Authors: EA Hunt
To those who are looking for thier perfect mate. May it be shifter, wink wink, or human. Fate seems to always prevail
“Where the hell are you?”
Amanda Hart released an exasperated breath as she smiled at her baby girl in the back seat of her SUV. “Daddy said a 'no no' word, didn’t he baby doll?” She turned back to the road and her husband on her Bluetooth. “We are in Atlanta. I was heading to the restaurant.”
“That I know. I was waiting for you to show up so we could have dinner,” Trevor informed his wife. It had been weeks since they had had a night to themselves. His brother Freddie had agreed to babysit their youngest Aviva since their teens, Taylor and Tyson, were on a pack camping trip. So having his wife to himself for an evening was a Godsend that he was not willing to give up. “Freddie is chomping at the bit to get out of here but you, Mrs. Hart, are not here because…?”
Amanda handed her daughter her teething ring. Trevor was not going to like what she was about to say. “Keenan called.” Amanda turned down the volume on the Bluetooth with her husband's angry growl. Trevor didn’t like Keenan, and he had every right. But the girl was her cousin—and family, like pack, took care of those weaker.
Trevor reigned in his temper. Making his mate upset would only get him sleeping on the couch or out on patrol most of the night because she would not let him into their bed. That was the last thing he wanted. Hell, if he had it his way he would sleep with his dick in the damn woman. “What did Keenan want?” he questioned, like he didn’t already know. In the six months that he and Amanda had been mated and married, the girl had asked to move in with them because her boyfriend put her out or she didn’t have the money in order to get an apartment or…or nothing. Trevor had been adamant that the woman could not move in. Amanda had agreed with him and told her family ‘no’ when they started hounding her about the girl. Eventually he changed his mate's number and only gave it to his teens and her mother. Somehow Keenan got it and he was pissed his mate went running when she called.
“Some man is giving her a car and she needed me to take her to get it. And before you ask, my mother is MIA and my sister has got herself a new man and is refusing to deal with Keenan because she made a pass at said man. This leaves me to deal with her.”
“You always deal with her and this is the end. Once you do this, it’s over. Do you understand me, mate? I will not have you taking care of that woman anymore. If she needs anything she needs to contact someone other than you.”
“Well 'hello' to you too, Trev,” Keenan replied as she got into the car.
Trevor growled. This woman was a user and he wanted her as far away from his mate as she could possibly be. “Keenan,” he directed his next statement to his mate, “I will give you an hour to deal with this then I am coming to find you and my baby girl. And believe me, wife, you do not want that to happen.”
Amanda shook her head as Trevor ended the call. No she didn’t want that to happen. Because when it did it would lead to a fight and Trevor would bend her over his knee and spank her. Making sure she understood what he was saying. She smiled. She wouldn’t fight too hard because his spankings would lead to kissing and kissing would lead to…oh yeah—she was going to make sure they stayed out one minute past an hour.
“Your husband's a jerk. I have no clue why you married him after knowing him a week.”
Amanda pulled away from Keenan's job. “One, Trevor is a wonderful man and he is concerned about me and Viv, who is in the back seat and can understand the things you say about her dad.”
“Don’t.” Amanda pulled into a deserted parking lot. She parked her car, then faced Keenan. “Don’t you dare say anything mean about my husband. He is Viv and Taylor's dad and I will not allow you to disrespect him.”
“Why should I give him respect? He doesn’t respect me.”
“You haven’t given him reason to. It’s all about you, isn’t it Keenan? You haven’t once said ‘thank you for this Amanda. I appreciate it.’ Not in the call you made to me. Not in the five texts you sent me making sure I was coming. No,” she held up her hand. Amanda looked at her. She had thought just this once her cousin would show some kind of appreciation. How she was wrong. Amanda shook her head. “I had plans tonight, Keenan. Plans with the man you say shows you no respect and now those plans are ruined because I decided to come and help you. Well no more. I will take you where you need to go then I’m done. Don’t call me anymore for help because I will not be there.”
“—is my husband and the father of my children. I will not allow you to keep disrespecting him.” Amanda started the car. She headed out of the parking lot. “We have an hour to do this and I expected to be done in that time.”
The rain was pelting the hell out of her but Lucinda (Lucy) McArthur kept walking like she had no other choice. Lucy wiped the rain from her face. She needed to find somewhere to stay, somewhere to keep warm, and somewhere where she could hide until she figured out her next move. The question was, where? She had no money, no family, no friends, and no way of knowing where her next meal was coming from—let alone what she was going to do about the baby she carried. She placed a smoothing hand on her stomach. She had run from Duncan because of her baby. He had been pissed she had gotten pregnant and wouldn’t get rid of it. He had been even more pissed the baby had survived his brutal attacks when she was four, six, and now eight months pregnant. Due to these attacks her doctor had told her sex was out of the question until she delivered.
Lucy sighed. It was just something else Duncan could be pissed about. When she had told him what the doctor said he hit her and kept hitting her until she passed out. Thank God he hadn’t kicked her in the stomach. No, if he had kicked her in the stomach her baby would have been born early and Duncan would have hurt her little Anastasia—something Lucy was not going to let happen. So when she woke from this last attack she grabbed her purse, her keys to her twenty-year-old car, and ran with just the clothes on her back and the twenty bucks in her pocket.
“Ma'am are you ok?”
Lucy stilled. Where had that voice come from? She looked up to see a man standing in the parking lot of a bar called the Wolf's Hart. She swallowed. She hadn’t seen this place when she was walking, but with the rain pelting down she could barely see her hand in front of her face. “Where am I?”
The man walked over to her. “Hart, Georgia,” he replied as he placed his jacket over her head.
He smiled at her. “I’m gonna be fine. Come on inside and get warm. The kitchen is still open and I can get you something to eat to warm you up.”
Lucy swallowed. Could she go with this man? She didn’t know him from Adam but he seemed kind—kinder than anyone had been to her in a very long time. “Ok.”
Bill Hart walked the young woman into the bar. He herded her towards the back of the bar and placed her in a chair there. He wrapped his coat around her, smiled down at her, and headed towards the kitchen. He had been on his way home after spending the evening bartending for his son while Trevor was home with his mate and baby daughter, who were both getting over the flu caused by Amanda helping her cousin Keenan a week ago. Bill shook his head. Trevor had found his mate and baby girl standing in the pouring rain arguing with Keenan and the man Keenan was currently dealing with. It had taken everything in his son not the rip the man's arms off when he went after Amanda for standing her ground against him. Bill was proud of his daughter. She was an Alpha female through and through.
This meant she was married to an Alpha male who wanted her to do as he said, which led to many fights just like the one he had heard her and Trevor have when Trevor wanted one of his brothers to take over his bar shift while he took care of Amanda and the baby. Amanda had told him there was no one to take on the shift because Willie and Freddie were out of town on pack business and Theo was on patrol. To stop the arguing, Bill had had decided to take on the shift. It would give him something to do since his mate was on an out-of-town shopping trip with his sister-in-law Martha. Bill ladled the last of the soup into a bowl, placed it on a plate with some buttered bread, turned, and headed out of the kitchen.
He looked at the woman sitting at the table—her head bowed and the hood still over it. He could see the slight bruising of her eye and before she was able to hide her hands in the oversized coat he could see one of her fingers was slightly out of place. He would call Doc Monroe and see if he could come by the bar and check the young woman out to make sure she was all right.
Bill walked over to the young woman. He placed the plate before her. “It’s tomato soup with buttered bread. What would you like to drink?”
She looked at the plate before her. It smelled heavenly. She hadn’t had anything to eat most of the day. She swallowed before she lifted her head and looked at him.
Bill sucked in a breath. Her eye was puffy and bloodshot. Her lip was busted and dried blood was caked to it. He reached out a hand slowly, not wanting to frighten her. When she flinched he withdrew his hand. “I will get you some ice for your lip.” He slightly growled, hating to see any woman hurt. “Now you eat on up and I will be right back with that ice and water.”
She nodded as she removed her hood. “Thank you…”
“William. Bill is what my family calls me. Bill Hart.”
She smiled sadly at him. “Lucinda. Lucy to friends.” If I had any, she thought.
“Nice to meet you Lucy. Now eat on up.”
Lucy nodded as she picked up the spoon on the table and took a bite. She released a sigh. When was the last time she had had something so good?
Once Bill was sure she was eating her fill, he turned and headed back to the bar. Whoever had hurt this woman was going to pay. His pack revered women—family or strangers—and this woman needed to be protected.
Theo wiped a hand down his face as he walked into the bar. He could use a stiff drink and maybe some of his dad's tomato soup to warm him up. It had been a long twelve-hour shift and he was dead on his feet. With Naomi on vacation, he and the sheriff were pulling double shifts along with a few of the volunteer police officers. Their future Alpha, his brother Trevor, thought if anyone in the Sheriff's office wanted to take a vacation, it would be a good idea to have a few shifters from Hart and the surrounding communities help out. Theo had to admit it was a good idea but since he, Naomi, and the Sheriff were the only ones with true police training, they still worked a twelve hour shift to make sure the town and surrounding county were safe.
Theo was heading to the bar when his wolf rose up howling. He pushed the beast down, trying to control him, but there was no controlling the animal. He was anxious and pulling him towards the back of the bar. Theo looked in the direction his wolf was requesting they go. He stilled when he saw the woman sitting in the back of the bar slowly eating the soup before her. He lifted his head slightly and smelled the air. It smelled of spiced cherry blossoms. He allowed the scent to settle on his tongue. It was tasty, beautiful, and belonged to his mate. He headed in the woman's direction. What was his mate doing here? How had she come to be in this bar at this time of night and who had caused her face to look like that? Theo growled. Anyone who would do that to any woman deserved to be put down.
“Ma'am.” Theo swallowed when she looked at him. The woman before him had the most beautiful amber eyes he had ever seen. Her skin was the color of light caramel, with reddish-brown shoulder-length hair which was a curly mass because of the rain he could see dripping from her coat.
“I don’t want to press charges,” she said hastily.
Theo stopped. “I’m sorry?” Why didn’t she want to press charges? Someone had hurt her for, he was positive, no reason. The woman before him was innocent in so many different ways.
“Mr. Bill—he called you because of my face,” she lifted her hand, “and hand.”
Theo clinched his hands into fist. Who would have hurt such a beautiful woman? “Mr. Bill did not call me.” How was his father involved in this?
“He didn’t?” she said in confusion.
Theo shook his head. “No, he didn’t. Can I?” he questioned as he gestured towards her hand.
She nodded as she slowly placed her hand in his.
Theo took her hand gently. It was soft to the touch. It reminded him of his niece Aviva's baby-soft skin. He examined her right hand. Her ring and middle finger were damaged but nothing a splint couldn't fix. “Do you mind if I splint this?”
“Why?” she asked in confusion. Why was this man being so nice to her? She was a nobody and people weren’t nice to nobodies.
“Because if I don’t it won’t heal correctly, and the last thing I want is for this not to heal correctly,” Theo said as he took the seat kitty-corner to her. He had this urge to kiss her bruised hand but he stopped himself. This woman may be his mate but she was scared. Her fear rolled off her in waves.
“You will need this.”
Theo turned at the sound of his father's voice. “Thanks Dad,” he said as he took the first-aid kit. He placed it on the table and opened it, not once releasing her hand. He knew if he released her hand she wouldn’t willingly give it back to him.
“You don’t have to do this,” she replied in a small voice.
He looked at her. Her voice was soft, delicate, and quivered with fear. “I do have to do this. Also I’m going to call the town doctor and have him come and check on you.”
Theo released a cleansing breath the panic he saw in her eyes was tearing him apart. His wolf was going crazy because of her fear and trepidation.
“I need to go,” she said as she pulled her splinted hand from Theo’s. She looked down at it. He had splinted it while he talked to her, not once looking away from her. She looked at Bill. “Thank you for the food and all but I can’t stay here.” She went to stand.
Theo caught her before she collapsed completely. He scooped up the woman and looked at his father. “Did you know?”
Bill shook his head as he looked at the woman's belly. “No. But I did call Monroe to come out and see her. Take her to the office. I believe Amanda left some clothes back there.”
Theo nodded as he turned and headed to the office. He kissed her temple. Once Monroe saw her, he would take her back to his house. His mate was not leaving him. Not in her condition and definitely not with whomever hurt her still out there.
The phone ringing was the last thing Trevor wanted or needed. He looked at his mate. She was sleeping peacefully after a long night of coughing and throwing up. He released a breath as he reached out and touched her forehead. Her fever was gone also. Good. Once her fever was gone she would be all right. That was what Monroe had said when he had told him Amanda and Aviva had the flu. Trevor shook his head. His mate and baby were sick because of an ungrateful…Trevor shook his head. He was not going to go there. He had said all he needed to say when he told Keenan to never contact his mate again, and if she did, she would not like the consequences.
When his phone rang again Trevor picked it up and looked at the screen. He was not in the mood to deal with his brother but it seemed the man had called three times. The question was why? He slid the screen to answer. “Theo—”
“Sorry Trev but with Mom and Auntie out of town, I need Amanda's help.”
“Amanda's is no condition to help you at this precise moment.”
“Why? Has something happened to her?” Theo questioned. His sister-in-law was a force to be reckoned with and seemed to always be getting into some form of trouble.
Trevor sighed. He had forgotten Theo had been on patrol the last few nights. “She's fine now.” “‘Now’? Trev, are there some bodies I need to help you hide?” Theo asked. Amanda was not one to back down from a fight, especially if she thought someone had wronged another person or her children were involved.
Trevor chuckled. “No, no bodies. Amanda and Viv have been dealing with the flu the last week so there is no way she can help you with whatever you have going on.”
Theo released a breath. With Amanda and the baby not feeling well, Trevor was going to be more over-protective than usual. “Do you think I can come over for a minute? I have…”
“Theo are you ok?” Trevor questioned. He had never heard his brother sound so lost. Theo may be the baby of the family but he didn’t act like it. He would work hard for the things he wanted. He worked so much the family thought he would never find his mate, settle down, and grow a family along with the town.
“Yeah. I will be. I just need to ask you a favor.”