Chapter One: That Damn Vampire
Daryl Kraftman watched his brother as he paced the living room floor at their parent’s house. He would mumble something to himself, then kick the ball their mother had tossed at him after he’d kicked her coffee table and almost broke it.
“He better fucking bring back my mate,” Dustin muttered.
Daryl sighed. It had been more than six hours since their so-called friend, Tate, had disappeared with his brother’s mate, Sharissa. But the man is a vampire. What did they expect?
“Where do you think he went with her?” Tamara, one of Daryl’s other brother’s mate, asked as she watched Dustin pace the floor.
“She’d killed a human without permission from the elders,” Dylan said as he sat forward on the couch. “He probably took her to them.”
Dustin growled and kicked the ball again. This time, hard enough to send it across the room and into the wall.
“Dustin Kraftman!” their mother, Amirah Kraftman, yelled as she stared at the ball imbedded in her wall.
Dustin didn’t say anything as he continued to pace the floor.
“Well, Tate better have a good excuse for this bullshit. Because I know she didn’t do anything illegal, or my father would have popped up,” Pearl said.
“I can go to the elders and see what’s going on,” Pearl’s brother, Kota, offered.
Everyone turned to the half-demon. Why hadn’t anyone thought of that? Not many are allowed in the presence of the elders. And you have to be able to teleport to get there. Bridget isn’t allowed there because she was born human…
“Why are you standing there?” Pearl squealed. “GO!”
Kota shook his head and disappeared.
“I swear. I’m killing that fucking vampire,” Dustin growled.
“He can’t be killed,” Pearl whispered. Everyone looked at her, and she shrugged. “Do you think you’re the only people who ever wanted him dead? He’s protected by the Goddesses. Or did you forget that he’s the guardian of the Fated Mates?”
“Fuck,” Dustin growled. “Doesn’t matter.” He started pacing again. “I’ll kill him a hundred times. It doesn’t matter. They can bring him back, and I’ll send him right back to them.”
Daryl sighed as he watched his brother. He felt the same way but didn’t think Tate would hurt Sharissa. The vampire adores her. Everyone knows she’s his favorite.
Sharissa ignored Tate’s voice and turned away from the door to look out the window. It was a lovely room, so it’s not like they placed her in a dungeon or anything. But still. She’s their prisoner.
“You can ignore me all you want,” Tate said as he moved into the room. “But I know you can hear me.”
She snorted as she crossed her arms over her chest.
Tate sighed. He knew she was going to be angry with him for this. He’d needed an excuse to disappear with her, and her killing that guard had been perfect.
Even though she’s not in trouble, she is a prisoner here—for the moment. And he plans to make sure she’s comfortable. Dustin is going to be angry with him and probably try to kill him. But this is something that couldn’t be prevented. Even if he wanted to.
“Sharissa,” he said, moving closer to her.
“Come near me, and I’ll kill you,” she growled without looking at him.
Tate paused, then continued toward her. “I know you hate me right now, but….”
“Hate you?” Shar asked, turning to him. “Gee, I wonder what gave you that idea.”
Tate sighed heavily. “Look, this can all be explained, but not now….”
She sneered at him, then turned back to the window. It had a beautiful view of the ocean.
“Look.” Tate took a step toward her again. “You won’t be harmed; you have my word….”
“What good is your word when you just kidnapped me and handed me over to the elders just because I killed an asshole who killed three members of my family?” she turned her head toward him and gave him the scariest look. “And don’t fucking say that it didn’t count because they can’t be killed. Because that fucker did not know that!” her voice grew louder the more she spoke, and she had to take a deep breath to calm her anger.
“I wasn’t.” Tate sighed.
“Damn you, Tate.” She turned back to the window, but not before he saw the tear slide down her cheek.
He felt his heart skip a beat and grumbled. He moved to stand behind her and placed his hand on her shoulder. She moved so fast he hadn’t seen it coming. He didn’t even read anything in her mind to warn him of what she was going to do.
She grabbed hold of his wrist and turned it, then flipped him. He landed hard on his back, stared up at her, and grinned.
“I see the Kraftman brothers have been training their mates.”
Shar snorted. “As if you didn’t know.”
He shrugged. “I had my suspicions.”
She started to turn from him, and he kicked out his foot, taking her down. She squealed as she landed on top of him.
“You asshole!” she cried, punching him in the chest.
He held her against him and closed his eyes. Her hands stopped pummeling him, and she whimpered.
“Are you through?” he asked, squeezing her.
“No.” She sniffled.
Her hands fisted in his shirt, and he took a deep breath. He loves this woman dearly. And he would never want any harm to come to her. But this was necessary, and he regretted that he couldn’t tell her why she was here. Not yet.
“Sharissa,” he whispered.
Shar whimpered. “If I’m going to be your prisoner, please don’t visit me anymore.”
Tate grumbled and squeezed her tight. “I can’t do that, Shar. You are the first person I have truly loved since my parents died.”
Shar blinked. ’He loves me? What the fuck?’
Tate chuckled as he listened to her thoughts. “Not like Dustin does, little mama.”
“Then how?” she asked, looking up at him.
He looked down at her and smiled. “The same as I know you love me.”
She opened her mouth, then shut it again. He chuckled, then moved to stand and pulled her with him.
“So, you love me like a sister?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I didn’t have siblings growing up.”
She snorted. “That’s a good thing. Who knows what you would have done to them after what you’ve done to me.”
He chuckled. “Shar, I wish I could tell you why you’re here....”
“But you can’t. Yeah, I got that—about the fiftieth time you said it.” She turned from him and moved back over to the window that faced the ocean.
It seemed to be the only thing that kept her calm in this horrible situation.
“Believe me, Sharissa. You wouldn’t be in one of their fancy bedrooms if you were a real prisoner. You would be in the dungeon—living off bread and water.”
She shook her head. “Then why am I here?”
He took hold of her shoulders and turned her to face him. “You and your cub are important.”
“To whom?” she asked, pulling away from him.
“To everyone.” He shrugged.
“Not good enough.”
“It will have to be,” he said, watching her. “For now.”
She shook her head, then moved to one of the chairs in the room and sat down.
“I’ll be back tonight to bring your dinner,” he said as he headed for the door. “Don’t be stupid and starve yourself and your cub.” He pointed to the lunch he had brought for her on the table. “Eat.”
Shar watched the vampire leave the room. She heard the door lock from the outside and snarled.
“Damn you, Tate Umber.”
A week… It has been a week since the stupid vampire took his mate. Dustin couldn’t imagine what she was going through, wherever Tate had taken her. The Goddesses wouldn’t answer when Pearl asked them if they knew where Sharissa was, why they took her, or who did the taking.
Dustin looked down at his daughter and smiled. “Hey there, little one.”
“When is Mommy coming home?”
Dustin closed his eyes and steadied his heart. Then opened his eyes again and looked at his and Shar’s cub.
He has no clue where Sharissa is or when Tate plans to bring her home. But when he does, he’s going to kill the vampire. He doesn’t give a fuck if the man can’t die. He will kill him over and over.
Dustin looked up to find his mother standing just inside the living room.
“Joy needs one of her parents,” Amirah said as she took a step toward her son.
Dustin looked around and found that his daughter had walked away without him noticing. He felt a tear slide down his cheek and cleared his throat.
“I know, Mom.”
She nodded. “Your father and I are going home. It’s time you take responsibility for your cub. If Sharissa returns, you know she won’t be happy to hear you neglected your daughter.”
Dustin snarled. “When.”
Amirah blinked. “When what?”
Dustin took a deep breath. “When Shar returns. Not if.”
Amirah sighed. “Of course, Son. When?”
Dustin nodded, then moved over to his mother and kissed her cheek. “Thank you for helping with Joy.”
Amirah nodded. “Tomorrow is shifting practice. I want to see you with your daughter this time.”
Dustin nodded. “We’ll be there.”
“Good.” Amirah left the house to join her husband in the car.
Dustin walked down the hall to his daughter’s room and smiled when he found her playing with the dollhouse he and Sharissa had gotten her for Christmas.
“Daddy,” Joy said with a bright smile when she saw him. “Play with me?” she asked, holding one of the dolls up to him.
Dustin nodded. “Only if I can be the daddy.”
Joy grinned. “Mommy is asleep. So, don’t wake her.”
Dustin paused for a moment, then moved over to his daughter and the dollhouse. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“What the fuck!”
Everyone turned at the sound of Dustin’s holler. Standing not ten feet from Dustin in the empty bar was one of the people they trusted most in their lives.
“Hello to you too, Brother.” Tate smiled.
“Don’t you brother me!” Dustin hollered as he moved toward the vampire. “You lost that privilege when you kidnapped my mate!”
Tate held up a hand to stop Dustin, but the large man ignored the vampire’s warning and hit him in the face so hard that he fell backward onto the floor. Dustin went after him again, and Tate looked at the others.
“You better keep him back,” Tate warned.
The others snorted.
“I’d actually like to see my brother kill you a few times myself,” Dylan said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Tate looked at Daryl, and Daryl huffed.
“Dustin, kneel,” Daryl bellowed in his Alpha voice.
Dustin cursed when he found himself on his knees. He turned to his brother and glared at him. “What the fuck, Daryl? Let me up!”
Daryl looked from his brother to Tate, then back again. “You better say what you came here to say before I release him, and he tears your head off.”
Tate snorted as he got to his feet. “I understand that you’re all angry with me. But it was something that couldn’t be stopped.”
“What the fuck, Tate? I thought you were one of us,” Lyvia said as she stepped around her mate and the other Alpha Fated Mates to face the vampire.
Tate sighed. “I am….”
“Doesn’t look like it to me,” Dustin growled.