Adam (BBW Bear Shifter Wedding Romance) (Grizzly Groomsmen Book 1) (10 page)

BOOK: Adam (BBW Bear Shifter Wedding Romance) (Grizzly Groomsmen Book 1)
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“—then no one knows about us. Huh,” Hyde said. “That still leaves getting away without dying. Even if we kill his whole ground team, someone on the ship could still come after us.”

“We could come down in a pod,” Annie said. “Have one person left on the
Breakwater
and land her somewhere close, somewhere we can reach her but that Strathmore’s people won’t see her. I don’t know. But the rest of us port over to the
Honorable
and act as prisoners. Then once Strathmore’s dead, the
Honorable
can take off to distract the
Appomattox
. Hopefully they won’t realize there were two ships until it’s too late.”

“But where can you land a ship that’s got enough cover Strathmore’s won’t stop it but is still open enough to be able to maneuver?” Josie said.

“A lot of places, actually,” Leo said, breaking into a wide grin. “Annie, have I told you why our bird is called the
Breakwater
?”

“You have not,” Annie said as she quirked an eyebrow at him. “Please, enlighten me.”

“It’s because she has a special talent. See, smuggling requires a--” Leo began grandly.

“She can go underwater. It’s because she can go underwater,” Hyde said. “So we leave someone on board—Dom, I’m assuming that’s going to be you—to get her underwater, then go down in a pod, kill the son of a bitch, and book it. That could work. It could also get us killed horribly, but it could work. We’ll get the ship ready, you two figure things out with Captain Lurk.”

The connection cut off, and Annie turned back to Leo, who had visibly deflated at not getting to reveal the ship’s secret, and Josie, who had a faint smirk on her face.

“There’s a Destroyer out there with your name on it whenever you’re ready, baby doll.”

Annie laughed. “I’d get bored.”

The three of them figured out all the details they would need to get in order to trick one of the most powerful men in the galaxy. There were less than Annie imagined. She’d thought there’d be precise scripts, hours of minutia, and exact calibrations. In the end, it was going over a general idea of what to do, agreeing to talk it over with their respective crews, and bidding each other goodbye so Josie could contact Strathmore and Annie and Leo could prepare.

They ended up back in the kitchen. Annie wasn’t hungry, but Leo had insisted she not have an empty stomach for what was about to happen. She choked down the noodles without tasting them, her mind going over a thousand ways everything could go wrong. She was caught somewhere between hope and abject terror and the contrasting emotions were making her dizzy. When Josie checked in to let them know everything was ready, it was almost a relief. Meeting Strathmore again might kill her, but the wait was torture.
 

“Alright, remember,” Leo said as they stood gathered around the pod that would take them planetside, “we’ve been drugged, so act out of it. Stumble around a little, slur your words if you try to say anything. Now, we’ve got five minutes before we load in. If anyone wants to announce their undying love to me before we’re all trapped in a metal pod and hurtled towards what may be our doom, this is the time.”

Custer leaned towards Annie. “I think that means you.”

Leo batted his eyes. “Aww, you know I’m not picky. Hyde? Rick?”

Rick snorted and shook his head. Hyde just flipped Leo off.

Annie patted him on the arm. “I’ll swear my eternal love to you if you get me back off this planet alive. That work?”

“It’s a plan,” Leo said. “Alright, Captain Lurk, I think this is the part where you tie us up. Custer, try not to get too excited.”

“Can’t promise that, Captain,” Custer said, winking at Josie.

“I’d smack you upside the head for that if I didn’t think it’d turn you on,” Josie said coolly as she clamped a set of restraints around Leo’s wrists. The cuffs looked convincing enough, but even Annie’s human strength could get them open again. They would be no match for the four shifters.

Annie and the others dutifully stood still as they were cuffed and looked over to make sure they looked “imprisoned” enough to get close to Strathmore. Once they passed muster, they were loaded into the back of the pod with Josie and two of her men in the front.

“I bet you weren’t expecting to be doing this twice in less than forty-eight hours,” Leo joked as the interior back door slowly lifted.

“Hopefully I won’t have to do it again for awhile,” she replied, staring ahead.

The trip down to the planet was over faster than Annie would have liked. She craned her neck as they drew near, eyes resting on the purple lake Dominic had hidden the
Breakwater
in and then on the clearing a quarter mile away where she’d soon be meeting Strathmore again. Their landing was much smoother than her crashing the Needle into the lake had been, and yet it made her feel twice as sick. She forced herself to swallow it down. She had imposed on these people, and now they were in danger. She didn’t have the luxury of backing out.

Once everyone was out of the pod, Annie and the
Breakwater
crew on their knees with Josie’s guards pointing blasters in their direction, Josie set off a flare. It whistled up into the sky and exploded in a flash of red. Within seconds, a black speck hovering against the sky began to grow larger and larger, gaining on them swiftly.

“Remember,” Leo told Annie, “everything is going to be okay.”

“Tell me that when we’re back on the
Breakwater
, okay?” Annie asked.

The pod from the
Appomattox
hovered, propulsion beams ruffling the grass, as the doors opened. Four guards leapt out, surveyed the scene, then moved forward so Strathmore could exit, helped down by one of his thugs.

He looked even more sinister than Annie remembered. His grey hair and pale eyes seemed to shine in the dusk light. The shadows cast across his face made his sharp features even more severe. The malevolence in the sneer that his mouth twisted into at the sight of Annie cuffed and on her knees, however, had nothing to do with the light.

“My, my,” he drawled. “You certainly have come through, Captain Lurk. And so
quickly
.”
 

Josie scoffed. “Leo here and I are old friends. I saw the bounty and offered to help him out of the system. Poor idiot didn’t even notice I’d drugged them until the blond over there collapsed face first on my bridge.”

“Fuckyoo,” Leo heaved out, like forming the independent syllables was a hardship.

“Oh, don’t be like that, baby,” Josie crooned. “I told you I’d get you away from this mess. Don’t blame me for not disclosing the way out was death.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill your friend just yet. He and I need to become… better acquainted first,” Strathmore said before turning his gaze on Annie. “Anyanka, darling, how delightful to see you again. I hope you’re prepared to repent for your recent actions.”

Annie couldn’t force her jaw to unlock and settled for glaring up at Strathmore.

Strathmore sighed. “I suppose it was too much to hope that this little exercise in failure would teach you your place. I suppose it’s no matter. I’ll just have to break you in myself.”

“Captain,” Josie said, drawing attention away from where Leo looked about ready to tear Strathmore in half then and there. “I’m afraid I need to ask for payment now. It’s rude, I know, but I’d like to go ahead and wash my hands of this.”

“Regretting turning on a friend?” Strathmore asked. “No matter. Excellent work, captain.” He pulled a sleek device of his jacket pocket and, with a flick of his wrist, pulled up a holoscreen. He tapped a few button and then put it back in his pocket.

“That should do it,” he said.

Josie opened her multitool, her eyes scanning the screen.

“Thank you for your generosity,” she said as she closed it back out. “Is that all you needed?”
 

“It is, thank you,” Strathmore said. “I’ll keep you in mind the next time I need something like this handled.”

“Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to matter much,” Josie said coolly as she unholstered her blaster and shot one of Strathmore’s guards in the chest. Her men both turned their weapons away from the shifters and began to fire on the soldiers. Four were dead before they reacted, but by then it was too late.

Annie rolled away from Leo and the others as soon as the shooting started to give them the room to shift. Within seconds, Strathmore’s men were facing four bears and three armed pirates.

Strathmore stumbled back a pace before tripping and falling on his ass. For the first time, he had an actual expression on his face. Abject terror was written all over his features as he gaped at the spectacle before him. Annie took a sick satisfaction in watching him scramble backwards as Leo advanced on him.

“What the—” he said before being cut off by way of Leo’s paw crashing into the side of his face. Annie closed her eyes just before the impact but the crunching sound let her know that she’d heard the last from Strathmore.

It was over quickly. The few remaining guards dropped like flies and Josie helped Annie up as they started for the lake. It left Annie with a kind of dissatisfaction. Surely it should have taken longer? This was Strathmore, after all. But she knew better. She knew death always happened too quickly, without regard for the status or wealth of its victims.

The bear that was Leo pressed against Annie’s side for the trek to the lake. She rested a hand on his furry shoulder, taking comfort in the contact even as her skin felt too tight and her mind buzzed.
 

Was it over? Was she free?

Josie radioed Dominic to let him know they were close and when they arrived at the lake, the Breakwater was waiting with her cargo ramp down. Annie was struck with a sense of déjà vu as she followed Leo into the ship. Almost as soon as they were inside, Dominic announced takeoff and the mechanical whirs of the ship working began to fill the air.

“Alright, baby doll,” Josie said as the shifters wandered off, presumably to find pants, “I doubt whoever takes over the Appomattox is going to waste time looking for you when whoever it is should be watching their back. That said, lay low. Now, I better get to the transport pad so the
Honorable
can get the hell out of here. Is there anything you need before I go?”

Annie hesitated. “I hate to ask, but… my dad. I’m not asking you to take care of him, Lord knows he needs to learn how to do that for himself, but just make sure he isn’t dead, please?”

“I think I can do that,” Josie said and leaned in for a hug. “You take care of yourself, you hear?”

“Yeah, you too, Jo,” Annie said before stepping back. She waved as the woman made her way to the transporter room.

Annie started towards Leo’s room. Halfway there, she was overcome with the knowledge of what had just happened. She burst out in uncontrollable giggles as the world seemed to tilt forward. Walking no longer appeared to be an option. Instead, she made it the rest of the way to the room with a sort of stumbling run. She entered the code and launched herself inside the room, still laughing.

“Having fun out there?” Leo called from the bathroom. Annie heard the hiss of the sonic shower in the background.
 

“Time of my life,” she answered.

“See? I told you everything would work out. Now don’t you have something to tell me now that we’re back on the
Breakwater
?”

Annie threw herself across the mattress. “And what would that be?”

“Oh you know.” Leo’s voice was warm and teasing. “A certain confession I believe I’m owed.”

The memory trickled in. “Ah. That.
Captain
Ingram,” she said dramatically, “I must make a confession. These last few hours have been the happiest of my life. I love you madly, darling. Now please, feel free to ravish my nubile body in return for saving my life.”

Leo laughed. “Well, you’re more than welcome to join me in here.”

Annie sat up considering. On the one hand, she hadn’t known this man for long and she wasn’t necessarily in the right frame of mind to make decisions. On the other, she was a fugitive who had just caused the death of her ex-fiancé/owner and was now fleeing on a ship with five bear shifters. To hell with caution.

She stripped quickly, deciding to put the shirt back on. Without her bra, her nipples stood out against the fabric as it fell off one shoulder. Annie walked into the bathroom and pulled the shower door open.

“Let me guess: come on in, the sonic’s fine?”

Leo’s looked her over, eyes darkening. “Something like that. You in?”

Annie shrugged and pulled the shirt off over her head. She let the material fall carelessly from her hand. Leo didn’t seem to notice.
 

“I’m in,” she said, stepping into the shower and pulling the door closed behind her.

The feeling of the sonic shower on her skin was amazing, but Annie had a hard time focusing when Leo was naked right in front of her. He tentatively reached towards her.

“Can I touch you?” he asked, like maybe Annie had stumbled into the shower by accident.

“Yes,” she said, and sighed as he ran his fingers down her arm. He backed her into the wall and stared at her, eyes hot and dark.

“I’m not sure what, exactly, you want to do here, but—” he started.

BOOK: Adam (BBW Bear Shifter Wedding Romance) (Grizzly Groomsmen Book 1)
11.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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