Authors: Kathi S. Barton
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Paranormal, #Romantic Erotica
Everyone turned to Sterl, and he felt his anger get stronger. Trent touched his hand to his arm, and it was all he could do not to shift and kill him. When he told his wolf to back off, Sterl felt the walls of his control crumble. He blacked out, his body screaming at him to defend himself. Suddenly he found his head down between his knees and someone holding him there. It wasn’t until he saw the shoes that he realized it was his mom.
“Hold him, Sterling James, or I will beat your bottom.” He felt his wolf tear at him, and then his mom kicked him in the shin. “Hold him, or I swear to you that I’ll stand you in the corner for the rest of your days. You’re scaring me. Please don’t do this.”
Sterl held him. His wolf was pissed and wanted blood, but he only just managed to hold him back. When he told her he was all right, he sat up and looked around and noticed that he was seeing things in a haze. He looked at his mom and saw that she, too, was outlined in a red bloodied circle. He looked over at Trent and saw that he’d hurt him, badly.
“I’m fine.” Trent didn’t look fine, and they both knew it. “Just give me a minute, all right? I need a minute.”
“I’m so sorry.” Sterl had cut his face and arm. Trent was holding his arm too, and he could see that it might have been broken. When Myra stood in front of him, he looked up at the woman and could see her anger too. Sterl wanted to bow to her, give her his throat. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I want to kill everyone, including myself.”
“Look at me.” She stood there, and when he didn’t look at her, she jerked his chin up and made him. When she stared at him for several seconds, he felt his wolf curl up, seemingly as if he were afraid of her as well. “I think we’ve been wrong about this, Noah. She’s not just marked him, but she’s controlling him. I can fix this, but it will be painful for the young pup.”
“You do what you have to do.” No one asked him what he wanted, and he was pretty sure that they wouldn’t. Not that he didn’t want this gone, whatever it was, but he thought that he should have some say over it. As he was ready to voice his opinion on the matter, he felt the touch of someone in his head.
You’ll fight them. Tell them that you belong to no one but me.
He looked at Myra when her grip on his chin tightened
. Fight them all. Kill them. You belong to me.
“She’s there. I can see her now. Sterling, you just hang onto me now and we’ll get you safe.” He didn’t want to be safe, he wanted to kill. His wolf was no longer in the corner but pacing in front of him as if to say, “Let me at her.” “Noah, we might lose him if we don’t act now.”
Sterl started to tell them to fuck off, to get away from him, when he felt his mind being raped. They were running in his head like they were going to kill him, and he hurt from it. Someone told him to hang on, to keep helping them, but the pain was too much. As he let his hold on everything slip away, he heard someone screaming. Sterl hoped to Christ he wasn’t hurting anyone else.
Elijah had been sitting with his brother for an hour when Sterl just sat up in bed. It had been five days since he’d been put in his room, and someone had been with him round the clock since then. He looked at him for a few seconds before he lay back on the bed.
“I think someone tried to kill me.” Elijah laughed at his brother. “No, I’m not kidding. I feel like I’ve been run over several times, then laid out in the sun to bake. What the fuck happened?”
“Noah and Myra, who I might add is a very strange person, had to go into your head and take the bitch out. Not my words, but I’m pretty sure that it was apt. By the way, you stink too. Should you care.” Sterl said he wasn’t sure he could stand just yet. “Yeah, that’s another thing. Noah had to give you a bit more of his blood. Joe too. They said that if you started to have fangs to let them know and they’ll explain that to you.”
Sterl sat up, and Elijah laughed. It was a joke, but Sterl didn’t seem to find the humor in it. As he lay back down, this time on his side so they could look at each other, Elijah told the others that he was awake.
Is he okay? I mean, does he need anything?
Elijah told their mom that he was weak but looked okay. He was building his strength to take a shower.
You tell him that we can come there now if he needs us. You take care of him.
“Are they coming over? I’d rather they didn’t right now.” Elijah told Sterl that they would if he needed them. “Not right now. I just need to think. How long have I been out?”
“Five days. And it’s mostly been rest, not recuperating. And so you know, I had to ask what the difference was. You were hurt by what they did, but you healed from that quickly with the blood of Noah and Joe. You’ve been sleeping—resting, I guess—the bulk of it because your body needed it.” Elijah helped him stand and held him while he stood there. “Alta, she’s your cook now. She has been fussing around in your kitchen for days now. I think she wants to fatten you up.”
“I don’t really need a cook.” Elijah thought for sure that he did. He had lost a great deal of weight. “Can you help me? I hate to ask you to help me shower, but I really don’t think I can stand on my own.”
It took them nearly an hour to get Sterl in and out of the shower. Twice Elijah thought he was going to have to call in some help as Sterl would just go weak on him. By the time he was dressed and sitting on the chair, Elijah felt like he’d run a marathon. But Sterl told him that he felt better, and he looked it as well. Getting him to the kitchen was much easier too.
When he ate what Elijah was sure was the first good meal he’d had in a while, Sterl decided after he was full that he wanted a nap. But after making him shift and run with him for a little while, he lay down by the pond that ran behind all of their properties and closed his eyes. Elijah asked him if he was all right.
Yes. I really think I am. I mean, I’m exhausted, but I feel like I could go to sleep now and not dream. I have been terrified of falling to sleep for a few years now.
Elijah said nothing. He’d been there when they’d pulled that thing, a memory of her, and he wasn’t sure that he’d sleep well for a while after seeing what Sterl had gone through.
I’m guessing that I’m in trouble. I remember hurting Trent.
He is fine. I think you frightened us more than you hurt him.
Elijah knew that Trent wanted to talk to Sterl right away, but Elijah asked him to wait a little while.
You had a part of her in your mind. She was there controlling you. Myra said it was a part of your brain that you use for emotions. She had attached herself to you so that you’d kill for her.
I didn’t feel her. Never. She never spoke to me either, so far as I.... She did when Myra held me. It was like her touch made it so I could hear her.
Elijah knew that was exactly what had happened.
She’s gone though, right? I mean, she’s gone for good.
Yes. Noah said that he felt badly for not checking your mind for her when he took her poison out of your body. Myra told him that he more than likely wouldn’t have found her there, but Noah still feels like he let you down. And Joe has been by at least ten times a day to check on you for him. That bitch was there, in your head, to make you do things that would bring your beast out. Not the wolf in you, but something stronger. Something you don’t have.
You mean the alpha.
Elijah told him that was it.
She thinks I’m the alpha of our pack. That’s why she fucked with me. Well, I got news for her, alpha or not, she has messed with the wrong person. I’m going to take care of her once and for all.
We all are. We saw it too, what she did to you, and we’re all going to take care of this bitch.
As they made their way back to Sterl’s house, Elijah watched him carefully. He’d have to give a full report to everyone, and he was glad that Sterl was feeling better. By the time he left him, Sterl was having a snack, which looked like a one-pound steak and a pound side of grilled shrimp, before he headed back to bed. Noah was right about one thing; his brother was going to be better than ever.
The check seemed to call to her several times a day, and Noelle would go and get it from the safe and just look at it. It wasn’t the original check…that one was in the bank in a safety deposit box. This was a copy that she’d asked for. Even a copy of the check seemed to be surreal to her. Smiling as she put it back in the safe, she looked up when there was a knock at the door. Mr. Casen told her she had a phone call.
“But I don’t know anyone that would be calling me.” He asked her if she wanted him to tell them that she wasn’t there. “I’m not sure. Who would it be?”
“I can ask for you, mistress. Perhaps you can come with me to the phone and I can give you some clues.”
Nodding, she followed the big man out of the room to the kitchen where she thought the only wall phone was. Not just in the house, but the only one she’d ever seen. He picked up the phone and asked who was calling. She could hear shouting, but not really what was being said. Then Mr. Casen spoke again.
“I see. And Mr. Merrill, how is it that you got this number?” Noelle sat down on the chair and held tightly onto the table as Mr. Casen continued. “I’m not sure why anyone would share that information with you, but I would suggest that you lose this number and never call here again.”
She could hear her stepfather then. “I know she’s there. I want to talk to her. She’s not been back to her place in a while now, and I heard that she was hanging out there. You tell her that it’s time she got herself back to work and giving me what she owes me.” Mr. Casen asked him what it was that he thought she owed him. “Money, damn it. She got me fired from my job and she owes me a lot of back wages. If she had just kept her mouth shut, I’d have been able to work and collect on some pension money too. She thinks I’m stupid.”
“I’m reasonably sure that anyone that meets you can see that without being told.” Noelle put her hand over her mouth when she felt a burble of laughter spill out. “Have you considered finding a job of your own? I mean, there are plenty out there. That way you can stop bothering the young lady who has done nothing to you, and have an income as well.”
“I’m not going to dignify that with an answer.” Mr. Casen just rolled his eyes. “What she doing there anyway? She working as a maid or something? Does that pay well? I could use me a few extra bucks this week, you tell her.”
“No, she’s not the maid.” Howard asked what she was doing then. “None of your business. And should you call here again, I will have the number changed. Miss Noelle is no longer any of your concern.”
When Mr. Casen hung up the phone, he stood there saying nothing. Noelle got up and pulled two glasses from the cabinet, found some chips, and shoved him into the chair. The man had done something for her that no one had before…stood up to her stepfather.
“He’s a bully.” Noelle agreed with him as she poured them both some tea. “Why on earth would someone just expect me to give them personal information like that? And to think that he thought you a maid here.”
“He has every right to think I would be working as a domestic in a house like this. I’m not really from the kind of clique that Elijah and the rest of them hang out with.” She ate several chips before she spoke again. “I missed how he said he got the number here. I mean, I’m guessing by now that he knows for sure that I’m here, but how did he get the number?”
“He claims that he got it from your previous employer. I shall have to look into that.” She told him he might be telling the truth. Her old boss had wanted some way to contact her in the event that he needed someone to come and cover her shift. “You won’t be working for him again. Will you?”
“No. But he thinks I will. I told him that I’d gotten a better paying job so he’d not question how I could suddenly afford to take off work.” Mr. Casen got up and pulled down a big glass jar of cookies. “I can’t eat that kind of thing, but you go ahead. Sugary things make me kind of loopy.”
“How long?” She told him that she had no idea how long he was going to hope she’d come to work. “No, I mean how long has sugar made you loopy? All your life?”
“Yes. Howard did tell me once when I got all weird after having a slice of cake that my mom should have lived long enough to tell me about it. It was the one and only time that he ever said anything about her. I’ve never even seen a picture of her.” She looked up at him when he continued to stare at her. “What is it?”
“Has Mr. Noah drank from you?” She shook her head and felt her fears tighten her back up. “Anyone other than Mr. Elijah?”
“No. What’s going on? Why are you concerned about some sort of allergy that I have? It is an allergy, right? I have some sort of reaction to sugar.” He shook his head and sat down. “You’re really starting to scare me a little. What is it, Mr. Casen?”
“Witches need sugar to replenish their energy after they are spent. There are a few others too, other beings that need sugar to do the same thing. They drink fruit juices that make them feel better, eat a cookie or two, and can go about their business.” She nodded, not wanting him to go on and needing him to at the same time. “Then there are beings that sweets affect them much like you are telling me. Children of vampires that have been born of a mortal human and an old and powerful vampire.”
“You think I’m part vampire?” He nodded. “No. That can’t be right. I have a normal mom. I never knew who my dad was, but my mom, she was as normal as I am.”
Baby, are you all right?
She nearly screamed when Elijah spoke to her. Mr. Casen asked her to tell him, to see what he said about it when she told him who was talking to her.
Are you in trouble? I can feel your fear.
Mr. Casen thinks I’m part vampire. Or something like that
. When he didn’t speak, she continued, her fear overriding everything else.
He said that because I can’t eat sugar, that I might be a child of a human and an old vampire. Why would it matter if the vampire is old or not? Not that I think this is true, but I was just wondering. I mean, had I been a vampire, wouldn’t someone have told me?
Old vampires, ones that were born to a pureblooded family, have powers that a great many people don’t know about. One of them is that they can breed children with a human that is not their mate. Not all the time, but there have been occasions when it’s happened. Does he have any idea how to figure it out?
She told him what he’d said about Noah.
You should ask him. He might be able to tell you. Not that it matters to me, but it might change a few things for you if you ever want me to convert you to a wolf.
She wasn’t sure that she wanted to know that either, but plowed on.
I mean, I’ve never thought of being what you are. A wolf, I mean. But I don’t understand why whatever is in my background could change what happens, do you?
Yes. It could change a great many things. The fact that Joe was a day walker for Noah and the powers that he gave her to keep her safe is one of the reasons that Trent hasn’t changed her to a wolf. Not that it matters to either of them, but it might do something to the magic they both share. I’m thinking we should look into this. That way we won’t run into trouble should it be true.
She looked down at the cookies and decided that she was going to eat the entire container of them. But she knew that she’d be sick afterwards, not to mention it would make her feel as if she’d been on a three-day drunk
. It’s going to be fine, love. I promise you. Whatever it turns out to be, it doesn’t make me love you any less.
I’ve never heard of this before. Is there a place where this is all written
down? He told her that he had a book on their kind, but they usually depended on the others to help when something else come up.
So they keep things from you too?
No, not usually, but I think the reason that this isn’t public knowledge is because of the fallout from it. Can you imagine the problems that would arise for an otherwise normal person to have someone think that they might be a vampire’s child? Simply because they don’t care for sugar? I mean, every diabetic in the world would be persecuted, don’t you think?
Yes, she could see that. Even if it was just a myth that had been going around, people would have taken it as gospel and there would have been a lot of people staked through the heart, much like women had been burned at the stake in Salem all those years ago. So it was decided that Noah would see if it was true or not. Noelle thought that she’d rather not know, but she could see the point in knowing as well.
Trent stretched, trying to loosen the tight muscles in his back after working on the walls in the building they were renovating. He didn’t think they were ever going to get this place up and running at the rate they were going. He looked at his dad when he came in the room with him.
“I found a good place to put that desk you unearthed. Never saw one that big, did you?” Trent said he hadn’t. “Anyway, I have some of the pack coming over to get it in the morning. I’m thinking that place over there on Fourth, the one that we decided to hold off on, it might make us a nice little second hand shop. What do you think? There is always people looking for something or another. Might have some fun with that.”
“So long as I don’t have to mess with it, I don’t care.” His dad nodded and helped him lift the next board into place. “Joe is going over to Elijah’s house after she gets done working with Scott tonight to check on him. After that, she’s coming here. Then I think she and I will head up to the cabin for the weekend. I need some time away.”
“Good, that’s good. I was gonna talk to you about that girl anyway. Noelle, do you think she might object to coming to work for me?” Trent asked his dad what he had in mind. “Well, I got that idea I was just telling you about. And I thought maybe I’d have her scouting around finding things to fill it with. Her and me with your mom, we could go on some hunting trips.”
“And what is Elijah supposed to do while you’re running all over town with his mate? I’m pretty sure that he’s gonna want to be with her as much as he can. Even with him still working, I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t want her gone when he comes home. Besides, right now it’s not too safe for her to be out and about. Her stepfather hasn’t been dealt with yet.” His dad nodded but didn’t say anything. “Dad, you already asked her, didn’t you?”
“Well, it was a good idea, don’t you think?” He nodded and had to smile. “Your mom, she was keen on it too. Spending time with a female is a lot more fun for her than hanging with you boys. Even I get tired of you six at times. I know you find that hard to believe, but sometimes I think you boys are just out to make fun of me.”
“Whatever gave you that idea?” His dad looked at him. “Elijah will have to know where you’re going all the time. And, like I said, just because he goes to work every day like he does doesn’t mean that he wants you hanging out with his mate. He might think you’re a bad influence.”
“What a thing to say to your own father.” Trent just laughed. “She’s a little bit afraid of me, I think. Not me, just men in general. I blame that on her daddy. He’s a real bastard. I can understand it and all about her being put off, but it still ain’t nothing I like.”
“I saw her stepfather the other day. He’s a big man, did you know that?” His dad nodded. “He called the house today too. Earlier this morning. Elijah let me know, and then I called out there and Casen said that she’d taken it all right, but there is another issue that we have to look into.” Trent told his dad what Casen had discovered.
“You think that she might be some old vamp’s child?” Trent said that he had no idea. “Might be the best thing for her if she is. I know that she’s like us now, with all that Joe and Noah juice running through us, but it won’t hurt her to have a little extra. That man, Merrill, he might learn to back off if she were to come at him with a little of her own magic.”
“It might not be anything.” His dad nodded again, and Trent held up the next board while his dad shot screws into it. “Dad, what do you think of what we’re doing here? This work that’s going into this building? We might not get the project.”
An investor was coming into town next week…well, he was one of four that were to come in. Trent had gone to see the city council at their last meeting and had asked to be put in charge of bringing new development to the town. Most of the people, pack included, were having a hard time of it with no jobs to speak of, and people were having a hard time making the few jobs that were there work. He and his family had money, a great deal of it, but they’d worked outside the town and had made their money that way. The ones that lived here, with no desire to travel like he had, were hurting.
“You said yourself that if we can’t land us one of them contracts that the building will be put to good use. I was thinking that if they decide that we’re too little for them—you know that’s a good possibility—we can use this place for some of the downtrodden around town. And putting a little makeup on this old girl will make the city look a little better.” The little makeup, as his dad had called it, had cost a great deal to get done. And they didn’t even have anyone interested in it right now. “Who you got coming in next week anyway?”
“One of them is a producer for plastic ware. They make all sorts of things at their company, but when I talked to the buyer, he said that if they did come here, they’d be doing one of three things. I don’t know what those might be, but that’s what he said.” Trent held up the final board for his dad to screw in place. “The other two are very hush hush about what they want the area for. I have an idea whatever it is, we’re going to need a much bigger place than anything this town could handle. The plastics company said they’d hire five hundred people right off. The other two said they’d only need about twenty-five, as they were fully automated.”