Waltz of the Lioness - Revised

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On The Trail - Brock’s POV

The knuckles on his hands turned white as he gripped the wheel with an unnatural force. The man beside him watched the GPS monitoring app on his phone, the blinking light held him captive in the hopes that it would lead them to his mate.

“It appears to be about a mile up ahead, just before the hairpin curve.” The man beside him looked at the monitor closely, a strange expression covering his face.

“I don’t like that look, Alden. What’s going on?” Brock struggled to keep his hands on the wheel when all his lion wanted to do was rip the device from his chauffeur’s hands to see what the problem was for himself.

When he hesitated, Brock nearly caved to his beast’s demands, ready to snatch the device to find his own answers. Alden glanced up to face Brock with a look of deep concern, his face pinched around his eyes and mouth. “According to this, we might have a problem.”

Rounding a curve, Brock stared out at the stretch of road in front of them. He no longer needed the device to tell him what the problem was.

On the side of the road, Lara sat on a strip of bent guardrail next to a man that he did recognize. A small pickup truck parked a few yards up from where they sat, the hazard lights flashing like a homing beacon. The guardrail just beyond where they now sat was demolished beyond repair, the metal folding in on itself in unnatural twists and turns. Where the guardrail was torn asunder displayed long, deep patches of earth recently scarred by tire marks, broken branches, and deep gouges within the trees.

Inhaling deep, he tried to clutch at the internal strand that connected him to his mate. Though it was still new, he could feel a tug there. His lion could feel the connection that bound them together, pacing within as he waited for his human half to catch up. Even if he could not sense her location, he knew that she was still alive. The knowledge was enough to soothe his beast for the moment, especially with the scene before them. It was enough...for now.

Screeching to a halt a few feet from where Lara sat on the guardrail, Brock was bolting out of the car leaving Alden to shift the vehicle into park. He marched straight for the she-beast, control was a delicate thread that he was not all too sure he had a firm grasp of.

The two stood quickly, bowing their heads out of respect for his position and power. Brock waved them off and they immediately returned to their perch on the crumpled guard railing. There was no need for introductions, no need for civility...he just needed answers.

“Where is she, Lara?” His words were terse and demanding, his eyes narrowing on the vile woman who tried to take his mate from him. Whatever they may have once shared, which was little more than the treaty itself, was shattered the moment she betrayed him.

Lara’s face was battered, dirt caking most of it while green stains tinted the bruising he thought might be hidden beneath. Her pale blue eyes brimmed with tears, and he braced himself for the fallout of his tone.

It was not long before she started to lay it on thick. Sniffling, she managed to stutter something somewhat coherently. “I-I was just...trying to...help.” Her voice broke, stammering. “But she...she...” Sobs spilled forth as she leaned against the stranger, her whole body shaking with the immensity of her tears.

The man wrapped a comforting arm around the sobbing woman, a gesture that seemed more familiar than a stranger stopping to help. The niggling thought that had toyed at the back of his brain pushed itself forward: the man with her was a wolf shifter. What’s even more odd was that Lara was not prone to associate with those outside of her species. It was odd but he did not have time to dwell on it at the moment.

Narrowing his eyes on her, he fought the urge to grab the woman and shake her until she provided the information he was looking for. His patience wearing thin, he growled at her. “I don’t have time for your pity party, Lara. Where is Cora?”

The sobbing ceased, and the tear-streaked face of the woman before him twisted in rage. Standing up, she lashed out at him. “That girl tried to kill me! And all you can do is stand there and demand to know where she is? A total stranger offered me more comfort in my time of need than my own fiance.”

Brock growled, her possessive pronouncement causing his flesh to crawl. “Ex-fiance. Don’t fool yourself!”

Lara flinched and the man beside her stood abruptly, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder as he flashed a brief irritated glare at Brock. He wouldn’t dare look him in the eye or look for too long for fear of issuing a challenge he would never win. It was brief enough for him to make his meaning clear. The poor sap was in love with the woman!

Lara’s face contorted briefly into disbelief before it took on a sulky pout. “After all this time that we have been together, all the time we have spent together, and you don’t even give a damn about how I am doing?”

Clenching his jaw, he took a step towards her, causing her to step back. Her lips thinned and her mouth was drawn, but her eyes still held an unwarranted indignation. “It is because of all that time we have spent together that I don’t give a rat’s ass how you are doing. I know how manipulative you are, how selfish, and how petty. Now,” he took another step forward, causing her to trip over the man’s foot that remained at her side. The wolf shifter wrapped his arms around Lara to prevent her from careening to the ground below before casting a brief heated look at Brock. “...tell me where Cora is.”

With hateful eyes, Lara stared at him with vehemence that was meant to scald. “I don’t know,” she sneered. “Why don’t you look at the bottom of the chasm? That’s where your mate drove us, trying to kill us both,” she spat before finally adding, “and your cub.” The shock he felt tried to mar his features as he fought to keep them below the surface and the woman before him laughed wickedly. “Seems you are not the prize you thought you were!”

Snarling, he bared his fangs at the woman before him, her insolent insult crossing the boundaries of acceptability for his lion. Lara yelped at the aggression that pulsed through the air around them, whispering a panicked request for protection from her lover.

The wolf shifter pushed Lara behind him, a look of agitation, determination, and resignation crossing his face as he bared his neck in submission. The act nearly caught Brock off guard, taking a step back to reassess the situation. Even though there was a slight trace of fear in the air around them, Lara was not nearly as afraid of Brock as she was making out. As was the case for any other being she encountered, this man was merely a pawn in a game in which only she was aware of the rules.

The growl continued to expel from Brock’s throat as his beast paced wildly in his chest. He sucked in a lungful of air into his nostrils, scenting the air. There was no hint of deception that he was able to discern between the two, even if Lara was exaggerating.

Lara grumbled behind the bulking mass of a wolf shifter, his dark eyes and hair giving him a brooding look. The man twisted his head around slightly and gave the woman behind him a pleading look. Brock could not prevent the smirk that passed over his lips.

A small amount of pity stirred within Brock as he watched the exchange and, strangely, it mollified his beast. The man would have his hands full with that she-beast, and there was no telling how many times he would have to submit himself like this to others while he remained at her side.

Lara’s scent permeated the area, and it irritated his nose with each breath he took. It was that honey citrus scent that he sought, that his lion craved. The delicate scent of his mate was stifled by the staunch aroma of roses and vinegar. The fragrance so strong it nearly suffocated him and set upon his taste buds with naseauting effects.

Spinning on his heel, he cast a questioning glance at Alden. “Anything?”

Plumes of smoke still rose from the wreckage below, though Brock was certain that Cora was not in the area. The road they were on had been fairly deserted, aside from a random car here and there.

Alden shook his head. “We have men below dealing with the wreckage. A few of them have offered to come up and help with the search.” When he paused, Brock lifted a puzzled brow. Alden cleared his throat. “There is a man down there that said he was the first on the scene.”

With a slow turn of his head, Brock considered the couple that had returned to their perches on the guardrail. The man had looked to his rather battered truck and then back at Lara, her eyes glaring at him in answer to his unasked question.

Without turning away from the couple, I asked, “What did he say?”

Alden cleared his throat, his gaze narrowing on the woman. Lara must have felt their gaze upon her as she turned a heated glare in their direction. Without warning, she stood up and grabbed the man’s arm, practically pulling him to the vehicle that she had held disdain for only moments before.

As the man held the door open for her, Alden continued. “He said that Lara seemed nearly distraught about the accident. Said she believed that the woman with her was,” he stopped.

Brock turned to face him, letting a low rumble start in his chest. “She told him she thought Cora was dead,” he bit the words out through a clenched jaw, turning back towards the little pick up that had just roared to life.

Alden nodded. “Yes, sire. But, he said there was something else.” Brock flicked his eyes to him, acknowledging that he was listening. “He said there was another...scent. When he tried to get a better whiff, he said Lara’s scent became too overpowering. He thinks maybe…”

From the bottom of his toes, he felt the growl rise up and rip through him. “Maybe it was Cora’s,” he finished.

“Shall I stop them, sire?” He indicated the little pick up truck with a nod of his head in their direction.

If Lara was there without Cora, the man that was first on the scene would have seen them together. He had caught no whiff of deception off of either of them with regards to Cora’s whereabouts. No, he felt certain that Lara did not know where Cora was...but she might have an idea.

“No, I have a better idea.”

Within seconds, Brock arranged for some of his men to tail the two in hopes of finding out anything that would bring his mate to him. In the meantime, he was determined to search every nook and cranny in these woods to pick up any sign of his little mate. It was what he needed to do...what his lion needed to do. They had failed to protect her in his own home, he was determined not to fail her once more.

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