You’ve seen the first chapter, now it’s time for the beginning of chapter 2.
And if you’ve already read those, then scroll down for your next installment.
Brook smelled Clive as she descended the stairs. Past experience warned her he would be around the corner, standing propped against the other side of the wall, awaiting her covert antics that never happened, just so he could hop out and pretend to catch her doing nothing.
Sinking to the second step, she swept her still-wet hair over her shoulder and pressed her forehead to the divider. Her chest rose high with a sigh as she prepared to irk his less-than-clever mind once more. “I thought you would be gone,” she said.
“You don’t seem to understand, Brook. I’m not going anywhere.”
Beneath an impressive eye roll, Brook’s teeth ground out her frustration—though, did she have the right to blame a male whose life was as out of his control as hers had become? “You say that as though you do not have a choice.”
“Everyone has a choice, Brook.” A quiet pause followed before he said, “They just don’t always like their options.”
She couldn’t dispute his words. Brook had been given a choice—one of which her father approved.
Clive or Stefan.
Stefan’s murmured threats—ones he only shared when no one but Brook could hear—had lost him her vote. At constant rebukes and her refusal to acknowledge Stefan, Clive had assumed himself the winner.
“Besides,” Clive said, “I made my choice a long time ago.” A quiet scrape travelled down the other side of the wall. “I Chose you.”
“I was never an option.”
He gave a low growl. “Your father says otherwise.”
“My father does not own me.”
He chuckled. “Your father believes otherwise.”
“He has no right to dictate my life.”
“That I’m standing here at his order tells me otherwise, Brook.”
Her teeth ground again as she realised he had been sent to summon her. “What does he want?”
“He wants to see you.”
“You make that sound like an amicable request. Why don’t you quit with the falsities and simply tell me I have been ordered to his office?”
“Dammit. You’re difficult on purpose, I swear. Get yourself to the house ‘cause your dad wants to see you—now!” His feet stomped on his way to the door.
At five-fifteen, I rolled off the road that ran through Derbyshire’s Wild Woodington and pulled up onto the otherwise empty driveway outside home.
Dad, Josh and Danny would still be at the new site with the Holloway’s—the other family in our pack. I knew going straight home would get my ear chewed again, especially once Nathan caught up with me. As pack Alpha and top partner in the construction business owned by the pack, he pretty much ruled us with a firm hand.
Again, though, I’d had no choice.
No way could I have turned back up to work stinking of sex. Not when the pack had already met Brook, thanks to an incident that drew us together like a freight train collision—and not when they all knew her scent and would recognise right away who my frolicking had been with.
None of them would understand. Not in a gazillion years. I didn’t get to choose who I fell for, though. My inner wolf seemed to have taken that decision out of my hands.
With a groan, I climbed from the truck and let myself into the house. In the kitchen, I tugged my clothes off, bunging them straight in the washer, and set the details I’d grabbed for Nathan on the table. On my trek upstairs to the bathroom, I flicked on lights to brighten the dimness, like that could chase off the shadows walking away from Brook had left with me.
Water smacked the cubicle glass with a spin of the shower dial, and pummelled me once I’d stepped inside. I jerked forward with a wince when it lanced my lower back, and as my fingers grazed four parallel scores across my lumbar, the sizzling memory of the infliction blasted me in a wave of heat.
Shaking it off, I reached for the sponge and shower gel to set about de-Brooking myself—though it would take more than a shower to shift her from my mind. Damn feline had entered my life by happenstance and gotten wedged into a corner of my soul that wouldn’t let her go.
The corner probably held shackles.
Ones that had slipped around Brook’s wrists and denied escape.
My body hardened at the image of a very detained Brook, confirming the obsession I seemed to be harvesting. “Not helping matters,” I muttered, my forehead pressed to the glass like the contact could ward off the sudden overheating of my flesh. To aid the cool-down along, I reached behind and knocked the temperature dial to the left, gritting my teeth when the initial shock of cold smacked me. Releasing a long blown-out breath, I stepped back beneath the chill spray, and began the torturous task of losing the scent I’d have been happy to drown in.
Fifteen minutes later, I stepped from the shower smelling only of me and subtle musk, and snatched up a towel from the permanent pile on the hamper. My reflection rebounded off the window overlooking the back garden and surrounding forest, and I made a quick scan for damage that couldn’t be hidden as I rubbed myself down. Finding none, I secured the towel around my waist and padded from the room to go in search of sustenance.
I hadn’t even descended the stairs halfway when the hairs bristled along my nape. I froze. Inhaled.
Where the hell had my head been in the shower? Not that the question warranted an answer, but at some point, Dad and my brothers had returned home.
They’d also brought Nathan with them.
Tipping my face toward the ceiling, I released a slow exhale before jogging down the rest of the steps and rounding the banister toward the kitchen.
Propped against the cabinets, arms the size of tree trunks folded over his chest, Nathan stared my way, eyes icy blue beneath his dark hair.
I leaned against the doorjamb and nodded to him before the weight of being studied drew my attention left, to the rest of the inquisition in the form of Dad, Danny and Josh at the kitchen table.
Three sets of green eyes peered back at me from amidst two heads of blond scraggy curls and one ginger mop I’d inherited. Despite the couple of year’s age difference, my younger brothers could have been pegged as twins to any who didn’t know them. The humour-dominated curiosity in their eyes held far more appeal than the questions in Dad’s.
I turned back to Nathan. “’Sup?”
“Do you all mind if I speak with Kyle alone?” Nathan’s gaze remained on me as he made the request.
No argument. Chairs scraped back.
I stepped aside to allow my three family members past, my lips curving as Josh, the youngest of us, bumped my shoulder with his own on his way out the room.
“Close the door, and sit down,” Nathan said the second they’d gone.
I spun and reached for the handle.
“You’re injured,” Nathan said.
My shoulders stiffened as I realised I’d turned my back to him. Shit! “It’s nothing,” I muttered, ignoring Josh’s raised brows, where he loitered near the living room entrance.
“How did it happen?” Nathan asked.
Peering at him over my shoulder, I smiled. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” With all the false bravado I could summon, I closed the door on my nosy brother and sauntered across to take my seat at the table.
Nate didn’t join me—at the table, or in my attempted humour. I’d have accused anyone else of trying to assert their superiority. Nathan didn’t need the added height for that—he had it in spades even in his sleep.
Only the slight tilt of his head told me he tracked my movements. “You have something on your mind you want to talk to me about, Kyle?”
Shaking my head, I leaned back into my chair. “Nope.”
“How about where you’ve been today.”
I stared at him. If in doubt of how to answer, stay mute.
“What about the other times you’ve headed out—voluntarily, I add—for job related trips and gone incommunicado?”
Did England recognise the Fifth Amendment? Did werewolves?
“Your dad tells me you’ve snuck out a few times of a night over the past couple of months, too.” His sharp attention could have drilled a rig into the ocean.
I shrugged. Better than lying. I had met up with Brook of a night. Five times, if memory served. One of those nights had ended with us both falling asleep in a Cheshire park and being woken by a disgruntled badger. I smiled at the replay in my head—even more so at what occurred before we’d gone for a run.
“Do you find this funny, Kyle?”
Sobering fast beneath Nathan’s glower, I shook my head.
He sighed before unfolding his arms and stepping across to the chair opposite mine. His gaze never once left me, and only intensified as he sat down and leaned forward over the table. “I know you had a difficult time with what happened last autumn …”
Difficult? That was one word for being kidnapped by vampires who forced supernaturals to cage-fight against one another. My opponent had been a vampire who’d bitten me into what should have been an early grave.
“… I also know we’re still not too sure of how being bitten has affected you …”
Yeah. I hadn’t quite figured that one out myself, either. Though, my head felt pretty fucked some days. Or confused. Probably both.
“… not to mention, Catherine is still on the loose somewhere …”
His reference to the only vampire who we knew for certain held responsibility and had escaped punishment—translated: death—had my eye twitching.
“… and all this sneaking around. I’ve got to be honest with you, Kyle. It has me worried.”
I frowned as it dawned on me. “I’m not a vampire, Nate.”
“I have no vampire tendencies. No urge to chow on people’s blood.” Just a shitload of other stuff I’d been noticing and trying to interpret since the whole fricking shoddy affair.
Just as I’d noticed how Ethan and I seemed to be on the hotlist of ‘pack members to keep an eye on’ since we’d gotten home. Because he, too, got questioned every time he left the house. All because he’d been quieter than usual for a few weeks.
What the hell did they expect? Didn’t they get that some stuff took longer to bounce back from?
“I’m not a vampire,” I mumbled when Nathan continued to stare at me. “I can swear that on my mother’s grave.” A low blow; I almost cringed as I said it, but it was a vow I knew would never be questioned.
Nathan’s barely-there frown lined his forehead for a split-second before he gave a slow nod. “Okay. I believe you.”
“Good.” I pushed back from the table.
“I’m not done,” he said, halting my escape.
My eyebrow arched up as he extended the silence—seemed to be a favoured tactic of his. Stare us down with that steely glare until we cracked and promised him our souls on a platter if he’d only spare us. I clamped my lips shut. I suspected he wanted me to ask what else he had on his mind, but in all honesty, I didn’t want to know.
After almost two full minutes of optical penetration, however, I couldn’t take any more and ended up compromising by drawing my chair back beneath the table and sitting up straight like he had my full attention.
“We still don’t have any answers from you with regards to your disappearances,” Nate said after a few beats.
I scratched my head, which didn’t itch, to give me an excuse to avert my eyes and to grasp a moment to think up a plausible reason for my behaviour. In truth, I should have been better prepared. Should have known I’d only get away with crap for so long before the roasting arrived.
“Is it a female?” Nathan asked.
As my face lifted, the heat claiming my cheeks could have singed my lower lashes. Damn having ginger hair.
“Is it the same one each time?”
Attack! Attack! my mind screamed. I leaned back into my seat again, clasped my fiddling fingers on the tabletop in front of me. “Nate, I’m thirty-five years old. Do I seriously have to have this conversation with you?”
“Do I need to remind you of pack rules regarding females?”
I didn’t miss a beat. “No bringing them home without permission …” Although the surrounding forest separated our home from the Holloway’s, both were considered pack property, both subject to pack rules. “No long term relationships without approval.” I smirked. “But we can bonk as many ladies as we like so long as we’re cautious and don’t leave a stream of pups in our wake.”
“You have a smart mouth on you today, Kyle.” Despite the quietness of his tone, his lips twitched a little.
“Spending too many years hanging around Ethan will do that to a male.” Ethan just happened to be his eldest son as well as my best friend.
Thankfully, Nate chuckled and pushed to his feet. “I’d better be getting back before I get into trouble with Beth for being late to dinner.”
I tamped down the huge sigh of relief I wanted to draw when he headed for the back door.
“Tell your Dad I’ll speak to him tomorrow. And, Kyle?” He paused with his fingers folded around the handle, half-turned back toward me. “I’ll be watching you.”
The door swung in; he stepped out. The second it closed at his rear, my held breath gushed past my lips.
😀 😀 😀