Lessons in Purrsuasion: BBW Paranormal Werelion Surprise Pregnancy Mob Romance (Chicago Catastrophe) (3 page)

BOOK: Lessons in Purrsuasion: BBW Paranormal Werelion Surprise Pregnancy Mob Romance (Chicago Catastrophe)
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Four
Stone


H
ey
, Mike, where you going?” Stone asked as he crossed over the man’s apartment door, lying in splintered pieces on the floor.

Stone shrugged back his shoulders slightly. He might not want to admit it, but it felt good to knock down doors and put the fear of… well, him, back in the local scumbags.

Mike stopped, one foot out the window, to stare at Stone like a deer in headlights. He was a wiry little man with curly, sandy hair.

“Stone, buddy, about that money…” Mike started nervously.

“I know you don’t have any money. You wouldn’t still be living in this shithole if you did,” Stone said, cutting him off.

Mike looked genuinely scared now.

“What do you want then?” he asked, pulling himself back inside.

There was no way he was going to outrun Stone and they both knew it.

“I need to track a phone. You help me and maybe I’ll consider us even.”

Mike visibly relaxed.

“Sure, of course, just give me the number,” he said, fishing a laptop out of the bag around his neck.

Stone had to hand it to the little guy. He’d gotten his stuff together fast.

Guess I’m not the only one breaking in as of late,
he thought, considering the destroyed door with some newfound interest.

Perhaps Mike got bulk rates on those things.

Mike was very good at what he did. If only he didn’t like to play cards as much as he did, he might be reliable enough for people to actually hire him without fearing he’d skip out with their money. Which he did, often enough.

Stone had gotten Selina’s number from Joe. Police had only found her keys, her phone was still missing. Most probably her kidnappers had tossed it, but you never knew. The cops had already tried tracking it, but it was shut off. Didn’t hurt to give it another shot, though.

Plus, Stone had learned over the years that sometimes, wanting something enough would be just what was missing. The cops rarely gave a crap and would miss things all the time.

Stone desperately needed a lead, as Joe wasn’t able to give him more than a generic description of the guys that shook them up for money. Thugs like that were a dime a dozen in Chicago.

“So, how you been? You back in the biz?” Mike asked while typing away, throwing wary looks at Stone.

Stone just growled at him.

“Okay, fine, be that way,” Mike huffed with a roll of his eyes.

After a couple more minutes of typing, he motioned Stone closer and turned the screen to face him.

“It’s turned off now, but it was on for about 30 seconds today, in this region,” he said, pointing at the map on his screen.

Stone stared at the red circle blinking on the screen, encompassing an area that was about a couple of hundred yards in diameter. There would be dozens of buildings to look through, and the residents would definitely object to him searching their apartments. Even if he behaved himself better than he had with Mike’s door.

Stone grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled down the number of one of his burner phones, giving it to Mike.

“Call me if it comes online again,” he instructed.

“Will do,” Mike replied, smiling at him nervously.

Stone mumbled a quick ‘thanks’ before rushing off.

“Nice seeing you too!” Mike called after him.

Stone called Joe to get him some personal items of Selina’s so he could pick up a scent. They met back at the bakery, with Joe carrying a whole armful of clothes.

“I didn’t know how much you’d need so I basically raided her laundry hamper,” he shrugged.

Joe also handed him the most recent picture of Selina he could find. It was a close-up of her face. She had pale, creamy skin, starkly contrasting her large, dark hazel eyes and long black hair. The smile she was wearing was genuine and warm.

Stone found himself looking at it a moment too long, before tucking it away in his pocket. He frowned, feeling his lion stir expectantly within him.

Stone took the pile of clothes from Joe, holding it up to his face and taking a deep breath. Selina’s scent was very distinct, sweet but sharp at the same time, with hints of something earthy. One of the items, a beige silk scarf with orange and blue accents, smelled especially strong.

“This was her favorite?” Stone asked, holding it up.

“Yes, how did you… Our parents gave it to her,” Joe said, growing somber.

“I’ve got a pretty solid grasp on her scent, but I’ll take this with me just in case.” Stone looked at Joe for permission.

“Of course, whatever you need,” he responded, staring into space.

“You need to leave now. Wherever you sent the rest of your family, go there.”

“What? No, I’m going with you,” Joe argued.

“I can’t do the job you hired me to do if I have to worry about you. Your family needs you and you need to keep them safe. We don’t know what these guys are up to. Just trust me on this, okay?”

Stone placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder, squeezing. His head still swam with Selina’s scent, seeming to permeate his pores in the most delicious way.

Joe was obviously struggling with the idea of staying behind. It could be read clearly on his expression. Finally, he gave Stone a reluctant nod.

“I will call you the second I have something, I promise,” Stone said, pulling Joe with him as they exited the bakery.

“Now, about that gun collection of yours…” he continued, finally earning a genuine grin from Joe.

* * *

S
tone parked
his rental at the edge of the circle where Selina’s phone had pinged earlier that day.

Riverdale was not a nice neighborhood. High in crime and low on jobs, this seemed as likely of an area as any to keep a kidnapped woman hostage. Stone pulled the scarf out of his pocket and took a quick whiff before starting his prowl. Again, it seemed to go through him like a flash of lightning, shocking him for a moment.

He didn’t want to draw too much attention to himself, though he knew his usually green eyes were turning a golden brown.

The area was full of strong smells, few of them pleasant. Stone pushed his senses outwards, radios, TVs and arguments filling his head. He had drawn up a grid pattern in his head and was going to systematically search every inch he could, without breaking and entering. Every time he passed a dumpster, his pulse quickened a little.

Would he smell decomposing flesh amongst the usual rotten smells? Somehow, the thought horrified him more than it ever should have. He was nowhere near a squeamish kind of guy, but the mental image of finding Selina dead made his stomach knot with fear.

It wasn’t an emotion Stone was accustomed to.

Stone was about a half an hour in with his search when he came upon a pawn shop. It wasn’t a stretch to assume someone had passed on Selina’s phone for some quick cash, best to check the place out. He stepped inside the grimy building.

A balding man in his forties sat behind a pane of security glass, surrounded by all sorts of junk. He gave Stone a curious glance as Stone walked right up to the counter.

“Can I see your phones?” he asked the man.

“Anything particular?” the shopkeeper inquired smoothly.

“Just something that can’t be traced back to me.”

Stone gave the man a conspiratorial grin.

If you go to a pawn shop asking for something specific, they’ll assume whatever you’re looking for was stolen from you. By law, they are obligated to return such items to their rightful owner. That’s too much hassle for your regular pawn shop owner. It’s easier to say you don’t have it and get on with your day.

The man disappeared for a minute before returning with a tray full of cellphones. He slid it towards Stone through the opening in the glass. They were covered in smells from the shop, but one of them had the barest hint of an underlying scent, painfully familiar to him now.

Stone grabbed it to look at it more closely. It was the same brand and model Joe said Selina had, and there was a small crack on its side, as if it had been dropped.

“Who brought in this phone?” Stone growled, holding it up.

The man started to close the hatch of his little safety bubble, taken aback by Stone’s sudden change in mood, but Stone was faster. He reached an arm through the opening and grabbed the man by the shirt, smushing his face against the glass that separated them.

“Don’t make me ask you again,” he warned, sharp fangs protruding from his mouth and his eyes a solid golden yellow now.

To his credit, the man did not make him ask again. He gave Stone a description of the man that brought him the phone, and where the guy liked to hang out. His name was Pete and he was a regular customer.

“This doesn’t belong to you,” Stone said while shoving the cell in his pocket before leaving the pawn shop.

Not too surprisingly, Stone didn’t hear any protests.

It wasn’t long until he found the mostly abandoned apartment building the shop owner had been talking about. Stone stalked through the halls, ears pricked, listening to any movement. He had already banged on a few doors before reaching the final floor, but none of the residents he had found resembled what Pete was supposed to look like.

It’s always in the last place you look
, Stone reminded himself, as he heard rustling behind one of the doors.

He knocked and the door swung open on its own. No lock, just mostly rotten wood. A skinny man with a scraggly beard sat on a dirty mattress in the middle of the room. His eyes darted to Stone as he stomped inside.

“Are you Pete?” Stone thundered.

“Depends,” the man started, but Stone was in no mood.

He dragged the man to his feet with one hand and held the cellphone up to his face with the other.

“I just need to know if you brought this phone to the pawn shop and where you got it from. Tell me and I’ll leave,” he said, as the man squirmed. “And it’s your lucky day, I won’t even hurt you if you behave yourself.”

“Yeah, yeah, alright,” Pete replied, weakly slapping at the hand that held him upright, looking like he’d run this drill one time too many.

He described finding the phone outside Selina’s apartment building the night before last, after ‘visiting a friend’, whatever that meant. He didn’t bother trying to use the keys, because there was a car running in the nearby parking lot and he was too afraid of getting caught.

“What kind of car?” Stone demanded.

It was a long shot, but since the phone hadn’t exactly panned out, it was all he had. Dread pooled within him.

Maybe you’re getting too soft for this,
he thought with some grim amusement, trying to distract himself.

“I don’t know, man, some kind of BMW. I’d never seen one like that, before. Looked kind of like a race car or something… And it was blue,” Pete murmured, his eyes spaced out.

Stone plopped him back on the mattress and did a quick search on his phone.

“Was it this one?” he asked, holding up a picture of the M6 G-Power Hurricane.

“Yeah, that looks like it could be it,” Pete nodded.

A half-million dollar car. The pool of prospective suspects just got a lot smaller.

Five
Selina

A
nother day
, another nightmare.

Selina woke up tired from a night of superficial sleep. It was Friday morning, two days after her kidnapping. Parker had stayed out of her bedroom for now, but she didn’t know how long that would last.

She slept with a pair of nail scissors she managed to lift from the bathroom under her pillow. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had. And she wasn’t about to let Parker put his hands on her without putting up a hell of a fight first.

Parker treated her stay at his penthouse like some sort of extended date, with shared meals and movie nights. Selina carefully molded her behavior to suit his moods, which tended to change rapidly. Tom had brought her a pile of clothing with the tags still on them, so at least she didn’t have to roam around the apartment naked.

There was a knock on her door, indicating it was time to join Parker for breakfast. She quickly got dressed, pulling on a pair of jeans that were tighter around her curves than she was used to and a pale blue blouse with a revealing neckline.

It was the most modest combination out of the options she had. She grabbed a thin little cardigan to throw on top, tugging at it so it covered at least some of her ample chest.

Parker was already seated at the huge oak table in the kitchen area, checking his watch impatiently. His hair looked even lighter than the day before. He’d probably gone and had it bleached.

A catering company came by twice a day, carrying boxes of food for Parker, Selina and the whole security team. It was always the same two people who made the delivery, a middle-aged woman and a tall, fair man in his thirties.

When they first came, Selina tried to mouth ‘help me’ to the man. He considered her with an arched brow before shaking his head in amusement. So much for the little guys sticking together.

“They should be here by now,” Parker frowned with an empty plate in front of him.

The private elevator dinged and two people in white and blue outfits strolled in, the catering company’s logo stitched onto the little pocket on the front on their shirts. Two armed guards followed them, raising the total number of goons in the room to ten. The caterers pushed their food carts full of Styrofoam boxes to the kitchen.

Selina noticed the male caterer was different this time. The fabric of his shirt strained over his bulging muscles.

They’re paid enough to ignore people being held against their will and yet they can’t afford to get this guy a larger shirt?
Selina thought sourly, finding her gaze tracking the man’s movements.

The woman started to unload the boxes as usual, but her hands were shaking, badly.

“Who the hell is this?” Parker demanded pointing towards the unknown man, also having noticed that something was off.

Tom appeared from behind him, hand already on his gun.

“Shaun got sick last minute, I had to get a replacement driver,” the woman said, eyeing the weapon nervously.

“It’s okay, Kevin here has worked for me for years, don’t worry,” she added with a weak smile.

Parker pursed his lips and considered the stranger for a long moment.

Kevin didn’t seem at all alarmed by the situation. If anything, he looked bored by it.

Do all their clients carry guns? Does the mob have its own catering company and this is it?
Selina wondered.

“Fine,” Parker finally bit out, prompting Tom to back off.

Kevin continued stacking the boxes on the counter. For a moment, he looked up and Selina met his gaze. She had to bite down on the inside of her mouth to hush the gasp that wanted to bubble up. His eyes were mesmerizing and suddenly, he looked anything but bored.

She lingered for a moment, staring at him. Something about him as if cut into her, making her take notice and sit up a little straighter. There was an air of something…
safe,
and powerful about him, calling to her like a giant magnet. She forgot to breathe for a touch too long.

Selina averted her gaze, taking a calming breath.

What the hell! Don’t make eyes at the caterer when a crazy tiger is sitting close to you!

The guards stood around patiently, they knew they could only eat once their boss was done with his meal.

The caterers left with the same two guards accompanying them. Parker dug into his full English breakfast while Selina stared at the stack of pancakes in front of her. Parker chose all of her meals and that fact alone made her lose her appetite. Add that to having to play girlfriend to a delusional psycho… Parker threw her an annoyed glance.

“Do we have to have this conversation again?” he asked in between bites.

Selina’s hand instinctively flew to the circle of bruises around her arm, there from the last time she wasn’t enthusiastic enough about her meal.

She put on a smile and started cutting up her food, imagining all kinds of gruesome scenarios, all ending with Parker’s bloody death.

Parker’s cutlery clattered onto his plate.

“What the hell…” he muttered, staring at the counter behind Selina.

She turned to see thick grey smoke billowing out from the Styrofoam boxes, rapidly consuming the apartment.

The elevator doors dinged open with the two guards from before unconscious inside. Kevin rushed out of the small space, ducking behind a wall as the rest of the guards in the room raised their weapons. A hail of bullets followed as the fog continued to sweep across the penthouse. Soon, Selina could barely see more than a couple of feet in front of her.

It burned her lungs and she coughed, finding that only made it worse.

Footsteps converged in the direction of the elevator. Parker crossed over to her, grabbed her arm and started dragging her with him. Selina heard guns clattering to the floor accompanied by pained grunts. One of the guards came sailing through the air, skidding to a stop at her feet as a lump of ineffectual flesh. At that, Parker’s grip loosened for a second and she managed to slip free, stumbling towards what she thought was the exit.

Another hand grabbed her, pulling her forward. Selina struggled against it, yelping.

“Your brother sent me,” the voice attached to the hand said, quiet and urgent.

No, he’s lying,
the voice in Selina’s head warned.

But at this point, she really had nothing to lose. She let herself be dragged along, coughing as she inhaled the smoke. Suddenly, she was moving downwards.

We made it to the elevator,
she thought, her heart pounding.

After a minute or two, the elevator doors burst open, the smoke clearing. They were outside. Selina looked at the man beside her, her brows scooting upwards as she recognized him.

It was Kevin and her heart skipped a beat.

He pulled her into a car waiting at the curb, keys already in the ignition. They peeled out of there before Selina could even reach for her seatbelt, tires screeching. Selina could hear shouting from behind them as Tom rushed out of the building, followed by a couple of the guards.

Apparently they didn’t want to cause more of a scene than they already had, because they settled on ‘only’ shooting at them a couple of times.

Selina turned to stare at the man beside her. Kevin’s eyes were focused on the road, knuckles white on the steering wheel. He was still wearing the blue and white shirt, but it was now splattered with red. There were some scratches on his tan arms, but he looked otherwise unharmed.

He had thick, inky hair, shorter on the sides and shooting upwards at the top. High cheekbones gave way to a square, clean-shaven jaw. When he glanced at her, she could see his eyes were a mesmerizing pale green. She hadn’t been able to tell the color before from across the room.

There was something familiar about him, she realized now, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

“Are you alright?” he asked with a surprisingly gentle voice.

“Depends how you define ‘alright’. Who are you? I’m guessing you’re not ‘Kevin the caterer’?” Selina asked, a thousand different questions running through her head.

“I’m Stone,” the man responded, weaving around traffic at dangerous speeds.

“You’re a what?”

“My name is Stone Calloway and I’m a friend of your brother’s,” he said, pulling a silk scarf from his pants pocket and dropping it in her lap.

Selina recognized it immediately as hers.

“A gift from your parents,” he commented, eyes fixed on the road.

Selina suddenly realized why he had seemed familiar. He was in one of the pictures in Joe’s apartment, a group of uniformed men in the middle of a desert.

Okay, so he’s probably not lying
.

“Is my family okay?” she asked, trying to settle her thoughts.

“They’re fine. In hiding,” Stone said, yanking the wheel to make a sudden turn.

Selina went flying into the passenger door before gathering herself and quickly fastening her seatbelt.

“Can you take me to them?” she asked, allowing herself to believe this nightmare could actually be over.

“Once we get somewhere safe I’ll call Joe and get their location,” Stone replied.

After a while of driving in shared silence, they pulled into a small parking lot behind a shady-looking motel.

Stone turned in his seat to look Selina up and down. One look from him had her at attention. While Parker seemed to bully people into fearing him, Stone seemed to have a presence about him that immediately commanded whatever room he was in. Or car, as was the case now.

“You don’t look like you’ve been tortured… Don’t take this the wrong way, but why are you still alive?” he asked, catching Selina off-guard.

It
is
a valid question
, she thought, putting her somewhat bruised feelings aside.

“Parker, the dude in charge, he kept rambling on about how I was going to be his mate and then something about cubs and…”

A disgusted shiver ran down her back.

“I mostly tried to block it out,” she ended.

“Shit,” Stone mumbled under his breath.

“I can’t take you to your family,” he added more clearly a moment later.

Selina’s stomach sank.

BOOK: Lessons in Purrsuasion: BBW Paranormal Werelion Surprise Pregnancy Mob Romance (Chicago Catastrophe)
6.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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