Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday Briefs Mine! Part Two Chapter Twenty


Mine! Part Two Chapter Twenty


We left Kraig and Ritch with Mom. Deke drowned out their objections with a fierce growled order to stay put, and I followed him out the door. “Stay here,” I said to the guard. If there were intruders, the house needed protection, but I had to guard Deke’s back.

The scent of blood, a sharp coppery tang with salty overtones laced the air when we approached the building that had held the captives. Myles was dead, and Jackie beside him. She was gasping for air, holding her arm as blood dripped down her fingers.

“What happened?” Deke snapped.

“The patrol caught two intruders on the eastern border. They brought them here, and then pulled the extra guards from here and the gates. We’d put them in individual cells to hold until we called you when all hell broke loose.” Her fingers tightened on her arm. “We were attacked, not just by werekin, but by more of those things like—”

She broke off what she was going to say, but her flickering glance to me and then Deke made it clear what she was thinking. I growled. “Ritch had nothing to do with this and neither did Kraig.”

If she thought my snarl was scary, she positively huddled under Deke’s. Her eyes were wild, pupils blown. “No, they did not. The alpha mate would never harm our streak.”

Jackie gulped. “Of course not, Alpha.” She bent in a deep bow as best as she could without toppling over, but she wobbled on her knees. When she was leaning down, I saw more blood on the back of her neck. A head wound too.

“What do you mean that all hell broke loose?” I asked.

“Two tiger bonded werekin from another streak and the… others came outta nowhere. They attacked us, knocked me out before I could even draw my gun and killed Myles, and opened the cells. They took the trespassers and the human werekin. They left the other one here, but he’s damaged.”

“The other one?” Alarm shot through me. “The one with my dad’s soul?”

She nodded and groaned.

“Fuck.” I darted away from the group, rushing through the busted door and down the hall to the cells. There was blood on the wall in spots, smeared handprints and blotches. Inside the room, the werekin was on the bed, but his face was a bloody pulp. He’d taken a beating, and it looked like his nose and jaw were severely broken. His eyes were swollen shut and a long slice on his cheekbone was bleeding.

But he was breathing. I hurried to the bed, and he cringed away. “I’m not here to hurt you.” I rubbed my fingers together, but clenched my jaw and checked his pulse. Fast, too fast, but it wasn’t weak or thready.

“I’ll get you some help.” The relief I felt wasn’t because he wasn’t going to die for his own sake, but for my mom’s. She’d probably say they beat him until he couldn’t speak so he couldn’t reveal their secrets and he was a victim, not one of the bastards threatening all werekin with their sadistic schemes.

He could be a decoy. They let him rip a soul from a bonded werekin and shove it inside him in an unholy bond, creating a hybrid freak that my mother would feel a bond to and my brother would sympathize with.

Or maybe I was just a paranoid bastard. But this was my streak, my family… my Ritch. “Don’t move.” It was probably pointless to say that, but I wasn’t above giving orders.

Deke was on his phone when I stepped back outside. He hung up and turned. “He’s beat to shit but alive. Doc on his way?”

He nodded. “We need to get to the gate. They’re not answering, so I called in reinforcements.” He reached down and lifted Jackie to her feet. He guided her to a chair next to the door. “Stay here. Can you use a gun?”

She nodded. He pulled hers out of the holster at her hip. She wiped her bloody hand on her pants and wrapped her fingers around the grip, her finger on the trigger. “Don’t shoot anyone from our streak. The doc is coming, okay?” he said.

“Got it.” She pulled her finger off the trigger and laid it alongside the guard.

Deke cupped her cheek. “Thank you, Jackie.” I could feel the thrum of his power, and she smiled and some of the tension eased out of her body.

“Thank you, Alpha.”


When we approached the gate to the streak’s property, it was too quiet. The wind was at our backs, which I hated, and it hid the stench of blood and death. The guard who’d remained on duty when the others went to check the perimeter was slumped over the desk in the small shed.

“Stand guard. I’m going to pull the footage.” Hidden in the desk was a computer. Carefully, Deke leaned Javon back in the chair. His throat had been sliced open, one deep cut and two ragged claw marks on either side. Definitely a Tiger kill.

Deke pulled up the computer monitor and then opened the door for the keyboard. Hidden around the gate and on the drive up from the main road were several surveillance cameras. Not all streaks had the same level of technology we did, but it came in handy.

“Motherfuckers! I know that car.”

“Who is it?” I craned my neck to briefly look at the monitor, but the grainy gray image was too hard to make out from this distance.

“Trein.”

I snarled and my hackles rose, the hair on the back of my neck standing up. I knew my ruff was puffed out and I couldn’t sheathe my claws if I wanted to. I didn’t want to. I wanted to hunt down that fucker and rip him to shreds. “He’s dead.”  
TBC

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter Nineteen



Mine! Part Two Chapter Nineteen


Sorry this is late! It was written Monday, but I've been so busy, I totally didn't realize today was Wednesday. LOL


The bed shifting woke me up and the smell of coffee brought me out of the lazy doze I wanted to linger in. I stretched and groaned. “Coffee.” My voice sounded like a half-crazed zombie calling out for brains, but that wasn’t too far off. I sat up and Ritch handed me a cup, the coffee black as tar and just like I liked it.

“The coffee from last night was cold so I made a new pot.”

“Thanks.” I took a long swallow of the steaming richness, the bitter flavor curling my tongue. “It’s perfect.”

Ritch smiled. “Your phone alerted earlier. You didn’t twitch, and I wasn’t sure if it was locked, but then mine beeped with a text from Kraig. I didn’t know you gave him my number.”

I nodded. “Deke makes sure he has a directory of everyone’s number. Remember, I put all the important numbers in your phone. That included my family’s.”

“You know, I never would’ve imagined being with someone who was related to the alpha’s mate.”

“Pfft.” I made a noise and waved my hand. “Deke’s a good alpha, but he’s been part of the family for a long time before he mated with Kraig. I’d say he’s like a brother, but then that would be really messed up.”

Kraig snickered. “I hope you aren’t accusing your alpha of something like incest.”

“Don’t tell them I said that.” I narrowed my eyes. “Or I’ll get revenge.”

His eyes widened. “Ooh. Revenge. Sounds scary.”

I absolutely love the fact that Ritch was actually playing along. Not too long ago he would’ve been cowering in fear, afraid that I would do something to hurt him. That just proved how much trust he developed in my promise of safety.

“Maybe I’ll put some salt in your coffee instead of all that sugar you like to add.” I folded my arms across my chest, casually lifting my cup and taking a sip of coffee.

“Now that’s a scary threat. Salty coffee.” Ritch put his empty cup on the nightstand. “Like you could ever bring yourself to ruin a cup of coffee. You treat it like it’s gold.”

“You’re already ruining it with all that stuff,” I countered. “Don’t mess with me or you’ll find out just how good at practical jokes I am.” I swallowed the last of my coffee and sighed. “So what did Kraig want?”

“Your mom wants everyone to come over for dinner, and Deke wants to meet with you afterward.”

“We can do that.” I looked at the clock. There were several hours before we need to head over to Mom’s house. “There’s a few things we need to do first.”

“Like what?”

“I noticed you’re wearing one of my shirts again. We can do some laundry so the clothes you have are clean, but we also need to do some more shopping. We can do it online so we don’t have to go into town.”

Ritch shook his head. “You don’t have to buy me anything else. I have enough.”

“No, you don’t. I know you’re used to making do with very little, but your life’s not going to be anything like how it was before. You just went on a dangerous mission, and without you and Christian, we never would’ve learned about the scientist’s camp. You drove when I couldn’t. And don’t think that I don’t understand how much danger we put you in, leaving you in those woods alone. You helped the streak, and now the streak will help you. You need things of your own.”

“Like what?” Ritch waved his hand in the air. “What else can I possibly need? You let me stay here for free. I have clothes, personal items, shoes. Hell… a phone.” His voice dropped, and I had to strain to hear him. “I’ve never had so many things I could call my own.”

It broke my heart, but I was determined to give Ritch a happy life from now on, so that he never had to say that crap again.



By the time we needed to go to Mom’s, the rain eased and the sun had come out. We decided to walk and get some fresh air. Just before we left, Ritch removed the bandages on my wrists. The wounds were much better, and I was glad to get the scratchy bandages off.

Dinner was awkward. Mom tried to pretend like everything was normal, and we all followed her lead, but there was a huge elephant in the room. Hell, it would’ve been less awkward if a real elephant was in the room.

Mom served us each some of her famous peach pie, and then she sat down in her chair. She stared across the table at the empty chair. “What are you going to do with him?”

Deke didn’t pretend as if he didn’t know who she meant. “That will depend on who he is and what he’s done. I will not allow the alphas to condemn him to death, because that would condemn you as well. I hope you haven’t been worrying about that.”

Mom pressed a hand against her chest. “I know you would never pass a death sentence on me, but I don’t know if I can live this way either.”

My hand clenched on my fork, and the metal edges dug into my palm. Kraig dropped his and jumped out of his chair. He dropped to his knees beside hers. “Please don’t say that, Mom.”

She cupped the side of his face. “I never want to leave you,” she said. “But—”

The front door crashed open. “Alpha! Alpha!”

Deke stood so fast his chair crashed backwards. He raced into the living room, and I followed right behind him.

A guard skidded to a halt in front of us, panting for air. “Alpha, we have intruders. Some of the prisoners have escaped.”

Our snarls echoed in the room, and I flexed my claws. Someone was going to die.


TBC

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday Briefs Mine! Part Two Chapter Eighteen



Mine! Part Two Chapter Eighteen


I jumped into the room, every muscle coiled and ready to attack. My claws were flexed open as wide as they could go, and I was prepared to rip off his hands and bust his teeth in if he made a move. “What are you doing?” I hissed.

“Cleaning up this boy.” My mom dipped her cloth in the bowl of water on the nightstand, then leaned down and started wiping again. “He’s covered in dried blood.”

“He’s not a boy. He’s a traitor.”

She looked up sharply. “You don’t know that.”

“He attacked me.” I pointed to the bandages on my arms. “Or did you forget cleaning me up earlier?”

“Don’t you take that tone with me,” she said. “I know you’re hurt, but he’s hurt too. Are you trying to tell me you have clear proof that he did more?” By more, I knew exactly what she meant.

“I don’t. But… Shit.”

“Language.” She primly folded the washcloth.

My eyes were going to bulge out of my head. “You need to leave. I haven’t questioned him or the other one because that’s Deke’s prerogative as alpha, and he’s waiting for the rest of the council. I don’t believe for a second he’s innocent, and you can’t know that either. You need to stay away from him.”

Mom’s hands clenched on the washcloth she’d folded so carefully. Her hands shook as her jaw worked.

“Or is this some sort of… mate thing?” God forbid, I fucking hoped not. The guy was a lot younger than my dad had been, though still older than me. Sick.

“It’s a common decency thing.” She stood up and took the first-aid kit with her. “Or should we treat him like your brother was treated?”

I know she wanted me to say no, to say that no one should be chained and muzzled so cruelly as Deke had described the way he found Kraig, but in my heart, I shouted yes. This man was wrong, and his very presence hurt my family. I wanted him secured—no matter how barbaric—and locked away so he couldn’t reach them.

She walked in a circle around me, stopping in the doorway to clasp Ritch’s hand and murmur a reply to something he said I couldn’t hear with the blood rushing through my body, thundering in my ears.

I sneered at the werekin on the bed who’d done nothing but stare warily at me. “The alphas will be here soon.” I glared, looking deep into his eyes, not sure what I wanted to see. Fear… anger… but they were blank.

Ritch had wisely stayed out in the hallway. He stepped sideways when I came out but stayed close. I relished the warmth of him along my side and his scent chasing away the worst of the other one. “No one else comes in here unless they have express permission from the alpha, and he verifies it. I don’t care what time it is,” I ordered.

Anger tinged my voice when I raised it so they’d all hear me, and each guard nodded, repeating, “Yes, beta” in unison.

I was exhausted, hurt, angry… and all I wanted was to curl up with Ritch and breathe in his scent. The sun was too bright; I was hungry and tired, and this shit just needed to end. I wanted everything to go back to the way it was.

But nothing would ever be the same.

Park was the alpha. Our dads were dead, my brother had been tortured, and our mother was on the edge with her mate’s soul in another man’s body. She was holding it together, but I could see the cracks.

It should’ve made me worry about mating with Ritch, but it didn’t. I knew he’d never betray me. He’d lived a life that could’ve broken another man, but he’d stepped forward and put his neck on the line to approach an alpha he didn’t know in hopes of helping stop something catastrophic from harming the community that had only heaped abuse on him.

“Let’s go home.” Ritch rubbed the middle of my back.

That. That was exactly what I needed. “Yeah, okay.” I kept my steps firm and my shoulders squared until we were in the car, but then I collapsed against the seat. “Thank you, Ritch. I needed that.”

He reached over and grabbed my hand.

“And that.”

“Really?”

My head was against the headrest, and I didn’t even pick it up, just turned my face toward him. “You always seem to know what I need.”

Ritch shrugged. “I pay attention.”

“Yeah, but other people don’t see it.”

“You don’t let them. You’re the beta, someone in charge.” Ritch glanced at me when he stopped before making a left turn. “You let me see it.”

“I’m trying.”

“Sleep is what you need. I got some in the car last night, and the nap earlier was good enough for me.” We pulled in under the big tree in the front yard that shaded the house and driveway. Ritch shut off the car.

I pulled out my metaphorical puppy dog eyes and asked, “Can we go inside and get in bed? The same bed?”

Ritch swallowed. “For…?”

“Just to rest. I’m exhausted, and you make things all right. You could watch TV. I’ll stay under the covers, keep my clothes on. I just want to be close to you.”

“Yeah.”

It took several minutes to get inside and situated, but by the time I was in bed, my head near Ritch’s hip as he sat against the headboard, the remote in his hand, I was strung so tight with need I wanted to burst.

Then Ritch put his hand in my hair and scratched my scalp, and it all just drained away. I sighed and went limp.

“Sleep.”

He could tell me what to do anytime.


TBC
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter 17



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.”

“Thank you.”                                                                                                                                     

“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.

“All quiet?”

She nodded.

“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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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter Sixteen


Mine! Part Two Chapter Fifteen


“Sit down right now and let me look at you.” I grimaced, but I didn’t argue. Mom could pinch an ear and make you listen, if you didn’t the first time. One time my dad had told me a story about how the older werekin’s ears were so long because their moms had pulled on them so much as a kid, and I’d believed him.

The next time she’d grabbed me by the ear, I’d accused her of trying to make my ears longer than ole Mr. Constance’s. That earned me an extra yank when she asked what the heck I meant—and then she let go because she was laughing too hard to stay angry at whatever I’d done that day.

The happy memory, once that included both my parents, was bittersweet. I could tell the moment she got close enough to catch the scent on my skin. She faltered, and her face paled. “You found… him?”

I nodded. “Brought him back. Deke’s taken him and one of the others we managed to capture. The convocation will be tomorrow, the next day at the latest.”

“Ritch, will you go get my first aid kit from the front hallway closet? Big red bag.” Most werekin households had large kits, at least, all the predators did. Claws and hormones didn’t always make great combos.

“Sure.”

“How’s he doing?” my mom asked quietly after Ritch stepped out of the kitchen.

I kept my voice equally low so he couldn’t hear us. “Good, but he needs more confidence. I want him, Mom; he’d already be mine if I wasn’t afraid of scaring him.”

She reached up and cupped my cheeks. “I’m so glad both my boys found someone to make them happy. It gives me peace of mine.”

I didn’t like the way that sounded, but I couldn’t say anything because Ritch was almost back. “I kissed him.”

Her eyes were sparkling and she was smiling when Ritch came back into the room. He hefted the bag up onto the table. “There you go, Lydia. I didn’t expect such a big bag.”

She shrugged. “Hazards of the species.” She opened it up and pulled out the disinfectant. I fought the urge to hiss and lost when she poured it over my wounds, but I had to admit everything felt better once she was done and had rebandaged them. The little bits of grit inside the wounds had been irritating me as my body tried to heal over them.

“Do you want to go over to Park’s house?” I asked her when she finished putting away the medical tape.

Mom paused and then started picking up the gauze wrappers and other mess. “I… I don’t think so.” She wrapped her arms around her chest, and I scented her distress.

I stood and pulled her close, squeezing her in a tight hug. “It’ll be okay, Mom.”

She sniffled and nodded. “I know.” She wiped the tears away with the side of her hand. “You boys head home to rest. I’ll make you some food and bring it over in the morning.”

“Thanks, Mom.” I leaned down and kissed her cheek. “Come on, Ritch.” I was surprised she didn’t ask for more information, but maybe she was at her limit. I’d heal, but I was worried about the wounds to her mentally.

Ritch was still quiet when we walked in the front door to my place. I shut and locked it behind us. We’d only been gone a few days, but it felt like forever. “I need to clean up.” I was grimy and sweaty.

“Your mom just changed your bandages. You’ll get them wet.” Ritch made perfect sense, but I wanted the scent gone from my skin.

“I’ll clean up with a washcloth then.” Anything to be clean.

“Okay. I’m going to take a shower.” Ritch stopped at the door to his room. He put his hand on the knob and then stopped. “Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah, but I don’t think I can go right to sleep. Want to watch a movie with me?” I was tired, but more than that, I wanted to see if Ritch would snuggle up on the couch with me. I could grab the comforter off my bed. He’d be cocooned in my scent.

The primitive side of me was very satisfied with that idea. I finished before Ritch did, so I threw a bag of popcorn in the microwave and then dumped it in a bowl. Two cups of milk topped off the snack. If that didn’t help us sleep, nothing would.

Ritch was just coming down the stairs when I pulled open the cupboard with the DVDs. “Do you want to see anything?” He came up close, and I inhaled. He was using my spare bottle of body wash and was wearing some of my old clothes from back when I was a teen. I stared down at him.

He plucked a movie off the shelves and looked up. He frowned. “What?”

“What what?”

“You’re looking at me funny.”

“Am I?” I shut the cupboard. “What did you pick?”

“The Matrix.”

“Oh, I like this one. The first one is the best, but I have all three.” I put it in. “I put popcorn and milk on the coffee table.” I put them on the center of the table, close together, and my blanket was over the back of the couch. Ritch sat down first, and I sat down next to him. Not so close that we were touching, but I could feel the heat of his body alongside mine. He smiled nervously.

I pulled the blanket over us and nestled the bowl between our thighs. The movie started the play and I let go of all the stress and worry and just enjoyed being with Ritch.

When he leaned sideways and rested his head against my shoulder, I knew he was enjoying it too.

TBC

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