Chapter 1: Bleeding Out
(Book 2 of the Were War series. Behind the Lines of the Were War is Book 1)
Alpha Robert Hastings had only known fear like this once before, watching his mate bleed out while he carried her towards help. The pit now in his stomach threatened to swallow him whole.
He watched as the woman he loved and hoped to mate, Renee Johnson, bled out onto the sand and stone of the amphitheater at Red Rock. His own body was still in shock at what she had just done. She had stood up to a powerful Alpha and refused to play along with his game of dominance and power. Like Gandhi, she had offered to lay down her life for the principle of leaders who served their people, not ruled them. It would have ended in her death, on live TV, to the horror and disgust of human and Were nation alike. Just before she collapsed, Alpha Diggs was in the process of raping one of the women in her pack and she somehow rose up from the ground and killed him.
Her last words were not going to be “Asshole” if he could do anything about it. He rushed forward to cradle her head, his tears falling onto her ashen face as he pleaded with her to stay with him. He watched as the doctors and medical personnel rushed forward, surrounding Renee as they opened their kits and went to work. Other Alphas moved him away from the medical staff, and his senior pack members held him in place.
Why? Why did he let her enter this ring? Why was the kindest, most reluctant Alpha in the country the one on the ground? Would Luna be so cruel as to give him hope at a future, at a life with a mate again, only to tear it from him again?
He was a proud man, but this day had truly broken his spirit. Tears flowed freely as he remained kneeling down at the edge of the challenge circle. His pack members felt his anguish over the Alpha bond. They came down and surrounded him, letting the closeness and contact of the Pack do the talking. Renee’s Santa Fe pack members came into the group as well, having bonded during their visit to his Gila pack prior to the Wolfstock festival. Many shifted and howled their grief to the night sky.
Other pack Alphas and pack members came down from the stands and joined the large group, surrounding others who were crying and praying to Luna to save this brave woman. Rank, sex, power- none of it mattered as they gathered together with singular purpose. No one spoke, they all watched and prayed as the doctors and nurses worked frantically to stem her bleeding and get replacement blood into her. It took ten minutes before they had her stabilized enough they could move her to an ambulance; as they moved off they could see the bandages, the clamps tying off torn arteries, the bags of blood being squeezed to force more blood in before her heart would give out again. They had already shocked her back to life once.
They watched in silence as she was loaded into an ambulance and taken to the nearest hospital. The doctors had spread the word of her blood type through their respective pack bonds, and matches were already heading to the parking lot to go donate. Renee was not just an Alpha to the gathering of werewolves here, she was a hero, a statesman, a mother to be and a hope for a better future.
The siren was enough to prod Robert into action. “Derek and Amanda,” he called over to the Johnson Pack alpha who was her older brother and his mate, “I have drivers ready to take us to the hospital. Can you join me? I need to speak to you both.” Derek nodded his assent, he was still trembling and holding onto Amanda’s hand with a death grip.
The ride was awkward as no one wanted to start talking. They were all too worried about whether she would make it, but none of the three would voice their concern. They knew it wasn’t just Renee in danger, but the twins inside her that were at the 12 week point of her pregnancy.
Derek finally broke the silence. “Renee told me she was getting close to you. When she last talked to me I could hear in her voice she was happy again. You challenged for the right to be her mate. As her older brother, I have to ask what your intentions are.”
Robert sat up a little and looked him in the eye. “I’ve fallen in love with her. I think she has as well. I want to mate her, if she will have me. I got close to her earlier this week but then she pulled away. I think she was trying to protect me.”
Amanda looked up at him. “Protect you from what?”
“From having to watch what I just saw. From feeling the pain of watching someone you care about deeply, slipping away, and there is nothing you can do. Again. I barely survived when my first mate died, I don’t know if I can keep going if Renee doesn’t recover. I want her by my side, I want her pack to merge with mine and for us to raise her children and have our own. I want the dream back.”
Amanda reached over and took his hand in hers. “She is strong, she will get through this. She’s too stubborn to give up now.”
“I know her strength and courage, she proved that to everyone. I have never been so ashamed to be Werewolf as when I watched an Alpha tear her apart because she wouldn’t accept rule by brute force. We have to find a better way as a race, especially now that we are in the open.”
Derek put his head in his hands. “We will deal with this problem at the Alpha level. Right now I just want to know she will recover. She’s been through so much already, I just want her to be happy again.”
“She was happy. Even though she didn’t want the Alpha job, she’s a natural for it. People are drawn to her, and she doesn’t make others jealous. You should see her face light up when she is with her Pack.”
“I’m glad she has that,” Amanda said. “Ever since she lost her mate she has been moody and withdrawn, with frequent nightmares. She isn’t getting enough rest for a pregnant woman.”
“I’ve been trying. I know the night she was with me she slept well.”
Derek tensed, he knew she was a consenting adult but he didn’t want to think about his baby sister in bed with a man who wasn’t her mate. Yet. “Do you think she is ready to move on from Gary and be mated again?”
“I don’t know. I’ll find out soon, I hope. I don’t plan to be apart from her much.” Robert sighed. “We have all these Alpha meetings this weekend, I expect some will be delayed tonight but we can’t reschedule the weekend. I hate the idea of going even though she would want me there to push through the changes.”
“Well, we can have Andy represent his Alpha while she is in the hospital. You and I can be at the meetings, and Amanda can stay here. If anything changes she can let us know and we can be here in fifteen minutes if anything changes.”
Robert nodded. “That will have to do. I’ll make sure we have cars and drivers on standby.” He gazed off in concentration for a moment. “My Beta is making reservations at the hotel next to the hospital, can I reserve you a room there as well?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Just then the car pulled into the visitor parking lot. Renee was already in surgery, being worked on by a team of human and Were doctors. It was going to be a long night.
**Two Years Earlier**
Just outside Hachita, NM
Carlos Gomez ran into his home like a man whose life was in danger.
Running through the kitchen, he looked frantically for his daughter. She had just turned eighteen and was a senior in high school, but not after today. Today they had to run for it. “MARIA!!! Pack quickly, we have to go!” He burst through her door without knocking, finding her on the bed with headphones on as she worked on her homework. The movement was enough to get her attention.
“No time to explain. Pack your bags, take anything you need, I don’t know if we will ever be back. We leave in twenty minutes.”
“Daddy, you’re scaring me.”
“Honey, just do it, please. I’ll explain later.” He darted out the door to his room. Tossing a couple suitcases on the bed, he frantically threw clothes and valuables in. The last thing to go in were the photos of his late wife Ensuela and their daughter growing up. He pressed the suitcases closed and moved them by the front door.
He sensed time was running out. “MARIA! We have to go, like NOW!” As the door was kicked down, he knew it was too late. Two men rushed through, heads covered with black hoods and dressed completely in black, silenced MP5 machine guns sweeping in front of them. Carlos screamed “RUN!!!” and tried to slow them down, but it didn’t do any good. The men knocked him on his back and kept going. It was the next two people that he really needed to worry about. They were the people who were spoken of only in nervous whispers, those names which foretold death and suffering.
Hell had come to his house.
Hell in the form of Juan Hernandez, the feared Druglord and Butcher of Soccoro, and his security chief Ramon Guzman. In seconds, Ramon had flipped the panicked Carlos onto his stomach, handcuffed him, and performed a search with the practiced hand of a veteran policeman. Hauling Carlos to his feet, he looked back at his boss. “Where do you want to do this?”
“Basement.” Juan moved past, his six-foot-two frame filling the entryway, moving with the confidence of a man who feared nothing, because no one could touch him. His drug empire was based just across the border from El Paso, controlling smuggling and manufacturing operations in the Mexican state of Chihuahua into New Mexico and West Texas. He ruled with brutal efficiency, demanding loyalty and performance out of his people. Those who could hack it rose and got rich. Those who couldn’t became examples to the rest, and not in a good way.
Ramon was a former police chief in Chihuahua, Mexico. He was planted there by the Cartel and when the Mexican government finally caught up to him, he escaped to work directly for Juan. He was an expert at getting information from people before they died a slow and painful death. “Get up.” He yanked Carlos to his feet, his one hundred forty pounds not even a strain on the big man’s muscles. He looped a short piece of rope with T-handles at the end around his throat, then used that to not so gently guide him to the open basement door. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Juan had cleared out a section of the family room and placed a wooden chair in the center of the room. Ramon forced him down, then quickly tied his feet and legs securely to the chair. Finally, he looped the rope up around his handcuffs and through the frame, preventing him from getting up.
The two security men had finished their sweep of the house and came down with a bound and hooded Maria in front of them. “Daughter, no one else in the house. Door is closed, we left a TV on upstairs.”
Juan gestured to the couch and they set her there. “Go back upstairs and keep watch. Make sure the police scanner is monitored.” They left quickly, neither really wanted to see what they knew was coming.
Juan and Ramon stood there watching Carlos for a few minutes, the only sound in the room the whimpering of Maria as she cried into her hood. Juan sat down in a large overstuffed chair in front of him.
“I’m sorry.” Carlos looked up. “I fell asleep. It’s my fault, please, just let my daughter go. She has nothing to do with this and won’t say anything.”
“It’s not as simple as that, and you know it.” Juan looked at him with contempt. “You had one job, to overwatch the smuggling route and make sure no DEA or Customs were out there. You falling asleep resulted in five of my men being arrested and a half million dollars worth of my marijuana being seized. I want my money.”
“I don’t have any money.” Carlos slouched further down in the chair, as far away as he could get from his former bosses. “If you give me a few days, I might be able to scrape up a few grand. I wouldn’t have been doing this if I had that kind of cash!”
“That’s too bad. It kind of cuts down on your options, doesn’t it? Do you have anything else I might want?” Carlos shook his head no. Juan walked over to Maria and pulled the hood off her head. She didn’t say a word as Juan looked at her in disgust. She was young and pretty. “Are you a virgin?”
Maria was too shocked to answer. Juan slapped her and asked again. “Yes!” She started to sob as the reality of what this man wanted went through her. She didn’t want to, but her wolf started to growl. Ramon noticed and his eyes went wide. He pulled a small canister out of a cargo pocket and sprayed it into her face, then spun and sprayed it on Carlos.
“You couldn’t fucking tell us your daughter is a werewolf?” Ramon backhanded him with such force the chair was knocked over. Ignoring his struggles, he focused back on Maria who was now staring blankly at the wall. Her tears were flowing and she was softly sobbing as the reality of her situation became clear.
Carlos begged him to leave her alone. “I’m sorry, he mother was a werewolf, they tell me that a mixed child is delayed in development of their wolves, some never get one. She’s never shifted, I don’t know if she will! Please, she’s so innocent, she won’t hurt a fly!”
He pulled Juan to the doorway where they couldn’t be heard. “Good thing I got her with the wolfsbane before she started to shift. Those things are badass, even as girls.”
“Carlos isn’t one, you check for that before you hire, right?”
“I don’t think that matters now. The spray will keep them from shifting for at least 24 hours. What do you want to do now?”
“Well, we are keeping her. Her being a latent werewolf opens up all kinds of possibilities, she might be able to do things yet not be as dangerous as a full one. We have plenty of time to figure it out. As for him, let’s play Let’s Make a Deal.” He grinned. It was a fun game to play with someone, the false hope being smashed was more fun than straight torture.
They walked back in and set Carlos back upright. “OK, Carlos, it’s time to work this out. You don’t have the money, but you have the ability to earn. You owe me $500,000. I don’t care if you have to kill for it, steal it, earn it or lay back and take it up the ass for it, I want my fucking money.”
Carlos sat up. “I’ll pay you back, every cent, I promise. I’ll do whatever it takes. I just need some time.”
“Well, I’m not in the mood to leave here without some assurance you are motivated to get me the cash quickly. I want something in return, including something for the interest and the trouble. I want your daughter.”
“NO, please, she’s all I have left, she has nothing to do with this!”
“That sucks for you. Here’s your choice. I beat you to death in front of your daughter, then torch this place. Or, I let you go but take her as my slave, to serve me until you have paid back every cent.”
“But that could be years!”
“That’s only if you lack the motivation to do it faster. A man can make a lot of money quickly if he really wants to.”
Carlos slumped down, not wanting to do what his selfish interest said. “Take her then.”
“What? I didn’t hear you. Did you just turn your daughter over to me to be my slave until you have paid back the money you owe me?”
“Yes. Take her.”
Maria shook herself free of the daze as what just happened was processed in her brain. “Papa? What did you do, Papa?” She didn’t say anything else as Ramon covered her mouth with a long piece of duct tape. She struggled but it was useless.
Trigger warning- rape scene ahead
Ramon picked her up off the couch and dragged her over to the back of the padded chair, bending her over until her head was into the cushion. Juan took more rope and tied her arms securely to the front legs, while Juan spread her legs wide and tied them to the back legs. She screamed as Juan pulled out a switchblade and started to shred her clothing and underwear. Carlos struggled, but was powerless to help her. Soon she was naked and crying, looking up at her father’s face as he sat in the chair.
“Ramon. Make sure he watches this.” Ramon used duct tape to tape his eyelids open, then used more duct tape to hold his head in position. “You see, Carlos, normally what I would do is to beat the person who stole from me to death, but I need you to be able to earn. Since you gave up your daughter to me, I’ll take my anger out on her ass.”
“No, please, she did nothing to deserve this!”
“You’re right, but you made the choice. Now you get to see what happens when people don’t do their jobs.” Stepping back, he stripped naked. “Just remember, she’s taking this punishment to save you.”
He was fully engorged. Stepping behind her, he lined up and drove himself through her intact hymen with one brutal thrust. She screamed again, and started crying harder, the whole time her eyes begging her father to make them stop. He fucked her brutally before pulling out and spraying his come over her back.
It took an hour before his lust and sadistic impulses were sated. Juan walked upstairs to take a shower, leaving Ramon and his men to clean up.
Ramon went over to her badly beaten body, the deep welts and cuts from the whipping he gave her had left her back, ass and legs a bloody mess. He used her clothing to wipe off the blood, then grabbed a blanket from the couch. Cutting her free, he ignored her moans of pain as he wrapped the blanket around her and carried her up the stairs. His men collected the clothes and other evidence then headed out.
When Juan had changed, he walked back downstairs and put a bullet through Carlos’s head. His men torched the place as they left.
Red Rock, Colorado
It was Sunday afternoon and the Alpha summit being held in concert with Wolfstock was coming to a close. They had made surprising progress over the last two days, despite the absence of one member and the way all their thoughts kept going to her.
It was because of her example that they had focused on the things they could do to live openly and with honor. The first step was to form several councils. The first level was a regional Alpha council, five regions each with about a dozen Packs. Each region would elect one person to elect them in the National Alpha Council, which would be the official voice of their race in dealings with human government and each region. There were objections during the discussions about who would serve on this national council, as it was potentially a power base. The answer came when they realized it didn’t have to be the active Alphas, but they could pull from the retired Alphas and Elders among them, people with the respect of all the leaders. The new regional councils would mediate disputes and hold independent pack elections for leadership challenges. The Alphas agreed that anyone taking over a Pack by force would forfeit his own life, the other Alphas committed to do so.
The second major item agreed to was a Were Bill of Rights. It codified the progress some Packs had made, ending practices such as forced matings, and making rape a capital offense. Common procedures for visiting other packs were agreed to, allowing families and single werewolves freedom to travel. It also established the right of each member to voluntarily leave one pack and join another without retribution.
Copies were distributed at the final meeting of all gathered Werewolves. There were a few packs with abusive Alphas that were in trouble, but good men would be elected Alpha in each soon. Even the Crested Butte pack remained mostly whole, Blake taking over as Alpha helped stem the tide of people leaving the former Alpha Diggs. It would take a generation or so to work the bad ones out of the system, but they had hope for the future.
The event was a huge success on an individual scale. There had been well over a hundred matings announced, matings that were hugely important to the Packs. So many packs were a shell of what they were in the past, and stable families and children were needed to bring them back. Even for those who remained single, contacts had been made and distant families rediscovered. The event broke down the historical fears that had kept packs closed off from each other.
Since there were a few single wolves with computer skills, a Wolfbook site (think Facebook with fur) was formed. It ended up being most helpful to arrange regional meetups and parties, and to link extended families. It didn’t help find mates directly as that was done by smell, but it made contacts. In later years, they would find the most effective way to find mates at a distance was a traveling box of worn T-shirts in ziplock bags. Each was coded with a name and pack, and single wolves could sniff through to see if anything got a reaction.
A chance meeting of a computer geek with a Pack historian led to another breakthrough. The computer expert had been hired at Ancestry.com after the peace treaty, and she saw how antiquated the Pack geneologies and histories were. A few phone calls later, and they had created a private site by which Pack records could be scanned, stored and searched. It would take years to get the information in, but it was a treasure trove. Many families members would be found using this new tool, further breaking down the old boundaries between packs.
The event was finally coming to an end. With Renee still unconscious in the hospital, it was left to her brother Derek to give the closing comments. “Fellow werewolves, we have truly made history here this weekend. We leave here not as individuals but as a people, a people who can live openly and freely with the respect of human and Were alike. May the friendships formed here strengthen, and may each annual gathering bring as much harmony and success as this one. May the new matings be fruitful and bring joy to your packs.” He paused as the applause died down.
“And yet, our hearts ache because the one who is the driving force of this event, a woman who demonstrated her courage and honor to all, remains in a fight for her life. Renee Johnson should be here with....” Everyone held their breath until his smile broke wide on his face. “She’s waking up!” The applause and yells nearly brought down the house. “May Luna protect you and guide you, Wolfstock is now closed, now make a hole I have to get to the hospital!”
The Betas of the Johnson and Santa Fe packs had already cleared a path and both Alphas raced out. The wolves left behind shifted and howled in thanks. On live TV, much of the nation rejoiced as well.
Cartel Safe House, Southern New Mexico
18 months ago
Maria woke up when they brought the latest girl in. She sat up from the thin mattress on the concrete floor that formed her bed, pulling the wool blanket around her. She watched the crying woman be pushed into the adjoining cell. Like the others, the woman was naked, bleeding and had been raped repeatedly. The men just locked the door and laughed, leaving the two of them alone in the near dark of the basement.
“What’s your name?” There was no response, just more sobbing. The woman laid down on the thin mattress and ignored her. It was too bad, she was already defeated. At least the angry ones had a chance. She saw the faraway look in her eyes that told her she had already checked out.
She wished again that she didn’t have Were ancestry; she knew she was tougher and could heal faster than the whores, daughters and other innocents that came through here. Juan used kidnapping and torture of family members as a means to an end, both because it was effective and because he liked it. He couldn’t get it up with a woman who wanted to be with him, it took force and violence to sate his lust. Maria’s wolf gave her the ability to take abuse and recover quickly just mean that Juan could beat her, rape her and leave her for dead more often.
She always healed up. They knew she would need lots of food to do so, and they would feed her well until she recovered then drug her so she wasn’t too strong to resist. The next week, it would all happen again. Six months of this, or so. Time passed quickly when you were locked in a basement, the light never changing, only the shift changes of your captors to mark the time.
The next morning, Ms. No Name was dead. Humans he went through quickly because he couldn’t hold back on his impulses. Those that survived the first night with him often didn’t make it past the second. Some had tried to make friends with her, but she had stopped doing that. It was too hard losing them.
One of the men dragged her body out and stuffed her in a 55 gallon drum. Her parents would never know what happened to her.
Hector came with her breakfast, and he was smiling. She knew enough to know this wasn’t good. “Maria, good morning! Good news, your father has made a good payment this week, so you’ve been invited to a party to celebrate!”
Maria knew better. She had felt the bond with her father break as she was bundled into the van the day they took her, but she was smart enough not to let on that she knew. Like all her pain, she kept it buried deep inside where they couldn’t see it.
Luis came down the stairs with a syringe in hand and Paco behind him. She knew there were normally four of them in the house, Marco was the fourth but he rarely came downstairs. She heard the electronic lock set and discreetly looked to the video cameras, knowing she was being watched. She and her wolf itched to fight, but didn’t have the strength. Her wolf was being suppressed by drugs, she could feel her fighting against the fog in her mind. They both knew now wasn’t the time.
It was futile to resist when she was called over to get the shot. She could struggle, but that would only result in them using cattle prod and baton on her until she complied. She got plenty of pain as it was, no need to go looking for more. She meekly presented her arm, still slightly bruised from Juan’s visit five days ago, and took the shot. The men left her and went back upstairs. She sat down on the bed and curled up; she needed her energy to be ready for the next session.
It wasn’t until after lunch that she got the first indication of what the shot did. Her scent was first to change, becoming much stronger. She could almost taste the pheremones. Her sex swelled and reddened, and started to leak copiously. Her breasts became super sensitive, the nipples hardened and aroused. She put her hand under her thin T-shirt and rubbed them, but it only made it worse. Her pussy was on fire, and when she touched it the desire to come became almost unbearable. No matter how many times she masturbated, it never quenched her desire.
By dinner time she was furiously dry humping the cell bars looking for relief. She was glad when the door opened and the men came to get her.
Rape scene warning
She struggled as they took her naked body out, not to get away but to get to them. Her rational mind was on vacation, all that mattered to her now was getting relief. When they pushed her into the room with Juan and a dozen of his associates, it was like they tossed her starving into an all you can eat buffet. She practically tore the pants off the first man she saw, pushing him back on the couch and plunging his cock into her. She screamed with relief but it wasn’t enough. Cock after cock she devoured, cock after cock thrust into her, and nothing helped. As soon as one would shoot his load, she would lunge for another to replace it. Mouth, ass, pussy, tits- anywhere was good for her, and all were used to overflowing. The party went well into the night, becoming more violent as the sex and the tequila kept more of them from getting it up again.
By the time she was dumped back into her cell, beaten, whipped and fucked more times than anyone should be able to handle, she still couldn’t rest. She spent the rest of the night desperately masturbating, hoping that the next orgasm would bring her the relief she needed.
It didn’t. It took two more days before she was back to normal, two days her jailers took full advantage of.
Denver General Hospital
Renee woke up with the first light of the day, two days since she had been moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a normal room and she still couldn’t believe she was alive. She gently squeezed her right hand, causing Robert to stir. He hadn’t let go of her hand even in sleep for two days. She smiled as she felt his pulse in her hand, looking over to the baby monitor to verify her little ones were still good. The doctors had run a bunch of tests, worried over the loss of blood, but so far it looked like their brain activity was good and they were active. She loved seeing them push and kick each other on the ultrasound scans she got daily.
Derek and Amanda were going to stop by before they left town, the demands of their pack called and now that she was awake and healing they could return to Montana. She would missed them. Amanda was already showing signs of being the kind of aunt who would spoil her nephews rotten. Derek was praying she would go into heat soon so they could have their own.
Renee felt the call of nature coming, so she squeezed Robert’s hand again until he woke up. “Good morning, my love, how are you feeling today?”
“Like I’m about to burst. Help me to the bathroom?” Robert disconnected the monitors and picked her up carefully, avoiding the deep slashes as best he could. The mass of injuries was healing now, but the pain was clear. She could have used a bedpan, but she was stubborn. She used the toilet then he moved her into the shower, setting her on a chair before fetching a washcloth and soap. He spent the next half hour gently cleansing her body. She tried not to react to the sharp pains that it sometimes caused, but he could tell. She could tell he was crying as he cared for her, but was polite enough not to let on that she did. By the time he had her dressed and back in bed, she had just enough energy to eat before falling asleep again.
She woke up two hours later when Derek and Amanda came in, a huge flat package under his arm. “Good morning, sis, you’re looking better today!”
Renee slowly sat up with Robert’s assistance, then he sat on the bed behind her so she could lean back onto his broad chest. “Better every day. You guys look exhausted though.”
Amanda hugged her gently. “Yes, it’s been a rough patch. Lots of stuff to do for the Pack and for the Council. Speaking of which, we brought you something.” Derek laid the package on her lap and stood back. She tore open the paper covering it, revealing a large photograph set into a frame. The print was of a number of happy young couples on the steps at Red Rock, arms around each other and smiling at the camera. Around the outside on the border were hundreds of signatures, thank yous and well wishes. “We got a group shot of all the newly mated pairs that found each other at Wolfstock. Every one of those people is now happy and complete thanks to your idea that brought them together. You’ve made a huge difference, Renee, this is one way we could thank you.”
Renee was finding it tough to read as tears ran down her face. “But I didn’t really do anything!”
Derek shook his head. “Yes, you did it all. You alone recognized the thing we needed was to come together as a people. You created it, organized it, paid for it and ensured its success. You have no idea how much you have done, or how much you mean to us.” She laid the framed photo down as her brother and sister-in-law embraced her.
“I’m going to miss you guys.” Renee was still clinging to their hands, even though she knew they had to leave to catch their flight. “You will always be welcome on my territory, especially if you get tired of those cold winters in Montana!”
“We’ll miss you too,” said Derek, “and you’re always welcome on our territory if you get tired of the desert heat.” He kissed her, Amanda did too, then they left.
Renee kept looking at the photo, seeing people she knew or had met, and reading the notes left for her. Truly, the gift of mates was the greatest gift they had been given. She only had a few days with Gary, but a second chance mate was a true blessing. She could feed the bond forming and strengthening with Robert, and suddenly knew what she needed to do.
“Robert?” He pulled her close and kissed her neck as she leaned back against him. “Do you love me?”
“I’ve loved you since the first time I laid eyes on you. I love you desperately; I never dreamed I could love anyone again and yet here you are.” He slowly kissed along her neck, his hands intertwined with hers on her belly.
“Do you want me as your mate?”
She felt his head lift off her neck. “Of course, love, I just am patient enough for you to be ready. It’s been a rough week and you have a lot to recover from. When you are ready, I would be honored to take you as my mate and Alpha Female.” He could feel her tension. “What are you worried about?”
“Nothing. Everything. My Pack. Is it too soon after losing my mate? What about my babies? Where do we live? What do I do?”
He squeezed her gently. “Do you love me?”
She sighed and closed her eyes. “Yes. Since the first time I saw you.”
“Do you want me as your mate?”
“Since the first time I saw you, I was just afraid I would hurt you if I let you too close.”
He chuckled. “You could never hurt me, just as I could never hurt you. The only thing I fear in life is living it without you.” He could feel the bond deepening. “It’s not too soon, it’s Luna’s will that we meet and have this chance. Would Gary want you to pine away for him? From what I’ve learned of him, I know he wanted you to be happy, I know he wants his children to be happy too. I know I can give that to you.”
“But they aren’t your children, and you’re an Alpha. Why would you raise children that aren’t your heirs?”
“Because they are yours, because you fought for them, lived for them and love them. So will I. If you are willing, I will formally adopt them and they will be as my own.”
Renee was silent for a few minutes. “What about my Pack?”
“Well, you know you aren’t numerous, you have no territory, no home, and few warriors. We both know that doing nothing is not an option. On the other hand, you have me, your Pack members are already settling in, and we already have one mating between our Packs. I want them all to join us, to absorb them into the Gila pack, to stay with both of us.”
“I owe them the choice. At first I was hoping I could just find another Pack for them and I could go back to being just a normal pregnant woman. I guess I’m stuck with being an Alpha now.”
“You are ANYTHING but normal, my love. And I mean that in a good way.” He started nuzzling her neck, softly nipping at her ear. When he moaned into the side of her neck she started squirming.
“Robert? I want you to mark me. Make me yours.”
He stiffened against her. “You aren’t near recovered, we need to wait.”
“I’ve waited long enough. Besides, what’s another wound? It’s like another pound to an elephant.” He laughed. “Lock the door, Robert, and strip. I need you to make love to me.” He grinned as the door clicked. Slowly taking off his shirt, he watched as she pulled the thin hospital gown up over her torn body. She was covered in bruises, had several long lines of stitches holding closed deep cuts, and yet she was the sexiest thing he had ever seen.
“Gently, though. You let me know if it hurts.” He pushed off his pants and she licked her lips as she saw his erection bounce up in front of her.
“Porcupine sex it is.”
“Yes, dear, slow and careful so no one gets hurt!” She held out her hand as he came up on the bed. He knelt at her feet, his strong hands slowly spreading her knees apart. He avoided the cuts and kept her right leg still, knowing her torn hamstring was still early in its recovery. He kissed his way up her thighs, following the strong scent that was uniquely her, the one that called to his very being. He gently spread her lips apart and kissed her swollen clit, before his tongue started laving at her. She was swollen and tender, he wanted to do so much more but he knew she couldn’t handle it right now.
“Are you sure you want me to continue?” She nodded as he lined up his cock with her. He kept his arms straight and his body off her as he slowly pushed forward. They both groaned in pleasure as she was filled. He paused and looked in her eyes for signs of pain when he was fully seated, but all he could see was love and lust. Her wolf was close. He started to move in and out, careful not to put any weight on her. She played with her breasts for a while, he eyes closing, before placing her hands behind his neck and pulling his head down to hers. “I’m not going to last long,” he said.
“Me either. Do it. Mate with me.”
He picked up the pace, still being careful not to move her around too much, and let his teeth shift. He watched her eyes, and when he felt her tense and her eyes go closed she exposed her neck to him. His wolf took over, surging forward and biting deeply into the junction between her neck and shoulder. She cried out as the pain mixed with the pleasure, her teeth also shifting. He started to come, huge spurts of pent up seed filling her up. She moved up and bit his right shoulder, her teeth drawing blood and shaking to ensure it would scar well. He was hers, and she was his. The bond between them exploded their emotions as it fully snapped in place.
He could feel her pleasure, and her pain. He knew it was too early, he was hurting her. He carefully moved off of her and went to the bathroom to get some washcloths to clean the blood and come off them both. When he came back, he gently kissed her before cleaning her and covering her up. “I love you, Renee.”
“I love you too, Robert.” She closed her eyes and was asleep immediately. Robert sat in the chair by her, holding her hand, his eyes focused on her breathing.
He stayed with her until lunchtime when her Pack arrived. He hated leaving, but she still had her own Pack and they had a lot to talk about. He gently kissed her lips before leaving to have an extended lunch.
As soon as her Pack started to enter the room, Wendy let out a scream. “YOU MATED!!!” The rest of the Pack piled into the room, each coming up to hug her and congratulate her. All matings were celebrated, but second mates were rare, mainly because so few survived the loss of their first mate. It took the floor nurse poking her head in and threatening to kick them all out if they didn’t quiet down to end the celebration.
Renee got right to the point. “Well, I’ve made my decision as you can see. I’m going to be the Alpha Female of the Gila pack. You each have the freedom to choose your future, I owe you no less. You can go to any pack you wish and your share of the pack assets will go with you. Or, you can stay with Robert and I as members of the Gila pack.”
“Will they accept us?” Kelly was nervous, she had been through so much and didn’t want to leave Renee.
“Robert wants you all to be with us, this was his idea. Keep it to yourselves for now, he will be informing his pack once he knows what you all have decided. I just need to know if you want to do that.”
“YES!” It was a chorus of joy as the tiny little pack accepted. No longer would they have to worry about territory or safety, they all liked the pack they had been staying with and that they would all stay together.
“OK, I’ll let him know.” She used her mate bond to tell him. “We have to have a formal Pack vote with regional Council supervision to make it official, but we will start the process now. I need you guys to head back to New Mexico now. Robert and his Betas will work with you to discuss how we can expand the compound to include you all. The Doc says I’ll be able to travel tomorrow, so I’ll finish recovering back at home and I can see you there.”
Home. What a great idea.
The next day, a caravan of vehicles left Denver heading for the combined Pack home in New Mexico. Robert as always was by Renee’s side, but this was now in the back of an ambulance rented for the trip. The Pack betas and support staff were in three other large SUV’s surrounding it. Renee was sleeping, although Robert could see that the turns and bumps of the road would cause her pain. Their pack nurse Wendy was riding shotgun while Terry, their doctor, sat in back monitoring her condition. It wasn’t the honeymoon Wendy and Terry expected, but it was the one they got. If Robert was paying attention he would have seen the blushes and smiles as they teased each other through their mate bond.
By the time they entered New Mexico, Robert was nearly asleep himself. The cellphone ring jarred him upright. The caller ID said “DEA.”
“Hello?” What the hell would the Feds want with him?
“Alpha Robert Hastings? This is Special Agent in Charge Miller with the Albuquerque office. We raided a house southeast of Santa Fe an hour ago, and we need your help.”
“If you already raided it, why would you need my help?”
“We found someone. A female, injured badly. And she is in wolf form.”
“Well, tranquilize her. Use a lot.”
“We thought about that, but the doctor thinks using the tranquilizer gun will be too much for her. She’s in rough shape, and none of my men can go down to the basement without her being handled.”
Robert leaned back and pinched the bridge of his nose. “OK, we’re under an hour out of Santa Fe. I’m in a convoy of four vehicles, I’m in the ambulance with my fiance. Can your men meet us?”
“Yes, we’ll be on the 285 exit. I’ll give you all an escort.”
“No, we’ll just take one vehicle and a couple of my men. I want to get the rest of them home.” He hung up and looked over to see Renee staring at him. “You heard?”
“Yes. Take Doc with you, Wendy can stay back here with me. Use one of your Betas as a driver and take Caleb with you.”
“Caleb? Isn’t he a little young?”
“He’s eighteen, and he’s Beta material, he needs some time working with other Betas so he can see the job is more than what he saw in his old Pack. He’ll do fine. It will help get his mind off his disappointment at not finding his mate there.” That was one of the sad parts, the ones that found mates were so happy it was easy to miss the ache of those still single.
Twenty minutes later, he kissed Renee goodbye and moved to the SUV, a DEA agent joining them in back, and from there a quick ride to the house. SAIC Miller met them in the kitchen. “From what we can tell, the house we hit was a headquarters of sorts. We haven’t found drugs, but we have found cash, computers and records that we are going through now. It’s the basement that is the problem. The wolf is down there outside the cages and is beyond pissed. No one has gone down there.”
“What can you tell us about the layout?”
“Take a look.” He led them to a cabinet where a surveillance system was monitoring the basement from several angles. He counted four dead guys and one she-wolf. He thought they were guys, anyway- you couldn’t tell. The bodies had been mutilated, ripped apart, especially their faces and crotches. The wolf was sitting at the base of the stairs, panting heavily, blood dripping from the cuts on her body and pooling on the floor.
“OK, here’s the plan. Joe will follow me down the stairs. I’ll use my Alpha influence to get the wolf to calm down and Joe can get her muzzled. Doc and Caleb then come down with the field stretcher and we restrain her and bring her out. Agent Miller, I want everyone out of the house who isn’t needed here. Once we open that door, no one who isn’t already Were goes down there until I say so. Agreed?” The DEA agents quickly agreed, frankly this situation scared the shit out of them and they were happy to hand it over.
Robert stripped and shifted into wolf form, while Joe stayed human. He would stay at the top of the stairs while his Alpha went down. Robert opened the door and recoiled at the smell- blood, urine, sex and death. The stench was overwhelming to his sensitive nose.
The tan wolf with black patches started to growl as soon as the door opened, but when a large male wolf appeared she stopped and tilted her head. Robert carefully avoided the mess of a body near the top of the stairs and confidently walked down, letting his Alpha influence loose on the frightened young wolf. She whined once, then laid down and showed her belly. Robert came over to her and took her neck in his mouth gently then let go. He could see the relief in her eyes as she relaxed, knowing no Were had been part of her captivity. When her adrenaline from her fight finally wore off, she had been exhausted and now that she was safe she passed out. He gently licked at her wounds for a minute to make sure she wasn’t waking up, then called his men down.
Robert shifted and caught the clothes tossed to him by Caleb. Doc frowned as he examined her. “She’s lost a lot of blood, she has numerous deep cuts but none appear to be fatal. I need to do some stitching, but I’d like to do it in a cleaner area than this. Let’s get her out of here.”
Caleb walked forward and set the stretcher on the ground. As the four of them got set to lift her, they froze on a single word he said.
Robert stared at Caleb for a moment. “Congratulations. Now let’s get your mate out of here.” They carefully strapped her down and Caleb took the front end, leading the taller Robert up the stairs as they tried to keep the stretcher level. Joe had run ahead and had cleared the kitchen table and turned on all the lights and they set her down. “Agent Miller, the basement is yours. Caleb, stay by her head, your scent will help her remain calm if she wakes up.” He stayed at that end, gently speaking in her ear as he wiped the blood from her face and neck using a washcloth Joe handed him. Doc got an IV started, then began cleaning the wounds on her left side and stitching up the more serious ones. They had been working for twenty minutes when SAIC Miller poked his head in the room.
“Alpha Hastings, can I have a word with you?” Robert told them to continue and went to wash up at the sink. Agent Miller took him into the living room. “I need to know what we should do with her. We found her records, she has been a prisoner down there for almost two years. She has been drugged, raped and abused repeatedly. I spoke to the local hospital and they aren’t prepared to take a woman who is as unstable as this.”
“My pack will take her home. We have medical staff, a clinic, and more importantly we have her mate. She will be given the time and help to recover. My doctor will want any records pertaining to her health or care though.”
“I can get you copies by tonight. I’m glad you can help her, she’s been through hell. I need you to see something, though.”
“What is it?”
“It’s for your eyes only, I don’t need anyone else, especially an overprotective mate, seeing it. You need to see it so you know what you have on your hands. We found video of what happened in that basement.”
“Worse. I wish we could resurrect those bastards downstairs and kill them all again.”
Fifteen minutes later, Robert was forcing his wolf back, his stomach revolting as he threw up into the wastebasket.
He didn’t know her name, but in his mind she was Pack, and the rest of those bastards were going to pay for what they did to her.