A six-year-old human child, who recently moved with his single father into the heart of the Boston North Pack’s territory, is missing–and Alpha Tobias Rogan has been framed for kidnapping the boy. Meanwhile, a new pack member with a traumatic past has drawn Saul Hughes, the rogue Alpha with a grudge against Tobias, to Boston.
Kyle Slidell, Tobias’s mate, spots Saul and realizes he must be behind the child’s kidnapping. But Saul has retained his powers and uses them to erase his presence from the minds of all of the other Boston wolves. Only Kyle, with his unusual immunity to compulsion, is able to remember seeing the rogue.
To protect his mate and save the little boy, Kyle will violate shifter law and ignore direct orders from the ruler of the Northeast Region werewolves. But will he survive the fallout?
Warnings: mention of sexual assault in characters’ pasts
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I JOLTED awake at about two in the morning, not immediately certain what had awakened me. Not a scream this time, thank goodness. I rolled toward Tobias, hoping that he might be awake too. We could either cuddle the way he liked or work up some exertion that would hopefully put me back to sleep.
He wasn’t there.
“Tobias?” I spoke just loudly enough for him to hear if he was in the apartment. He didn’t answer.
Where are you? I asked, tapping into our mate bond to communicate with him mind-to-mind.
He still didn’t answer, but at least I sensed him at the other end of our connection. He wasn’t hurt or anything. He just wasn’t responding at the moment.
That told me something. If he’d been walking around town in human form, as he sometimes did when he couldn’t sleep, he would have answered me. The fact that he hadn’t meant he was either really, really pissed or he’d shifted.
I slid out of bed and pulled on my shorts, then pulled aside the curtain on the window that looked out to the garden. After his warning to the pack, I didn’t think he would have shifted out there, but if he’d been desperate enough to go wolf he might have. After all, it was well past the hour that most six-year-olds—or most adults, for that matter—would be awake and looking out windows.
I didn’t see Tobias. If he had shifted, he might have gone for a run in the park. I usually left him alone when he did that. This time, it seemed important to find him. I wasn’t sure why, but I wasn’t about to question the instinct. I put on a T-shirt and my shoes and headed out the front door.
Being out there this late as a human wasn’t necessarily the smartest thing. We did live in a relatively safe part of the city. Unfortunately, that didn’t mean there were never assaults in our neighborhood. Roderic’s attack had been specifically targeted at a member—any member—of Boston North Pack, on orders from Saul Hughes. Saul was still out there somewhere; I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d repeated himself by hiring other human gang members to go after our pack and City Pack. I hadn’t heard about any random attacks in this neighborhood since I’d lived there. Those could still happen, though.
I didn’t think too much about that. Right then, my goal was finding my mate. He only went wolf in the city when he was very stressed and needed to run. I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t want to leave him alone until I found out.
Wind off the harbor cut through my clothes, but I barely noticed. I made it across the street easily enough and into Piers Park, which closed at sunset. A police car sat at the curb, supposedly to make sure no one entered the park after dark. If any police officers were sitting in the car, they didn’t notice me.
“Tobias?” I called softly. That wasn’t the smartest thing either. If Tobias was there, he would probably hear me. So would any other wolves who happened to be there. Even though Piers Park was part of our territory, we’d been invaded by wolves from other packs before.
Tobias still didn’t answer, but I caught a glimpse of white out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look full-on, it had vanished behind the brick building that sat in the middle of the park.
If you’re here, please just answer me, I said.
At least he was speaking to me. Are you all right?
When most werewolves shifted, they held onto a little bit of their human side. Tobias could communicate with me, but his side was likely to be a little bit repetitive. When I shifted, I kept most of my humanity, higher-level thinking skills and all. Apparently that was just another way I was weird in the world of werewolves.
I didn’t leave the park. Tobias wasn’t happy about having me there, but under the annoyance I sensed some relief. He didn’t like being alone.
I walked over to one of the benches and sat down. I’ll wait.
Need to run. Go home.
I won’t get in your way, Tobias, I replied. I just want to make sure you’re all right.
This time, compulsion coursed through the words. Not that it did any good. I didn’t bother answering him. He knew I wasn’t going anywhere.
After a couple minutes, a white streak ran out from behind the building and down the park toward the sailing club docks. For a little while, he just kept running back and forth. He didn’t tell me to leave again. He just ignored me completely. I was fine with that. I hadn’t gone over there to have a conversation. I just wanted to make sure he didn’t do anything dangerous.
The wind started to get to me, and I thought about going back to the apartment. Tobias was still running and probably would be for a while. He hadn’t gone anywhere near the harbor, just kept running the same course back and forth from one end of the park to the other, so he’d probably be okay.
Just as I stood up, a furry form leaped over the wall and ran straight toward my mate.
Karenna is a polyamorous, nonbinary human who splits time between the home she shares with her husband and the one she shares with her committed partner. She also has two adult children and a bonus son, three grandchildren, and two and a half cats. (Half in terms of time the cat lives with her, not in terms of the cat itself…)
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