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Ulric and Connall sat on the porch of Madelyn’s house, both in wolf form, conversing with one another through their pack link as they waited for signs of their missing pack members. Both were frustrated as it had been two long days since the two disappeared. The frustration didn’t interfere with their other senses, though, which alerted them to the presence of some people who didn’t belong at Madelyn’s home.

Let’s watch from the bushes across the yard,” Ulric said to Connall, who nodded and quietly padded to the bushes behind his friend and Alpha.

“We’ll find some trace of them, I’m sure,” the female said as she rounded the corner.

“What if they don’t return, though, what happens then?” one of the three males said. This one was tall with dark hair and mesmerizing blue eyes.

“You idiot! They’ll return, she’ll never give up on this house her precious Daddy and Mommy left to her,” the woman responded.

“But you said your sister wasn’t her mother,” a second man with her said. “Why would you say that, Mel?”

The woman, Mel, shook her head, clearly exasperated by her companions. She folded her arms across her chest and looked across the yard toward where Ulric and Connall were hidden. They wondered for a moment if she saw them, when she narrowed her eyes, but she just turned back to the three men standing behind her.

“She wasn’t. She was her STEP mother, you imbecile! What do I keep you three around for, anyway?” Mel raged until the third man spoke up.

“Yes, and when the brat returns, we take her and take turns breeding her until one of us knocks her up. We’ll beat the old man at his own game. The problem is that mate of hers. She’s already mated to him and who knows, she may already be knocked up. What happens if that’s the case?”

Mel just looked at him and from her body language and the brief lift of her shoulders, the two wolves figured she’d scoffed and smirked at the third man.

“We’ll let her carry the pup, birth it, and hope it’s female. It will be our next test breeder after Madelyn dries up.” Mel shook her head then turned to head toward the front of the house. “Come on, you idiots, we have work to do if we’re to trap these mutts before they can stop us from taking the brat.”

Connall and Ulric looked at each other, nodded, then headed toward the creek where Madelyn was last seen. They settled in the bushes there to watch and wait.

Rinion returned to his human form and led them to the balcony, where he showed them a ledge Madelyn hadn’t noticed before, just below the balcony rail on the left side.

“We can talk out here, they don’t have surveillance here. My doing. I removed it and rerouted the camera to an identical balcony years ago. They never discovered the truth. We’ll jump down there and hide under the balcony. I’ve done this a million times, when I was a child. They never caught me because of my trick with the surveillance and they won’t catch us now as I never told them how I got out of the building.” He paused and looked at Madelyn before continuing, “This is how I’d leave to come see you when you’d nap at the creek.” His mouth turned up slightly on one side before he returned his attention to the task at hand.

“When they come back, they’ll launch a search for us that will take them away from the building and that will be our chance,” he explained. “Ready?”

He didn’t wait for a response, just shifted again into his big chocolate wolf then jumped down and backed under the balcony. Connor followed him then looked back up to the balcony rail, where Madelyn was precariously perched.

It’s ok, love, you can do this,” Connor said to her through their mate link.

Madelyn took a deep breath, closed her eyes for just a moment to center herself, then looked at the ledge and jumped, landing smoothly. She backed up until she was beneath the ledge with the other two wolves and waited to hear sounds in the room above.

It didn’t take long for their grandfather to return, this time with backup. They heard his exclamations of fury as he ordered his men to search the little town and forest.

What next, Rinion,” Madelyn asked him.

We be patient and wait, we have to let them finish their search in the portion of the woods where I’ll take us.

Madelyn relayed the message to Connor, who was keeping a close eye on everything around them. He nodded as he scanned the area in search of anyone who might have spotted them. It didn’t take long before the search parties returned from the forest to report back to their grandfather.

Now, Madelyn,” Rinion said.

Madelyn nodded to Connor and the two shifted wolves jumped down to the ground before Connor returned to his human form to catch Madelyn as she jumped. They embraced in a tight hug before Connor shifted back into his large wolf again.

No one stopped them as they made their way to the portal and stepped through.

Ulric and Connall’s heads popped up simultaneously as they heard two sets of paws and one set of human feet crossing the creek. When they saw it was Madelyn and Connor, they heaved a sigh of relief then called to them through the link.

Connor, Madelyn, come to the bushes to your right, it’s urgent! Madelyn, you need to shift!” Ulric told them.

Madelyn shifted and followed Connor and Rinion as they headed to the bushes Ulric described.

Who is this?” Connall said through the link when they saw Rinion.

This is my brother, Rinion,” Madelyn responded. “I have a familial link with him so I can tell him what you tell me.”

“No need, if he wishes to submit to me as his Alpha and join the pack,” Ulric responded. Madelyn relayed the message for Ulric and Rinion nodded.

Ulric talked Madelyn through the steps, which were nearly identical to those she’d undertaken just a few days before.

Ok, don’t be alarmed, but we need to get you three out of here Now!” Connall said as soon as Rinion’s link was established. “It seems you have an evil Aunt Mel, Madelyn.”

Maddy started at this revelation, her mouth dropping open and eyes going wide. “What do you mean?”

“A woman and three men are waiting at your house right now to abduct you and make you their breeder, Madelyn. They said something about ‘beating the old man at his own game,’ whatever that means…” he trailed off as Rinion interrupted.

It means our grandfather planned to use Madelyn to breed a ‘new kind of elf’ that has some shifter in it.”

“We won’t let that happen, Madelyn,” Ulric said solemnly. “We will protect you…” he paused and moved closer to Madelyn, sniffing her carefully, letting out a wolfy chuff in amusement before continuing, “…and your pups!”

“How did you…?” Madelyn started to say, but stopped when they heard the snap of twigs nearby.

Everyone held deathly still, almost not daring to breathe as they listened and watched the scene in front of them.

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