Jacob gasped when he saw the figure appear on-screen, stealthily moving closer to the south corner where the felines and wounded bear remained. Cali and the other bear, along with the cougar who’d followed Cali, were diagonally across the property, at the north gate. They had no way of knowing what was happening to the south.
As weak as he’d been, Jacob was determined to get up and warn Cali. The alarms were blaring, but those alarms didn’t let Cali or anyone else know what Jacob was seeing on the feed from that camera.
He set the laptop on the bed, gaze still glued to it as he got to his feet. He was still weak, still drained and likely to fall—but he had to try to get to Cali.
The north corner wasn’t far from the main house. It was outside to the left, and all Jacob needed to do was get to the front door, open it, and shout for Cali.
Whether it was sheer determination or a speedier recovery than he’d yet to have, Jacob found himself moving, stumbling a bit but keeping upright as he left the bedroom. He had to get to Cali, had to warn him there was danger, an armed man moving like a shadow toward the south fence.
And what of the shifters on the property there?Jacob didn’t know the answer to that. He couldn’t reach them; they were too far away.
Jacob had never been out in the house, not that he remembered, but he found the front room, guided by the scent of Cali, so strong and fresh he couldn’t miss it.
Using the wall to propel himself along, Jacob fell against the door. He grabbed the knob and twisted, then cursed when it didn’t turn. Leaning back enough to see what he was doing, he saw the lock, unfastened it, then got the door opened. “Cali! Cali!” he shouted without hesitation. “Cali!” His throat ached from the force of his bellowing.
But Cali came running, eyes wild with fear. “Jacob—”
“The south fence,” Jacob rasped. “There’s a human, a man with a gun, something deadly, he’s stalking or—”
“Get inside!” Cali barked. “Lock the doors and—Ashton! Inside with him. Wick—”
The bear roared and lurched, then ran for the south fence.
“Ashton, help him!” Cali grabbed a handful of the cougar’s fur. “If you fucking have to shift to keep him safe, you fucking shift!”
Ashton slipped past Cali and pressed his head against Jacob’s thigh.
“Inside,” Cali snapped. “I can’t have you hurt, Jacob!”
Jacob’s throat went tight. He didn’t waste another word arguing. Any delay could cause the deaths of shifters, and Jacob didn’t want that on his conscience.
Jacob tumbled back inside. Ashton broke his fall, then the cougar did something, and Jacob was certain he was hallucinating. Ashton locked the door—all the locks on it, and it didn’t look like a paw but rather a human hand at the end of his feline leg.
Jacob shook his head and started to roll to his knees, intent on getting up.
Ashton hissed at him, then the cougar ducked and slid partially under Jacob.
Jacob held on and let the big cat all but drag him out of the living room. “Bedroom, Ashton. There’s the laptop we can watch—”
Ashton rumbled. He detoured past the hall to the bedroom and Jacob would have argued but he saw the sign on the door ahead that was labeled Security.
Ashton stopped at the door and slipped out from under Jacob.
Jacob couldn’t see what the cougar did, other than stand on his back paws, but the security room door swung open after a series of beeps, then Ashton was helping him into the room.
What he saw on the monitor for the south wall sent a chill down his spine. Another man stepped out of the bushes. Clad in black, his features covered by what Jacob assumed were night vision goggles, the second man moved with deadly stealth.
Jacob didn’t know if the two men were working together, or what their goal was.
But he’d seen guns like that, men like that. The reality of those memories came rushing back into his mind. Flashes of his pack, being cut down, deliberately hunted, taken out not by hunters, but by men like those stalking the refuge…Jacob hadn’t been with the pack. He’d been shunned for three days, a practice his pack had always used on omegas who dared to say no to anyone above them in the pack order.
So he’d been alone, tied to the tree where he’d been ordered to serve out his sentence, and he’d seen it all.
The slaughter of his pack.
The men clothed in black, with paint on their faces, night vision equipment, guns that had no use other than to slaughter en masse.
Not humans after pelts, not trophy seekers.
Sent to wipe out a pack of shifters with no regard for whatever form they were in when the bullets tore through them.