“Let me help.” Demanding wouldn’t get him what he wanted, but Bowen couldn’t bring himself to beg—yet. Panic was building in him, fear for Chiz and Dare both. He’d apparently been fonder of Dare than he’d realized, but the thought of Dare being killed struck at Bowen’s heart just as the idea of Chiz dying did.
Goddamn, that meant Bowen was a mess. Even so, he had to help free his lovers. And they will be my lovers, both of them, if they’ll have me.
For a long moment, he thought Jonas was going to ignore him. Instead, Jonas stared so intently, Bowen felt laid bare, as if every part of him was exposed to the alpha’s inspection, from his emotions to his innards and every particle of his being.
Then Jonas gave a curt nod. “But you’ll do what I say, or I’ll lay your ass out cold.”
“I will.” Bowen would do anything to get to Chiz and Dare.
“Chances are, the human knows about our kind now,” Jonas said. “Once upon a time, we dealt with that by killing any human who found us out.”
“No—“ Bowen began, but Jonas waved him off.
“Obviously, with all the technology and shit available today, we can’t just go dropping bodies, and eating a human is…” Jonas grimaced. “Unappealing, even in our shifted form.”
“That’s good to know,” Bowen mumbled, nauseated at the very idea of such a thing. “What were you going to do to me for changing Chiz?”
“Death as a wolf isn’t a crime,” Jonas pointed out, then he sighed. “What a fucking mess.” He turned to another shifter named Calex. “Check in with Erin and Claudia. See if they have anything yet.”
“Yes, Alpha.” Calex took off at a run.
Jonas scrubbed his face with both hands. “What the fuck have I done to piss Karma off?”
Before Bowen could think of anything witty to say, through the window, he saw Calex skid to a halt as Erin and Claudia came into view. “They’re back.”
Jonas stood taller and wiped a tired expression from his face. “I wasn’t going to kill you.” With that, he left the room.
Bowen was guarded by a half-dozen other shifters. He considered fighting them, but that would be foolish. Jonas had given his word, and the wolf in Bowen said to believe him.
The man part of him wasn’t so sure.
He watched out the window as Jonas stepped onto the porch and gestured Calex and the others to him.
Then they were all out of sight, but Bowen heard their footsteps. Jonas returned to the room with Calex, Erin and Claudia behind him.
“Leave,” Jonas said to the shifters guarding Bowen. “Get the pack organized for an attack.” Then he looked at Bowen. “We have coyotes trying to take over the territory.”
Bowen frowned. “Is this a thing with shifters?”
Jonas shook his head. “I’ve never heard of a coyote pack. They’re usually singular creatures as shifters, unlike the animals, which do more often than not, belong to packs. Survival makes such things necessary. This—“ He shook his head again. “This is crazy shit. And it’s going to end. Tonight.”
“Tonight?” Bowen glanced out the window again. It’d be a couple of hours until it was dark out.
“Yes, tonight. We’ve got to track them down.” Jonas turned to Erin and Claudia. “Tell us what you found. Every detail.”
Bowen listened and wondered what kind of hell he’d dragged two good men into, and if his lack of control would cost them their lives.
Fortunately, Jonas had his pack on the move in less than half an hour. Bowen had feared they’d wait until dark, but no, Jonas had only meant to attack in darkness. The moon was hidden behind dense clouds. It’d have only been a sliver without them. The lack of light made little difference. Once he was shifted, Bowen saw perfectly, his senses sharper and engaged.
Jonas barked at him, and Bowen moved to run slightly behind and to Jonas’s left. Whatever Jonas was thinking, Bowen was down with—it meant he didn’t have to hang back. Jonas was letting him join the front ranks for the coming fight.
They ran almost silently, their paws barely making a sound. Bowen caught the scent of coyote, knew what it was because it set his hackles up and it reeked of enemy. There was no other way for Bowen to describe it. He snarled and lengthened his strides, almost passing Jonas, who snapped at him.
The scent led them along the outskirts of town, to the east and Bowen knew then where they were going. The Mastersons had lost their farm a few years ago, and no one wanted to purchase the land due to the back-taxes owed. There was nothing around the place, no neighbors to hear…anything.
Jonas shot in front of him and the other wolves, then barked out a series of orders. The pack slowed and stopped almost as one unit.
The scent of coyote was heavy in the air. The faint odor of human and wolf were detectable, but only just.
Jonas cocked his head and sniffed, then he looked at Bowen.
Bowen had never seen a wolf shake it’s head, but Jonas did just that, then rolled his eyes.
What the fuck kind of alpha is he, anyway?
Before Bowen could ponder his own question, a pair of howls rent the night air—and they didn’t come from any wolf in the pack.
Not coyotes. Wolves. Chiz—that’s Chiz! He started to run but Jonas knocked him to the ground. Bowen was pinned on his back with Jonas, huge and angry, leering over him.
Jonas bared his teeth in a threat that wasn’t empty. Bowen tucked his muzzle to his chest. Jonas was right to be pissed; Bowen had given his word to obey orders.
Jonas nipped him hard enough to hurt, then he growled at Bowen. A second later, a very naked Jonas hovered over him, one hand planted on Bowen’s chest.
“Try that shit again, and you’re done,” he said firmly.
Bowen didn’t ask how done he’d be.
“There are two wolves in the coyote pack. One is Chiz. Who do you think the other might be?” Jonas shifted back as soon as he finished speaking.
Bowen’s head was spinning. He got up when Jonas moved off him. Jonas tipped his nose up, and Bowen did the same as coyotes yipped and yowled approximately a hundred yards away.
As one, the wolves howled, a song of attack and death. Bowen moved with the pack as if he’d always been one of them—which he had, though no one had bothered to tell him. Their pack howl had brought the coyotes’ attention to them, and as the two packs ran to meet in a fury of gnashing teeth and tearing paws, Bowen recognized the howl of the unknown wolf.