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Using his peripheral vision, he deduced that they were in what was once a spinning room for the textile factory. Rows of spinning machines and a few combing machines were still scattered around the giant space. He’d had to track down a rogue shifter a few decades ago and the guy had been hiding out under a pseudonym and working in a factory similar to this one. Plenty of places for people to hide. Too bad for them that they couldn’t hide from him.


Jayce cut off Derrick. “Your boy’s down. Not dead, but he’s got a broken jaw.”

Derrick cursed but didn’t say anything else, so Jayce looked at the man in the suit. “I’m guessing you’re the boss. Want to tell me what the fuck you think you plan to accomplish tonight?”

Instead of responding, the suited man looked over his shoulder at a guy standing near an old spinning machine and made a quick motion with his hand.

Wordlessly the dark-haired man straightened and strode toward him.

“He’s going to scan you for electronic devices and check you for weapons. We’re more than aware that you can kill him, but if you do, the man holding your female will blow her brains out.” His aristocratic voice grated on Jayce’s nerves, but hearing him threaten Kat made him see red.

His claws extended as he held his arms out to let the human scan him. Using a wand similar to the kind used by airports and courthouses, the man scanned him from head to toe, then patted him down. It was the reason Jayce had taken off his belt before coming in here. He knew what they’d do and he wanted this over as fast as possible.

Getting Kat out of here was the only important thing. At the moment he didn’t care about this entire operation. His inner wolf was howling in pain to get his mate to safety and it didn’t give a shit about anything or anyone else. A dangerous position for him to be in, especially considering the type of wolf he was.

Taking a deep, calming breath, he forced his beast down. If he let it out, he would slaughter everyone in this place, and everything he, Kat, and the Armstrong pack had been working toward would be completely fucked. “Satisfied that I’m not wired?”

The suited man nodded. “Yes. Now, you’re probably wondering why we called you here.”

Jayce obviously knew, but he didn’t respond. He just kept his focus on the man in front of him and waited.

The man made another motion with his hand but didn’t take his eyes off Jayce. “Bring her out.”

A few seconds later the man who’d scanned him with the wand came out from behind a cluster of spinning machines with Kat in tow. He had a gun pressed to her temple.

Jayce growled low in his throat and it wasn’t part of the act. Seeing his mate, the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, like this pushed every facet of control he possessed. He gave her a long look, trying to inject all his love into it, trying to tell her nothing would happen to her as long as he was here. Her gaze was unreadable as she stared back at him. It was like a knife pressing into his gut.

Tearing his eyes away from her, he stared at the suited man. “Tell me what you want,” he demanded, his voice sounding more animal than human.

“You’re going to do exactly what I say when I say until you’re no longer useful.” Jayce noticed there was no “we” in his statement, just “I.”

Yeah, something about his tone was personal. Not toward Jayce specifically—he was almost sure of that—but this was personal against shifters or paranormal beings in general. The men here hated paranormal beings, that much was obvious, but this guy . . . If Jayce had to guess, he hated them because they were physically more powerful and they lived longer. The man just looked like the type. Probably hated that his money couldn’t buy him immortality. Jayce knew it was a big assumption, but he’d dealt with rich assholes like this over the years. The type who would sell their souls to be like paranormals. “You think you can blackmail me into working for you?”

“I know I can.” There was a bitter bite to the words.

“So what do you want?” Jayce intentionally kept his gaze away from Kat, not trusting himself to look at her when she was being restrained and had a weapon to her head.

“For starters, I want to see what you can do.” He snapped his fingers and the man with the revolver jumped into action. Like a trained dog.

Jayce kept his hands loose at his sides. He might look relaxed to these people, but the second he got what he wanted, he was getting Kat to safety. Deep down he understood her need to do this tonight, but he couldn’t take it anymore. His beast was clawing at him, furious for his captivity. For a moment his vision hazed over and he had to blink, forcing his beast down again. Shit. That had been too close.

The man with the revolver returned with two humans wearing leather APL jackets similar to the ones he’d seen on the bikers from that bar he’d been to with Kat. Obviously these guys weren’t hopped up on vamp blood. If they were, the humans here wouldn’t have been able to keep them captive.

Jayce glanced back at the suit. “You haven’t told me your name.” He needed to talk. It helped keep his fury, which was on a very thin leash, at bay.

The man’s dark eyes narrowed. “Anthony—”

“So you’re basically in charge of everyone in Fontana, huh? You know a man named Adler?” he asked, his tone full of disrespect.

Anthony’s eyes turned even darker. “He used to be under my purview, yes.” There was a bite to his words.

“So basically you said jump and he asked how high,” Jayce spat.

“You’re not here to talk about one of my dead subordinates. Now you will kill these two in your human form. I want to see what you’re capable of.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t those guys wearing APL jackets? I thought you guys all banded together.”

“Who they are is none of your concern. Kill them or your female dies. Now.” The flash of his temper rose through the thin veneer of a man who pretended to be civilized but was nothing more than a monster in Armani.

Jayce looked at Kat and saw not fear in her pale eyes but raw determination. Derrick still had a gun trained on him, but Jayce knew he could take him out with no problem. He could move a hell of a lot faster than the cop could shoot.

That still left Kat unprotected. She’d told him she could handle herself, that she wanted to take these guys down her way, to prove to herself she wasn’t a victim anymore. He desperately wanted to give her back that sense of freedom. His wolf said otherwise.

Jayce didn’t know if the gun being held to Kat’s head had silver-injected bullets, but it was highly likely. A shot to the head wouldn’t kill her immediately, but if too much silver got into her bloodstream, it would. As Kat was newly turned, her defenses were still building up.

They’d already gotten everything they needed on tape. Now it was a matter of getting out of this place alive. Giving her an almost imperceptible nod, he lunged. Using all his strength, he let his beast take over as he launched himself through the air. His clothes shredded as his body underwent the change in milliseconds. Unlike others of his kind, thanks to his age and unique breed, his change was always like lightning. Too quick for the human eye.

Everything else around him funneled out. Kat’s head slammed back against her captor. She twisted, elbow raised, prepared to strike him again, but Jayce was so much faster. His paws slammed into the guy’s chest. The man shouted in pain as Jayce pinned him to the ground. The gun clattered to the floor as Jayce swiped out with his forepaw, slicing the guy across the face with such force that he knocked him out.

It felt like an eternity, but Jayce knew mere seconds had passed. Spinning around, he turned to find Derrick taking aim at them. The two restrained humans dove for cover as the man holding the revolver turned toward him and Kat. Everything moved in slow motion. Kat had snapped off her handcuffs with ease and by the stance of her body he could tell she was ready to go for Mayfield’s throat. He could read every tense line in that lean body of hers. She was primed for a fight, regardless of the threat.

He refused to let her go after Mayfield. She would kill him for sure and it would ruin her life. Still in animal form, he threw himself at her, taking her to the floor, using his body as a cushion. Keeping his claws retracted, he encircled her and restrained her.

Bullets flew around them, loud pings ricocheting everywhere. Gunpowder and metallic scents filled the air. He felt the sharp sting of silver entering his body, but he ignored it, keeping Kat down even as she struggled against him, screaming for him to let her go.

Not a chance in hell. The burn of the bullet was nothing compared with the roaring need to protect her. He’d failed her once and he would die before letting that happen again.

Another bullet sliced into his body, and all hell broke loose. Connor, Liam, Ryan, and a bunch of men in uniform stormed through the metal door and the windows. They all carried weapons. Shouts flew from everywhere, but Jayce blocked it all out.

His wolf was in control now. As long as Kat was safe and no one tried to touch her, his beast wouldn’t have a problem. God help anyone who came too close to them.

Chapter 19

As men in uniform stormed the place, Kat ceased her struggling underneath Jayce. Blood dripped over her dirty jacket, covering her. His blood.

Reaching out, she wrapped her arms around Jayce’s neck, pressing her face into his soft fur. The cavalry had arrived, but she’d gone crazy for a moment, consumed with the need to strike out at Anthony Mayfield—the man who likely had ordered Adler to kidnap her, resulting in her subsequent torture and abuse from a total psycho—and kill him. When Mayfield had arrived he’d all but admitted it to her. He’d been talking about how Adler had failed as a subordinate, how the dead man couldn’t follow simple orders, but now that he’d taken charge things would be different in Fontana. Then he’d admitted it again to Jayce.

But Jayce had seen what she’d been planning. He’d probably read her body language before she’d even been aware of her actions.