As she neared the small step before the covered entrance, she jerked back as she noticed him. Before she could scream, he brandished his gun high enough for her to see.
“Say a word and I’ll shoot you in the gut. You’ll bleed out before the cops arrive.” He wasn’t actually going to shoot her, but she didn’t know that.
Color drained from her already pale face. She dropped the plastic bag she was carrying.
He cursed under his breath. “Pick it up and act natural and unlock your damn door.”
A battle waged in her head. He could see it in those pretty blue eyes. He guessed she was trying to figure out if she could make a run for it.
“I’ll empty my gun into you before you’ve taken three steps.”
She swallowed hard. Her keys were clutched tightly in her hand, but she still hadn’t made a move to do as he said. “What do you want from me?”
“I don’t want to hurt you, but if you make me, I will.”
“That’s not an answer.” Her voice shook and her entire body began to tremble as she stared at his gun.
The longer they stood out there, the bigger chance he had of getting caught. He went for semihonesty. He didn’t want to hurt a human, even if she was seeing a shifter. “Listen, I don’t want to hurt you. My boss just wants to talk to your boyfriend and taking you is the only way. You’re just a bargaining chip. You won’t be hurt if you cooperate.”
She shook her head. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”
Being nice obviously wasn’t going to work either. Standing, he jabbed the gun into her side. She cried out but he ignored it. “Open the fucking door. Now.”
With trembling hands she eventually opened the door. As soon as they were inside, he bolted it shut. “Sit.” From the foyer, he motioned toward one of the couches in the living room.
Still clutching her purse and keys, she did as he said. “If you take me, you have to realize he’ll kill you.” She didn’t say who, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out whom she meant.
“I thought you said you didn’t have a boyfriend.” He pulled out the flex-cuffs he’d brought and tossed them to her. “Put these on.”
She dropped her purse to catch them. “He’s not my boyfriend, but that doesn’t matter to him. You take me, you’re dead. You haven’t done anything wrong yet. If you walk away now, no one has to know about this.”
At her condescending voice, something inside him snapped. He lifted the gun at her again. “I’m not some fucking child. Put. Those. On.”
A surge of adrenaline rushed through him as she obeyed him. He was tired of taking orders from everyone. Once she’d secured her wrists in front of her, he tucked his gun in the back of his pants, then pulled out the tape he’d brought.
“Wait, what are you—”
He secured a piece over her mouth. “I’m sorry I have to do this.”
For a moment she looked confused; then she started to struggle. When she kicked out at him, he cursed and did what needed to be done. Clocking her hard across the jaw did the trick. Her head lolled to the side as she slumped against the couch.
Now all he had to do was carry her to his truck. He could move it to her driveway, then quickly load her in. So fucking easy.
“Who’s fucking smart now?” He smiled to himself as he slipped out her front door. As he hurried across the street toward his truck, he nearly stumbled when he spotted that shifter driving down the road. The giant hulking bastard eyed him briefly, then dismissed him.
Joseph watched as he pulled into December’s driveway. His heart beat a staccato drumbeat and a flash of cold fear snaked down his spine. He’d been so close. It was too late to attempt anything now. He didn’t have any silver bullets and he didn’t have enough training to take him on. And he sure as hell didn’t have a death wish.
Unlike most APL members, he didn’t think of himself as some invincible badass. Hurrying, he jumped in his truck and sped away. At least no one would know about his failure. There was no way he was telling Edward about this. He’d just make up some bullshit story about how Katarina had been protected and he hadn’t been able to get close to her. No one ever needed to know about this blunder.
As he glanced in the rearview mirror, the last thing he saw as he turned the corner was the shifter walking toward the front door. He certainly had a surprise waiting for him.
Liam knocked on December’s door for the second time. He’d tried calling her a couple times, but she wasn’t answering. Her car was in the driveway, so maybe she didn’t want to talk to him. His brother was right. He’d been going about everything all wrong. Pushing himself on her and not bothering to get to know her.
He’d been so driven with the desire to mate he kept forgetting she was human. Sighing, he tried again. “December?”
When she didn’t answer, he pulled out his cell. She knew he’d planned to stay tonight. As the phone rang, he heard the jingle of her phone from inside. Then he heard something that sounded like a soft moan.
A surge of alarm shot through him like lightning. Snapping the phone shut, he tried the handle. When the door swung open, he cautiously stepped inside. He’d already been ambushed once today. This could be another trap.
As he moved farther inside, he realized she was the only person there, but he faintly scented something—someone else had been there recently. A male. The mix of cigarette and whatever cologne the man wore lingered. An icy fist clasped around his heart. “December?” he called again as he stepped farther inside.
Following her scent, he started for the living room, then froze. Tied up and with tape across her mouth, December had a bruise forming across her face. Her eyes were closed and she was softly moaning. And he could hear her light breathing. She was alive. A red, burning rage started deep inside him.
He didn’t even realize he’d moved, but suddenly he was kneeling by her side. With one quick pull he snapped the plastic bands off her wrists, then slowly eased the tape off her mouth. His throat seized as he checked her pulse. It was strong.
“December?” Her name was barely a whisper on his lips. What the hell had happened to her? I should have been here. The thought reverberated loudly inside him.
As he cupped the back of her head, her eyes fluttered open. In confusion she stared at him for a moment before lashing out. Her hand struck his face, but her scream died on her lips as her eyes focused on him.
“Liam?” She tried to push up farther, so he helped her to a sitting position. “Where…?” She looked around at her surroundings before staring at him. When she did, she touched the side of her face and winced.
“Who did this to you?” To his own ears his voice was guttural, more animal than man. His inner wolf tore at him with sharp razor’s-edge claws, begging to be set free.
When she flinched, his human side took over dominance. His body shook with the need to draw blood. Whoever had done this would die. The scent that lingered in the air would be forever cauterized in his mind. “Are you hurt? Physically?”
“No.” The word was scratchy. Then more started flowing. “He had a gun. He said he was going to use me as a bargaining chip against you. I should have fought harder, but he had a gun.” Her voice cracked on the last word. Taking him completely by surprise, she lunged at him and threw her arms around his neck.
For once in his life he felt useless. Absolutely. Fucking. Useless.
December cried silently against his neck. No big wails or sobs from her. Just heartbreaking little gasps as her slim shoulders shook and she trembled in his arms. She buried her face against his neck and the wet tears streamed down his back.
He wanted to take away her pain. To ask her more questions. To find out who’d done this so he could hunt him down. But he knew now wasn’t the time. She needed to cry.
So, he held her. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her until she was sitting in his lap and let her cry.
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but after what felt like an eternity, she lifted her head to stare at him. Her eyelashes were thick and clumped with tears. She blinked a few times and shook her head as if clearing cobwebs. “I can’t stay here tonight.”
He wiped away her tears with his fingertips, hating that she was crying at all. “December, we need to talk about what happened.”
“I’m not staying here!” He almost jerked back at her shout.
But he understood what was happening. Her body shook wildly and she was likely close to hyperventilating. He needed to get her the hell out of there. Standing, he lifted her and hurried up the stairs.
“What are you doing?” She stared at him in confusion as he placed her on her feet in her room.
“Pack a bag. Bring whatever you need to last a couple weeks.” When she frowned, he hurried on. “I’m not saying that’s how long you’ll be gone. Just make sure you have everything you need.”
“Okay.” With shaking hands she opened her closet door and rolled out a suitcase.
While she packed, he texted his brother, then Jayce to fill them in on what had just happened. He’d eventually call them, but he didn’t want her overhearing any of this. Even though he could have sent out a telepathic message to Connor, he didn’t because right now all his focus was on December. And this was his fight, no one else’s. His brother might be his Alpha, but some things a male needed to take care of on his own. He hadn’t gone truly hunting in a long time, but now that he had this guy’s scent, his days were limited.
For a moment Liam was sorely tempted to contact her brother, but December was in a state of shock and not thinking clearly and the last thing he wanted to do was involve the police. Parker might want to put her under lockdown and no one could protect her better than Liam. And more than anything, he just didn’t want the cops to know about it. He’d take care of this his way.
“This is bullshit.” Liam slammed his fist on the sturdy dining room table.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com