Night fell quickly. If the sunset was pretty and purply orange, Barbara barely noticed it for the surrounding trees, and for being more concerned with the kids’ slowly increasing wariness. She wouldn’t say vicious, they weren’t that bad, but she could see the change. The night is where dangerous predators came alive.
“Is this..” Althea sniffed the air. Alana whispered in disbelief yet relief, “Cabin”
On the outside, the cabin looked ready to fall over the edge of the mountain that was sixteen yards to the right. Bricks and timber construction, and a roof that had a few bits of trees collapsed over it. “Are we going to stay here?” The boys stared at Barbara with hopeful eyes. “The bad guys not gonna find us, right?”
“We will stay here..for a while” She smiled at the kids, “Then when the sunset comes, we’ll run again until we find a very secure place”
They didn’t look convincing enough but didn’t object her. A raccoon scampered down a rotten tree trunk that lay propped at the right corner of the cabin, then ran off when the boys chase after it with a playful growl.
In the last shine of daylight, some of the leafless branches looked golden. Parts were starting to lift off, like scales barely adhering to the skin. They shook, eager to float. Alana frowned, “That...not good”
“Beggar cannot choose, Lana” Althea grinned at her. “Right, Ara”
“True” Barbara stroke her head then turned to observe the cabin. Alana rolled her eyes and click her tongue. “Brat”
The front door had tons of leaves and crap piled up to it. She ripped away some dangling plants and bent on one knee. Her eyes glittered in the dark as she looks up to Barbara. In her hand was a suspicious thing that she discovers from under the welcome mat. “The Bling Ring”
She utter amazement to Barbara. “Humans need to be careful with their movies”
Barbara shrugged. She takes the dirty thing from the girl. Metal found her hand, a ring of it. Which meant...She dragged the metal out through the loosened soil. Triumphant, she held up the key. “Incredible..”
“I’ll go find the boys” Alana straightened and rubbed her forehead, keeping the colors at bay by concentrating hard on searching for the troublesome boys. Althea stays with Barbara as she pulled the door, which fell to pieces. Behind was a real door. Metal. Somewhat rusted but solid.
After she cleaned the key with rubbing, spit, and more spit and rubbing, she inserted it in the lock. A damn miracle, but it turned first to go, after one shoulder-charge, the door swung in..revealing darkness. She hesitated for seconds. Whoever owns these cabin wasn’t an ordinary person.
“Not bad” Althea peeked, then walked into the darkness without fear. Of course, the kids can see much clearer than her.
“Fuck it,” Barbara gulped and followed the girl without a second thought. The inside was clean of plant growth, no cracks in the ceiling, just dust and a lingering odor of smoke. All the heavy timbers up there in the roof had done the trick and stopped the weight of the debris from craving it in.
“Ara look! Look!” Matteo ran into the cabin along with his twin and Alana. In his hands was a dead bloody rabbit. “I caught food!”
“I caught more!” Matt pushed his brother and jumped in joy in front of Barbara.
Long-time ago, Barbara will faint or even puke in the sight of a cute bunny being torn apart. But after being through worse than death, one can’t be choosers. To live longer, she'll do anything even though as disgusting as eating it-Raw. They eat in silence. Althea offered her scarf to wipe away the blood from her hands while the kids prefer to lick it away like a delicious sauce. The kids have been looking around to make sure there were no obvious beasts in the cabin aside from them.
To the right of the door, where Alana had levered the shutters out a few inches, more shafts of moonlight pricked through the darkness. Blearily, Barbara staggered to her feet and stood listening. Just owl noises out there, trees swishing and rattling branches, some creaking as the cabin stretched itself. The calm night makes her agitated. In fact, she feels...
Her legs almost made her want to walk out there and keep going down the dirt road. She tried a step, knew her bladder was full and she needed to pee. She edges another few steps onto the mostly grass-less area. More? She stared down at her stupid firm legs. Apparently not. A line existed she couldn’t cross. Damn.
An hour later, the kids fall asleep on the dusty wooden floor nearer the fireplace. Someone had lit a big fire that’s not ventilated well. Maybe they’d thrown on too much?
The ashes had lumps that made her wonder if all of it had burned. Pale things, metallic objects too. Barbara glanced at it in curiosity before finally decided to ignored it and lay closer to Althea and the boys. They purred as she kissed their heads and hummed softly to make the kids feel more secure and safe.
Frustration gripped Lycus as he dropped to his knees, pressed his nose closer to the ground and tried to pick up the stench of his mate. He refused to give up even though he’d lost the scent. His eyes narrowed as he scanned the area for any recent disturbance.
“Spread out” He ordered the other males. “Find it”
“Easy, Lycus” Carlos murmur. “You’re sounding a little feral with the way you’re snarling”
Lycus snapped his head around to glare at Carlos. “The scientist is ahead of us. Hell, he might have my female!”
“Understood.” Carlos backed away, “The scientist let them escape easily as a test. Whatever he’d planned for them won’t be good. We'll find them before they do”
Lycus growled, heading to the left to try to find the trial. He doubted anyone understood what he was feeling. He’d missed her and she’d occupied all his free thoughts. Her scent had slowly faded from the blanket and he’d mourned the loss. Not finding her would be unacceptable.
“Here” Keane called out softly. “I’ve found a trace”
Lycus was on his feet with a leap, sniffed the area, and picked up the faint stench of urine. One of them had rubbed against the trunk of a tree. He moved forward and scanned the darkness, searching for the easiest way to walk if he’d been a female with a child. “Cubs”
Keane leaned at the trunk. “Bears”
“Follow him,” Bain urged. “Don’t let him out of your sight”
“I’m going to kill them” Lycus swore, “The scientist and his stupid minions”
“And that’s why we’re sticking close. You’re so agitated that you might get her and us killed” Carlos closed the distance between them, keeping close behind him. “Think before you act, man”
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to save her” Lycus hissed.
“That’s what we’re afraid of, “Carlos sighed. “We want to rescue the female too but be smart about it”
“Leave him alone” Keane growled. “I understood wanting to protect a female. I am very close to a human female. They aren’t as strong as our females and this Barbara won’t be able to defend herself, not with a child. That’s why I wanted to come along. Ryker and Xanth wished to come as well but knew you didn’t want to overwhelm the humans with too many of us. If these males have harmed Lycus’s female he should get to kill them. They’re assholes who need killing”
Lycus snarled in agreement.
“Great. Very helpful, man” Carlos shot him a glare. The male shrugged, “It’s the truth”
“Over there” Keane stopped, observing the cabin. It looked ready to fall over the edge of the mountain that was ten yards to the left. Brick and timber construction, and a roof that had a few bits of trees collapsed over it. A light coming through the dirty window. A movement can be seen through it. “They’re here”
Bain sniffed, “And the humans too” He tightened his jaw, “Dammit”
Lycus lunged toward the cabin when the smell of his mate’s fear-filled his nostrils. The urge to protect her, to help her, became so overpowering he couldn’t even form coherent thoughts anymore.
An unexpected, heavyweight landed on his back and his knees collapsed. Two strong arms wrapped around him, one around his throat to cut off his oxygen and another hooked around his chest under his arms. He grabbed at the male body but the words hissed in his ear prevented him from fighting.
“She’ll be dead before you can reach her. Calm now” Bain demanded. “Think, my friend” The arm around his throat eased. “Take a few deep breaths, fight your instincts, and trust me”
Lycus sucked in air through his mouth, and bit back a roar and knew his alpha made sense. “The humans would kill her. I need to get to her”
He kept his voice low to keep it from alerting the enemies.
“We need to get her without them killing her first. I understand and I can feel your rage. I smell it. You want to save her and so do I. We have to do it right. Look. See the front yard? Do you notice the male with the gun sitting on top of the trunk? He’s there to alert them. Whoever inside the cabin won’t hesitate to use your female as bait or worse..”
“I know” Bain crooned softly, “I can smell how strongly you want to rip their hearts out and tear their heads from their bodies. It will get her killed. Are you in control?”
Lycus shook his head before he nodded, “Yes” he rasped.
Bain’s hold around his chest eased and his weight left his back as he stood. A howl from Carlos sounded on the other side of the cabin. He was in place with the other males. It made thinking a little easier for Lycus to know the humans were surrounded. The shifter males would attack from the other direction to draw attention. He just needed to wait a few moments before he’d reach Barbara. He’d protect her and murder the males who had stolen her.
Bain eased down to a crouch next to him. “I’ll allow you to take out the human who’d harm her, but not the scientist male. We still need him”
His eyes darken, “Doesn’t mean we can’t harm him. Ryker won’t be easy on him”
“Good” Lycus rasped. He didn’t want to though, but his alpha was right. They still need the asshole.
“Prepare, but wait until you have a perfect opportunity”
Bain stood, his hand going for the knife strapped to his thigh and tested the weight of it in his palm. His focus fixed on the male, sitting on the trunk with a cigar on his lips. The alpha knew he wouldn’t miss. “Go for her when we’re clear. Take her away and we’ll clean them up.”
“I want them all dead. I want to do it” Lycus shallow a growl.
“Her, Lycus. Focus on her. Take her away the second you get a chance to grab her when we pin the males down with gunfire but not before. You can’t help her if you’re dead. Remember that, damn it”
“I’ll remember” Lycus gaze narrowed, he fought back another roar and couldn’t wait to kill anyone that harms his female.
“Good” Bain throws the knife and watched as it stabs into the male forehead, precisely. The human man fell onto the ground with a soft sound. "Jorlan is with them”
“Let's go” He hissed. They moved simultaneously. Shotguns broke the silent night. “Dammit!”
A terrifying roar shook the ground. Someone going to die tonight...
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