Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter Twenty-two

Another week, another installment. Don't forget you can also get my new contemporary novella, On Fire, 30% off at Dreamspinner through today! If you liked my last contemporary story set in the Pacific NW, you should check it out. No kids, but a firefighter and a photographer experience some serious combustion! In the meantime, the flash fiction will keep on flowing, with this week's update!

Chapter Twenty-two

I left two guards at the house and headed over to Lydia’s house. On my way I called Park and told him to meet me there with Ritch. They could help me search for anything that might reveal what Henry had done. I hated to make Park face this so head on, but as my beta, I needed him. Plus, he’d know all the hiding spots in the house.

I sat sideways on the porch steps and waited. The sun had gone down, and the moon was rising, but it wasn’t quite night yet. I leaned my head back against the handrail. Life hadn’t been great before, but it had been simple. Get up, work, take care of the streak. I’d had just long enough to get used to the boring routine before finding Kraig completely shattered the peace within the streak.

The rumors were flying, and there was nothing I could say to reassure my people when we knew so little. I had streak members away from my claimed area searching for a traitor. My mate was under guard. The only thing I could do was search a house. It chafed the soul inside me who wanted to go on the hunt. I’d tear Henry apart for what he did, but it wouldn’t be over fast—not after the way he’d let them torture his own son.

I flared my nostrils and caught Park’s scent along with the vaguely bitter tang from Ritch. He was afraid. It took effort, but I reined in the urge to snarl. “About time,” I said testily.

“We had farther to come than you did.” Park led Ritch across the front lawn. “What do you think we’re going to find here?” he asked.

“Hell if I know. We might not find anything at all, but I need to do something. I spent nearly as much time here as I did at home growing up. If anyone can find something, it’ll be us. So, show me all your secret spots.”

Ritch hovered beside Park.

“And you can tell me what you found out from him,” I said. I unlocked the front door and flipped on the light.

“He can speak for himself,” Park said. He squeezed Ritch’s shoulder and then shut the front door. He lowered his voice but I could still hear him clearly. “He doesn’t bite.”

I resisted the urge to flash my fangs. “Let’s start in the living room. You move something, you put it back. I told your mom we’d be careful, and she’s already plotting revenge.”

“What did you do?” Park began taking books off the shelves and shaking them.

I started in on the armoire. “Submitted her.”

“You did what?” The book in Park’s hands made a dull thud when it hit the floor.

“She was here when Kraig was drugged. I had to know he was safe.”

“My mother would never hurt him.” Park growled. “You might as well have submitted me.”

“You were here,” I pointed out.

“But what about all the time I’ve spent gone since Kraig disappeared? I can’t believe you did that. My mom?”

Ritch faded back toward the entry. The sharp scent of Park’s anger burned my nose. I straightened and stared directly into his eyes.

“Do you remember, when we were kids, and the son of that visiting alpha spit on Kraig? You nearly smashed his face in, even though you were a beta. You risked punishment, not just from my dad, but from his.”

“I seem to recall you were the one who broke his jaw.”

“Yeah, and convinced him that it was a good excuse to keep his mouth shut when I said you tried to stop me and that’s how you got the shiner when I reacted without thinking.”

Park’s shoulders dropped. “You had to do a formal apology, and your dad tanned your hide.”

“Actually, he told me he knew what happened. That’s when he told me that you should be my beta. That’s why he started training us both. And he didn’t actually hit me, but he did make me take those diplomacy lessons. I think I might have preferred the beating.”

Distance between me and my beta was the last thing we needed right now. He had to know I trusted him. “You risked everything for your brother. You refused to let anyone treat him badly because of what he was. You wouldn’t be involved in trying to change him.”

The fight went right out of Park. “Okay. Mom forgave you, right? I mean, you left her alone with Kraig and we’re here.”

“As long as we don’t make a mess, I will probably survive to see the sun rise. How about we get moving so I can maybe get to bed with my mate before that happens?”

“Ughs. Don’t talk about that. He’s my brother.” Park picked up the book.

Ritch moved back into the room tentatively. “You guys remind me of me and Danny. He was like a brother.”

“You didn’t have any siblings?”

He shook his head. “Not after I was born without a soul. My mother… Well, I was an only child.”

I went back to searching among the knickknacks on the shelves. “Tell me about Danny. About the doctor. What did he do that had the alpha of your herd so uneasy?”

“At first no one thought about it. Everyone was glad to have a doctor, so no one minded the blood and tissue samples. Bonded werekin heal fast. But he kept badgering my alpha to let him take a look at me, even when I wasn’t hurt. The streak funds didn’t extend to paying for my medical care, and my parents did only the bare minimum so I could pass among humans. The doctor offered to pay the alpha for me, but by then he’d already made the deal with the streak. I guess he started following me around, probably making plans to take me before that could happen.”
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