As Connor climbed the side of the house toward the balcony, Liam and Jayce split up, each taking different sides of the house. When Liam spotted a man through the kitchen window, his heart rate sped up. The guy was making what looked like a grilled cheese sandwich on the stove. A gun was tucked into the back of his pants, but that looked like his only weapon.

Testing the side door, Liam was surprised when it opened. Picking the lock would have been child’s play, but leaving it unlocked was stupid practice for anyone. As he stepped inside, he tried to home in on Kat’s presence but couldn’t get anything. No subtle roses.

As a rule he preferred to fight in animal form, but it didn’t make sense right now. He didn’t feel threatened and if he didn’t have to kill this guy, he wasn’t going to. Withdrawing his pistol, he crossed the kitchen in complete silence.

The guy still stood at the sizzling stove humming a Christmas song. Liam pressed the gun to the back of his skull and withdrew the man’s weapon with his free hand. “How many people are in the house?” he murmured.

“Fuck you,” the blond-haired man said, his voice just as low.

A burst of fear exploded off him, so Liam took a step back. “Keep your hands up and turn around slowly.”

When he did as he said, Liam motioned with his gun for him to move toward the small round table in the corner of the room. As the guy moved, he flipped off the stove and moved the pan off the hot burner. Now Liam scented two other distinctive males in the house along with Connor and Jayce. There were traces of other people, but they weren’t as strong, as if they’d left recently. “Where’s the girl?”

Awareness flared in his eyes and a slight metal tang flowed off him, but the man shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I can smell the lie coming off you. Where. Is. The. Girl.” Not a question.

He shrugged. “Probably dead by now.”

Liam could tell he was lying again. He took another step forward. “Don’t be stupid. We both know your little group doesn’t want her dead. They need her alive as a bargaining chip. If you tell me where she is, I’ll let you live.”

“I’m not going to tell you one thing, you fucking animal,” he spat.

Liam tucked his own gun away and bared his teeth. Unlike vampires’, all his teeth could protract on command, not just his canines. He knew it was a frightening sight. Right now he was in control of his inner wolf, but the beast was threatening to take over each second that passed. As he snarled at the man, the fear that rolled off him fed his wolf. He liked the scent and he wanted more of it.

“I’d rather die than tell you anything!” The man lunged up, grabbed one of the chairs, and threw it at him.

Liam easily ducked as it sailed toward his head. When he did, the human withdrew a gun from under the table.

Instead of shifting, he kicked out at the man. The other gun flew through the air, but that didn’t stop the human. He threw a punch meant to hit him in the face, but Liam ducked. Liam knew his own strength and knew this wasn’t going to be a fair fight.

Right now he didn’t care much about fair. He only cared about finding Kat. As he dodged to the side, he threw a punch of his own.

When his fist connected with the guy’s jaw, he grunted in satisfaction. The man stumbled back but didn’t lose his footing.

Cursing, he came at Liam again, but this time he protected his face. Kicking out, he connected with Liam’s inner thigh.

As Liam struck him in the stomach, the man punched his face. The pain was minimal but pissed Liam off. He growled low, and using his leg and upper-body strength, he threw a hard left hook.

The instant he connected with the man’s jaw, he knew he’d broken it.

The man cried out as he fell back to the table. His body sprawled onto it, then slid to the tile floor. As Liam bent to check for a pulse, a movement behind him had him drawing his gun.

He stopped when he saw Connor and Jayce. “What did you find?”

“No Kat,” Jayce’s voice was low and filled with anger.

“I sensed two other guys. Where are they?”

Stone-faced, Connor flicked a quick glance at Jayce, then back to Liam. “Both dead.”

Jayce killed them both before I could stop him. Broke their necks, Connor projected to him.

“Did you get any information from either of them?” Liam asked.

Jayce and Connor both shook their heads; then Jayce spoke. “I spotted snowmobile tracks leading away from the house when I came in through the garage. They’re fresh, but if we don’t hurry, the snow will cover them.”

“We’ll follow them, but we don’t indiscriminately kill anyone.” Connor’s attention was solely on Jayce as he spoke.

Jayce just shrugged, but the raw rage in his eyes gave him away. “You’ve got your rules, I’ve got mine. They’re APL, they die. My orders from the Council are clear.”

Liam knew his brother well enough to know that this conversation wasn’t over—and he somehow doubted the Council had ordered Jayce to kill all APL members—but now wasn’t the time to argue with him. If there were fresh tracks, it could lead them to a safe house.

That could lead them to Kat.

Chapter 18

December tried to blend into the background as Ryan clicked away on his computer. He’d said she wasn’t bugging him and she believed him, but she also didn’t know him well enough to know for sure.

The cabin was apparently where most of the males lived, including Liam when he wasn’t with her. It was a complete bachelor’s pad. The expansive first floor was basically one room with the living room and kitchen connected.

Stacked dirty plates and cups looked as if they’d been sitting in the sink for a week, and it was beyond disgusting. They hadn’t even soaked some of the plates. So, she’d decided to do their dishes. Anything to keep her hands busy. To make her feel like she was helping in some way. Not that it did much to distract her mentally.

Aiden, the shifter who’d accompanied her and Erin to and from her store earlier, lounged on the couch in the living room with his eyes shut. A couple other pack members were out patrolling and she’d seen a few females around the ranch, but it was really cold outside and it seemed almost everyone was staying indoors.

Erin sat on the love seat across from Aiden, reading a book. December wasn’t entirely sure, but she had a feeling both of them had been ordered to watch her all day no matter what happened or where she went.

“You don’t have to do that, you know. These guys are pigs and should learn to clean up after themselves,” Erin said without looking up.

December half smiled. “I know. I just hate not being able to do anything. Shouldn’t we be out looking for Kat?”

Erin glanced up from her book. “If anyone will find her, it’s Connor, Liam, and Jayce.”

That might be so, but it didn’t lessen December’s fear any. She’d even tried calling the hospital as a way to distract herself, but after being told five times that Parker wasn’t taking her calls, she felt even worse.

“Oh, shit,” Ryan said almost absently.

The first words he’d spoken in the last half hour. December shut off the sink and wiped her hands on a dishrag as Erin and Aiden stood up.

“What is it?” Erin asked.

“It might be nothing, but I’ve been pulling up various satellite images of Fontana and cross-referencing them with the remote addresses we’ve got so far….” He trailed off as he continued clacking away on the keyboard.

“And?” Erin persisted when he didn’t continue.

He pulled up a couple maps and pointed at what looked like the top of a building in the middle of the woods. “This is on the property Connor and the others are headed to, but it’s not listed as a safe house anywhere. Or if it is, I haven’t cracked that part yet. And see this?” He traced his finger along the screen, highlighting what looked like a faint trail. “This could be an access road. The trees cover most of it, but it looks like it connects to the highway miles out of the way from where they’re looking.”

December’s heart rate increased. What if this was where Kat was? “Can you call Liam and tell him about this?”

Ryan glanced at her before shaking his head. “They’ve gone dark. None of them have their cells activated.”

She wasn’t exactly sure why, but she could guess. “What if they miss this area? What if it’s where Kat is? And what if they move her?”

“Wait, we can let Ana know and she can communicate with Connor.” Aiden spoke up for the first time.

“I thought you said their phones were turned off,” December said.

Erin glanced between the men, then looked at her. “Connor and Ana can communicate telepathically.”

“Oh, right.” Liam had told her about that. It was just hard to fathom. Before she could say anything else, Erin continued as she pulled out her cell phone.

“She’s not here and I don’t know if she has her cell on.” They were all silent as Erin called. Moments later she snapped her phone shut and shook her head. “Straight to voice mail.”

“Why isn’t she at the ranch?” Ryan asked what December was thinking.

Erin cut her another inscrutable look as she answered the question. “At the hospital trying to talk to Parker. And before you ask why, Liam asked her to go. He knows how important your brother is to you and thought maybe Ana could talk some sense into him.”

December’s throat clenched impossibly tight. Even with everything going on, Liam was still thinking about her happiness. It was tempting to focus on that, but she knew they had more important things to worry about. She motioned to the screen, diverting everyone’s attention. “How old is this image?”

Ryan shrugged nervously. “Six months, give or take. They update these images once or twice a year.”

December looked at Erin and Aiden questioningly. They all stood there, as if they weren’t going to do a thing. Gritting her teeth, she turned on her heel and headed for the front door. She wasn’t a hostage and if she wanted to leave, she damn well would. It wasn’t as if these APL members had superstrength. If she could get her hands on a weapon, she could defend herself. No one would be sneaking up on her this time.


***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com