Leader of the Pack Ch. 06bysecretme©
Hi everyone, thanks for reading. I can't believe all the great feedback that people have been writing me. I have to admit that I do love getting the comments. I probably wouldn't have kept going if it weren't for all the great feedback. So everyone who's written me encouragement you can assume that you're partially responsible for everything from here on out. :)
To everyone who mentioned the spelling errors and stuff. I am sorry. Chapters 1-5 were written during a pretty serious bout of insomnia. They were a first draft and never proof read. So yeah there were a few more errors than I like to take credit for. I know there are probably more to follow. I'm still fighting the sleep problem, but I'll try to pay more attention.
And oh yeah... What does everyone prefer... spots, stripes, or both?!?
Aislinn could feel herself falling through darkness. The black was throbbing around her. Somewhere in the void there was a pounding. The echo became more and more insistent, louder. Then she felt herself being moved. She was aware of the black shifting around her. Someone was trying to reach her. Aislinn could feel an urgent voice pulling at her. Suddenly the black turned into the street outside of her apartment. She felt drunk as she watched the street lights pass above her. The lights passing over her one at a time. Where am I going? She thought. Madadh-Allaidh Saobhaidh. I need to get to Madadh-Allaidh Saobhaidh. But she couldn't make her body obey her mind. She was so tired. She closed her eyes and drifted into the black again.
Rafe sat in the back of the long black limo. Jenna lay naked and prone across the seat opposite and large lion lay purring at his feet. She would periodically look up, agitated, at the naked lycan that had her master's attention. But as he stroked her head she went back to her patient waiting.
Rafe growled angrily. "These lycans are becoming more troublesome than I had originally tought they would be." The lioness sat up with interest and attention. Her large yellow eyes focusing intently on Rafe. "Look at her," he said in disgust. "So easily manipulated. Even easily drugged. She actually believes she'll be leading the Tairneach to glory or something. She has no concept of how inconsequential she truly is. Now Aislinn and Arnauk. They will pay for putting me in a position to have to soil myself with this bitch. I don't like interruptions or delays. What's worse, I had my hands on the stones themselves tonight and now I'm driving away from the power. I could feel it. I used it. It would take so little to learn how to truly manipulate the forces that sleep there. The lycans have no concept of it. How could anything like that," he indicated the unconscious Jenna, "be capable of using the power there to its full potential?"
The lioness sniffed at Jenna with distaste. When a buzzer sounded the large cat growled and Rafe pushed a button on the panel. "Yes."
"We've arrived at the address you requested," the limo driver said.
"Finally," Rafe growled, opened the door and got out of the car. As he looked around at the rundown buildings and the bums lying about the steps in garbage he thought it fitting that she would have ended up here. Serves her right for leaving me, he thought. The lioness stepped lightly from the limo onto the street. She paced a bit. As she walked she lifted her paws from the ground as though she was stepping in something that was burning her feet. She looked up to Rafe for orders.
"I'll not go in that place. Go get her and bring her here. She shouldn't be any trouble," he said, knowing that after the evening they had she was probably completely unconscious. She was only a half-blood. She'd never be as strong as he was. None of the ones he'd found would ever be as strong as he was. Besides she had pushed herself much too far last night. If she truly wanted to get away from him she never should have shown him her potential. He had tried to get into her mind on his way here. But she was too far gone for him to even touch her dreams. That would make things exceptionally easy.
Rafe took one last look around and got back into the limo as the lioness headed up the stairs. One of the bums that sat near the steps got up and walked toward Rafe waggling a cup. This wasn't the type of area he wanted to be seen in, so Rafe got back in the limo to wait. He slammed the door of the car just as the old bum approached. The man proceeded to start wiping the windows of the limo, hoping for a handout and Rafe sent the limo driver to deal with it.
When Cullen pulled up in front of Aislinn's place everything looked normal. He elbowed Keith awake. "Hey, watch the door," he said as he jumped out of the driver's seat and headed up the stairs to the main doors of the apartment building.
Keith sat up. Looking around it took him a minute to realize where they were. This was the apartment where that girl Cullen had helped out lived. He watched the door the way Cullen asked. But he couldn't help notice the bum lying face down in the garbage next to the steps. Keith got out of the SUV and looked up and down the street nervously. It just didn't feel right.
He walked over to the poor old man lying in the garbage and turned him over. "Hey buddy, you okay?"
The old man groaned. Keith winced when he saw the bloody gash on the man's chest. Something had cut him straight through his big dirty overcoat. The old guy had a huge bump on his head as well. "Who did this to you, buddy?" Keith picked the old man up and put him in a sitting position on the ground near the steps. The old man couldn't answer. Keith pulled his cell out of his pocket and dialed 911.
Cullen took the steps up to Aislinn's door two at a time. He could smell something on the stairs that had the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. A cat of some kind. When he got to her door it was slightly open. Fear and anger boiled in the pit of his stomach as Cullen threw the door open and rushed in.
There was no sign of anything being wrong. The apartment wasn't any more disheveled than it had been when he was here before. It almost looked as though the door had just been left open. The scent of the cat wasn't any stronger here than it had been in the hall. He figured that if there had been a struggle of some kind that the scent should be stronger. Maybe she went with someone willingly. Cullen couldn't tell anything from the look of the place except that Aislinn wasn't there.
On the table he noticed her purse and headed over to it. Inside were her keys, her wallet, and her cell phone. He picked it up and looked around again as if Aislinn might come walking out of the bathroom and yell at him for not knocking. She wouldn't have left here without taking her purse if she had gone somewhere willingly with someone. At the same time he didn't have any proof that anything had happened either. He was too tired to think.
Cullen sat her purse back down on the table and headed out the door. He took a deep breath in the hall. He could smell her there. But that could just be because she lived here. He walked down the steps, considering that he could wait around and see if she came back for her purse. When he walked out the main doors he found Keith bent over a bum and talking on his cell phone.
One look at the bum had the feeling of fear returning to Cullen's stomach. When Keith hung up he looked at Cullen. "I called an ambulance. We should get out of here before it shows up. I don't have the answers to the questions they'll be asking."
Cullen looked back at the building and then got into the SUV without a word. Keith hopped in the other side and Cullen pulled away from the curb. What the hell am I going to do? Cullen was pissed and tired and feeling helpless. Okay, so he went to check on her and she wasn't there. There seems to be evidence of something, but he didn't know what. "I am getting so muin tired of not having the information I need to make decisions anymore!" Cullen yelled and slammed his hands against the steering wheel.
"Okay, so you want to tell me why we went to that chick's place? And why it pissed you off?" Kieth said cautiously.
Cullen kept driving. "We went to her place because I was worried about her and wanted to talk to her. I'm pissed because she wasn't there and it looks like either there's nothing wrong or something relating to last night happened here."
Cullen's voice was deadly and Keith felt shivers go down his spine as he listened to the alpha's explanation. "Okay, so we go back to the den, we look up this Rafe guy. If something happened here and it had to do with what happened at the reservation then if we track him down we'll find out what happened to the girl."
Cullen growled. He didn't want to look things up any more. He just wanted to fix all the shit that was happening lately. "When exactly did everything go to hell around here?"
Keith didn't answer. He could hear the rhetorical tone in the question. "I'll take care of it. You get some sleep and by the time you wake up I'll have some kind of answer."
Cullen looked over at his friend. Keith was glad to see that what he said seemed to have helped some. The growl that came from Cullen next was low and resigned. They drove the rest of the way home in silence. Cullen pulled into the garage and parked.
As they walked into the elevator and pushed their respective buttons Cullen finally felt the tired hit him hard enough that he knew he'd sleep whether he wanted to or not. Keith got out on floor 13. Cullen turned his key and hit the button for the penthouse as he watched the doors close behind Keith.
Keith figured that he'd gather up a couple people and get to work on figuring out who Rafe was. He wanted to see if he'd be able to get through to the reservation as well. Or maybe he'd try some cell numbers and see if anyone had left the reservation for home yet. But he guessed probably not.
Keith walked into the great room to find an unusually large group of people standing around. He was taking note of whom was present and trying to decide who he should send to do what. As he walked around the room he finally figured out what everyone was so worked up about.
Cullen walked out of the elevator and through his office/living room. His rooms included a main room right off the elevator that took up most of the penthouse area. On one side there was a large television with a comfortable couch positioned directly in front of it. He didn't spend much time in the great room with the others. When he felt the need for television he was much more likely to watch by himself. On the other side of the large room there was a desk and a number of file cabinets along with his computer. His favorite part of the room though was a carpeted area against the far wall with one large arm chair and the wall itself was lined with bookshelves. He had a large collection of antique history books and a few modern fiction books.
He stared at his favorite chair and his books and sighed. He hadn't had any recreational time in quite a while. Cullen promised himself that as soon as all this was taken care of he'd get a new book or two, lock himself in, and read for a few days.
He headed for a door at the back of the room. He was already pulling his shirt off over his head as he entered his bedroom. Then his cell rang. Cullen dropped his shirt to the floor and dug in his pocket for the hated source of the noise. He heard the plastic crack as his hand closed around the phone. He pulled it from his pocket with the serious intent of throwing it from the wall. When he saw that the caller was Keith he flipped it open and growled in a low warning tone into the receiver. "I thought you told me to get some sleep."
"Yeah yeah. Changed my mind. You need to come down to the great room. I can't decide whether we have a problem or a fortuitous circumstance."
"No. Figure it out then let me know tomorrow," Cullen answered.
"You'll be sorry if you don't get down here. And I'm not going to take the heat for it." Then Keith heard a click. He wasn't sure if Cullen was coming down or not. He was just contemplating calling him again when the elevator doors opened and Cullen came walking into the great room, barefoot, shirtless and looking as though he was going to kill someone.
Cullen's glare was enough to make everyone step back. Rissa tentatively stepped toward Cullen and Keith followed her. "I hope it's alright," she said nervously. "I mean you told me to check on her and when I got there she was unconscious and didn't look at all well. So I called Jake and helped me bring her back here. The doc in the infirmary said to put her in a bed and he'd check on her in the morning. So I brought her up here and we weren't sure where to put her..."
Cullen tuned out Rissa's voice as she tried to finish explaining the events of the evening. He couldn't believe it but Aislinn was lying on the couch asleep. She didn't look well. She was pale and drawn. Her eyelids fluttered periodically as if she was dreaming and her face looked strained and tense. There was sweat on her forehead and she whimpered periodically. There was a small packed bag on the floor next to the bed. He just stared at her for a moment wondering if he had fallen asleep in his room and this was some cruel dream.
He walked passed Rissa and Keith and knelt next to the couch. With as much control as he could muster he reached out and stroked her cheek gently. "Aislinn?" he said softly trying to wake her up.
"That's why we spoke to the doctor," Rissa said. "She won't wake up. We tried."
Cullen looked back at Rissa. "You did good," he said with a soft smile. Rissa beamed at that and looked over at Meghan as though to say I told you so. When Cullen looked back down at Aislinn she appeared to have calmed some. Her facial features had seemed to smooth over some.
"Where do you want us to put her?" Rissa asked enthusiastically.
Cullen thought a moment. He knew where he wanted to put her. But beyond the fact that it would send the entire pack into a tizzy because he never took any women to his room, he didn't know how Aislinn would react if she woke up in his bed. When he pulled his hand back her features tensed again and the whimpering started again. That was enough for him. "I'll take care of it," he said. Then to everyone's shock he picked her up off the couch and headed for the elevator. "Keith, would you hit the button?" he called back over his shoulder.
Keith jogged up behind his friend and Cullen could hear him chuckling as he hit the floor button and the doors slid open. He stepped inside briefly to get the button for Cullen's floor. For a brief instant Cullen thought that he was going to escape without a smart ass comment. But he had no such luck. "So," Keith said with a wicked grin. "Do I have breakfast sent up tomorrow?"
"Actually," Cullen said with a growl. "I intend to sleep until lunch." Then he kicked at Keith so that he'd back out of the elevator and let the doors close.
Cullen had never felt his mood shift from one extreme to another so quickly. He walked through his living area and into his bedroom. He walked to his large platform bed in the middle of the room. As he looked down at Aislinn's sleeping form he noted that she was leaning into him and her features had softened again. He laid her down on his bed and watched her there a minute. The sight of her lying on his bed asleep pleased him far more than he thought it should. He made a mental note to find some way to reward Rissa for taking such good care of Aislinn.
He wasn't sure if he should undress her or not. She was still in her work clothes. Finally he decided that he couldn't let her sleep in her work clothes. Considering that he didn't want her thinking he did anything to her while she was sleeping he headed over to his drawers and fished out one of his t-shirts. He tried his best to be an objective adult and tell himself that he was undressing her so that she'd be comfortable and then he was putting her in his t-shirt so that she wouldn't be upset when she woke up. But he couldn't stop his reaction to the sight of her naked body. He moved as quickly as he could so that he could honestly tell himself that he wasn't ogling her while she was unconscious. It took all his effort to keep his hands to himself as he pulled her bra off. He'd never known a woman who slept in a bra. He held the white lacy material to his nose momentarily before setting it aside with the rest of her clothes. He left her underwear on and pulled his t-shirt over her head and then pushed her arms through the sleeves.
The back of his hand brushed against her breast and he had to hold his wolf down. Every instinct in him was screaming for him to take her and make her his own. His wolf telling him that she would understand when it was done. Cullen forced his wolf down. Breathing deeply repeatedly he told himself that he was too tired and there was no way he should even be considering any of the things his wolf wanted while she was unconscious. He growled deep in his throat as he pushed his jeans off over his hips. He left his boxers on and crawled into the bed. He had to pull the blankets back in stages to maneuver her under them.
Once he had both of them under the blankets he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into himself so that her back was pressed against his chest and his erection was pressed against her. He groaned happily and nuzzled his face into her hair. Breathing deeply he started to drift off to sleep. He figured that if she didn't wake up on her own come morning he'd make sure the doctor came up and checked on her. He couldn't explain why he wasn't worried about this but something in him said that now she was with him that she'd be alright. He'd take care of her.
Aislinn awoke to sunlight streaming in on her face from a thin crack between the drapes on a large window and a warmth radiating through her from behind her back. She blinked in confusion as she took in the strange wall, then the strange bed, then the arm that was wrapped around her. She lay still a moment. The last time she was in a room this posh was when she was first dating Rafe, before she knew what he was. The blankets were soft and satiny and she had spent so long sleeping on that mattress on the floor she had forgotten what it felt like to be in a real bed. There wasn't any one thing she could see that stood out as extravagant. It was all normal bedroom furniture. But between the size of everything and the new/clean look of it all she might have thought she was in the best room at the Hilton.
Aislinn started to get nervous. All she could think about was the fact that Rafe loved places like this. But there was something about the feel of this that wasn't at all like it was before and it certainly didn't smell right. In fact... she took a deep breath and then started to blush. Aislinn rolled back. The arm loosened so that she could move and she found herself staring up into Cullen's face. He was wearing a hopeful, concerned look and he smiled at her.
"Good morning, mo mhúirnín bán " he said softly. "I won't ask if you slept well. I know you didn't."
Slowly the memory of last night solidified in Aislinn's mind. The court hearing, the premonitions, Rafe... the mating ceremony. She took a deep breath then smiled as she realized what he had called her. If he had intended to make her feel better about everything she had to admit it was working. She had felt this safe in a long time. She cocked an eyebrow at him questioningly. "Mo mhúirnín bán?"
He smiled back smugly. "I thought you knew gaelic."
She shook her head and decided to not give him the satisfaction of knowing whether she'd understood or not. "I guess I can assume then that she didn't manage to kill you?" Aislinn said changing the topic to something she thought was relatively important considering the position she was currently in on what should have been his wedding night.