Alpha instinct, p.44
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       Alpha Instinct, p.44

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 44

 

  The two men turned, weapons drawn. One had a knife; the other a gun. Connor dove at the blond-haired man holding the gun.

  He fired but the shot was wild, unsteady.

  Connor tackled him to the ground. He was vaguely aware of the gun skidding away, but his animal side was threatening to take over. Calling on the strength of his human side he pushed down the beast and slammed his fist into the man’s face.

  The blond man was surprisingly strong. He took the hit and rolled onto his side before jumping back to his feet.

  “Who the fuck are you?” he snarled.

  Connor couldn’t answer for fear he’d change. If he even said Ana’s name or let this man know why he’d come after him, his inner wolf would take over. Not that he cared about killing the guy. He just wanted it to happen on even footing, and that could only be in his human form. Out of the corner of his eye he could see that Liam had the other man backed into a corner. His brother growled and snapped at him but he wasn’t attacking. No, he’d leave that to Connor. Liam just wanted to make sure this was one-on-one.

  “Felix, what the hell is going on, man?” The man in the corner trembled as he spoke.

  Closing the few feet between them, Connor jabbed Felix in the stomach. Hard and swift. The man was in good shape but he grunted at the impact.

  Swinging out, he tried to punch Connor, but Connor had speed on his side. Ducking out of the way, Connor delivered another punch. This one harder. The uppercut to Felix’s jaw made a crunching sound he savored.

  Felix howled as his head jerked back. Rage and something else—lust—rolled off him.

  Connor bit back bile as he realized the other man got off on pain. He was actually enjoying this.

  Felix’s eyes glittered and a taunting smile stretched his bloody lips. “That all you got?”

  When Connor didn’t respond and instead slammed his bent elbow against the guy’s jaw, a healthy dose of fear ripped through the air.

  Connor’s inner beast roared in satisfaction. He wanted the guy terrified. Wanted the human to know Connor was the fucking boogeyman come to life and he was going to pay for what he’d done.

  Lifting his fists to protect his face, the man dodged a blow. “What the hell, man? You want the woman for yourself? Fucking take her!”

  Connor struck again. This time he pummeled the man’s ribs and he didn’t hold back. As Felix tried to deflect the blows a shot rang through the air.

  The loud, booming split stilled everything in the room.

  The man who’d been hovering in the corner opened his mouth in a wide gasp as he looked down at his chest. Crimson flowed out of a gaping hole directly in the middle of his chest. He lifted a hand to the wound but his eyes rolled back in his head as he slumped to the floor in a bloody heap.

  Holy shit. Liam’s voice sounded in Connor’s head.

  He faced the woman. Her hands barely shook, but when she met his eyes he realized she’d never taken a life before.

  She swiveled the weapon in his direction. Her pale blue eyes stared blindly so he didn’t move. Getting shot wouldn’t kill him but it would make him momentarily immobile, and he couldn’t take the chance of Felix getting the upper hand. Even if Liam did have his back. This kill belonged to him.

  “Oh, my … I can’t believe …” A heavy shudder overtook her as she released the weapon.

  It clattered to the floor. Before the human male made the move, Connor knew Felix was going to dive for the gun.

  Connor lunged at him.

  As the human’s fingers grasped the weapon, Connor fell on top of him, pinning him to the ground.

  Another shot rang out. A ping ricocheted off the interior wall.

  The woman screamed and hit the floor. Connor grabbed the man’s arm but he still grasped the weapon tightly in his hand.

  Bang. Another shot, then another ricochet.

  Something burned the side of Connor’s upper arm. Instinctively he let go and rolled onto his back. But before the man could move, Connor raised his elbow and slammed it into his temple. He hit him so hard he could feel the jarring straight to his bones.

  The gun fell from the man’s hands and his body slumped against the cement-slab floor.

  Is he alive? Liam asked.

  Connor crouched by the body. No pulse. Nope.

  When he stood to his full height, the woman backed away until she hit the wall. He held up his hands in what he hoped was a peaceful gesture. “We’re not going to hurt you. ”

  Grasping the edges of her sweater, she pulled it together to cover herself. She looked surprisingly calm. “I know. ”

  “How long have you been here?”

  “Since yesterday morning … I think. What day is it?”

  “Wednesday. ”

  “Since yesterday, then. They jumped me when I was leaving the grocery store. My boyfriend is … was a lupine shifter. Somehow they knew that and wanted to hurt me because of it. I think they were going to try to use me to trap him or something. I heard them talking to someone on the phone—it sounded like their boss—and they were supposed to bring me to him, but I guess they decided they wanted to have fun with me first. I was pretty drugged up when I heard them talking so I can’t tell you much more than that. ”

  “So, they killed your boyfriend?” Connor growled.

  She snorted as if the thought was ludicrous. “No. I just meant we broke up a while ago. He doesn’t even live near here. I don’t know how they even know who I am, but they told me I was a shifter whore and they planned to teach me a lesson. ” At her own words she wrapped her arms tighter around herself and shuddered. “If you hadn’t come along I don’t even want to think about what would have happened. ”

  “Did they … were you hurt?” Despite his desire to leave the police out of this, he knew this woman needed help. Probably medical.

  “They roughed me up a little before they left yesterday but they didn’t rape me, if that’s what you’re asking. They sure as hell planned to, though,” she muttered.

  He cleared his throat and tried to choose his next words carefully. “Why did you shoot the other one?”

  “I’m not the first woman they’ve taken here. They were very explicit in what they’d done to other women and what they were going to do to me. ” Her eyes glinted defiantly. “I’m not sorry. I don’t know what that says about me, but I’m not. ”

  What the hell are we going to do? Liam asked.

  Killing them was self-defense. And she’s seen us. We can get our stories straight and I’ll take the blame for shooting that guy. We’ve got to call the cops.

  “You two should probably get out of here. ” She bent next to Felix’s dead body and fished around in his back pocket until she pulled out a phone.

  Liam growled, mirroring Connor’s sentiments. “What?”

  Her dark eyebrows rose. She stared at him as if he were stupid. “I’m gonna call the cops. You two need to be gone by the time they get here…. Where is here, by the way?”

  Alarm pricked the back of his neck. This felt too easy. That normally meant a trap. “Why are you so calm about this? And why do you want us gone?”

  Her cheeks tinged bright pink. “My last name is Saburova. ”

  The name tickled something familiar in the back of his brain. He couldn’t place it though. “And?”

  “My father is … I’m no stranger to violence. I mean, I’ve never killed anyone or anything but this isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen. Not even close. Besides, I know what the cops will do to you. No matter what I say or how evil these two assholes were, they’ll find a way to blame you somehow. And even if they let you go, people will blame you because of who you are. I don’t want that hanging over my head. ”

  “You’re a strange human. ” Connor spoke before he could censor himself.

  To his surprise, a grin lit up her bruised face. “And you’re bleeding. Get out of here
and make sure you take all your stuff with you. ” She motioned toward Liam’s ripped clothing.

  Can we trust her? Liam’s voice was a low growl in his head.

  I think so, brother. “What are you going to tell the cops?”

  “That they didn’t want to share me so that one”—she pointed to the man she’d shot—“beat his buddy to death. He lost his gun in the process, and when he tried to attack me I shot him. ”

  The story could work, but he didn’t like the thought of leaving her to deal with the cops on her own.

  As if she had read his mind, she shook her head. “I have no reason to lie and I’ve been missing long enough that my friends will be worried. I need to call the cops now. And you really need to leave before you get blood anywhere. ”

  His wound was already starting to heal but he nodded. “Fine. If you need anything or get into any trouble, I’m Connor Armstrong and this is my brother, Liam. We just settled at the Cordona ranch. ”

  Her eyes widened slightly. “I’ve heard of you. ”

  For a human she was surprisingly at ease around them. And the fact that she’d heard of him and his brother meant she’d done more than just date a shifter. Whoever she’d been with, they must have been fairly serious. “What’s your first name?”

  She paused for a moment, then shrugged. “Katarina. But since you saved my life, you can call me Kat. I’m a ski instructor—among other things—at Fontana Mountain Resort, if you ever want to look me up. ”

  He nodded and gathered the rest of his brother’s torn clothes and one of the bullets. After a quick scan of the small shed, he was certain they hadn’t left anything behind. His shoulder burned where the ricocheting bullet had nicked him but he wasn’t gushing blood. Still, he looked around and sighed when he spotted a spray bottle of bleach. These fuckers had likely used it to clean up their DNA. He handed the bottle to her. “You know what to do with this?”

  She nodded. “I’ll tell the cops that one tried to clean up after himself before I shot him. They won’t know you were here. ”

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