“Legend tells it that around… 80 years ago, a pack moved into the woods surrounding our town,” Nurse Misty began after clearing her throat, “Up until then we had a few rogue wolves, or pack fewer wolves pass through, but no actual pack. Anyway, a few hunters heard a bunch of howls and fighting sounds one night. So, grabbing their guns they went to see what the ruckus was. It seems that a bunch of rogues or perhaps another pack wanting the territory for themselves attacked the Alpha. He fought back. The hunters just stood there in awe and watched Alpha take them down. He managed to kill all but two of them before his pack made it to him.
“During the fight though, he injured a paw, and as he walked away from the hunters, and the dead wolves, he left behind him a trail of red paw prints in the snow. The hunters went back and told anyone who would listen about the mighty Alpha who had come to make his home here. They say he killed ten of them before his pack got there.”
“Oh, my,” Anna whispered.
“A reporter heard the story and after asking a lot of questions and getting all the details he printed it in the paper the next day. It made the front page even. He also gave the Alpha the name, ‘Alpha Red Paw’ and soon people began seeing him and his pack everywhere. They never messed with the humans, but the rogue population was soon gone, and they became the Red Paw Pack led by Alpha Red Paw.”
Anna turned to look at him, questioning, “The alpha we saw?”
“It’s said he’s a direct descendent of the original alpha,” Eric told her, and she nodded.
“Well, I’m just thankful one of his pack helped me. I really think Mark meant to kill me” Anna whispered.
Hearing the door, Eric looked over to see Alpha Pete standing there, with an angry look on his face. They both knew something would have to be done about Mark.
Eric had found somethings out about him that wasn’t good. It seems his ex-wife had died six months ago, about the time Mark had moved to town. They’d been separated for a while because she’d turned him in for abuse when he all most killed her on their front lawn in a fit of rage. When she wouldn’t take him back, she conveniently had a car accident that the police have reason to believe was no accident at all. Then there was the fact that his mother, who he supposedly went back to take care of, had met with an accident years earlier. That accident was also still under investigation.
Clearing his throat, the alpha stepped forward. “How are you feeling Anna?”
She gave him a slight smile. “Oh, I’m good now that they’ve filled me full of drugs.”
Alpha Pete chuckled. “Good to hear they’re doing their job and keeping you pain-free. Now, I have you all cleared to go home; Eric here is going to take you. Tomorrow, Minnie is going to come to stay with you a bit.”
“Oh, she doesn’t need to do that. She’s pregnant, she shouldn’t be taking care of me,” Anna argued even as she slurred a bit.
“Well, she was working for me, but decided to take off early on maternity leave. Now, according to Tony, all she does is complain about how bored she is. I think she’ll enjoy the time spent with you.”
“Are you sure? I don’t…”
“Anna, trust me, Minnie doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to do. She is one stubborn woman,” Alpha Pete told her. “Now, how about you let Eric here take you home so you can go to bed?”
Anna nodded at the alpha, before focusing on Eric. Holding her arms up, she asked, “I’m sleepy, can you carry me?”
“Of course, I will,” Eric agreed. He then picked her up and they all headed out the door.
Pulling up in the driveway to Anna’s home, Eric shut the car off, then turned to look at her. Her head was lulled back on her headrest, her eyes shut.
Her eyes fluttered open. “Are we here already?”
“Yes, my love, we are, let’s get you inside and into bed.”
Getting out of the car, he walked around the front of it. Opening her door, he carefully picked her up as he asked, “You have your key ready?”
Anna held it up for him to see. When they reached her front door, she used it to unlock the door. Then with a bit of careful maneuvering, they made it inside. Carrying her to the bedroom, he put her down.
“I need something to sleep in. What I really wish is I could take a shower, but that would take a lot more energy than I have at this moment.”
Eric smiled up at her. “Yes, it probably would, and you can’t get your cast wet either.”
Looking down he saw she was still wearing the gown they’d given her at the hospital because Mark had ripped her shirt off. Feeling a bit possessive and wanting his scent on her, he tugged off his t-shirt and slipped it over her head. As he pulled it down to cover her, he murmured, “Not quite a gown, but it will cover you.”
After finishing with that, he untied the gown. Anna let it slide down her arms and into her lap. Then, he helped her carefully place her arms in the sleeves before helping her to lay down.
“I always think you smell so good,” she admitted as she sniffed his shirt.
Eric chuckled a bit but didn’t say anything as he pulled her skirt off her from under the sheet. As badly as he wanted to gaze at his mate, he knew it would have embarrassed her for him to see her as she was now, bruised and battered.
Snuggling down into her pillow, she sighed.
Eric backed up as her eyes drifted closed. Thinking she was about to slip off into sleep, he turned on his heel to leave the room. Her loud groan brought his head back around.
“I dread having to explain this to my boss…” She groaned again. “…and Renee!”
“What about Renee?” Eric asked as he sat down on the edge of her bed.
Anna glanced at the hand he had put on her arm. Grabbing hold of it, she entwined it with hers. “She already felt bad because she’s the one who introduced me to Mark. Now, this.”
“It isn’t her fault.”
“I know that, but the thing is, I didn’t want to go to that club last night. I tried to talk her out of going. If you and Ryan had been with us… but for us to go by ourselves with Mark out there somewhere?” She gave a slight head shake. “I didn’t feel right about it.”
“It still isn’t her fault. It’s not like she knew he’d find you, so she has nothing to feel guilty about. Besides, I don’t think where you were would have mattered, he was determined” he told her gruffly, the urge to growl rising in his chest.
She gazed at him for long moments, a spark of knowing suddenly in her eyes. “My tire?”
“Looked like someone stuck a knife in it,” he told her honestly. He hated to scare her, but she deserved to know the truth.
Her lip began to quiver, just as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Don’t cry, love,” he whispered as he carefully pulled her into his arms. “It will be okay. I have someone looking for him and he will be found.”
“Don’t get yourself in trouble, Eric.”
Eric was already in trouble, but she didn’t need to know that. “I won’t. I just have friends in the local PD.”
She relaxed against him. “Oh, okay then.”
He noticed how her words were beginning to slur again as her meds kicked in. She’d soon be asleep.
“How did you find me?” She asked, barely holding her heavy eyelids open.
“I knew what club you were going to. So, when Renee called Ryan to tell him she was home, he asked me to drop him at hers. I dropped him off there before heading to your house, but you weren’t there.”
Snuggling her face into his neck, her hand running up and down his bared chest, she sighed. If she hadn’t been so hurt, her hand and her warm breath on his skin would have had him coming undone.
“You always smell so good,” she muttered, her words even more slurred now as sleep pulled at her. “I like you Eric, a lot, a lot more than I ever did Mark. Will you be my boyfriend?”
When she asked this, she looked up at him, her eyes wide as she tried to keep them open.
Her asking him that made him feel warm inside, even though he figured it was the drugs talking. So, he said, “I would love to be your boyfriend, Anna, but how about you ask me again when you are drug-free.”
“Okay. I’ma… I’ma gonna slee…p now…” she informed him; her slurred words barely understandable as sleep took her.
Laying her down gently, he covered her up again. Then he kissed her on the cheek before heading out to her car for the clothes the alpha had brought him. Coming back in, he made sure her house was secure before slipping into the bed in her guest room.