Alpha instinct, p.52
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       Alpha Instinct, p.52

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
Page 52


  His brother’s words computed but took a long moment to digest. His canines—which had fully extended—bit into his lip. He tasted blood and the acridness only made his inner wolf angrier. It wanted death and vengeance. Struggling to breathe, he took long breaths in an effort to control himself. His brother was right. He knew that. He just had to make his wolf listen to reason.

  The doctor stubbed out his cigarette and stood defiantly. “Do what you came here to do. ”

  The command pulled Connor back from his dark thoughts. This asshole expected to die—and maybe deep down he knew he deserved it. But Connor wouldn’t—couldn’t. What he did next would show the town what his pack was like. If they wanted to settle here—and raise cubs here—he couldn’t have his pack alienated. Or worse. “What is it you expect us to do?”

  “What you fucking animals enjoy doing,” he spat.

  “You don’t know shit about us,” Connor growled. Though he wanted to stay and argue with the man about who the real monster was, he took a step back. If he stayed any longer he feared he wouldn’t be able to control himself. He wouldn’t give in to this asshole. Wouldn’t prove him right. He was better than that. His entire pack was. And they were the ones who deserved to live peacefully where they belonged.

  He looked at his brother and nodded. They’d gotten everything they needed. Wordlessly, they turned and headed back across the yard.

  “Where the hell are you going?” the doctor called after them.

  Connor didn’t respond or turn to look at him. If he did, he might throw out his resolve and rip the doctor’s head off.

  Once they reached the truck, he shut the passenger’s door with more force than necessary. For how he felt, he was surprised it didn’t tear off the hinges.

  “We got it all. ” Ryan put the truck into gear.

  They were all silent as they headed into town. The decision they’d made was a risk. Calculated and completely depending on the local cops to do their job. So far the sheriff hadn’t exactly warmed up to them and he probably never would, but after Liam had saved the guy’s sister, they all figured that would make a difference in how today went down. And Ana had told him after the poisonings that he’d done his job and launched an investigation. He might be an asshole but he didn’t seem dirty.

  Ryan placed the recording in Connor’s outstretched palm as he parked in the police station’s parking lot. “I’ve made a copy in case they don’t do what’s right. ”

  Connor simply nodded and got out. He received a few curious stares as he entered the two-story building, but he ignored them all.

  The Asian woman behind the desk faltered when she looked at him. “Can I help you, sir?”

  “Sheriff McIntyre in?”

  “Yes, I am. ”

  Connor turned at the sound of the sheriff’s voice, then held out the slim black tape. “If you’re interested in arresting the man behind the poisonings on our ranch, all the information you need is here. ”

  The sheriff eyed him warily but tucked the tape into his front pocket.

  Connor wasn’t through. He stepped closer so that only the other man could hear him. “If you don’t take care of this, you better believe I will. And you won’t like the fallout. Trust me. ”

  Without waiting for his response, Connor left the building. His mate was at home, mourning, and he planned to take care of her tonight. Ever since his declaration that he loved her two days ago she’d been quiet. Most of it had to do with her sister’s death, but it still stung. He’d told her he wouldn’t force her to bond and she hadn’t said she wanted different.

  It might slowly kill him to be simply mated with her instead of bondmates, but he’d take what he could get. Tonight he planned to comfort his woman every way he knew how.

  Ana eased open the door to the main house. It was quiet but she knew it wasn’t empty. Noel and Vivian’s scents were strong inside. Carmen’s still lingered, triggering too many memories, but Ana knew she was truly gone. Might not want to admit it, but her heart had accepted it.

  She’d seen Noel and Vivian at the burial ceremony but she’d barely spoken two words to them. To anyone. They deserved better than that.

  Upstairs a faint light shone under Noel’s door. She knocked but didn’t get an answer. She thought about leaving but opened it instead.

  Noel lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. Her dark hair was pulled away from her face. She glanced at Ana for a moment, but just as quickly averted her amber eyes. Without a word, Ana slipped off her shoes and slid into the bed next to her.

  “I’m sorry I haven’t been over here,” she whispered, hating the way she’d avoided her pack and, more important, her only remaining sister.

  “You needed to take care of yourself. Trust me, I get it. ” Noel linked her fingers through Ana’s.

  Tears pricked her eyes and she didn’t bother to swat them away. “I miss her. ”

  “Me too. I can’t believe she’s gone. It’s too surreal. Too …”

  Noel didn’t finish and she didn’t have to. Ana understood. They’d lost their parents and now their sister. She tightened her grip on Noel’s hand.

  “I can still smell her everywhere and I keep expecting her to walk through the door, telling me about her latest crush. ” Noel’s voice broke on the last word.

  Her sister curled up on her side and laid her head in the crook of Ana’s arm. She tightened her grip and rubbed Noel’s back in small circles. When their parents and packmates had died, she’d done the same thing with both her sisters. Just like her mother had done for her when she was sick or upset about something.

  When Noel finally drifted off to sleep, Ana slipped out of the bed and headed back to her and Connor’s house. She was glad she’d been able to comfort her sister, but she still felt hollow inside and knew that wasn’t going away anytime soon. It was dark now and there was a distinct bite to the cool night air.

  “Hey. ” Connor’s deep voice startled her.

  She swiveled and nearly lost her footing. “Where did you come from?”

  “Liam and I just got back from town. ”

  She frowned but didn’t comment. If he wasn’t going to tell her why he’d gone to town, she wasn’t asking. She was tired of drilling him for information.

  “Dr. Graham was behind the poisonings. All of them,” he said as he fell in step with her.

  “What?” she gasped out. The doctor? Something in her chest twisted and broke. She’d thought he was their friend. After the first time her pack had been poisoned, he’d been there for them. Or she’d thought he had. “You’re sure?”

  “I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure, but it was him. He admitted poisoning your pack two months ago, and he was responsible for … for Alicia and Carmen’s deaths. We got him on tape and I delivered it to the cops. I’m sure it won’t stand up in court or anything, but it’ll give them a place to start. ”

  “Why didn’t you kill him?” she asked.

  His eyebrows rose. “Do you want me to?”

  Yes. The word instantly jumped into her head. She knew he would if she asked, but she shook her head. They needed to do things the right way. It would keep the rest of the pack safe from bloodthirsty humans bent on retribution. “No. ”

  Instead of closure or whatever she was supposed to feel, she just felt empty. Alone. Carmen was still gone. Her parents were still gone. Killing the man who’d done this wouldn’t bring them back. “I—I want to move back to the main house, Connor. ”

  He jerked as if she’d slapped him, and she realized he’d misunderstood her. She grasped his arm. “With you. I want us both to move back together. Maybe if we’d been living there Carmen wouldn’t have—”

  He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her tight against him. “That wasn’t your fault, Ana. But we’ll move back tomorrow. You’re right. Noel shouldn’t be alone right now. ”

And I want to adopt Vivian. Officially. If she’ll have us, of course. ”

  His brows knitted together as he held open the front door. “You’re sure?”

  “Of course I am. I’ve done a shitty job of taking care of her the past couple days but I think—hope—she’ll forgive me. ” The little she-cat needed to know she had a place with them. Just taking her in wouldn’t be enough. Adopting her told the entire world she belonged here. And, more important, it told Vivian this was her home. Her pack.

  “She’s worried about you, not angry. ” Connor’s deep voice comforted her.

  As they ascended the stairs, she bit her bottom lip. They’d danced around talking about anything real for the past couple days—and that was her fault; she knew that. He’d been giving her space but now she craved closeness from him. And she needed to make the first move. He deserved that much. She rubbed her hand down his forearm in an intimate, soothing manner. “How are your wounds?”

  Lust rolled off him as he answered. A good sign. “Almost a hundred percent. ”

  She paused by the edge of their bed and tried to formulate her words. “I’m sorry I didn’t take better care of you,” she murmured. He was her mate—and hopefully he still wanted to be her bondmate. She should have been there for him. Instead she’d shut herself away from the world like a coward. Part of her feared that if she admitted how much she loved him she’d lose him too, but she couldn’t live like that. Fear wouldn’t rule her.

  “You’ve got to stop apologizing to everyone, love. ” Without warning he grasped the bottom of her sweater and tugged it over her head.

  Lifting her arms, she let him. Didn’t even think to stop him. More than anything she wanted his hands and mouth on her. As always, she didn’t tire of the way he seemed to devour all of her in one breathless sweep.

  “It’s a full moon tonight. ” Her words sucked the air out of the room in one violent whoosh. They could officially bond tonight if they wanted. If not, they’d have to wait another month. If he still wanted her.
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