Alpha instinct, p.43
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       Alpha Instinct, p.43

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 43

 

  He frowned. “No. This is real. Are you okay? You were thrashing around and calling Carmen’s name. ”

  She sat upright in bed, then reached over him for her cell phone. Snatching it up from the nightstand, she started to dial, but he placed a hand over hers.

  “What are you doing?”

  “I need to call my sister. ”

  Thankfully he didn’t try to stop her. The sun had already fully risen so she wasn’t too surprised when Carmen answered on the second ring.

  “What’s up, Ana?”

  “I take it I didn’t wake you?”

  “Um, no. Vivian kicks like a freaking horse. I woke up about an hour ago. This is the last time I’m sharing a bed with that little she-cat. ”

  Ana smiled at her sister’s testy voice. Just hearing it soothed her after the nightmare she’d had. “This is going to sound weird, but you need to stay inside today. ”

  “What?”

  “I had a weird dream last night about you. Just don’t go into the woods. Promise me you won’t. ” She could hear the desperation in her own voice but didn’t care.

  “For how long? And what if I want to run?”

  “Are you really going to give me attitude?”

  Carmen sniffed haughtily. “I’m not a child. You can’t just order me around without giving me a reason. ”

  “A lot is going on right now, in case you hadn’t noticed. Don’t be stubborn just because you can. If you insist on being stupid, then take someone with you—one of the warriors. Just don’t go into the woods alone. Please, hermanita. ” She rarely used the endearment, but she sensed her sister soften immediately.

  “Fine. I promise I won’t go into the woods alone. ”

  Ana hadn’t realized she was hunched over, but at her sister’s words she could feel the tension leave her shoulders. “Thank you. ”

  “I just made a full pot of coffee so if you and Connor want to come over, feel free. If you’re lucky I’ll cook for you. ”

  “We’ll be there in a little while. ”

  As soon as they disconnected Connor plucked the phone from her hand. “What was that about? What dream?” Concern etched across every groove and line of his handsome face.

  “I had an intense dream about Carmen last night. ” She wasn’t sure she wanted to tell him about Matt’s presence in her head just yet but she also didn’t want to lie to him.

  Lying back against the pillow, Connor pulled her with him so that she was snuggled up in the crook of his shoulder. He ran a soothing hand down her back, tracing along the hollow of her spine. Just the feel of him stroking her went a long way to settling her nerves. “Tell me about it, love. ”

  He might not realize it, but when he called her love his voice softened. The sweet way he said it warmed her in a way she couldn’t afford to get used to. She quickly relayed the things she’d seen and even though she wanted to leave out the part about Matt, she knew she couldn’t. “Matt was in my head. In my dreams. Well, technically I was in his dreams. Or I think so anyway. It was a little confusing. He told me there’s a coyote in our midst and we need to be careful. He also said we need to do something about Taggart’s drug running. He said that if we don’t feral wolves will become a problem for the town, which will become a big problem for our survival. I also saw an image of Carmen … dying. It was beyond disturbing. ” She kept the explanation as brief as possible, knowing Connor would understand her meaning.

  Connor stiffened underneath her. “That bastard was in your head?”

  She sighed. Of course he would ask about that first. “Connor, if he’s warning me to keep my sister safe I don’t think he’s out to hurt us. ”

  “You don’t know that. ” His voice was a soft growl.

  “It’s not like I can help that he was in my head. ”

  He sighed and his grip tightened. “I know. I’m not angry at you. I hate the idea of that guy inside your dreams. ”

  “Carmen said she made coffee if we want to stop by. ” She hoped changing the subject would lighten his mood. It was too early to argue and her dream had really spooked her.

  “Sounds good. How are you feeling?”

  She shrugged against him. “Better but still sore. I think it’ll take another day or two before I can shift. ”

  He kissed the top of her head and smoothed a hand down her hair in a sweet, possessive gesture. “The men who did this are going to pay, love. ”

  That’s what she was afraid of.

  Chapter 17

  “You don’t have to do this. ” Liam spoke for the first time since they’d left the ranch. Connor’s brother had been unusually quiet as they trekked through the woods.

  “Don’t I?” Connor hated the silent accusation he’d seen in Ana’s eyes as he and Liam had left the ranch but he couldn’t help what they had to do. This was who he was, and someone had gone after his mate. Would have killed her if the cops hadn’t come along.

  “I’m just saying. The men will—”

  “The men won’t think less of me if I don’t defend my mate?” He shook his head. It was bullshit. Liam knew just as well as he did that as Alpha he had to keep order. Maintain power. Hell, if he didn’t go after these guys, he wouldn’t be able to look at himself in the mirror. Two rapist bastards weren’t going to stop terrorizing women. It would only be a matter of time before they escalated their behavior—if they hadn’t already. His beast and human sides felt no guilt.

  They were silent as they continued on. Connor’s entire body tensed as the typical smells of the woods faded and more civilized scents like vehicle exhaust rolled over him. They’d be there soon. Eventually the pine trees thinned until they stood at a clearing.

  “That’s gotta be it. ” Liam set his backpack behind a tree and took off his sweater. He frowned at Connor when he didn’t move. “Aren’t you going to shift?”

  He shook his head. It might be barbaric, but he wanted to feel their bones crunch underneath his fists.

  The slight scent of smoke permeated the air. Like someone had let a fire dwindle down to nothing.

  According to Ryan both the men who’d attacked Ana and Vivian had been released on bail. He hadn’t realized that so many crimes—even violent ones, including those against children—had simple preset bails. It was a wonder humans ever kept anyone locked up. If they couldn’t keep these assholes in jail, he wasn’t waiting around for them to rape or kill or come after his pack again. Luckily one of the men they were looking for didn’t live in a regular neighborhood. His house—which his parents had bought for him—was set on an acre of land.

  Liam put his shirt back on and grabbed a small kit from his pack. “I say we go in the back door. ”

  Connor nodded as they started across the backyard. It wasn’t fenced in and there weren’t many trees, so they had to cross a lot of open space quickly.

  Once they reached the back door of the two-story Colonial-style house, Liam got to work with his lock-pick kit.

  In seconds the plain white door with the flimsy lock opened.

  I’m going to take the upstairs; you take down here, Connor projected as they stepped into the sterile kitchen. White tiles, white cabinets, and even stark white curtains on the small window above the sink. The only sign of life was a sink full of dirty dishes. The faint scent of old pizza and Chinese food lingered in the air. Probably from the trash can.

  Ryan had worked his magic and gotten them the layout of the house from county records or something. It gave them a slight advantage but Connor didn’t think they’d need it. From what he could scent, the house was empty. They searched it anyway.

  Once they’d swept each room and the garage, they met downstairs. Liam locked the back door as they stepped outside into the cold. “His car’s still in the garage and the engine is warm. ”

  “Maybe they’re at the other human’s house,” he muttered. They’d come to this house first because it wa
s closer to them and because it was more private. The other guy lived in a condo.

  They headed back across the yard. Connor froze when a scream tore through the air. It was muffled but definitely a woman’s voice.

  He looked at his brother. Without a word they both ran in the direction of the scream—a small, metal shedlike structure about twenty yards from the house.

  One of the two wide doors was slightly ajar and a heavy-duty lock hung open on the handle. Connor slipped it off, heaved his arm back and tossed it into the thick grass. When he opened the door farther he didn’t want it to bang against the metal.

  “What’s the matter, whore? Don’t want to play with us?” A man’s voice.

  “Yeah, shifters are good enough for you but not your own kind?” Another man.

  “You two are disgusting! The only way you can get a woman is to drug and rape her. ” The woman sounded terrified but also very pissed.

  Since there were no windows they couldn’t see inside. Connor motioned to his brother that he was going to open the door farther. They might have weapons so be alert.

  Liam nodded.

  Connor eased the door open just enough to slip through. Liam followed and pulled the door shut. With the overcast sky there was no sun to peek in and betray their presence.

  Quickly he drank in the room. Two men had their backs to them and a young woman, maybe in her late twenties, crouched against the wall. Her eyes were wide and she clutched a knife tightly in her hand. Her jeans were dirty and her blue sweater was split down the middle in a jagged tear.

  Connor spotted a large cage to his right. No doubt where they’d kept the woman. Against the left wall a flat bench with chains and cuffs was covered in dark stains. The scents of death, sex and blood invaded the air. Who knew how many people these monsters had hurt?

  The woman gasped when she saw them. Liam roared and before Connor realized it, his brother shifted form. Bones and ligaments cracked and tore as quickly as his clothing shredded. He’d never seen his brother change so fast.
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