Alpha instinct, p.45
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       Alpha Instinct, p.45

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 45

 

  Keeping pressure on the wound, he eased open the door and let Liam out first.

  Kat stopped him as he stepped out. “Thank you for saving my life, by the way. ”

  Pausing, he nodded once, then strode after his brother.

  Snow was starting to fall in icy flurries. If they hurried, it would cover their tracks before the cops arrived.

  She was an interesting human. Liam bounded along beside him.

  Interesting and pretty fucking brave.

  I hear that, brother. If humans are going after those who hook up with shifters, we might have a bigger problem than we originally anticipated. A touch of alarm edged Liam’s voice.

  Connor knew he was thinking about his own human, December, and he understood his brother’s fear. I’ll contact the Council again and see if they’ve been having similar problems around the country. Those two men could just be evil assholes acting alone, but she said she’d heard them talking to someone. A boss? That could mean serious trouble. He’d been contacting the Council a lot lately. That normally went against his nature, but if he wanted his pack to thrive the Council needed to be aware of any and all problems. At least in the beginning.

  But the truth was, in the past couple years there had been a growing fear among humans about their kind and vampires. Instead of the rampant terror expected twenty years ago, when shifters and vampires had revealed themselves to the world, it seemed there had been a delayed reaction to knowledge of their existence. Most shifters intermingled among humans on a semiregular basis, at least to shop for necessities, but almost all vampires still kept their distance. They didn’t need regular food to survive so even the interaction of shopping was eliminated. They had their own nightclubs and a startling amount of vampire groupies.

  Thanks to things like that, rumors and lies now had a chance to spread and take over, ruling people through fear. There would always be ignorant fools willing to latch on to blind hatred. If there were more people like the two men they’d just killed, they would definitely have a big problem. It wasn’t like shifters could go back into hiding.

  Chapter 18

  Connor put his truck in park and glanced at Liam. “I won’t be long. ”

  “I’m gonna head down to December’s. She should be open by now. ” His brother wasn’t asking.

  “We’ll meet back here, then. ” Connor understood his brother’s need to see his human. After witnessing what those monsters were planning to do to that woman—and finding out they might be working for someone—Liam had been jittery and agitated the entire drive to town. At least they’d brought an extra set of clothes.

  Liam stepped from the vehicle and slammed his door with more force than necessary. Everything about the quaint downtown was calm today. Soothing holiday music emanated from most of the stores. Couples and families strolled down the sidewalk, wearing winter coats and carrying brightly colored shopping bags. The peaceful scene was in direct opposition to the adrenaline still pumping through him.

  Liam strode with purpose down the sidewalk lining the strip of stores on Avalon Street, while Connor had to compose himself before entering Matt and Kaya’s store.

  A little bell jingled as he entered the gift shop. The scents of patchouli and sage hung in the air. Ana would probably be pissed when she found out he’d visited Matt, but he shoved aside the repercussions. He sidestepped a display of rugs and quilts with geometric designs as he moved through the store. He couldn’t see anyone but he sensed he wasn’t alone.

  “Are you here shopping or is this a personal visit?”

  Connor turned at the sound of Matt’s voice. He spotted him standing next to a display of turquoise jewelry. “Anyone else in the store?”

  “Why? You plan to kill me, wolf man?”

  He bit back a growl. “Stay out of Ana’s head. ”

  “Or what?”

  “Just stay the hell away from her. I don’t know what you’re up to, but if I find out you had anything to do with these poisonings, I’ll kill you myself. ”

  The other man didn’t flinch at his words. Without looking at him he adjusted an intricate beaded necklace on a mannequin bust. “I had nothing to do with the poisonings. Don’t let your baseless jealousy get in the way of your common sense. ”

  “Jealousy?”

  Now Matt looked at him, his dark eyes far too knowing for Connor’s taste. “I’m not saying you’re jealous of me. You love Ana but you’re unwilling to tell her. This anger you have with me is misplaced and I think it’s something you’re already aware of. ”

  Connor’s throat seized. He wanted to argue with Matt. Walk away from him. Maybe punch him. But his curiosity got the better of him. “How do you know I haven’t told her I love her?”

  Matt shrugged but avoided answering directly. “Don’t let old fears and insecurities get in the way of your happiness. ”

  Insecurities? Connor started to scoff but held back. It disturbed him that the other man could read him so well. They’d only interacted a few times yet Matt seemed to understand him better than most of his pack. “How do you … ?” He caught himself before he finished. He wasn’t going to admit anything to this stranger.

  But Matt didn’t let him off easily. “Call it an educated guess. I know you left Ana before—I’ve seen it in my dreams. I don’t know why you left, but I’ve seen the way you look at her—like she’s the best birthday present you’ve ever received—so you must have had a damn good reason to go. And you act jealous for no reason so I know you’re not. Not truly. You’re insecure about something. My guess is it has something to do with the reason you left the first time. ”

  Connor frowned as he digested Matt’s words. He was having a hard time remembering why he’d even come to the store, when one of the dream catchers hanging from the ceiling swayed against a vent. “Just stay out of Ana’s dreams,” he muttered before stalking from the store.

  Liam wasn’t at the truck yet so he called Ana. It had been only a couple hours but he already missed her voice.

  She picked up on the second ring. “Hey. ”

  Suddenly he felt like an inexperienced, tongue-tied cub working up the courage to talk to the girl he liked. Except Ana was no girl. She was all woman. His woman. “Hey. ”

  “Is everything okay?”

  “Yeah. ”

  “Did you— Is it done?”

  “I don’t want to talk about that. ” He hated that she even knew where he’d gone that morning.

  “Then why are you calling?”

  “I just wanted to check on you. ” And to hear your voice.

  “Well, I’m fine. ” Her voice was clipped, distant.

  “What’s wrong?”

  “You mean other than the fact that you went off to kill some humans this morning despite knowing it could hurt the entire pack? And the fact that you won’t even talk to me about it?” Now there was no distance. Just boiling anger.

  “Damn it, Ana. I’m your Alpha and I’m doing this to protect you. These are my decisions to make. Mine alone. ”

  “So you just want me to fall in line and agree with everything you do?”

  “I didn’t say that. ”

  “Well, you’re sure as hell not denying it,” she shot back.

  He scrubbed a hand over his face. How had this even started? He’d just wanted to check on her, hear her voice. “Why are we fighting, Ana?”

  Her frustrated sigh filled the line. “Because you won’t open up to me about anything and I’m sick of it. You and your brother just make decisions, and you don’t include me when you meet with the males of your pack. I’m your mate. I thought you said we were supposed to be a team. When you first got here you told everyone that if you weren’t around they were supposed to come to me. How can anyone believe that when you don’t even include me in your stupid meetings! After last night I realized I can’t live like this. I can’t be mated to someone who won’t even talk to me.


  Her words pierced him straight in the chest because they were true. He hadn’t even thought to include her. He just wanted to protect her. Keep her safe. “Ana—”

  “I’m not finished! I only asked you once when you first arrived, and I think I’ve been pretty damn patient about waiting for you to come to me on your own. Especially considering your stupid demand that I become your bondmate, without giving me any reason to trust you. We’re mated now, I’ve let you into my bed and I’ve given all of myself that I possibly can based on what you’ve given me. Why did you leave all those years ago? And how do I know I can trust you not to leave again? Did you mate with someone else? Did she die? Did you break up? Am I your second choice? Is that what you’re too afraid to tell me?” Her voice shook at the last question.

  He hadn’t wanted to do this now. Or ever. He’d known it was inevitable but he’d still been hoping to avoid this. “I didn’t mate with anyone else! It’s always been you, Ana. I wanted you fifty years ago, so much it scared me. I went to your father and asked him for permission to take you as my mate. He told me no and that if I mated with you anyway he’d kick you out of your pack forever. That you’d never be able to see your sisters, mother or cousins again. ” Once the confession started, the words just poured from him.

  “Liar! My father knew how much I cared for you. He saw how much your leaving tore me up. For all I know you really were just a coward and didn’t want the commitment of a mate. If you wanted some stupid, gullible mate maybe you should have chosen someone else instead. ”

  “Maybe I should have!” As soon as the words escaped, he wanted to cut out his own tongue. He didn’t mean it. “Ana, I—”

  She hung up on him.

  “Shit,” he muttered. Connor hit his speed dial but it went straight to her voice mail. He tried again. Voice mail again.

  He banged his fist against the steering column. He loved Ana. Why the hell had he said that? After all she’d been through and all she meant to him, hurting her was the last thing he ever wanted to do. He projected to his brother. Liam, whatever you’re doing, you better get back to the truck. We’ve gotta get back to the ranch now.

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