Authors: Lynn Hagen
Tags: #Siren-BookStrand, #Inc.
“You like what you smell?” Tryck asked in that rich voice of his.
Carter leaned back, clearing his throat, his eyes darting around the room.
Carter’s body jerked nervously when Tryck pulled him into those strong arms. He slid his arms around his mate’s waist and held on, terrified Tryck would take it further.
“Do not be afraid, kitten.” Tryck ran his hands through Carter’s hair, his scalp tingling at the touch. Carter closed his eyes, leaning into Tryck's hand. It was rough, but soft, if that made any sense. The feel of it on his skin made Carter want things he never thought he would be brave enough to ask for. He opened his mouth to ask Tryck to make love to him when they were interrupted.
“Where the hell are you?” A man came bursting through the door.
Carter tried to pull away, and Tryck released him.
“Don’t you know how to fucking knock?” Tryck snarled as he took a step away from him. Carter noticed the move, but let it go.
“Sorry, but we got problems. That blue guy just tried to take Melonee,” the man bit out.
“Damn it. It was your idea to join a pack. We could be lounging somewhere tossing back Tequila.” Tryck nodded toward Carter.
“Law, this is Carter.”
“‘Sup.” Law nodded at him. What the hell was wrong with their mother and giving these guys such weird names? Carter nodded a hello at the man.
“Ahm was here?” He realized what Law had just said. Carter wasn’t sure if the Shadow Elves knew the Wood Elves had relocated here. Was it just a coincidence? He didn’t believe in those, so how did
they find out? Ahm was one nasty piece of work. The Shadow Elf thrived on misery.
“You’re safe. No harm will come to you.” Tryck tried to reassure him.
“You must not have met the guy. Harm is his middle name.”
“And he hasn’t met the Santiago brothers,” Law said with a sneer.
Carter stared at him with an
look. “You’re shifters, give me a break.”
“I’d change my attitude if I were you. You’re one of us now,” Law advised him.
“Oh, special me, I get to join the all-exclusive Mickey Mouse Club.” Carter gave a golf clap.
“He’s got fire.” Law grinned at Tryck. Carter rolled his eyes. If the guy only knew how much of a Chicken Little he really was. His quips only came out in high emotional moments, fear and nervousness being the top contenders, and boy did these brothers make him nervous.
.” Tryck grabbed his hand and pulled Carter along, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. He was going to have to ask Teaky what the hell was up with that.
He was dragged along and down to Maverick’s office. He wondered if his mate was going to keep his hands on him all the time now that he figured out Carter’s failure to shimmer when touched by him.
Maverick laughed when he saw Carter. “You guys haven’t killed each other yet?”
“Is that your diabolical plan?” Carter narrowed his eyes at the large Alpha. He wouldn’t put it past Maverick to think just that.
“Maybe.” He smiled. “Now tell me about Papa Smurf.”
“He’s a nasty one. Don’t pull any punches with him. He won’t.” Carter tried to pull his hand free, but Tryck wasn’t having it. Fine, whatever. “About a year ago the Shadow Elves started attacking us, no provocation involved. They normally stay to the marshes, which is
why we were caught off guard. They only attacked at night, silently picking us off.”
Carter took a deep breath, the next sentence threatening his control on his emotions. “They wiped out my entire family.” He paused for a moment to compose himself and then continued.
“Somehow Ahm has found out where we are. I’m afraid the drama, as you put it, has come to your quiet town.”
“Like we weren’t having issues already with rogues and humans.” Maverick dropped into his chair. “So how do we fight them?”
“That’s bullshit. They’re not unstoppable,” the brother he hadn’t been introduced to stated.
“We haven’t figured out a way yet. That’s why we’re here.”
Carter tried again to get his hand free. “Look, I’m not going anywhere. Cross my heart, and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” He crossed his heart with his free hand. “I just want to go to the den.” Tryck laughed as he stared at Carter. “I’ll stick something in you all right if you disappear again.” Carter yelped when Tryck smacked his ass. “I remember making that same promise once,
.” He winked at Carter. “I see we are more alike than we thought.”
“Why doesn’t that thrill me? I promise not to shimmer out.” Tryck released him, and Carter shot out of the office. Tryck was a crazy bastard. He thought battling the enemy was difficult. Try dealing with shifters. Carter thought about shimmering for a split second, but breaking a promise went against his character. Why’d he have to be all noble was anybody’s guess, but it didn’t set right with him to go against his mate. He had promised so Carter would stick to his word. No matter how much he was tempted.
“Gotcha,” a wicked voice spoke in his ear.
Carter tried to scream, but the blue hand that clamped over his mouth prevented anything from escaping.
* * * *
“We could find out where they live and burn the place down,” Law offered.
“I could shoot a couple rockets into the den, or whatever the hell they call it.” Montana grinned.
“What happened to using our teeth and claws, or is that a little too caveman for you?” Remi asked sarcastically. “Because if it is, I’m outdated.”
“Dude, you were outdated the day you were born.” Cody laughed.
Remi flipped him off. “Kiss my ass.”
“We need to figure out this shimmer thing of theirs,” Zeus said over the speaker phone. “Why’d you go and invite more trouble here anyway?”
Maverick was tired of hearing that question. That’s what he got for a momentary lapse in judgment. Everyone wanted to point the finger at him for the bad shit. Did he get credit for his excellent leadership?
The entire pack was in his office, all trying to figure out how to put down Papa Smurf and his ragtag crew of Smurfettes. They had the shimmering advantage, but how well could they fight? They were fucking elves after all. How hard could it be to bring down their Tollhouse?
“Who leads their tribe?” Zeus asked.
“Beats the hell out of me, I thought it was Carter.” As an Alpha, he should have found this out. Well, there went his one mistake for the year. “I’ll head out that way and find out.”
“You need backup?”
Maverick glared at his warriors, daring them to say one smart thing to the other Alpha. One headache at a time. He didn’t need any more enemies. “I’ll let you know if I do.”
“Keep me posted.” Zeus hung up.
“Like Grey wolves could ever help…” Tank looked over at Jason.
The only Grey wolf in the pack shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “No harm.”
“Okay, guys, we need to take a trip to fairyland and figure out what they know. I need a few volunteers.” Every hand in the room rose up. “Fine, toss your names in a hat.” Maverick stood and left his office. Knowing his men, an argument was about to ensue. He didn’t need to be there for that. He sought out his solace, finding his mate in the kitchen with the other mates of the pack.
They were all sitting around the table laughing and eating treats.
Once his family started growing, Maverick had purchased a larger kitchen table, accommodating the larger number of mates. It seemed if they weren’t all in the den—or attempting to sneak out—they congregated in the kitchen.
“Hey, babe.” Cecil stood, and Maverick pulled him into his arms.
Just that act alone was enough to soothe him. “You guys having fun?”
“Always.” Gabby beamed up at him. Maverick was happy for the vampire. Gabby had been kicked out of his coven, never having any friends. He had a whole slew of them now.
“Where’s Carter?” he asked when he noticed the elf wasn’t in there with them.
“Haven’t seen him since he freaked out about Tryck being his mate. I figured he packed his bags and got out of Dodge.” Drew laughed.
Maverick didn’t like the uneasy feeling that came over him. “He was here. He was supposed to be hanging out with you guys.” They all looked at one another, clueless. “We haven’t seen him,” George informed him.
“Carter!” Maverick yelled to the ceiling.
“Shit.” He raced from the kitchen and back down the hall, the entire kitchen close on his heels.
“Tryck, call Carter,” Maverick instructed him, “He’s not with the other mates.”
Tryck growled. “I’m going to glue him to my side. Carter!” Still nothing.
“We need to get moving, go to his tribe, and see if he broke his promise. Maybe he’s at home.” Maverick pointed to a few warriors.
“Santiago brothers, Remi, and Tank, follow me. The rest of you guard the mates with your lives,” Maverick snarled.
The chosen rushed from the office, truck doors slamming, motorcycles revving as they made their way to Elvin territory.
Carter paced the small confines of the room he was held in. He had tried to shimmer out countless times, but nothing happened. It was as if Tryck were holding his hand again. He looked down at his empty hand. He’d gladly hold any part of his mate right now if he could only get out of here.
Keys rattled in the door and then it swung open. He shrank back when the figure in the door chuckled menacingly, Ahm walking through.
“Why am I here?” Carter caught himself, the panic in his voice coming through, showing his fear. This man thrived on fear. He would only take enjoyment in making Carter beg. He had to compose himself and think rationally. Any other way wouldn’t benefit him.
“I’ll capture as many of you as I can until I feel you have paid for what you have done.” Ahm moved in closer, his eyes void of any emotion. The blue man walked around him, raking his eyes over Carter in disapproval. He felt a shiver run up his spine. He wasn’t going to get out of this. Ahm’s cruel face cemented his belief. If only he’d been nicer to his mate, let him claim him. He would have that much right now, a memory to cling to while being a prisoner here.
“What have we done?” Carter cleared his throat, embarrassed that it had risen higher with the stress of the situation.
“Don’t feign ignorance with me.” Ahm sneered, taking a threatening step toward him. Carter couldn’t help his reaction, he shrank back in fear.
“Oh, believe me, I’m not. This is ignorantly real.”
“Then I see the truth is being buried. Well, let me enlighten you.” Ahm grabbed Carter, shoving his chest into the wall, his hot breath on Carter’s neck. Ahm pulled Carter’s arms higher behind his back, pain shooting across his shoulders and down his spine.
“It was a Wood Elf who started all of this. One of your very own killed my sister. Did you think we would not retaliate?” Ahm hissed in his ear. “We are neutral by nature. Your people started this.” Carter was incredibly confused. Who in his tribe would commit such a heinous act? “But it wasn’t me. Please don’t make me pay for their crime,” he pleaded. His eyes closed, praying he was allowed to see Tryck’s face once more. See that sexy half smile pull up on that handsome face. Hell, if he got out of this, he would have sex, scream like a monkey, or anything else Teaky had called it.
“That’s probably the same thing my sister said. I have no mercy for you or your tribe.” Ahm viciously released him, shoving him aside as he slammed the door shut behind him. Carter rubbed at the pain now in his arms. How the hell was he going to get out of this?
“Tryck,” he whispered his mate’s name. “Please save me.” Carter slid his back down the wall and sat on the floor, pulling his knees to his chest as he wrapped his arms around his legs, hopelessness and despair engulfing him.
* * * *
“Where do they live?” Tryck snarled at the men gathered around the Timber wolves. He wasn’t in the mood to be jerked around. Carter was missing and he needed to find his mate. “I want their entrails at my feet yesterday.”
“I will not take you, shifter. It isn’t safe.” One of the tall and elegant men spoke.
Tryck was growing angrier by the moment. How could an entire race be so frightened? Didn’t one of them have the merit to stand up and fight for one of their own? “Grow a damn backbone. They have
my mate, damn it.” Tryck was ready to burn this whole makeshift village down. He wanted Carter. He advanced toward the arrogant bastard only to have Maverick stop him. Tryck looked down at the Alpha's hand but kept quiet. He knew that if this clan didn’t produce information on his mate soon, he’d light the wick himself.
“Is there anyone here willing to save one of your own?” Maverick spoke loudly. Tryck watched as person after person slowly backed away. It frustrated the hell out of him. He knew not all were fighters, but an entire clan of cowards? He couldn’t even fathom living in a place like this. Even the leader looked shaken. The war had taken its toll, understandable, but surely some of them were fighters.
“I can take you.”
Tryck twisted around, his nerves on edge from worrying about his mate. “Who the fuck are you?” his claws were out, his canines extended. If this guy hadn’t volunteered, he would have torn this village apart.
“Teaky, his roommate and
.” The possessiveness in the man’s voice set Tryck’s anger off into a whole other direction. He didn’t have time for that now. His mate needed saving.
“Take me, now.” He barked out his command. Teaky nodded, placing his hand on Tryck’s shoulder. The Timber wolves all held hands as they shimmered into what looked like a watery gravesite.
“Is this a trick?” Remi looked around and then back at their tour guide. Tryck could see nothing but swamps and a few patches of land.