My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered Book 8)

By: Alanea Alder

PROLOGUE





Grant woke with a start and immediately sat up in bed. He had dreamt of his mate again. At least, he believed her to be his mate. All he could see was creamy skin and terrified chocolate-brown eyes.

The female stood in the center of a murky swirling mass of darkness. He called out to her, tried to wade through the inky waves, but could not reach her. The more he tried to push the blackness aside, the deeper he sank. Then, slowly, as she remained just out of reach, the ebony mist began to pull her under.

He could taste his own fear as her gasping cries for help echoed in his mind. Within him, his wolf began to claw, trying to get free, enraged at their helplessness. In the end, she disappeared as the darkness took her, the pain in his chest the only confirmation she had not survived.

How had Adriel and Declan faced these nightmares and remained sane?

He looked at the clock; it wasn't quite midnight. He sighed. If he went back to sleep now, he risked having a second nightmare, but if he didn't, he'd be exhausted for patrols the next day.

He lay back in his bed and brought his forearm up to cover his eyes, as if that could block out the images that haunted him.

How could you fight something you couldn't touch?





CHAPTER ONE





Grant felt like he'd only been asleep a few moments when he heard banging at his front door. Bleary-eyed, he got out of bed and stumbled down the stairs. When he opened the door, he was shocked to see his unit leader standing in front of him. "Adriel, what's wrong?" he asked.

Adriel looked just as tired as he felt. Grant turned to look at the clock on the wall; it was just a little bit after three a.m.

"Stefan just came to visit."

"At three a.m.?" Grant asked.

Adriel nodded. "A few of the children do not feel well and are asking for you on Level Six."

Grant frowned in confusion. "Why me?"

Adriel cocked his head to one side. "Good question. Are you able to come?" he asked, giving him a flat, exhausted look.

Grant nodded absently. "Of course. Give me a few minutes to get dressed." He shut the door, went back upstairs, and pulled on the first things he came across. It would be a miracle if he matched; he could barely keep his eyes open. Satisfied he at least had his body covered, he went downstairs and left with Adriel. They walked in silence toward the tunnel. Adriel held out his arm, and together, they rose to Level Six. Once they reached the marketplace, Grant saw Stefan push away from the wall he had been leaning against. The young Alpha walked over to greet them.

"Grant, thank you for coming. I have three children who aren't feeling well. One of them is Benji's foster sister Clara; the other two are the Hamilton boys, Ricardo and Matteo.

Grant turned to Stefan. "They actually asked for me?"

Stefan nodded. "Yes. They called out for Mr. Grant. Well..." he paused, "...except for Benji; he's not talking yet, but we all know he's taken with you. His foster mother, Susan, just can't get him to settle. Poor little guy is probably picking up on the stress in the house." Though young for an Alpha, Stefan took his position seriously. Grant had never seen an Alpha so closely involved with his pack members before. Stefan treated everyone as though they were family; it was this practice that had won him the respect and admiration of most of the warriors.

They quickly made their way through the vendor stalls, which were closed for the night, to the wide opening that led to the refugee camp. What was supposed to be a simple housing project for the witches had turned into creating a tiny city carved out of the walls of the cavern. Stefan led them to the third house, and they veered to the left. He knocked on the door, and a worried looking shifter answered.

Tobias and Susan Garcia were young parents with huge hearts. They had taken in Benji almost immediately when the poor child was orphaned. When the exhausted father saw who was on his doorstep, he looked relieved.

"Grant, thank you for coming. Susan's been up with Benji for the past six hours while I've been sitting with Clara. She can't get him to settle for the night. Both of the Hamilton boys and Clara all are complaining they don't feel well. Personally, I think Benji is upset because Clara is crying." He led them through the neat and tidy home to the back door, opened it, and showed them to the open courtyard where both families and the three children waited. Grant was surprised to see that Dr. St. John was kneeling beside the makeshift beds, examining one of the children.

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