I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be the last time I got to see Ritch. Whatever they’d created… it was strong. Kraig was wasted, his body weak, but he’d been far stronger than he should’ve been when they sent him feral. And who knew how many they had?
Ritch was with our car. “Why aren’t Christian and Landon staying?”
“Remote start. They can get the rigs going if we have to come running. Christian might look mostly human, but he’s not. I need you safe.”
“But I should be doing something.” Ritch shook his head. “I hate this.”
“You are. I don’t have remote start. I come running, I know you’ll be on the ball. This is dangerous. They could have someone patrolling farther out than we thought.” I stepped closer to him. “Don’t be afraid.”
“Of being here alone? In the dark?” Ritch’s sarcasm was more than clear, but I ignored that.
“No.” I leaned in, slowly, watching every second to see if he was going to move back. That was all it would take, and I’d stop, but he didn’t move. Ritch froze, his eyes widening slightly. “Of this,” I whispered.
I took a long, slow breath in as I pressed my lips to his. His scent surrounded me as I caressed his lips, brushing back and forth slowly, never parting for more than a second. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and pull him close, but this was enough, for now. Reluctantly, I pulled back.
“Why…?” Ritch frowned. “Why did you do that?”
I stilled. My tiger was excited, my heart was pounding harshly in my chest, but Ritch looked upset. My stomach instantly began to churn. “I wanted to. I plan to come back, and we’re going to get to go home together. I thought you realized how I feel.”
“No. I don’t. I mean. I thought I was just going to stay in my room. You said….”
Well shit. “I thought I was clear. Our home. Yours and mine. Not just because I want you to stay with me, but because I want you to be with me. I can smell your arousal, I know you’re attracted to me, and I thought you knew I wanted you too, even if you can’t sense it the same way.”
Ritch’s eyes widened. “Together. You and me?”
“Park! Let’s go.”
Double shit. “Yes. But not before you’re ready. I would never do anything to hurt you.” I pressed the keys in his hand. “Stay alert. Be careful. We’ll talk more when I’m back.”
Walking off into the dark woods with Ritch staying behind made my skin crawl. I didn’t want to leave him alone, but this was what we had to do. The deeper in the woods we went, the darker it got. We walked in a staggered line. I watched to make sure I didn’t step on any twigs. All we needed was some damn fog to make this whole midnight march complete.
It must have been nearly an hour before the faint glimmer of lights stood out in the middle of the woods. Christian indicated we were close, which was unnecessary. Every step was taken with the utmost precaution, every movement taken with deliberate intent. The wind changed, and I caught the acrid stench, sickness and pain.
This was definitely the place. It was now or never.
Tactical strikes took planning. Good thing we’d done ours. We split up. I paired with the horse. Caleb’s speed and muscles paired well with my claws and stealth. I lead the way toward the back of the cabin on the left. The buildings were rickety, weathered, the wood silvery gray in the moonlight shining down in the clearing. We paused at edge of the woods, waiting until everyone would be in place.
I had my claws at the ready, the gun I disliked using at my back. A handful of werekin strength zip ties were in my front jacket pocket. “Ready?” I mouthed.
Caleb nodded once. I had no idea how he was so quiet wearing those shit kicker boots, but he didn’t make a sound as we crept closer. I was surprised we didn’t run into any guards, but once we were close to the rough cabin, I could hear voices.
The stench was strong. Fear and death hovered in the air like a dark miasma. I nearly gagged. Taking short breaths, my heart pounding, I held up three fingers, then two, then one. Caleb kicked in the door just as the sound of wood splintering came from the front of the cabin.
I roared as I rushed inside, tackling the first body that I saw. It was a human. His weak and frantic struggles were easy to subdue. I slapped zip ties on his wrists and attached him to an exposed metal pipe.
“Stay there, or you’ll have more than a few claw marks on you,” I warned.
There was a sound of a struggle in the living room, but I heard the crash of glass off to the left. I followed the short hall, kicking in each door I came to. The third door led to a bathroom. The window was shattered.
“Someone escaped,” I shouted. I sniffed. Whoever it was had cut themselves. I sniffed, catching the scent. “Bonded werekin.” But… more, and familiar. My stomach clenched. It had to be the one they used to capture my father’s soul. I winced as a shard of glass caught my shoulder as I followed, but I ignored the hot pain in my need to find the bastard.
Nothing was going to stop me from sinking my claws into him and dragging him back to Deke, Kraig, and my mother. I crashed through the woods, tracking the iron tang, no longer worried about stealth.
Hopefully the others could handle the rest of them.
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