Alpha Province: Puppet Strings(2)

By: Becca Van

Her ears were ringing, every part of her body was hurting, but he kept right on hitting her. When she realized he wasn’t going to stop, she opened her mouth, sucked in a breath, and screamed for all she was worth.

A blow to the side of her head dazed her, her vision darkening until she thought she was about to pass out. While she was aware of her dress being ripped apart, she was too out of it to care. Searing pain stabbed into her lower belly just above her right hip. The agony was so bad it was all she could do to breathe. Inside she was screaming her head off, and if she did scream out loud, the noise didn’t reach her ears. Something warm and sticky wet her skin, but she couldn’t work out what it was. Her brain had shut down, her head hurting too much to take anything in, to understand what was going on.

Everything took on a hazy quality after that. Bits and pieces registered, but everything was so disjointed.

Gentle hands lifted her, and while she wanted to plead for help, she couldn’t speak. Faces wavered above her and bright lights flashed by, and while she tried to remain conscious, Sage lost the battle as she drifted into dark oblivion.

Chapter One

“Hurry the fuck up,” Daxon shouted. “If we don’t leave in the next sixty seconds, we’re going to be late.”

“We’re already late,” Cason mumbled as he stroked his beard.

“Since when have you two ever wanted to socialize?” Bladen Fox asked his brothers.

“Since we were invited.” Daxon sighed.

Bladen rubbed at the back of his neck. The last thing he wanted to do was make nice with other people. He and his brothers were reclusive, but ever since they’d started working on the bed-and-breakfast Elsa Jackman and her mates owned and wanted to run, they’d been interacting more and more with the residents of Ambrose. He and his brothers had moved from a nonexistent town not far from where they were now living in Ambrose in North Dakota, and he was wondering if maybe they should have stayed put. However, it had been more convenient to move closer to where he, his brothers, and his cousins were working. He was proud of the nearly complete rebuild and was glad that Elsa seemed to be excited over what they’d done.

There were only a few things to finish off, and then he and his brothers could go back to being alone, just the way they liked it. While he hated being around other people after serving in the Marines, he’d spent more time recently with others around him other than when they were serving their country. Bladen was finding it very difficult to keep a civil tongue in his head. His inner beast, his tiger was driving him insane with fits of aggression and despondency.

If it hadn’t been for his job, he would have bitten someone’s head off a long time ago. Working with the plumbers had been hard enough, but there’d also been electricians. Normally he could cope being around other people for short periods, but his tiger was acting up. He’d almost let his inner animal out about a week ago. He had no patience for idiots, and one of the apprentice electricians hadn’t been able to keep his mouth shut. Bladen had heard the little fucker dissing Elsa, calling her a piece of ass and how he’d wanted to tap her.

He’d stormed over to the prick, gripped his neck, and lifted his feet from the floor. If his brothers hadn’t talked him down, he might have killed the fucker. He was just glad that no one had seen the sharp claws which had been protruding from the tips of his fingers. Luckily, he’d had some control and hadn’t punctured the pricks’ skin leaving any telltale marks behind.

“Well, are you coming?” Cason asked with exasperation.

Bladen nodded when inside his head he was screaming no. Why they had to be there to meet the chef was beyond him. He’d rather stay where he was and try to get a handle on his recalcitrant tiger, but Elsa had a way about her. When she’d asked him and his cousins, Beckett, Crispin, and Daire to come over early this morning for breakfast, his immediate response had been “hell no,” but when he’d seen the hurt and disappointment in Elsa’s sad eyes, he’d quickly changed his mind.

Now here he was walking out the door to his new home and on his way to somewhere he didn’t want to be. In between building the bed-and-breakfast from the ground up, since the place had been burnt to the foundations, he and his brothers had been fixing up their own place. There was no need for them to work, but he’d go out of his mind if he sat around on his ass all day long.