Alpha instinct, p.54
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       Alpha Instinct, p.54

         Part #1 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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Page 54

 

  “It’s where I met you. Since I couldn’t have you, being in a place that reminded me of our time together was second best. ” Living there had occasionally been torture because of that fact.

  “What does mo chridhe mean? You said it before. ”

  He paused, despite the fact that they’d just bonded and she’d admitted she loved him. Clearing his throat, he forced the words out. “It’s Gaelic and it means ‘my heart. ’ ” She’d stolen a piece of him from the first moment he’d met the she-wolf.

  He could feel her smile against him. “I like it,” she whispered.

  The animal inside him sighed in acute relief. There was still a lot to deal with in the near future, but he had her by his side. Ana was stronger than even she realized and she was the perfect mate. Perfect for him.

  Epilogue

  One Week Later

  Ana nudged open the front door to the main house with her foot. As she stepped inside, Noel immediately grabbed one of her boxes.

  “You guys didn’t have to move back, you know,” her sister said as they headed up the stairs together.

  “Someone’s gotta make sure you’re eating right. ” All week they’d been slowly moving everything back. Not that she or Connor had much stuff; they’d just been busy getting the ranch back in order and dealing with mourning pack members. In addition to their own sorrow. Some days it was all Ana could do to get out of bed. She didn’t know if moving back into the house she’d shared with Carmen would be better or worse. Probably a little of both.

  Ana, can you meet me in the barn? Connor’s voice sounded loudly in her head. Now that they’d officially bonded they could communicate telepathically.

  “Yeah,” she said out loud before she could stop herself.

  Noel frowned at her as she set the box on top of two others. “What?”

  “Uh, nothing. ”

  “Is Connor talking to you again?”

  She grinned and nodded. “Yeah. ”

  Noel mock shuddered. “And that doesn’t freak you out?”

  “I’m still getting used to it. ” Somehow Connor could carry on a conversation aloud and in his head, but she couldn’t do both. Should I bring Noel with me?

  Come alone if you can.

  “I’ll be back, okay?” she said to her sister.

  Noel nodded. “I’ll start going through your clothes. ”

  “Just make sure they end up in my closet. ”

  “No promises. ” Her sister grinned as she lifted a few coats lying across Ana and Connor’s bed. It was the first time Ana had seen her smile since Carmen’s death.

  When she reached the barn she found Connor, Liam and Erin and the rest of the males waiting. Erin was obviously ignoring Noah, the dark-haired wolf who couldn’t wipe the scowl off his face. Liam looked just as grim. But Connor … when he looked at her, her insides heated up instantly.

  Something was on his mind or he wouldn’t have called the meeting, but he looked as if he could jump her right then. And she just might let him. Ever since they’d bonded and completely opened up to one another, it was like an invisible wall had crumbled between them. Now that she knew he loved her and didn’t have to hide herself, she felt free.

  He didn’t bother to hide his love for her either. As she approached the small circle, he covered the distance and wrapped his arms around her. When he pulled her into a tight embrace, a low growl escaped his throat, causing her to smile. She could scent his desire and no doubt every shifter in a fifty-mile radius could too.

  “Didn’t you call this meeting for a reason?” she whispered, mindful of their audience.

  He loosened his grasp but there was a promise in his eyes that later they’d be tangled between the sheets—or in the shower. Or on the kitchen table.

  “The sheriff called me a few minutes ago. ” His words had a silencing effect on the small group.

  “What did he say?” Liam demanded.

  It surprised Ana that Connor had waited until she was present to tell everyone, but it also pleased her.

  “They arrested Dr. Graham on suspicion of multiple murders. The murders were going to be charged as hate crimes. ”

  “Were?” Ana asked.

  He nodded, his expression grim. “He killed himself in holding. ”

  Ana didn’t know whether to feel relieved that her sister’s murderer was dead or not. Right now all her emotions were so screwed up. “So what does this mean?”

  “Technically the case is closed, but we still have a problem. The doctor was well liked in the community. It doesn’t matter that he was guilty of killing twenty-three innocent shifters; some people will consider his death a tragedy. Sheriff McIntyre made it clear he was going to keep this whole thing as quiet as possible, but people will find out why a prominent doctor killed himself. ”

  “We did nothing wrong,” Liam spat.

  Connor nodded. “Sometimes that doesn’t matter. In addition to that we have another problem. After Liam’s conversation with that man who tried to attack December, we know the guy is working for someone in that Antiparanormal League. He was just following orders. Just like the two men who went after Ana and kidnapped that woman connected to the enforcer. There will likely be more of these people out there, and it’s apparent they have no problem going after innocent humans connected to our kind. ” He cut a sharp look at Liam and cleared his throat. “December isn’t even connected to us but someone knows she means something to my brother. That’s dangerous for everyone we know. ”

  “We need to make a list of all humans we’re friends with or associated with and let them know what’s going on. ” Ana spoke before she could censor herself. Erin and the group of males stared at her, but she continued. “I know I’d prefer to keep humans out of our business, but thanks to the Council the world knows about us. We just have to deal with it, and we can’t let the people who are actually our friends be blindsided by some hate group. ”

  Connor’s grip on her tightened and she wondered if maybe she should have kept her mouth shut, until he spoke. “Ana’s right. We don’t live in a vacuum anymore. All of you need to list every single human you know who supports our kind. I’ll let the rest of the pack know, but I want that list by tonight. ”

  Ana let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. His support meant more to her than she wanted to admit. Okay, maybe she didn’t have much of a problem admitting it anymore. Depending on him was something she could get used to in a big way.

  “What about Taggart’s pack? Do we want a bunch of new males around here who just a couple weeks ago hated us? Everyone is still reeling from Alicia and Carmen’s …” Erin’s voice cracked.

  In the past couple weeks the redhead had undergone a transformation. She wasn’t as meek or timid anymore. Decked out in cargo pants, a tight black sweater, and a dagger strapped to her hip, she looked like a warrior. Well, a petite, very pretty warrior. And she was royally pissed off about Carmen’s death. Ana saw it every time she looked at the she-wolf.

  “I’ve already spoken to the Council and to Taggart’s pack. Vince—his second-in-command—has been unhappy for a long time. They all have, but were too afraid to get help. Taggart was growing mentally unstable and most of them want to get as far away from here as possible. The warriors and alphas will be dispersed to various packs across the country. There are a few betas who want to stay and we have no reason not to take them in. It’s not their fault they had a shitty Alpha. Most of his pack will be leaving with the alphas and his land is now ours. ”

  Once the meeting wound down, everyone started to quietly disperse, with the exception of Erin and Noah, who began arguing almost immediately. Connor stiffened beside Ana. “Looks like I get to play referee again. I’ll meet you at the house,” he muttered.

  Grinning, she nodded. Those two had some serious issues to work through and she was glad she wasn’t in the middle of them. She fell into step
with Liam as they headed back to the main house.

  “Noel said something about cooking for everyone tonight but I can’t make it. Let her know, okay?” Liam said.

  It would be dark soon so Ana knew exactly where he was going. “Going to spy on December again?”

  “I wouldn’t have to spy on her if she’d accept my protection. ” His voice was testy and tired.

  “Give her time,” Ana murmured.

  Liam muttered something inaudible but he scowled darkly, possessively. He got the same determined look on his face as his brother did when he wanted something. Ana smiled to herself. December might not realize it yet but she belonged to Liam.

  As Ana entered the main house, Noel and Vivian were leaving. “What are you two doing?”

  “Taking a break. Vivian wants to ride your horse, and I got tired of unpacking your clothes,” Noel softly teased.

  “I can ride your horse, right?” Vivian jumped from foot to foot as she stared at her expectantly.

  Smiling, Ana placed a quick kiss on the top of Vivian’s head. “Of course. Just don’t go too far. ” There might be warriors patrolling the land, but she still worried all the time.

  Once inside the house she immediately headed upstairs. If she knew Noel, half of her clothes hadn’t been put up or even made it into her room. When she passed her sister’s room, she saw she was right. A few pairs of Ana’s shoes were strewn across the floor.

  Sighing, she picked them up and headed to her room—her and Connor’s room. As she opened her closet door a strong arm wrapped around her waist. The man was so stealthy sometimes it scared her. She hadn’t even heard him come up the stairs. But his spicy scent twined around her now.

  Connor nuzzled the side of her neck before he gently raked his teeth over her skin.

  She shuddered lightly. Inhaling deeply, she leaned back against him. “Referee time over?” she murmured.

  “They can work out their own problems,” he growled next to her ear before turning her around to face him.

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