Page 47

A snide laugh. “You really think you can stop us?”

Fletcher growled low in his throat, a reminder that he was an animal.

The cop swallowed hard. They might be holding the guy’s mate captive, but he was still stronger than this cop. If he wanted to, Fletcher could rip him apart. Of course, he would never find his mate if he did that, but the cop’s primitive side had to recognize that Fletcher was stronger and more dangerous than he himself was.

“Calm down. We’re not going to touch her. Just throw her in a cage and call her boyfriend in. If he does what we say, we’ll let her go,” the cop said.

That was a blatant lie. They would never let her go. A shot of fear surged through her, bitter and fast. What if she’d damaged the recording device when she landed on the ground earlier? What if Jayce couldn’t hear her, didn’t know where she was being taken?

Her breathing became ragged as blood rushed in her ears. What if this had been a giant mistake? What if––

“He won’t be easy to control,” Fletcher said, injecting fear into his voice and completely cutting off Kat’s train of thought.

The fear was a nice touch, Kat thought, and probably not all fake.

“He will when I have a gun with silver-injected bullets pointed at her head.”

A new burst of fear bloomed inside her at the mention of the weapon. She might be fast, able to dodge bullets, but she’d never actually put it to the test. Deep down she worried that she’d crack under pressure, be unable to react and would get herself killed.

“So when do I get to see my mate?” Fletcher asked.

Kat tensed, knowing what was about to happen. She and Fletcher had talked outside the bowling alley/bar before they’d reached the SUV. It wasn’t part of the original plan, but Kat wanted Fletcher reunited with his mate. He’d been a slave for weeks, constantly worrying about his mate. No one deserved that kind of emotional pain. Connor and Jayce had to have heard her conversation with Fletcher, so they would know that she’d made a change. She just hoped all parties—meaning law enforcement—went along with it. Not to mention that this would make Fletcher’s role look more realistic.

The cop had searched her for weapons but not recording devices and she doubted that they would do that. Especially not after what Fletcher was about to do.

“I’m getting sick of your questions,” the cop ground out.

“And I’m sick of you,” Fletcher snarled.

She heard the sound of a fist connecting with skin, followed by curses, and then the vehicle swerved dangerously, slamming Kat up against the side. Finally the vehicle jerked to a stop, the sound of skidding tires grating on her ears. She didn’t make a peep until Fletcher dove over the backseat, yanked her up, and pressed a gun to her temple.

Fear sparked inside her. She might be a shifter now, but she’d been a human a hell of a lot longer. Having a gun to her head sent an icy chill snaking through her.

She opened her eyes and saw the cop staring at the two of them, blood dripping down his nose and from a split lip. “What the fuck are you doing?” he rasped.

“You don’t bring my mate here right now, I kill her and you’ll never get what you want.” As if to prove his intent, he pulled back the slide action to the gun, chambering a round.

Kat swallowed. She might trust Fletcher to an extent, but having a gun pressed against her head was a scary thing.

The cop’s features twisted with anger. “You don’t get to bargain with me!”

“I’m not stupid. I know you never planned to let my mate go. Now you’re going to. It’s a win-win situation. You get this bitch and I get my mate. Make the call and have her brought right here in less than twenty minutes. She gets one escort and that’s it. If she’s not here, I’ll kill you.” Fletcher’s voice was steady as a rock and so damn convincing, Kat didn’t have a doubt that he’d kill the cop if pushed.

And she wouldn’t blame him. She forced a fake tremble. “Please don’t kill me,” she begged.

The cop held up his hands in surrender. “No one’s going to kill you. I’m reaching into my pocket and pulling out my phone, okay?” he asked Fletcher, a slight tremor to his voice. The thread of fear rolling off him was real too. The scent was rancid, stinging her nostrils.

“Careful. And don’t forget I can hear every word you’re saying. Try anything and I put a bullet in your brain,” Fletcher said.

The cop, or Derrick Bird—it was so much easier to think of him by his profession than to give this monster a name—did as he was ordered.

Then they waited.

Barely ten minutes later, a vehicle pulled up behind them on the side of the deserted highway, high beams shining into the back of the SUV.

“Call your friend and tell him to kill the lights.”

Derrick did as ordered and the lights immediately shut off.

“Now send my mate out.”

“Not until you let her go,” the cop said, nodding at Kat.

Fletcher snorted. “You’re not running this show anymore. Send my mate out, let her get in the passenger seat, and I’ll let Kat go. There’s no other option for you unless you want to die.” There was a note in Fletcher’s voice that told Kat that sooner or later Derrick Bird was dying. If he didn’t die tonight, it would eventually happen at Fletcher’s hands.

Indecision flared in the cop’s eyes, but finally he stepped out of the SUV and waved his hand at the other vehicle.

“I’m sorry for doing this, Kat. I couldn’t take the risk that they’d kill Heather later. There was no guarantee your pack would have gotten to her in time,” he whispered so low she almost didn’t hear him.

“I don’t blame you,” she murmured. And she didn’t. They’d had no idea where his mate was being held, and it was the only shitty part of the plan. They’d been hoping the APL would give up her location in return for leniency once they had the bastards locked down.

Moments later a petite, scared, very pregnant blond female slid into the front seat. Fear rolled off her, a bitter, enveloping scent as she turned to look at them. “Fletcher?” There was a question in her scared voice.

“Are you okay, Heather?” Fletcher’s voice held a soothing quality reserved only for his mate. Kat was positive of that.

“Me and the baby are fine, but my due date is almost here. I have maybe a couple days,” she whispered.

Those words only confirmed Kat’s decision that it had been right to help Fletcher in this way.

The cop stood by the open driver’s-side door. “Let the woman go.”

Fletcher motioned at the cop with his gun. “Keep your hands up, back away from the door. I’ll let her out as soon as you’re across the street.” When the cop hesitated, Fletcher growled. “I’m not risking a high-speed chase with my pregnant mate. I’ll let her go as soon as you move!”

“I’ll find you,” the cop growled.

Behind her, Kat felt Fletcher tense. All he’d have to do was turn the gun on the cop and kill him. It would be so easy. His tormenter would be dead.

But then they wouldn’t have what they needed. Bringing down one APL member wasn’t newsworthy. Derrick’s death would be brushed off and he’d be labeled as a bad seed in the organization. Sensing Fletcher’s thoughts, Kat squeezed his thigh tightly. The middle seat of the SUV blocked the lower half of their bodies, and since her arms were still restrained the cop wouldn’t be able to see her.

Fletcher relaxed immediately. “You can try, cop. Now move and keep those hands in the air.”

Once the cop started backing away, Fletcher helped Kat over the seat and followed her, opening the side door a fraction. Leaning forward so that her lips grazed his ears, she prayed that no one on the other side of her recording device could hear her as she whispered in the beta’s ears. “Lose this vehicle as soon as you can and disappear.”

Nodding, Fletcher shoved the door open, pushed Kat out and dove for the front seat. Before she’d even hit the pavement, the SUV tore away, tires squealing, dirt and snow flying everywhere.

Playing up her supposed weakness, Kat pretended to try to stand, then stumbled and fell, crying as she did. “I don’t want to die,” she said.

Hands grabbed her shoulders and lifted her up. “You’re not going to die. You’re bait,” the cop said.

Another male, this one with a slightly crooked nose that looked like it had been broken multiple times, joined them as Derrick started leading her to the waiting car. “Why’d you let them go?”

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry. Besides, if they ever get his DNA in the system,” Derrick said, referring to Fletcher, “they’ll bring him down for the men he killed. Any story he tells will just seem like bullshit. I’m a cop and he’s a killer. No one will believe we forced him into killing those scum.”

Crooked Nose laughed under his breath. “Guess you’re right. Should we put her in the trunk or the backseat?” he asked as if she wasn’t even there.

“Trunk,” the cop said.

No! Her inner wolf clawed at her. She didn’t want to go in a small, dark enclosure. Didn’t want to be captive ever again. It didn’t matter that her human side knew this was part of the plan. Her beast wanted freedom.

Struggling and capitalizing on her fear, she twisted and turned, masking her true strength as she lashed out at them with her legs. After she kicked Crooked Nose in the shins, he grunted and wrapped his arms around her legs while the cop got the top of her body.

They threw her into the trunk unceremoniously and Derrick slammed the lid shut with a grunt.

After she’d been left alone, it took her a few long moments to stop thrashing around and get her breathing under control. At least her extrasensory abilities allowed her to see in the dark. Not like when she’d been human, when she’d been blindfolded in that van after those monsters had kidnapped her.

She wasn’t sure where they were taking her now, but she knew that wherever it was, it would be to more APL members. Forcing herself to relax, she took deep breaths until her heart rate returned to normal.