I woke with a smile on my face and my mate in my arms.
I looked down to Leah’s sleeping form and I felt wonder spread through me. This wonderfully innocent girl was my mate. I still couldn’t believe that we had completed the mating process and that Leah was the one to instigate it. My little mate was turning out to be stubborn when she wants something bad enough.
My smile spread wider as I thought of everything my mate wanted earlier. After the first time we were too drained to do anything else but sleep in each other’s arms. I had woken up a short time later with Leah running her hands over me. She said she wanted to do some of the things she saw in the book Alia had shown her.
At first I was shocked, but then I realized, she’s my mate, I want to make her happy. If trying different positions would make her happy then who was I to stop her. I chuckled quietly so as not to wake her. Hell, I wasn’t going to complain. I am a guy after all, and my mate is insatiable. We made love several times over the past few hours. Leaning back, I looked at the clock on the nightstand. It read one in the morning.
We had forgotten to eat, and Leah couldn’t afford to be skipping meals. With this in mind, I slipped from the bed, making sure not to wake her, and quietly left the room to find food.
I finished searching the cabinets and was opening the refrigerator when a noise from behind caused me to spin around. Leah was standing in the kitchen doorway looking adorably rumpled and sleepy. She had found one of my t-shirts to wear and it reached her mid-thigh.
I was about to ask her what she would like to eat when her hand flew to the back of her neck.
“Leah, honey, what’s wrong?” I asked rushing over to her.
Just as I reached her, she collapsed into my arms. I felt the back of her neck and my hand came away with a tranquilizer dart.
“Shit,” I exclaimed, as I felt a prick in my upper arm.
I barely had enough time to register someone coming out of the shadows before everything disappeared.
It was almost one in the morning. This was my time to try to snatch the girl.
I double-checked to make sure the tranquilizers were loaded in the mini crossbow on my wrist. I would have liked to kill the Alpha mutt, but seeing as he was mated to my target, that wouldn’t be possible. I was told that if they were mates then killing him would kill her. I didn’t see a problem with it, but the boss wants her alive, hence, the tranquilizers.
I stalked up the outside stairs to the second story. At this time of night, they should be asleep in the third floor bedrooms. I had studied the floor plans of the log house that were sent to me, and knew the master bedroom was toward the back.
Quickly picking the lock, I slipped inside and stood still. I did not hear any movement from upstairs so I made my way across the large living room towards to the stairs. I was to the couch when I heard a door open and close upstairs.
Ducking quickly between the couch and coffee table I listened as the footsteps walked past and towards the lower level. I was about to follow when I heard the upstairs door open and close again.
Dammit! Haven’t these animals ever heard of sleeping? I thought ducking back down.
The second set of footsteps followed the first down towards the lower level of the house. Getting up from my hiding spot, I silently followed in their wake.
Looking down the stairs, I noticed the kitchen lights were on and my target was standing in the doorway. The stairs and upper floors were still dark so I was able to hide in the shadows while I took aim.
The tranquilizer hit the target on the back of the neck. I saw her reach for it and collapse before she could remove the offending object. Before she hit the floor, the mutt caught her. I took aim again and fired the crossbow.
I heard him mutter, “Shit,” as I walked down the stairs before he collapsed on top of my target. I used the toe of my boot to roll him off her. I threw her over my shoulder and walked out leaving the mongrel on the kitchen floor.
He wasn’t an issue any more. I had what I came for. It was time to return to base.
Light pierced through my eyelids. Gah, my head is killing me.
I looked groggily around. I was in the kitchen. How the Hell did I end up in the kitchen? Last night’s events came flooding back to me.
Leah cornering me in the bathroom, claiming her and mating her. Coming down here to fix her something to eat…Leah collapsing.
I looked around frantically. She wasn’t here! Where is she?!
“Leah!” Scrambling up, I ran through the house screaming her name, frantically looking for her.
She was gone.
I tried to call to her through our link. Nothing. I wracked my brain seeing if I can remember anything else about last night. The only other thing was a foggy image of someone coming towards us before I blacked out.
I raced to our room to find my cell phone. I just hope Jack is still in town. I need to find Leah. I finally found my phone shoved under the bed. I dialed Jack’s number and prayed he would pick up. The phone kept ringing while I searched for something to throw on. Grabbing some jeans and a black t-shirt that looked clean, I heard the phone go to voicemail. I wanted to throw it against the wall.
“Dammit!” He must be gone already. I’ll have to call my brother-in-law and my father. I need to find out where my mate is. NOW!
I rolled over, trying to get more comfortable. Something kept poking my skin, making it itch. I rolled over the other direction and hit a cold, solid object. My eyes shot open.
Everything was dark.
Where am I? I wondered.
‘We are back where it all started,’ my wolf answered. Her voice seemed distant, and it was hard to feel her presence, as if she was somewhere else.
‘What do you mean?’ I asked her.
‘This is where we were before you found your mate,’ she replied. ‘This is where you received your scars.’
Dread filled me at her words.
I tried to look around and get a feel for my surroundings, but it was pitch black. I could not even use my wolf vision as whoever took me did something to my wolf. I was not able to use her abilities to help me.
I even yelled for Devin through our mate link, still nothing.
I got up and placed my hand next to me, encountering a cold stone wall. I followed it and shortly came to another wall in front of me. I followed that one until I came to a wall that had spaces between the cold barriers. The spaces were too small for me to try to fit through so I just followed them until I reached another stone wall.
The area I was in was small and confined. I was only able to take a few steps in each direction. There was only one object in the area with me and judging from the smells emanating from it, I was to use it as a toilet. My nose wrinkled in disgust at this knowledge.
I made my way back to the place where I had awoken. It was the only covered area of the floor, even if the material was scratchy.
Just as I sat down against the wall, I heard a loud bang and the sounds of footsteps coming my way.
I hastily stood again and pressed myself into the wall. I wished the person were not coming for me. I wished I could disappear through the wall and run back to my mate. My wolf whimpered. We both missed our mate it hurt to be away from him.
My eyes had adjusted slightly to the dark and I was able to make out a darker shadow on the other side of the small openings. I watched with despair as the shadow opened part of this wall with a click, entered, and closed it again with a resounding bang. I shrank even further into the wall.
“Hello, Ainia,” a raspy voice filled the small space. “It’s so nice to have you back home.”
That voice! I know that voice!
All of a sudden, a sharp pain sliced through my skull. I would have screamed if I could, but all I could do was grabbed my head and fall to the ground.
Everything came back to me. All the years of pain and suffering and of this man making my life Hell. I also remember escaping by ripping his throat out. I guess this will teach me to make sure someone is dead before making a run for it. I will not make the same mistake again. If I escaped him once, I can do it again, and this time I will make sure he never gets back up.
A tsking sound brought me out of my memories. “Ainia, what have you done to your hair? What happened to those beautiful long locks of yours?”
A shudder ran through me as I remembered. He loved wrapping my hair around his fist so he could hold me in place while he beat me and cut me. He would never allow me to cut it, as it would take away from his pleasure.
“No matter,” he continued. “You are back home where you belong. We’ll have plenty of time together so it can grow back.”
I stayed where I was, not acknowledging him. I was not going to stay here. Devin would come for me. If he could not find me then I will escape on my own. Like last time.
“Oh by the way,” he interrupted my thoughts, “if you are thinking of trying to escape again, it won’t work. After your little, escapade, last time, I had the outer door reinforced with silver.” He crouched in front of me, “So even if you get out of this cell, you still won’t be able to make it above ground.” He laughed in my face. “You see, Ainia, you’ll be stuck down here forever. No one will ever be able to find you.”
With those parting words, he backed out of the cell. I do not know how he was able to see what he was doing as it was too dark even for me to see. I heard him chuckling all the way to and out the outer door.
I slumped to the floor, as I felt tears run down my face.
Now what am I going to do?
I had my best warriors along with my father and brother-in-law crammed into my study. They were standing, waiting for my instructions. I was pacing back and forth. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t feel Leah through our connection. I needed to make sure she was all right. I knew she wasn’t dead as I was still alive, but I did not know if she was injured in some way.
Whatever we were shot with blocked our connection and weakened our wolves. I was barely able to hear or feel mine. It was like a brick wall was placed between us. I knew he was there and I could faintly hear him but I could not feel him.
A throat cleared.
“Son,” I glanced at my father. His expression was grim, and there was worry in his eyes. Worry for me, and worry for my mate. My father had been a great Alpha. We may be a small pack with only fifty wolves total but my father had built the pack up to be one of the strongest in the country. When he had given me the pack five years ago after I turned twenty I was terrified.
I had no idea how to run a pack. I was barely out of college and now I had to take care of all these people. I was humbled when my father took me aside and said, “Son, it’s ok to be scared of the responsibility. It only means that you care and that you will consider everything when making a decision. You will always do what is right for this pack and for the people in it. You are going to be a great Alpha.”
So far, I have kept my word to take care of this pack, but now our Luna was missing, and it was all my fault. My heart is breaking without her here with me. I could feel tears wanting to fill my eyes. I didn’t care about looking weak in front of these men. They are all mated. They know what it is like to be without their other halves.
“Son,” my father said again, bringing my attention fully upon him. “We will find her. We just need to know where to begin looking.”
I ran my fingers through my hair, grabbing it at the back. “I don’t know,” I admitted. “I didn’t see who did this and I can’t feel my connection with Leah.” I almost broke down, “I don’t know what to do.” I whispered.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. Looking over, I saw my father next to me. “Ok. Well. You said earlier that when you two met she had been running from something. Have you followed her trail from there to see where she came from?”
I sighed and collapsed into my chair, “Yeah. I had one of our trackers follow her trail as far as he could. He said he followed her scent north and it disappeared across the Canadian border.” I rubbed my face, “If I knew he wouldn’t get caught I would have had him follow it until it completely disappeared, but I told him to come back home. That was over two weeks ago. Her trail will be long gone by now.”
“Alright, well, I know the Alpha of the pack up there so I’ll give him a call and see if he knows anything. Also, why don’t we send some men up there with something of hers in case they find traces of her scent?”
Nodding, I directed three of the men to find the tracker and to come back here. I’ll give them something of Leah’s before they leave so they will have her scent with them.
“Ok, now that’s out of the way son, let’s see if we can figure out anything else about what’s going on.”
I nodded again and leaned my head against the back of my chair.
“You said you were shot with tranquilizers?”
“Yeah,” I sighed. I was still exhausted from whatever was in that dart.
“Did you hear any noises right before you were shot?”
Frowning, I shook my head in the negative.
“Hmm,” my father mumbled, “must have been a bow of some kind, probably a crossbow.” Louder he stated, “I’m going to rule out that it might have been another were with that information.”
My frown deepened, “Why?” I questioned.
“Well,” my father drawled, “A were would fight hand to hand or wolf to wolf. Using bows and tranqs is something a Hunter would use. My guess would be someone hired a Hunter to take your mate.”
I leaned forward, “Why would you think he was hired?”
“Because you are still alive Devin,” he stated as if it was obvious. “If it was just a Hunter out for a kill you and your mate would be dead right now. As it is, you are alive and she is missing. Which means whoever this person is was hired to take her and keep you alive to boot.”
“Fuck!” I yelled jumping out of my chair. I started pacing and pulling at my hair again. If I didn’t get Leah back soon I was going to be bald and have a hole in my floor.
“What is it Devin?” my father asked.
“The night I brought Leah home she had a nightmare. A memory really,” I continued pacing.
“What was it about?”
My hands gripped my head, “She was little. Maybe three or four. She was locked in a small underground cell, as the walls were stone and wet with moisture. A man came in and started yelling at her to shift, and when she didn’t he beat her. He punched, kicked, and then he started to cut her.” A growl reverberated around the room from the remaining warriors, my father, and me. “The thing is, I was able to see everything that was going on in her dream as if I was there. There were no lights, it was blacker than a moonless night in that cell. The man who tortured her had something on his head, like night vision goggles so he could see. It also obscured his face so I wouldn’t know him if he was standing next to me.”
I collapsed back into my chair and dropped my head into my hands. The room was silent. When I looked up, I noticed the warriors were gone and only my father remained. He had a very grim look upon his face.
“Dad, what do you know?” I asked slowly.
“Let me ask you one thing first.” I nodded.
“What color wolf is Leah?”
My eyebrows pulled together, “White and silver. Why?” I failed to see how this was relevant.
My father’s shoulders slumped and he dropped into one of the chairs opposite me. “Son, you were probably too young to remember, but when you were about six, a group of Hunters raided a pack in southern Colorado.”
“Ok, but what does that have to do with Leah?” I was getting impatient with him.
“The pack that was attacked was a pack of White Wolves, the only pack of White Wolves known to exist. If I’m correct, then Leah is one of the children that were kidnapped during this incident.” He stood back up and began to pace around my office.
“Wait,” I held up my hand. “They kidnapped pups? Why? Wouldn’t it slow them down during their flight?”
Sighing, my father said, “It wasn’t just any pups they kidnapped. They took the Luna and her three children, triplets, two girls and a boy. The Alpha was able to follow them and get his son back but he was not so lucky with getting his mate or daughters.” He looked out the window and leaned his hand against the frame. “When the Alpha rescued his son the leader of the group grabbed the Luna and put a knife to her throat. He threatened to kill her if the Alpha didn’t back off and stop following them. The Alpha did not want to leave his mate or daughters with these savages, but he needed to. He had his son in his arms and could not risk a fight and injuring his child or having his mate killed.
He left the Hunters’ camp and returned home to a broken pack. When he was finally able to resume the search for the rest of his family, he died. The only reason a healthy, strong Alpha would die suddenly is if his mate is killed. The White Wolves were run by the Beta up until recently when the Alpha’s son took over.” My father looked at me over his shoulder. “Thing is, the boy was born a protector, not an Alpha. You said that you mated with Leah. Did you notice a marking on her upper arm or shoulder blade?”
I thought back to our night of lovemaking. I frowned, “I don’t remember any markings but she did have a scar on her shoulder blade from where someone burned her with silver.” My eyes widened. “She could be…”
My father nodded, “Yes son. She could be the true Alpha of the White Wolves.”
I stared at my father, “So that means…”
His shoulders dropped even more, “If she is with the Hunters then they have the ability to control every wolf known to man.”