Mine! Part Two Chapter Seventeen
I woke up on the couch with Ritch in my arms. He had his face nestled against my neck, and the soft swoosh of each breath tickled me. I shivered and he tilted his head and mumbled something, then snuggled closer. The automatic move to seek comfort and warmth from me gave me a strong feeling of satisfaction.
Waking up with him in my arms was awesome. Now all we needed was to start off in a bed… and maybe have a few less layers. I longed to feel his skin against mine. Of course, my damn phone rang and ruined the peace of the early morning hour. It vibrated between us, and Ritch jerked back, nearly falling off the couch.
“Sorry,” I said. I dug between us and pulled my phone out of my pocket. It was my mom. Ritch patted my side but got up. I frowned, not liking the way the cold air filled the space his warm body had left. “Hi, Mom.”
“It’s me, Park.”
“Kraig?” I sat up. “What are you doing there? Why are you calling me on Mom’s phone?” I ran a hand over my ruff, pushing it back. “Is she okay?”
“Damn, Park, give me a chance to answer the first question. I’m at Mom’s because I wanted to check on her. I’m calling you with her phone because it was sitting on the table, and I don’t know if she’s okay because she’s not here. She left a note—she wanted to talk to him.”
“Him? Him who?”
“The guy with Dad’s soul, you idiot.”
I stood up. “Shut up. I just woke up.” I walked over to the coffee maker to make a pot. “The guy’s under guard, and there’s no way anyone would let any harm come to Mom.”
“Things happen,” Kraig said darkly. “Even when you think you’re perfectly safe. That guy is part of this whole thing, and there’s no telling what his part was. Is he a victim? Is he in on it?”
“To find out, someone has to talk to him.”
“Not Mom,” Kraig snapped. “And not alone. This is a matter for the alphas during the convocation.”
He had a point. “Deke would never pick a guard who would be that stupid.” Even as I said it, a flash of fear made my chest hurt and my skin go clammy. “I’ll go check on her.”
“What’s going on, Park?” Ritch yawned and scrubbed his face as he leaned on the wall.
“My mom went to see the guy we brought in.”
Ritch frowned and straightened. “That’s not a good idea.”
“That’s what Kraig said. He went over to her house to talk to her and found out she was gone.” I pushed away the blanket and stood up. The healing cuts on my arms and shoulders burned, but I ignored them.
“Let me get some socks so I can come with you.”
I was torn between the desire to keep Ritch safe and keeping him with me. The need for him to stay close won out. “Okay.”
Rain drizzled down, so we took the car over to the holding cells. The tires crunched on gravel as we pulled to a stop next to my mom’s car parked outside the house. I opened the door, looked around, stretching my senses. I shut the door quietly, wincing when Ritch slammed his.
Well, with the gravel driveway, approaching without being overheard wasn’t going to happen anyway. Granger leaned against the wall next to the front door. The porch protected him from the falling rain. When he saw us coming, he stood up, tucking his wrists behind his back.
“All quiet?” I asked.
He nodded. “Jackie and Myles are inside. I’ve walked the perimeter of the house twice. There’s nothing close by that shouldn’t be.”
“Thank you.” I clapped him on the shoulder. “My mother is here.”
“She got here about an hour ago. Sat in her car for a while.” Granger shifted uneasily. “I didn’t have orders to keep her out.”
“It’s fine.” It wasn’t, but it also wasn’t his fault. “Stay alert.”
He nodded. “I will.”
I hated the feeling of being closed in the second we walked in the front door. Several large cages with solid bottoms lined the opposite wall. These often housed werekin who were having issues holding on to their control when their animal souls overwhelmed them. Animalistic werekin were the root of some of the shapeshifter legends the humans had passed on for generations. The risk of detection in the modern age, with all the methods for recording, as too great, so anyone in danger of exposing the streak was hidden until they regained control.
Right now, those cells were empty. The rooms at the back of the house had been converted into individual cells that allowed us to keep werekin isolated. The door to the room at the end of the hall stood open. Midway down, I stopped next to Jackie.
“Good.” I turned to face that door, and dread coiled in my stomach. That man’s scent was wrong. The look of him was wrong. I didn’t want my mother anywhere near him, but I didn’t want to go in there to get her out. Ritch put one hand on my back, but he didn’t say anything. I drew comfort from his touch anyway, squaring my shoulders and taking a deep breath.
This was not my father. His spirit had been warped, and something had happened to his soul, but he wasn’t my father, he was just a man. I had to keep that firmly in my mind.
The guard was holding the door open by the wall, but I barely noticed him when I saw what my mom was doing. She was next to the werekin, that damned red bag full of sharp implements, like scissors and scalpels, and dabbing at the wounds on his throat, just inches from his sharp fangs.
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