Raider was seething! And scared, but mostly seething! As he ran out of the mansion, he bypassed the cause for his anger, though it didn’t register until afterwards.
Adrenalin surged through him as he ran—and a glance back made him put even more effort. What looked to be a horde of big, muscular men in dark suits were coming after him, bypassing the group of people he’d cut through, including the asshole who’d freed the animals then pointed at Raider.
Raider cursed silently—he didn’t have the breath to do it out loud anyway—as he forced himself to run faster. He wasn’t exactly out of shape but he was nowhere near being a track star, either. The dress shoes he was wearing weren’t helping, either, as he slipped on the dewy grass.
For a moment, Raider thought he was going down, then shouts rang out behind him, and he flailed his arms and found his footing.
Though it was evening, the property was lit up with security and decorative lighting. Raider could see where he was going, and so could everyone else.
The gates to the entrance of the drive were closing. He wasn’t going to make it that way. A guard stepped out of the small facility by the gate, and Raider veered to the left, praying for some sort of miracle.
And even though Raider had never believed in miracles, he got one. The lights went out, and as dark as it was then, he assumed the lights were out in the mansion, too.
There were more shouts and orders being bellowed out behind him, and in short order, a flashlight was being shone on him. But only for a moment, because there was a grunt and what sounded like fists connecting with someone’s body.
The sound made Raider’s ribs and jaw ache. He’d been able to ignore the pain up until then, but he’d been clocked good and hard by the stupid security guards.
More yelling, bright lights…Raider heard someone call out that they were law enforcement. He didn’t think they were addressing him, either, but he slid to a stop regardless, because getting shot didn’t sound like any fun at all.
Raider crashed into the iron fencing, grunting and trying not to yelp as pain raced along his right shoulder and ribs.
“That one,” someone exclaimed.
Then Raider turned just in time to see something out of his very worst nightmares—a lion, leaping toward him.
He didn’t have a chance to duck or defend himself.
Dumb luck kept Raider from getting too scratched up as the lion swiped at him with big claws. The hot, fetid breath of the lion blasted Raider’s face and he thought he was dead.
Instead, he was knocked to the ground. Stunned and frozen in fear, Raider struggled against his vision fading. He tried to focus, but his fight against unconsciousness was lost as the lion roared.
“You could have given him a heart attack!” Clyde poked Ren in the chest. His father frequently played poker with Ren, and Clyde guessed Ren had somehow gotten drawn into the Rescue Clyde Again mission.
“It was either that, or let them get him,” Ren replied with a calm Clyde envied. “He stopped running, and those cops weren’t cops.”
Clyde couldn’t argue that point. He’d thought the people shouting about being law enforcement officers had been just that, but Kurt had said no. Clyde’s dad had a real sense for lies. It’d made being a rebellious teen to such a father a lot less fun.
“We’re fortunate that we all got away unscathed,” Kurt said. Then he coughed. “Er, except for him.” He pointed at the human male, still unconscious. “He looks a little rough.”
“That’s because Murphy’s an asshole!” Clyde growled, glaring at his older sibling.
Murphy smirked at him. “Hey, Dad said for me to cause a distraction.”
“And I’ve already told you, that was not the kind of distraction I’d meant!” Kurt shook a finger at Murphy. “You endangered everyone there and got this poor sucker beaten!”
That ‘poor sucker’ made Clyde’s heart flutter every time he looked at what the cat had dragged in. Clyde was doing a lot of fluttering just then, as the man whimpered before slowly opening his eyes.
Sky-blue in color and rimmed with thick, blond-tipped lashes, they were the most beautiful eyes Clyde had ever seen.
“Not—“ Those blue eyes cleared and were turned on Kyle. “Not a poor sucker, jerk.”
“Ohh, Dad, he called you a jerk!” Murphy snickered.
Gladys whapped him upside his head.
“Out,” Gladys ordered.
Murphy ducked as he fled from the room.
Gladys frowned. “What did he think I was going to do? Throw something at his head?”
“Like you’d do any damage,” Clyde muttered.
Clyde wasn’t sure the man lying on the couch was asking or what. “They’re pains in the ass. I have several brothers and sisters.”
That got him a wistful smile. “Never had any of either.” Then the human seemed to remember that bad things had happened. He gasped and shoved himself into a sitting position, wincing as he did so, then touching his ribs. “Oh. Oh, crap.”
“You’re safe,” Kurt said, “and I’m sorry about the poor sucker comment. Regardless of whether you accept my apology or not, you are safe here. Those weren’t law enforcement officers you heard shouting outside of LeHorne’s place. Just more security guards thinking they’d get everyone to stop running.”
“How do you know?”
“I know because there were no badges, no cars pulling up or people coming out of seemingly nowhere. Just more guards and lots of flashlights. And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry my son Murphy implicated you in the, er, debacle.”
Before another word could be said, a cell phone rang, the jaunty, mildly raunchy ring tone surprised Clyde. He would have thought the man with the pretty eyes would be more likely to have some classical music type of ring tone.
Clyde watched him blush deeply as he answered his cell phone. “Chellie—“
“Where are you, Raider?” a female asked loudly enough to be heard throughout the room. “I saw there was this shoot-out at Jordan LeHorne’s and where are you?”
Clyde’s heart withered a little. Judging from the shouting coming from the woman, Chellie, it was obvious she was Raider’s girlfriend. He’d said he had no siblings, and this woman sounded young and very worried about him.
“Chellie, stop,” Raider pled, pressing the fingertips of his left hand to his temple. “My head is pounding. I’m somewhere—“ Raider looked Clyde right in the eyes.
Clyde nodded solemnly.
“Safe,” Raider said. “I’m somewhere safe.”