Excerpt for Cherished Mate!

Anton scanned his surroundings as he pulled up to the house in the middle of east bumble fuck. The day after talking to the guys, he had woken up before the sun had risen, overcome by a sense of dread and a strong urge to leave for Springs immediately. Something was telling him if he didn’t leave now he would be too late. This was the first house he’d passed in the last fifteen minutes. His instincts told him this was where he needed to be.

He was on the outskirts of Springs; it was about another thirty miles before he would cross the county lines. Getting out of his car, he sniffed the air. He scented the outdoors, intermixed with a hint of fear and sorrow. What the fuck? Taking a fortifying breath, he walked up the steps and knocked on the door. When the house first came into view, he had thought no one was home, but before knocking on the door he heard voices whispering. He forced a pleasant smile on his face when the door swung open. The man who opened it looked tired at first glance, but as Anton study him, he knew something wasn’t right. The scent of fresh blood wafted off of him.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I think I’m lost. I wanted to know if I could use your phone; my cell isn’t getting any bars.”

“Where are you headed?” The man asked while blocking the door. The older man couldn’t stop Anton if he wanted to enter, but he got the message to keep out loud and clear.

Interesting. Anton relaxed his body and continued to smile at the man. “I’m headed to Springs for a job interview at the police station. They gave me directions, but I think I made a wrong turn somewhere. I just need to call and let them know I’m going to be a little late.”

The man studied Anton for what seemed like forever, before stepping aside to let him enter. “The phone is through that door, in the kitchen.”

Moving the way the man pointed, he scanned the living room. It was bare except for two lawn chairs and a television sitting on a wooden crate. Either the man had recently moved, which didn’t seem likely, or he wanted it to look that way. Walking into the kitchen, Anton picked up the phone hanging on the wall and called Jeremy.

“Yes, hello. I have an interview with Police Chief Marshall in about an hour, can you let him know I got turned around and am running a little late?” He asked after Jeremy picked up.

For some insane reason, he remembered police chief’s name, and it helped in case the man knew who he was and figured out that Anton was lying about the job interview. Jeremy didn’t say anything, probably knowing he was using him as a cover. It was also a way for Aton to let the men know where he was. They could get an address from the number if something were to happen to him. Right now he felt edgy, and his wolf was ready to come out to defend himself against any threat. Something told him the man was most definitely a threat.

“Okay, thank you.” Hanging up the phone, he turned to the man smiling. “Thanks for letting me use your phone. Do you know how to get to Springs from here?”

Nodding his head as the man gave him directions, he walked back to his car; turning left, he drove towards Springs. He would be coming back, that was for sure. Whatever was calling to him was in that house, and he was sure it was a shifter. He hadn’t picked up the scent of a shifter, but now that he thought about it, he hadn’t scented the man either. Sniffing the air around him, he smelled the outdoors. Whatever was used to dull his senses affected the house alone. He needed help, and he knew just where to get it. He wasn’t stupid enough to try to get the wolf out by himself, for all he knew there may be more than one shifter inside. There were at least two humans; he had caught movement out of the corner of his eye when he spoke on the phone.

***

Nicholas held his breath as the front door opened and closed again. When he heard a car drive up, he thought it was his ticket out of there. He heard Sam talking with the unknown visitor then the man’s voice talking on the phone, but after a short period of time the stranger left. No one would know he was right down the hall from them, even if it was a shifter. Sam had let it slip after their second move, or maybe he told him intentionally, that he sprayed the air with something that would mask their scents from other shifters. If what he said was true, and Nicholas believed it was, shifters were in even more danger from Hunter attacks since now they couldn’t smell them coming. He wanted to call out, but since one of the Hunters held a knife over his heart while he was strapped to a metal table, he didn’t make a sound. There wasn’t any hope for him. Closing his eyes, he waited for Sam to come back and continue his torture session.

Nicholas wondered every time he was brought upstairs, no matter where they were, if this would be the time that Sam said fuck it and ended everything for him. God, he hoped this was that time.

“Thank you for waiting for my return. Now, where was I?”

When Sam came back into the room Nicholas didn’t even bother opening his eyes, not even when he felt a tiny sting in his left arm. He figured Sam had given him the same shot he gave him the first time he came upstairs. The shot was designed to keep him from shifting. He knew his wolf was still there, but he couldn’t communicate with him anymore.

This is it; he thought to himself as he felt the cold scalpel dig into his chest. He never made a sound when Sam cut him up, or when they chained him to the wall and the Hunters beat the hell out of him. He wondered how long he would be strapped to the metal table this time.

***

Turning off the main road and onto a dirt path, Anton knew he was in the right place when a white wolf darted out in front of his car. Slamming on the brakes, he got out of the car.

“I need to speak with your Alpha,” he stated quietly. He watched as the wolf turned into a naked man. If his shifting was anything like Anton’s, he felt no pain while changing from one form to the next.

“I am the Alpha of this pack.” The man replied. Anton felt the Alpha power coming off of him in waves. The man probably was waiting for him to submit, but Anton knew that he could take this man and his wolf if he had to.

“I’m Anton. I’m here to introduce myself and…”

“How long have you been in town?” The Alpha asked, interrupting him.

“I’m not from here. I have a pack of my own with six wolves north of you, but that’s not the point.”

The naked man raised an eyebrow. “Oh, then what is?”

“On my way here, I came across a house in the middle of nowhere; they had a wolf trapped there.”

Anton’s back hit the hood of his car and the man standing above him growled; so he growled back. He didn’t want to fight, but he would defend himself if threatened.

“Get your fucking hands off of me.” He stated calmly, even though he was feeling anything but calm. His wolf was ready to show this Alpha who was the stronger of the two.

“Not until you tell me where my brother is.” He was surprised; he wouldn’t have thought the wolf was from the Alpha family, as they fiercely protected their own.

“Noah!” The man didn’t even turn his head as another man joined them.

“He knows where Nicholas is.” Noah growled and tightened his hand around Anton’s throat.

“What? If he knows, don’t you think you should stop choking him and let him tell us where he is?” Anton agreed with the other man. Noah had about ten seconds to let him go, or he would do it for him.

“He can speak just fine,” Noah growled into his face.

That did it; he was sick of this shit. He knew it would be easier, and less of a challenge, if he spoke up, but for some reason he wanted to get a rise out of Noah. Ten seconds was up, and Noah had challenged him when he slammed him onto the car. He knew the other man could sense the Alpha power in him, and that Anton was stronger.

He let a wolfish grin spread across his face and reversed their positions. He could take Noah; it would be a battle, but he would come out on top. When Noah was flat on his back on the hood of his car, Anton stepped back, then side stepped the other wolf when he tried to attack.

“Look, I just came to get some help in getting the other wolf out of the house, but I will defend myself if I have to.” He growled at Noah.

“What do you want in return for telling me where my brother is?” Noah asked as he glared back.

Anton watched as the other man came and stood next to Noah, his eyes shooting daggers at him. He held in his surprise as the other man wrapped his arm around Noah’s waist.

“I don’t want anything.” He’d never even considered asking for anything. He planned to wait until his pack was here before he requested they join Noah’s.

“Bullshit,” Noah spat.

“One, I didn’t know he was your brother, and two I don’t work that way.”

“Okay then, where is Nicholas?”

“He’s in a house outside of town about thirty minutes away.”

“If you’re telling the truth, I owe you one.” Anton’s hackles rose at Noah’s words.

“Why the hell wouldn’t I be telling the truth?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you thought you could get me away from my pack and take over.”

Anton laughed at that one. It was funny because the other wolf obviously did not know his feelings about being Alpha of a pack. “I am no threat to you. I don’t want your pack, or any other pack for that matter. Once you know I’m telling the truth I’ll tell you what I decide I want in return. Shall we go?” Anton smiled as Noah looked at him warily, ready to take him down at a moment’s notice. He would be in for a rude awakening if he tried.

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