Outwitting the Fox Ch. 06bykitten101©
Sorry guys, this is a re-edited version of chapter 6 - I don;t know why I have such a hard time keeping Finn and Rider straight - it doesn't happen for any of my other characters, I think it might be because they both act younger than the other guys, and they've got that playful, slightly smart arse thing going on.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read my work.
Almost a month had gone by without Finn. Jess was finding it somewhat... difficult... to stop thinking about him. It was so difficult she wasn't even trying to stop herself anymore. As a result she was moody and snappy, and for the good of everyone else in the house she was keeping more to herself.
The house had been noisy as hell that morning, Grey and Michael were fighting about something, Alexia and Rider were having another argument about the baby's name, and Gabriel and Marcus were down in the basement shooting. The noise and people had finally got to her, so she had escaped out into the forest.
Jess had been hoping that with time it would become easier having Finn out of the house. It's not like they had spent every moment together... And yet, without the wolf there the house seemed empty - which was a ridiculous thing to be thinking because Jess had been driven out of the house today because it was too full of people.
Biting her lip Jess began to wonder - not for the first time - if it wasn't the house that was the problem. Maybe it was her life that was too empty without Finn? Maybe she needed a mate?
She had never really been jealous of the other mated couples before, but she had wanted something similar for herself. Now she was feeling jealous. She wanted someone to cuddle with on the couch, and to hang out with when everyone else was off doing couple stuff. She wanted someone to confess stupid things to, and someone who she knew almost better than herself. Sure, everyone in that house was family, but Jess wanted something all of her own.
Perhaps it was time to start looking for a mate?
Jess was wandering along one of the dirt trails in the forest, completely in her own world and mulling over what her future mate would be like (and trying not to notice that her imaginary mate looked a lot like Finn), when she suddenly realised that perhaps she wasn't as alone as she had thought.
She wasn't sure if it was one of her team, and her first instinct was to shift and go to ground. Before she even had time to consider it a large white wolf charged through a space in the thick undergrowth towards her.
Definitely not one of the team, Jess realised. Both Finn and Marcus were grey, and the only other wolves with a reason to visit, Bucky and Rob, were russet and black.
"Good to know that security meeting the other day was useful for something." Jess growled sarcastically.
The white wolf, a female, snapped her teeth, growling and advancing threateningly. It was fairly probable that the wolf was a shifter. Wild wolves did not generally come onto Gabriel's land due to the mix of scents.
Besides, Jess just wasn't lucky enough to have happened on a simple wild wolf with no nasty human agenda.
With that in mind she thought perhaps running away might be the appropriate response. She couldn't hope to out-run the wolf long distance, but she could get close enough to either the house or the security cameras and make enough noise to gain someone's attention.
Jess whirled, right into the arms of the biggest, baddest, and scariest man she'd ever seen. He was tall, with icy blue eyes, closely cropped hair, and a finely chiselled - if slightly thuggish - face. If he wasn't there to probably kill her Jess would have thought he was hot (in a completely terrifying, wouldn't want him anywhere near her, kind of way.)
He grabbed her shoulder, roughly twisting her away from him to face the white wolf. Before Jess could find her balance he hauled one of her tank tops over her head, dropping it to the dirt path she had been wandering along.
He let go of her and she tried to make a run for it, but only had time for a squeak of surprise before he had her face down on the ground in a pair of handcuffs. Jess fought against the cuffs, and the pressure of his hands on her back until the man sat on the backs of her thighs, pinning her shoulders to the ground with his hands.
Her breath whooshed out of her, and she stilled in surprise. The man smelt vaguely familiar, so she could tell he was a wolf. He probably wasn't exactly the same type as Finn and Marcus though. It made sense - wolves seldom travelled alone.
Jess watched the white wolf pick up her tank top and trot off purposefully in the direction of the house. Thank god she was in the habit of layering. Otherwise she would be lying here handcuffed, with a large man sitting on her, in nothing but her bra. And that would suck on a whole new level.
"All right." The male settled in as if he was in for a long wait. "Which one are you and which one is your mate? And why on earth were you out here on your own? Don't you know it's dangerous for a wee thing like you to be on your lonesome these days?"
Jess listened to his rich persuasive voice with surprise. It didn't quite mesh with the almost thuggish exterior.
He shifted above her taking some of his weight off her shoulders, making it easier to breath. She didn't even consider not answering. She was going to do whatever she could to keep the big bad wolf from tearing out her throat.
"I'm Jess Thomson. And when I get out of this I'm going to cut your balls off with my favourite knife, and force feed them to you." Well... She she would do almost anything to stop the big bad wolf from tearing out her throat. Unfortunately that didn't include reining in her temper.
"Ah the little lady with all the weapons. You're still unmated then? That's a pity, but I can't imagine why not. You're quite a neat little package - apart from that nasty temper of yours that is."
The male grinned suggestively, hoping to get a rise out of her. Faith had been right, this was fun, he would have to thank her for talking him into it.
Jess scowled at the ground and did her best to hold her tongue. She was being quizzed about her love life by the scariest lowlife kidnapping scum she'd ever met. Unless he wasn't just here to kidnap her? It was a lot more likely that he was after Alexia she realised.
Jess was bait. She didn't like the feeling one bit.
Alexia would figure it out, though, wouldn't she? There was no way they'd all come trooping into the woods to save her. They knew better didn't they? Oh god.. the baby! If she put Alex and the baby in danger...
Jess knew she was panicking, but there wasn't much she could do to stop herself. She lay there panting shallowly, and seeing spots. Her heart was pounding so hard she thought it may just pound it's way out of her rib cage. Any minute now she would throw up.
"Poor little fox. All on your lonesome." His voice was hypnotic as the male stroked the backs of his fingers lightly down her cheek.
Jess bit her lip and did her best to jerk away from the caress. He was right, she was all on her own out here - there was nothing stopping him from doing whatever he wanted to her. She struggled against the handcuffs, trying to buck him off her thighs. The male dropped a little more weight on to her, pinning her more effectively to the ground.
"You know you're never going to come out on top - there's no way you can ever win this one, so just sit back and relax." He lowered his cheek to hers.
"It's going to be over as soon as we've passed on our message, and found Alexia."
Back in the mansion Gabriel, Max, Grey, Marcus, and Sabeen were lounging beside the pool watching Alexia and Rider debate the stupidity of 'Penelope' as a babies name. They were supposed to be having a meeting about a simple breaking and entering job coming up on the roster, but discussion had died down as the younger shifter's voices had raised.
"What the hell are you talking about Rider? Penelope is perfectly fine for a girl! It's feminine, and sweet, and classic! It's a classic girls name!!" Alexia slammed the name book she had been waving around down on to a handy stone table.
Rider rolled his eyes and flopped down into his chair. "It's a classic pigs name! Penelope the pig! you might as well just call her Prudence and get it over with!"
"Are you calling my unborn child a pig?!" Alexia growled.
"No! Of course I'm not. I just don't want her to be teased!" Rider rubbed his temple where the headache was building. Baby names were hard.
Alexia signed and the fight slowly drained out of her. She was too tired for fighting anyway. Rider held out his hand drawing her down on to his lap. She snuggled there with her nose against his neck, breathing him in.
"Perhaps we should just come back to it later. There's still months to go before she's even born. Surely we'll be able to find something we both agree on before then." Alexia said.
"And if not we'll just pick a name out of a hat." Rider grinned.
Max exchanged a wiry look with Gabriel and they both hid their smiles. If it came to picking a name out of a hat neither of them had any doubt the draw would be rigged - on both sides probably. Both shifters had a stubborn streak a mile wide.
The door into the house swung open and everyone looked up to see Finn standing there. He looked a little rougher, but determined and happy to be there none the less. Shocked silence fell over the group, and for a long moment everyone froze, waiting to see what their leader would do.
Gabriel remained sitting scrutinising Finn through lowered eyebrows, his expression thunderous. The boy better have sorted himself out.
Breaking the dramatic tension, Sabeen shoved her chair back and threw herself at him with a purr of delight. "You're back!"
Finn grinned and scooped her up into an affectionate hug. Marcus was right behind her, giving Finn a firm clap on the back, and ruffling his hair. It was good to be among pack again.
"You here for good?" Marcus asked.
Meeting Gabriel's eyes Finn squared his shoulders determinedly "I am here for good."
Gabriel correctly read the challenge in his eyes and he relaxed, his eyes giving away how pleased he was to see the wolf back. Getting to his feet he clasped Finn's hand warmly
"Welcome back. Don't screw it up this time."
"Not intending to." Finn said with a twist to his mouth.
A growl from the other end of the courtyard caught everyone's attention. Rider was standing aggressively, watching a white wolf in the long grass between the house and the woods.
"Who the hell is that?" Grey asked, voicing the question on everyone's minds.
"Alexia, inside with Grey and Rider. See if Michael has picked anything up on the cameras. Max, Finn, and Marcus, fan out into the woods, check for others. If there are corral them. I want to know how many, and where. If it's alone get it surrounded. Sabeen, you're with me." Gabriel ordered. Everyone waited for his signal to move, watching the wolf's approach.
The wolf trotted close enough that everyone there could see she held a piece of fabric in her mouth. She deposited the fabric onto the ground, and turned tail, heading back into the darkness of the woods with as much speed as she could muster.
"Fuck! Jess is out there. That's her top." Max growled, ripping her own top off, and beginning her Change.
The words galvanised the others. Rider and Grey hustled Alexia into the house, while Sabeen and the others shifted. Gabriel and Finn didn't bother waiting for them, Both took off at a dead run into the woods.
Jess angled her vision upwards to see someone approaching, She wasn't stupid enough to assume it was someone on her side. It was the female wolf. She had shifted back into her human form, and acquired a shift dress from somewhere.
"Nathaniel, get the hell off her. She's not going anywhere." The woman was pissed off enough to give him a rough shove.
Even if Jess was carrying all her favourite knives she wouldn't have shoved the male wolf. He was literally the scariest person she had ever seen - he was scarier than Gabriel who used to be her scary person benchmark.
Nathaniel lifted his cheek off hers. "Her heart's going a mile a minute Faith. I'm trying to calm her down."
The woman gave him another good shove. "Foxes aren't like us, they're not big on strangers in their personal space. If you stopped rubbing yourself all over her, and I'll bet she'd calm down in a big way."
"Faith... You sound jealous. Are you jealous?" The male purred and rubbed his cheek across the top of Jess's head, almost like a cat.
Jess did her best to sink into the ground, this was quite possibly the weirdest situation she had ever been in. Just what the hell was going on here? With her ear pressed against the ground she could faintly hear something approaching from the left - unfortunately she was facing right, so she had no idea whether it was her team, or their team, or just a rabbit with a death wish.
"If she passes out before they get here it's going to look pretty bad -"
"It already looks bad, wolf. Get off my mate."
Faith was interrupted by an enraged man, and Jess's heart leapt and crashed as she recognised Finn's voice and scent. His voice was so rough he sounded more than half way through his change.
What was he doing there? Where were the others? If anything happened to him she would kill him for being so careless.
Nathaniel leaned down once more, ignoring Finns warning growl. "Well then it seems you were wrong, you do have a mate. You can thank me later."
Faith moved in front of Nathaniel and Jess, blocking them partially from Finn's view. It was the wrong thing to do. Finn saw red. He dropped his shoulder, and rammed the blonde woman hard enough to send her flying to the ground and started towards the man on top of Jess.
Sabeen flew out of the woods in her tiger form, landing heavily on top of the woman, startling a pained yelp out of her.
"Faith!" Nathaniel yelled panicking at the sound of her in pain. He immediately lifted his weight off Jess, ready to go to Faiths aid.
Nathaniel dodged Finn, throwing Jess towards him, and went for Sabeen, intent on ripping her throat out. Gabriel stepped in front of Nathaniel, throwing him back a couple of meters with a hasty side kick.
"You're on my territory wolf, and that's my pack member that you were threatening. Sabeen, restrain the woman." Gabriel hissed angrily.
Nathaniel lifted a cocky eyebrow, and attacked with a flurry of kicks, Gabriel blocked and slammed his palm into the other man's ribs. Nathaniel countered with an uppercut.
Faith lay gasping beneath the Tiger, desperately trying to speak. "Sabeen?? Sabeen Moon? Aaron sent me. He's the Death Walker you gave the globe to. He needs to talk to you."
Sabeen eyed her warily. Aaron had seemed like an ok guy. And there were only two of them. They could easily over power them. She made up her mind and let out an earth shaking roar, causing both Gabriel and Nathaniel to pause and look at her.
She backed slowly away from the woman on the floor, and shook her head at Gabriel.
Gabriel frowned and glared at the man opposite him. "Are you sure Sabeen?"
She nodded and changed back into her human form. "Sort of. She says they're from Aaron, I met him a while back, and he seems legit. Scary, but legit. I think we should see what they've got to say. Besides we outnumber them in a big way."
Gabriel thought about it for a moment before grudgingly agreeing. He pulled off his tee shirt and passed it to Sabeen, who put it on gratefully.
"Faith, are you ok?" The Nathaniel asked, his eyes not moving from the man in front of him.
"I'm fine. She winded me." Faith said sitting up slowly.
Max and Marcus melted out of the undergrowth silently flanking them. Gabriel spared a quick glance at them, deducing immediately that there had been no others in the forest.
Faith decided to talk quickly before any of the shifters changed their minds. "We're here because Aaron needs to find Alexia Devon, we think she's with your cousin. We're trying to track Rider down because Alexia is in danger. Aaron needs to keep her away from the council."
She paused for a second wondering just how much she should tell them. "Aaron's building a new council. A representative council, and the seer's have seen that she's the deciding factor - if she lives, she'll represent the Shifters, and if she dies the Council wins. We're here to make sure she lives."
Gabriel considered the two wolves standing before him for a long moment. They didn't know he had Alexia and Rider in the house, and he wasn't quite sure he wanted to reveal that knowledge.
"I want to talk to Aaron. I'll meet him in the City office, 7pm tonight. I'm assuming that's doable?" Gabriel said sounding as lethally pissed off as he felt.
"That's fine." Nathaniel said.
"Good. Sabeen, Marcus, and Max will escort you off my property. If I find you in my territory again I will assume you do not hold your lives in high regard, and will act accordingly."
The two wolves nodded their understanding and turned back in the direction they had come. Before they left Nathaniel dropped the handcuff keys at Finn's feet, who stood protectively in front of Jess. She had struggled to her knees the moment Nathaniel had jumped off her and was now watching them depart with angry eyes.
When the forest was quiet again Gabriel turned to Finn and Jess. "Are you all right Jess? I need to go fill the others in."
She nodded quickly. Finn wasn't really her first choice of rescuer, but Alexia and Rider needed to know what was going on. Gabriel sent a warning glare towards Finn before stalking off towards the house.
For long moments after Gabriel left they held their positions. Jess remained kneeling on the dirt track, and Finn stood with his back to her desperately trying to collect his self control. He'd very nearly lost her.
Jess stared up at the big man in front of her. His head was down, and he was breathing unevenly. He looked lost and broken. She longed to slip her arms around his waist and rest her head against his wide shoulders. He did have very nice shoulders.
"So... Are you going to set me free now?" She asked, trying to distract herself from his shoulders.
"Jess. I need to apologise." Finn said softly, still not looking back at her.
She swallowed. "You know what's better than an apology? Free use of my hands."
"Jess. Don't -" Finn turned to face her, and she sat back on her heels in shock. "Don't joke about this. I hurt you."
She watched him warily, he was close to changing, his sandy blonde hair was showing signs of rough grey, his incisors were longer than they should have been, and his eyes were more wolf than man. He did not look like he had full control of the wolf in him, and Jess really didn't want to be alone with the wolf - not while she was cuffed and kneeling at least. She looked longingly at the key on the ground.
He followed her eyes and cursed out loud, kneeling to retrieve the key. Here he was trying to apologise to a handcuffed woman. Perhaps next time he should gag and blindfold her too. He felt like an idiot.
His hands were more paw like, and less mobile, and they both instantly realised he'd have a problem unlocking her. He pulled her forward to rest against his front, and tried anyway.
Jess knelt pliantly with her nose against his chest and his arms around her, fumbling at the cuffs. She didn't do anything to aggravate the already frustrated wolf.
Finn felt the key drop through his paws and growled ferally in annoyance. She smelt of another man, and fear, and if he had been doing his job as her mate properly none of it would have happened. His restraint broke.