Alpha instinct, p.51
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       Alpha Instinct, p.51

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 51

 

  “Hmm. ” Connor tapped his finger against the table.

  “What’s that look?”

  “Something’s been bothering me about Teresa. She should have gotten better a lot sooner. ”

  Liam shrugged. “Her body was fighting the poison. It was only a couple days. ”

  “That’s not what I mean. She started healing once he was gone. ”

  At his words, Liam frowned. “No one would think twice if he was wandering around the ranch. ”

  “He has access to everything he needs to hurt us. Syringes, silver, our food and water. I thought there was a possibility it was Matt who had tampered with Carmen’s food that day. He’d been in the house immediately before she was poisoned, but the doctor was around too. He had access to her food. ”

  “Maybe he was keeping Teresa sick as a reason to stay here. ”

  Connor mulled over the possibility and nodded. “It would be smart. ”

  “I thought Ryan checked him out. ”

  “He did. ” But he could have missed something if he wasn’t looking for it. Connor pushed up from the table at the same time Liam did.

  They found Ryan in the males’ cabin, in the office with his laptop.

  Connor didn’t bother with small talk. “Where’s that file on Dr. Graham?”

  Ryan nodded at the stack of files he’d accumulated over the past week. “It’s the green one. ”

  Connor flipped it open and he and Liam skimmed over it together. As they read, Ryan interrupted them.

  “I did some checking on that Katarina Saburova woman you two saved. Looks like the cops believed her story about the deaths of those two humans. And she wasn’t lying about being no stranger to violence. Her father is part of the Russian mob in Miami. ”

  “Keep reading,” he murmured to his brother, then looked up. “Why is she here, then?”

  Ryan shrugged. “Not exactly sure. I did some digging but wasn’t able to find much except some old cell-phone records. Her car’s paid off and she lives at the ski resort, as far as I can tell. She doesn’t have many bills and only one credit card to her name. ”

  “And?”

  “You said she mentioned dating a shifter. ”

  “Yeah. ”

  “It could be nothing, but until about six months ago she was in contact—daily contact—with Jayce Kazan. ”

  “She dated the enforcer?” Great. The Council had been pleased when he’d told them they’d cleaned up Taggart’s illegal activities, but if Kazan had been involved with this human, Connor had a feeling they’d be getting a visit from him soon. It wouldn’t matter that he and Katarina had broken up. Male shifters still looked out for their own. It was in their nature. And if the enforcer had been involved with a human, he’d want to check up on her after something like this, whether she informed him or not. Connor’s pack had nothing to hide, but with all the recent deaths they didn’t need more bullshit brought to their doorstep. And Jayce had a reputation for cleaning house first and asking questions later.

  “Their phone records go on for about eight months before that. Then one day, nothing. He called her a few dozen times but she never picked up. If they’re not talking anymore, then—”

  Connor shook his head and sighed. “That doesn’t mean shit. You’ve met Jayce. And it sounds like she left him. ”

  Ryan nodded and a small bit of fear trickled off him at the name. Jayce was a scary motherfucker even to the most hardened warrior. He was old too. Probably older than some Council members. If someone had fucked with his woman—or ex-woman, as it were—he’d come sniffing around sooner or later. Connor was betting on sooner.

  “Brother, I think I might have found something. ” Liam’s agitated voice brought him back to their current problem. “Look at this. ”

  “Bear attack?” Connor murmured as he read the report on the doctor’s father’s death.

  “Yeah. His mother committed suicide not long after that. What if it wasn’t a bear attack?”

  Even if it was a simple bear attack the doctor could have a vendetta against shifters for another reason. With his mate in mourning and all his pack suffering, Connor owed the doc a visit. “Let’s head to his place now. Ryan, you’re coming too. ”

  They parked a few neighborhoods over from the doctor’s quiet, upscale neighborhood. Using the cover of falling darkness they made their way through backyards to get to his home. Even though it was winter, his lawn was immaculate. The brick ranch house had a custom-made, Mediterranean-style stone patio, which included a custom-made giant stone fireplace and was offset by a hammock swing. Nothing flashy, but still expensive.

  In Connor’s experience, people who lived in places like this rarely had alarm systems. Stupid, but true.

  “Ryan, can you read me?” he spoke into his earpiece.

  “Loud and clear, Connor. ”

  “What if this doesn’t work?” Liam murmured as they stalked across the lawn.

  “Then we handle it our way. ” Raw energy hummed through him like an electric current.

  His inner beast wanted to handle this one way and one way only, but he couldn’t do that to Ana or the pack. He hadn’t told her where he was going because he hadn’t wanted to upset her. First he needed to know if the doctor really was responsible for the poisonings. If he was … a shudder rolled through Connor. He just hoped he could control himself enough to follow through with the plan. On the drive there he’d gone over things in his head a dozen times and changed his mind just as many times. Even if the bastard deserved it, Connor couldn’t kill him. This guy wasn’t a thug or lowlife criminal. He was a respected member of the community. And even if he deserved to die, Connor had to put the good of the pack before everything else. Sometimes he hated being Alpha for that very reason. Right now he wanted blood. Every breath he took was laced with the need for vengeance.

  Before they’d reached the patio, one of the French doors opened and the doctor walked out, carrying a snifter of amber liquid. Expensive scotch, by the cedary scent. The doctor didn’t even notice them as he collapsed onto one of the cushioned wicker chairs.

  “How’s that drink, Doc?” Connor asked as he stepped out from behind one of the columns.

  The blond-haired man sloshed his drink against the glass table, but then he straightened almost resolutely. Connor could see the knowledge and acceptance of what was to come in his brown eyes.

  “Why are you here? Is everything okay at the ranch?”

  “Carmen’s dead. ”

  He frowned, as if concerned. “I’m sorry to hear that. ” But he wasn’t. The man’s eyes gave him away. And he didn’t ask what had happened. If he truly cared, it would have been his first question. It was human instinct.

  Connor watched him carefully. In addition to the stench of the lie rolling off him, his pupils dilated wildly for a moment before returning to normal. For a human he was quite adept at hiding his emotions. They’d just happened to catch him off guard. “Why don’t I believe you?”

  The older man cleared his throat nervously.

  “You know why we’re here, don’t you?” Connor asked.

  He opened his mouth once as if to say something, then shook his head. “Mind if I smoke?”

  “Go ahead. ”

  Liam leaned against the column and Connor sat as the doctor placed a cigarette between his lips with shaky fingers. He wasn’t as brave as he let on.

  “You were responsible for all those deaths earlier this year. ” It wasn’t a question.

  No answer.

  Connor’s canines throbbed and he clenched his fists together tightly. His claws started to extend, digging into his palms and piercing him painfully, but he reined his rage back in. He had to do this right. “You get any help from the APL?” If the Antiparanormal League had been involved, Connor needed to know.

  The doctor blew out a long puff of smoke and actually smiled. Proudly. “I didn’t need
any help from those backwoods idiots. I did this. All. By. Myself. I would have finished off the Cordonas too if the poison had worked right the first time. Those fools trusted me the entire time they were dying around me. Welcomed me onto their land with open arms. ” His lips curled up as he stared at Connor.

  It took all of Connor’s restraint not to strangle him. He kept his voice even, without inflection. He needed to get these answers from him. “Why didn’t you try sooner, before we got to the ranch? And why not go after Taggart’s pack?”

  “I’ve been traveling too much for work. Just got back from a charity mission in South America a month ago. And Taggart? That fool is gonna bring himself down. One of his ‘clients’ almost overdosed, and admitted where he’d gotten his meth from. Why bother with him when the law will take care of it? And if not, I’d have gotten to him eventually. ” Pride laced his words.

  “You do charity work yet you kill innocent people?” Connor couldn’t wrap his mind around that kind of logic.

  “You’re not people!” The first sign of real anger popped up as he leaned forward.

  “How did it feel to plunge that syringe into Carmen’s neck? Or Alicia’s? What about the Hippocratic oath?” He gripped the armrests of the wicker chair so hard the sides crumbled under his fingers. He wished it was the doctor’s neck.

  “I don’t have to justify myself to you. You’re an animal. An abomination. And I liked watching the life drain from Carmen’s eyes. Stupid bitch saw me at the edge of the woods and tried to follow me. She was easy to kill. ”

  Snarling, Connor lunged at him, but his brother must have expected it. As Connor jumped from the seat, Liam snagged him around the waist and yanked him back. “Think about the pack,” Liam murmured. “If we turn him over to the police, it proves we’re not animals and we respect their laws. The world deserves to know what he did to Ana’s family. That we’re innocent in all this and did the right thing. The long-term effects of this action will prove to people that we can be trusted. ”

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