Inside the house was a disaster, the couch had been flipped over, the stuffing ripped out of the pillows and the kitchen had a pan of eggs spilled across the floor. Eloise must have been making breakfast when they ambushed her. He said they, because he could smell several different scents mingled with Eloise’s.
“Where is the blood?” Cody asked, Marcus paused and took a sniff. He followed the scent until they found a thin man with pointed features lying on the floor behind the kitchen island. He had a steak knife protruding from his shoulder. Marcus roared and grabbed the man with one hand hauling him up until he lay on the counter.
“What the hell happened?” he demanded, the man’s eyes were glazed over with pain, but he would live from his wound.
“That woman fought like a banshee. Will said it would be an easy in and out with her. He never said she knew how to fight,” the man wheezed through the pain.
“I’ll call an ambulance,” Cody announced, he put a steadying hand on Marcus’ shoulder and gave him a pointed look. Don’t kill the witness, was what his eyes told him. Marcus nodded and let his bear show through enough for the other man to see what he was. Marcus could smell he was a fox shifter, one look at his sharp features told him as much.
“What was the plan?” he asked, trying to keep his voice even, in reality he and his bear wanted to tear the man limb from limb for even thinking about touching their mate.
“Will said we were to grab her and take her to his place in the mountains,” the man groaned and tried to reach up and remove the knife from his shoulder.
“Don’t touch it, if you pull it out you are going to lose more blood,” Marcus ordered smacking the man’s hand away.
“Where is his mountain home?” Cody asked, Marcus hadn’t noticed him come back into the house.
“Dunno, Mac and I were just supposed to grab the bitch and leave her tied up on the Beckler Trail about a mile from the main road.” Marcus growled when he called Eloise a bitch, but kept his bear in check. They needed more answers out of the man.
“Where is Mac?” Cody asked, the man turned his gray eyes onto the sheriff.
“Took the girl, he had to knock her out. She managed to scrape him with a knife too. No one said she knew how to defend herself,” he complained again.
“Cody we have to find her. Who knows what William is going to do to her now that she is mated to me.” Marcus turned his attention to Cody and the sheriff nodded.
“Yes, but first we call for backup and drive to the trail. Maybe we can get to her before William.” Marcus could hear the sirens of the ambulance coming down his street, he went outside and was surprised to see not only the ambulance but Greyson, Peter, Xander, Rhett and Troy.
“How did you three know?” he asked them.
“Cody said he’d keep me in the loop. He said Ellie had been grabbed so I called in Peter and Troy. They are the best trackers we have in the business. His deputies can only do so much, but Ellie is our friend and we don’t want anything to happen to her,” Greyson explained.
“We are going to do a fly over,” Xander announced, Marcus nodded. Xander and Rhett were married to Eloise’s friends and knew they wouldn’t let their husbands do nothing when she was in danger.
“Do Josie and Roxie know?” He shuddered at the thought of the women’s reactions to their missing friend.
“No, I thought it best not to have two angry dragon women who couldn’t shift to help their friend,” Rhett explained.
“Smart man,” Marcus replied, he was itching to shift and find his mate. The longer they stood around talking, the more likely William could run off with Eloise.
“What are we waiting for?” Peter asked, Marcus jerked his head to the man being led out of the house by Cody.
“He was one of the men hired to capture Eloise. She plunged a steak knife in his shoulder, but his partner managed to get her. They were to tie her up and leave her on Beckler Trail about a mile from the main road.”
“Xander and I will go now,” Rhett announced and both men shifted into their dragons. Xander’s dragon was a collection of bright red scales, Rhett a collection of shimmering green scales. Both dragons were well over twelve feet and armed with massive silver claws.
“Come on,” he said and without stripping out of his clothes shifted into his bear form. Greyson shifted to a lion. Peter and Troy shifted into gray wolves.
“I’ll meet you in my cruiser at Beckler Trail,” Cody announced, Marcus gave him a nod and the four men ran into the woods. Marcus knew where Becker Trail met the trail near his home. He picked up Eloise’s scent immediately, there wouldn’t be anywhere he couldn’t find his mate. He lowered his head and watched the other men come to catch her scent. Peter let loose a howl and shot off, Troy and Greyson following quickly behind. Where his bear lacked speed, he made up for with his stride.
The hunters were at the appointed pick up spot within twenty minutes. Shifting back into human form he swore.
“Fuck! William got her already. I can smell her scent but it is at least ten minutes old.”
“He took her away in a car.” Greyson pointed to the set of tracks left in the wet ground.
“Do we know the location of his mountain home?” Troy asked, he did a circle around the spot. Marcus could tell he was looking for clues or any evidence left behind.
“No. We need Cody for that,” Marcus replied and a glint caught his eye. He walked around twenty feet into the woods and found Eloise’s engagement ring. It had been thrown under the bushes. His heart clenched at the sight of the ring.
“What is that?” Peter asked, he had come up behind Marcus.
“Her engagement ring,” he stated and heard a collective gasp from the men.
“When did you ask her?” Greyson asked.
“The day before we came home.” He pocketed the ring, now more than ever he felt determined to get his mate back.
“We mated while we were at my parents and while she was out with my mom and sister-in-laws I bought her a ring,” he explained.
“That is going to piss William off. Are you sure he won’t kill her?” Greyson asked, Peter punched him in the arm.
“Not helping Grey, I am sure Ellie is holding her own against the bastard,” Peter shared, Marcus knew he was trying to keep him from going into despair.
“I know she is. She left a knife in the shoulder of the fox shifter,” he replied with a rueful smile.
“Here comes Sheriff Ling,” Troy announced, Cody pulled up in his police cruiser and took a look around the clearing.
“Find anything?” he asked, his dark brown eyes connecting with Marcus’.
“We found her ring and she was picked up by William about fifteen minutes ago,” Marcus reported. He needed to stick to the facts or his bear would take over and get them killed.
“I had Royce look into William and he found an address for a home at the top of the mountain. It is a five-hour hike and almost impossible to reach by car. There is an access road we can use to get about half way. After that, we have to hike the rest of the way. I have Green and Munch meeting us there,” Cody explained. Marcus nodded, that made nine shifters to take out William and at least one other shifter.
“We want him alive,” Cody warned and Marcus glared at him.
“I won’t promise that. The man broke into my home, stole my mate and you expect me to let him live?” Marcus shook his head and shifted into his bear.
William is a dead mountain lion walking. His bear growled and Marcus agreed wholeheartedly. No one would get away with taking his mate and scaring her. If even a hair was out of place on her head he would kill all those involved. His men shifted behind him, Cody changed into his cheetah form and the five men took off for the meeting point. He could sense Xander and Rhett flying overhead as they raced through the woods. He prayed Eloise would be fine, he didn’t know what he would do if she wasn’t. Pushing the unpleasant thoughts from his head, he continued to run full force through the woods.