“What are you doing here?”
The tiger’s eyes were dull, and he shook his head. Was he stupid, foolhardy, or did I deprive a few too many brain cells of oxygen? Surrounded by a half-circle of werekin and with me in his face… he was in a no-win scenario. Maybe he needed a little encouragement.
“I’m told you work for Trein. Do his dirty work. That true?” The tiger stared at me, and I growled. “You broke in here and tried to hurt me, or kill me, and do who knows what to Ritch. Because of you, I’m going to carry scars.” I held up my arms, swathed in white bandages. “Trust me when I say I have no problems making you tell me what I want to know.”
The tendons in my hands and wrists burned, but I slid my claws out. I crouched in front of the tiger. “One last chance. Who are you and what are you doing here?” I lightly pushed against one edge of the black markings on his face, just under his eye, then dug my claw in until blood welled up around my nail. “Answer me!”
My rage pulsed, and my vision narrowed in as I gave myself up to hunter mode. I flashed my fangs and hissed. He flinched. There, a reaction. Watching his eyes from inches away, I dragged my claw backward, slicing open his cheek as I traced his markings along his muzzle.
He gasped and leaned away from me, but I had no mercy. Blood dripped down his face, but it wasn’t enough. Deke trusted me to take care of this, to protect the streak. No one else flinched when I did it again. The tiger was breathing hard, the whites showing all around his eyes.
I dug my thumb into the mark on the side of his neck not far from his racing pulse. “Talk. Or die. Who do you work for?”
“Trein,” he gasped.
“Why did you attack us?”
“To take him.” He glanced at Ritch.
“Alpha owns him. No one takes his things.”
I barely fought off the urge to slice this throat wide open right there. “Ritch is a person. Not a thing. He can’t be owned, and he’s not that bastard’s anything.” I yanked my hand away from his neck before I took his head clean off. I couldn’t look at Ritch, or there would be no stopping me from avenging the pain and humiliation I knew they’d heaped on him.
“Keep him quiet.” I grabbed my phone, wincing as the wounds pulled. That only pissed me off more, and my phone made an ominous crackling sound. I eased my grip immediately. I walked into the bathroom and turned on the water to mask my conversation from the others’ sharp ears.
“What is it, Park?” Deke asked. His voice was growly.
“Trouble.” I summed up the events succinctly. “What do you want me to do with him?”
Deke snarled. “Gag him and leave him tied up. I will lodge a complaint and someone else can tell his alpha where to find him. Make sure he’s out of commission, though don’t let him die.”
I lowered my voice. “Do you think that it’s a cover? That Trien has something to do with the scientists and the human werekin looking to create an army?”
“Maybe, but he’s one of the worst offenders. Look what he did to Ritch. I can’t imagine him considering human werekin equal enough to conspire with him.”
“You’re probably right.” I sighed. “I was hoping for a quick answer. He’s in on it, attack and take over his streak, extract information on the scientists’ whereabouts, and then it’s done.”
“Nothing is that easy,” Deke said. “I think this is exactly what it seems. A thwarted tyrant tried to take something he wants.”
Kraig’s voice came though fainter, but I could still hear him. “How hurt are you, really?”
“It’s not good, but it’s not that bad either. I didn’t lose any use of my hands, it just hurts like a son of a bitch. I’ll be careful and Ritch will have to drive, but I should be healed in a few days.”
“Keep in touch whenever you can.”
“I will… Maybe don’t tell Mom about this?” I was the pack beta, Deke’s enforcer, and a strong, powerful werekin, but she liked to forget that when she coddled me and Deke. Besides, she’d been through enough.
“Agreed. Come back soon. Isiah is performing your rounds, and he’s driving me crazy with the constant updates.”
I huffed. The last time I ran the perimeter I was gone for two weeks and I didn’t call Deke once. I’d wanted some alone time, and when there was nothing to report, there was no reason to call. “Maybe you should get used to it. I’ll talk to you later.” I hung up even though I heard him saying something.
Ritch was dressed and sitting in the remaining chair on the other side of the room from the tiger who was swearing up a storm and making threats.
“Shut up,” I hissed at him. “Someone gag his ass. We’re leaving, so everyone go get your shit.” They gagged him and then left until it was just me and Ritch.
“Are we taking him?” Ritch asked. He grabbed the stuff out of the bathroom, then zipped both bags shut. I hated not being able to help.
The tiger began to struggle, his complaints muffled by the gag, but I ignored him. “We’re paid up, so Deke will handle it.”
“So that’s who you called.”
I nodded. “We keep going.”
When we got to the car, I instinctively went to the driver’s door, but Ritch met me there. I sighed. “Being a passenger makes me sick.”
“Sorry. I’ll be careful.”
Slowly, I lifted Ritch’s chin. “Don’t apologize. None of this is your fault.”
He shook his head. “It is. You wouldn’t be hurt, if it wasn’t for me.”
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