Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance (3 page)

BOOK: Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance
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As far as she could see neither of them worked, but they were living well. When she’d been there that morning, before coming here, she’d seen them bringing in groceries that filled the back of their truck from front to back. And it was not all food. There were cases of pop, as well as lots of microwaveable foods…something Dawn never ate even being alone all the time. She knew that when she’d lived there that they had gotten a food stamp card, and supposed that nothing much had changed with that.

And she knew that they were still looking for her.

Two weeks ago she’d been in the little grocery store that she used when her aunt walked in. Dawn wanted to run and never stop, but Aunt Neva had walked right by her as if she’d not known who she was. It didn’t occur to her until later that she more than likely wouldn’t have known her, because Dawn had colored her hair to look older, and had lightened her eyes with contacts.

“Have you seen this girl?” The picture of her from high school was shown to the cashier, who, of course, shook her head. “It’s my niece and she’s been gone for five years. I really want to find her.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know her.” Aunt Neva turned to her then, and Dawn was sure she was going to grab her when she showed her the picture. Dawn stared at it for several seconds before she shook her head and handed it back.

“She’s not right in the head. It’s why we want to find her. Can’t have her being that way and out on her own, you know.” Dawn didn’t say anything, but it didn’t seem to bother Aunt Neva. “Them social people want us to have her sign off on some papers or we’re going to stop getting her check each month. It was hard enough on us when they stopped sending us her inheritance when she was eighteen.”

“She has…maybe she’s taken her money and is living in another country.” Aunt Neva shook her head and said she was too stupid. “I see. And her inheritance? That’ll be yours again when she signs the papers? Wait, there was an inheritance?”

“You’re awfully nosey.” Dawn backed from her and bumped into the counter behind her. “You know her, don’t you? Or you know where she is.”

“I don’t know her. I swear I don’t. I was just curious is all.” Aunt Neva glared at her for several minutes, and Dawn felt her body, her wolf, shift under her skin. But before she could leave, make excuses and get out of there, Aunt Neva spoke again.

“I guess I don’t need to worry none about you. As old as you are, you’ll probably be dead in a bit anyway.” Aunt Neva lunged at her and said boo, and, of course, Dawn jumped back again, knocking over a big display of Valentine cards.

After her aunt left, she helped the woman clean up the mess, telling her how sorry she was about it. The clerk told her not to worry about it, that it happened all the time.

“She’s been in here every week for years asking about that poor girl. I wouldn’t want to be found by her either. And that man? He’s a prick.” Dawn said nothing, but her mind was working hard. “They’re the type of people that will drain her dry while the whole time telling her how much of a burden she’s been to them.”

Dawn looked at the girl now. She’d been right about it all. Not just the burden part, but she’d gotten her aunt and uncle pegged as well. But instead of asking her how she knew, she stood up and moved to the counter to pay for her things.

Money had never been something that she’d thought about when living with them. She knew that it was necessary and that it was nice to have, but it wasn’t until she started making her own that she started to really know its worth. The first year that Bill had bought all the vegetables that she’d grown and couldn’t do much with, she’d thought he was being charitable to her. Then the second year he’d asked her if he could take them to the local store to sell. It had been so much money that she’d hoarded it in the event that she never got any again. Now, years later, she was making enough selling to the local stores and a few other places that she could spend a little extra on herself if she wanted. And she’d been able to send a nice gift to Addie when she’d married a few weeks ago.

The noise in the yard had her looking out the window. They were all there, the two men and their crew, plus Bill. He was telling them about something to do with the house. She then watched as he went to his car. When he left her and them, Dawn actually panicked a little. Now what?

The older man came into the house; the rest left again. She was still trying to think what to do, where to go, when she realized that they were going to be living here too. Dawn had no idea why she didn’t think of that before. Where else would they rest while her house was being taken care of? When Dawn went to the window, ready to find another place to stay, Addie touched her mind.

I thought you’d like to know the people who are fixing your house. The older gentleman is Cash Emerson. He’s my father-in-law. And you couldn’t find a nicer, sweeter man. The man in charge is Ellis Emerson, my brother-in-law and one of the middle sons to Cash. He’s very nice and owns the construction company that’s doing the work. The others are Billy and Andy Coltrane. They’re nice young men that are cousins, but I’d swear that they’re brothers the way that—

I need to leave here.
Addie told her she didn’t.
But they’re going to tell them where I am, and they’ll come here and mess things up for you. You know they will. I told you what that woman said.

They won’t be able to get to you, Dawn. I told you I’d keep you safe so long as you listened to me. Now do that. Those men out there are not going to harm you. It would do you a world of good if you were to go out and introduce yourself to them. Not a single one of them would do a thing against you. I promise.
Dawn was shaking her head as Addie continued.
Take a deep breath and listen to me. They’re not going to harm you. They won’t let your aunt and uncle come there to take you either. You’re as safe with them as you are with me.

Shifting, Dawn took to the skies. Addie kept talking to her, telling her how safe she was, but she wasn’t and she’d never be. Going to her house, she went in through the opening that the tree had made and shifted again, this time into her wolf. It wasn’t until she was ready to go out again, take to the woods, that she realized she wasn’t alone.

Chapter 2

 

Ellis stared at the she-wolf and didn’t move. He knew that she was upset. The fur along her back was standing on end and her canines were showing. And if that wasn’t indicator enough, she was growling low in the back of her throat.

“Calm down. I’m only here to see how big the other window is so I can match them up.” As he made his way along the wall to the doorway, she paced him. “I’m Ellis Emerson. My dad and I are here to work on the house. I know that you live here. I can smell you. I’m not going to hurt you.”

He felt Addie touch his mind, and he told her now was not a good time.
Her name is Dawn Whitfield. She’s terrified that you’re going to tell her aunt and uncle that she’s there.

Nodding, he looked at the beautiful wolf. “I’m talking to Addie. She said that you’re hiding from an aunt and uncle. They’re not coming anywhere near you so long as I’m alive. She told me your name is Dawn Whitfield.”

She wants you to leave her alone. As you might guess, this is the woman you were told about. I’m worried for her, Ellis. Just don’t let anything happen to her.

I won’t. Addie, did you send me here because you knew what she was to me?
Ellis waited for his sister-in-law to answer, and when she didn’t, he knew he had his answer.
How long have you known that I was looking for her?

The moment I touched her all those years ago.

Ellis staggered back just a little, and Dawn moved toward him. He wasn’t sure if she was going to attack him or not, but he let his own wolf take him just as she tried to move by him, quicker than him because of his clothing tangled around him. He took off after her just as she leapt out of the broken wall. Ellis was pissed, but this was more important to him right now.

She was easy to follow now. First of all, she was hardly covering her tracks; and secondly, his wolf was bigger and he was a little faster than her. When he caught her, tackled her to the ground, she came up fighting so hard and so fast that it was all he could do not to hurt her. He sank his teeth into her flesh and created a connection so that he could talk to her.

Stop it.
Her teeth snapped uncomfortably close to his throat, and he had to bite her harder in the shoulder to keep her down. When he pressed his body over hers, Ellis let her struggle until she simply wore herself out
. I’m not going to let you up because I have a feeling that you’re not as tuckered out as you are trying to get me to believe.

I want you to let me go and to get out of my house.
Ellis just held her, knowing that as soon as he did let her go she’d either tear him up or she’d run again. And she knew these woods better than he did.
Are you listening to me?

I am. But I’m not going to do as you want. Not yet at any rate.
When she tried again to get from under him, he sank his teeth harder into her and tasted her warmed blood.
You’re not going to be harmed by me or anyone with—

You’re hurting me now.
He knew that while he might be hurting her a little, she had cut into him much worse today
. Let me up and we’ll talk.

No. I’ll talk and you’ll listen for now. I want to tell you what you are to me.
She struggled again, and he had to work at holding her.
Damn it all to hell, are you always this trusting?

I don’t trust people at all.
He could see that and said as much
. How much did they give you to find me? Huh? A lot? I hope you got it up front, because I doubt they have much more than a few hundred dollars to pay you with. Apparently, my social security that they were getting from me ran out when I was eighteen. And there is some sort of inheritance too. From who, I have no idea, but I’m sure you’re aware of it.

I have no idea who you’re talking about. And no one offered me anything but room and board to come up here and fix your house for you.
She didn’t move for several minutes, but he wasn’t fooled.
My brother is married to Addie. She said she wanted us to come up here and repair some damage done by the ice storm yesterday. Did you get hurt?

No. It scared me when it came crashing in, but I’m just fine.
His wolf whimpered just a little in response to her statement
. Let me go, please. I want to go home.

I can’t do that just yet. Do you have any idea what you are to me, Dawn? My mate.
She didn’t say anything, and he wondered if it worked the same way with shifters as it did with wolves.
You and I are one; our destinies are slated so that we are together for the rest of our lives. I will protect you with my life.

I don’t want your protection. I want to be left alone. I’ve done well by myself. And I’d very much like to keep it that way.

Ellis let her go, knowing that since he’d tasted her blood she’d not get far from him now. When she stood near him, panting and growling again, he couldn’t help but marvel at her beauty.

Will you do me a favor? Will you talk to Addie and ask her what she knows about the two of us? She has known for a long time that you were my mate. She said since the first time she touched you. I only just found out when I saw you.
She looked to her left, and he did as well. His dad was coming in the truck. When he looked back at Dawn, he really wasn’t surprised to see that she’d left him. Now to tell his dad.

“Son?” Ellis stood up and shook out his fur. He wasn’t hurt, at least nothing more than his pride. “What’s happened around here? Why do I smell…is that a female?”

My mate.
Ellis waited for that to sink in while he moved to the house. He smiled. His dad laughed and followed.
Is there something in the truck I can wear? I’m sort of without clothing.

“Sure. Sure. I had that man of Addie’s throw some of our things in there when he was loading them at the house.” A small bag was tossed at him. “Your mate, huh? Where is she? When you gonna bring her home so I can welcome her to the family?”

Ellis waited to answer until he was dressed. The laces in his boots were shot, but there was always a few extra pair of them in his tool box. The clothing was hot now that he’d shifted, and he left the jacket off while he sat at the table in the kitchen. When his dad sat beside him, Ellis looked at him.

“She’s the recluse that Addie told us about. Something about an aunt and uncle trying to find her is why we were never allowed to say anything to anyone about her.” His dad nodded and looked around the room too. “Her name is Dawn, Dawn Whitfield, and she’s about as trusting as Sloan was when we first got to town. She thinks I’ve been paid by her aunt and uncle to bring her home.”

“I see. And you and her tangled, did you?” Ellis showed his dad his arm where she’d caught him with her paw. “I wouldn’t have known a she-wolf, a mate of yours, could do that. Let me clean you up.”

He knew that so long as they weren’t fully mated that the wounds wouldn’t heal. He’d read it somewhere a long time ago when he’d been about seventeen. As his dad cleaned him up, Ellis looked harder around the little house.

The kitchen was spotless. Herbs hung from the long beams, and there were pretty empty bottles that he’d bet were old sitting in the window catching the light. There was a dish in the drainer, as well as a cup, glass, and a single fork. For some reason he couldn’t fathom, it made him sad to think how lonely it looked. His own kitchen looked much the same in his apartment.

“There you go.” Ellis looked up at his dad as he finished cleaning his wound, knowing that whatever he was going to say was going to be profoundly unhelpful. “You have to find her.”

“I know that.” His dad sat down. “She’s not really interested in my finding her, so it might not be all that easy.”

“What’s this about her aunt and uncle you mentioned? You think she’d go there to get away from you?” Ellis shook his head. “Well, she’ll have to come back here sometime. You can just wait her out. There is more than the one bedroom here that you can use. Not the big house, but it might not be so bad with a mate here.”

“Dad, she’s not going to come back here so long as I’m here. She doesn’t trust me. And Addie knew that she was my mate too.” His dad looked at him strangely, then laughed. “This is not funny, damn it.”

“She sent you up here on this…this mission of mercy, because she knew that this here girl was your mate and she figured it was about time you got yourself hitched? If that ain’t funny, then nothing is.” He laughed harder, and Ellis might have hit him had he not been his father. “Yep, that’s about as funny a thing as I’ve heard in a long while. Got yourself a mate that is terrified to no end of you, and you being you.”

“What the hell does that mean, me being me?” His dad got up to clean up his mess and was still laughing when he looked in the refrigerator. When he came back with a glass of tea, Ellis wanted to hit him in the head with the little tin he’d unearthed too.

“You learn anything from your brother when he was trying to get Sloan to do what he wanted?” He moaned. “These are some fine cookies, son. You should have yourself one. You won’t go hungry with this one, I’m betting.”

“Dad.” Dad chuckled, and Ellis got up and took the tin and the glass from him. “You’re going through her things. Don’t you think that’s going to piss her off more?”

“More than likely, but you can handle her for me, can’t you?” Ellis just stared at him and then left the house. Fuck, nothing was going right, and he was pissed.

Ellis didn’t have any idea where she was or what she was doing. For all he knew, she could be staring at him from a tree or watching him from some point on the ground. Either way, she was going to take a lot of convincing to come and talk to him. He reached for Addie.

I need your help. What do I do to convince her that I’m not going to turn her over to them?
Addie didn’t answer right away, and Ellis felt the pain of losing Dawn harder than he’d ever thought possible.
I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. I…she’s hurting, and there is nothing I can do to convince her that I’m here for her.

I will think on it, Ellis. I didn’t know until recently how badly they had hurt her. Things were done to her that no child should have had to live with. Daily beatings, verbal and mental abuse. It’s a small wonder that since she found me that she has been able to do what she’s done. Her mind is tightly guarded; she believes that everyone will turn her over to them, and until the other day, I thought her just afraid. But they really are still looking, and when they find her, I think they’ll kill her.

Who are they? And where are they? I won’t go and see them, because to do that would sever any trust she might ever have for me, but I’d like to know my enemies. And as of the moment I found her, they became that.
He looked at the woods. There were so many places she could be
. Addie, did you really know all this time what she was to me?

Somewhat. I knew that it was a man that I would trust as I would my own husband someday. But when I saw you in her future, it wasn’t a man that I saw but a dog…a wolf, I know now. And I never knew for sure it was you until she contacted me about the wall coming down
. She laughed a little.
She was so afraid when she called me. Swearing that the walls were coming down on her head and that a cannon had gone off. Is it bad? The house, is it bad?

No. Some structural damage to the wall. The window will need to be replaced and the roof rebuilt. There is some water damage done to the flooring, but nothing that a good carpet cleaning won’t fix.
He turned and looked at the house.
It’s in great shape. She’s kept it beautifully maintained. And if you only ever entered from the rear, you’d think she had a crew working for her to keep up this yard.

She has a massive garden, too. A few years ago, Bill made contact with one of the local stores to buy her excess from her, and she has been selling to them ever since. I managed to convince her that I had no further use for the tractor in the barn or she’d still be cultivating the sucker with a hoe.
She paused.
Her mom died some time ago in prison. I didn’t know her, but of her. She murdered a cop in a bank robbery. I guess after Dawn’s father died, there was no income and she was desperate, and that’s why she turned to robbery. The uncle is her mom’s brother, and his wife, Neva, is a piece of work. You’ll hate her on sight. His name is Basil Combs. If her mom was married to Dawn’s dad, I have no idea who he is. Just the last name Whitfield. The aunt and uncle live about a mile from the end of our property line. The house sits a little back from the road, and has three cars in the front yard that have weeds taller than them around them. Don’t go there alone, Ellis. If you do, there is no telling what might happen to you. I had someone go there a few years ago to buy them out, and he told me he’d never go back.

I need to fix this for her. Whatever it takes.
She told him that she’d help too.
I’m going to try some things here. I don’t know that they’ll work, but I’m going to shamelessly use my father.

Her laughter made him smile.
He’s a perfect person to break the ice. I just love that man. And he did a great job raising you guys, too.

I think so too, but don’t tell him that. His head is big enough already.
Ellis looked around the yard and then thought of something that would have brought Hunter’s wife Sloan out of the house quicker than anything.
I’m going to help her in her gardening.

BOOK: Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance
5.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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