Kitty Rocks the House Page 49

Darren was holding his own. I couldn’t believe it. His hands slashed in different directions, while his fanged jaws took a swipe at Shaun. He kicked Wes away, then swooped around to punch Tom. When they shook themselves off and piled back on him, he did the same, moving fast, never seeming to tire. He held himself to his form, part wolf, part human, standing upright, but roughened with the sheen of fur, his eyes gleaming amber. I’d never seen anything like it. He really was stronger; but then, I’d never thought he wasn’t.

Again, he swatted and turned, throwing them all off him and away. Shaun bounced and rolled. Someone yipped in pain. Darren paused, looked over my shoulder, and those wolfish eyes widened. His back arched, and he let out a half-cry, half-howl of frustration. His control slipped, and his body lost its humanoid shape. Finally wolf, he dropped to all fours and fled, shaking off clothing as he went. The gray-brown beast ran with strides so long he seemed to fly across the grass and into the trees.

My two wolves shot after him. Shaun trotted a few paces then stopped, muscles knotted along his back, hands in fists, holding back, staying human. Becky circled back to me and Ben. She had blood on her mouth, and more streaking from a cut on her neck.

I hollered after Wes and Tom, my cry almost a howl. The wolves hesitated, slowed, loped back around. They listened to me. And Darren said I couldn’t lead.

“Let him go,” I said as they returned. “We can wait.” I sat next to Becky, leaning into her, and she licked my chin. I hugged her.

Even if he hadn’t been winning the fight, he hadn’t been losing, and if four of my wolves couldn’t drive him off … I looked over my shoulder.

Rick stood at the edge of the clearing, in a white T-shirt and jeans, his hair mussed, his body in a stance that made him look like he’d been running. Since he wasn’t breathing heavily—or at all—I couldn’t tell if he had been.

I could smell him, now that I was paying attention. Skin chilled and unnatural.

“Are you all right?” he said finally.

“I think so,” Ben said. Me, I was speechless. Becky trembled against my arms, suspicion charging her anxiety. The other two wolves stared at Rick, their gray and tawny coats bristling. Shaun’s gaze had a lupine cast to it. “So, what brings you out here, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I went to New Moon at dusk to find you. One of your wolves, Trey, was there and when I asked after you, he told me where you’d gone. Said you’d been challenged, that you were in trouble. I came as fast as I could.” He ducked his gaze and looked almost sheepish, just for a moment. “I wondered if my not being available had contributed to the issue. I suppose Denver’s looked like a city without a Master for the last couple of weeks.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It kind of has.”

“But I see you have everything well in hand, here,” he said.

I laughed, though the sound was strained. “Rick, it’s so good to see you.”

Tension broken, the three wolves gathered close, rubbing their bodies against me, heads and tails drooping, gazes downcast. I brushed my hands through their coats, rubbed my face against theirs, took in their scent and gave them mine. Ben reached to me, and I took his hand and pulled him down to sit with me. My pack, half-human, half-wolf, piled together, calming each others’ nerves. We’d won.

“Thank you,” I said, sighing a breath. “Thank you all so much.”

Shaun slumped tiredly to the ground. Tom sidled up to him, bumped his shoulder, and reached up to lick his face. My lieutenant had a claw slash running down one cheek. Smiling, he rested his face against Tom’s ruff.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Yeah. Becky?”

She pricked her ears at him, licked her lips. She had cuts and wounds as well, but nothing serious. We were all a little battered, but not broken. Thank God.

Rick stood aside, looking off into the trees—avoiding intruding on what must have seemed like a private domestic lovefest. I gave the wolves one more face rub each, squeezed Shaun’s shoulder, kissed Ben, and extricated myself from the pile. The air seemed cold after being surrounded by so much fur and affection.

“Did he really think you’d just roll over for him?” Rick said to me as I joined him, brushing off my jeans.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I think he made some assumptions. And he didn’t really think I’d be able to talk my way out of things.” Becky made a soft whine and tucked in her tail, and I smiled at her. She’d almost been convinced; she and Darren could have taken us by force, if it had come to that.

“Then he doesn’t know you very well.”

“No, not at all,” I said.

“You really think he’s one of Nasser’s?” Rick asked.

“I don’t know that he belongs to him, servant or employee or whatever the hell that means,” I said. “But they’re working together. Probably a lot like we are.”

“I suppose it’s too much to hope that he just keeps running and we never see him again,” Ben said.

I didn’t know what Darren would do. He was here on a mission from Nasser—the mission had failed. Would he try again? Try to take us out and convince the pack to follow him after the fact? Or would he acknowledge that if we were strong enough to face him, we could stand against Roman? With or without Rick’s help? God, this was making me tired.

“We probably ought to track him,” I said. “Figure out where he’s going and make sure he doesn’t cause any more trouble.”

“I’m on it,” Shaun said, pulling away from the group hug.

“Take Tom and Wes with you. You have your phone?” I asked. The wolves perked their ears at me.

“Yeah, I’ll call when I find out anything.” Waving, he stalked off into the woods. The two male wolves trotted along with him. Strength in numbers.

Otherwise, it was quite a nice night. The daytime heat wasn’t able to drive away a chill in the air once darkness fell. Pine trees creaked under their own weight, and a nocturnal critter shuffed through detritus on the forest floor. A first-quarter moon shone in the west.

“I suppose we ought to think about heading back,” Ben said.

Becky had curled up, half-sprawling on Ben’s lap after circling in place a couple of times. Looking for the right spot, the right position before committing, a familiar ritual.

Prev Next
Free Novels Read Online | Read Wuxia Novel | Read Xianxia Novel