Redemption Ch. 02byicequeen06©
"I'm telling you, you have to do something about this! Here we are, the whole pack in danger and you're going out with some bitch? Your father would be ashamed of you!"
Brian let out a howl as he lunged for Jensen Hatcher, the man who had just insulted his mate.
"Never again," he growled.
Jensen's gaze lowered slightly, "Yes, my Alpha." He nearly snarled the words, his disgust barely held in check.
"I am your Alpha. If you have a problem with that, you can challenge me anytime you wish. But do not ever speak of my mate in such a way. Ever."
"Yes, Alpha. My apologies."
Brian knew that this wasn't completely over with Jensen, but still he wondered if he should postpone his date with Annabell just a few days more. His wolf growled at that. No, boy, I won't do that to you. It was just a thought. He chuckled softly, irritating his wolf. There was no way he was going to wait to see Annabelle any longer than he had to. He watched as Jensen left, wondering how long it would be before he caused trouble again.
Annabelle stepped into the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant, her eyes quickly finding Brian in a corner near a window. Slowly she made her way toward him, smiling when he realized she was there and turned away from the window.
"A penny for your thoughts."
"I was just thinking how lucky I am to be on a date with such a beautiful woman." He stood and pulled out her chair for her.
"Well since the 'beautiful woman' just arrived, I'd say your full of it. And does that line actually work?"
Brian chuckled. She was perfect. "I just had a rough day at work, and was still thinking over some problems that need to be worked out." With that, he turned his attention to making sure his mate had the perfect evening.
After dessert, Annabelle had suggested that they take a walk, so they left the restaurant and began strolling through the town square. Brian felt a thrill run through him when Annabelle had not protested to him holding her hand. If he could end every day like this, life would be perfect. All too soon, though, the night came to an end. They made a lunch date for the next day as they made their way back to the parking lot.
Annabelle sighed contentedly as she started her car and pulled into traffic. It had been the most wonderful night. Temporarily, she had been able to forget how weary she was. She had even pushed her assignment to the back of her mind for a few hours.
She pulled into her driveway, then hurried up to her front door to tear open the note taped to it. Damn it! Can't they go one night without reminding her? She ripped the paper a couple times then let it flutter to the ground. Unlocking the door, she slammed it closed behind her. They just had to go and ruin her evening, didn't they? The first normal evening she'd had in almost two years and they had to ruin it.
Brian watched as Annabelle sagged against her front door, then ripped the note to pieces. Okay, so maybe following her home after their date was sort of stalking, but he just needed to be sure she got their safely. Yeah right, he told himself. You just wanted to know where she lived. He made his way silently up to her porch and gathered the pieces of the note, slipping them into his pocket.
Once home, he began piecing the note back together and froze when he read what it wrote. 'Remember your incentives. Do your job and everyone will be fine.' It seemed like a veiled threat, but what really shocked him was the symbol in the bottom right-hand corner of the paper. It was the Cimmerian royal seal.
Nothing sanctioned by Cimmerian royals should be taken lightly. Using any kind of magic was considered taboo, even in a Were community. Cimmerian magic was the darkest of all. Legends told of a time when weres, vampires, wizards, and witches had all co-existed together, until a royal family of witches separated themselves from their circle and started a war.
During that war, it had been discovered that ancient, dark magic could affect both werewolves and vampires, giving wizards and witches an advantage they'd never had before. It had been a bloodbath. Unknown prejudices were revealed as more and more leaders from each group fell, causing a loss of control on their people. And the original offending family, the Cimmerians, had begun to build what would one day be the largest witches coven in the world. If Annabelle was somehow mixed up with that, it could mean war all over again.
But she couldn't be, could she? She was his mate. He needed to be able to look objectively at the situation, but couldn't bring himself to make the calls to the other members of the Alpha Directorate. They would most certainly put out the order for her to be brought in. Brian couldn't let that happen. Maybe he could unobtrusively gather a little more information while getting to know her. Then he could take it to the Directorate. It wasn't the best plan he'd ever made, but it had to work.
Annabelle woke to the ringing of her cell phone. She squinted at the clock. It was only ten.
"Well, hello to you too, sleepyhead," Brian's smooth voice washed over her. "It's already ten o'clock. What are you still doing in bed?"
"It's Saturday, dammit! I LIKE to sleep in on Saturdays. Go to hell!" Annabelle threw the phone across the room. Every Saturday for the last three weeks, it had been the same conversation. At least he'd stopped calling before ten, she thought sleepily, her eyes drifting closed.
Brian smiled as he heard the phone crash against the wall before the line went dead. He thought it was cute that his mate was clearly not a morning person. He loved early mornings, the peace and beauty that crept over the earth as the sun rose. Right now, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky. Who could stay in bed on a beautiful morning like this?
Thinking of Annabelle lying in her bed caused his cock to harden. Three weeks of nothing but a few kisses and holding hands. He was trying to go slow, wanting to earn her trust before he told her what he was and mated with her, however he felt he was going to lose that battle very soon. Just being near her, her scent, the way she moved drove him wild with need. A need that was barely held in check these days.
He began to gently rub the bulge in his pants, letting his fantasy woman take over his mind. Annabelle in the middle of his bed, legs spread wide begging him to take her, on her knees her beautiful ass in the air, her dripping slit inviting him to pound into her, her cries as he teased her breasts, nipping and twisting her nipples. He was just about to unbutton his pants to stroke himself properly when a knock sounded at the door.
"Yes?" he growled in frustration.
"I know your jacking off in there instead of actually taking your mate, but if you could manage to keep your pants on, there are some things we need to deal with."
"One of these days, I'm going to kick your ass until you submit properly, you know that? Just quit your damned teasing before you get seriously hurt!" Brian yelled back as he stalked to his bedroom door. He yanked it open, coming face to face with a smirking Justin.
"And here I thought finding your mate would mellow you out a little. Guess I was wrong. You're getting grumpier."
"Spit it out, Justin."
"Right." Justin shifted into full beta mode. "Well, Kendra is at the infirmary. She's pretty bad off, too. Might take a couple days to heal up."
"Kendra's hurt?" Brian grabbed his cell phone off the table, then hurried toward the door, Justin right behind him.
"She's unconscious, Brian. She was found just outside the property line."
"Who found her?"
"I don't know. Megan called me, and I came here as soon as I got off the phone with her. She said it was a female werewolf, but she didn't recognise her." Justin hurried to keep up with Brian's long strides.
The only doctor in the pack, Megan, greeted them as they entered the infirmary. She looked worried, which was unusual for her.
"What's going on Megan?" Brian asked.
"Brian, she is pretty bad, but I think she'll pull through. She was beaten badly and..." Megan's eyes lowered slightly. "She was raped, Brian. Violently."
Brian's growl started deep in his chest, ending in a mournful howl as his wolf took control. Justin hurried to open the door to Kendra's room, moving back as the large brown wolf barged into the room.
Brian ran to Kendra, inspecting her closely and licking the wounds he could reach. She was unrecognizable, both eyes swollen and purple, her right cheek twice its normal size, and her bottom lip was split open. Her clothes had been shredded, revealing multiple bruises and cuts.
Megan appeared the doorway. "She has some broken ribs and her collar bone is broken as well. She'll heal, but it will take some time."
Brian turned pain filled eyes on the woman. He'd allowed a member of his pack to be hurt. His sole purpose was to lead and protect his pack and he'd failed. How would any of them be able to place their trust in him after this?
Justin saw the regret and pain in his Alpha's eyes. "Brian, you need to shift back. We have to find out who did this and talk to the girl who brought Kendra in. She might know something. Come on. We'll make whoever did this pay for it. We'll find them, I promise." Justin breathed a sigh of relief and held out some clothes when Brian slowly shifted.
Brian pulled on the sweat pants and then headed back to the waiting room. Megan motioned to girl who could have been no more than seventeen, huddled in the corner. She looked scared, her large brown eyes darting wildly back and forth between the three werewolves. Her short blonde hair was matted with twigs and leaves, her clothes caked with dirt and grime.
Brian sensed Justin tense beside him, but ignored it for the moment. He relaxed his stance to appear less threatening to the girl.
"What's your name?"
"Elizabeth," the girl whispered.
"Elizabeth, I'm Brian. I heard you are the one who brought Kendra in? Can you tell us how you found her?"
The girl whispered brokenly, "I was running in the woods and tripped over her. I didn't realize I was on a pack's territory. Please let me go now. I shouldn't be here."
"No one is going to hurt you here. We just need to find out as much as we can about who did this, okay?"
"That's all I know. I can't be found here. I have to go. Please." Elizabeth started hedging away from them, glancing nervously at the door. Brian stepped toward her and reached out his hand. The girl flinched and crouched on the floor when his hand moved, and Justin immediately stepped between them and turned to face Brian.
"Why don't we let her get cleaned up, maybe eat something before we continue this." There was a silent plea in Justin's eyes.
Brian nodded, disturbed by the odd tone of his voice and Justin's actions. He had practically challenged Brian, something that had never happened in all the years Justin had been part of his pack. Despite all his teasing and smart remarks, Justin had always taken his role as a beta seriously, and had always shown respect for Brian's position. He was acting strange and Brian wanted to know why.
"Alright. Elizabeth, would you like that?" Brian asked gently.
Justin saw her hesitation and knelt beside her. He slowly held out his hand to her. "You're safe here, I promise. Why don't you at least stay long enough to get something to eat, then decide if you still want to leave? We only want to help you." After a long moment, she placed her hand in his and let him lead her from the building.
Megan, who had been watching in silent shock glanced at her Alpha. "Is Justin okay? I've never seen him act like that."
Brian frowned. "He's fine. Just do what you can for Kendra." With that, he turned and strode out the door, reaching for his cell phone. He dialed Annabelle's number.
She answered on the third ring. "It's only been an hour! Let me sleep!"
"I need to see you. Please. Meet me for lunch at two o'clock?"
Annabelle immediately sensed something was wrong and quickly tamped down her anger. "Two is fine. Is everything okay?"
"I just need to see you, is all. Can't a guy have the desire to see his girl?" Brian tried to lighten his tone so he wouldn't worry her.
"Alright then, big guy. I'll see you at two." Annabelle followed his lead and didn't mention how upset he sounded. "I've gotta go now, so I can get dressed and take care of some things. I'll see you later."
Brian pulled up in front of Annabelle's house, and quickly made his way to her front door, his thoughts still in turmoil from the events of the day. They hadn't been able to get anymore information from Elizabeth, and Justin had been just as tight-lipped about his own strange behaviour. Brian had allowed him to keep whatever he was hiding to himself for now, but had warned him that he was dangerously close to over-stepping his boundaries. He hated not knowing what was going on, but had enough trust in Justin to give him a little time.