I swallowed hard and consciously controlled my breathing. Kraig’s forehead was wrinkled and he was clenching my hand so hard his knuckles turned white. His whole body shuddered as he let out a deep breath.
“They strapped me down and took blood, skin samples, saliva, semen”—I saw red knowing what they must have done to him to get that—“but the worst part was when they strapped my head down, drilled holes in my skull, and attached wires to my brain.”
Horror consumed me. “They invaded your brain?” So much could’ve gone wrong and Kraig could’ve been damaged for life, if not killed outright.
“More than once.” Kraig dipped his head and pointed to faint depressions on his skull. “They asked me questions while the wires were in there but other times they just zapped me over and over. I wanted to fight them, but I was too weak. They kept injecting me with stuff, and I never got enough food or water. The only time I stood up was when they dragged me from my cage to the chair but after a while I couldn’t even walk.”
I wrapped around him and held him close, rage and terror impossible to suppress. “I will find everyone involved, and they will all die.” I growled. “Every. Single. Person.”
Thankfully Kraig didn’t pull away because I needed his scent and the warmth of his body tight to him. My tiger soul was raging, and it was all I could do to restrain my urge to tear into someone. Kraig put his hand on my chest and held it there. Gradually his purring drowned out my growls as I regained control.
“Can we stop talking about this right now?” I asked. “Just spend some time enjoying the peace?”
“Fine by me.”
I pushed off with one foot and started the swing moving gently. Free time to just relax had been practically non-existent since the mantle of leadership had fallen onto my shoulders when my dad died. Resigned to a life only half-lived with Kraig gone, I’d thrown myself into the streak. I’d been trained well, and our streak was tight-knit, so my youth wasn’t as much of a problem as it could’ve been. Park had reestablished our boundary lines to ensure no other groups tried to take over the far territories, and I’d kept things settled here at home.
“Alpha!” A shout broke the silence. Kraig yelped and flinched. I reacted to his fear and the strident tone Park only used when things were really wrong. By the time Park had thundered through the house and onto the back porch I had Kraig against the wall and hidden behind me.
Park skidded to a halt far too close. I bared my fangs and hissed. He stepped back. “What’s is it?” I asked once he was out of arm’s reach.
He glanced over his shoulder and frowned. “Hold on.” He turned away.
“Stop! What did you just say? You do not come running up shouting and then tell me to hold on,” I roared.
“Ritch isn’t here.” Park looked over his shoulder again.
“Who is Ritch?” I flicked my claws out. My patience was rapidly running out.
“The visitor I told you about, remember? I need to find him. He came over here with me.”
“So there’s no danger.”
Park finally stilled and met my eyes, his expression deadly serious. “There’s danger, but it’s not knocking on the door quite yet.”
Kraig had both hands on my back. He rubbed them up and down. “Let him go so I can help you calm down.”
I nodded. “Fine. Go find the human werekin.” Park took off like a shot. I took several deep breaths, wanting to calm down before I helped Kraig back to the swing.
“A human werekin? A stranger?”
“Your brother called while you were sleeping and told me about him. Park’s a capable Beta, so I told him to find out why he was here.”
“But I haven’t had a chance to tell you everything! The doctor wasn’t working with another alpha, at least not a bonded werekin alpha. He was working with human werekin and other pure humans.”
“Inside, now.” I snatched Kraig up and rushed him in the house, locking the front door first. “You have to stay safe.” I paused by the stairs to the basement, but I wasn’t that stupid, even so close to a rage. The downstairs bathroom was too small for a person to climb through, and the door had a lock. Kraig would be as safe as he could get there. I did fling the drawer in the kitchen open and pull out the gun lock box.
“Do you think you can still shoot this?”
Kraig’s eyes were flat. “I won’t let anyone take me again. I’ll be able to shoot,” he said grimly.
To be safer I put him in the tub. I handed him the box. “The combo is your birthday,” I said. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it hard.
“You stay safe too,” he ordered.
I locked the door but left my keys inside. Kraig would hear me shouting if it was safe to let me in the house... or he’d hear someone breaking the door down because that was the only way they were getting in. And they’d have to go through me to do it.
After checking the knob again, I stepped down off the porch. My heart pounded, flooding my body with adrenaline. My vision sharpened, and I couldn’t stand still. I paced in front of the steps, watching and listening.
The human werekin’s scent came to me before I saw him. He was tall and muscular, nearly as large as the men in my streak, but I was still bigger. Park rounded the corner of the house, a step behind him.
“Stop right there,” I snarled. “Who are you?”“My name is Ritch.” The stranger’s voice was calm... too calm to be facing a raging alpha.
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