Roaring took over for the shout. When I burst through the door, knocking it off the top hinge so it slammed into the wall at a crooked angle, Kraig was crouched on the bed. His eyes were glowing, but there was no recognition in them. I stared in shock.
The marks on his neck and face were rippling as his muscles writhed under his skin, almost like something was trying to get out.
“Keep her back,” I told Henry. Kraig was crouching on the bed, lowering himself. I prepared myself for his leap, but what I wasn’t prepared for was his reaction when I boxed him in with my arms.
My mate yowled and swiped at my face, his blunt claws ripping down my cheek as his back legs raked at my belly. I fell on my ass, and he sprang free, skittering down the hall to the stairs. He scrambled down them on all fours, unsteady but still fast.
“Kraig!” Henry shouted. “Stop!”
“What’s going on?” Lydia came out of the room Henry had shoved her in. “Alpha, your face.” She was staring at me, her mouth dropped open.
“I don’t know,” I said grimly. Hot blood dripped down my face, and my stomach burned when I pushed off the floor.
“Are you okay?” Henry asked.
“Not important.” Kraig wasn’t okay, and I was much more concerned about that. The front door had stopped him, stymied as if he didn’t know how to work it. Unfortunately, the living room had windows that were wide open and a screen wouldn’t deter him at all.
“Did Kraig do that?” Lydia asked Henry.
His reply was indistinct as I tuned them and focused on creeping down the stairs slowly. Kraig was slamming into the door. I must have made too much noise, and Kraig turned his head toward me. His pupils were completely blown.
“Calm down. No one is going to hurt you.” My voice didn’t help him, and he backed away. His head swiveled, and he spotted the windows.
I chuffed. Kraig froze. I did it again, keeping the sound low and soothing. He cocked his head, but wouldn’t meet my gaze. I crouched at the base of the stairs, but I didn’t go lower than him. I kept my head up, my body loose. Blood dripped on the floor and probably stained the carpet along the stairs, but I ignored the metallic tang. It wasn’t enough to be dangerous, and I’d heal.
Keeping up with the vocalizations, I approached Kraig. I keep my movements fluid, drawing on the animal soul inside me, relying on my instincts. He was my mate, and whatever was happening to him, Kraig was still in there.
Inch by inch, I drew closer. Kraig hunkered down toward the floor, keeping his head low but watching my every move. I hovered over him, my mouth open as I breathed heavily and continued to soothe him. When I brushed my uninjured cheek against his head he began to purr. I thought everything was going to be fine, but then all hell broke loose.
Henry jumped off the upstairs balcony, a blanket in his hands. Kraig snarled at the heavy thud and skittered backward. He turned toward the window and his muscles bunched. I leapt at him just as he left the ground, slamming my much bigger body into his. The corner of his head hit the end table between the chairs in the bay window, and he went limp.
I snatched him up, and his head lolled backward over my arm. Blood was oozing down his scalp, and he was out. “What the hell was that?” I roared at Henry.
“He was out of control.”
“No he wasn’t! I was in control.” I was angry and afraid. “Now he’s hurt. Call the lion pride and see if their medic will come. I promise him safe haven. I’m taking Kraig to my place.”
Ignoring my car, I loped through the woods bordering the houses along the woods, moving toward my house. Pulling Kraig closer, I murmured, “Please be okay.”
There was too much we didn’t know. Too much I shouldn’t have put off for even a day as I relished having the one man I’d always wanted in my arms. Well, he was there now, and look what I’d done to him.
The slices on my face were already closing when the medic arrived. I didn’t like the scent of the lion in my territory, much less my house, but it was what Kraig needed.
I blocked the doorway. “You do not speak of this. Your oath.”
Contacting the other groups would have to be done, now that we knew others were involved after Ritch shared his story.
“Him you may speak with, if necessary. No one else.”
The medic, a healer with online training in modern medicine, nodded his head. He was a mid-level pride member, dominant enough to travel on his own but not so much that he would threaten group leaders.
“Those claw marks look like they weren’t too deep.”
“Check him first,” I said. My stomach burned, but I’d slapped some bandages over them. Kraig’s jaw was swollen, and he was still unconscious. Worse, the tremors under his skin, the muscles writhing and jumping, hadn’t stopped.
The medic paused beside the bed. He turned wide eyes toward me. “What is he?” Even as he asked the question, he was working. Pulling up Kraig’s eyelids, he checked his pupils.
“A doctor was experimenting with our genetics. I allowed him here, not knowing what he was doing with his samples and research. Kraig”—I swallowed roughly—“grew up here, as a human werekin. Now....”
Feeling along Kraig’s jaw, the medic checked inside as well. “He has fangs, claws, markings... not just tiger. I’ve never seen anything like him.”
“Is he okay?” I asked. I’d struck my own mate, caused the livid bruise on his swollen jaw. Guilt was killing me.TBC
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