Authors: Serena Pettus
Tags: #Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifter
“You’re horrible, you know that?” she chuckled.
“Nah, I’m just trying to get my giggles where I can.” Sarah shrugged and informed the saleswoman that Eva would wear the dress out of the store. “Well, let’s go. It’s almost time for me to have you home, and we still need to stop and get you some heels for that dress. Flats are all right, honey, but you need a pair of fuck-me heels for this ensemble. We’ll buy you some black ones so you can use them with other things, as well.” As Sarah spoke, they made their way to the car, continuing on about perfume, hair, makeup and underwear.
“You know, it’s been a long time since I bought clothes just to impress a man,” Eva admitted as she placed her bags in the trunk. “It feels nice to get all dressed up for someone.”
“Would that someone be me?” That low voice blazed an icy trail down her spine and sent fear rocketing through her system, freezing the air in her lungs. “Hey, baby. I’m so glad you weren’t hurt in those nasty accidents at your place. I was so worried.”
Thick, hairy arms snaked around her waist, and Eva knew then why Sarah hadn’t made a move on him. Shane held a gun and had it trained on Sarah.
“What do you want, Shane?” Eva’s phone vibrated in her purse, and she knew it was Adam, having no doubt sensed her distress, and she prayed he’d realize why she wasn’t answering.
“Can’t a man be relieved to find his fiancée alive and well when he thought she was dead?” He made a chastising sound in her ear. “It’s not nice to hide from your man, sweetheart. I might start to think you don’t love me anymore.”
Her breath whooshed out as he used the arm at her waist to jerk her back tighter against him. “Shane, just leave. There’s nothing more you can take from me, and you know it.”
“What about your friend here? Is she worth something to you?”
Eva stiffened in his arms, cursing her reaction when he noticed.
“So I’ll just take that as a yes. She can come with us. The boys will need something to entertain themselves with while we have our honeymoon night.”
“You’re crazy! I’m never marrying you. Let me go before I scream.” They were in a parking lot that was mostly empty, but she figured some of the shoppers strolling between the shops would hear her.
“You scream, and I shoot you both. It’s just two words, Evangeline.
That’s it, and you’ll be with me forever.” Shane let loose a cold, devilish laugh. “Well, until death do us part anyway.” He pointed the gun at Sarah. “You drive, and we’ll be in the back. And before you get any bright ideas, I’ll let you know right now I have no problem blowing your fucking head off if you cause me any problems. Got it?”
“Crystal clear.” Sarah spoke through clenched teeth, and Eva saw the barely restrained fury in her new friend’s amber eyes. The way they kept darting to Eva’s stomach wasn’t lost on her either. The baby could be hurt or lost if things got too rough.
“Let’s go then, ladies. I’ve got big plans for tonight.” He pushed Eva toward the back passenger side door. “Well, get in.”
“Sarah’s keys are in my bag. I’ll pull them out and toss them to her.” She fumbled for the keys when her phone started vibrating yet again. She hit the button to accept the call and crossed her fingers that Adam would be able to hear what was going on without them getting caught. “Calm down a minute, Shane. You know I could never get to my keys quickly in my purse.”
“Just hurry the fuck up!” he yelled, clearly losing his composure. “We need to get on the road.”
“There. Catch, Sarah.” Eva tossed the keys to Sarah who never took her eyes away from Eva’s face. Eva made a quick phone sign with her pinky and thumb, holding it to her head as she pretended to brush a strand of hair behind her ear.
The door locks clicked. Shane slung the door open and shoved her inside.
“You didn’t have to push me in. You have the gun, after all. What did you think I’d do? Run so you could shoot me in the back?”
“You seem to have nine lives, so who knows?” His irritation was hard to miss. “Now, you listen up, girl,” he said to Sarah. “If you draw any attention to this car or get us pulled over, I’ll kill you both and take my chances running.”
“Just how much trouble are you in, Shane?”
He pinned Eva with a glare so full of hate and malice that she actually scooted closer to the door.
“Enough to risk coming back here, damn it. I’ve got three different men after me for money I don’t have, but once you and me are hitched, that won’t be a problem.” His smile was sickening. She literally felt her skin crawl where he’d touched her. “I’ll get a priest back at my place, and the boys will be witnesses for us. Hell, you even have a bridesmaid now.” He chuckled and pointed the gun toward Sarah again. “Turn left here. We’re going toward the old mill.”
Sarah’s face was blank, but Eva saw her eyes in the rearview mirror and was amazed to see laughter in her eyes. What the hell? Then she remembered the phone and realized Adam was listening to all the directions.
At least, he had been until those dreaded beeps sounded from her bag.
The battery was dead.
“Fuck!” Adam punched the wall once the call disconnected. This was bad. He had to call his brothers. He had to call Erik and let him know Sarah was in danger, too. He quickly scooped up his cell and sent a mass text that simply read, “9-1-1 come now.”
He didn’t wait long. They showed up in wolf form, bounding out of the woods surrounding his home.
“Shane has Eva and Sarah. He snatched them in the parking lot at gunpoint and has them heading toward the old mill.” He spewed everything he’d heard on the phone and watched as the men’s expressions turned more murderous with every word. “She’s terrified, and I think once he forces her to marry him he plans to kill her. Not right away, but not long into the future I’m sure.” He tried to swallow past the lump in his throat, his fear for Eva nearly choking him.
Adam looked to Erik for confirmation that his mate was all right. “How’s Sarah?”
“She’s pissed, excited and anxious. Basically, she’s ready for a fight and looking forward to it.” He smiled and shook his head. “She’s been itching to start a fight for a while now, so she’s just fine. I’ll worry about her if I feel any changes, but it’s yours we really need to focus on. She hasn’t been hurt, has she?”
“No, but we already know violence isn’t an issue for this guy. He’s hit her before.” A collective growl rumbled amongst the still-nude men gathered on his back porch.
“Then let’s head out. Tie some clothes so we can carry them. I have no great urge to conduct a rescue buck-ass naked.” Abraham was a man of few words, but when he spoke, it was best to listen and obey. At the moment, this man was in charge.
Adam had approached Abraham in case an event like this occurred. Abe’s SEAL training would come in handy for safely extracting the women—as long as Sarah wasn’t spoiling for a fight. He hoped she’d sit this one out and get Eva to safety if given the opportunity.
“If they’re heading to the old mill, they’ll pass a lot of empty houses and shacks along the way,” Abraham explained. “I’ve run all over these woods, and there are several old hunting cabins around the area that would be perfect for them to hide inside. Most of the time, homeless vagrants shelter there then move on, but we’ll need to check the places anyway. We’ll also have to split up. Since our goal will be to make them nervous, we’ll be hunting as wolves tonight, boys. We’ll use short yips to sound an all clear and a long howl to indicate they’ve been found. Do
engage until we have ascertained the threat level to the females. Just let the men think wolves are out tonight.” Abraham bared his teeth and Adam wasn’t sure if it was a snarl or a smile, but his next words gave him his answer. “You’re with me. You ready to roll out, twinkle-douche?”
His brother was all business when it came to running a mission, but Adam knew Abraham was trying to lessen the tension a bit. If Adam didn’t calm down some, his brothers might be forced to restrain him and leave him behind, if for no other reason than him being more of a liability than any help.
“I’m going to kill your wife, Abraham. She’s a menace,” Adam growled as he fought a slow smile. The other men snickered, the bastards. “I’ll get Stephanie back for that little nickname. You let her know I’ll get her when she least expects it.”
“Good luck with that.” Abraham knew it was just playful banter between the two and that Adam would never really hurt his mate. They simply enjoyed insulting each other, and she was beginning to get rather creative with her vocabulary.
Adam’s whole focus shifted back to Eva as he noted a spike in her fear and a pain in his shoulder, which indicated she was hurting there.
“He’s hurting her,” he snarled.
“Where?” Erik demanded.
“Her shoulder. It’s burning. I swear, the first thing I’ll do is rip the fucker’s arm off for that.”
“You have to be careful. With your bond, you’re like a walking voodoo doll. She may sense your feelings, but you can also sense her physical pain as well as her emotions. It could cripple you at a critical moment, so you need to be able to block it out.” Erik tried to soothe Adam, to calm him down before he was unleashed into the woods with his fury leading him in a blind pursuit of his injured mate, and Adam appreciated his efforts. “You’re no good to us or to her if you can’t keep your head straight, are we clear?”
A few deep breaths and Adam was able to nod without it being too jerky of a motion. “I’ll try my best. I won’t do anything to cause her harm if I can help it, and I’ll stay close to Abraham, just in case. God knows, he has no problem putting me on my ass if I need it.”
“Anything to help out my little brother.” Abraham patted Adam on the back and nearly sent him sprawling. Damn the man, he was nothing but tightly strung muscle. “Now, let’s head out.”
With that said the men gathered their clothes, shifted and took off into the darkening woods.
The hunt was on.
“Where the hell is this turn-off you keep babbling about? I can’t see shit,” Sarah complained. Which was a lie. Eva had seen it the last two times they’d passed it, but it was obvious Sarah was trying to buy as much time as possible for the men to get there. Eva had no doubt they were coming.
Sarah was so startled by his scream that she stomped the brakes and sent Eva and Shane lurching into the back of the front seats.
“Turn right, through the gap in those trees. The one with the red ribbon tied to it is the marker. Follow the trail back to the cabin.” He sighed. “Damn women drivers.”
“I heard that!” Sarah shot back.
“I could give a shit!” He trained his eyes on Evangeline and spoke softly. “You really do look damn fine in that dress, sweetheart.” Shane trailed the barrel of the gun up her arm, causing gooseflesh to spread and bile to rise up in her throat. “I’ll bet you have some pretty little lacey panties on too, don’t you? I’ll be snatching those off you soon, babe. We’re going to have us a nice little party after everything’s said and done. If you play nice, maybe you’ll just play with me, but if you fight or just piss me off, I’ll let the boys play with you, too. They’ll be real excited if they get you both.”
Eva shivered. He’d do it, too. He’d wanted to share her with his friends when they were dating. She’d thought he’d been making jokes to pick on her then found out he’d been dead serious. Whenever she’d flat out denied him that pleasure, he’d simply leave and say it was her loss. Not the way she saw it. She was a one-man kind of woman and wasn’t about to let two men brutalize her against her will.
“I’ll kill myself before I marry you, Shane. You’ll never get what you want from me.” Eva made sure her voice was flat and determined. She needed him to understand she meant business. Of course, there was no way for him to know her remaining money was already set to go to various charities upon her death, and she sure as hell wasn’t about to inform him of that either. No doubt, that news would send him into a blind rage and leave her and Sarah dead in the end.
“Oh, I think you’ll do everything I tell you to do, Evangeline. I’ll have two of my boys holding on to your little friend over there, and if you don’t cooperate, they’ll start hurting her in some very imaginative ways.”
Eva shuddered and watched as a satisfied grin spread across his thin, chapped lips.
“I’ve met some very interesting people lately, little Eva. They love to play rough, and they have no problem with blood and inflicting a little torture when it’s needed.”
“Oh, come on,” Sarah piped up. “What is this? A bad impression of a mobster movie?” She rolled her eyes as she brought the car to a stop in front of a rundown hunter’s cabin that looked as if it hadn’t been used in years. “Nice place you’ve got here, bud. Way to go all-out for your woman.” The sarcasm dripping from her words wasn’t lost on Shane who shot a death-ray gaze in her direction.
“Just get the fuck out, bitch,” he snarled, taking Eva by the arm as she climbed out. “No trying anything funny either, missy,” he spat at Sarah. “I’ll break her arm if you do.” He twisted Eva’s arm up at an extreme angle behind her back, and she swore if he pushed it up just a bit farther she’d touch the back of her head. “Just try me.”
Eva couldn’t help but make a distressed sound as she went up on her toes in an effort to relieve the pressure on her shoulder, which burned from the unnatural position. Much more of this and it would be dislocated for sure.
“Take it easy.” Sarah was trying for a soothing tone, but Eva heard her anger. “Nobody is trying anything. You’re paranoid. All we’ve done so far is get out of the damn car.”
“I saw the way you looked at me in the car. I know you’d love to get your hands on me, but it won’t happen, so you might as well forget it.” Shane backed to the door of the cabin, using Eva as a human shield, and banged out a short series of knocks on the door. “It’s me. Open the damn door!” he yelled.