Sleep, such a sweet thing when it happened but lose too many hours of it, and it could make anyone go a little crazy. The rain had a calming effect hours ago but at two a.m. it annoyed the piss out of Raymand. The banging on the front door didn’t help the slow progression of the migraine forming behind his eyes as he pulled on a pair of sweatpants.
“I’m coming!” Raymand yelled as he stomped down the stairs. “It’s fucking two in the morning.” Raymand yanked the door open to find Cora, a little wolf completely drenched, standing next to his gloomy second in command, Drake. Did the hunter’s strike again? His wolf howled at the idea of more parents dying to protect their children.
“We have a problem, alpha.” Drake adjusted a hot pink suitcase next to him.
“Come in.” Raymand waved inside and Cora slowly made her way in, bringing the scent of blood with her. The girl cleared her face of the rain and tears. Cora shuffled into the living room and slumped onto the couch, creating a little trail of watery prints in her wake. He bit back a comment about getting a towel to clean up her own mess. His wolf growled at the sadness rolling off the pup and his human side liked it even less. Later he’d clean up, right now he had shit to do. Drake lifted the suitcase into the house and placed it next to Cora. He didn’t like Cora being here without her parents, it made his stomach turn with unease.
“What the hell is going on?” Raymand snapped. Drake pushed back his wet auburn hair.
“She came to my house crying. She said they’re gone.” Sadness took over Drake’s whiskey brown eyes.
“Did you go to her house?” Raymand glanced at Cora, the pup shook as tears rolled down her face. Hints of blood stained her hot-pink shirt beneath the black coat.
“Lia and Shriv are dead.” Drake lowered his voice even more. “A hunter’s short blade was still stuck in his heart.”
His heart dropped.
Drake confirmed his suspicions about what happened but somehow Cora had made it out. He hated losing pack mates, especially to the fucking hunters. Raymand wished they would get the large sticks out of their asses and accept the supernatural world instead of trying to annihilate every non-human.
“Fuck.” Raymand threw up his hands and looked at Cora. “This is the fourth time the hunters have attacked in the last few months.” It almost averaged to once every other week and he had no clue why the pups weren’t dead with their parents. Keeping the little pup on his couch just became priority one, along with finding the other kids. He could only hope the others were still alive when they did track them down. The bastards had kept their tracks covered too well for first time hunters. This shit had been planned and yet Cora managed to slip away. How?
“Tomorrow I think we need to put the pack on alert. It looks like they were trying to take Cora like they took the other pups.” Drake glanced over the couch before turning his gaze Raymand’s way. Raymand strolled over and kneeled in front of the small wolf with medium brown hair. He cared for every member of his pack and that meant asking the tough questions and most times being the bad alpha to keep them safe. Being the bad-ass alpha came in handy when others threatened to overthrow his pack but sometimes his own pack mates wouldn’t approach him. Instead of losing face and ground, he stayed the bad alpha and kept pushing forward.
“Cora, I need you to tell me what happened tonight.” Raymand didn’t want to traumatize the pup further but he needed more information.
“Do I have to, alpha?” Cora sniffled.
“So I can try to stop them, yes.” Raymand needed to know more. With two families dead and two pups missing, they needed answers from someone who had been there and managed to get away.
“Momma has been a little nervous because of the other kids goin’ missin’. She’s been tellin’ me over and over again if she yells purple, to run to Drake’s or your house.” Cora rocked in her spot and pulled at her hair. He wanted to soothe her racing heart so he grabbed her hands to keep her hair where it should be.
“So, you raced to Drake’s house then?” Raymand pushed back his wolf’s growing anger. If she did as her mother told her, they wouldn’t have much to go on. His thoughts bounced back on which outcome he wanted more.
“Not at first.” Cora lowered her gaze. “Momma yelled it when I was in the tree house Daddy made me.” More tears fell down her cheeks. “The hunters killed Momma and Daddy in the kitchen then they looked for me in the house. A cop car drove by when they were about to come up the tree. They ran, and I crawled down and tried to help Momma.” A sob left her lips and she pushed away at the tears. His heart twisted at the memory of seeing his own mother pass away and she wasn’t attacked.
“She talked to you after the attack?” Raymand glance at Drake. He didn’t understand why Lia didn’t heal if they didn’t end her right away.
“There was silver everywhere, I couldn’t touch her without burning myself.” Cora put out her hands, deep burns littered her small fingers. A growl vibrated through Raymand’s chest and Cora jumped back.
“It’s not toward you, Cora.” Raymand stood and disappeared to get bandages for her hands. He returned with alcohol and cleaned her fingers before putting a large bandage over both hands. “We will take them off in the morning.”
“Okay.” Cora nodded.
The need to find the hunters and put an end to them coursed through his body so strongly he almost shifted and bolted out the door. He had put more wolves on patrol around the neighborhood where families were living and yet the hunters kept finding ways through and attacking.
“Did they try and come back, Cora?” He reminded himself he had to keep Cora safe now. His silent house wouldn’t be back to normal till he found her family to take her.
“I don’t know. When Momma took her last breath, I ran.” She sniffed and curled into a ball on the couch. Raymand grabbed a pillow and moved her to lay down. Drake placed a blanket on Cora and pushed her hair from her face.
“Get some sleep.” Raymand patted her shoulder. He had no clue what he would do with a little pup in his house but soon she would be with her other family.
“What’s going to happen to me?” Cora met Raymand’s gaze, if an older wolf did this he would have seen it as a sign of disrespect, but Cora wasn’t a threat to him. His wolf surged forward wanting to comfort the little pack member in such distress but Raymand pushed him back from shifting. They needed to be strong if they wanted to find and eliminate the fucking hunters. But all the plans to track down the other kids taken had failed and brought them no new information.
“Tomorrow we’ll get shit figured out. You need to get some sleep.” Raymand patted her arm again and walked away. After a few minutes, a small snore came from the couch. “Let’s talk in my office.”
Drake followed Raymand around the corner into his large office.
“We have a small problem Raymand, she doesn’t have any family I know of.” Drake leaned against the wall. The large oak desk still stood from when his grandfather built it many years ago. The legs had claw marks from his father and even himself when they had been pups. Raymand wondered if his son would create his own marks on the legs when he finally found a mate.
“What do you mean?” Raymand plopped down in his chair, his wolf yawned and fell in a heap. With the immediate threat of someone attacking his home nullified, his wolf wanted to pass out.
“I know Lia’s parents are dead and they only had her. Shriv might have some brothers or sisters but he moved here ten years ago and imprinted with Lia.” Drake took the chair on the other side of the desk.
“We need to find her a home. She can’t stay with me forever.” Raymand knew he had to keep her safe as the alpha of the pack but he didn’t know how to take care of a child for more than a few days.
“I can look before I have my meeting with a new wolf named Maple tomorrow.” Drake tapped his fingers on the chair, he normally did this when deep in thought.
“Who’s Maple?” The name rang a bell, but he couldn’t place where he knew it from.
“Her aunt Penny owned the bookstore over on the strip in Aurora.” When Drake brought up Penny, memories of the older woman filled his mind. Penny’s dark blue eyes always knew when pups were telling the truth or trying to pass some crap on her.
“Penny had a niece?” Raymand didn’t know her brother was still living.
“Yep, she gave the store to her niece even though she never talked to her brother after they left town. But there have been some problems with the lease owner not wanting to sign with a werewolf.”
“Well get it fucking fixed or I’ll talk to the guy.” Raymand hated fucking inbred hicks who thought they could get away with discriminating against his fucking pack.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get it figured out.” Drake grabbed his phone and smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Anne is having issues getting Emily to bed.”
“Night.” Raymand walked him out and stared at Cora. After he double checked all the locks to his home, he shuffled back up to his room and collapsed onto the bed. His mind tried to come up with a new plan to protect his pack. The buddy system? No, they were killing two wolves at a time, that shit wouldn’t work. Upping patrols hadn’t done much to deter the fuckers. Enforcing a freaking curfew wouldn’t make a difference since it was happening in the family homes. He debated on giving up all the information about the hunters. After the second kidnapping, he had given a soft warning about keeping a close eye on each other.
As Raymand drifted off to sleep, he hoped Cora would find a home, but he also hoped to find the bastards messing with his pack. Images of hunters’ heads being torn from their bodies made his wolf grin.