Alpha instinct, p.46
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       Alpha Instinct, p.46

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 46

 

  It was time to set things straight between himself and Ana once and for all. If he had to face her rejection, he’d deal with it. He loved the stubborn she-wolf and she needed to know.

  Liam hurried down the sidewalk toward December’s store. After her brush-off on the phone yesterday he wasn’t sure he’d get the best reception but he didn’t care. Those sick humans had targeted that woman because she’d dated a shifter. Technically he and December weren’t even dating but she’d been seen out in public with him. And someone had attacked her in her own home. Someone obviously knew that she meant something to him, even if he meant nothing to her. After what Katarina had said about those men using her to trap her ex-boyfriend, he figured this might be completely about him or hurting his pack. December could just be a pawn in all this—whatever this was. After her assault the other night it was obvious she’d landed on someone’s radar.

  As he entered the store her subtle jasmine scent wrapped around him. The place was empty, though. Frowning, he strode through the store, past the cash register and into the back room. Boxes of opened books filled a couple shelves, and shipping boxes and materials sat on a table in the middle of the room. The back door was slightly ajar.

  He knew he was acting stalkerish by rushing into her storeroom unannounced and uninvited. He didn’t care. Nudging the back door open with his foot, he peered out. When he saw December tossing a garbage bag into the green Dumpster, he nearly sagged against the doorframe.

  Not wanting to freak her out, he inched back, but froze when he spotted a hooded man peering out from behind the Dumpster. December’s back was turned to him as she walked toward the store.

  Thinking it might be a homeless man, he waited. But when the man slowly crept out from behind the Dumpster with a gleaming knife in hand, Liam shoved the door open.

  “Liam,” December gasped.

  She held a startled hand to her throat, but he rushed past her. Whoever this guy was, he wasn’t getting away this time.

  Still holding the knife, the guy straightened when he spotted Liam. He started to charge, then thought better of it. Turning, the guy ran a few feet, but Liam didn’t give him a chance. With lightning speed he crossed the distance and tackled him to the ground. The knife clattered next to his head.

  The man howled in pain as Liam shoved him face-first onto the dirty asphalt. “Get off me. ”

  Liam dug his knee into the man’s back and kept his wrists securely behind his back. The man struggled but it was useless. “What the hell are you doing behind this lady’s store with a knife?”

  “Fuck you,” he gasped out.

  Aware of December behind him, he half turned. “Grab some packing tape. ” When she disappeared inside, he slammed the guy’s head against the asphalt. “Answer the question or I kill you now. ”

  “You’re a fucking animal. ”

  “You got that right,” he growled, fighting back his inner wolf. “Now, what are you doing here?” Still holding his wrists, he increased pressure on one of the guy’s thumbs, bending it back at an excruciating angle.

  He howled in pain again. “Shit, man. I was just following orders. ”

  “Taggart’s?” He bent his thumb back farther.

  “Who—? No, man. I was just supposed to grab this bitch. ”

  At the word bitch, Liam snapped his thumb. He’d only meant to scare him, but this guy wanted to hurt December.

  The man screamed again as December ran back outside, carrying a roll of thick tape. Her blue eyes were bright and frightened as she handed it to him. “Liam, what’s going on?”

  “Go back inside and call your brother. ”

  She stared at him hard. “Liam, your eyes are … What’s wrong with your eyes?” Her voice quavered.

  He cursed under his breath and turned away from her. “Call your brother!”

  He heard her shoes pound against the ground as she practically sprinted back inside. She was probably more terrified of him than the guy on the ground. He knew what his eyes looked like when he was angry. Right now he was fighting the change. He’d barely managed to leash it. The only thing keeping him in human form was December. He never wanted to scare or hurt her. Unfortunately his dark eyes were likely completely black now, with not a fleck of white showing. He probably looked like a fucking demon to her.

  Beneath him the man still cried and whined about his broken thumb. Liam needed to get information out of him before the cops got there. After binding his wrists, he pulled out the guy’s wallet. When he tugged the license out, a business card and a couple pictures fell out.

  Liam grabbed the guy’s hoodie and yanked it back. That’s when he saw the swastika tattoo on his neck. “So you just hate everyone, don’t you?”

  “Man, what do you want to know?”

  “For starters, why the hell were you here with a knife? Who told you to take this woman?”

  “He’ll kill me if I tell you. ”

  Liam snorted as he flipped over the driver’s license and read the man’s name and address. “I’ll kill you, Mr. William Braun. And everyone you’ve ever met. Got kids? A wife? You want that blood on your hands?” He’d never kill any innocent women and kids, but if this guy thought he was a mindless killer the power of that fear would get him the answers he wanted. And he didn’t have time to waste.

  “Adler. Edward Adler. He’s the leader of our local group. ”

  Liam grasped his other thumb and twisted. “And that would be?”

  “Antiparanormal League. APL. ”

  Liam paused. “That’s a real thing? It’s not even clever. ”

  “Whatever, man. Just kill me now. When Adler finds out I gave him up, I’m dead. Fucking dead. ”

  “Why is he after December? She’s the sheriff’s sister. ” And more important, my mate. If someone went after her again, a broken thumb would be the least of his worries.

  “He wants anyone connected to shifters or vamps taken. I don’t know his plans, man. He takes orders from someone else. That much I do know. ”

  Liam filed that bit of information away. “You know two guys named Felix Carr and Bennett Harrison?”

  He squirmed against the ground, so Liam dug his knee in harder. “Yeah, I know those crazy assholes. They were supposed to do some bag-and-grab work for Adler with some chick but they disobeyed his orders. Didn’t bring her in like they were supposed to. ”

  “And why is that?” Liam already knew the answer but he wanted to see how honest this guy would be.

  “They’re part of the same group as me but we don’t run in the same circles, if you get what I’m saying. I’m no rapist. Adler never should have recruited them in the first place. They don’t care about our cause …” He trailed off as if he realized who he was talking to.

  “So you’re not a rapist—you just deliver innocent women to a bunch of crazy radicals. What do you think your boss Adler would have done to her? What the hell’s the matter with you? You’ve got two daughters. ”

  When he stiffened, Liam plucked one of the fallen pictures from the ground. Two young girls with curly blond hair cheesed it up for the camera. He shoved it in his face. “I’m assuming these are yours. Adler’s never going to find out about our conversation as long as the cops don’t find out either. You got me?”

  William nodded, rubbing his face against the ground.

  “Say it,” he growled. “I don’t care what you tell them. Tell them you wanted to rob her or whatever, but if you tell them the name of your boss, I will come back and kill you. I’ve got your name and your scent. I’ll never forget it either. ”

  “I won’t say a word. I swear. ”

  Another thought settled in his mind. Sirens blared loudly in the distance. Liam’s heart rate sped up. “Were you the one who broke into her house?”

  He shook his head again. “No. That was Chuck. He’s … dead. He was supposed to get her and that old Indian woman but he failed.
I don’t know for sure, but I think Adler killed him for his failures. ”

  When two cop cars zoomed into the back alley, Liam stood and backed away from the guy.

  Sheriff McIntyre jumped from one of the vehicles and rushed toward them. “What the hell’s going on?”

  Liam nodded to the dirty, dark-haired man. “This asshole tried to assault December. That’s his knife. ”

  The sheriff jerked back slightly, then composed himself. He motioned to two of his deputies. “Take this guy in. ”

  Liam stepped back as they hauled the guy up. The man howled in pain again.

  “What happened to his thumb?” one of the deputies asked as he eyed Liam warily.

  “I did that myself. ” The man avoided looking at anyone and instead focused on the ground, but fear was evident in his voice.

  Liam’s inner beast roared in satisfaction at the edge of fear he heard. He wanted that jerk terrified. The humans wouldn’t be able to keep him for long and he didn’t want the cops nosing around the leader of this Antiparanormal League. If the group caught wind that the cops knew who they were, Liam could only imagine what they’d do. Probably leave town and cause havoc somewhere else. Or they’d simply tighten the ranks and become even more careful. Liam planned to make sure that didn’t happen. Whatever it took, he and Connor were going to eliminate these guys. Most important, he was going to protect December.

  Liam, whatever you’re doing, you better get back to the truck. We’ve gotta get back to the ranch now. Connor’s voice sounded loud in his head.

  December was almost attacked again. By some asshole that’s part of a group called the Antiparanormal League, if you can believe it. I think the cops want me to make a statement, he projected back.

  Call me if you need a ride back to the ranch.

  Will do, brother. He was thankful Connor didn’t give him grief about wanting to stay. Not that he’d expected too much resistance. Not in a situation like this.

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