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Authors: Shelly Laurenston

Tags: #Romance, #Fiction, #Paranormal, #General

Big Bad Beast (8 page)

BOOK: Big Bad Beast
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About to shut this meeting down at the first opportunity—especially since she needed to get back to the city and ready for the game—Cella glanced out the big picture window behind the hyena females’ heads. That’s when she saw a male hyena run by, followed by another . . . and then Smith. Carrying a bat. A few seconds later, the males ran by the other way, but this time Smith caught one of them, yanking him back by his sweatshirt and dropping him to the ground. She hit him a few times with the bat and went after the other one.
Cella glanced over at MacDermot, but the full-human’s focus was still on the females in front of her.
“So you had no idea what was going on inside your own building?”
“We never use it,” one of the younger females argued. “It’s there, we own it, but we never use it.”
Smith stumbled into sight, the bat she held raised as a lead pipe came down at her. She blocked it, but the power of the hit drove her back a few feet. She swung the bat, smacking the lead pipe out of her way and slammed her body into the male’s, knocking them both out of sight.
Must be like fighting one of the New York Jets.
Sure, Cella was always willing to take Smith on, but that’s because she’d been trained to fight opponents four times her size. Like most female felines, Cella was long and lean, just hitting six feet. Only the wolves and bears seemed to grow their females so ridiculously . . . large.
Cella saw a rope flip up in the air, tossed over something. Smith jogged into view again and grabbed the end of it, hoisting the male up and into the air. She tied the end of the rope off, and proceeded to beat the poor bastard like a birthday piñata.
Once she was done hitting him, Smith started to walk off, stopped, came back, hit the one on the ground a few times for good measure, then was gone.
“Okay then!” Cella said, standing. “Time to go.”
Confused, MacDermot stared up at her. “What?”
“I’ve got that exhibition game with the Carnivores tonight, remember?”
“No.”
“We have to go.”
“But I’m not done.”
Perhaps not, but when Cella saw Smith spring by that window again, a gang of vicious, baby-fanged hyena cubs chasing after her, she knew they
had
to leave. She grabbed the full-human under the arm and yanked her off the couch, heading toward the door. “Thank you for your assistance in this matter. We’ll let you know if we have more questions.”
They were outside on the stoop when Smith hurtled around the side of the house toward their SUV. MacDermot stopped short. “What in—”
“Let’s go.” Cella yanked the full-human off the property and to the car. Smith was already inside with the engine revving. Cella and MacDermot scrambled inside, but before they got their seatbelts on, Smith hit the gas.
As they headed back to the City, Cella asked herself again,
How did I get here?
C
HAPTER
7
 
“T
ell me you didn’t take him back,” Lock said while they sat on the bench, waiting for the second string to get through the next few seconds of the game.
“I had to. He’s my cousin.”
“He’s your thieving cousin with a gambling problem. And have you forgotten your father’s edict?”
“Hardly.”
Lock blew out a breath. “He’s going to blow an artery.”
“Are you two focusing on the game?” Novikov demanded.
The pair gazed at the hybrid for a moment until Ric turned back to Lock and said, “You didn’t see him, though, Lock. They’d already beaten the hell out of him. He hasn’t been eating. I couldn’t just leave him like that.”
“But he’s out of the Pack, Ric, which means he’s out of the restaurant.”
“I can hire who I like, and someone has to wash those dishes.”
“What did Adelle say?”
“We haven’t discussed it yet, but I’m sure she won’t be pleased.”
“Don’t you have enough problems with your old man, now you’re going to piss off Adelle too?”
“Stein needs help.”
“Why? Who does he owe money to this time?”
Ric grimaced; he’d hoped Lock wouldn’t ask that question. “Polars. Dave Smolinski and his brothers out of Atlantic City.”
“Jesus Christ, Ric.”
“I know. I know.”
“Do you think you two
girls
could table this discussion until after our game?” Novikov snarled. “Maybe when you have a sleepover and you’re braiding each other’s hair.”
Ric stared at his least favorite human being and replied, “I think you’d look pretty with ponytails.”
“A single ponytail,” Lock insisted. “With front bangs.”
“Awwww. Now that would be lovely.”
Novikov stood. “I hate both of you.”
They followed him out onto the ice, Ric taking his position in front of the goal. Cella skated behind the net and around it, passing Ric with a smile.
“Everything go okay today?” he asked.
When she only laughed, he didn’t know how to take it.
Dee was sitting in the stands, watching the game. She didn’t want to, but she was too tired to get up and leave.
“Dee-Ann?”
She sighed, recognizing the wolfdog’s voice and praying the woman wouldn’t hug her. She couldn’t fight her off at the moment. “Yeah?”
Blayne leaned in closer. “Hon, you’re leaking.”
“Pardon?”
Teacup pointed at Dee’s arm. “You’re leaking.”
“Shit.” She’d thought she’d stopped the bleeding.
“Come on.”
Blayne grabbed her arm and helped her out of her seat.
“You’ll miss the game,” Dee told her.
“These days I
live
hockey. I can miss a game or two.”
Unable to fight, Dee let the wolfdog lead her to the hockey team’s locker room and into the medical unit that was always on standby during their games.
“Blayne!” the four technicians and three sports doctors called out.
“Hi, guys. You don’t mind if we use your facilities for a bit, do you?”
“Be our guest.”
Blayne helped Dee up onto one of the tables and went off to get supplies. She returned a few minutes later and helped Dee take her jacket off. She pulled off the towels Dee had wrapped around her wounded arm and, after some
tsking
, went about cleaning off all the blood.
“How did this happen?”
“Hyena cut me.”
“Oh, Dee . . .” Blayne said sadly. “You didn’t kill him, did you?”
She almost smiled. “Not this time.”
“Good. All this killing can’t be healthy for you.”
Blayne leaned in and studied the wound. “This is going to need stitches.”
Dee pointed at one of the doctors. “He can do it.”
“You’re not on the team. He won’t touch you.”
“Fine. I’ll go to the hospital then.”
“I can do it.” Blayne reached for a small plastic package.
“You must be joking.”
“Nope. But you have nothing to worry about. I’ve been sewing up O’Neills since I was fourteen. You know, when they couldn’t go to the hospital because it would have to be reported to the cops or something.”
“Watch me not even respond to that, but my answer is still no.”
“Dee-Ann, I’m
trying
to be nice here. But you’re testing my patience.”
“Sorry if I don’t trust you to start sticking needles into me considering our past.”
“Are you still harping on that?” Blayne demanded. “So I broke your nose and shot you that day in Ursus County . . . I can’t believe you’re still holding that against me.”
“I know. So irrational.” Especially when Dee had to let her hair grow out just to cover the damage to her dang ear from that gunshot.
“It is. Especially when I’m trying so hard to be nice. The least you can do is appreciate the gesture for what it is and let me stick this curved needle into your flesh over and over again. Understand?”
“Well—”
“Good! Now, hold on!” Gripping the pre-packaged needle with surgical thread in one hand and Dee’s wounded arm in the other, Blayne cheerfully chirped, “This is gonna hurt!”
“I know this was an exhibition game,” Novikov told them while the team tried to shower, change, and get out for the evening. “And I know that we won . . . but there are some things that you guys suck at. I have a list.”
He pulled a list out of his hockey pants and Ric jumped in front of Lock before he could get his hands around Novikov’s throat. “Why don’t we discuss this at the next team practice?” Ric suggested to Novikov, barely able to hold the grizzly back.
Novikov held up his sheet of paper. “But I have a list.”
Lock snarled, trying to push Ric out of the way, but somehow Ric managed to hold him back. “I know. But I think that list will be much more effective when we’re all rested and relaxed before a practice.”
Novikov took a moment to think about it, and finally agreed. “All right. But next practice—you’ll all get to hear how you suck
and
how to fix that suckiness.”
Ric waited until Novikov walked off to the shower before he told his best friend, “Let it go.”
“I should twist him into a pretzel.”
“What’s the point of that? Especially when there’s a risk he might twist you back. Let’s just take a shower and get out of here.”
Grabbing his towel, Lock stormed into the shower, Ric about to follow. But he took a moment to unlock Novikov’s locker, move his deodorant, hairbrush, and mouthwash around, and lock it all back up again.
He was heading to the shower when Blayne walked into the locker room.
“Blayne!” the entire team called out.
“Hey, guys!” She leaned in and whispered into Ric’s ear, “Dee got hurt.”
“What?”
“Don’t panic. She’ll be fine. I think the bleeding’s stopped.”
“Wait . . .
what?

“You’re still panicking. Anyway, I can take her home, but then I realized that
you
should take her home. Or, if you’re worried about how she’ll heal . . . take her to
your
home.”
Confused by all of this, Ric asked, “I don’t understand what you’re—”
“You. Take poor, wounded Dee home.” She winked. “It’s all part of my ‘Project: Wolf-Wolf’ plan.”
“I thought you were coming up with a less appalling name.”
She shrugged. “Nothing worked. So Project: Wolf-Wolf it is! It’s cute!” When he continued to scowl, “Suck it up, Van Holtz, and take her home.”
“Shouldn’t I take her to the hospital—”
“So cute,” she snapped, cutting him off. “But sometimes so freakin’ dumb.”
“Yes, but if she’s badly wounded—”
“Ulrich. Did my Project: Code Name Bear-Cat not work for Lock and Gwenie?” Blayne’s ridiculous but fun-loving plan to get their two best friends together forever, although to anyone with eyes that pair had seemed destined to be together—with or without Blayne’s help.
“Yes, but—”
“Then my Project: Wolf-Wolf will work for you. But you must listen to me and trust me implicitly.”
“I understand that, but—”
“Just take her home already!
Geez!

“Okay, okay!” He grabbed a towel, preparing to shower first. “I’ll be right out.”
“No problem. She’s hanging with the Babes.” Blayne’s derby team.
Now Ric did panic. “
What?

“She’ll be fine. They love the Dee-ster.”
“Good God, woman. You don’t call her that, do you?”
“Well . . .”
Deciding the shower would have to wait, Ric threw his clothes on.
“What are you doing, baby?” Blayne asked Novikov once he’d returned from his shower.
“Someone keeps moving the stuff in my locker around. It’s driving me nuts!”
Blayne rolled her eyes and circled her forefinger around her temple while mouthing,
He’s so crazy,
at Ric.
Shrugging, Ric grabbed his bag, and rushed out of the locker room.
When Ric got down the hall, he found Dee-Ann surrounded by the derby girls of Blayne’s team. Like Blayne they were a loud, fun-loving,
chatty
bunch . . . and Dee looked seconds from killing them all. Seeing the desperate rage in her eyes, Ric quickly walked over and caught her arm. “Hello, gorgeous ladies.”
“Ulrich!” they all cheered and a few hugged him.
“Did we tell you how much we love the jackets?” They all turned and showed off the light jackets he’d purchased for them that not only had the team name, their derby name and number, but also the Van Holtz name as he was one of their biggest sponsors. What could he say? The sponsorship drove his father crazy, but there was nothing the older wolf could do about it—not legally anyway.
“I’m so glad you guys like them.”
“You two should come out with us!” one of the girls begged. “We’ll get coffee or something.”
“We’d love to,” he began, but before he could finish, Dee dug particularly sharp claws into his hand, “but we can’t.”
“Oh.” The entire team eyed them then, together. “Ohhhhh.”
“Got it,” another said. “You guys go. Have a great night.”
Ric laughed, tugging a snarling Dee-Ann through the group.
He led her down the hall until they reached the elevator. Once inside, he asked, “What’s going on?”
With a sigh, Dee pulled back the sleeve of her denim jacket. He saw the stitches. “Malone?” he asked and Dee chuckled.
“Nah. She’s not a fan of knives. It was a Hyena. It’s not that bad. And Teacup didn’t do a bad job.”
“You let Blayne sew you up?”
“It was either that or hear the sobbing.”
“Excellent point. And you handled the derby girls very well, too.”
“That took a lot out of me. They were watching the game, but when Blayne didn’t come back, they all went looking for her. Like she was some lost kitten. But when they all started talking at once . . . that’s when I thought, ‘Time to start the killin’.’ ”
“Good thing I rescued you when I did then,” Ric teased.
“Yep.”
The doors opened and they walked out into the underground parking lot. “I’ll take you home,” he said, not bothering to frame it in the form of a question or an offer.
“Don’t need you to take me home,” was Dee’s immediate response.
He pressed his hand against her forehead, ignoring the way she slapped at him. “Until I’m sure you don’t have a fever, get used to having me around.”
“Great. First Teacup, now you gettin’ all pushy.”
“I’d like to think I rank a little higher than Teacup.” He stopped and glared at her. “And now you’ve got me calling her that!”
BOOK: Big Bad Beast
13.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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