Trent couldn't resist another glance into the backseat. Lucy's chest rose and fell steadily. He sighed in relief. He worried something was wrong because she'd been asleep for almost five hours. He breathed in her scent and told his wolf to calm down. They were almost to his alpha's house. Riven would be happy to have Lucy. Trent did exactly what was asked of him. He just didn't like it and felt like a jerk. Lucy would think he played her.
Lucy groaned in the back seat and started shifting around. Trent tensed, awaiting her reaction. She blinked her eyes and looked around, catching his eye in the rearview mirror. She screamed and sat up straight.
"Where am I?" she asked, panic evident in her voice. "What do you want with me? If you're kidnapping me for ransom, my folks are dead and my sister and I barely get by with what we have. There's no money. Please let me go."
She looked out the window for some familiar land mark, but there were only trees passing in a blur. She felt in her pockets for her phone, but it was gone. She then searched the backseat for anything she could use as a weapon, but it was clean of everything except the wolf stuff animal Trent won her earlier that night.
"Lucy, calm down! I'm not going to hurt you. There's someone who wants to meet you. Please trust me," Trent said, catching her eye before focusing back on the road. Riven would have his head if he wrecked and killed Lucy. He sighed, wishing he could explain it to her. Riven had specifically ordered him to keep silent. He had to obey, though it pained him and his wolf to hurt Lucy in anyway.
Lucy snapped her attention back to Trent when he sighed. She felt the car begin to slow and looked out the windshield. A couple of deer stood in the middle of the road staring at the car. Their eyes glowed from the high beams and they were frozen to their spots. Trent honked the horn and urged the car forward a bit.
An idea popped into Lucy's mind and she acted upon it immediately. She threw her car door open and leapt out, sprinting as soon as her feet hit the ground. She heard Trent call her name, but she ignored him and pushed herself faster. She had no idea where she was, but hoped that if she followed the road she'd stumble on someone who could help her. She turned her head, hearing footsteps running after her.
"Shit," Trent cursed under his breath as Lucy jumped out of the car. He quickly set it in park, jerked open the car door and took off after her. Damn she's fast for a human. Trent knew she would get faster once she went through the change.
Trent noticed that Lucy didn't look back as she ran, but kept moving forward. She apparently didn't hear footsteps, and had no clue how close Trent was to her. Just as he was almost upon her, she turned and looked back at him. He saw her eyes widen in surprise and then she stumbled over a hole in the road. He used the distraction to tackle her from behind. Lucy hit the ground and rolled, coming to a stop lying on her back. She groaned and rubbed a sore spot on her head.
Trent crawled over to Lucy and straddled her. "It's not nice to jump out of cars and run from people," he teased. In this position Lucy looked even more beautiful than before. His wolf threatened to take over, and it took all of Trent's self-control to keep it at bay. He could feel it just below the surface of his consciousness. He growled in frustration when she started wiggling.
"Get off of me, you big oaf," she hissed. She tossed and turned, giving it all she had, but she couldn't fling him off. She suddenly stopped moving and lay still. A plan instantly formulated in her mind and she smiled up at Trent. "I'm sorry I ran."
Trent became wary when her tone became innocent. He could see the devious glint in her eye but he didn't know how to handle it. He loosened his hold on her and stood. He was about to offer her a hand, but before he could, she jumped to her feet and kneed him in the crotch. Stars popped into his eyes as he groaned and hit the ground, holding himself. She laughed as she took off again.
"See if you can run after that," she called over her shoulder as she continued to run down the road away from him. She disappeared around a curve, her hair bouncing behind her with each step she took. Trent growled and closed his eyes.
"Damn that girl can hit hard," he murmured, climbing to his feet and opening his eyes. They were no longer blue, but reflected his wolf as Trent lost the hold of his other half. Trent stuck his head in the air and howled. He wondered if anyone was near enough to help get this feisty wildcat back to the pack house.
The howl that answered Trent made him sigh in relief. Of all of the members of the pack that could have answered him, it was the very man he was taking Lucy to see, Riven. He started running after Lucy, howling again to help Riven track them down. He wasn't sure who would get to her first, but it would be close. Part of Trent hoped it was him. He felt he had a claim on Lucy. They had shared a few moments at the amusement park and his wolf viewed her as his. He wanted to protect her.
Lucy looked over her shoulder, but she didn't see anyone following her. Trent must have been a real sissy if he couldn't shake off that hit. She laughed at the mental picture he provided her. She loved the part where his face scrunched and he hit his knees in obvious pain. She took a moment to rest, slowing to a slight jog to catch her breath. Lucy was used to running. She had been on the track team at her college and ran every morning and evening. She hadn't done it since she graduated, but it felt good to feel the wind through her hair again, even if the circumstances weren't great. She shivered as a howl echoed through the night and she really hoped she didn't run into any wolves.
Lucy was just about to pick up her speed again when she heard another howl. She shivered and jerked her head to the side as a twig snapped to her left. Part of her wanted to keep running, but if it was a wolf running would incite their prey instincts. She was as good as dead if that happened. Against her body's response to run, she skidded to an immediate halt.
She felt the growl deep in her chest before she heard it. She whipped around and witnessed an enormous wolf stalk out from the dark forest. He was larger than any wolf pictures she'd seen. She held her breath, not moving a muscle. Lucy couldn't hold back the scream when it growled again and bared its sharp fangs at her. She backed up slowly, but the wolf continued to advance. As the full moon emerged from behind the clouds, she suddenly admired how beautiful the wolf looked under its pale light, even if it was about to kill her. Its midnight black coat rippled as the startling sharp green eyes rested on her. A few scars marked its snout but it did nothing to cover the feral teeth.
"Easy boy, I won't hurt you. I'm just trying to get home," Lucy cooed raising herh ands in front of her. "What am I doing? I'm talking to an animal."
Lucy felt something hit her back and she reached a hand behind her. She cursed when she felt bark of a wide tree. She'd have to take her eyes off the beast to move around it. She took a deep breath and decided to try her luck. She started to slide around the side of the tree when the wolf lunged with a growl and snapping of its teeth. Lucy screamed and threw her hands over her face. She squeezed her eyes closed and dropped to the ground.
Lucy waited for sharp fangs to bury into her skin. But tense moments passed and she didn't feel pain she was expecting. She moved her hands and cracked open one eye. Instead of one wolf standing before her, there were two. The new gray wolf was facing and growling at the black one. Lucy had the odd sense it was protecting her, but it was probably only fighting over the right to eat her first. She slowly rose to her feet, mesmerized by the fight, but still cautious with her movements.
Time slowed as Lucy stared in wonder at the two wolves, who were baring sharp, snarling teeth at one another. Lucy felt the snapping tension as each wolf asserted dominance. The black wolf was struggling to overpower the other, though the gray wolf was quickly gaining ground.
Lucy started tip toeing backward again, hoping she didn't step on a twig. She was too afraid to look away from the fight to watch her steps. She managed to go three steps back when she ran into another hard surface. She gasped as hands grabbed her arms and pinned them to her sides.
"That wasn't very nice, Lucy. You could hurt a man's pride when you do him that way," Trent whispered against Lucy's jaw, sending shivers down her spine. Her body was still attracted to Trent, even after all he'd done. She found herself leaning closer and almost allowed herself to relax. The sounds of the wolves grew louder and drew Lucy's attention away from the man at her back and she thrashed against him.
Trent tightened his grip on Lucy and heard her growl in frustration. He didn't want to hurt her, but he couldn't let her escape either. Riven was distracted, and it was up to Trent to keep Lucy safe. He needed to get her back to the car and to the pack house.
"What have we here?" a man asked, emerging from behind an old twisted tree.
Lucy gulped as she stared at the man. A wicked grin spread on his beefy face as he crossed his muscular arms over his chest. Scars marred his face and his smell was making her sick to her stomach. He resembled more like a horror film villain than a man. She pushed backwards into Trent, trying to get away from him.
"What do you want Bruno?" Trent asked with his wolf on high alert. Bruno was a wolf from an enemy pack and he had no idea what he would do.. Trent wasn't going to let him take Lucy. Bruno had no right to interfere, and Trent's wolf was growling and snapping inside his head to let him loose on the big idiot. Trent was tempted, but it would leave Lucy unsupervised.
The man in front of her laughed and she shivered again. Terror filled her senses and she cursed; this night couldn't get any worse. First, she never wanted to go to the amusement park. Second, she gets kidnapped by someone she was sort of attracted to. Third she's almost eaten by wolves. What next? Her heart rate quickened as she fought to stay conscious as the reality hit all at once. Her anxiety got the better of her and she faded into unconsciousness.
Trent caught Lucy before she hit the ground. It would leave him open to attack from Bruno, but he had orders to protect Lucy and he wouldn't go back on them now. Trent growled as Bruno realized his opening. Trent's eyes went black as his wolf pushed himself forward as warning to the bigger guy.
Riven sent the pup away with one final nip to his hind quarters. He shook his head and then turned to look for Lucy. He didn't see her, but caught a whiff of her scent. He stalked toward it when the wind changed direction. He caught Bruno's scent and he growled. Bruno was trouble and Riven wasn't in the mood. Lucy's unclaimed scent would have a lot of wolves sniffing around in the future and he wasn't going to let any wolf in the present lay claim to her.
Riven ran the short distance between his location and where Bruno was chatting with Trent. Trent held Lucy in his arms and she appeared to be sleeping. He figured she must have fainted after all the excitement. He would have a lot of explaining to do when she woke up and he wasn't looking forward to it. There was no sign of a fight, but Riven could sense anger rolling off his pack mate. It was his job to keep a brawl from happening. Riven recognized the territorial way Trent was acting toward Lucy by keeping a secure distance between himself and Bruno. It made Riven question what his true intentions toward Lucy were. But he didn't have time to dwell on the issue.
Riven shifted into his human form with the snapping of bones and stepped out from behind the trees and into Trent and Bruno's line of sight. "What brings you here, Friend?" Riven asked, trying to appeal to the long lost connection between himself and Bruno.
Bruno tensed at the term. "Don't you dare call me friend!" he spit. "You are not my friend. We are enemies, and don't forget it."
"My mistake, Bruno," Riven replied calmly. He could sense the growing anger and didn't want to push him too far. "Why are you here?"
Riven was the distraction Trent needed to remove Lucy from the situation. He turned and started trekking back to the car. Despite how fast she ran, Lucy didn't make it far from where they stopped. He found the car easily and eased Lucy into the passenger seat. He leaned in to buckle her seatbelt, being careful not to wake her. He looked down at her sleeping form and longed to kiss her. He remembered how good her lips felt against his. His hand reached up to caress her face, but he managed to catch himself and eased back. He closed the door and stalked around to his side before he could go any further made a mistake.
Trent put the car in drive and slowly pushed the accelerator to the floor. He wanted to get Lucy to the pack house before she woke up or their journey was interrupted again. He also hoped that Riven would beat them back to the pack house so he could hand over his burden and go home.
After spotting a few more deer and driving way over the speed limit, he pulled the car in the garage and turned off the ignition. He glanced over at Lucy to make sure she was still sleeping before he climbed out of the car and moved to Lucy's side. He opened her door and unbuckled her seatbelt. He moved one arm around her shoulders and one under her legs before he caught Jaiden's scent. He smiled, knowing Jaiden had been pacing in front of the door awaiting his arrival. He was like a little brother to Trent and Trent watched out for him and his sister Candy.
Jaiden was the omega of the pack and had a big heart. He was always trying to keep people from fighting. Trent and his blood brothers were constantly going at each other's throats, keeping Jaiden on his toes. He was the perfect person to meet Lucy first. He would be able to keep her from panicking.
"Did you get the girl? Can I meet her?" Jaiden asked excitedly. He was bouncing on his toes and tried to peer over Trent's shoulder to look at Lucy. Trent sighed before slowly turning around.
"How did you know what I was sent to do?" Trent asked. Riven had been adamant about keeping Lucy a secret. Trent hadn't even told his mother. How was it possible that Jaiden knew about it?
"Riven explained why you left when your mother kept asking him about it. You know how crazy she gets when something involves you or your brothers. He explained you went to pick up a new pack member. He also mentioned that she was female," Jaiden answered, the smile never leaving his face as he studied the sleeping girl in Trent's arms.
"What's going on?" a voice floated to his ears. Trent looked down to see Lucy surveying him under hooded eyes. Jaiden leaned forward and Lucy slowly turned to him, screaming loudly. Jaiden covered his ears and grimaced.
"Who are you? Where am I?" Lucy shouted.
"You're safe. There's nothing to be afraid of. My name is Jaiden. May I ask what yours is?" Jaiden asked. Trent set Lucy on her feet leaving his hand on her shoulder and Jaiden stuck out his hand for her to shake.
Lucy studied the boy in front of her. He seemed about sixteen and was as cute as a button. She had the sudden urge to push his shaggy brown hair out of his eyes. She slightly relaxed at the huge smile that lit up his face. She cautiously reached for his hand and shook it.
"I'm Lucy. Now do you want to tell me where I am and what I'm doing here?" she asked, hoping he would provide her with answers. Trent wouldn't tell her anything and she was getting tired of being clueless and scared.
"Well that's easy. You're at the pack house. You'll be safe here with the pack. As for why you're here, that's for Riven, our alpha to tell you." Jaiden released her hand and took a step back. "Let me take you inside so you can meet the rest of the pack. I know you're nervous, and probably scared, but nothing will happen to you."
"Pack? Alpha?" she asked, her face scrunching with confusion. Lucy followed Jaiden when he started walking. She managed to study the young man as she followed and observed Superman and other comic book heroes donning his pajamas. Carefully, she placed her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing.
Jaiden turned to smile at her again, his big brown eyes shining with hidden mischief.
"I think I like you," Lucy stated, her heart calming and her body relaxing. For some reason she felt she could trust this kid. He might even help her escape when she got the chance. She glanced at Trent and stuck her tongue out at him. He was acting childish, stomping his feet and muttering under his breath.
"Thanks!" Jaiden said, leading her toward an open door that led into the house from the garage. Lucy heard Trent slam the car door and stomp after them.
When Lucy got in the house she couldn't believe her eyes. The place was huge and oddly decorated. It was like two different people had been given the assignment of decorating and had done it in their own ways. It was unique and she liked it. The door they led her through opened up into the kitchen.
The kitchen had a black tiled floor with a maroon colored paint on the walls. Wood cabinets lined the walls. An open dishwasher was half filled with dirty dishes. She smiled at the rest of the dishes piled high in the sink. Pots hung on the wall above a gas stove with a built-in oven. The refrigerator was decorated with magnets from all over. A small calendar topped the fridge with a couple dates circled. She wondered what they meant, but didn't ask. A coffee pot sat on one of the counters, half full with wasted coffee. Lucy knew she would be needing a fresh cup of that very soon if she was going to remain awake. There was an island in the middle of the kitchen and several round wooden stools around it.
"Wow," she mumbled, admiring the size of the kitchen. It was twice as big as her bedroom back home. Lucy's face fell as she thought about home. Where was her sister? Was she worried about Lucy? Had she called the cops?
"What's wrong?" Jaiden asked. He could feel Lucy's sadness in waves and he didn't like it. It wasn't in his nature to let people not be happy.
"I'm just thinking about my sister. I'm worried about her and wondering if she's figured out I'm missing. I bet she's not even worried," Lucy admitted. The hand on her shoulder squeezed comfortingly and she turned to find Trent still standing behind her. She brushed his hand off her, feeling anger rise, and poked a finger in his chest. "This is entirely your fault. If you didn't kidnap me, I wouldn't be in this situation. Tell me what the hell is going on and why I'm here."
He stood looking down at her, taking the abuse from her finger. But with every poke, he remained as still as a statue. Lucy jerked away from Trent and ran from the kitchen. She felt tears sting her eyes and wondered what she was going to do. She stopped at a door which led to a bathroom and walked in. She closed the door and quickly locked it, hoping Trent would take the hint to leave her alone.
She sat on the toilet, holding her face in her hands. She was so confused. Why would Trent take her? They seemed to get along so well. She wasn't anyone important and they weren't rich. What did he benefit from kidnapping her? It didn't make sense. Tears fell and she didn't bother stopping them. She needed to cry, though it made her angry. She wasn't weak. She needed to be strong if she was going to escape.
"Lucy, can you come out now?" Jaiden's worried voice came through the door a few minutes later. She wiped the tears off her cheeks and stood. She walked to the mirror and studied her puffy eyes and wild, frizzled hair. She fixed it by pulling it up into a pony tail and turned to the closed door.
"No. I won't come out until I get some answers." She crossed her arms and leaned against the door.
"That's why I'm here. Riven is back and he wants to talk to you. He's ready to explain why you're here," Jaiden replied.
Lucy took a deep breath and opened the door. Jaiden smiled at her and held his hand out. Lucy sighed and took it. He started walking and Lucy let him lead her. Her thoughts were swirling with reasons of why they brought her to this strange place. She didn't understand why Jaiden was being so nice either. It wasn't until she heard muffled voices that she realized she wasn't paying attention to the twists and turns that he led her through. She wondered just how many people lived there and how she was going to escape with so many eyes on her.
She was led to a room toward what Lucy though to be the back of the house. Jaiden released her hand and motioned for her to go ahead. She slowly walked into a room that was incredibly dark and had eerie, blood red walls. She shivered and took a seat the closest to the door.
"Where is this Riven dude?" she asked.
"Riven had to change. We're all going to be here for this. Riven should be here any moment. Oh here he is." Jaiden's head turned toward the door and Lucy followed his gaze. Her blood instantly ran cold. The man in front of her looked like exactly like her mother. He had the same dirty blonde hair flecked with gray and the same piercing blue eyes. She gasped and covered her mouth, tears again threatening to emerge.
"Who are you?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper. Riven smiled and then moved behind a big mahogany desk. Slowly he sat in a large desk chair and leaned back to observe her.
"I will explain as soon as the rest of the pack are here," he answered.
Riven studied the slight girl in front of him. He would use this time before he was bombarded with questions to tell himself she was real. She looked like a miniature Hannah. She had the family's blue eyes and the blonde hair. His heart painfully tightened. Since Hannah's death it hurt to think about her and now her daughter, a living image of her mother, sat nervously in front of him. It hurt him again, knowing he caused his newly confirmed family any grief, but he had to do what was necessary to keep her safe.
Lucy couldn't take her eyes off the man. Riven wasn't what she expected for a man who arranged kidnappings. She expected someone older, maybe with completely gray hair, a beard, and rotten teeth. This man looked young, maybe in his late thirties and had a clean shaven face. His hair was shoulder length, giving him youth. He was rather handsome, though the similarities he shared with her mother were uncanny. Who was this man?
Trent hurried back to Riven's office. He spread the word about the meeting, even waking Raice, the hot headed ass of the pack. He had been reluctant to disrupt Raice after finding him passed out, but it was Riven's orders. If Raice got mad and picked a fight, it wouldn't bother Trent. He was itching for a fight after the argument he and Lucy had. His wolf was on edge and needed some relief.
Raice gave him hell, but he begrudgingly said he had to get dressed first. In Riven's pack, everyone was required to be present at pack meetings. It was just an unspoken rule that was enforced if broken. Trent knew that from experience and shivered as he remembered it.
Trent was one of the last to arrive in the Great Room, except for Raice. He took a seat on the couch nearest to Lucy's chair. He wanted to talk to Lucy, but Riven silenced him with a look. Trent reluctantly obeyed, though it pained him to have Lucy mad at him. Lucy looked at him and her face distorted into anger.
Make her forgive us. You should have explained some things to her, not just taken her. You even hit her! His wolf yelled at him in his mind. Hopefully this meeting would give Lucy the answers she needed and she would forgive him.
Raice cursed under his breath. He was late. He ran as quickly as he could, trying to make it to the meeting before Riven noticed his absence. He would have been there sooner, but he couldn't find a clean pair of pants. He didn't bother with a shirt, not willing to be later than he already was.
He was approaching the door when a scent of strawberries almost knocked him on his ass. He skidded dead in his tracks and his animal side woke with a start. That scent… it was intoxicating. He had to know where it was coming from. His animal side rose to the surface and took over his body. Raice was no longer in control.
Got to find her, she's ours. That scent… mate… The word mate sent Raice immediately over the edge. He threw the door open with a growl, his eyes solid black reflecting his animal half. He ignored the startled looks of his pack mates and focused on the girl curled into a chair in the corner of the room. Mate.
Riven was ready to start the meeting without Raice when the door slammed open. He knew instantly something was wrong by the color of Raice's eyes. They reflected the animal half of Raice and he recognized Raice was no longer in control. That was rare for Raice; he normally kept his animal side under a tight leash, not letting it control him, or letting anyone see him in his other form.
Riven was on his feet instantly, signaling to Drew, his beta. Drew blocked Raice's path and Riven walked warily toward the young man. "Raice, what is it?"
Raice growled low in his throat as his alpha moved toward him. They were blocking the girl from him. "Get out of my way," he growled, his voice low and animalistic.
"Trent, take Lucy to her new room," Riven commanded, seeing that this wouldn't end quickly or quietly with Raice. He was too far gone and needed a clear head. He was a good fighter and one of the best in the pack. If it came to a fight, someone was going to get hurt and he wanted Lucy out of harm's way. Raice was a former marine who knew how to handle himself. He had scars lining his upper chest to prove his prowess. Since he never wore a shirt, they were always visible; a clear warning for others to leave him the hell alone. A tattoo adorned the right side of his upper chest in the form of a paw. He was pure predator and when he lost control he was a force to be reckoned with.
Raice lost total control when Trent put his hand on Lucy's shoulder. She was unclaimed and letting another male touch her. He roared, his body shaking. He was going to change. He had to protect the girl. He screamed as his body forced the change on him. His scream turned into a roar as his face distorted. He knew he couldn't change in front of everyone, but it was impossible to hold it back.
"Trent, use the other exit, hurry," Riven screamed, tackling Raice and shielding Lucy from his view. She wasn't ready to know what they were. When he sensed Lucy had gone, he backed away to give Raice room. "Everyone get out."
They followed his orders without question and they used the same exit as Trent. Jaiden was the only one who remained because he was needed. His calming nature would help control Raice.
Once everyone vacated the room Raice was in his animal form. He lunged at Jaiden, taking him by surprise. He easily knocked him out with one swipe to the head with this paws. He then turned his attention to his alpha. His animal half recognized that an attack on the alpha was a challenge for leadership. He was reluctant to do so, but he had to get to his mate. Must get to mate. We tell alpha sorry later. Raice growled at his alpha and tried to jump around him. Riven tackled Raice from the side and held him on the ground. Raice had the upper hand in his animal form and easily threw Riven off of him. He turned and snapped at Riven, but didn't bite him.
He hurtled toward the cracked door, using his nose to nudge it open the rest of the way. He heard Riven shifting behind him, but didn't pay him any attention. Raice was about to sprint down the hall after Lucy when he was jumped from behind. Riven bit the back of Raice's neck, to force him to admit defeat and shift back. Raice whimpered and howled his pain. He had to get free. His mate needed him.
What are you talking about? Who is your mate? Riven questioned. He projected the question into Raice's mind, a trait the whole pack shared. They could share thoughts with each other in their animal forms.
I have to get to my mate. That male touched her. I will kill him. Raice shouted in his head. He growled and tried to throw Riven off of him again. Riven sorted through Raice's thoughts as quickly as possible and accidentally let Raice slip out of his grasp when he found the answer. Raice, using that to his advantage, bolted out the open door and down the hall to where Lucy's scent was the strongest. He would get his mate, no matter what. Riven raced after him, hoping to reach him before he reached Lucy. Lucy had no clue what was going on and wouldn't like a huge animal pouncing on her and trying to bite her neck.
Raice! Stop! Come back here right now. No one can know that you're not wolf. Get your panther ass back here. Riven commanded. Raice ignored him, a feat that was almost impossible when Riven put his alpha power into it. Normally the panther did what it was told, but in this case, instinct was overpowering his alpha power and therefore letting Raice protect his mate from Trent. He only hoped Trent had Lucy in a secure place. If not Riven would have a huge fight on his hands.