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Authors: Kathi S. Barton

Tags: #Erotica, #Paranormal Romance

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BOOK: Trent
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“There are no such things as vampires.” Jefferson
tried not to squirm on his seat, and stared right at Noah. “I don’t know what
you think you’re doing, but I’m not stupid. And I think it’s time that you—”

“I’m a wolf. Not the horror story sort that
you see on television, but I’m one all the same.” Trent stood up then and
walked toward him. “I’m going to show you something. Just please, don’t scream.
We don’t want to bring the house down on us.” He started to tell the man that
he had no intentions of screaming when Trent pulled up his sleeve. In a matter
of seconds, his hand disappeared and was replaced with a thick wolf paw. The
hair on his arm grew and became denser as well. Jefferson whimpered a little
when he put the large paw on his own hand. “I’m as real as you are, and as real
as the fact that Noah is a vampire.”

Jefferson sat very still. He wasn’t sure what
to believe, but Trent moved back from him and he let out a long breath. These
people had to go. But before he could stand up to show them out, TJ spoke
again.

“She was with child, did you know that?” Jefferson
felt his entire body sag. “They didn’t make it known. No one did a test to see
if she was raped or not, but now that I’m thinking on it, I can see why they’d
not do that. She lost it. There had to be a rape, didn’t there, Benny? That
wouldn’t be how she got pregnant of course, but they did very little to find
out who killed her or even why. If that had been one of mine, child or friend,
I would have wanted to exact revenge on them. Hard and fast. But you waited…why
is that?”

“Benny died that day. I knew she was…the baby
wasn’t mine, if that’s what you’re thinking. But the police…they told me if I
kept my mouth shut on what I’d seen then they’d not arrest me for tampering
with evidence.” He reached in his bottom desk drawer and handed TJ the file
he’d kept all these years, adding to it when he found things, taking out
information that wasn’t right. “The officer on duty, he accused me of killing
her. Had me in cuffs as they walked around her little living room, messing with
her things. Said that it was why I’d redressed her and made sure that she
wasn’t like that when they got there. I did do that. I…she was so exposed, and
I knew that she’d hate that more than anything. But I didn’t kill her, and
after a while, they left me alone.”

“How did they know for sure you didn’t kill her?
I don’t think you did either, but there had to be a reason for them to have let
you off for it.”

He nodded at TJ, then looked at Trent. “A man
told me he could not smell me on her, not sexually. I had no idea what he meant
until years later, when I figured out that Joe wasn’t human either. She…she was
my friend as well.” Noah told him that she was marrying Trent. “I liked her a
great deal, still do. And you. You never treated me as a child. And when I told
you that day that I loved her, you didn’t say I was too young or that it wasn’t
love. You were…nice to me. Not like Max was. Still is for that matter. You
treated me like a person, not a kid still in diapers.”

“You loved her, of that I have no doubt.” Jefferson
nodded at TJ and then pulled out another file, this one filled with pictures.

“When the police took away her body—wrapped
her up like she was nothing more than the afternoon trash—I snuck back in the
room and took what I could. There wasn’t much. She didn’t have much in the way
of personal things. A few pictures and some small cheap jewelry. The place that
she lived belonged to my father and she paid him rent.” He handed him the first
of many pictures that he’d taken from the apartment that day. “That was of us.
We’d been out for the day…I was showing her the sights. We weren’t…we were
friends, not lovers. The child she carried belonged to someone I think she knew
briefly.”

“Did you see who killed her?” He nodded at
Noah, knowing for some reason that this man would understand his anger more
than others. “Was it Ford? Is he not just responsible for her death but her
losing her child as well?”

“He’d gone back to her place several days
after the ad had come out in the paper. My father was furious about it, that one
of his tenants had been bothered by such a man. My parents liked Sydney and
sort of knew that I was…we were friends, and my parents didn’t have a problem
with us being together. I could talk to her when I couldn’t them. When Max, as
he goes by now, came around the afternoon that the article came out about him,
my father ran him off with a shotgun. It was a sight that I’ll never forget.”
He grinned at the memory. “Then that night while the household slept and my
parents were out with some friends, I went to see her. We often talked well
into the night. She would tell me about talks that she had with you, and I
would tell her of my plans to be a rich and famous person. One that could take
her away from all that. She told me of her child that night.”

He remembered the conversation as if he were there
again. “I’m going to have a baby. It’s not with a person that I love, but a
mistake that I made. I want to keep it, but I’m afraid that I just can’t raise
a baby. I can barely raise the rent.” She’d meant it as a joke, but he didn’t
laugh. “If only you were a little older, Benny. I’d let you care for me.”

“I will.” She shook her head and told him it
was too late for them. “No, it can’t be. I’m in love with you, and will be
forever.”

Her face had looked so sad that he had felt
his heart twist up. He knew that she was going to tell him he was nothing more
than a baby and much too young to care for himself, much as she’d said about
herself.

“And I love you as well, but not like a woman
would a man she will keep in her heart like that. You are and will forever be
my best friend. I will call on you when I’m in need, and you’ll come to me
then. But this baby? I can’t raise it alone. I’m going to have to give it up.
I’ve no way of supporting a child right, and I want the very best for it. I
can’t do that. Neither can you, and you know it. We are both victims of our
circumstances.” He’d not understood her then, but he did think about her words
often. Looking at the men in front of him again, shaking off the memory of her
words, he finished his story.

“It was well after midnight when I went home
to get something for her. I had taken to writing down prose, and she would tell
me where I’d misspelled something or what needed work. As I was returning, I
heard her speaking. I thought she was on the phone, but when I came all the way
into her living room, I could see Max there.” Jefferson remembered thinking at
the time he should have gone and called his dad. Every time he thought of Max
and Sydney that night, he knew that he’d been just as responsible for her death
as Max had been. Maybe more so.

Jefferson got up to pace. He could no longer
sit there and have them…they would think him a coward. He did that often
enough. So he paced so that he’d not have to see their faces when he told them
the rest of what had happened that night.

“Max told her that it was her fault that he’d
been run out of town. He blamed her for his landlord demanding his rent too.
Something I guess he’d let go for a few months, I found out later. I also found
out a great many things, but.... When she told him that she had done it, taken
out the ad in the paper and would again, he slapped her.” His steps grew slower
as he remembered it all. “As she lay there, bleeding from her head, he tied her
arms above her head and then cut her clothing off. When she woke, screaming at
him, he took a pillow and stuffed it over her face while he…he—”

“He raped her.” Jefferson nodded at Trent. “Go
on. What did he do next? There were cuts to her leg and a wound on her head.”

“She hit the fireplace when she went down. I
think that was what had knocked her out at first. The cut on her leg happened
when Max used a knife to cut away her clothing. I saw him cut deeply into her,
then laugh about it.” He waited for them, any of them, to ask him why he’d not
saved her, but they all sat there, waiting on him to finish. “After he raped
her, she bled a great deal. I think that might have been when she lost her
child. But when he stood up, pulling his clothing back on himself, I could see
that she was dead. Her chest no longer moved when he moved the pillow off her
face.”

“Did he see you?” Jefferson shook his head at
Noah’s question. “You did the right thing, Jefferson. Had you gone in there
with him, tried to help her in any way, you would have died as well. You know
that, don’t you?”

“I could have saved her.” He broke down then,
admitting for the first time in his short life that he’d done nothing to help
her. He sobbed, like the child he’d been all those years ago when he’d let the
only woman he’d ever love lay there and be killed. “She lay there, broken and
bleeding, and I did nothing.”

“But you did. You saved her dignity and you
were her friend. Are you the one that put the marker on her grave?” He nodded,
not knowing how Noah would have been able to find that out. “I went to the city
records and did some digging. I found that a person who wanted to remain
anonymous had requested her ashes, and they were buried soon after. I knew that
it had to be you when we starting putting two and two together. That was very
kind of you. I wish I could have helped you with that. It was a great
undertaking that you’ve done for her.”

“She might be alive had I done something
sooner.” TJ told him that he’d be dead too, that Max was a ruthless bastard. “You
don’t know the half of it. He’s a slimy bastard too. And more than that, I
think that he’s killed more than just Sydney. Also, I wanted to say that I’m
glad that you pulled from the deal when you did. I didn’t know until after the
fact what he was up to with your company. I want to ruin him, but not at the
expense of others.”

“What is he up to, do you know?” Jefferson
nodded at Trent and went to his desk again and pulled out a small remote. The
projector slid from the wall at the press of a button, and he touched his
fingers to the camera behind him. “That’s quite impressive, if I do say so myself.”

“It was in the house when I bought it. I fell
in love with watching old reel to reels that I would find. Sorry, but this is
just a thumb drive of a conversation that I got when Max had a meeting in his
office. And yes, I bugged his offices and his home, as well as his cars and
some of his jewelry. I know everything there is to know about the man.” He
grinned at Trent when he told him he needed him to come work for him. “My
parents were indulgent and got me all the newest gadgets that came along. I
miss them dearly, but they left me very comfortable. I will help you with
projects…it would be my pleasure to do so. But this conversation, it was taken
a few weeks ago.”

As the video ran, he sat down and watched them
instead of the recording. He knew it by heart, every word, every gesture, as
well as the amount of money that was exchanged between the two men. There
wasn’t anything in there that could be used in a court of law, but plenty
enough to make these men aware of the bastard they had nearly done business
with.

Max had made a deal with the devil. Not only
that, but he’d really fucked everyone over in a very short amount of time while
he’d been at it. This man was there to get the money that had been earmarked to
pay the retirement funds of the people that worked for them. The money was
going to an overseas account, and this man was only one of several who was
sending it there for him. Jefferson had put it back and kept Max from it, but
it did show how ruthless and terrible a person Max really was. Then he watched
Trent carefully when Max talked about the loan he was getting from the man’s
firm.

“Christ, he was going to take it all and
run.” Jefferson nodded at Trent. “I would have been bankrupt. I mean…Christ, I
would have gone to jail if this hadn’t been stopped. He was saying things…the
man was going to ruin me. And for what? A few million dollars? What the fuck
was I supposed to do? I can’t believe this.”

“He would have killed you as well. It’s the
way that he does things.” He handed him the last sheet of paper. “And he has a
list of men that were to murder you so he could collect on the insurance policy
that he’d taken out on you. I’ve taken the liberty of cancelling the hits and changing
the beneficiaries to your parents’ names. I do hope that is all right.”

Trent nodded as they rewound and watched the
video again. The man in the shot was now dead; he’d been killed a few days ago.
Jefferson wasn’t sure who had done it, but he was reasonably sure it had been
Max. The man had wanted his money up front, and Max didn’t have it…and never
would. Now he was lying in a morgue without a name to go with his body, and
Jefferson was sure, like with Sydney, there were many more bodies.

“I’m going to ruin the man. I’m going to make
sure that he pays for every crime that I’ve found on him. And when he’s caught,
I’m going to tell him just who I am.” Noah said he’d like to help. “I think I’d
like that.”

 

Chapter 7

 

“I should like to talk to you, Trent.” To be
honest, Noah was sort of nervous about the big wolf and talking to him about
Joe. “There are some things that I think I need to clear up with you.”

“I’ve already told her that her money is fine
where it is. It’s ours. Both of ours. She made me understand that.” Noah
wondered how that had gone over, and nearly burst out laughing when the young
pup frowned before continuing. “I won’t make that mistake again. Our money is
just that, our money. She’s very touchy about that, isn’t she?”

“Yes. That stems, I believe, from not having
much. She’s worked very hard at getting where she is, and I think that the two
of you will do well with her knowledge of business and other things. But that
wasn’t what I meant to tell you. It’s about her powers.” Trent asked him just
how much Joe was worth. “Quite a bit. Even by my standards, she has a good deal
of money. Billions by now, I would guess. As I said, she’s been working hard to
save her—”

“You mean millions.” Noah covered his mouth
to hide the smile and shook his head. “You said billions, but I think you meant
millions, right? I mean, not that millions isn’t a lot, but billions is a
fucking lot.”

“Yes, I’m well aware of how much billions is.
And she has a few of them. Last I had any knowledge of it, I think it was right
around seven. Probably more by now.” Noah grabbed Trent as his knees simply
gave out on him. When he was safely in the chair, Noah sat as well. “She will
be most upset with me if you faint away while in my care. And I have a great
many things to tell you as yet.”

“I thought you were joking with me. I knew
she had a lot saved. She told me that you paid her well and that she was good
at investing in companies. I mean, you know, millions of dollars is a lot for
even the average person to save. She has been around for a while now and would
have been able to save a great deal, I guess. And she told me that she watches
trends and markets. I’m babbling, I’m sorry. I’m not usually so disjointed when
I talk.” Noah told him that was what he wanted to talk to him about. “Trends or
markets? Because if it’s about a loan, I’ve made a deal with my brother and
he’s taking over the business. I’m sorry.”

“No. It’s about being around for a long time.
You will be too.” Trent nodded. Noah knew he was still thinking about the
amount of money that Joe had amassed. “You’re like her, in a great many things.
Like immortality. And a few other perks. Like you can heal much faster. As a
wolf, you could anyway, but now it will be as if you are healing as you—”

“What did you say?” Noah told him. “No. Not
the healing part. The immortality part. I’m not an immortal. Joe told me that
she was, because of something you did to her. But I’m only a human, and, while
I’ll live a little longer than a regular person, I’m going to die.”

“No, you won’t. You’re just like Joe. All of
her. The moment you accepted her blood into your body as her mate, you became
as she is. It’s one of the things that I was able to give her as my friend too.”
Trent was shaking his head. “You didn’t expect to die in a few years and leave
her, did you? It’s the way that things work with our kind. Well, my kind. I’m
very powerful. I’ve been around for a very long time, Trent, longer than Joe by
a great many centuries.”

“She’s a watcher, not a vampire.” Noah told
him that it was day walker, not watcher. “What’s the difference?”

“A day walker affords all the benefits of
being a vampire but doesn’t have to drink blood, nor does the sun bother her. A
watcher is someone that has been risen from the dead, a person who only does
what his master commands him to do and will kill anything and everything that
comes between him and his master, and is loyal only to him. Ever. Joe has never
died. She is not…I think you call them zombies. She is not one of those…she’s a
day walker. For me.”

“And so…I’m sorry, but I’m trying to
understand this.” Noah told him it was fine. He was actually enjoying watching the
man work through his fears. “So what happens to her should you…you die or be
killed? Will she die as well?”

“No. She’s an immortal. As are you. The only
way to kill you—and it’s not something that happens anymore—is that you would
have to be beheaded ‘on consecrated ground by a man of the cloth who has no
sins of his own.’ The last part is what most people fail on. Even if they are a
good clergy, they have some small sin in their past. Very few people could say
that they have no sins. When I die, and I would imagine I will one day, I will
simply meet the sun and Joe will continue as if nothing happened. I do hope
that she will shed a small tear for me, but I don’t know.”

Noah had hoped for a laugh, or at the very
least a small smile. But the poor boy was having trouble wrapping his mind
around everything right now. When he got up to go to the window, Noah watched
him.

There was a calmness about Trent now that
hadn’t been there before meeting Joe. Noah knew, from Trent’s father, that
Trent had been stressed long before the heart attack that had brought the
entire family to their knees. And like the rest of the family, Noah was glad
for the couple, happy that they were so much in love.

Noah liked Trent. A great deal. Had he been
able to pick a mate for his Joe, this would have been the perfect man for her.
He was smart, but willing to admit when he was wrong. He had money…not as much
as Joe, but he wasn’t poor either. A home, a good solid family, and as far as
Noah could see, he loved Joe. Very much so.

“Can we have children?” Noah told him that
they could have as many as they wished for as long as they wanted. “And will
they be like us? Immortal as well?”

“Yes.” Noah was almost fearful of the next
confession he had. “As are your parents and brothers. I did not think that
you’d want to watch them grow old and die any more than I would. I have come to
love your family very much.”

“And they have you as well. But this is a lot
to take in.” Noah said he’d come to it sooner rather than later. “We have this
thing with Max and Jefferson. I’ve sold my business and now I have a mate. And
I have a meeting with the alpha in a few days, which is going to be all right, I
think, but something more that I have to deal with right now. I’m not sure how
much more I can take on and still be…well, okay with it all. Just so you know,
you’re going to tell my family what you’ve done. And so we’re on the same page
here, I don’t think they’re going to take it any better than I did, and that
wasn’t really all that well.”

“I will tell them. Perhaps in an email or on
the phone. And all these things will work themselves out.” Trent asked him if
he really believed that. “Not really, but it did sound pretty good, don’t you
think?”

“I don’t think I like you very—” Every part
of his body tensed. Noah stood up too when the man looked at him. “Joe is in
trouble.”

Trent’s shift from man to beast was immediate
and profoundly beautiful. As he leapt though the door that led out onto the
deck, leaving glass and splinters of wood in his wake, Noah reached for his
child and hit a hard wall. Before he could try and punch though the barrier,
both TJ and his wife came into the room, their fear as evident as it had been
on young Trent’s face before he left. Noah told them what Trent had said before
he’d left them. When they turned to the now broken door, they all watched as
five more wolves headed in the direction that Trent had gone.

“They’ll get to her.” Noah tried again to
reach for Joe as Christine soothed her own frayed nerves by talking softly to
them. “Whatever it is, they’ll protect her.”

~~~

Joe didn’t panic. Never. But right now, with
all this going on around her, it was all she could do not to give in to it. The
bank that she was in, and had been in millions of times over the years, was
being robbed. And they were doing so without care for who they killed or hurt.

Two were dead already, and one was hurt so
badly that Joe knew that without immediate medical attention, they would also be
on the list of the dead. There were many others that were bleeding, some not so
badly, others bad enough that she feared for them as well. The robbers had come
in, shot several of the patrons, and had ordered them on the floor as the doors
were being locked down.

After contacting Trent to tell him why she
was going to be delayed, he told her that he was coming to her. She had felt
better after hearing that, but now she was worried for his safety as well as
those with her. It had been an hour since she’d first called out to him, and
now he was telling her that the police were doing all that they could. She had
no more faith in them than she did the robbers.

She felt the small touch of Trent against her
mind before he asked her if she was all right.
I am. I’ve tried to figure
out how many men are here as you asked me to do. There are four that I’ve
counted, but I know there are more. One of them is using a cell phone to talk
to someone, but they aren’t here where I am. Do you suppose that there are
others out there where you are?

The police have stumbled onto them. I don’t
know who they’re talking to in there, but it’s not the guys out here. One of
them is dead and the other isn’t talking. Or I should say that he can’t. They’re
taking him to the hospital now. How many customers are there in the bank, do
you think
?
She told him there were nine with her and two of them were dead.
The bank
manager one of the living?

He’s alive and sitting across from me. He’s
been hit but not terribly so. I think he is more worried for his face than what
is going on right now. He has asked the man next to him if it will leave a mark
several times. Do you suppose that he’s in on this?

I’ve been talking to a few of the officers
out here, and they’re thinking that he was but has since changed his mind. I
don’t know why they’d know that, but that’s what I’ve been able to find out.
She asked him if they
were going to get them out of there before the idiots started shooting again.
You
just sit tight, love, we’re coming for you.

For some reason Joe thought that he wasn’t
working with the police on this rescue. And if he was, it was going to be by
his rules and not theirs. When she looked around the room again, she had a
thought about the people there with her and wondered if any of them were
working with the robbers as well. Reaching into the mind of the manager, she
found out a great deal more than she’d bargained for.

The manager is in on it. And he’s also the
one that called the police. The combination of the vault that the robbers want
into has been changed, and he doesn’t know who might have done it. He thinks
he’s only alive because they believe he knows the way in, but is holding out
for more money.
He
asked her how she knew that and she told him.
I reached into his mind. Also,
he’s been going to the vault several times a day and taking out some cash for
himself. He’s afraid now that whoever changed the locking code also knows about
his theft, and he might go to prison. I think that’s a good possibility, don’t
you?

Oh yeah, that’s a done deal. Honey, in a few
minutes we’re coming in. There is a wolf on the force that is going to let us
walk into the basement that will lead us to you and the people that are on the
floor you’re on.
She
told him again that she had no idea who else was in the building.
I don’t
know either, but there are six of us as wolves, and we’re not waiting around
for someone else to get hurt.

When you enter the building, close your eyes
and then when you open them, I think I can see what you see. I’ve never done it
before, but Noah said that it was one of the things he’d given me to keep me
safe.
He
told her Noah had said he had the same powers she had, and asked her if she
thought he could do it as well.
That’s wonderful. Yes, you can do it. Just
concentrate on what heartbeats you can hear coming close to you. Then you can
reach out to them and see if they are friend or foe by entering their mind. Don’t
push. If you do, you can hurt them.

All right. I can do that.
He paused for several
minutes.
We’re in the building. Elijah and I are going to take the floor
that you’re on, and Sterling and Randal are going up to the third floor. Scott
and Tanner are going to stay here to keep anyone from coming in or going out
that shouldn’t be.

She told him to be careful.
And when you
come to this floor, let me know and I’ll see if I can tell you where the men
with guns are.

The woman next to her started sobbing, which
she’d been doing off and on for the last hour, and it was starting to make Joe
nervous. The noise alone was enough to make her want to smack the woman, but
when she started wailing, Joe wanted to tell her to shut up and stop acting
like a baby.

Stretching her neck, she saw a movement out
of the corner of her eye that wasn’t Trent or his brothers. She had no idea how
she knew that, but she knew as surely as she was sitting there that it wasn’t
any of them. The big wolf moved along the desks, sniffing the chairs, then
moving on. She’d bet anything that it was seeing how many shifters were there
with him. She reached out to let Trent know.

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