His Brother's Mate

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Chapter 5

After Gavin had left, I opened the chest to find all my clothes folded neatly there. More surprising than finding my clothes freshly laundered and folded was the fact that my brother’s pepper spray sat neatly on top of the bundle. Something that so easily could have been taken and disposed of, maybe even considered a bit as a threat, was sitting there as I stared at it wide eyed. It seemed so surreal that they would have knowingly given it back to me.

Having showered and dressed quickly, I stuck the canister in my front pocket. Though it would be obvious that it was there, it did not seem to matter since they had given it back to me. Now, it was just a matter of where do I go from here.

A small platter of pastries sat on the table between the two chairs in the sitting area, and must have been brought in during my brief time in the shower. Moving up the few stairs to the sitting area, I could also see there were a couple of cups and a teapot. My stomach growled at the sight of food, and I had not realized how hungry I was. Wafts of bacon reached my nose, and all bets were off when I noticed the serving of several strips of the meaty goodness nestled in among the other stuff.

I worked at placating my stomach and my body by stuffing my face with all that was offered. It was amazing, and my taste buds were singing. As I was polishing off a croissant I had packed with bacon, I scanned the room again. In front of me was that huge section of wall where I thought the picture window would be.

The huge curtain was pulled to, and it nearly screamed my name to open it. My curiosity to find out where I was ran strong, not to mention what time of day it was. Surprisingly, there was not a visible clock anywhere in the room that I could find.

Pulling back the heavy drapes, I was momentarily blinded by the sun that streamed in. Evidence that I had been out for more than a few hours poured into the room, and brought with it a warmth that I craved. Blinking a few times, I could not help but notice my mistake. It was not a picture window, but a sliding door that was hidden neatly by the drapes.

There did not appear to be a handle to pull open the doors so that I could move out onto the deck beyond. I moved my fingers around the entire outer edge of the glass, and still could not find a means to open it. The dry wall beside the door housed a panel, so I moved to inspect it. Once I touched the panel, it came to life with beautiful blue lights. Lucky for me, it was easy to figure out, and I found the button that would allow me to open the door.

When the button was pressed, the door slid open. It moved without making any noise, and glided easily against the rail that it perched on. Instead of opening part way as I suspected it would, it continued its smooth trek to hide the entire window within the wall, and a panel neatly slipped around to cover and protect the area that it had vanished into.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the cool techie equipment, I was drawn in. Though I felt the urge to study the panel and see what else it could do, I had to remind myself of my situation. Propelling myself out the door and onto the deck that overlooked what appeared to be a vast property, I was blown away by how far the land seemed to spread in all directions.

Once I stepped outside, I noticed the forest spread out before me with higher mountains on its outer reaches. The chill in the air indicated that I was higher than the sea level we were at when we went to the bar on the wharf, and it was a chill that reached to my bones even in the short amount of time that I stood there. I was nowhere near the bar. Instead, I was in some remote mountain retreat that had to be miles from civilization.

Below me, I could hear children laughing and screaming. The sounds made my heart race and butterflies rip through me. “Evan.” I swear I could hear his little shrill laughter in the mix with the others. Was it possible?

Shielding my eyes, I scanned the area below me. There was no mistaken it. A little tow-headed child ran amongst the others, playing happily as they all giggled and laughed. “Evan!” I screamed. It brought unwanted attention to myself, but I did not care. I rushed back inside, and ran to the nearest door to throw it open and hoped that I had guessed right.

I threw it open, and was ready to run out when Gavin showed up out of nowhere. “Holy…” I stopped myself, though the rest of it wanted to spill past my lips. “Get out of my way.” I folded my arms and had to stop myself from stamping my foot. “My son is down there.”

He raised his brows. “He is. He is playing with the others until we are finished with our conversation.”

“What? You can’t mean to...to keep me here. My son is down there!” Everything I was saying he knew, but I could not logically make him understand what my emotions were going through knowing that my son was within reach. How every night since he has been gone I have ached to hold him in my arms, and kiss the top of his little nose before tucking him in bed at night. How unbearable my days were, and going home was heartbreaking knowing that he would not be there to greet me. And now, he was refusing to let me see him until I had fulfilled some twisted game of his. “Get out of my way!” I nearly lunged at him, but he held me easily and moved me back into the room shutting the door with his foot.

He released me, but still stood towering over me so that I had to look up to glare at him with every ounce of bitterness I had. “My offer still stands, but you have yet to meet your obligation.”

“He is my son. You cannot keep him from me!” I clenched my fists next to my sides, remembering that I had pepper spray in my pocket.

“Legally, I could take you to court for custody, and have enough to win.” He paused to let his words sink in. “So, you have two options. Take the pepper spray from your pocket and use it, which would seal your fate. Or, keep your end of the bargain and let me judge for myself whether you have what it takes to be a mother to my nephew.”

How could he legally win custody of my son? How many people did this man have in his back pocket?

Around him, my emotions were always warring to the point where there was no winner. “You are a blooming onion, you know that. You have no right.” Okay, so maybe the words were less effective than the expletives that wanted to ring, but years of training were not always easy to break.

The lines in his jaw became more rigid than before. “I have every right. Make your choice, Kateryna.”

It was the first time he said my Christian name, and it irked me that I liked the way it sounded from his lips. “Do I have a choice, really?” I knew it sounded snide, but it could not be helped. I was as good as backed into the proverbial corner, and there was no way out but to give him his way. My gut hurt. “Where did we end off?”

“He was trying to come home.”

“Oh, yeah. After he told me that traditional law does not apply to you.” Not really the effect I was looking for, but he smirked at my comment before turning away from me to stare once more into the fire that was on a slow burn in the fireplace.

He tried to push himself away from the bar, but swayed dangerously. Trying to put one foot in front of the other was more of an effort than even a drunk would have to give. “Here, let me help you.”

The smile on his face was weak as he let my frame crawl underneath his larger one to try to balance some of the weight. He is a large man and towered over me, but together we managed to start making progress towards the exit.

We were only a few feet from the door when a woman showed up on his other side. “Kent! There you are!” Her voice was like a purr as she started to paw all over him. Her fingers wrapped around Kent’s arm as she tugged him towards her a bit. The weight of him teetered before it finally fell back on me again, nearly making me give beneath him.

“Get away from me, Phoebe.” His words were so strong, and he enunciated each one painfully. There was so much loathing in his voice that I was surprised she did not turn tail right then.

But, no. She was a woman on a mission. Determined.

“Did she give a last name?”

“I am telling you everything I know.”

He grunted. “Fine. Continue.”

“Gee, thanks.” I sucked a huge lungful of air in letting my chest fully expand before releasing it slowly.

“Aw, baby. Why don’t we finish what we started. Let me take you home.” By this time, the woman had come to face him and impede any further progress towards the exit. She turned a sneer to me. “Let this...little girl go find another pup to play with.”

“She said that?” There was a bit of surprise in Gavin’s voice. I just shook my head.

Phoebe put her hands on each side of Kent’s face making him look her in the face. “Baby, we would be so good together.” Kent shook her off, but wobbled so severely that I groaned. “Poppet, go play with your dollies. Let the grown ups have a moment.”

The woman irritated me, and Kent was getting worse the longer we stood there. “Look, I am sure that there are men in here who would love what you have going on. But, clearly, Kent is not interested in anything you have to give. Why don’t you exhibit some dignity and take no for an answer?” Once I said it, I realized that I would not be able to protect myself if this woman decided to launch herself at me. At least, not without throwing Kent to the floor to do so.

Since this was not an option, I braced myself. I felt Kent’s arms tighten around me as he tried to press me back slightly to offer me some protection behind him. “Why you little tramp! You cannot possibly think you are any match for him! He is more than you can handle, little girl.” The snide look turned to one more seductive when she let her gaze fall back on Kent. She planted a sensual smile on her face, and her tone changed to something meant to be more alluring, I suppose. “Only someone like me can handle mating with him.” With those words, she moved so close to him that their bodies were practically touching as she reached down and cupped his...member.

Surprisingly, he did not budge, but I could feel him tense a bit before he grabbed her firmly around the wrist. “You have your own agenda, Phoebe, and mating is not one of them. You think Gavin will just give you the keys to the kingdom?”

“You think he can keep running things without his own mate?” She was annoyed with Kent, and her words were more like a hiss.

There was more going on here than I first realized, and I knew it was bigger than me. I searched the area closest to us to look for one of the familiar bouncers so that I might signal him to come help. This woman was not taking no for an answer. And all I heard coming from him was a firm no.

“Look, it is the blood moon. A rare feast for us to enjoy.” She moved into him letting her body rub up against his, and I felt his hand that I held over my shoulder grasp mine firmly, and his jaw clenched so tight I thought his teeth would crack. “Everyone else is out enjoying the night, and we should be out there right along with them. In a few hours, you won’t have a choice on whether or not you mate.” She lifted her face to kiss him, but he turned his head and looked at me. His eyes were apologetic, and my heart went out to him.

“I have found my mate, Phoebe.” He let his gaze drift back to the woman in front of him. “Face it, you lost. You cannot interfere with fated mates.”

She slapped him hard, and his body jarred into mine. “Mates? Mates!” The woman’s face turned shades of red that I had not known existed. “You are lying! She cannot…” When she looked at me, it was then I realized that she thought he was talking about me.

“Can and is. Be gone or face the tribunal!” Kent tried to stand as tall as his predicament would allow him to emphasize his point, but sagged a little under his own weight.

My heart broke for him. I had no idea what was going on, but he did not correct her wrong assumption. I guessed that I was in some sort of position to help him by keeping my mouth closed, so I did. If it somehow got rid of this woman, then we could finally get Kent some help.

“No! You would not be able to restrain yourself enough to mate with her. Not tonight. You wouldn’t dare.” She saw his face, and it showed nothing of the doubt or indecision that she must have been hoping for. “Damn you! If I can’t have you…” The woman narrowed her eyes at me, and I could clearly see what her intentions were.

“How could you have been his mate?” I still could not see his face. Just as the last, he kept his back to me and his focus somewhere else.

“I had no clue what they meant then, and what you mean now. Clearly, it means something other than what I thought: a roll in the hay.”

His back went rigid at my flippant words. “He said you were his fated mate, though it is not possible because you’re...”

“Were you sleeping through what I was saying?” I interrupted him as I sighed heavy. “He fabricated it, and I kept my mouth shut to get rid of this woman.”

“But you mated with him anyway.” His words were ground out, from what I could tell.

“Against my will.” I enunciated every word, and I knew there would be backlash. He told me there would be.

With a firm hand, he reached out to grab a hold of the mantle on the fireplace as it creaked and groaned from the sheer force of the pressure he applied. I could see his knuckles turning white, and I held my breath. “You had better explain yourself.” There was a threat there that made me shiver.

“You might want to think about interrupting me again if you want the full story before you start jumping to conclusions.” I know I heard that growl again, and my eyes swept the room. If I had known better, I would have thought that it came from him.

One of the bouncers was approaching, and I called out to him. “Frank!”

“Cat!” He took in the whole situation before asking, “you need a hand?” His eyes were on the woman as she stood rigid with fists at her side.

The sigh of relief that rushed through me could not be mistaken. “Please.”

Frank put his muscle under Kent’s other shoulder as he took some of the excess weight off me. I could feel Kent give a little more under the extra support, even though Frank was shorter and more stout than he was. “Ma’am, if you could move out of the way, or I can have you escorted out.”

“You sniveling peon! How dare you talk to me like that! Do you have any clue who you are talking to?” She refused to budge, and she folded her arms in front of her chest to prove she meant business.

Frank started to answer, but Kent beat him to it. “Don’t say anything that you cannot take back, Phoebe. You already have a lot to answer for.”

The words were a threat, but she took them half-heartedly. “We are not through, Kent. One way or the other, you will see things my way.” Then she did something odd. Her face closed in on mine. “And you,” she started before she lifted her nose and, the only way I can explain it is that she sniffed me. From one side of my face to the other, she sniffed me. “I know you now, and I will find you. You will pay for this, mark my words, poppet.” Her face twisted in a cruel smile before she sauntered off and out the exit at the back of the building.

After her departure, we were able to move Kent outside. We hailed a cab and helped Kent into it. Before the cab could leave, Frank was called in to help with a fight that broke out between two military blokes, leaving me to try to get Kent to where he needed to go.

“What address are you heading to?” His voice was trailing off, and I was hoping I could tell the cabbie where he needed to go.

“Cat, you have to come with me. Phoebe, she is a dangerous woman.”

Although I knew he was serious, I could not help but laugh. “I will be fine. I promise. My brother is a county sheriff. There are not many people that would try anything with me.”

He shook his head at me. “No, she is the best tracker in her...family. She will find you. Please, I need to protect you. She is relentless, and I cannot let her get to you.” I shook my head, ready to protest once again. “At least until I know she is no longer a threat to you. She will have to return home soon.”

The look in his eyes was almost pained, and his worry only seem to compound it. “Look, I will come with you, but only until we get you help.” Maybe it was the alcohol that I had consumed, or maybe it was the way he looked at me, but he needed some sort of peace of mind if we were going to get him out of there.

Taking out my cell phone, I climbed in after him. I made a couple of phone calls so that my brother and my roommate would not worry about me. Then, I made a call to my best friend whose bachelorette party I had just walked out on. Before I put my phone away, I asked him if he wanted to call his brother. He nodded, then dialed the number. When he handed me the phone back without uttering a word, I guessed the person he dialed was not home.

The cabbie pulled into the address that Kent had given to him, and I looked at him confused. “A hotel?” Granted, it was not just any hotel, but one that belonged to the Hyatt chain.

“I have been staying here for...a conference. My brother will send a car for me in the morning.” The pain he was going through was not getting any easier for him to bare. In fact, I would guess that it was getting worse.

Though I had my reservations, I helped him out of the car and up to his room. As much as he seemed to be going through at the moment, it did not seem like he was able to do more than rest. Once we had gotten him in bed and he fell asleep, I was hoping to call someone that might come check on him.

When we got into the room, he closed the door with his free hand. I tried to help him hobble over to the bed, but he weakly shoved himself away from me and stumbled to a chair by the window. Dropping himself to the edge of the chair, he reached for a small bag that was next to it. From there he grabbed a cell phone, and started calling several numbers as he sat bent over enduring whatever racked through his body. Each number called ended up in him swearing under his breath and dialing another. Over and over, he tried several numbers before he finally got someone.

“You need to get here now.” He had ground out through clenched teeth.

I could not hear what was being said on the other end of the phone, but by the grunts Kent was making, the conversation was not going his way. “It will be too late. My brother needs to be notified.” Another pause. “I already tried.” He rolled his eyes and looked to the ceiling. “Yes, I found her, but in a few hours, things are going to be out of my control.” He sucked in a huge breath of air, and then released it as slowly as his body would allow him to. “That is not the only thing happening tonight. The she-wolf drugged me!” At his comment, I grimaced. I figured that it was the case, but he confirmed it for me. Kent shot me a cautious glance before focusing back on his conversation. “She knows her, I can’t leave her alone.” His face twisted as he gnashed his teeth together. If I thought it was possible, I would say he actually grew in size. “No! I can’t.” The words were forced through his teeth as his fists clenched, crushing the cell that was in his hands.

“Who did he call?”

I shrugged, more curious than annoyed that he interrupted me. “Don’t you know? I mean, Kent was so clear that whoever was on the phone needed to get in touch with you. At least, I thought it was clear unless there was some code I did not understand.”

Gavin turned from the fireplace and looked at me, a frown firmly planted on his lips. His brow dipped low as he studied my face looking for something. Did he think I was being sarcastic? Did he think I was holding back some unknown tidbit of information that he found important? To me, it seemed useless at this point, but still very curious that Kent’s conversation had not been relayed.

The man started pacing across the width of the fireplace, one arm crossing his chest while his free hand stroked against his chin. Now did not seem the time to continue my story, so I waited. Before long, a knock sounded on the door and I jumped. Though it startled me, Gavin seemed to be expecting it.

“Enter.” A man that was smaller than Gavin, but still very much a tall, muscular man, entered the room. “Pull my brother’s cell records from the night of the blood moon.”

“But, sir, we already went through those records and we couldn’t find anything.”

“Then recheck them,” he said it low, and the vibrations of his voice shot through my spine. It was an odd sensation, and it was clear that the man who entered felt it too.

The man nodded his head and moved towards the door in a hurry. As he was ready to step out of the room, a thought occurred to me. “Wait!” For whatever reason, this was important for Gavin. “Does it make sense for your brother to leave his hotel room without his cell phone?”

Silence filled the room. Even the man that Gavin had started to send away was in quiet contemplation. Or, maybe there was something else going on here. I had yet to understand this group and their communal living arrangements.

They passed a knowing look between one another. “Check with Clyde. He would have programmed phone numbers for Kent on any spare he gave him.” Something passed across his face. “And, Baron, we are looking for someone that would not have been...out during the blood moon.”

Baron cast a brief glance in my direction, then nodded. He spun on his heels and headed out the door to attend to his task at hand. Determination was evident, and I wondered how long it would take to track down the person they were looking for.

When Baron had left, the silence resumed. Though I hated to do it, I could not let him forget my mission here. Okay, so maybe I did not hate to do it. “I would really like to see my son.” Even though I gave him pause enough to respond, he did not seem compelled to do so. “Fine, I don’t need you to show me the way out.”

The floorboards beneath my feet did not make any noise as I moved towards the door, and yet I believe he was acutely aware of every move I made as he resumed his place by the fireplace. “Though I am happy enough for you to leave the room and get some fresh air, you will be disappointed if you expect to see Evan outside playing at this time.” My face fell, but I did not try to speak. “Around here, our young ones learn about their heritage and legacy at an early age, and it requires them to also learn control and discipline.” He gave a cursory glance at his watch before continuing, my own movements stilled waiting for his next words. “At this time, he and a few of the other children are headed to the camp at the lake, where he will find instructors to help with his education.”

Fury tore through me. “He is three years old! What kind of education are you trying to give him?” I glared at him, my whole body so tense it was ready to snap. “Or is it that you are just trying to weasel out of keeping your word?”

“You would do best to mind your words. I have no intentions of weaseling out of my agreement.” He nearly spat the words at me. “The agreement is that when you have explained what happened, I will take you to see my nephew.” He turned a glare in my direction. “In case you have forgotten, your story is yet unfinished.”

Anger bubbled and wanted to spill over. “So, let me finish. It is an easy enough ending. Your brother took advantage of me, I became pregnant, and I left him in that hotel room hoping that I would never see him again. There! Now take me to my son!” I marched myself the rest of the way to the door, ready to make my way out of this blasted room.

Grabbing the door knob in my hand, I was prepared to give it a twist and exit. Gavin had not moved, and when I allowed myself a glance at his face, I regretted it immediately. There was something electric about him, and it sent shivers of something like delight down my spine. The hand on the knob tightened as I tried to still my whole body from visibly showing how he affected me. “Well?” It was the best I could muster. Anything else might have given away all the emotions that swirled around in my gut.

“It’s odd, really,” he started. Those perfectly shaped hands slipped into the front pockets of his form fitting jeans as he continued to regard me. “This whole time, everything you said rang true. But there is something off about the last bit of your story.”

For whatever reason, what he said rankled me. “What, are you a mind reader? Maybe a human lie detector?” Wrenching the door open, I was ready to barrel out of it and find someone who was willing to help me find Evan. “Whatever issues you have, Gavin, they are yours. Not mine. Now, I am going to find Evan with or without your help. I have not been able to hold my son in over a week. Any wrong I may have done to you and your family, I have more than paid for it.”

Ready to walk out, I spun around to find a big burly guy blocking the doorway. “Dag nabbit. Where on earth do you guys come from?” Frustration overwhelmed me, and I felt the tears burning at the back of my eyes. “Really?” I faced Gavin, not letting any of those Benedict Arnold emotions prevent me from lashing out. “You are a barmaid’s leotard, you know that?”

The man at the door nearly choked on his laughter, but the amusement did not reflect on Gavin’s face. “Would you please take Ms. Vasil to her quarters? I believe she needs time to rest and recuperate from the strain of the day.” My face must have shown the surprise that I felt since he smiled rather seductively before adding, “Unless you wish to continue to share my quarters.”

“Pig! I wouldn’t share your bed if you were the last man alive!” I rounded on the man at the door. “Sounds like you have been given your orders, so where to?”

The burst of laughter irritated me further, though the tone of it sent ripples of pleasure through me making me wonder what it would be like if I was making him laugh on purpose. I clung on to the irritation, and let it ooze over me so that I could remind myself that the only reason I was here was for my son. How much longer would he try to keep me from Evan? No matter how long he expected me to stay away, tomorrow I was bound and determined to find him, and then we could close this nightmare of a chapter in our lives.

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