Zoe sat up, breathing hard and blinking tears out of her eyes. She whipped her head around as her hands fisted in the blanket twisted around her. It was just another dream. The same dream she’d been having for months now. Zoe closed her eyes and tried to breathe evenly but the images were too clear. And too heartbreaking.
In her dream, Rory had Poppy by the hand and Kirk, their little boy in his arms. And they were walking away from her. Leaving her. Zoe clenched her eyes shut and willed the nightmare away. Every time she told Rory about the dream, he laughed it off, but she knew there was more to it.
Zoe stood up, wrapping the blanket around her shoulders and headed for their small kitchen. She grabbed a glass of water and took a long sip and wondered for the tenth time that day if she should talk to someone. She set the glass down and glanced at the laptop on the table. There was one person she could talk to who would understand. Ava Carlston. They were friends. They were both werewolves. And they were both pregnant. Maybe Ava had been having wacky dreams too?
Zoe sat down, feeling much better and clicked on her emails. She blinked in surprise at the thirty unread messages. She had been tired lately, she thought as she glanced around the messy house. She’d been letting a few things go. Laundry and emails being at the top of the list. She clicked on a few and then skipped down to the one with Ava’s name. It was dated two days ago.
Cyrus read a group text off one of the cellphones taken from one of the werewolf hunters. It said that they’ve found a redheaded Irish werewolf to take. It mentioned that the werewolf’s ex-wife made a deal with Spartak for his address. They could be talking about Rory. Zoe, get your family and get out of there. Today.
Zoe stared at the screen with grim eyes as her hands fisted by her sides. She’d been getting emails about werewolf hunters from Ava for over a month and she hadn’t paid too much attention to them. Who in their right mind would want any of Ireland’s werewolves? She adored the little pack in Ballybrit but the idea of anyone wanting to use any of the elderly men to form a hybrid pack was laughable. But this was different. Rory was now a target.
Zoe looked down at her large, distended stomach, a wave of fear crashing through her as she leaped from her chair and raced through their small home to the bedroom where her three year old son, Kirk lay taking a nap. She leaned in the doorway, her heart pounding and then closed her eyes as she fought the panic. What would she do without Rory? He was the only person in her whole life who had ever truly loved her. Her father had abused her and her mother shamelessly. The men in her town had taken advantage of her and looked down on her. But Rory had taken one look at her and seen things she hadn’t even realized were there. She didn’t know how to exist anymore without his love. She hurried back to the desk and grabbed her cell phone, running her hands through her hair nervously as she waited for Rory to pick up.
“How did you know I was thinking of you, Darlin’,” Rory said and Zoe immediately relaxed.
“Rory, come home right now. Tell them you’re sick, tell them anything, but just come home as fast as you can. Don’t talk to anyone. Especially if they’re a stranger and they have a Russian accent,” she blurted out as she paced her small kitchen.
Rory’s laughter made her teeth clench. She loved that Rory was so laid back and easy going, but at times like this, not so much.
“I promised I’d pick you up some ice cream on the way home from work tonight. I always keep my word, Zoe. I can’t just leave work all the time to run to the store for you.”
Zoe stopped in her tracks and stared at her phone, praying for patience. “Rory, so help me if you don’t stop patronizing me . . . this is deadly serious. We’re in danger. You’re in danger. If I don’t see you walking through the door in twenty minutes, I’m coming to get you,” she said in a harsh low voice that only shook slightly.
There was a pause on the phone before she heard Rory’s voice again. “I’ll be there in fifteen,” he said and hung up.
Zoe closed her eyes and let out a breath in relief. She had to think. She had to protect her family. In most traditional werewolf families, the man was the alpha in the relationship, but she was the alpha here in her home and in Ballybrit. It was up to her to protect the people she loved. She checked on Kirk one more time before walking out her backdoor and changing seamlessly into a wolf. She jumped into a run and ran circles around their home and property looking for any scent that seemed out of the ordinary or strange.
She paused by the small creek that ran behind their house and paused as she caught the whiff of a dark and heavy smelling cologne. Rory never wore any. Her nose was so sensitive to smells she couldn’t take it. She paused and scanned the area around her home. Someone had been here within the last day or two. Someone had been watching them. Fear arced through her back and nerve endings as the realization that Ava had been right crashed over her.
They were being hunted.
Or at least Rory was. Rage, dark and unholy filled her heart as she slowly tracked the scent around the woods that surrounded her house on two sides. She went slowly as she followed the scent until it grew so strong, it filled her head. She paused as she saw a tent set up where no tent should be. She watched as a man walked out of the tent, with a thick, half-burned cigar in his mouth and a gun in his hand. Her mouth pulled back in an automatic snarl as she watched the man talk animatedly on the phone.
“Yes, I’ve been watching them for days. The man is ridiculous though. I don’t know why we’re going through so much trouble to take him. He’s long and lanky, I’ll give you that, but if you want to breed this guy, I’d rethink that. The other wolves you’re scouting in France and Scotland are a better bet.”
Zoe froze as she watched the man pause and flick ash onto a large rock. “Fine, you’re the one paying the bills. I’m just the one who delivers. I’ll take him tonight and have him to Russia by tomorrow. What about the woman? The black haired woman I told you about? I don’t think she’s a werewolf but she’s pregnant with his baby. I could grab the two kids and you could have fun with them anyways.”
Zoe felt her body twitch with rage as the man sighed. “Excellent, I love bonuses. I’ll check in with you tonight after I have them.”
She watched as the man laughed and slipped his phone in his pocket. He blew a large smoke ring and then smiled. “Life is good,” he said out loud to himself with a large goofy smile on his face.
Zoe stepped out of the shadows and walked toward him, her mouth lifted, showing her fangs as the snarl rose in her throat. The man saw her immediately and reached for the gun he’d slipped in his pocket. Zoe leaped forward, taking the man down to his back so fast that his head bounced off the ground before the air was filled with his shrieks of terror.
Zoe began to rip the man apart, ignoring his screams of pain as the threat to her family filled her head with rage. She ripped and tore and bit until she was exhausted. As she stepped back, panting, she realized that there was hardly anything left of the man. She glanced around the forest and knew the forest animals would take care of what was left of his body. The tent though, would be a problem.
She changed into her human form and wiped the blood from her mouth as she bent over and picked up the phone off the ground. She hit the button and looked at the last call made. She swiped to text and wrote:
The man you sent won’t be coming back. Keeping coming for us and I’ll come for you , she wrote and then hit send.
She threw the phone as hard as she could and then went to work taking down the tent. She took the money out of the man’s wallet and smiled at the credit card.
“Thanks buddy. You’re paying for our little vacation to Canada,” she said lightly and walked out of the forest.
It was time for a nap, she thought as she walked towards the house. She smiled as she saw Rory’s car. He’d be so excited to see all of their old friends again.
She walked in and smiled as Rory walked toward her, looking worried.
“Zoe? Is that blood on your mouth?” he asked faintly, looking at her with distaste and horror on his face.
She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and smiled cheerily. “Just taking care of a little pest,” she said breezily and then sat down.
Rory stepped back from her and glanced down the hallway towards Kirk’s bedroom. “I’m just going to go check on Kirk,” he said and hurried down the hallway.
Zoe frowned after him and licked her lips, enjoying the taste of blood. Rory had looked at her as if he was scared that she’d hurt their baby. She snorted and kicked her feet up. No, she’d never hurt her family. But if someone ever tried to hurt her family? She would have no problem taking care of them.
No problem at all.
2014 (C) Copyrighted Material