Authors: Rayne Rachels
Bryant Station Curves
Copyright © 2014 Rayne Rachels and RAKC Books
All rights reserved.
For more information about the author, please visit http://raynerachels.blogspot.com
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are the product of the Author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
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Courtney stared out the window at the passing scenery. “Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” She looked at the man driving the huge SUV. His short military cut did little to hide the red highlights in his brown hair. His skin still supported a dark tan, even though it was the middle of winter. Scott Anderson was an extremely good-looking man. Even the scar on his right check did not detract from his handsome face. Instead, it left people with a sense of dangerous mystery.
She knew the aura of danger and mystery surrounding him was not an illusion. It was real. The man was as dangerous and deadly as the animal sharing his soul. Yet, he treated her with a gentle kindness.
“You will be safer in Bryant Station, especially with my brother and cousins there.” He glanced at her. “Don’t worry. Everything will be okay. Who knows, one of them just might be your mate.” He grinned at her. His green eyes twinkled.
Courtney felt her cheeks heat. “I’m not looking for anyone, especially a mate. That’s absolutely the last thing I need right now.” Images of Jared flashed through her mind. A shiver ran down Courtney’s spine. She had one stalker and that was enough problems.
“Finding your mate wouldn’t be a bad thing.” Scott wrinkled his nose against the sour scent filling the vehicle. It angered him. Courtney was beautiful. She deserved to be happy, not afraid.
“Says you, the confirmed bachelor.” Courtney looked back out the passenger window. She bit her bottom lip, and did her best to roll her fear into a tiny ball and shove it to the back of her mind. She knew the sour smell irritated Scott and his bear. Courtney did not want to be any more trouble than she already was to him. Being dependent on anyone irked her, but she had no idea how to fix her problem on her own.
Scott reached over and took one of her hands into his. “You can’t compare a mate to him. A mate will love and cherish you. A mate will give his life to protect you because you are everything to him…his friend, his lover, the mother of his cubs. Jared
doesn’t want any of those things. He wants to control and use you.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of. Hagen has already died because of me. I won’t let anyone else to die, especially a mate.” Courtney blinked several times. She refused to cry anymore. She was not one of those females who whined and cried about everything. She was stronger than that, but since Hagen’s funeral, crying seemed to be all she did. It was as if something had broken inside her.
Scott squeezed her hand. “Shifters, especial Kodiak bear shifters, are harder to kill.”
Courtney gave him a weak smile. “So you’ve told me.” She squeezed his hand back. “Ever since Hagen’s funeral, I’ve felt so lost. My entire family is gone. It’s just me.” Courtney shook her head. “I’ve been thinking about Hagen’s wreck. It
wasn’t an accident. I know there’s no physical proof, but I have a gut feeling Jared somehow caused Hagen’s accident.”
“I think you’re right.” Scott growled. He mentally shook his head. Courtney knew more than he thought she did, but her grief and fear were muddying up the water, so to speak.
“Why? Why would he kill my brother?”
“He wants you alone and vulnerable. It’s the only explanation.”
Courtney sighed. “Get rid of the girl’s family and she will be easy to seduce because she won’t have anyone to turn to for help, except him.” She looked out the window and wiped away several tears. It was hard to accept her brother died because a man was obsessed with her and refused to take no for an answer.
Scott glanced at Courtney. He thought about the phone call, he had gotten six months ago from Hagen. The call surprised him, though it should not have. When he and Hagen got out of the Marines, Scott had told him to call if he ever needed anything. It was not idle talk. He meant it.
Though not blood related, they were brothers born on the battlefield. Hagen, though not a shifter, had known Scott was a bear shifter, just like he sensed and knew other things ordinary humans didn’t know about the other world surrounding them
In the phone call, Hagen told Scott he had a problem he needed help with, but did not want to go into details over the phone. Scott agreed to meet him and made the trip to Amarillo. He felt odd being back in Texas after all the years he spent living in other states and overseas. He talked to his family on a regular basis, but it was not the same as actually seeing them, and being in Texas made him homesick—more homesick than he realized.
People enjoying the sunshine, filled the park where he was supposed to meet Hagen. Even with the crowd, it did not take long for Scott to find his friend.
You doing okay?” Hagen held out his hand.
Scott clasped it. “Hagen.” He stared at the man standing in front of him. It had only been six months since he last saw him, but Hagen was different. His sandy blond hair hung in shaggy layers below his ears. It looked like it
had not been cut since the last haircut the Marines gave him. However, Hagen’s eyes bothered him the most. Scott saw worry, fear, determination, and acceptance of death in their depths.
The worry, fear, and determination were not what bothered Scott. It was the acceptance of
death, that had him worried. Too many times, Scott had seen the same look in the eyes of fellow soldiers just before they went into battle. The soldiers accepted their fate. They knew they would n0t live through the fight. It was the exact same look in Hagen’s eyes—a look that should not be there.
“Thanks for meeting me.” Hagen scanned the park.
“You want to go over there and sit down?” Scott gestured toward several empty picnic tables. He looked around too, but didn’t see any sort of possible danger. Even his bear didn’t sense anything out of the ordinary.
“No.” Hagen shook his head. “Courtney is in the truck. I
can’t leave her alone. It’s not safe.”
Scott frowned. He knew Hagen was protective of his younger sister, but something was
growled his bear.
He reeks of it. I
don’t understand. He has never been like this, not even when we were under fire.
His bear grunted.
Scott glanced at the truck. A strawberry blonde sat in the driver’s seat. The pictures Hagen had shown him while they were over seas did not do her justice. She was beautiful, and she did not look too happy. “What’s wrong?”
Hagen sighed. “I need help protecting Courtney.”
Scott raised an eyebrow. “And who does she need protection from?”
Hagen stared at Scott.
“Not who, but what.”
“You’re going to have to be more specific than that. You’re not making any sense.”
Hagen’s eyes traveled to his sister. “Something is stalking Courtney. I don’t know what it is, but it is not human and it reeks of evil. Whatever it is, it wants her and it will do anything to get her. I can’t let that happen. I have to protect her.”
“What do you need me to do?” Scott did not even hesitate.
“It has already tried to kill me because I’m the only thing standing between it and Courtney. If something happens to me, I need you to protect her. Do whatever you need to do, but keep Courtney safe. She has to live and find her mates.”
“I’ll take care of her.” Scott did not question Hagen’s prophecy. Too many times Hagen’s prophecies had saved their asses. He knew somehow Hagen
was blessed with foresight, just as his nephew, Ben, was blessed with foresight and the ability to speak to the Great Mother Bear.
Relief filled Hagen’s face. “It appears to be a man when it’s stalking Courtney. He is a source of evil
like I’ve never seen or sensed before, and we’ve come across all sorts of evil in our tours. You have to watch out for him. I’m trying to figure out a way to stop him, but I haven’t come up with anything yet.”
The three went to a local diner and made plans. Courtney was not happy. She did not want anyone getting hurt because of her and her problems.
Scott moved into their apartment, pretending to be Courtney’s new boyfriend. A week later, Hagen died when his truck went off the road and slammed into a tree. The police ruled it an accident, but Scott knew better. After the funeral, Courtney and Scott worked to settle Hagen’s estate. After several months, Scott convinced Courtney to move to Bryant Station with him.
* * *
“Jared is the worst kind of evil there is. He’s an ancient evil and that makes him extremely dangerous.”
Courtney’s words broke into Scott’s thoughts. “What did you say?”
“There’s an oil evil surrounding him.” She looked at Scott. “I don’t want anyone else getting hurt or killed because of me. I want you to drop me off in the next town.”
Scott glanced at her. “You want me to do what?”
“I want you to drop me off before we get to Bryant Station. I don’t care where you drop me off. You can stop the SUV right now and I’ll get out.”
“And why do you want me to do this?” His grip on the steering wheel tightened.
Courtney’s chin quivered. “I’m tired of running. I have to face him and put an end to this. He is my problem. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt or killed because of me. I’ve already lost Hagen. I’m not losing you or anyone else.”
Scott’s skin started itching. He felt his bear pushing to get out. “You can’t sacrifice yourself.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
Scott growled. He gave his bear a mental shove. “You’re going to Bryant Station.”
Courtney shook her head. “It’s better if I face him alone.”
“You don’t know what you’re dealing with.”
“Do you?” Courtney looked at Scott.
“Then pull over so I can get out.”
“No, I’m not doing it.”
“It’s my decision. Not yours.” Courtney stubbornly crossed her arms.
“You are my responsibility.” Scott forced himself to relax his grip on the steering wheel.
“I’m not your responsibility.”
“Hagen asked me to take care of you, and I told him I would. That makes you my responsibility.”
Scott shook his head. “I’m not dropping you anywhere. You are going with me to Bryant Station. I will protect you.”
Courtney glared at him, but did not say anything.
Want to rip evil apart
, growled Scott’s bear.
Join the club.
I’m worried about Courtney.
She not our mate.
His bear sat down. It sounded disappointed.
isn’t, but we must protect her.
She belongs with bears. We protect her for her mates.
Scott was glad his bear was in agreement with him. It made his life easier when his bear agreed with him. “We will be in Bryant Station in about an hour. Why don’t you try to get some
Courtney nodded. She leaned her head against the headrest and closed her eyes. “Stubborn bear,” she muttered.
“You have no idea.”
* * *
Jared twisted his head from one side to the other. The sound of bones popping echoed in the narrow hallway leading to Courtney’s apartment. His thoughts drifted over the last six months. With her brother out of the way, she should have been easy to seduce. She should already be huge with his spawn, and she would have been if it were not for the bear that moved in with her.
Fucking bear shifters!
He hated them and the goddess who spawned and protected them.
His eyes narrowed. Once he removed the bear protecting Courtney, he would have the means to destroy all bear shifters. The spawn he
sired with Courtney would make it possible. She was the key to reclaiming the world and remaking it in his image.
Jared reached for the doorknob just as the door behind him opened.
“Are you the new tenant?”
Jared slowly turned around.
“I hope you’re not into wild parties or loud music. I like my peace and quiet.” A short, bald headed man stood in the doorway.
“I’m not the new tenant.” Jared frowned. “I am here to see Courtney Greenwood.”
“You’re a little late for that.” The man started to close his door.
Jared moved, surprising the bald man with his speed. “What do you mean?”
“I…uh…” The man trembled.
Jared’s nostrils flared. Sweet waves of fear rolled off the bald man, making Jared’s mouth water.
“I didn’t mean anything.” The man finally got the words out. He stepped back and tried slamming the door shut.
“I don’t think so.” Jared put out his hand, preventing the door from closing. He smiled at the frightened man. “You are going to tell me what you know about Courtney.”
“I…I…I don’t know anything.” Sweat rolled off the man’s shiny head. He stepped back and tried closing the door again.
Jared laughed and shook his head. “I don’t think so.” He shoved the door open with a force that sent the man flying across the room. He hit the far wall and slowly slid down it. Jared stepped inside the apartment, and shut the door behind him.