Good to know in case they needed to make a hasty exit. With his gloved hand, he tested the handle to the door. Locked.
Putting his weight into it, he rammed the door with his shoulder. The flimsy lock easily broke under the pressure. As he stepped inside, there was a bedroom to his right and a hallway leading to what looked like a kitchen/living room combination.
The instant he stepped into the bedroom, he heard the front door jerk open. He paused. “Jayce?” Anyone else wouldn’t have been able to hear him.
“Yeah,” he said just as quietly.
“I’m going to check the bedroom.”
“All right. I’ve got the kitchen and living room. Smells like something died in here,” Jayce said in disgust.
Liam nodded in agreement even though the other wolf couldn’t see him. The place was colder inside than out and the stench of mold and rotting food accosted him. He eased open the fiberboard door and quickly took in the room. A huge wet stain on the carpet in the corner was the source of the moldy smell. Looked like the guy had a leak and hadn’t bothered to fix it.
A few papers and bills were strewn across the desk by the window. Liam gathered them together and shoved them in his jacket pocket. After finding the desk drawers empty, he checked the closet, under the bed, and any place he could think of.
If this guy was hiding something, it likely wasn’t in his room. And they didn’t have time to do a full-scale search. When he was done, Liam found Jayce searching the cabinets in the kitchen. “Find anything?”
“Lots of porn, ammunition, and a couple handguns,” Jayce said without turning around.
Liam opened the refrigerator but there wasn’t much there. He lifted a few of the condiment containers and when he lifted a mustard bottle, something inside it rattled. He quickly opened it and found a flash drive wrapped in a plastic bag. “Interesting.” He shoved it in his pocket and paused at the same time Jayce did.
Sirens sounded in the distance. Too far away for the human ear, but if they were coming for them, he had to guess they had five minutes to get out of there.
“You ready?” Liam asked.
Jayce nodded and shut the cabinet.
Glancing around, Liam did another visual sweep. It was doubtful this guy had cameras set up, but he didn’t want to take the chance.
Liam opened the front door but fell back as a bullet whizzed by his head and smacked into the wall. “Shit!” Falling onto his back, he kicked the door shut. He’d seen two guys holding pistols, but there could be more.
The loud slam of the door was drowned out by the staccato pops of gunfire. Bursts of noise surrounded them as the front windows exploded. Glass shattered and splintered, covering the dingy furniture of the living room.
“Stupid fuckers,” Jayce growled as he crouched low and crawled away from the door.
Two more huge holes ripped through the wall above their heads. Plastic and old insulation exploded in a burst, filling the room with a cloud of pink dust particles.
“Did you get a look at them?”
“Three men wearing masks,” Jayce said, his tone even.
“I’ll take the kitchen and keep an eye on the back hallway.” Liam began crawling as he spoke.
The two rooms were separated, but only by the flooring. The living room had the kind of thin carpet used in industrial buildings and the kitchen had cheap linoleum flooring.
As the trailer rattled and shook from the gunfire, Liam slowly inched his way toward the window. His heart rate picked up, but he’d been in worse situations. Unless the bullets were lined with silver, he wasn’t too worried. Still, if he got hit, he’d be weaker and these humans would have a better chance of gaining ground against them. Hell, they’d managed to catch them off guard. Something that wasn’t going to happen again.
When the shooting suddenly stopped, Liam pulled out his 9mm semiautomatic pistol from the back of his pants. He didn’t like to open fire on anyone, especially in the middle of a housing area, but these assholes deserved what they got. He slowly stood up and grasped the bottom of the curtain. Moving it to the side a fraction of an inch, he peered out. One guy wearing a black mask was hunkered down beside a car with no wheels. Looked like he was reloading.
Liam couldn’t see the other two but had no doubt they were there. It was possible one of the men had rounded to the back of the house, but he hadn’t heard the door open or scented anyone.
There were about twenty yards between him and the guy and it was a crappy angle. But he had to take the shot.
Without waiting, he aimed and fired. After Liam let off a burst of gunfire, the man cried out as he flew back into the dirt. Liam smiled as the man howled and clutched his shoulder.
As Liam started to duck back down, a sharp pain ripped through his arm. Biting back a cry, he slid down the lower cabinets and clutched his upper arm.
“You all right?” Jayce asked.
“Fine,” he said through gritted teeth. “Got hit, though.”
“Well, you hit one of those douches too.”
Jayce cursed. “I can’t see the others…. Wait…” He fired off a couple shots.
Liam heard another startled cry followed by a string of curses. Sounded like he’d hit another one. That left one more guy.
The sirens in the distance were a lot closer now. Close enough for anyone in the trailer park to hear. Liam tore open one of the drawers and grabbed a rag. As he wrapped it around his arm, Jayce hurried into the room.
He opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a bottle of bleach. “Those guys heard the sirens. They’re on the run, but we don’t have much time.” Jayce poured the bleach on the small stream of blood forming around Liam’s feet.
Liam was careful not to wipe his gloved, blood-covered hand on anything as he stood. A brief wave of nausea bubbled up, but he shook his head. Getting out of there was more important than anything. He could dispose of his clothes later. “We can leave through the back woods and double back to the truck.”
“I’ll meet you by the back door.” Jayce flipped open a lighter and set the kitchen curtains on fire.
Liam started to protest but knew it wouldn’t matter. Even if they had a chance to come back, the cops would have combed over the place. Better to destroy all evidence that they’d been there. Holding on to his arm in an attempt to keep any more blood from leaking through the makeshift bandage, he headed to the back.
He checked outside. No one was waiting to ambush them. “We’re clear.”
When he heard Jayce close behind, he hurried out the door and sprinted for the woods. The sirens were so loud now it would be a miracle if the cops didn’t see them. He didn’t risk a backward glance as he ran. His inner wolf howled at him, begging him to shift to his animal form, but that would leave his clothes and gun behind as evidence—not to mention it would give away what they were.
Once they’d made it into the thick cover of trees, they both paused and turned around. Thick, orange flames licked into the sky and a few cops surrounded the home. When one of them turned and looked in the direction of the woods, he and Jayce both started running.
Liam wasn’t hurt too badly, but by the scorching sting traveling down his arm, he knew the bullet had been lined or tipped with silver. The skin around the wound had turned slightly gray. Whoever had shot at them knew what they were and obviously weren’t afraid to go after them in a semipublic area.
Whatever these assholes had planned, it wasn’t good and it only reinforced Liam’s need to convince December to move to the ranch with him. At least temporarily. He wanted her safe and under his protection.
First he had to clean his wound. If he’d been shot by regular bullets, he’d have already started healing. Since this one had silver on it, he needed to get it out quickly.
He grunted from the spreading pain as they ran. He could feel it in his shoulder now and the agony wasn’t letting up. It was getting worse.
“You okay?” Jayce asked.
“Yeah. We’ve got to get to the ranch, though.” His brother wasn’t a doctor by a long shot, but he’d extracted bullets from him before. If the silver was allowed to spread through his system, it could weaken him for days and eventually kill him.
Stretched out on the floor in Ana and Connor’s kitchen, Liam gritted his teeth against the probing surgical tool. His arm wasn’t gushing blood, but they needed to get the rest of the bullet out so his wound could start healing. Due to the blood loss he was weaker than normal, and if he’d been human, he’d have passed out by now.
His body was working overtime and the wound was fighting to close itself. The remnants of silver on his skin wouldn’t let it.
“This is it,” Connor said.
He grunted in pain as his brother finished pulling the last bullet fragment out.
“Quit being such a baby and stay still.” Ana held Liam’s arm straight as he tried to jerk away.
He glared at his brother and Ana. “Next time you get shot, I’ll see how you feel.”
“I thought male wolves were supposed to be tough.” Vivian, the little jaguar cub Ana and Connor had adopted, sat at the kitchen table with her chin propped between her hands. Her eyebrows drew together in curiosity as she watched him.
“Damn it, Ana. Why are you letting her watch this?” This was tough enough without a ten-year-old cub questioning his masculinity.
“Ooh, you said a bad word, Uncle Liam!” Vivian looked expectantly at Ana and pressed her lips together.
Ana shrugged as she began cleaning his wound. “She wanted to, and besides, she needs to understand why we’re so different from humans. And do not curse in front of her.”
“Don’t feel bad, Uncle Liam. I fell off my horse last week and cried for an hour. It’s okay if you want to cry.” Vivian stared at him with those big brown eyes as if she expected him to do just that.
“Yeah. Go ahead and cry, little brother.” Connor dropped the last shard into the metal pan he’d set next to Liam’s head. His lips twitched as he fought back a laugh.