I was sitting next to Kendrick in the back seat of the SUV, eyes fixed on the road in front of us. I didn’t like that Dove was out of my reach. Things between us hadn’t ended on the greatest of terms. I’d put my foot in my mouth. All I needed at the moment was to touch her to make sure she hadn’t been harmed. I clenched my hands into tight fists in my lap. I couldn’t believe how much of a clusterfuck this situation was turning into. I had been worried sick all night after Dove had driven away. I almost chased her down but I knew if I had that wouldn’t have helped my case at all and I would’ve likely ended up with a silver bullet in my ass.
I didn’t care if she wanted to hate me, she could have hated me at the house where I could’ve kept an eye on her. I had called Dace to track her but the idiot had gotten himself plastered at the bar with a couple of females from the pack. After that, I didn’t have much hope other than Dove would return when she was good and ready. I hadn’t seen her mad before but she had shown she had some bite to her. I’d wanted to drag her back into the house and angry fuck her until she saw things my way.
“You have my word that I won’t hurt your female, Rhys.” Kendrick’s smoky voice broke my thoughts.
I snorted. “As long as I listen to everything you have to say. Yes, I heard you the first time.” I wanted to rip him limb from limb for threatening Dove’s life. She had looked terrified when I showed up. I could only imagine what she must be thinking and feeling right now. My wolf was pacing back and forth in my mind, hackles raised. He wanted blood and so did I.
Kendrick shifted on the seat next to me. “I’d get yourself under control. Doing something stupid wouldn’t benefit anyone right now.” He spoke in a calm tone, that grated on my nerves. I cast my glare in his direction, which he met with a stoic stare. He looked so different from the last time we had seen each other. He had obviously been through it, losing most of his pack, half his face, and his mate. It was impossible for there not to be an effect.
I turned my gaze from him, staring at the road for the rest of the ride. I didn’t have anything to say to Kendrick that he wanted to hear. I was certain the less I talked at that moment the better it would be. I was on the verge of losing myself to the rage that had been building from the moment that Xavier had shown up on my doorstep.
I was relieved when we pulled down a long dirt driveway, knowing that in a few moments I would be able to be reunited with Dove and hopefully get a better look at her. I wanted to make sure that she hadn’t been hurt. More than wanted – I needed to know that she was okay. Once the cars parked I practically leaped out of the backseat, planting my feet on solid ground.
I only had to wait for a few breaths before I spotted Dove as she escaped her own prison much like I had. Her eyes met mine across the distance, and I started to move towards her but a firm hand grasped my shoulder. I let out a low growl as I turned to look at Kendrick.
He didn’t seem put out. “Follow me to my office. We can talk there...privately.” He nodded his head before he released his grip on me. I watched as he walked away, whispering something to another male and clapping him on the back before he disappeared into the rundown house.
Xavier was walking next to Dove, moving her in the opposite direction of me. She looked irritated, baring her teeth at him like an animal before she turned away. I wanted to follow them but I could feel the eyes of Kendricks other packmates watching me closely.
I gritted my teeth and forced myself to follow Kendrick. I had to trust that they weren’t going to hurt my female, but if they did – I would have blood. None of them would be walking away from this house alive. I didn’t care if I hadn’t claimed her as mine. She was mine. I would be damned if anyone tried to take her or abuse her in any way.
I stalked up the stairs and into the house, spotting the burnt remains and the shell of the home that used to belong to his pack through the trees in the distance. There were a few of his pack members set in the main living room as we walked through. A couple of large males, eyeing me up with suspicion and a female. My chest clenched as I met her blank-unseeing gaze. Kendrick wasn’t the only one who had been left scarred by the past.
One of the larger males flashed me his teeth as he pulled the female behind him. I snorted as I turned away, shoulders tense as I rounded the corner and walked down the hallway. Kendrick was a few feet ahead of me, limping along. “They don’t mean any harm. They struggle as we do. It took me a while to earn their trust back after what happened.”
I knew what he was talking about, even if my pack had been spared any real repercussions of my father’s misstep – though they watched me closely. I knew there would be mutiny if enough of them were convinced of me being incompetent. This was why my mother feared my relationship with Dove. She was human, and the last time we had trusted humans we had been double-crossed.
Kendrick opened a door to our left and I followed after him into the small room. “Close the door behind you.” He said as lumbered to the desk. I grimaced as I shut the door and walked over to the small chair stationed in front of the dark oak desk.
“So, you got me here, alone...like you clearly wanted, considering you were willing to kidnap my female regardless of the danger. Stupid move by the way. If you think I’ll be willing to listen to you now...” I growled at him, eyes fixed on his calm expression. I couldn’t tell if he was calm or of the scarring on his face kept him from having any visual signs of a reaction.
He took let out a slow breath. “Why don’t you have a seat?” He motioned to the chair, completely ignoring my words.
I clenched my hand into a fist. “You’ve got two seconds to-”
He curled his fingers inward until only one was focused on the seat. “Make yourself comfortable. Remember my deal – you listen to everything I have to say and then when I’m done, as long as you’ve behaved, I will return your female to you unharmed.” He spoke in such a calm voice that I wanted to snarl at him. My beast wanted to shred him to pieces. However, if we killed him – I knew his pack would kill Dove. In fact, that’s probably what kept the bastard so calm. He knew he was the one with the winning hand.
I gritted my teeth, growling low as I stomped over to the chair and dropped myself down into it.
His lips twitched. “Thank you.”
“Whatever. Just get to the fucking point.”
“I won’t waste any more of our time...Maya is still alive.” His words surprised me. I stared at him blankly for a moment, there was no way that his mate still lived. It was a shock that any of his pack still remained, including himself. It had to be some kind of madness that I had been pulled into, fucking brilliant. I shook my head, pushing my hands into the armrests with every intention of leaving.
“This is bullshit...” I grumbled.
“She is alive.” He spat out through clenched teeth. I gave him a heavy look like he’d lost every brain cell in his damn head because he clearly fucking had.
Kendrick let out a small rumbling growl. “Don’t look at me like I am crazy, Rhys. No one else has believed me and no one else has been willing help me. You think I wanted to turn to you? I had no other options.”
I clenched my teeth together. It was my father’s fault and for some fucking reason, I felt responsible as well. I focused my attention on the wall behind him, unwilling to meet his gaze. “What do you want me to do for you? What could I possibly do to help you at this point, Kendrick?” Other than send someone to take him away to the nut house or put him out of his own misery.
“I want you to lend me some of your men to help me track her down and bring her back where she belongs. I want to bring her back home.”
“Do you have any proof that she is alive, Kendrick?” I felt sorry for him now. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if someone had taken Dove away from me. Even the simple thought alone had my beast snapping and clawing for control. My stomach twisted up into thick, heavy knots.
He closed his hand into a tight fist. “Nothing physical, but she comes to me in my dreams.”
I ran my tongue over my teeth. “You are basing this off of a couple of dreams. Your mind is just showing you what you want to see, Kendrick. I get it, man...after my father died...”
Kendrick slammed his fist down on the desk, the resounding crack of flesh to wood had me snapping my mouth shut. He was glaring at me, his expression no longer calm. He looked all the alpha male that I knew was lurking beneath his skin. My own wolf responded to the tension, growling at the at him.
“I know she is alive, Rhys. Maya is calling to me because I’m the only one who can feel her, who can hear her. She wants me to find her. She’s lost and wants to come home.” His voice shook. “If it was your female, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to find her? Even if it seemed like madness to everyone else?”
I clenched my teeth together, thinking about Dove. She was slowly becoming the center of my universe. The more time I was around her, the deeper I was pulled into her gravity. I wasn’t sure if I could actually let her go when the time came. I’d been given the chance twice now, and I had run to her. I knew my wolf would follow her to the ends of the earth and beyond. He would rage against all the mechanisms and systems of the world to get to her. I knew we both would kill and die for her.
If I had lost Dove and there was even a one percent chance I could get her back I knew I would move mountains for the chance to bring her back. That thought alone was enough for me to relax my stiffened stance. I sized Kendrick up. “You truly believe that she is alive?”
He held my gaze with the weight of the world on his shoulders. “Of all people, do you think I would have come to you if I wasn’t absolutely certain?”
I knew that it grated on him to come to me for help. My father, after all, was the reason that his pack had almost been wiped out. He had trusted the wrong humans and disregarded those who had been suspicious. In the end, he had lost his life, I suppose that was fair. Though his payment still couldn’t fix what had happened or all the lives that had been lost. I eased myself back in the seat, letting out a heavy breath. “I’ll help you, Kendrick. I lend you my best tracker. Once he gets back from doing what I asked him to do – he’s all yours.”
“Yeah. Let’s not congratulate each other yet.” I replied. I wasn’t looking to pat him on the back or shake hands. We weren’t that close and I didn’t think we ever would be but I understood where he was coming from. I pushed up from the chair I was sitting in.
“I hope that Maya is alive and that you do find her.” And I meant that. “But don’t think that I will overlook the way you went about this. If there is even a bruise on Dove...”
Kendrick snorted. “It’s not my style to hurt women. I might be desperate and I would do anything to get my Maya back but I wouldn’t do it at the expense of her hating me for how I did it. I never planned to hurt your Dove. I just needed leverage. You know how it goes.”
I frowned at his words but nodded my head. I didn’t have anything more left to say to him. I simply wanted to have Dove within my grasp now. I had been patient enough. I had listened to his words, hadn’t done anything stupid, and had agreed to help him. Now I wanted my female as promised. As if he could read my thoughts.
“Come on. I’ll bring you to her.”
Dove was sitting on the couch watching the television when we came out into the main room again. She looked over her shoulder, hazel gaze clashing against my own. My blood heated at the touch of her eyes to my skin, and I felt the need to bury myself deep inside. I did my best to quell the urges of my Wolf, his instincts weren’t helpful at the moment.
“Come,” I said the only word that I could get out of my mouth.
Her eyes narrowed as her cheeks turned a faint pink. I knew she was not happy about the command but still, she obeyed it, rising up from the couch and crossing the room to my side. She gave Kendrick a wary glance before moving closer to my side, instinctively putting me between the two of them. I noticed the way Kendrick’s lips tipped up on the unmarred side of his face, clearly, he found her actions amusing. I might’ve been amused right along with him if it weren’t for the fact that I still wanted to rip him limb from limb.
“As you can see I have kept up my end of the deal. I hope you will do the same, Rhys.” I could hear the subtle threat hidden under his tone. He didn’t want to be the monster but he would be exactly that if I turned my back on him. I gave him a heavy look but said nothing to him. I was a man of my word.
The sound of a horn honking had us all turning in the direction of the door. “Looks like your ride is here,” Kendrick said under his breath. I gave a frustrated growl as we made our way out onto the front porch to see Dace walking around the side of the Camaro. I was going to have to talk to my him about his behavior, some things came before pussy – most things, actually. I met his gaze across the distance, clenching my jaw in frustration. The past twenty-four hours had been a shit show and I was more than ready for the curtain to close.
“One more thing.” I twisted back to Kendrick, pulling my fist back and slamming it into the side of his face with all the force I could muster. He staggered to the side and the male behind him, let out a harsh snarl as he came to his Alpha’s aid. Kendrick waved him off as he stood up, holding his face with a slight smirk on his lips.
“If you ever touch my female again, you’ll wish that you hadn’t,” I growled at him before I wrapped my arm around Dove’s shoulders and pulled her into my body. She stiffened at the touch before relaxing against me. I felt all the tension of the past twenty-four hours melting away now that I had her safely back in my arms. I was never going to let her run off like that again, even if I had to tie her to my bed for the rest of our lives.
“I look forward to seeing you again, soon,” Kendrick called to me. I didn’t respond as I walked us toward Dace who was waiting for us. He was watching my back faithfully, scanning the small gathering of what was left of Kendrick’s pack.
“Nice right hook,” Dace commented as I stepped up to him, unwinding myself from Dove. I sent him a dirty look that I hoped said all the things I was holding back at the moment. He stepped out of the way and opened the door for Dove. “Your chariot awaits, my lady.”
She gave him a once-over before getting into the backseat. He got in after her, slamming the door closed. I snorted as I walked around the to the driver’s side. I was more than ready to get back to my territory and put all of this behind me.