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A Black Mesa Novel


Beast Betrayed

Copyright © 2017, L.L. Brooks

Published by Painted Hearts Publishing

Smashwords Edition

About the Book You Have Purchased

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Beast Betrayed

Copyright © 2017 L.L. Brooks

ISBN 10: 1-946379-09-3

ISBN 13: 978-1-946379-09-2

Author: L.L. Brooks

Editor: Ashley Kain

Publication Date: June 2017

All cover art and logo copyright © 2017 by Painted Hearts Publishing

Cover design by E Keith

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

Chapter One

“He’s early this weekend,” Daniel commented. Brand grunted in response. Silver hadn’t missed one weekend in the month since they’d put an end to the threat from Star.

“Does he know you’re coming this early?” Brand asked as Silver stepped out of his car.


Daniel braced himself for what was already shaping up to a challenge of alphas. Silver’s tone and posture were offensive, telling Brand he was ready to fight if he didn’t like him being there. Brand didn’t. That was a given. He wouldn’t, however, deny Silver access to his mate no matter how much he disliked the arrogant man. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t say something to insult Silver.

In an effort to head off a clash of wills, Daniel spoke quickly. “He isn’t here. He’s…” His eyes shifted, drawn to what he thought was movement in his peripheral vision. Staring for a second, seeing nothing, he went on. “He’s out checking the water tanks. It’ll be…” His attention wandered again. “I keep thinking I see something moving—”

“Shit,” Brand retorted.

Silver, after moving to stand beside Brand, asked, “What would one be doing here or out during the day?”

“One what?” Daniel asked, that time sure he had seen something moving in a blur from tree to tree.

“It’s going to burn up if it doesn’t get out of the sun,” Silver commented, following as Brand moved in a dog trot to the barn.

Daniel followed them. “What is going to burn up?” he asked, even though part of his brain was putting together what another part refused to believe.

He didn’t ask anything more. Brand threw open the barn door and stepped inside to one side. Silver stepped in to the other. Daniel walked backward, still watching. The blur sped from tree to tree, only the tree itself wasn’t its objective. Shadow to shadow was, with the pauses between getting longer, accompanied by more smoke wafting up each time. Daniel had seen Brand move at hyper-speed. Whatever that thing was, it was supersonic. The part of his brain that refused to believe what he thought he was seeing lost, especially when the blur ran out of trees and headed straight toward them, leaving a trail of smoke behind and stopped just a few feet from him, horrifying in bubbling flesh.

“Enter,” Brand said

“You invite it in?” Silver demanded.

“You were just putting me on about vampires and unicorns,” Daniel exclaimed, rushing into the barn after the blur passed him and collapsed on the dirt floor.

“I never said we were putting you on,” Brand told him, going to a faucet and hose.

“You should let it burn,” Silver commented, backing far enough away to avoid being splashed while Brand sprayed the thing down.

Daniel raved. “What else was I supposed to think the way you all laughed?”

“We were laughing at the look on your face.”

Insulted, but fascinated, Daniel raised his voice to be heard over the moans coming from the dirt floor, “Is there something more we should do?”

“It’s self-healing,” Silver answered with disgust plain in his voice.

“He’s a man!” Daniel shouted, fighting not to puck at the sight of the burned raw face and hands. He no longer smoked, except for tiny wisps coming from the clothes, male clothes designating a male; otherwise gender would be hard to tell.

“It’s a vampire,” Silver corrected.

“Yeah, well, you’re a shifter, but you’re still a man.”

“There is a big difference between—”

“Don’t argue with him,” Brand ordered and turned the water off.

“Aren’t you going to do something to help him?” Daniel demanded.

“I’ve already done all I know to do, get him out of the sun and cool his body down.”

“Now you’re being a smart ass,” Daniel accused, after the way Brand accented the pronouns. He shifted to private. “Just because you’re pissed off at Silver is no reason to take it out on me.”

Brand responded aloud. “I didn’t invite it-him here, and once we find out why he-it is here, I’m liable to be pissed off even more.”

Silver started in agreement. “I’ve never heard of any dealings with one of them that—”

He broke off when the object of their discussion groaned, rolled, and sat up, raising straight up from the floor from his hips in an effortless sit-up. His face was a scarlet shade, but the burned away flesh was restored. Blue eyes didn’t seem quite as startling a shade as the scarlet faded and blond hair sprouted on the bald scalp.

“What the hell were you doing out during the day, and what are you doing here?” Brand asked, his tone, stance, and words far from welcoming.

“It was not my intention to be about once the sun had risen,” the man said in a melodious voice. “Despite my carefully planned journey, after a lengthy problem created a delayed flight to Denver and late arrival at the airport, my conveyance to here malfunctioned, leaving me too little time for a safe arrival.”

By the time he finished he was one hell of a good-looking man in what appeared to be his middle thirties, blond hair to his shoulders, blue eyes not too far from the pale shade of Brand’s, and a slender build. Clothes, scorched and soaked, were a simple pull over shirt and designer jeans.

“You want to slip into this century?” Brand asked.

Blinking a few times, the man sighed heavily before answering. “My apologies. When I am distressed, I fall back into old habits.”

Daniel couldn’t help it. He had to ask, “If this is you distressed, what are you normally? Asleep?”

“To display one’s emotions is vulgar.”

“This century,” Brand snapped. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I come for assistance for which I am willing to pay. It would be advantageous…” He broke off, rolled his eyes, and drew a deep breath. “I’ll make it worth your while to handle a job for me. You can understand why I can’t use normal—human—channels, and your success in locating missing persons is well known.”

“I don’t work in the field anymore.”

“This I was told. I had hoped to appeal to—”

“It won’t help you to appeal to anything. I don’t work in the field anymore, and I damn sure don’t track down vampires.”

“He’s human.”

“Or your human slaves, familiars, whatever the hell you call them.”

Silver said, “I believe those are for witches.”

“Thralls,” Raymond provided. “They gladly give us blood in exchange for ours and the benefits from it, but he is not a thrall.”

On a single-minded track, Daniel exclaimed. “Now you’re going to tell me there really are witches?”

Brand and Silver both turned from the man on the ground toward Daniel. “Of course,” Silver stated at the same time Brand asked, “What would you call Star?”

“A fucking, twisted bitch,” he retorted. “She was a shifter, not a fucking witch.”

“Why is he so upset?” Silver asked.

Brand ignored him to tell Daniel, “She was a seer. Anyone with paranormal abilities have been called a witch for centuries.”

“Many who did not as well,” came from the ground.

After seeing the way the man sat up, Daniel about half-expected him to levitate himself to his feet. He rolled and pushed up normally, brushing at the mud on his clothes, accomplishing no more than smearing it. Giving up, he bowed slightly and introduced himself. “Raymond Winterhaven, at your service.”

“I’m not at yours,” Brand retorted. “You wasted a trip and got burned for nothing.”

“He’s my son,” Raymond stated.

“If he’s your son, he isn’t human,” Silver countered.

“I thought you’re all sterile,” Brand added.

“They call the ones they turn their children,” Silver told Brand.

“No,” Raymond corrected, but then waved his hand. “Some, but most of what you think you know comes from the minds of moviemakers and writers sensationalizing fiction in pure greed only.”

“You don’t drink blood?” Silver challenged.

“Yes, but we do not attack and kill to get it when our thralls are so generous. Nor do we alter our human form to change into bats.”

Fascinated, Daniel asked, “You don’t change into an ugly monster with huge fangs and long claw like nails?”

“No,” he answered. With a raised eyebrow, he asked, “Do you?”

“He’s not a wolf,” Brand said, stepping in front of Daniel. “You’ve said what you came for. I said no. Now it’s time for you to leave.”

“They kidnapped my son. They have given me two days to do as they wish. If I do not, they will sell him to the highest bidder. It would be a fate worse than de-ath.” He managed to keep his voice even, but his breathing hitched with the last word. Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, he continued. “You have a son. Would you kill someone you have no hatred for to save him?”

“They will either sell or kill him anyway,” Silver stated with cold dispassion.

“How old is he?” Brand asked, shooting Silver a shut up look while Raymond pressed two fingers to his forehead.

“Ten.” He dropped his hand. “You know what kind of perverts like that age.”

“How did you end up with a human son?” Silver asked.

“Silver!” Brand growled. “Stop interrupting.”

“His story doesn’t make sense. He says it’s his son, but you said they’re sterile, and he said he didn’t turn the kid. So how does he have a human son? After what you’ve just been through I would think you would be more careful.”

“I only ask that you locate them,” Raymond explained in a rush. “Nothing more.”

“Don’t you have some kind of ESP connection to him?” Daniel asked.

Raymond gave him a blank look for a moment before shaking his head and saying, “Someday when time is not of such importance, I must educate you on the truths about my people.”

“Can you put people in a trance?”

“Daniel,” Brand growled.

“Just curious,” Daniel stated in a weak apology, then asked, “Who do they want you to kill?”

“The president.”

“Of the United States?” he asked with a start.


“Could you? I mean with all the security he’s got, could you get to him?”

“Of course.”

“And away?”

“Of course. He would be dead and myself gone before they even realized what happened.”

“Why do they want him dead?” Brand asked.

“Who are they?” Silver asked at the same time.

“To answer you both, I do not know. They did not explain, only gave orders.”

“Do you even know who they are?”

“Again, I must say no.”

“How the hell do you expect me to find them?” Brand demanded.

“I have my son’s clothing, heavy with his scent. I do know where he was taken from.”

“You claim we have little knowledge of your people,” Silver said. “Yet I do know you have enhanced hearing and sense of smell, similar to our own. Why do you not track him yourself?”

“I cannot go there.”

Silver threw his hands in the air and asked Brand, “You trust this?”

“Why can’t you?” Daniel asked.

Raymond answered Silver’s first question. “They warned me they have people watching. If I show myself, making an effort to find them, they will send him away.”

“Where was he?”

“School. They will watch for me or one of my own during the night. They would expect a human thrall during the day perhaps, but never expect me to go to an outsider, especially a wolf for assistance. You can go during the day, while none of my human friends can without being recognized, even though willing.”

“Are you really enemies?” Daniel asked.

“No,” Brand retorted.

“They are not to be trusted,” Silver stated.

“You want to go look for Cruz?” Brand asked.

“Why not?” Daniel asked, ignoring the interchange between the two alphas, after Brand off-handedly invited Silver to leave.

“We are very different,” Raymond answered. “I believe it is a lack of understanding those differences as well as century-old prejudices that cause the stress between the two races.” He faced Brand. “I was told you do not hold those feelings.”

“Who told you he didn’t hold those feelings?” Silver asked.

“That’s none of your fucking business,” Brand told him.

Drawing his back up straighter than usual, Silver told him, “I will be taking Cruz to the cabin.”

“Be back before dark.”

“You’re leaving?” he demanded. “You would go with this monster?”

“We are,” Daniel stated. Unlike Silver, he knew as soon as Raymond said the kid would be sold, Brand was hooked.

“You would betray your own kind?” Silver demanded.

“Unless it was a wolf that kidnapped the kid, how do you figure I’d be betraying one of our own?”

“Wolves and vampires have been enemies for centuries. It cannot be without a reason.”

“What I do or don’t do is none of your business.”

“It is if you bring these creatures to where my mate is.”

Brand clamped his jaw, tipped his head back, and closed his eyes. Daniel knew it meant Silver was within a hair’s breadth of having Brand explode all over him. He took a step forward, fully intending to get between the two alphas when Silver turned on his heel and stalked out.

“Don’t ever get between us,” Brand warned, dropping his head to look at Daniel. “When I finally go after him, nothing will stop me.”

“I just hope it’s in your human form. I hate to think what you’d do to each other as wolves.”

“One would be certain to die,” Raymond stated, taking Brand’s attention back to him. “You are truly bonded?”

Brand ignored the question, asking, “Did you take the boy?”

“Yes, while his mother went inside to buy her drugs, I took Jessie from a shopping cart she used to haul him around, nearly naked, barefoot, without even a blanket against the cold.”

While he backed up and sat on a barrel, Daniel shot Brand a ‘how did you know’ look.

“I did not go out that night with the intention of becoming a father, but when I saw him, his face bruised, his lip split, and obviously starving, my decision was made.”

“Cops ever get involved?”

Shaking his head, he said, “I doubt she even remembered where she’d left him.”

“Did you kill her?”

“I left her for the drugs to kill.”

“Have you killed,” Daniel asked.

“Of course, but not in the way you mean. I have served in six armies in seven wars.”

“How old are you?”

“One hundred and twenty years.”

“How many have you turned?” Brand asked.

“Just over two dozen, but only at their request.” He shifted weight. “We waste time. You could be on your way to the school.”

“I haven’t said I’d help you.”

Raymond shot to his feet. “You must! Jessie cannot become a—” Catching himself, he drew a deep breath and blow it out while he sat back down. “I was given to believe once you understood the circumstances you would put aside prejudices and assist me in saving an innocent child.”

“Who sent you?” Daniel asked.

For the first time, Raymond smiled. “Someone your mate rescued before he knew what he aided.”

“I knew what he was,” Brand retorted. “You guys have a scent all your own.”

Daniel agreed with that, now that the charred smell was nearly gone.

“Still you saved him from the slayers.”

Brand shrugged. “Three against one didn’t seem right.”

“What are slayers?” Daniel asked.

“An organization centuries old, passed from one generation to the next, dedicated to killing all vampires,” Raymond answered. “We have only legends to tell us why.”

Head down to hide his face and smile from Raymond, Daniel thought, “They told you to fuck off and pissed you off, right?”

They were torturing him, not just killing him.” He paused and added, “Yeah, they told me to fuck off. What I get for hanging around alleys, looking for pimps.”

Daniel had to turn completely away to hide his grin. Brand could choose the strangest times to show his sense of humor.

“While I’m trying to find the kid, what will you be doing?” Brand asked.

“I will go to Washington and pretend to be studying how I will assassinate the president. As soon as my driver has seen to the repair of our vehicle, he will come for me.”

“Fine. Give me the information, your cell number, and make sure you’ve got a good quality picture of him to send me as soon as I call with a number to use. Wait for your driver in here. I don’t want you upsetting any of the other residents.”

* * * *

“I’ll finish this,” Brand said, shoving clothes into a duffle bag. “Go let Philip know we’ll be gone and ask him to help Cruz keep an eye on things.”

“Cruz is going to be busy. We really need to get someone else lined up for when Silver is around. Maybe Peter and Ryan. They might like getting away from the compound some times.” Without the need to read his mind, Daniel knew from the scowl on his face what Brand thought of that idea. “I mean only when we’re gone.” With a mischievous grin, he added, “At least they’re not BDSM.”

“I don’t really want to discuss anyone else’s sex life,” Brand grumbled.

Daniel sobered. “Since Silver was so bent on killing Ryan, I don’t think it’d be a good idea for them to be here at the same time. Would he have tried to kill Raymond if you hadn’t been here?”

“Maybe not kill, but I doubt he would have helped him or invited him in and not cared if he burned up.”

“It’s true they can’t come in if you don’t invite them?”

“Yeah, so they lay in wait for victims.”

From his tone of voice and the emotion Daniel sensed, Brand didn’t approve of vampires. That he’d help Raymond anyway showed a lot about the type of man he was, especially when a child was involved. “I wasn’t sure if you thought Raymond was lying about never killing for food.”

Brand shrugged. “It doesn’t seem likely at his age, but it’s possible.” He stopped packing to tell Daniel, “You better understand if he threatens us or any human, I will take him out.”

“How?” Daniel asked in weak humor. “Sprinkle him with holy water?”

“A Taser or stun gun will drop them. Then you put a stake in their heart and cut off their heads.”

With his face twisted in disgust, he asked, “You’re not putting me on?”

“Not this time. Maybe you only need one or the other, but with them, I wouldn’t be taking any chances.”

“What was the one you saved doing in the alley?”

“Hunting and Isaac makes no bones about it. He does limit himself to pimps and drug dealers.” With a grimace, he told him, “He said when they’re high, he gets a little high, and when they’d without or coming down, he puts them out of their misery.”

“Most dealers don’t use.”

“Smart ones don’t, but I doubt he makes much distinction between pushers on the street, selling to support a habit, and the main suppliers.”

“Vampires get high?”

“It takes more, enough to kill a human, but yeah. From what I got from him, any he finds on those he kills, he uses.”

“He’s an addict?” he asked in astonishment.

“He doesn’t have to have it the way a human addict does, but he likes it.”

“Where is he now?”

Brand went back to packing. “I don’t know or care.”

“I’ll go talk to Philip.” Reaching the door, Daniel gave an undignified giggle. Yep, it had been a long time since they’d done the mile-high sex thing.

* * * *

Trying a new method to ease separations from the kids, Brand and Daniel told Adam they were leaving. For an eleven month old child—at least from Daniel’s human experiences—Adam was exceptionally smart and excelled in manipulation. He didn’t use anger like he had when they came home the only other time they’d left him, going instead straight to tears, both arms out, a hand reaching out to each of them. Each felt like the worst kind of parent for deserting their child, and Wanda’s assurances that Adam wouldn’t suffer any manner of trauma did little to elevate their spirits. Still, Daniel was glad William wasn’t old enough to miss them, and the drive to Denver was silent.

Daniel was the first to break the silence, talking while they loaded their bags from the truck into the plane. “What are we going to do when William is old enough to realize we’re leaving?”

“You mean if both of them act that way when we do?”

“Yes,” he answered, still miserable over Adam’s distress.

“Pray Adam outgrows it before William starts. I don’t think I could take a double dose.”

“God, no.”

Silence held again, each reading the emotional level of the other. Not until they filed the flight plan and gotten in the air did Daniel put to words what was running through the back of both of their minds and affecting their bodies.

“Remember the first time we had sex in the plane?”

“When you got through giving me that blow job, I couldn’t believe you’d never done it before.”

Releasing his seat belt, he told Brand, “I really think you should put the auto-pilot on and get into the back seat.”

He had his pants unbuttoned and the zipper down, cock standing at attention before Brand flipped the switch. Shoes were toed off and his pants worked to his knees before Brand released his seat belt. Pants were completely off, and his shirt followed in the time it took Brand to wiggle between the front seats to reach the back. Brand got turned and flopped in the seat, barely, before Daniel was on his knees between Brand’s legs, his hands after Brand’s jeans, getting them open enough to draw out Brand’s rock hard cock.

Brand’s arms flew out, and he held on. “Fuck,” he moaned the instant Daniel swallowed his cock to the back of his throat.

Later,” Daniel thought, his mouth too full to speak.

Up and down he went on the thick shaft, dragging his teeth up, swiping his tongue across the tip, and nibbling his way down. At the same time, his hands were busy, pulling Brand’s hips to the seat edge in an easier to reach position, pulling the jeans as down far as they would go with his legs spread. Wiggling a hand inside from the front, he cupped the heavy, swollen balls.

Brand’s hips flexed, fucking Daniel’s mouth while being sucked, at a slow, easy pace until Daniel swiped his own weeping cock with his free hand, ran his finger from the base of Brand’s balls to his asshole, penetrated the tight ring of muscle with one finger without preamble, and drove in deep, tickling Brand’s prostate.

Brand’s hips shot up, ramming his cock deep into Daniel’s mouth. Both hands fisted in Daniel’s hair with an accompanying moans of, “Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck,” while Daniel gulped, unable to swallow all of the hot cum filling his mouth, until he had to break away for a breath.

Finger still wedged inside, Daniel squeezed his own cock with his other hand, aching from the closeness of his own climax. “Where’s our go bag?” he gasped out, cum running down his chin.

Still panting, Brand shook his head. “Where did you put it?”

Laughing and squeezing himself to make his hard-on go down, Daniel collapsed, his head on Brand’s chest. “I forgot. It’s under the seat.”

“I don’t have the energy to dig it out.”

Daniel wiggled his arms around Brand’s waist and hugged tight. “I love you so freaking much, it hurts sometimes.” Realizing what he said in connection to how his crotch felt, he had to laugh. “In more ways than one.”

“If not for you, I’d have spent my life never knowing what it meant to love anyone.”

Nestling down, arms crossed over Brand’s belly, he told him, “You’d have had Adam.”

Brand stroked Daniel’s arms. “I wouldn’t have kept him, not that I didn’t feel the connection the instant she shoved him in my arms. I wouldn’t have been ready to trust myself to be able to show him love. You taught me how.”

Daniel crawled up until he straddled Brand’s lap, his knees at Brand’s shoulders. “We taught each other. I’d dated some girls, but never made any real connection with any of them. I never thought about it or would have understood why until I met you.”

He pushed back and cradled Brand’s face in his hands. “Then there was that whole mating thing, turning both of us around.”

“It was meant to be. Our souls called to each other.”

“And answered.”

He covered Brand’s mouth with his own, moaning in pleasure when Brand’s tongue slipped inside, hot and wet. No duel of tongues followed. Daniel’s lay passive, curling to welcome the tongue fucking Brand was giving him, his crotch sliding forward and back on Brand’s semi-hard cock. With a sigh, he broke the kiss and snuggled. Brand had come, his own cock was fading, and Daniel was content. “How much time do we have?” he asked.

“Enough for me to return the favor.”

“I’m happy right where I’m at.”

“Me, too,” Brand agreed with a deep sigh, “but we have to get cleaned up and fix our clothes before we can land. We can’t go to school smelling like cum.”

“That should only take a couple of minutes, and I like being able to do whatever we want, sexually, without worrying about someone hearing or walking in on us.”

“Or standing at the locked door screaming.”

They laughed together. Adam conquered the gate in his doorway almost faster than they could put it up. They gave it up as a wasted effort to keep him confined when he woke up during the night, locking their bedroom door for privacy while they had sex instead. They had to be sure to unlock it, however, or he did stand at the door screaming. At eleven months he was already tall enough to reach the door knob.

“I hope Philip is right about him slowing down soon. If he keeps growing at this rate, he’ll be over eight feet tall.”

“It’s a wolf thing.” Brand cupped Daniel’s chin, kissed him lightly, and then lifted and turned him to sit beside him. “Now get the go bag. We’re going to have to go back to work.”

“Ha! After all that goes on at home, this is going to be a vacation.”

Chapter Two

The elite private school refused to discuss the possibility of someone strange lurking around the school grounds or to release the security tapes they had, either not believing the story Brand told of a suspected stalker or not caring. Not saying why they were really asking questions and dragging the police in wasn’t an option and not necessary. Brand picked up Jessie’s scent even after two days and followed it around the corner where it disappeared. In the first house they went to, the owner was more than happy to invite them in to see what the cameras on her state-of-the-art security system might have caught. Finding Brand particularly attractive, which she was not shy in showing, helped encourage her co-operation. She even threw Daniel a couple of bedroom invitation smiles, busy flirting while they watched the tapes and Brand used his phone camera to photo the monitor screen showing the man leading Jessie to a car, a clear shot of the man’s face, and one of the license plate.

“She’s horny,” Daniel commented with a chuckle once they’d walk out of hearing distance.

“Ummm.” Brand used the key fob to unlock the doors on the rented pickup before they crossed the street.

“It’s going pretty good.”


Brand was doing the driving, as usual. That he was familiar with Los Angles and knew the layout of the major streets and highways didn’t surprise Daniel. How familiar he was with the upper class, luxury homes, and the private schools as well as the back alleys and havens for runaways and drug addicts did.

“He probably drove a rental car and any information he gave will be false.”


“Judging from that school and the cars picking those kids up, I’d say Raymond does pretty well financially. What makes me curious is who usually picked the kid up for him, and why did Jessie go willingly with the man who did. It was obvious there wasn’t any stress or threat involved.”

“Send a picture off to Raymond and find out if he knows the man,” he told him, handing over his phone.

“Sure.” Keying the number in, he asked, “They probably think they’re saving the kid from the big, bad vampire, right?”


“Everything I’ve read or seen in movies says they have no soul, therefore they have no emotions.”

“I’m sure those same books and movies say the same about wolves.”

“Werewolves, maybe, but that isn’t what you are. You’re a shifter. You turn into a beautiful wolf, not a deformed monster.”

“You turn into a magnificent cougar, and it’s time for you to embrace that part of yourself, especially now. William will be needing guidance.”

“He may not be able to shift.”

“Daniel, both of his parents are cats. The chances he wouldn’t be are very slim.”

“She was leopard. I’m cougar. That makes the possibilities less.”

Brand chuckled, shaking his head. “Of conception, baby, not cat.”

“It still scares the shit out of me.”

“Because the only two times you’ve done it you were enraged and killed, not that I’m complaining. You killed both times to save me.” He gripped Daniel’s thigh. “I’m not worried anymore about either of us losing control while we’re shifted. When we get home, when Silver isn’t around, we need to go out together.”

“When are you going to let Adam see your wolf?”

“That’s something I need to start on when we get home, and the thought of terrifying him scares the shit out of me.”

“Are we going to let him see my cat?”

“We’re going to have to, yours and Samuel’s. He didn’t react badly to Paul’s scent. That’s a good sign.”

Daniel chuckled. “Silver has no idea how badly bringing Robert and Paul to prove how wrong you were proved nothing at all.”

He sobered quickly though. To prove Brand was wrong in believing a conspiracy existed to kill wolves by fucking altered cat shifters, Silver had brought a wolf and his cat mate to the ranch. Paul, unlike Samuel and Daniel, had not had his scent glands removed. He had never been a part of the experiments Samuel and Daniel—along with several other children—had been during their infancy and childhood. While he was at it, Silver let Brand know he thought Brand, Daniel, and Philip were crazy and-or stupid for believing it. The asshole did apologize for not listening once they got Star, the instigator, but if anything it only strengthened Silver’s hatred of cats.

Following that train of thought, he said, “The clan seems to have accepted finding out I’m cat pretty well. They don’t act like they’d like to attack me when we go to the mesa.”

“They know better.”

“They’d like to and just don’t show it? Is that the real reason you want to move away from here?”

“Don’t start that shit again!”

“I know it isn’t the reason, but I know it contributes if for no other reason than how you act every time I bring it up.”

“Maybe I’m tired of you continually bringing it up.”

Daniel twisted inside his seat belt to face Brand. “I’m pretty sure, most of the time, when you threaten to leave, you’re just blowing off steam, but have you thought how Philip would feel if you actually did? He’d feel deserted or betrayed, leaving him there as the only wolf mated to a cat and still hiding it. They’d be living in dread of someone finding out, knowing the clan won’t tolerate Samuel the way they do me, because Philip isn’t an alpha.”

“They will—if they find out—when their alpha tells them he’s always known, which Collin would do. Now drop it,” he ordered.

“Tell me what you’re hiding by shutting me out every time I bring the subject up, and I will.”

Talking through his grinding teeth, he told him, “I’m not hiding anything.”

“Right.” He twisted back straight in his seat and flopped back. “Where are we going now?”

“To a hotel with internet.”

* * * *

Still smarting and hurt, Daniel went to the door, giving serious thought to not even bothering to say where he was going.

“Don’t forget the keycard,” Brand told him.

Stopping with his hand on the door knob, he asked, “Are you planning on not being here when I get back?”

Brand blinked and looked up from the laptop screen. “What?”

“I swear sometimes I think there are at least two of you inside that head of yours. You don’t even know what you said to me.”

After staring at him for a couple of seconds, Brand told him, “I know what I should say. I don’t blame or resent you for what the others do.”

“If you had never met me, you wouldn’t have to deal with any of them or their problems. You’d still be dodging cops and the FBI, killing pimps, stealing their terrified kids, and taking them to the sanctuary.”

“Yeah, I get pissed at times and yearn for a time when I didn’t have anyone to think about but myself,” he admitted.

“The time you lost because you couldn’t walk away, because of the mating call you couldn’t ignore?”

“That’s what’s wrong with you? You feel like I was forced into it?” Brand rose up off the bed in a slow stalk. “You think I couldn’t have turned my back on you and walked away like I did the other times?”

Jolted at the idea, Daniel exclaimed, “There weren’t any other times.”

“The first was a redhead of the West Virginia clan.”

“You’re lying,” Daniel claimed, sidestepping to keep from being pinned against the door.

“The second was a blond.”

Daniel quick-stepped, rounding the end of the bed to avoid getting blocked in the narrow passageway between the bed and the wall. Backing into the main part of the room, he shook his head. “You’re lying,” he repeated, backing as Brand still stalked him.

“They were both beautiful women. They would have made me some beautiful, strong children.”

“You didn’t want kids.” He pressed against the back wall. “You chose me so there wouldn’t be any.”

Brand scoffed. “Did you hear what you just said?”

“Yeah, I did.” He shoved Brand’s hands down to keep him from unbuttoning his shirt. “You didn’t want kids.” He shoved Brand’s hands down again. “That’s why you never took a woman for a mate.”

“I chose you.” Brand no longer attempted to work the buttons loose. He took a side of the shirt in each hand and pulled. Buttons flew and material ripped. Daniel gave up, his arms dropping to his sides. “No mating call forced me to. I made my choice, baby. I didn’t walk away the first night, the next night, or the next.”

Daniel’s voice dropped to a weak whisper while the snap on his jeans popped open and the zipper lowered. “You told me no one, man or woman, meant anything to you.”

“Because I didn’t choose them. Because I didn’t let a mating call force me to mate with them.”

Shirt off, pants down to his ankles, Daniel asked, “If that’s true, why didn’t you ever tell me before?”

“I didn’t want you to be jealous or make you feel insecure.”

Daniel shoved up straight. “Bullshit.” He pushed Brand back with hands to his chest. “You’re not using sex to—”

Brand gave him a grin, the kind that made Daniel’s ass clench, his balls draw up, and his cock twitch. A split second later he hung over Brand’s shoulder. Daniel knew he was lost. He hit the bed on his back without time to scramble off, trapped under Brand’s weight, Brand’s ass in his face and his cock in Brand’s mouth. One did not fight when a precious part of one’s anatomy was surrounded by teeth, not that Daniel wanted to. That mouth felt too damned good, sucking on him. The cock and balls hanging inches from his chin looked too good to ignore, too. How or when Brand opened his pants to make it possible, Daniel didn’t know or care. Brand wanted to play rough. He could, too. He fisted Brand’s balls.

Brand, however, had other ideas, making them clear by scooting back on his knees until his cock hung over Daniel’s face. Daniel needed no more encouragement, lifted his head, licked the head of that luscious cock dripping delicious cum into his mouth. Sucking next and being sucked was enough to send him to heaven. Humming his pleasure, his hips flexed in time with Brand’s bobbing up and down, fucking his mouth, his heavy balls bouncing off Daniel’s cheeks. Thinking it could never get any better, fighting to control, wanting more, wanting it to last, Daniel cried out when Brand pulled away.

Clutching at Brand’s hips to bring him back, he cried out yet again in surprise and pain. A finger rammed into his ass, a fingernail dragging across his prostate added even more pleasure. Pleasure and pain made him feel like he was losing his mind, wanting more, demanding more, fingers clawing at Brand’s hips, pulling him closed. He was right there at the edge, ready to lose control, ready to come when Brand pulled away again.

“No!” Daniel lunged up to pull him back, missing when Brand swung around.

“I’m not through with you.”

Those words were the only warning Daniel got. Brand flipped him and dragged him back. Legs hanging over the edge of the bed, Daniel barely got his feet on the floor and hands on the bed before he shot forward, flopped, hands fisting in the covers, teeth clamped together. With both hands on his ass, Brand pushed him down, pinning him to the bed with his cock driving into his ass. As hot as he was, as close as he’d been to coming, Daniel shoved back, gritting his teeth at the burn of the brutal entry. Pain, pleasure, pain, more pleasure, pleasure, and his mind screamed, “God, I love you,” when Brand’s knot slipped inside and the first climax began.

* * * *

Exhausted and sore, Daniel had long since given up any thoughts of going after food. He’d lost count somewhere, third or fourth climax, he thought, before he actually passed out. They had been too long without sex with restrictions of being quiet or hurrying. Brand’s knot hadn’t swelled up since after he decked Colin for harassing Shannon when the testosterone of even that short of a battle had aroused both of them to a fever pitch that had to be answered and was barely contained until they could get away from the others.

“I’m not too sure it’s a good idea for us to wait so long in between,” he said with a yawn, his arms and legs wrapped around Brand. “Maybe we ought to start taking a night or so a month just for ourselves.”

“Not bad idea. It’ll get Adam more used to us leaving and coming back.” He unwrapped himself and rolled away.

“Where are you going?”

“Back to the computer. There’s still work to be done.” He patted Daniel on the butt. “Go to sleep.”

With a jaw cracking yawn, Daniel rolled over, thinking to do just that. The thought lasted about two seconds. Rolling and sitting up, he asked, “What can I do?”


“While you work? I don’t think so.”

“You could play with me to keep me awake.”

Stunned, Daniel said, “You’re kidding.”

“Yeah,” he answered with a straight face. Still in his naked glory, he picked up the laptop that had hit the floor sometime while they were having sex. “I need to concentrate now that I’ve worked off all that tension.”

“That’s all that was to you?” Daniel demanded.

Sitting down, computer on his lap, Brand smiled. “Pretty good, I heard the words and only faintly felt the snicker.”

Daniel snickered, heading for the bathroom. “I’m going to take a shower and then go get us something to eat.”

“I’ve already eaten.”

“Me too.” Snickering again, Daniel shut the bathroom door and locked it.

“I wasn’t going to follow you,” Brand called out.

“I know. You don’t need to work off anymore tension.”

“At least it didn’t cause a headache.”

“Ha-ha,” Daniel mocked, but it was funny.

The longer they were together the more Brand’s sense of humor showed itself. Despite all the irritation the others caused him, Brand was rounding out emotionally, the way he should have been if his father hadn’t been one mean son-of-a-bitch, the man he thought was his father, anyway.

Stepping into the shower, he considered possibilities, how different things would have been if the man Brand thought was his father had been, his supposed father’s alpha hadn’t revived an ancient practice of the head alpha taking a new bride the first night of mating, before her husband, or even if his mother had lived during his birth. Brand wouldn’t have run away, been picked up by a pimp cruising for new slaves for his stable, and made the mistake of trying to rape Brand, activating his wolf. Brand wouldn’t have set out of a course of vengeance, slaughtering pimps who enslaved children. Dozens of boys wouldn’t have been saved from the fate that first pimp planned for what he thought was a helpless, naïve boy from the country.

He stepped out of the shower, thinking of how many wrongs had led to something so right and nearly jumped out of his skin. “Damn it, stop doing that!”

Brand, fully clothed, stood inside what had been a locked door. “You were thinking awfully hard.”

“You know about what?”

“Not exactly.”

Toweling down, Daniel told him, “You had a shitty life growing up, but if you hadn’t, we probably never would have met.”

“Just lucky.”

“You don’t believe that. You believe we were fated to be together.”

“I believe we were meant for each other,” Brand corrected. “That doesn’t mean we would have found each other. We were lucky.”

Daniel draped himself on Brand, arms locked around his neck. “You’ll really do think it was lucky for you.”

“I really started living after you found me, which you know.” Hands on Daniel’s waist, Brand lifted him and set him to the side. “You did your job and got me to unwind.”

“Okay, now tell me what spooked you that made you so tense?”

“Nothing major.”

“Tell me anyway. You’ve been wound up since talking to Raymond, right about the time he asked about our bond.”

“Just wondering where he got the information. That our clan has experienced an increase in true bondings isn’t common knowledge even among other packs. They’re pretty rare anymore.”

“He didn’t say we were. He asked, but you got the impression he did know.” He didn’t question how or how accurate it was. “You think someone is spying on us?”

“I think it’s odd that the information is out there for someone like Raymond to hear.”

“You mean vampires?”

“I mean anyone out of our own groups.”

“Maybe Star passed it on before we got her.” Following his own train of thought, he asked, “What would her connection be to vampires?”

“It isn’t likely there is one,” he said in dismissal. “Now get dressed and stop distracting me. We’ve got a job to do.”

Dressing quickly as they talked, Daniel asked, “What else is bugging you? I mean aside from it seems like it’s going too easy.”

With a slight smile, Brand asked, “You’ve gotten that feeling, too.”

“I probably wouldn’t have if you hadn’t been shutting me out again and making me pay closer attention. Those at the school, once I saw it, reacted pretty much the way I expected with their class of cliental. They are not going to want any kind of scandal attached to them, and stalker smells of scandal. The woman who gave us so much information was horny. I could smell her arousal, but if she actually lived in that house with a security system worthy of any bank, it hasn’t been long enough for anything personal to be evident. Other than getting all we needed at the first house we went to being ridiculously easy, what did I miss?”

“That pretty much covers it. Raymond was wrong about them not watching someone they associated with him, or it’s a setup of some kind. I think she’s a slayer.”

Daniel held up one hand. “It’s not likely someone would know about his kid to know someone would be looking for him if the slayers weren’t the ones who took him. If you’re right, and you usually are, it raises the question of why was she so helpful. Did you get a trace on the car?”

“Yeah and either the plates are stolen or it’s a trap. It’s no rental.”

Daniel jerked up straight. “A trap for us? Why? If they’ve run any kind of check on us, they won’t find anything other than we’re agents of a reputable private detective company. What good would trapping us do them?”

“Possibly to lead us off on a false trail away from the kid or hoping we lead them to Raymond.”

Daniel dropped to sit on the bed. “Do you think they’re after us?”

Brand sat on the edge of the dresser, crossing his arms and ankles. “They shouldn’t see us as anything more than hired help, human like they are, but if anyone asks, we were contacted by phone, never met the client, and have no idea where he is. All we have is a phone number to contact him.”

Nodding agreement, Daniel asked, “What are we going to do now?”

“Follow the lead the woman went to so much trouble to give us. It’ll only take a couple of hours to find out if they’re leading us off or hoping we’ll lead them to Raymond.”

“I don’t think we’re going to find the kid wherever the registration takes us. No one is that dumb.”

* * * *

Watching the house with binoculars, Daniel had to ask, “What was I saying about no one being that dumb?” Even at that distance, there was no mistaking the man who had picked up Jessie or the car he used. The man stood in front of an oversized window gazing out over the front lawn, bright lights on behind him, and the car sat in front of a closed garage door under a strong overhead light. “They may as well have drawn us a map and put up a sign.”

“Raymond said all he wanted us to do was find where they had him.” He pointed at the farm house. “That must be what they expect, him to come after him, if the kid is even in there.”

“You can’t tell?”

“Not from here.”

Daniel shifted positions, not watching the house any longer. He watched Brand’s eyes, flickering, shifting, taking in every inch of the area between the drive where they hid to the wooded area beyond the house.

“Do they think Raymond’s dumb?”

“He might be desperate enough to chance whatever they might have set up.” He thought about it a moment longer before adding, “Or he plans on coming with enough help to make sure it doesn’t matter.”

“War? What the hell happened to keeping a low profile?”

“We’ll find out in a minute,” Brand predicted.

The lights went out in the house. Two men and a child came out from a side door and went to the car. The interior light did not come on when they opened the doors. One man and the child crawled into the back seat. The other man got behind the wheel.

“This is making less and less sense,” Daniel complained as the car backed out, and he and Brand retreated into the brush lining the drive.

“No, shit,” Brand agreed with a grunt. “That wasn’t Raymond’s kid.”

Daniel sniffed the air as the car drove by. “A very short, fully mature man. That means the kid must still be in there.”

“Or never was. Stay here while I find out.”

“Why do I have to stay here?”

“’Cause, darlin’, a dog in farm country wouldn’t take much notice. A cougar would.”

“Smart ass.”

Brand chuckled, planted a kiss on Daniel’s pouting mouth, and stripped.

* * * *

Daniel could see what was happening and knew there was no way he could get there in time. His cougar knew as well, clawing and growling to be free. Running and stripping, Daniel gave in to the pain of shifting. The cat kicked off the pants around its back feet, flipping off the shoes. The socks slid with the leaps of the mighty cat, gone in a few feet. Too late and too far to go. He couldn’t reach the ATVs racing out of the woods, their spotlights stabbing through the dark. Each rider aimed and shot. Seeing those rifles come out, he thought his heart would stop, convinced Brand was dead. He couldn’t breathe again until that last faint message came from Brand.

Tranquilizer… I’m…”

Each of the four men caught up a corner of the net, and they were gone, dragging Brand in his wolf behind them.

Screaming his rage, Daniel followed the sound. Catapulting over one abandoned ATV, he caught one man, throwing him by the neck to go after another. The door to the van slammed shut, the men out of his reach, the van tires throwing gravel and dirt at him, blinding him, choking him, and still Daniel raced after them.

Daniel caught his breathe with a sob. There was no way he could out run that van. They were gone. Brand was gone, and as long as they kept him sedated, there was no way Daniel could contact him.

Chapter Three

“What the fuck is going on, and don’t you give me any shit about your missing human kid!” Daniel shouted into the cell phone.

“My pardon,” Raymond answered, his voice soft and calm in contrast.

Daniel’s hand squeezed the phone, wishing it was Raymond’s neck. “It was a fucking trap! They got Brand!” Silence answered his rave. “Fucking answer me, damn you!”

“I knew they would attempt a trap. That was why I told him only to tell me where they were. Why did he go in?”

“He didn’t go in, but he had to get closer to know if your kid was in there. He went around to the back, and the next thing I knew there were ATVs screaming out of the woods, spotlights all over the fucking place! They had nets out! You hear what I’m saying! Those traps weren’t to catch a vampire! They were to catch a wolf!”

“That makes no sense. There is no way they could have known I would ask a wolf for help.”

His reasonable tone was driving Daniel crazy. He could still see them surrounding Brand, aiming those rifles. With grief and fear fighting to overtake his anger, still naked, Daniel’s chest heaved in an effort to regain control. “You set him up?” he accused.

“I did not. This makes no sense to me. Slayers have no interest in shifters, and how would they know a shifter would be there. The nets you spoke of must have been for vampires.”

Daniel growled the words. “They took him. They could damn well see he was a wolf, not a vampire, and took him.”

“This makes no sense to me. None at all. Who could know that Isaac suggested him to me? They would have to, to form so complicated a plan.”

“Isaac, you stupid asshole. Where is he?”

Raymond didn’t respond to the insult, still calm. “I will take you.”

“You think I’m going to trust you again?”

“I think you have no choice. You cannot get in without me. I must make special arrangements for travel. I cannot meet you until after sunset this evening.”

“Just tell me where the bastard is.”

“I cannot. I must take you.”

“The house was empty. There was never a boy there.” he said in accusation. He knew. He’d gone in after he had to give up the chase. His hope of finding something to tell him who was responsible and where to look died in the emptiness he found instead. “Does he even exist?”

“He does, but if you are correct, it now appears he has only been a pawn in a game I do not understand.”

“Then why would they tell you to kill the president?”

“Perhaps in the belief I would fail, be captured, which would mean my death, or that I would not try. I knew the result would be the same no matter how I responded. My only hope of getting him back is to find him. As he was not used as bait as I assumed he would be, the trail is very cold. I must channel my efforts differently once we retrieve Brand.”

Hand fisted in his hair, Daniel paced. The longer Raymond delayed searching for Jessie the less chance he had of ever finding him. He should be grateful for Raymond’s sacrifice. Instead the beast inside wanted free to rip his head off. Coming back from his cat without Brand to coax him had been a tough time. If he shifted in rage again, he might not be able to come back at all. He had to get control to think straight.

Dropping his arms, hands still in fists, he took deep breaths, calming himself, calming the beast until he could talk at normal level and put the phone back to his ear. “Did you recognize the man in the picture we sent you?”

“Yes. He was in my employ. Trusted. Edward betrayed me.”

“I wouldn’t expect that from a thrall, not the give and take you described to me.”

“He is not a thrall. Unlike you seem to believe, not all humans perceive us as monsters or beasts, and many assist us without a desire to share our blood. Were it not for slayers, we could coexist with humans without any difficulties at all. We do so without notice by the humans on a whole as it is.”

Staying on a single track, Daniel asked, “Is he the one who usually picked up the kid?”

“No, but he was well-known to Jessie. He would not have hesitated to go with him.”

“What happened to the man who was supposed to?”

“Woman and she is dead.”

That gave Daniel a jolt. “A human?”

“There is no doubt slayers are behind this. They believe thralls or any who work with us are only one step above a vampire. They do not hesitate to kill them as quickly as they would one of us if it would help their cause.”

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