Christian Kyle pulled against the bonds on his wrists, as he sprawled across the black leather backseat of Ryan Travis’s truck. His body still hurt from the beating he’d gotten in the street after he’d tried…
He pushed out a breath and kept straining. Wasn’t being a wolf supposed to come with super strength or some shit?
Dammit. There had to be a way out of this truck. Ryan was driving somewhere, out in the country, and had been fighting with Kate Quade on and off the whole drive.
Christian had focused mainly on trying to get loose.
He couldn’t. He could almost feel his shoulder tearing as he strained, and he calmed himself. He was gagged and tied up and on his fuckin’ own.
Usually, it was him and Molly against the world. Not today.
Somewhere out there, his little sister was in a dark room, with a blindfold over her eyes, being guarded by some asshole werewolves who were ready to tear her apart if Christian didn’t do what the Quades told him.
His insides burned, just as much as the places where his skin had been split by Ryan Travis’s fists. The moon was going to pull a wolf from his skin. Christian could feel the tug, from inside to outside, but shifting now would injure him. He fought the pull and it felt like someone was trying peel his skin away and expose all the bleeding flesh beneath.
If he sat still too long, he would see the memory of Kate’s face behind his eyes, as he’d said that spell in the alley. The fucking spell the Quades made him say.
Kate and Ryan sat in the front seat of the truck, still arguing. She was so close. If he could just get his hands on her and say the spell right this time.
Shit. He felt like a dick for thinking that. But he had to save Molly.
In the front, Ryan was talking about someone named Falcon. Ryan was going to take Kate to wherever Falcon was. “Then I’ll always know where you are,” Ryan said. “And if you can just give me five years, I can turn things around here.”
Five years? He was going to stash Kate somewhere for five years?
Hells to the no.
Christian would get her back before then. He could feel his animal rearing up again in agreement. Need to settle down.
Bear down, Ryan had said to Kate, back on the street after their fight. He’d been telling her to control her wolf. But Christian couldn’t imagine controlling the thing inside him. The animal was practically ripping at his insides to get out.
He turned over, looking for something else to get his hands free with. Kate was saying something about finding an alpha, and she sounded like she was going to run. Like, run from Ryan.
This was his chance.
The truck slowed down and turned, then came to a complete stop. Kate’s door was open in a flash, almost before the vehicle stopped moving. The engine turned off and Christian heard the keys slide out of the ignition and hit the floor just as the other door opened.
Ryan was off, after Kate, leaving both doors open.
Christian took a deep breath.
This was his chance. He kept struggling with his bonds, but they were too tight. And the beast pushing at his skin was almost unbearable. But there was a glimmer of hope, as he looked past the seat and saw a little bit of sun and grass and sky.
He slid down to the end of the cab and used his feet to push himself to a kneeling position. Ryan had pinned Kate against the truck near the passenger side, and it sounded like he’d convinced her to stay. They were talking about mating and bonding and…fuck. This was going to ruin everything.
No. No. No. Christian needed Kate. Can’t get Molly back without Kate.
He crawled over the backseat, into the front, and lay on the bench, the console poking into his back. Now, Kate and Ryan had made up and were now actually fucking each other against the side of the damn truck.
If he came back to El Paso without Kate… What could he do? Would he have to storm the place and take his sister by force? How the hell would that even work?
The pain of the wolf was even more urgent, searing through him like blue heat, and he tried to swing his legs around so he could push himself up into a sitting position. The wolf was going to come out.
Then the sound of the other two disappeared. He couldn’t hear them any more.
He groaned and rolled, getting wedged under the steering wheel. It was going to happen, and he couldn’t control it. He tried to push himself forward.
Have to get out of the truck before—
And the shimmer of his wolf took him, ripping through him with a pain he couldn’t fathom. The bonds that had wrapped all the way up his leg weren’t loose even after the shift and he jumped out of the driver’s side of the truck.
His back leg popped and pain sliced through his body. The combination of the shift and the jump and the bonds…and he had a leg out of socket. Christian crumpled to the ground, trying to keep himself from howling. He couldn’t alert Kate and Ryan. They’d forgotten he was a problem. He had to keep it that way.
He glanced beneath the truck. No feet. No sounds. Where had they gone?
Doesn’t matter. Have to get away. Get back to Molly.
There was pain throbbing in his back legs, near his hip, like he had never felt before. His back left leg wouldn’t move. Every twist brought a new, blinding pain.
Christian’s wolf whimpered in low tones, pulling himself along the dry grass. The road wasn’t far, and if he could just…
But the pain was too much. It throbbed in time with his heart, and he could barely even move. Crawling forward, he tried to breathe through each lance in his hip. His leg felt like dead weight.
He inched himself along the ground until he felt the gravel under his paws. Fear clawed at him. At any moment, Ryan and Kate could reappear. He had to get to a hiding spot and deal with his leg.
Because he had to get to Molly. Kate was lost to him now. He knew that.
Christian panted, feeling completely out of sorts in this skin. The fur, the snout…it was all still so new and strange. He didn’t know how to use it yet.
But as he got closer and closer to the road, he found that the pain didn’t change. It didn’t get worse. It didn’t get better. It just kept on throbbing, and he could adapt to that. He’d been adapting to pain all his life.
He finally got onto the gravel and kept moving his way across the road, worried at every second that Kate and Ryan would be behind him, focusing his energy on thinking of Molly. Her black, shiny hair. Her intense brown eyes. Her laugh. Her hope of being in rodeo. Just like him. She looked up to him.
She was the only one who did. And she probably shouldn’t.
He’d been willing to bond to a woman who didn’t want him. That made him a bad guy. The worst guy. But he would do anything for Molly.
She was all the family he had left. She was the only thing that mattered now.
If Christian didn’t save her, she would be alone. And that was the one thing he swore to himself, twelve years ago, that she would never be. She would never be alone.
She had him. Her big brother.
He would always come for her.
I will always come for you, Molly.
He heard a howl not too far away. Christian tried to move a little faster, but he had to close his eyes against the pain. Another howl. There were two of them. Were they tracking him? Were they coming back?
He dragged himself forward. Faster.
But then the ground dropped out beneath him, and he fell. Fell down the ditch, where a culvert had been hidden by the grass he didn’t see.
He landed with a blinding crack on his bad hip and the pain began to take him. One throb, then another, and soon, all he could see was black.