Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance (4 page)

BOOK: Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance
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I don’t know, Ellis. She’s pretty…ah, I see. Well, good luck with that. I’m going to make some inquiries to see what I can find out about her family. There is going to be hell to pay now that you’ve found her.

Ellis looked around again. He had no idea whether or not she was close by, but he knew that he could reach out to her. Thinking of how to word it so as not to piss her off too much, he grinned.

My dad is here. He works with my other sister-in-law in her garden. Since you have to be away from your home and garden, I’m going to have him work the ground for you. I know that pea planting season is about here.
Ellis started to go to his dad when Dawn answered him.

You most certainly will not have anyone working in my garden. I have a system, and he will mess it up.
Ellis moved to his dad and started telling him what he wanted him to do and why. Of course, he was all for it.
Did you hear me? I said not to have him do anything to my garden.

I heard you, but you have to let me do something for you.
Ellis watched as his dad went to the big barn.
You should know that he’s gotten really good at driving a tractor. He’s not hit anything in a long while.

Ellis made his way to the house again. If she came to help his dad or not, he thought it best to let his dad handle it. One thing Ellis knew about his dad, he was the biggest-hearted man he knew, and he’d do anything to help him help Dawn.

~~~

Dawn came out of the woods just as her tractor was making its way out of the barn. The elderly man sitting atop it looked like he’d been born to be there, but that didn’t mean she was going to let him in her garden. As she stood in front of him, he stopped the tractor but didn’t turn it off.

“I can do this.” He cupped his hand over his ear as if he couldn’t hear her, and she shouted again. “I can do this. Please just get down and let me do it.”

As the tractor engine turned off, she waited for him to get down. The nerve of these people thinking she needed their help with gardening. But the man smiled at her, and she found herself smiling back.

“He thinks I can charm you into about anything.” Dawn looked up at the house, then back at the man. “My name is Cash. My son is Ellis. He told me to see if you’d come out of the woods and let me help you. Thinks you and I can hit it off, and then you might not hate him so much.”

“I don’t hate him. I don’t even know him.” Cash nodded but didn’t say anything more. “I can do my own gardening, thank you very much.”

“No doubt you can, but I’d really like to help. Lifting and toting are hard on an old man, and this way I can earn my keep.” Dawn looked at him. The man had on a pair of boots that cost more than all the clothing in her house. Earning his keep was going to be expensive, she thought. “You gotta let me do this, child. It’s the most fun a man can have working with a pretty girl like you.”

“I’m far from pretty, so keep your blarney to yourself.” His roar of laughter made her blush. And when two of the other men stopped working to look at them, she waved them back to work. “Mr. Cash…you are going to be difficult about this, aren’t you?”

“I am.” At least he was honest. “I want to help you. I need to help. Ellis there is your mate. And that means that we’re family.”

“I don’t have what it takes to be a mate. I have to…Addie gave me some information on being a mate to someone. She gave me all kinds of books about everything, but that one stuck in my head because it said that things would be wonderful once you found the other half of your soul.” He nodded and smiled at her. “I’m a shifter, Mr. Cash. I know that shifters are considered to be the scourge of the world in the paranormal community, and me—”

“Where on earth did you read that?” His voice was hard and she took a step back from him. Fear of being hit had her suddenly afraid of him. “I’m not gonna ever hurt you, child. Not ever. But that’s just bull malarkey. Whoever…that’s just the dumbest thing that I’ve ever heard. You want to know who is scourge? I’ll tell you. It’s the person that wrote that down for you to read. Give me his name. I’m gonna go and find him right now and set him to rights. Scourge of the…well, I’m going to show him scourge.”

Dawn laughed. It had been so long since she’d laughed like this that she was surprised at how good it felt. And when she looked at Cash, he had the strangest look on his face.

“You do get worked up, don’t you?” He nodded and told her she was beautiful. “No. But I thank you for that. And the laugh.”

“Where do we start on this garden of yours?”

She didn’t have it in her to turn him down again. There was something so incredibly charming about him that she found herself wanting to spend more time with him, and if he wanted to work with her in the garden, she’d let him.

“I have to get the ground ready for the peas. It’s nearly time to get them in the ground.” He told her that Sloan had everything ready to go in late fall, furrows ready and all. “I might do that, but I grow pumpkins and gourds then to sell in town.”

“Sell it, do you? Sloan just gives it all to the pack house. Helps out, too, when you have a pack the size that Hunter has. He’s my oldest boy. He and Sloan are married and expecting my first granddaughter in a few months. End of May.” Cash got back up on the tractor when she showed him where to plow. Then before starting it back up, he asked her to move back. “I’m not bad at driving this thing, but I don’t want to take any chances that I might hurt you. Stand on back there by that tree and I’ll work this here magic for us.”

She watched him plow and was impressed at how precise he was about it. The rows were neater than hers had ever been, and he did the entire garden in about half the time she would have. When he turned the engine off again and hopped down, she followed him into the barn to get what they’d need to get started.

Before she knew it, they were working the ground like they’d been doing it together their entire lives. And he wasn’t a gabber box either, only asking her an occasional question about something or telling her what he and Sloan did about whatever it was, and asking her advice on things she actually had an opinion on.

Her belly growling made her realize that they’d been at this for hours. When she went into her house to fix lunch, she found Ellis standing on a ladder without a shirt on, tearing down the broken ceiling. Swallowing twice, she turned her back on him and could have sworn she heard him chuckle, but he never spoke to her as she tried to think what she came in there for. It wasn’t until Cash entered and reminded her that she set to work.

Chapter 3

 

Ellis watched her out of the corner of his eye as he set the boards. Billy was using the nail gun, and he was nervous about Ellis not using it instead of him. When he put the gun to the board to pull the trigger, Billy shifted on his seat and the gun moved just enough to have the nail no longer pointed to the wood. The pain knocked Ellis to the floor.

“I’m sorry, boss. I’m sorry. Christ, I done killed you.” Ellis growled low and tried to stand, but there was a person sitting on his chest. Looking up at Dawn, he decided to be still for now.

“Let me look.” He moved his hand off the injury. The nail was about three quarters of the way into his flesh, and he had to look away. “Christ. Does it hurt?”

He looked at her and could see that she was afraid for him. “Not too much. It’s more my pride than anything. But if you could shut Billy up from apologizing, I’d really appreciate it.”

She snapped at Billy to shut up and go outside, and the blessed silence had him thanking her. “No problem. He was bothering me as well. We have to take this out. I’m not sure I can do it without hurting you more.”

“Will you kiss me and make it all better?” He was kidding, but the look on her face made him wish that he’d chosen his words better. “I’m kidding, Dawn. I hurt badly now, so if you want someone else to do it, that’s fine. But I trust you.”

“I’ll need pliers.” He nodded and yelled for his dad. “Mr. Cash, do you think you can help me with this?”

“I don’t…darling, I couldn’t even help them boys out when they bloodied their lips scuffing with each other.” Ellis looked at his dad. He wasn’t telling the truth, and when he winked at him, Ellis could have gotten up and kissed his dad. “I can assist you all you need, but just don’t ask me to do anything like you’re going to be doing.”

“I’ll need those pliers and some towels.” Dawn looked at Ellis. “Are you going to knock me off if I hurt you?”

“Never.” He put his good hand over hers as she held a towel to his bleeding hand. “I might cuss up a storm, but I won’t hurt you on purpose.”

She nodded and took the things she’d asked for from his dad. Taking a deep breath, she uncovered the wound. Ellis felt his belly jump when he got a really good look at it.

The nail had entered his palm and was sticking out the other side. He knew that it must have missed the bones there because he could still move his fingers. But it was painful. When she told him that she was going to count to three and then pull, Ellis braced himself. When she counted first one, then two, she jerked the nail from his hand.

Sitting up, he unseated her off his chest and she landed with a hard punch to his groin. When the pain there took over the pain in his hand, he put it around her waist and brought her to his body. The urge to bite her was huge, but Ellis only bit his lip as she held him. When she lifted her head, he looked down at her face and felt his heart break for her.

“Honey, it’s all right. I swear. My nuts are sore, but my hand is okay.” When she started to shift off him, he held her there. “Moving now will only make it worse.”

She sat very still, and he watched her face. His cock was filling, and when she shifted over him again, he groaned. Then she looked at him with a cocked brow.

“You’re not hurting at all.” He nodded and smiled. “What do you think you’re doing? I’m not stupid, you know.”

“Yes, I know that. But you really did hurt my manly parts. And if having you sit on top of me makes them less painful, then you can’t begrudge a man that.” She started to shift off him again and then stilled. He felt his wolf move over his skin when she stiffened. “What is it?”

“Someone is coming.”

He heard it then. Someone was driving down the drive, and he pushed her off him and stood up. Helping her up, he moved her toward the wall and told her to stay there. She nodded, but he could see the terror on her face.

“No one is going to hurt you. I promise. Just stay here until I come for you.” He started to leave her, but she pulled him back. Wrapping the towel around his hand, she let him go, and he moved to the front of the house where the car was just pulling to a stop.

His dad and Billy were standing on the porch when he came out of the house. A man, huge and sloppy, came out of the driver’s side of the car, and the woman in the passenger side only stood by the opened door. Andy came out right after he did, and he noticed that not one of his crew looked like they were ready to welcome their guests with open arms.

“Hi there.” Ellis nodded at the man. “We didn’t even know this place was back here. How long you been working on this place?”

“What made you come here today?” The man looked over at the woman but said nothing. “There are all kinds of no trespassing signs you had to pass to get here. So, again, why did you come here today?”

“We’ve been looking for our niece.” Ellis didn’t move to take the paper that the man was holding out. “Thought maybe she was here so we came back. You haven’t seen her, have you?”

“This is private property. Can she read? This niece of yours, can she read?” The man told his dad that she could. “Then perhaps she’s got herself a bit more sense than you do to come onto property that doesn’t belong to her.”

“You’re not very friendly, are you?” His dad told him he wasn’t to people he didn’t invite on his property. “You own this then? Good to know. But in case she does come around, we’ll be coming to fetch her. She’s not right in the head and we have to have her under close watch all the time. So, if you see her, just give us a call and we’ll—”

“You never did answer my son. What the hell are you doing here?” The man looked like he was ready to come up on the porch and hit his dad. He even slammed his door shut and made his way to the front of his car. Andy stepped off the porch, as did Billy, and the man would have been stupid not to realize that they were going to kill him if he took another step. “I want you to get on back in your car, turn your asses around, and get out of here. You ever come back here again, I will make it so you never trespass again. You hear me?”

“You threatening me, old man?” Ellis stepped down and walked to the man. He was glad when he took several steps back, as Ellis was able to lean over him when he fell back against his car. “I was just kidding him. Can’t a man have a joke among friends?”

“You’re not our friend, and as you’ve been told several times already, this is private property and you are not welcome.” The man nodded, and then when Ellis backed up enough for him to slide from in front of him, he walked the man to his door. “No one is here but us. And in the event you didn’t get it, we like our privacy. Come here again and I will shoot you.”

The man got into his car and turned it around. He was pulling away when the woman flipped Ellis off. Ellis laughed as they peeled out of the drive and left. He looked at Billy and Andy.

“Go and put up a barrier at the end of this drive. Make it deep and impossible to be moved.” Andy nodded. “When you have that done, I want you to speak to the pack nearby and let them know what we’ve done and what we’ve run into. They knew we were going to be here, and Addie let them know a long time ago about someone staying here.”

As they took off to do what he’d told them, he made his way to the porch. His dad was leaning against the post and looked a little nervous. Ellis was nervous too. Those two would be back, and the next time they’d be ready to fight.

Telling his dad to contact Hunter and let him know what was going on, Ellis went into the house. Dawn was standing where he’d left her, but she was crying, and her body was as tight as a drum. Touching his hand to her arm, she whimpered a little, and he wanted to pull her into his arms and hold her. But he was afraid that she’d break.

“That was my uncle and aunt.” He nodded and took a step closer to her. “They are still looking for me. After all this time. And I’m not crazy.”

“No, you’re not. But they are if they think they can come back here and make you upset.” She looked up at him, and Ellis ran his fingers gently down her cheek. “I won’t let them get to you, honey. And neither will the rest of us.”

“He’s a mean man. He beat me and chained me to the wall. I had a shackle around my neck so that I couldn’t shift.” Her tears began to fall, and Ellis stepped closer to her. “Uncle Basil put them around my ankles, too. Then he took great pleasure in telling me that if I shifted with them on, they would sever my feet.”

Ellis finally pulled her to him. He held her to his chest while she cried, great sobs that made him want to hunt down her relatives and tear out their throats. When his dad came into the kitchen where they were, he turned his back to them but didn’t leave.

“Hunter said that if you need him to call, and Addie is on her way up. She said that she has some information that you can use against this guy. And Shawn is going to come as well. It seems that your aunt and uncle have been receiving monthly checks that belong to you, Dawn.” His dad laughed a little. “That girl can sure get her panties all done up when someone tries to take advantage of her family.”

“I should just try to find somewhere else to live.” It sounded very good to Ellis, but he didn’t think she’d appreciate him asking her to come stay with him. “I knew that this was too close to them and they’d find me someday.”

“We’re not going to let them run you off. Hell’s bells, I just helped you put peas in the ground. A man don’t just walk away from peas.” Ellis nearly pointed out that he hated peas, but he turned then and looked at her. “That uncle of yours…. Did he…? What did he do to you that you’re so fired-up scared of him?”

She looked up at Ellis, and he could see what it was costing her to speak. So when she pulled away from him, Ellis pulled her back. When she didn’t struggle with him, he watched her face while she spoke to Dad.

“At first it was all right. I was there for about a year before he hit me the first time. He’d lost his job, you see, and there had to be cutbacks, he said. When I pointed out that I already did a lot of the jobs, he said I was going to have to take over and he knocked me off the chair. I shouldn’t have said anything. He was under stress, I thought. But as the months, then years, went by, things got worse. The beatings were…just that. Beatings.” She leaned into Ellis now, her head resting on his chest, and Ellis looked at his dad while she continued. “I had such plans when I turned eighteen. I was going to leave. I was an adult and it was my right, as such, to leave. But the morning that I turned eighteen, I shifted for the first time. It was…it was the most wonderful feeling in the world. I felt free.”

“You didn’t know you was a shifter?” She turned and shook her head at Dad, then went to the cabinets and began pulling things down from them. “Your parents, where are they during this time?”

“My mom was in prison. She killed a police officer. I’m not sure what happened, but she didn’t have a gun so far as I knew. I never was able to read about her when I was a child. And now…well, I never really cared to go and look. My dad? I have no idea. He was never around, and Mom never talked about him. Not ever.” Dawn began mixing up some of the ingredients on the counter, and it was already making his mouth water. “She was gone for several months before anyone came looking for me. Then I was taken to my aunt and uncle almost immediately.”

Ellis sat at the table and watched her. He knew some of what had happened, but not a great deal. “What happened when your relatives saw that you could shift? I bet they didn’t take kindly to that.”

“No. He…my uncle hit me with the broom first. I snarled back at him.” She laughed. “Again, such a wonderful feeling. But he hit me again and again until I passed out. I didn’t want to hurt him, so I guess that was to his advantage. When I woke up, there was a shackle around my neck, and it was attached to the floor in the kitchen. Just long enough that I could reach all the appliances and nothing more.”

“You were their slave.” She nodded at him, and Ellis stood up to get glasses and plates as she started putting sandwiches together. “How long did you have to live like that, Dawn? And how did you escape?”

“It was two years before I managed to get away. But by then he’d put them around my ankles as well. Drugged me or something is all I can figure. I felt sick the night before, and when I woke up, they were on me.” She handed him a platter of sandwiches and a bowl of what looked like potato salad. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. But anyway, one night I was cleaning the kitchen and I found a long piece of wire. I had no idea how to pick a lock, but I worked in the dark on the one chaining me to the kitchen for days and days. Then one night it just popped. I had a little stash of money and stuff. Not a lot. I’d been running away weekly up until the chains, so I’d learned what I could carry and what I had to have. This time he didn’t find me.”

“He’d beat you when you came back?” Dawn nodded at his dad when he spoke. “How badly, baby? How badly am I gonna have to make this man pay for hurting you?”

She toyed with her napkin, and Ellis wasn’t sure she was going to tell them. But when she looked at him, her face full of the pain of it, he knew that this man was going to die a horribly slow and painful death.

“They had this set up in the basement. It was to keep me in line, they said. I was tied to the wall, and then my back was exposed. The whip that they used, it was leather and it would bite into my skin like it was trying to come out the other side. And the more I screamed or begged them to stop, the more he’d hit me. Then my aunt would take over when his arm was too tired to go on. After that I’d be cut down and have to clean up the blood that dripped from me before I could go lay down. And even then it wasn’t in a bed; it was a blanket on the floor, or sometimes the towel I’d used to clean with in a cage.” When Dawn lowered her head, Ellis reached over and lifted it up while she finished telling them. “I wouldn’t be able to shift to heal. Didn’t even know that I could until I came here. But they knew. There was all kinds of things they knew that kept me from feeling better or even feeling whole.”

BOOK: Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance
5.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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