Authors: Marisa Chenery
Ketah gave a short nod. “Fine, you can take me to Haven.”
“I’ll go get Cassidy.”
He continued to pace once more after his alpha left him. It didn’t take long for the mated couple to join him. They left the house, then got into the crossover. Ketah soon realized it was a good thing he wasn’t driving. There would have been no way he could have focused enough on the road, and being a fairly new driver, he would have been at risk of having an accident.
They finally turned onto Haven’s street and Cassidy asked, “Which house is hers?”
“The third house down on the left,” Ketah replied. He locked his gaze on it, then frowned. “Why is her front door open?”
As soon as the car came to a stop, Ketah was out of it and rushing to the front of the house. He heard Cassidy and Edensaw following behind him. He called Haven’s name as he stepped through the open door.
Instead of his mate running to be with him, Ketah was met with only silence. He hurried into the living room, which was empty. He growled low in his throat when he picked up the scent of another werewolf. He’d only smelled it one time before but it now had a slight change to it. Tanner had been in this room with Haven and another male mortal.
“Haven!” Ketah yelled, which garnered no reply. He turned to see Edensaw and Cassidy stood in the entrance to the room. “Tanner was here,” Ketah said as he looked at his alpha.
Edensaw gave him a curt nod. “And he has the stench of black magic in his scent. The lone wolf was right about the difference in it. He no longer smells like a regular werewolf. Tanner has joined with the dark wolves.”
“I think he has my mate,” Ketah said.
“Search the entire house and backyard to make sure Haven isn’t hiding somewhere. I’ll call Brice while you do that.”
Ketah did as Edensaw said, leaving the outside at the back of the house for last. Haven was nowhere to be found. The separation anxiety he’d been suffering through for almost the last two hours went from bad to worse now that he knew Haven was actually in danger. He wanted to go search for her, but he didn’t have a clue where to look, at least not yet.
Brice, Marta and Lindsey arrived not long afterward. Edensaw filled Brice in on what they’d found while Marta talked with Cassidy. Ketah had taken up to pacing in the living room, not able to stand still. Low growls rumbled out of him and he fisted his hands at his sides as thoughts of what Tanner could be doing to Haven played through Ketah’s mind. All he could think was he should have turned her along with claiming her while they’d been in the ice cave. She would have been immortal. Tanner wouldn’t have been able to do her permanent harm. From what he’d learned about the other werewolf, Tanner’s dislike for mortals led him to do just about anything to them with no remorse. And now that he was with the dark wolves, that tendency could be even worse.
Ketah turned to make another lap but stopped walking when he saw Lindsey standing just inside the living room. She gave him a small smile, then closed the distance between them. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tight. He forced himself to return her embrace, even though the person he wanted touching him right now was Haven.
“Don’t worry, Grandpa, we’ll find her.”
Ketah kissed the top of Lindsey’s head. “I thought you said you wouldn’t call me that.” She was his granddaughter, many times removed, but he still thought of her in that way. Lindsey had said from the first day they met that she wouldn’t refer to him as such because he was a very distant one.
“Well, I think you need me to do it right now.” She leaned back and gave him a half smile. “But once you’re back with your mate, don’t expect me to use that name again.”
“I guess I’d better enjoy it while I can then.”
Lindsey stepped out of his embrace. “Hopefully, that won’t end up being for very long.”
The others walked into the room. Edensaw looked at Ketah, then said, “There’s no scent trail for us to follow, which means she was taken away in some kind of vehicle. We have no leads on how to find Tanner, except for the meeting he’s going to have with the lone wolf Brice spoke to. So we can only stick with the original plan to follow Tanner without him spotting us.”
“That meeting isn’t supposed to take place until tomorrow afternoon,” Ketah said.
“I know, but it’s our best bet to find your mate. If we dig around without really knowing where Tanner can be, he might think twice about showing up and we could lose our only real chance of catching him and finding Haven.”
“I can’t sit around and do nothing.”
Edensaw nodded. “I know, it’s going to be rough on you, but what other choice do we have? Your mate is still mortal. We can’t take the risk of having him try to get rid of her if he thinks he’s lost the upper hand. From Haven’s scent, Tanner will know you’ve claimed her as your mate. Right now, he figures you’ll be desperate to do anything to get her back while suffering separation anxiety.”
If tomorrow’s plan didn’t work, Ketah had a feeling he would be as desperate as Tanner thought he’d be. As it was now, he didn’t know how he’d make it for the rest of the day.
Ketah met Edensaw’s gaze. “I have to get her back.”
“You will. All of us will help to reunite you with your mate.”
After searching Haven’s house one last time for any clue as to where Tanner could have taken her—without turning anything up—they left. Ketah found Haven’s keys and used one to lock the front door behind them. The next time he came there, it would be with his mate. Whatever tomorrow’s outcome was, losing Haven wasn’t an option.
Locked in the windowless room, Haven lost track of the time. No one came for her, which she counted as a good thing. She didn’t want to be anywhere near Tanner or Andre. She’d come to the conclusion that they had to be the dark wolves Ketah had told her he’d been turned to fight against. It also explained why she felt such evil radiating off her captors.
She tried not to think about her father and how Andre had killed him. Her dad may have been a huge asshole but he hadn’t deserved to die like that. Tears threatened to rise to the surface. Haven ruthlessly pushed them down. She couldn’t cry. She had to stay strong if she wanted to come out of this alive, though suffering separation anxiety made it very hard to remain that way.
At one point, she heard the van start and drive out of the warehouse space. She wondered if they were disposing of her father’s body. If she managed to get out of there, she’d have to call the police to report him as a missing person. There was no way she could tell them the whole truth, though. They’d try to lock her up in a mental ward if she did.
Eventually, Haven fell into a fitful sleep and dreamed about Ketah. It was more like a nightmare. In it, he called for her over and over again. She’d find him only to realize she could never close the distance between them, no matter how fast or far she ran. But what had her coming awake, screaming Ketah’s name, was Andre appearing in the dream and shifting to his wolf form. Instead of her father, the dark werewolf tore out Ketah’s throat. She watched in horror, unable to do anything, the same as when it had happened to her dad.
Haven came awake with tears streaming down her face. With her hands tied behind her back, she couldn’t wipe them away. Blinking to clear her vision, she pushed away the images from her nightmare. She pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her head on them. She needed Ketah. Her whole body ached to be in his arms again. Even knowing it wouldn’t do any good, it didn’t stop Haven from silently begging him to find her and take her where she’d be safe.
* * * * *
Ketah didn’t sleep at all. He hadn’t even bothered trying. He’d known it would be no use. His worry for Haven overrode everything else. The only thing that kept him from completely losing his mind was the fact the mating bond between them was still firmly in place. If Tanner had killed her that wouldn’t have been the case since the death of one mate was the only way to sever it.
After one excruciating hour after another passed, it was finally time to prepare to get in place for the meeting that was to happen between the lone wolf and Tanner. Ketah prayed like hell Tanner would show up.
Edensaw, Cassidy, Capac, Durlach, Kajakti and Ketah went to Brice’s place to meet up with him and the lone wolf and to finalize their plans. Wachei stayed home with Eryn and Carson since those two were still too newly turned to be much use in a fight. By the time they were ready to go, everyone knew what they were supposed to do.
Close to the appointed time, the lone wolf drove to the appointed meeting spot—Tanner would be waiting for him in the parking lot of a nearby coffee shop—while Brice and the rest of them followed in the crossover. Arriving where they needed to be, Cassidy pulled over at the side of the road across from the lot and a bit down.
Ketah growled low in his throat as Tanner got out of an older black sedan and walked over to the lone wolf’s car. The two spoke for a while, then Tanner returned to his vehicle. Ketah knew the lone wolf had turned Tanner’s offer down. It was part of their plan. And from the look Tanner had worn, he didn’t appear too happy about it.
The lone wolf drove out of the parking lot and out onto the street. As he passed the crossover, he nodded in their direction. He’d done his part, now it was up to them to not lose Tanner or get too close for him to realize he was being followed. Once Tanner’s sedan hit the street, Brice eased the crossover into traffic. Cassidy had much preferred the local pack leader do the driving from that point on.
Brice kept two cars between them and Tanner at all times. They soon left the commercial area behind and arrived in an industrial one where there were older warehouses. Tanner drove into the lot of a smaller building and disappeared around the back of it.
Brice pulled the crossover into the lot of the warehouse next to where Tanner had gone. “Time to get out and walk,” he said.
Edensaw nodded. He then turned in his seat to look at Cassidy, who sat in the middle row of seats directly behind him. “Stay in the car and keep the doors locked. Hopefully, we’ll be back with Haven shortly. If we’re not, don’t come looking for me.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
The separation anxiety would hit Edensaw and Cassidy in a relatively short period of time since they had only been mated for a year. Unlike Brice who could be apart from his mate for a couple of hours before feeling it. He and Marta had been mates for over fifty years.
Leaving Cassidy behind in the car, the six of them slipped onto the property of the targeted warehouse. They stayed in their human forms and would only shift in a fight since Brice had no means of communicating with them once he’d gone wolf.
They headed around to the back of the building. Tanner’s sedan was parked in front of a large door that was partially rolled up, leaving enough space for a person to walk under.
Ketah looked at Edensaw and asked in a hushed tone, “Do we use that opening or look for a better entrance?”
“There doesn’t appear to be another door on this side. I think we go in this way. If we rush it, maybe we’ll be able to catch them off guard.”
“I think that’s our best bet,” Brice added. “We have no idea how many of the dark wolves are in there, or the numbers in their pack. We at least know Tanner is there somewhere.”
That decided, they all took off at a run toward the open door. Clearing it, Ketah saw the wide, open space was empty. A groan of need rumbled out of him as the scent of his mate hit his nose. Haven was somewhere nearby. His cock grew hard, his body preparing to intimately reconnect with her. But he also picked up the smell of blood, spilled hours earlier.
He would have followed the scent trail that would have led him to Haven but a door opened and Tanner and four other werewolves walked through it. They didn’t seem that surprised to see Ketah and the others, and they stank of dark magic.
All of Ketah’s protective instincts rose to the surface, pushing his need to reconnect with his mate to the background. Haven would not be safe until these dark wolves were no longer a threat. As they ran toward him, his wolf brothers and Brice rushed to meet the others as Ketah shifted to his dire wolf form and met one head-on. The fight was fierce with nothing held back. Snarls and growls sounded all around Ketah after everyone had shifted.
Some of the dark wolves were taken down but they didn’t stay that way. Just like the two Wachei had run into two months before, these were as immortal as Ketah and his wolf brothers. He had no idea how they’d be able to take them out permanently.
But the dark wolves that were overpowered turned to dust as a black, smoky mass left their bodies. Only Tanner and two others of his kind remained and were surrounded by Edensaw, Capac, Brice and Durlach. So shocked by what had happened they stopped fighting.
Haven’s scent hit Ketah, which had him spinning around and shifting to his human form. He growled when he saw her being held by another man. The stench of dark magic was stronger on him than the other dark wolves. This had to be the leader of Tanner’s new pack. Ketah stepped away from the others as he took a better look at the man.
The dark wolf walked closer as he held Haven by the back of her neck. “It would seem Tanner wasn’t careful to make sure he wasn’t being followed.”
“Give me back my mate,” Ketah demanded.
“I had thought to make better use of her but I wasn’t able to see this attack beforehand. Now we both have something the other wants. You want your mate and I want Tanner and others returned to me. I have plans for them. I’m willing to make a trade.”
“And if we don’t give them up?”
He gave Ketah an evil smile. “Well, then I’ll just have to snap your mate’s neck. One little twist of my hand and it would be all over for her. You wouldn’t be able to stop me in time.”
Haven whimpered and looked pleadingly into Ketah’s eyes. There wasn’t any doubt in his mind that the dark wolf leader would do exactly as he’d said. Ketah turned his gaze on Edensaw who was still in his dire wolf form and had his jaws around the back of Tanner’s furred neck.
“Let him go,” he told his alpha. “Him and the others.” Ketah hated having to give in to the dark wolf’s demands but couldn’t see any way out of it. And after suffering separation anxiety for so long, he was desperate to do anything to get Haven back.
We’ll do what the dark wolf leader wants
, Edensaw said telepathically in Ketah’s mind.
If it wouldn’t cause the death of your mate I would refuse. But now we know who their pack leader is.
The others shifted to their human form and stepped back to give Tanner and the other two dark wolves room. They ran to their leader, who gave Haven a hard shove and he too shifted to his wolf form. Ketah put on a burst of werewolf speed and reached Haven to catch her before she fell. The dark wolves ran off and out through the partially rolled-up door.
Ketah quickly undid the rope that bound Haven’s arms behind her back. She let out a cry of pain as he brought her arms forward. “Are you hurt anywhere?” he asked.
“No, they only tied me up and locked me in a room.” Haven shifted restlessly against him. “Ketah? I need…”
He knew exactly what Haven needed. Now that the fight was over and his mate was safely returned to him, throbbing desire pounded through him. Ketah looked over at Edensaw and the others. “Wait for us outside.” His alpha nodded, then his wolf brothers and Brice left the building.
Ketah picked Haven up in his arms and headed for the open door to the room she must have been held in. Her scent trail led him right to it. Once inside, he kissed her hungrily, tearing at her clothes as she tore at his. He only took the time to remove her pants and panties and get his clothes out of the way. He put her back to the wall and surged up inside her.
As he took her in hard thrusts, Haven moaned, then said, “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have made you leave me.”
Ketah growled, getting lost in the pleasure only his mate could give him. “Not your fault. You didn’t know this would happen.”
She cupped his face and looked into his eyes. “I love you, Ketah. And I want that forever you can give me.”
“I love you too,” he said in a husky voice.
He pounded into her faster, his cock growing harder as his climax built. It tore through him, leaving him shaking. Haven cried out at the same time, her pussy milking his shaft, wringing everything out of him.
Once their orgasms ended, Ketah pulled out of Haven and held her close. Her whole body shook as she cried against his chest. Through sobs, she told him that it had been her father who had made a deal with Tanner to deliver Haven to him. And that Andre, the dark wolf pack leader, had killed her dad right in front of her.
Ketah wasn’t sad to hear about her father’s death. If he’d still been alive, Ketah didn’t know what he would have done to him. The man had willingly put his daughter in known danger with the lure of money.
He helped Haven dress, then fixed his own clothes before he gathered her into his arms and carried her out of the warehouse. He met the others at the crossover, then asked to be dropped off at Haven’s house.
At his mate’s home, Ketah carried her to the front door and used her keys to unlock it. He carried her right up the stairs to the upper level. Haven pointed to which room was her bedroom. He laid her on the bed, then climbed up onto it next to her and held her close.
They both must have fallen asleep because Ketah came awake with a jolt and looked down to see Haven’s eyes were closed. He gently shook her. There would be plenty of time later to sleep. Now he needed to take the next step that would truly make her his forever.
“Haven, wake up.”
She blinked open her eyes. “How long did I sleep?”
“For a couple of hours. We both did.” He brushed her hair off her forehead. “Back in the warehouse you said you want forever with me. Is that still what you want?”
“More than anything. Being away from you, then being held by the dark wolves, it showed me how much you really mean to me. I don’t want anything to tear us apart.”
“Then you know what I must do.”
She nodded. “Yes. I’m ready.” Haven pushed off him and sat up. “You can turn me now.”
“Don’t be afraid. It will take just one bite. There will be some pain but once you feel it and shift for the first time, it will disappear.”
Ketah shifted to his dire wolf form. He looked at Haven, then waited for her nod before he used his nose to nudge the collar of her shirt aside and sank his teeth into her skin. She sucked in a sharp breath but didn’t pull away. He shifted to human form again and watched the bite mark begin to heal.
A few seconds later, Haven reached for his hand. “Now it hurts. Like really, really hurts.”
“Look deep inside you for the spark of magic you now have. Once you do you’ll shift.”