“Mine!” Again, my mate lashes out, and my heart fills with pride. She could lead her own pack with the power that’s inside her. She’s my true match.
“Goddamn it. All of you knock it the fuck off!” Dominic’s voice silences everyone. He looks at me, and I see the compassion in his eyes. “Let him take her. He won’t hurt her.”
Dominic, having a mate of his own, understands what’s happening. I would never harm a single hair on my mate’s head. My life is now dedicated to hers until my last breath.
“No.” Stone says the single word to Dominic, but his eyes are locked on me in challenge. So be it.
“I’ll fight you and win.” I have no problems shredding him to pieces if he’s what’s standing between me and what’s mine. I crouch, preparing to attack him. I can smell my mate’s fear, my body and wolf already attuned to her. I turn to meet my love’s eyes and try to ease her worries. “You have nothing to fear from me. I’ll prove I’m strong and a good mate. You’ll see.”
“Don’t hurt my brother.” Her words are tender, and I can see that she cares for her litter mate. He’s also the alpha, so she’ll feel even more loyalty to him.
“I never wish to harm your family unless they keep you from me. It’s best they learn now that I’m strong. They’re no competition against me. I’ll always win.” I don’t want to hurt anyone she cares for, but I will never allow anyone to stand in my way when it comes to her.
“I’ll have to get in the middle of you and him.”
Her words hurt me and make me angry. I won’t have her come between me and something else. I’ll never have her in danger. I see now that this situation is upsetting her, and I need to take us away from it.
Letting out a loud growl, I leap over to her and throw her over my shoulder, preparing to run with her back to the woods. As soon as I have her in my arms, a shooting pain hits my hip, and I drop to my knees, careful to cradle my mate and not drop her. The pain is excruciating, and I feel a drug spread through my body. It’s slowing me and making my limbs heavy.
“They can’t keep you from me.” My mouth is dry, but I look into her eyes, needing to tell her that I love her. I’ve waited so long to have her, but I feel myself slipping away. “My beauty.”
She touches my face, and my wolf howls as I lose consciousness.
* * *
I’m know I’m dreaming because it’s the same one I always have of her. It’s a memory of when I was younger and I watched her.
It’s nighttime, and I’m outside her bedroom window, watching her sleep. She started keeping her window open a few days ago, and I don’t know if it’s because she knows I watch her, or just because she likes the night air.
Breathing deep, I take in her sweet scent of roses and it makes me feel calm. Something about being near her makes me feel whole.
Softly, I start to hum a lullaby, hoping I can reach her in her sleep. She rolls to her side, facing me, and in the moonlight I can see she’s still fast asleep. The blanket has fallen off her legs, showing me that she’s only in her panties and an oversized t-shirt.
For a second I stop humming and just look at her. I feel a tightness in my chest at seeing so much of her young body like this. I should leave, but I can’t find it in myself to do so. Instead, I look away, not wanting to take any more of her innocence, just by seeing her like this, than I already have. I look at the moon and start to hum the lullaby again, hoping to soothe her in her dreams.
I should go. I should leave. But I can’t. Instead, I watch the moon and sing to her as I steal her sweet scent for my own selfish comfort. I feel the word forming like it has every other time I have the dream. Every time I wake up, it’s with her name on my lips.
I wake up with a throbbing headache and a pain in my hip. As soon as I’m conscious, I shift into my wolf. It’s a protective instinct, my wolf taking over and wanting to be ready if there’s an attack.
Spending so many years in the woods gave my wolf more control. So when he pushes forward, I don’t fight it. I feel my body change and morph into my inner beast, bones snapping as I easily shred my tight clothing. I feel so much stronger with him in control, and I feel safer inside him. I’m still mentally aware of everything happening to me, and that makes me feel powerful.
Looking around, I see that I’m in a cage. My wolf doesn’t like it, and we start to walk the perimeter to see what our boundaries are. The cell is large, probably twelve feet by twelve feet with a cot on one end and a toilet on the other. I look up and down and see the solid steel bars that run from ceiling to floor and are grounded in concrete. I’m strong but not that strong. The pain in my hip starts to lessen to a dull throb, and I tip my head back to smell the wound on my back flank. I can scent a trace of the tranquilizer they must have used on me. I growl.
My mate is out there, and I need to get to her. I feel the need growing inside me, but I try to calm myself and think. I need to be smart about this. If I let myself turn towards the need, I’ll go crazy in a cell not able to get to her.
I turn around, looking beyond my cell, and see that I’m in a large concrete room. There’s nothing else down here besides my cell, but I can see the small windows that line the top of the ceiling indicating I’m in a basement. The windows are too small for even my human form to escape, and I start to pace the front of the cell, trying to look for weaknesses.