A Cat Among Wolves Ch. 01bykitten101©
Sabeen Moon, Marie Theris, and the child, had been lured out of the relatively safe haven Sabeen had created for them. Marcus Louve was relived, to be honest he was beginning to worry that he wouldn't be able to find them.
Marcus Louvre was leader of the Louvre Wolf Pack. He was tall, well proportioned, and surprisingly young to be the leader of such a large pack. He had been feeling the strain of keeping some of the older wolves under his rule lately, and it showed in the stubble he hadn't had time to shave and the worn leather pants and jacket he was wearing. Not that it mattered what he wore. The women all mooned after his body, and the hair that always seemed to be too long. The way he shook it out of his hard hazel eyes was enough to get the wolves sighing over him. They would have been distraught to see his attention so fully on Sabeen.
Sabeen was the daughter of the wannabe warlord Royce Moon, and a scarily talented fighter. It seemed her talents did not end at fighting - she had turned out to be rather gifted at concealing their quarry. Not that her father had noticed.
She was also beautiful. She had short dark and wavy hair that fell haphazardly around her face and accentuated her grey eyes. She was tall and skinny, and If he hadn't already known it he wouldn't have guessed that she was a tiger. Shifters that took the forms of larger animals, like tigers, generally were a little more heavyset in their human forms. Most of the other cat breeds got away with being long and skinny and tigers seemed to be the only exception there.
Sabeen had an uncomfortable sensation on the back of her neck. She hadn't wanted to leave the house she had commandeered for them, but Marie had been insistent. She was certain that Adam and Royce had been the ones behind the message telling them to meet the pack in Royce's old warehouse. Mostly they used it as a safe-house for large groups, so that seemed to fit, but Sabeen wasn't too sure about the rest.
"Marie, hold up, let me go first." Sabeen yelled running across the car park towards her.
"Oh fuck off would you wonder-cat. I want to see Adam, and I can't stand the sight of the kid anymore. Its not a bloody trick. They're a step down from dogs on the evolutionary ladder, they barely have opposable thumbs for crying out loud."
The weeks Sabeen had spent in uncomfortably close company with Marie had clearly not been pleasant ones.
Marcus watched from his alcove as Marie reached the warehouse. One of his wolves opened the door, and hauled her inside. Sabeen mouthed the work 'fuck' and ran faster stopping for a split second at the door.
"Run away kitty-cat. You're not going to like it in there." He urged.
She ignored him and threw open the door, teeth bared like a barbarian queen. He sighed and made his way down to the warehouse floor.
Sabeen fought the werewolves surrounding her furiously. She had been assigned as protector by her father to Marie and her brother's baby Anya. So far she was failing miserably. Marie, clutching the child, had been separated from her and was backed into a corner. Her brother, Adam, was the future leader of the Moon Pack and had chosen Marie for his second wife. Their father, the current leader had approved the match. He wanted to use Marie's powerful family history to stabilise their lead against the other warring packs in the territory. Marie was the last known surviving member of the Theris family who had recently led - and almost won - a war against the ruling family the Devon's. Dangerous blood ran through her veins. Sabeen fought without regard for her body. If she failed in protecting Marie the wellbeing of her body was really a moot point. Adam may forgive her eventually, but her father would have her slaughtered - he had his heir and did not need a daughter. "Sabeen, I need help!" Marie screamed.
A quick glance over her shoulder showed her using the child as a shield against the Shifters surrounding her. Sabeen dropped the man in front of her with a strike to his throat and forced her body to accept the first stages of the change into her tiger form. She did not have the time to change the rest of the way, and there were simply too many wolves for her to win. She used her new claws to slash a path towards Marie, her plan centred on securing an escape at least for the woman and child, if not for herself.
Meters from her destination she was tackled by a large stone grey wolf. Sabeen hit the ground hard, twisting to protect herself from the wolves flashing teeth. Instead of the expected attack she found herself looking down the barrel of a gun, held by a very attractive male.
"Oh Fuck." She said quietly to herself as she recognised the grimly attractive features of Marcus Louvre.
"Indeed." Marcus grinned down at her.
"Loose the kitty claws, move slowly to your knees and put your hands above your head Sabeen."
The fact the Marcus knew her name did not bode well for her. Sabeen did as he asked - much to her surprise. She had thought she did not value her life particularly highly, but there it was, the instinct to live overrode the emotional black hole she was beginning to feel like.
Marcus had a reputation of being a cold blooded killer, and if he was here, then there was little chance of any of them getting out alive. Sabeen felt a pang of despair for Anya. She was only nine months old and deserved better than this.
"Marcus Louvre, you have quite the reputation. Isn't your pack situated in the North? What brings you to this area of the woods?" Sabeen kept her voice light, all but ignoring the man binding her hands behind her back. Once he was done he hauled her to her feet. She tested the ropes once then relaxed, knowing that sheer strength wasn't going to get her free.
Marcus took a step closer to her, lowering the gun to his side. He raked the hair back off his forehead and his eyes bored into hers. Her breath caught in her throat.
"Sabeen you know perfectly well why I'm here, and you have a bit of a reputation yourself. It's a well earned one. You've been concealing our quarry for some time now, although somewhat against your better judgement I'm presuming. You are welcome to go free. Marie and the child will not be leaving here." Marcus then turned his attention to his pack.
"Those of you not needed are welcome to make your way back home." He nodded at a big vaguely Spanish looking man.
"Theo you're in charge until Finn can take over. Don't let it go to your head" he growled, only half jokingly.
Most of the wolves left the building. Sabeen noticed a few of the females giving her nasty looks as they went.
Sabeen thought fast. She knew they were hunting the Theris family. But Anya was not Marie's child, she was born from Adam's first mate.
"Marcus, the child has no Theris blood in her. There is no need to kill her. Return her to her family, and it will go some small way towards repairing the hole Marie's death will leave in our pack."
Marie snarled in the corner almost dropping the crying child on the ground.
Marcus sighed glancing back at Sabeen "She may not have any Theris blood in her, but she has been taken in as Marie's child, and she was mentioned in the orders from the council. Don't pretend like you give a shit for that bloodthirsty army you come from. Pack is family, and that sure as hell isn't like any family I've ever had."
Something quite like pity flashed in his eyes and Sabeen instantly hated him for it.
Putting her game face on she growled "Fine. I'll bargain for her. You know I'm good. I'm one of the top fighters in Dartmouth, I gave you and your entire pack a good run around these past weeks, and I'm a strong shifter, any pack would be advantaged greatly with the addition of my willingly given skills. I have no particular emotional ties with the Moon Pack. I'd be more than willing to switch allegiance for the right price and the price I'm asking is that baby's life. I want her home with her father because she doesn't need to die here with that bitch."
Marcus turned to face her more fully. He looked a little intrigued.
Sabeen paused. This wasn't a time to go rushing in, the deal needed to be iron clad on both ends, safe for her, and tempting for him.
"I pledge myself into your service. I answer only to you, not your pack. You may not pass on my service to others, when you die this agreement is null and void, and if at any time you decide to free me from this obligation I am free to leave.
"I will obey you with three exceptions. I choose who I sleep with, my body is not yours to give away or take. You will provide me with the essentials for life; food, a bed, money and the rest - as part of that I am entitled to defend myself at any moment I deem necessary for my own survival and physical comfort. And I will not kill for you - I make my own decisions on who lives and who dies when I fight and I will not have your deaths hanging over me too."
She thought for a few moments hoping that what she had said would protect her enough. She didn't care too much for her own personal safety, but she really didn't want to pledge herself into a situation that was more unlivable than her current one.
"What guarantee do I have that you'll honor the deal?" He asked.
Sabeen thought about it. "You have my word."
Either he would accept or he wouldn't. She knew that once her word was given nothing could change her mind, he didn't know that though. He was going to have to trust her.
"Done." Marcus agreed. "Rob, grab the kid."
Anya was wrestled away from a shrieking Marie by a heavyset male, and carried out of the warehouse. Marie lost control of her human form and Shifted into a Jaguar, swiping at her captors and trying desperately to get free.
Sabeen watched the woman a little horrified, and tried to go to the calm white place she went when she had to kill. This was different though. This was in cold blood and she wasn't the one holding the gun.
Marcus saw her wide eyes, and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck, pressing her face into his jacket. She wouldn't have usually allowed him to even touch her, but this was different. She burrowed into the blackness and smelt the leather. There was a muffled shot, but the jacket screened out most of it, including the gun powder and fresh blood smell that she hated so much. Sabeen had disliked Marie, but she cried for her anyway.
"I'm sorry I couldn't do more."
Marcus wasn't sure if she was aware she had spoken out-loud, so pretended he hadn't heard. Instead he undid the knot holding her hands back. He then spun her away from the gold and black heap on the floor, and pushed her towards the exit shielding the kill from her. Bucky, one of his more submissive males, would take care of the carcass. He needed to figure out how to return the child.
"I'll do it." Sabeen spoke up, interrupting Marcus's thoughts.
She could tell he had desperately been trying to come up with a plan that wouldn't endanger his wolves.
"They won't harm me until they know I'm bound to you. Even then Royce will be reluctant to beat the crap out of me just in case I take out more of his better fighters. They know better than anyone what I'm capable of."
Marcus stayed silent, running his had over the stubble on his chin and thinking for a moment or two before giving in to the inevitable.
"Ok. Call them. Have them meet you somewhere public. We'll drop you off. You hand over the baby. We appear with some strong wolves at our back. You drop the news. We depart."
Sabeen nodded and took the phone offered.
An hour later they drove slowly up to the parking lot agreed upon by Adam. Sabeen stumbled from the car as if she had been pushed and limped through the 'V' of gathered cats. None had changed but she could see that all had wild eyes. Adam and Royce stood at the peak of the V surrounded by their strongest fighters.
Most of the men and women around her were tigers, the Moon Pack had originally been tiger territory, but she could see a few leopards and lions from strong packs she had helped decimate. She wouldn't need to worry about the other cats, their positions in the pack (mostly lowly) meant they would be more glad to see her go than anything. The tigers however would be a problem.
"Sir I'm sorry. I saved the baby, but Theris is dead. They tricked us into meeting at the warehouse. I fought hard and was overwhelmed by the wolves."
Royce's eyes travelled the length of his daughter. Sabeen secretly hoped that the mild abrasions, bruises and cuts they had given her looked convincing enough. Marcus had roughed her up in the car to ensure that she looked genuine for her part.
Her father growled, and she saw the beginnings of cat eyes and claws. It was a sign of weakness to lose control so she figured he'd have to be pretty damn angry to let it show. She handed Anya to her brother, squeezing his arm as she stepped away. Here was the hard bit.
Taking a few more steps back than really necessary she saw the wolves appearing out of the shadows around them. It was amazing how in touch they all were. If it had been the cats someone surely would have overstepped their mark and complicated the situation. Marcus stepped slightly to the front of his wolf pack.
"Sabeen Moon has pledged me her life in exchange for the child's. I collect my payment now."
Sabeen switched to her most bad-ass warriors face. Looking each cat deep in the eye she let them know one by one that she knew what their death would feel like on her claws and she was looking forward to enjoying it.
She turned her back on the cats and started back up the 'V' of faces. Each cat got the same look as she walked by and dismissed them. Not one of the Moon shifters were brave enough to attack her.
It was just hitting 10 when they went through Fern which was still another 6 hours from home. His wolves would have just been reaching Ashton, the town he had settled his wolves in. Marcus and Sabeen had stopped to stock up on clothes and essentials for her in Paradise City, so were lagging behind by a good few hours.
He had been looking for a motel for a long time, and was about to just stop off on the side of the road when he spotted one. Once they were inside Marcus paid for a double room and grabbed the first-aid kit he insisted on carrying in the car.
Sabeen watched him warily. When they had pulled over in Paradise City she had refused his offer to clean her injuries. Instead she had washed herself in a mall bathroom and brought a new jacket and pair of pants to replace the ripped pair. It seemed like he was going to insist on proper cleaning.
She hated this part. She knew it had to be done, but for some reason she was more scared of the damage done to her body after the fight. And the smell of antiseptic and having to bandage herself up made her feel sick.
They entered the hotel room and Marcus paused as he saw the one double bed.
"Fucking awesome." he growled.
He threw the first-aid kit at her and pointed towards the bathroom, heading back out the door to pay for another room.
Sabeen was expecting him to be much longer so sat gingerly on the edge of the shower inspecting the kit. She had put it on the washbasin, which was the furtherest point in the bathroom from her and the shower. She actually felt a little sick.
Marcus walked back into the room to find her like that. She looked extremely pale, and he didn't think she'd seen him walk in. He figured that the stress of the day had caught up to her. It wasn't everyday you left your family and signed yourself into the service of a complete stranger.
"Fucking office is closed already. We're stuck here together tonight. Do you need help?"
"Um... No. I'll be fine. I'm just going to take a shower. And then... Get to it. With the antiseptic... And bandages."
He looked at her for a beat. His eyes widened and he came closer and craned his head around the door so that he could see what she had been staring at. The first-aid kit. Sabeen Moon, one of the more deadly women he had ever met, was scared of the first-aid kit. She looked up and saw the beginnings of a smile on his face. Her temper erupted and she slammed the door in his face turning on the shower as he began to laugh in ernest in the bedroom.
She only turned the water off when the last trace of a snort had died from the bedroom. Hopefully the ass had fallen asleep so that she could do this without any interruptions. No such luck.
The moment she had slipped on her new black bra and underwear set the door swung open and Marcus walked in, shaking his hair out of his eyes. For the second time that day he met her eyes full on making her breath catch again. He misread her look as fear (although that came shortly after) and attempted to calm her.
"I'll do it, just pretend it isn't happening, and I'll take care of it."
She fixed him with a stare. "Don't laugh at me and don't tell anyone."
She was surprisingly well behaved throughout his attempts to clean and bandage her cuts. She managed to stop herself from lashing out at him, and he only had to haul her back into the bathroom twice. She did throw up once when the smell of antiseptic hit the air, and Marcus held her hair back patiently as she retched in the toilet.
Later Marcus exited the bathroom after a shower and a shave of his own to find her curled in the blankets, with the covers pulled high under her chin. He presumed she was attempting to screen out the smell of the antiseptic. He slipped into the bed and pried some of the blankets out from under her, chuckling again to himself.
Sabeen woke slowly, disoriented. Her cheek and stomach were warm, and there was a band of pressure along her side and down her back. she snuggled into the warmth. As she slowly became more aware of herself she realized that she was curled over Marcus's chest while he cradled her against him. She froze in horror.
After craning her head up agonizingly slowly she saw that he was still deep in sleep and relaxed a little. Instead of getting off him she lay there for a second, enjoying the feeling of being held there. She could hear his steady heart beat and his intriguing scent made her want to press her nose against his collar bone and taste him. She saw that he had shaved and wanted to run her hand over the smooth skin to see what he felt like.
Marcus's breathing changed and Sabeen realised that he was awake. She panicked, throwing herself off him. She meant to land on her side of the bed. Instead she used too much push and threw herself off the bed entirely. Her feet were tangled in the sheet, making it impossible for her to find her footing. Instead her arse found the floor and she sprawled there doing her very best impression of a human with absolutely no sense of balance or grace. Marcus's face and shoulders came into view over the side of the bed. He was grinning like mad.
"Laugh and die Louvre." She snarled.
"Gezze, Calm down cat. You crawled onto me at about 2am this morning. And you didn't stop moving and crying out until an hour ago. I think I'm entitled to a little laughing. Besides, the rest of my day is pretty much guaranteed to suck." At her confused look he continued. There was no point in keeping her in the dark.
"I'm breaking my relationship with the head bitch, Ange. I've been looking for a valid excuse that won't get me swamped by horny werewolves for a few months now and you are the perfect excuse."
He had to be kidding. "Whoa there pony. Remember the deal. There is no way that I'm replacing this Ange person..."
"You won't actually be replacing replacing her. You'll just be taking her bedroom, and not leaving any space for actual replacements. You get the highly desired job of running interference on any females that get too close. Use it as a chance to work on your stare of death."