Read A Prideless Man Online

Authors: Amber Kell

Tags: #M/M Paranormal Romance, #Shifters

A Prideless Man (8 page)

BOOK: A Prideless Man
6.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

He woke up shivering, goose bumps popping up all over his skin. A quick glance confirmed his nakedness and the small cot he lay on. Scanning the room he saw there was little else but the cot and a chair with a folded pile of clothes.

Quickly dressing, he scanned the room he slept in and decided it was more of a cell. It was a small windowless room with nothing more than a cot. For the first time he felt no pain.

Whatever he thought of Melinda she had purged his body of the drugs. His body was powerful as he walked to the door. He grabbed the handle and surprise struck him when it actually turned.

Surely they didn’t leave the door open. That was way too convenient.

He cautiously opened the door and peeked outside. The hallway was empty, completely empty. No sound anywhere.

An eerie hush hung over the place. Opening the door wide, he stuck his head out—still no one.

He took a deep breath and almost choked on the acrid scents of death and fear.

Although he abhorred violence, in that moment he wished he had a weapon. Any weapon.

His cat was quiet inside—he didn’t know if it was drugged or waiting for an invitation—but his body was stronger than ever before. Power pumped through his system, the usual pain missing. Joy filled him, making his steps feather light. He couldn’t wait to burn his cane.

He didn’t know what the future would lead him to but he had to find his mate. Without Lou it didn’t matter how he felt, he’d be broken. Taking a deep breath, he tried to isolate the smells. Everything was stronger now, his body, the scents, his hearing, all overpowering but not unbearable. He could cope. He’d survived worse.

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

52

The sound of roaring had him running down the hall. He was in motion before he realised his body could run freely, a dream he’d had as a child but never hoped to experience. A giddy giggle rose in his throat. He held it back. Who knew what the hell was around the corner.

The noise increased with some banging. Screams echoed in the hall like a clanging bell, loud and strident.

James slowed, his heart pounding with the unfamiliar exercise. He’d have to work his way up to marathons.

The roar echoed again.

Bear.

Heedless of his own safety, James rushed around the corner only to skid to a stop. He’d never seen his lover in his animal form.

The bear towered over the people screaming on the floor, blood soaking their bodies where massive claws did their work. His fanged mouth opened in a wide roar exposing a nice set of sharp, white teeth.

James hid around the corner.

What did he do now? Was their mating strong enough for Lou to recognise him? He still didn’t quite understand how the whole thing worked.

“Okay, I can do this.” He didn’t really care about saving the people who captured and tortured him, but he didn’t want his mate to be injured. Who knew what kind of weapons they might have?

An animalistic cry of fear from around the corner snapped James around. The people on the ground had recouped and were zapping the bear with Tasers. His bear.

His mate.

From one moment to the next, James changed.

A crackling filled the air. Bones elongated, fangs grew and his skin vanished beneath a shiny coat of white. As his skin disappeared so did his humanity. With a ferocious growl he leapt. Screams rang through the hall. How dare they hurt what was his? When he was done, not a single person screamed any more.

“Hey, James.” A familiar voice had him turning. Lou stood beside him covered with blood but in human form.

James purred.

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

53

His mate was well.

“That’s right. We need to get out of here. Shift back.” James tilted his head at the man. Shift back into what? He was a lion.

The man needed some clothes though. He headed into the cell his mate had come out of and grabbed some. Trotting back out, he dropped them at Lou’s feet.

“Um, thanks. Where is your clothing?”

Why would he need clothing? He was a cat. Everyone knew cats didn’t wear clothes.

He pushed at the clothes with his nose.

“Fine, I’ll get dressed.”

Lou kept an eye on the white lion as he put on clothes. Without a way to clean up he covered the blood splattering his skin with the clothing. James didn’t look inclined to change back, which might be a problem when he tried to travel with him.

The lion appeared to recognise him so he wasn’t completely lost to his wild side.

A quick glance showed the people on the ground were most definitely dead. He snatched up a Taser and the master key clipped to one man’s belt—the guard wasn’t going to need it anymore and they might need it to get out. With James staying in his lion form, he didn’t want to shift into his bear unless necessary. Two wild animals out of control wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.”

The lion padded after him like a friendly housecat, except with deadly claws and impressive fangs. James made a truly beautiful lion.

Walking down the hall, Lou glanced into the rooms from time to time. He was disturbed by the silence. With all the cameras he expected people to flood the halls of the facility to contain the escaped creatures. He wondered how James got out. His own stall had opened and he’d encountered a group as they walked down the hall. He got the impression they hadn’t expected to see him.

A slim blond man ran down the hall towards them, freezing when he saw the lion. He smelt like a shifter. The man held up his palms in surrender.

“Don’t kill me.” His hands shook.

“We’re not going to kill you. We just want out of this place.” A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

54

“Good luck. I’ve been here for a month and still haven’t figured it out. I don’t know why they left the doors unlocked but I’m not going to miss the opportunity.”

“What are you?”

“Puma. My name’s Cameron.”

“I’m Lou, and this is James.”

“Hi, James.” He gave the lion a nervous smile. “I don’t know where the others are.

Have you seen anyone else?”

Lou shook his head. “Only you. How many others are there?”

“About a dozen of us right now. They rotate us out periodically.”

“What do they do with the other shifters?”

“We’re all volunteers. Lately, though, I’ve wondered if they are really letting the shifters free. I think that cow Melinda is selling us to the highest bidder. I can’t prove anything but I’ve heard a few suspicious conversations lately.” He looked at James. “It would probably be easier to escape without the giant lion following us.” Lou shrugged. “He has control issues. This is only the second time he’s shifted.”

“Really.” Surprise lit the Puma’s face. “Why?”

“His father suppressed it.”

The puma gave James a distasteful look as if he’d accidentally stepped in something slimy. “He’s Dr Everett’s son, isn’t he?”

Lou stepped protectively in front of the lion. He didn’t like the look in the other man’s eyes. “Why do you ask?”

“They talk about him a lot. He’s trying to perfect a formula to prevent shifting. Why would anyone not want to shift? I only came here because they said they’d pay me for my blood for scientific experiments.”

“James is a half-breed. His father was worried he’d tear himself apart.”

“So better to destroy an entire species than let his son die?”

“I don’t think that was his original goal.”

Cameron looked sad for a moment. “It doesn’t excuse his actions but I wouldn’t mind someone loving me that much. Besides, lately I get the impression Melinda is in charge now.”

“I doubt it. Dr Everett broke up with her. I think he’s finally seen her true colours.”

“We can only hope.”

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

55

“Let’s see if there are other people to rescue.” They walked through the strangely circular corridor to discover five more shifters tying up some workers. None of them knew why the cells were unlocked or where the guards had gone. There were mostly medical workers around.

“This gets weirder and weirder,” Lou said. He looked back and forth to the group of shifters, two males and three females. They were all golden with matching gold eyes.

“Lions?”

They nodded with an eerie synchronicity.

“Who’s the leader?”

“He’s gone,” one of the female felines offered. “He disappeared one day after he challenged Melinda about lying.”

“They said he left.”

“But he would never just leave us,” one of the male lions said. “He was a good leader.” The other lions nodded.

“Come with me. If we get out of here we can try and find your alpha.” Smiles all around. He felt like he just offered candy to a group of kids. They all looked so damn young. It made sense that Andrew would want to experiment on lions the most. It was the closest he could get to his own son’s DNA.

“I’m Lou.”

“I’m Danice,” the most vocal of the females spoke. “This is Liza, Jane, Arturo and Rickey. Our alpha is Cesar.”

Lou’s mouth twitched at the alpha’s name but he resisted comment. “Do you know if there are any more shifters around?”

They all shook their heads.

“Grab their door keys.” The humans looked pretty calm for people trussed up. “We could interrogate them?”

Worry crossed their faces.

“No, Melinda wouldn’t have told them anything. They’re worker drones,” the puma said, watching their expressions.

From the little he knew of Melinda that was probably true. “We need to find out what’s going on. We’ll do better if we stick together.”

“Or we’ll get recaptured together,” Cameron piped up.

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

56

James growled at the puma. Lou watched with amusement as the other shifters stepped away from the annoyed cat.

“Together, I meant that was a great idea. We should travel together. Safer,” Cameron said stepping carefully backwards.

“Good. Stick with me.” Lou nodded for the others to go ahead. They were only too eager to get away from the growling kitty.

“Easy, babe. No reason to scare the sweet ones.” He got a flash of fang from the white lion.

Chuckling, Lou followed the others, completely confident his mate would come after him. Lou was marked with James’ scent and he knew the lion wouldn’t let him go no matter what. As soon as they got back to his house and his lover returned to his human form he was going to return the favour and mark the man until he knew he was claimed in return.

The others ran like they knew where they were going—a path that came to a screeching halt when a dozen dead soldiers lined the hall.

“Oh, shit, the coyote got out,” Cameron said with a whistle.

“What coyote?” Lou asked though he was afraid he knew where Dennis’ sister went, but memories of Dennis’ sad eyes made him ask, “What was her name?”

“Who?” Danice asked.

“The coyote.”

“Crazy lady,” Cameron said. “She never talked to the rest of us. She was kind of damaged. They usually left her in her cell. I think they were afraid of her.” Looking down at the pile of ravaged bodies Lou decided they had more than a little reason to be. “Where do you think she’d go once released?”

“Who knows?”

He watched James sniff the mauled bodies holding back the bile rising in his throat. If his lover ate the humans he didn’t think he’d be able to ever look at the man the same again.

It wasn’t unusual for a newly changed shifter to lose control. His relief was enormous when James lifted his head and wandered away from the dead humans without further interaction.

“Is there anything you guys need before we leave? Because I’m not coming back here.” It occurred to Lou he didn’t know what was on the outside. Would they even be able to find anyone to help and how would he explain about a white lion?

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

57

As it was they barely made it outside before a big van pulled up and Andrew jumped out of the back.

“Oh, thank god you found him. I went to your house and no one was there but I saw the dart on your floor. Melinda never returned to the hotel so I got suspicious. Once I found James missing I guessed she’d bring him here.” As he babbled his eyes took in his son’s new form.

Talan and Adrian came out of the front seats of the van.

The lions all looked immediately to the left, tilting their necks in deference to the presence of an alpha. All except James, who trotted up to Talan and butted his head into the alpha’s thigh.

“I think he wants a pet,” Adrian said with a laugh.

“You’re kidding me!” Talan stared at the white lion in astonishment. “You are not a housecat. I’m not petting you.”

James gave a low, mean growl.

“Fine. I’m scratching.” Talan scratched the white lion behind the ears, under the chin and in the middle of the forehead until the big cat started purring.

“Have you no dignity?” the alpha scolded, lightly.

James stood on his back feet and licked Talan’s cheek.

“Stop that.” The lion shifter shoved James away with a laugh. Unperturbed, the white lion went over to sit by Lou’s feet.

“Everyone in the van, we’ll straighten everything out later.”

“I think Dennis’ sister escaped.”

“What do you mean escaped?” Andrew asked. “People can leave whenever they want.” Cameron laughed. “Unless crazy Melinda sold you.”

“What?” Andrew paled.

“It sounds like you weren’t aware of a lot of things,” Lou said not unsympathetically.

“Yeah.” Andrew nodded. “Apparently there’s a lot I missed while I was concentrating on my research.”

Adrian patted the man on his back. “Come on. We’ll talk at the pack house.” A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

58

Chapter Six

James crouched at the end of the bed, watching the large human with confusion. He kept making odd gestures, waving his arms around, pointing fingers and making odd noises that made less and less sense over time.

Maybe he should’ve gone with the other cats. Unfortunately, he couldn’t leave the big man-bear. He smelt too good, like he belonged to James.

BOOK: A Prideless Man
6.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Far From Broken by Coi, J.K.
Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
Tippy Toe Murder by Leslie Meier
The Horny Leprechaun 2 by King, Nikita
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman, Daniel
Bring Him Back by Scott Mariani
A Sorta Fairytale by Emily McKee