we’ll be back at the ranch. We won’t be staying here much longer. ”

  “Just tell me this. Was he involved in the attacks on Kaya and my sister?” Sheriff McIntyre said.

  Connor ignored the question and strode toward the door. Standing by it, he waited until the sheriff muttered a low curse and stalked out.

  He paused by the entrance and turned back to Connor. “I need to know. Did that bastard Taggart try to hurt my sister?”

  Connor’s eyes narrowed a fraction. “If he’d gone after your sister, she’d be dead. So would you, likely. Taggart’s a piece of shit but I don’t think he’s dumb enough to attack a cop’s sister. ” But Taggart was ballsy enough to mess with Ana. He wouldn’t be a problem for very long. Connor couldn’t know for sure if the two humans who’d gone after Ana were involved with Taggart and he didn’t really care. The beast inside him wanted blood. And he was going to get it.

  Sheriff McIntyre shook his head and strode down the hall. His shoes squeaked loudly across the terrazzo.

  “Connor, when can we get out of here? I don’t like being in this place. It smells like death. ” Ana’s frustrated voice cut through the air, jerking him out of his thoughts.

  When he turned back she was shoving off the covers and trying to sit up. “Damn it, woman. Don’t move. ” He hurried to her side and pressed a gentle hand to her noninjured shoulder. “I’ll take care of this. Just give me a few minutes. ”

  She stuck her chin out mutinously, as if she thought he didn’t want to get her out of there as much as she wanted to be gone.

  He knew the hospital staff would likely fight him but he didn’t care. He didn’t want her there, exposed, longer than she had to be. That was the problem in mingling with humans. Too many people had access to her. She’d heal better surrounded by her pack anyway.

  Ana tried to hide her groan as they pulled up to the gate, but Connor knew she was in pain. He’d taken great care in driving her home but the bumps in the road still had to hurt. The gunshot wound hurt worse than anything, though. He knew because he’d been in her shoes more than once. The wound would burn as if someone had poured scorching lava on her skin.

  “Are you sure you won’t take any painkillers?” Connor asked as he put the vehicle in PARK. Part of him wanted to force her to. He hated seeing her suffering. The doctor had given him a small supply of pain meds and a prescription to fill later.

  “Maybe later,” she muttered through clenched teeth.

  But he knew she wouldn’t. Just as he wouldn’t. She didn’t want anything to dull her senses. Shifters had a higher tolerance for pain, but she was still hurting. He could see it clearly on her face.

  He was surprised the hospital staff had let her go so quickly, but maybe they didn’t want to deal with a shifter in their ward. He didn’t know or care what their reasoning was. “I’ve already called and let your sisters know what happened. ”

  “How are Carmen and Teresa?”

  “Carmen’s better. Teresa …” He checked the rearview mirror and stopped when he saw Vivian paying attention. “She’s hanging in there. ”

  “I’ll see her tonight after the burial ceremony for Alicia. Listen, I don’t want to go to the ceremony in a wheelchair. ” He understood that she didn’t want everyone to know the extent of her injuries, but there was no way around it.

  She’d been knocked out in the hospital for hours after the accident so her bones were already fusing back together, but it would be a couple days before she’d completely heal or be able to shift to her wolf form.

  “I’ll take care of you, Ana. ” How could she not know that? He felt as if years of his life had been shaved off in the past few hours. When he’d seen her bleeding and barely moving in that truck, he’d hardly been able to contain his inner wolf from acting. The need to kill had been overwhelming and it had scared the shit out of him. Being mated had already changed his life in more ways than one. He was so used to being in control of himself, but with Ana around his world had shifted dramatically. It made him wonder how much stronger his need
to protect would be when—if—they became bondmates.

  As he got out of the truck, Liam yanked open the gate and rushed at him. Before he could respond, his brother wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into a tight hug. “I’m sorry about Ana. We’ll find who did this. ”

  Surprised by his brother’s sudden show of affection, Connor returned the embrace before stepping back. “Thank you, brother. ”

  “I know I haven’t been around …” He cleared his throat once but held his gaze. “I’m here for you. If anything were to happen to Ana—”

  “It won’t. ” Connor didn’t like to even say it aloud, let alone think it. “The sheriff said he knows who did this. ”

  “Well, now, so do we. Ryan hacked into their system. Two men were just entered into the system for driving under the influence, reckless driving and opening fire in a public place. They might not have enough to charge them with attempted murder, so they’re hauling them down for questioning. A good lawyer could argue they weren’t intending to hurt Ana and Vivian, but just out drunk and joyriding and weren’t shooting at anyone. Even if they make the charges stick, they’ll still be let out on bond before their trial—if it even gets that far. ”

  “You have names?”

  “And addresses. One of them has a rich daddy. I doubt he’ll be held long. Probably be out on bail in a day or two. ”

  Connor glanced at Ana through the windshield. Her dark eyes narrowed as if she knew exactly what they were talking about, so he turned back to his brother and lowered his voice. “Don’t say anything to Ana. We’ll handle this our way. ”

  Liam nodded, then looked over his shoulder into the truck. “Want me to drive the truck into the garage? I’ll take care of Vivian too. She looks like she’s about to bounce off the walls in there. ”

  “Yeah. ” Connor rounded the vehicle, then opened Ana’s door. Walking her to the house would be less stressful on her body than driving her.
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