Alpha instinct, p.36
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       Alpha Instinct, p.36

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 36

 

  “What were you two whispering about?”

  “He just wanted to know how you were doing. Now lean forward. ”

  Muttering under her breath, she did as he said. “I know when you’re lying. ”

  Slipping his hands under her legs and around her back, he eased her from the truck. She fit against him perfectly. When she laid her head on his shoulder, he had to remind himself she was real. She wasn’t lying dead on the side of the road.

  “What’s wrong?” Ana murmured against his neck, her breath warm and soft.

  “Nothing. ”

  He could feel her smile against his neck. “Are you going to lie about everything tonight?”

  “When I heard that scream in my head I …” His throat squeezed painfully tight as he tried to finish the thought. It still baffled him he’d even been able to hear her since they weren’t bondmates, but he wasn’t going to question the fates. The only thing that mattered was that he had heard her and she was alive in his arms.

  She didn’t need him to. “I’m still here, Connor. And I’m not going anywhere. ”

  The reality didn’t do anything to quell his fears. When he closed his eyes all he could see was her in that truck, barely moving and bloody.

  “Loosen that grip, buddy. ” Ana’s voice was strained.

  Immediately he relaxed his hold. “Sorry. ”

  Once he got her upstairs and into their room, he pulled the covers back and laid her against the sheet and pillows. He wanted to stay with her, but now was the time to act. His men needed answers and to nail down their plan of attack. Someone had gone after an Alpha’s mate. My mate. Human or not, the punishment would be brutal and swift.

  Without bothering to pull the covers the rest of the way down, he stretched out next to her. She would heal. He could see that with his own eyes. But the animal inside him howled. It desperately wanted to ease her pain. “Please take a few of the pills. ” He pulled out the small packet the doctor had given him.

  “It’s not gonna happen so just drop it. And you can toss that prescription because I’m not going to be filling it either. ”

  He quieted, knowing he shouldn’t upset her at a time like this. She needed to save her strength. “What do you want me to get for you? I can grab some bottled water from downstairs or—”

  “Connor, I just need sleep, and I know there’s stuff you need to take care of. Please don’t worry about me. As soon as you leave I’ll rest. ”

  “I want to stay with you—”

  “I understand, Connor. Go talk to everyone, please. They have a right to know what’s going on. Too much has happened in the past couple days and we don’t want rumors or panic starting. I need to sleep anyway. ”

  Her eyes were drooping low so he knew she was telling the truth. And she was right. He needed to do some damage control. Once word spread that she’d been attacked rumors and fears would grow and spread like wildfire among the pack. He set her cell phone on the nightstand within reaching distance. “If you need anything, call me. ”

  “I’m not going to bug you. ”

  “Promise me you’ll call. I’m not leaving the ranch so I won’t be far. ”

  Her dark eyes flared for a moment. “You’re not leaving the ranch?”

  He shook his head.

  “Then promise me you won’t go after the men who attacked us later. ”

  “They’re in custody right now. ”

  “That’s not a promise. ” Her voice was wry.

  “No, it’s not. ” Leaning forward, he pressed a kiss to her forehead, then her mouth. Her soft lips parted on a sigh and he swept his tongue into her mouth, tasting her sweetness. His cock started to lengthen and shame burned through him at his instinctive reaction. She was injured and laid up in bed. He shouldn’t want to jump her.

  Somehow he pulled back. “Call me if you need anything,” he rasped out before hurrying from the room. At that moment he wanted to tell her how much he cared for her. That he loved her. But he didn’t. He wanted her head clear when he admitted it, and if he was honest with himself, he wasn’t sure he was ready for her response. If she didn’t return his feelings … an uncomfortable pain lanced through his chest at the thought.

  As he descended the stairs, Liam’s voice sounded clear in his head. Brother, you’re gonna want to get out here. Take a guess which dumb-ass shifter has the balls to be cruising up our driveway right now.

  Taggart. Connor didn’t have to guess. Tempering his desire to fight, he strode across the yard. Liam and Ryan stood by the main gate and a few of his men were scattered around the yard. Not all of them were visible, though. He might not be able to see them but they were all there. Waiting for his command.

  Ready to kill Taggart, if necessary.

  Digging his fingers into his palms, he stopped by the gate where his brother stood. Opening it would imply they were inviting him in. That wasn’t happening.

  “He is one dumb shit. ” Liam shook his head as Taggart got out of his truck.

  Another male followed suit and exited from the passenger’s side. No doubt his second-in-command. Connor kept his focus on the tall blond Alpha instead. As far as shifters went Taggart was on the lean side. Almost lanky. Strong, though. Just by looking at him Connor knew why he was Alpha of his pack. Dominance and power rippled off the conniving lupine shifter.

  “What the hell are you doing here?” he spit out as Taggart neared him.

  “Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

  Next to him Liam growled deep in his throat, but Connor motioned for him to back down. He didn’t want a fight today. His pack already had enough to worry about without him challenging another Alpha. “State your business, then get off my land. ”

  “Your land? Not long ago this was Cordona property. If Ana’s father could see you now he’d roll over in his grave. That proper son of a bitch would hate that she’s with a mutt like you. Everyone knows your own father couldn’t even keep your pack protected. Are you just as weak as him?”

  The taunt about his father sliced through him but Connor forced himself to remain calm. It stung as much as the knowledge that Ana’s father actually had despised him, but he doubted Taggart knew that. The other wolf was just trying to piss him off. “Talk or we’ll force you off. ”

  Taggart’s dark eyes narrowed dangerously. “Fine. You killed one of my men. ”

  “What the hell are you talking about? Are you talking about the feral wolf that nearly attacked Ana?”

  “Who says he was feral?”

  Connor took a step forward, thankful the gate provided a barrier, even if it wasn’t much. “You know he was. And the real question is, Why? What shit are you into that would cause one of your own to become feral? You turning humans for sport, or maybe your wolves are into drugs?” Even though he knew the answer he wanted to see Taggart’s reaction.

  The other Alpha paused, likely wondering how much Connor actually knew. “I have no clue what you’re talking about. You killed one of my wolves and you owe me. I’ll take a portion of your land as payment. Simple as that. ”

  “Not gonna happen. You got a problem, take it up with the Council. ”

  “I will,” Taggart spat.

  “Good. They’ll be expecting your call. I’ve already let them know about the feral wolf on our land and your illegal activities. If I were you, I’d keep my nose clean, or you might be getting a visit from one of their investigators soon. Or maybe from the enforcer. ”

  Taggart’s brown eyes darkened until the whites of his eyes were nearly invisible.

  Connor resisted the urge to smile. He’d definitely hit a sore spot. The Council wouldn’t necessarily stop anyone from engaging in illegal activities, but they’d make Taggart’s life hell if he brought extra heat from the humans. And running drugs was guaranteed to do that. Bringing the enforcer in for a visit was sure to screw up Taggart’s little operation. The investigators wer
e usually a precursor to the enforcer’s visit. Once Jayce Kazan—the only enforcer in North America—came around, it was time to clean house. Not always, but that’s usually what happened.

  “You’re full of shit,” Taggart growled.

  Connor didn’t answer. Just stared at him and let the other Alpha feel the truth of his words. Taggart could call the Council and try to convince them the wolf Connor had killed hadn’t been feral, but in response they’d definitely send down a team to investigate his claims. And when they did, they’d find Taggart’s meth house. It would be destroyed not out of a sense of morality, but because it made them easier targets for the humans. Something Taggart knew.

  “You tell the humans about my business too?” Taggart asked, not even bothering to deny it now.

  He shook his head. “Hell, no. And if you’re smart you’ll stay away from them. ” Connor might detest Taggart but he didn’t want the other wolf messing with the locals. It would reflect badly on all shifters, and if Taggart hurt Liam’s human woman, it would start a war.

  “This isn’t over, Connor. You owe me. ”

  “If you’re smart, you’ll walk away right now. That kill was justified and you know it. If you want to challenge me, you know where to find me. ” Connor let the words hang in the air, but Taggart didn’t even pause or acknowledge them.

  Taggart nodded at his man and they headed back to the truck.

  “You already contacted the Council?” Liam asked as the truck steered down the drive.

  “Yep. ” Something his brother would have known if he’d been around.

  “Connor, I, uh, I’m sorry. ”

  He turned to face his brother. “For what?”

  Liam scrubbed a hand over his face. “You gonna make me grovel?”

  “I’m thinking about it. ”

  “I deserve it,” his brother muttered.

  “Yeah, you do. So are you with us now?”
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