Rowan’s wolf was restless. Lying next to the woman he already knew owned him body and soul, he decided to stretch his legs and maybe let his wolf out. Knowing he was able to become a furry beast, and accepting the fact was becoming easier with each passing second.
He slid out of bed, admiring Lyric’s naked form. His body responded to the sight of her luscious curves. The thought of sliding between her thighs and waking his mate back up almost had him doing just that, but a feeling something wasn’t right made him dress in record time. Easing out into the hallway, he wished there was a way to bar the door, other than breaking the lock, but he didn’t want to prevent Lyric from getting out in case of an emergency.
His wolf scratched at his mind, wanting to be let out. Rowan allowed the beast to surface, just enough to help him navigate the halls he’d never been in. The dimly lit walkways inclined as if they were leading back toward the surface a bit. He came to a halt outside a huge steel door where another state-of-the-art keypad was located. The camera showed him several men in camo searching around the surface near the entrance. Rage threatened to consume him at the thought of them breaking into the safe house where he and his mate were sleeping.
He punched in the code Lyric had used to access the other door, unimpressed when the thick door’s bolts could be heard unlocking. His wolf’s hearing picked up the men above moving down the hidden entrance toward him. Making sure he locked the door behind him, Rowan let more of his beast out, preparing to meet them. He’d protect what was his, and the people behind him were his, especially Lyric, his mate.
“Hello, boys. Can I help you?” he asked, his voice more gravelly with the wolf half of him taking up residence.
Four men skidded to a halt on the wet leaves, their camo proving they’d planned to blend into the foliage.
“We only want to talk to the leader.” One of the men held a black nightstick, tapping it against his thigh.
Rowan grunted. “And you thought sneaking around in the dark would get you an audience with the alpha, much less would get you a sit down that didn’t include him beating your ass?” Rowan kept to the shadows, knowing they couldn’t see his face or the fact he’d partially shifted. He couldn’t scent shifter on any of them, not like he could when he’d first met Lyric’s pack.
“We were told if we proved ourselves, they’d allow us to become one of them.” A younger man said hesitantly.
The man with the long rod knocked it against his thigh, and a crackling sound reached Rowan’s ears. With speed, he struck the man closest to him in the throat, lifting him into his arms and launching him at the man with the nightstick. The youngest of the group saw what was clearly the leaders go down and reached for his own Taser. Hating to hurt the young man, Rowan backhanded him. He felt a shock hit him in the back and twisted to see the last man standing, a look of triumph on his face. Rowan ripped the prongs out of his back, pulling the man to him. The man began to struggle, jerking a knife from his belt faster than Rowan had expected.
“I thought this was supposed to be a…gathering intel mission,” he spat. “But, it’s you or me, asshole.” The knife swung in a wide arc, slicing into Rowan’s chest. The burn left in its wake was minimal, enraging more than anything.
“Ah, little man, they should’ve sent more than pups in after the big boys,” Rowan taunted, letting the man see his contorted face for the first time. “Now, you will take me to the men who sent you.”
The faint scent of urine hit Rowan’s nostrils. “What are you?”
Rowan grabbed the zip ties from the man’s belt, shaking his head at the absurdity, and tied him up. He then checked for a pulse on the two unconscious men and the youngest one who couldn’t be more than a teen.
“How did you get recruited?” Rowan asked.
When the only conscious one didn’t answer, he squatted down and looked him in the eyes, pulling his wolf back so he faced him as a man. “Listen, I didn’t know anything about shifters until I was attacked outside a bar a couple of nights ago. I think the men who sent you after me are the ones who did it. If we work together, maybe we can stop another from being hurt, or worse, killed.”
His voice shook. “You aren’t going to kill me?”
Rowan took a deep breath, wishing he didn’t have to smell the man’s piss, but no scent of lies permeated the air. He’d been good at telling if someone was lying before he’d been changed, now he had an added helper. “As long as you tell me the truth and don’t try to hurt those I care for? No.”
With a jerk of his head, the younger man nodded. Rowan slung two bodies over one shoulder, the other he dragged up the incline, shaking at the knowledge they’d come so close to where he’d been sleeping with Lyric.
At the top, he looked back and forth, waiting for the kid to indicate which way they’d left their vehicle.
“I can’t remember which way we came.”