This chapter was inspired by the prompt: Include a John Denver reference.
The alphas were skeptical of our report, until Deke showed them the footage of Trein’s attack on our streak. I gave my report, one hand clenched around the wrist of my opposite hand, as I stared straight at the wall. It took all of my control not to snarl when I shared what Ritch had told us.
“But why did they take the human and not the werekin they experimented on?” one alpha asked.
“I don’t know,” Deke said. “Unfortunately, I was waiting until the convocation to interrogate him.
The werekin they left behind doesn’t seem to be able to speak. He barely aware.”
“Probably dying from some experiment they did on them.” The older alpha glanced sidelong at my brother, and I bristled. “It’s an abomination.”
Deke’s chair legs screeched on the floor as he stood abruptly and bent over the table. “Do we need to go over my opinion on that word again?”
The alpha leaned back in his chair. “No, no. That won’t be… necessary.”
“Then watch how you speak on my territory. I do not know for certain what that werekin’s story is, but I will find out. In the meantime, I mean to go after Trein. Clearly he’s involved in the human werekin experiments, and they’re moving on to straight humans. Maybe that’s why they took that guy. They’d done something to him or they planned to and needed him specifically for an experiment. Whatever it was, it’s serious, or they wouldn’t have risked coming onto my territory without having a traitor in our midst like before.”
“I agree,” Durant said. He stood. “We must go after Trein. I will commit my clan beside yours in this cause. Change toward the human werekin among us should’ve happened a long time ago; it’s shameful it’s taking the risk of all-out war and discovery from the humans to force it.”
“Who else will go? I am leaving my mate in charge here, and some of the men and women have volunteered to replace the guards on the perimeter searches and to protect the vulnerable. The majority of the guard will go with us. That’s sixty-four sound fighters, led by myself and my beta.”
“We aren’t as big as you, but I have forty guards I could spare,” Durant said.
“Sixteen,” said the bear clean leader. “We are spread thin in our territory, preferring to be solitary, but I know one of my couples has a baby that was born a human werekin. He is vulnerable. I wouldn’t see him taken and his life ruined by the plots of sadistic men.”
I was pleased to see the bear alpha volunteer. They were standoffish and solitary, and they rarely joined convocations. This threat might bring the clans together in a way that nothing else could have. Clan alpha after clan alpha stood and announced their decision. Not all would go with us, but those who didn’t offered up support in weapons, equipment, or information.
Trein would be sorry he joined the wrong side.
“You gave us the maps, that’s good enough.” I patted the copy I had folded in the front pouch of my path. The paper crinkled under my fingers. “You’ve done enough. It’s time for you to stay here and be safe. Help Kraig, and take care of my mother, please. I’m counting on you to be here when I get back.”
“Here?” asked Ritch in a tentative voice. We were standing in my bedroom next to the bed. He nervously licked his lips, glancing at the bed and then back at me.
“Only if that’s what you want, and only when you’re ready.” I reached out and grabbed Rich’s hand, reeling him in close. He kept his eyes down, and a low rumble vibrated in my chest. “Look at me.”
He slowly lifted his chin until his gaze finally met mine. “You are an amazing man. I am constantly thankful that I met you; I don’t know what I did to deserve you.”
Rich opened his mouth to protest, but I cut them off. “Just take it like I mean it, okay?”
“Okay.” He nodded. “You’re amazing too.” His hands caressed my shoulders. “I want to be here when you get home. Can I sleep in your bed while you are gone?”
“Baby, you can be in my bed anytime.” Shit, that was corny. “Now, how about a kiss? I’m leaving on a jet plane, and I don’t know when I’ll be back again.”
Ritch made a face. “Did you just quote a John Denver song?”
“Maybe. But not the song, I’m thinking about that awesome scene in that asteroid movie where the guys all sing it. You know?”
“I’ve never seen that movie either. I only know the song because I remember my mom singing it.”
“Well, it’s a date. We’ll watch it when I get back. Maybe we’ll watch it in bed on my laptop.” The thought of snuggling with him—and maybe more—was making it hard for me to want to leave.
Hell, who was I kidding? I didn’t want to go, and I definitely didn’t want to leave him behind. But he’d be okay and the sooner I left, the sooner I’d be back. “Give me a kiss.” The order came out on a growl, but he didn’t hesitate.
Thoroughly kissed, my pants too tight in the crotch as they bulged unmistakably, I walked out of my house.
Deke snickered, but he was worse than me. I didn’t want to think about him and my little brother and sex in the same thought, so I slipped him off. “The staging going off without a hitch?” With as many cars as we had leaving the streak property, we had to space them out or it’d look suspicious to the humans.
The last thing we wanted was for some law enforcement to get us on their radar.
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