Chapter 20

Malcolm went back down to the living room and found Steven with a weak but conscious Dante. He could see the wound in his chest was already starting to heal, but he was extremely pale. Steven looked equally exhausted from his healing efforts as they both sat in the wreckage of the destroyed room. Dante looked up at his cousin with eyes that pled for forgiveness.

“I am so sorry, Cousin,” he said weakly.

Malcolm squatted down and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Can you tell us what happened?” He struggled to be patient and fought the urge to shake the information out of him.

Dante took a deep breath, and his face twisted in obvious pain. “I sensed that Kerry was in trouble. When I got here, I found her passed out on the floor.” Dante grimaced at the memory of it. “I went to her immediately. She was so fragile, lying there and bleeding.”

Malcolm and Steven exchanged curious looks. It was clear that Dante had come here to help Kerry, not Samantha. His gaze flicked back to Dante. Rage filled his eyes as they shifted into the deep amber eyes of his fox.

“I’ve never been so careless,” he growled. “I was so worried about Kerry I didn’t even know he was hiding here in the room.” Dante ground his teeth against the pain in his chest and the shame of failure. “He shot me from behind and then hit me on the head with something.” He touched his head, and his fingers came away bloodied. “That’s the last thing I remember,” he said quietly with downcast eyes. “I’m sorry I failed you, Malcolm.”

“No apologies needed, Cousin. You almost died to protect Sam and her friend. I think I know where he’s taken them.” Malcolm assured him with an encouraging squeeze to his shoulder and then turned his attention to Steven. “Take him to the Council for further healing, and tell them what has happened here.” He stood. “I am going to get my mate.” He gave a reassuring glance to Dante. “Her friend as well.”

Dante gave a small nod of appreciation, his face still a mask of pain. “Thank you, Cousin.”

“You’re not planning on going alone I hope,” Steven cautioned.

“Oh no.” Malcolm gave a smile that promised vengeance. He uttered the ancient language and vanished into the air.

Moments later, Malcolm arrived in the living room of his home. He was about to open a link to his uncle Brendan when his body was flooded with relief. He sucked in a sharp breath as every single nerve ending came alive, and the blood pumped faster through his body as Samantha touched her mind to his.

Malcolm. I’m in trouble. Her voice trembled as it rippled over his soul.

I will come to you, mia piccola lupa. Are you all right?

A little banged up, but I’m okay. Kerry is here too, but she’s hurt pretty badly. I think she’s dying, Malcolm.

Malcolm knew she was trying to be strong, but he could hear the fear and desperation that wavered under the surface, and it broke his heart.

Kerry’s cousin, AJ. He’s Caedo. He’s the one who’s been after us. We’re somewhere in the aquarium where he works. He’s crazy, Malcolm. I think he killed Dante. He’s not working alone. He mentioned having a partner.

Malcolm sent her reassuring energy as he spoke with her. Dante is going to be fine. You are who I am worried about. I am coming to you now. Keep your mind open to me. As long as you do that, I can always find you.

When Sam touched her mind to Malcolm’s his whole body was reenergized. It was like getting hooked up to a battery for the soul. He could only hope that it had the same effect on his mate.

Malcolm, you shouldn’t come. He wants you to come here so he can kill you. Please, I couldn’t bear it if you got hurt because of me.

He laughed softly in her mind. I will be fine, my love. His voice grew somber. The only thing that would kill me, Samantha, is losing you. Keep your mind open to me, and I will be there shortly. Be brave, mia piccola lupa.

He withdrew his mind from hers but maintained a connection to her energy signature. It killed him to delay going to her for one more moment, but he couldn’t go in there alone. He needed the help of another Amoveo, one who was older and stronger, someone who could get Samantha and Kerry out of there quickly while he took care of the hunter. He didn’t care for his own safety. All that mattered was getting her to safety. He’d finally found her. The fates couldn’t take her from him now. The very thought of losing Samantha brought instant dread. He felt like an elephant was sitting on his chest. No. She would not, could not die.

Malcolm took a deep breath, his nostrils flared, and his eyes shifted brightly. He concentrated on connecting with the one man he knew could help him.

I need your help, Uncle.

Within seconds, Brendan materialized beside the fireplace. His smile faded as soon as he saw Malcolm. He was completely disheveled. His clothing was damp and stuck to his body. His hair was in more disarray than normal, and his eagle eyes were glowing bright yellow. His face was a mask of rage.

“It seems that the fellow you captured was not working alone. He not only captured my mate and her friend, but…Dante came to investigate and was badly wounded in the process.”

Brendan’s eyes shifted into two glittering black diamonds. “My son,” he seethed. “That bastard harmed my son.”

“Yes, but he’s going to recover,” he added quickly. “Steven was able to get to him in time, and he’s brought him to the Council for further healing.”

Brendan’s body relaxed somewhat, but his eyes burned with anger. He nodded his understanding. “Thank God.”

“However, Samantha has been taken by the Caedo and so has her friend,” Malcolm seethed through clenched teeth. “I need you to come with me. I’m quite sure that he will come after me right away. I need you to get Samantha and Kerry out of there safely.”

“I would be only too happy to clean up this mess,” he said in a voice that promised retaliation. “Do you know where they are being held?”

Malcolm nodded somberly. “She opened her mind to me, so I’ll be able to find her. But she’s hurt and frightened.”

“Then we’d better get moving and finish this,” Brendan said.

Malcolm whispered to his mate, I’m coming Samantha.

The two men grasped each other by the forearms, uttered the ancient language “Verto,” and shimmered into the air.

In the blink of an eye, they were standing in the dank cavernous room just a few feet from his mate. Malcolm’s heart stopped when he saw Samantha. She was on her knees and tied up. A large purple bruise marred the left side of her beautiful face. The Caedo hunter he’d seen at the restaurant that night was there. He had her by the hair and held a knife at her delicate throat. Malcolm wanted to rip him to shreds, but Brendan held him back.

You won’t reach her in time, Malcolm. That blade is right above her jugular. She’ll be dead before she hits the floor.

Sam smiled and breathed his name. Tony tugged her hair and pressed the knife against her throat.

“Shut up.” He pushed the blade harder still against her.

Malcolm’s rage reached a new level as a small rivulet of blood trickled down her lovely neck.

“You are making a grave mistake,” Malcolm said in a low deadly voice. He didn’t take his gleaming yellow eyes off Tony.

“You’re the one making the mistake.” Tony laughed. “How do you think I learned how to keep your kind out of my head? How do you think I was able to stay a step ahead of you all the time and keep my plans from you? Huh?”

He yanked Sam’s hair viciously. Her frightened eyes squeezed shut, and pain flashed across her face, but she did not cry out.

“My people have captured the one you were working with,” Malcolm said steadily.

“Oh yeah,” he said smugly. “Not from what I see.”

Malcolm’s look of confusion only made Tony laugh harder.

“He is a trusting fool. Isn’t he?” He giggled.

The air thickened, and Malcolm felt a light breeze next to him as Brendan disappeared. In the next instant, he was standing next to Tony and trained his ebony eyes on him as a slow smile crept across his face. “Not as foolish as you are,” Brendan murmured.

With lightning fast reflexes, he grabbed Tony’s head and snapped his neck with a sickening crack.

Sam screamed and launched her body away from the violent attack. She landed with a grunt as the breath was knocked from her.

Tony made a gurgling sound as his eyes rolled back in his head. His limp body crumpled in a heap at Brendan’s feet.

Malcolm rushed to Samantha, scooping her into his arms. He waved his hand, and the binding at her wrist vanished.

With a soft sob, she gratefully wrapped her sore arms around Malcolm’s neck and buried her face in his chest.

He tangled his hands in her hair and breathed her in, as if to make sure she was really there with him. “Thank God. Please never close your mind to me again. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you, Samantha,” he whispered into her ear. He rained small kisses all over her face and captured her mouth with his as they knelt there together.

Sam greedily kissed him back.

The sudden sound of clapping echoed through the room, breaking up their intimate reunion. They turned to see Brendan clapping. He walked slowly over to the crossbow that was leaning against the wall. A sick smile spread across his face as their obvious confusion rippled over him. Effortlessly, he picked the weapon up and pointed it at them. His cold black eyes glared at them with a hateful look of disgust.

Malcolm protectively pushed Samantha behind him as they stood up slowly. Sam’s fingers dug into Malcolm’s arms, and she leaned on him for support, her body weakened and shaky. Realization slithered through her. This was the partner that AJ had mentioned. Her heart beat rapidly, and tears stung at her eyes. Malcolm’s uncle, a member of his own family, had been behind all of this.

She gripped his arms tightly as he held her behind him. His entire body had gone rigid, and his biceps quivered beneath her fingers. She could feel his confusion and reached out to him as gently as possible. AJ said he had a partner, Malcolm. I’m so sorry.

“Uncle…I don’t understand. What…” Malcolm trailed off, unable to wrap his brain around the enormity of the betrayal before him.

Brendan merely laughed.

It was a deep sound that sickened Sam to her very core. He kicked AJ’s body toward the giant pool at the center of the room. All the while, he never took his eyes off Malcolm and kept the deadly crossbow pointed directly at them.

Sam noticed that Brendan’s eyes had shifted. They were completely black and spoke of nothing but death.

With one last shove of his heavily booted foot, he pushed AJ’s body into the massive pool. A flurry of activity followed the splash, and within seconds the water turned blood red. As the body was devoured by the sharks, the entire room became tinted with crimson light.

Sam swallowed hard. Sharks, great. Can’t you blink us out of here now?

No. Not unless you want to leave your friend behind. I have to be touching her in order to take her with us.

“Well, that ought to give the tourists something to talk about tomorrow,” Brendan said in a low voice laced with twisted amusement.

“Brendan, what is going on? Why are you doing this?”

“Did you really think that we would just accept this?” Brendan asked incredulously. “That we would allow it? Let a human mate with our people? Breed with us?”

Sam shrank back as he spat the words out. He said human as though it was the lowest form of life.

“It’s bad enough that you would betray me, your nephew, but your own son,” Malcolm accused.

Brendan’s face grew dark and somber, his voice dropped. “That was not part of the plan. My son was meddling in something that didn’t need to involve him. Perhaps this will teach him a lesson. He was becoming far too fascinated with these humans.” He sneered and cast a quick glance at Kerry. “That one in particular.” His face twisted in disgust as he continued. “We thought it was a fluke when Lucas mated with that human wretch. At first we let it go, figuring he just had odd tastes, but when she conceived…well, we knew that had to be stopped. I would rather see you both dead than mating with humans and creating half-breeds like Logan did.”

A look of horror and realization came over Sam’s face. “Oh my God,” she whispered as tears blurred her vision. “You…you killed my parents.”

“No,” Malcolm said with disbelief, shaking his head and looking from Samantha to Brendan. “No. It was the Caedo.”

“No, my boy.” Brendan laughed a low evil sound. “Oh, we blamed them of course. They are after all the perfect scapegoats. They have killed hundreds of our people over the years, but that…” He sighed dramatically. “That was one they did not do.”

Brendan had a smug, satisfied look on his face that was turning Sam’s grief into rage.

He let out a sound of exasperation. “Really, Malcolm, you can’t tell me you’re surprised by this? Did you honestly believe that we would let you breed human weakness into our race?”

“Does Richard know about this?” Malcolm seethed.

“Please,” he spat. “He’s weak and soft. He’s so desperate to keep our race going that he’s willing to allow you and others to muddy our bloodlines with humans.” Brendan’s calm facade disintegrated as he ranted. “You can be assured I am not the only one. There are many of us who want to keep our race pure. If it means that some of our own have to die, then so be it.”

“So you teamed up with our enemy to kill and betray your own people?”

“Well, I’d prefer not to kill you,” he said casually. “Join us, Malcolm. If you were able to mate with this thing, then you will probably survive once she’s dead.”

Sam felt Malcolm’s body quiver with fury as every fiber of his being tensed. His anger flashed over her with violent intensity, and she steeled herself against the onslaught of the energy. She gritted her teeth and dug her fingers deeper into his arm, hoping to draw strength from him. The last thing she wanted to do was faint like some helpless female in a bad movie. She focused on her breathing the way Malcolm taught her and concentrated on filtering out the hostile energy.

“You are strong and a good fighter. We could use you in our cause. Don’t you see? Breeding with humans will weaken our race.” He shifted his gaze to Sam, and she could feel his hatred of her as it slammed into her mind. She felt the blood drain from her face. She swallowed back the bile that rose in her throat, but she didn’t take her eyes off of his. There was no way she was going to let him get the best of her. “Look at her. She’s pathetic. She can barely master simple things that we teach our children. See how easily she’s affected by the emotions of others. Is that what you want for your offspring? She’s never even shifted to her clan form. She probably can’t even do it. Killing her will be a pleasure.” He sneered, training the crossbow on Sam.

In that instant, Malcolm’s anger boiled over and filled the room. Kerry moaned softly from the corner, momentarily drawing Brendan’s attention, which was all Malcolm needed. He shoved Samantha back. A wild scream of fury ripped from his throat and evolved into the earsplitting screech of his eagle. By the time Brendan looked back, Malcolm’s massive wings had taken him through the air. His razor sharp talons were clawing at Brendan’s face.

Brendan screamed in pain and rage, swatting frantically as Malcolm’s talons tore through his flesh and slashed one of his eyes. Bleeding heavily, he clutched at his face and dropped the crossbow. To Sam’s horror, he shifted into the most massive black bear she had ever seen. Malcolm flapped his wings and hovered, mercilessly clawing at Brendan’s wounded and now furry face. Brendan bellowed a thunderous roar, which rumbled through the cavernous room and shook Sam to her core.

The dark fur on his face was wet with blood. One of his eyes was a sickening clump hanging from its socket. He roared with frustration and continued to swat at Malcolm’s unyielding, shrieking attack. Brendan stumbled by the edge of the pool and swatted blindly at Malcolm. Sam’s eyes widened with horror as an immense clawed paw connected heavily with Malcolm. A cloud of feathers and blood filled the air. The blow sent Malcolm crashing into the wall. He fell and shifted abruptly back to his human form, landing with an audible thud. Brendan stood triumphant on his hind legs and let out a roar of victory over Malcolm’s wounded body. When Samantha saw Malcolm lying unconscious and bleeding, something primal inside of her snapped.

Red-hot fury flashed through her body, and every single nerve ending lit up brightly. Her eyes tingled and shifted fiercely. Brendan took her birthright, he murdered her parents, and now he was trying to take the only man she had ever loved. One image blazed in her mind as she looked at the one who took everything from her.


Flames licked up her spine, lightning flashed across her skin, and she erupted into her wolf form with a vicious snarl. It happened so fast she didn’t even realize she had done it. She heard herself growl—at least she thought it came from her. It was a deadly sound that reverberated over her skin and deep into her bones.

Samantha bared her teeth, and with every ounce of energy she had, launched her body at Brendan. He turned toward the unexpected attack just in time for her large paws to land on his barrel chest. She could swear she saw a look of shock on his mutilated face as she sunk her razor-sharp teeth into his thick neck. Blood spurted over her tongue, but the warm coppery liquid didn’t repulse her—it only steeled her resolve.

When her body slammed into him and her teeth tore into his flesh, he roared with surprise and stumbled backward. He swatted desperately at Sam, and his claws sliced her flank. She growled as the white searing pain shot through her. His blow knocked her to the side and released him from her grip. She landed next to Malcolm with a yelp.

Between the force of her attack and his wounds, Brendan lost his footing on the slippery cement floor. Sam watched as he bellowed with rage and fell thrashing into the shark tank behind him. He flailed wildly in the water as the sharks got yet another unplanned meal. His blood filled the tank, leaving the room awash in an even deeper crimson light.

Sam lay there, panting for a moment, shocked at what had just happened. Finally she stood, limping on her wounded leg, and let out a low whine. She felt Malcolm stir next to her. He was bleeding from large gashes on his arm and head. She nudged him softly with her wet nose, licking his face, and touched her mind to his. Malcolm? Can you hear me? Please answer me. Sam was relieved as his eyes fluttered open.

A slow smile spread across his face as he saw Sam in her animal form for the first time.

Mia lupa piccola, he whispered back, his smile quickly faded as he remembered Brendan. He sat up, wincing at the pain as he looked around the room. Where is he?

Sam whined and looked toward the still splashing red waters of the tank. I’m so sorry, Malcolm.

He looked over at the bloody water and then knew that Brendan was gone. No. I’m sorry. I won’t let anyone harm you ever again, mia piccola lupa. He ran his hand along her furred body.

My little wolf, huh? I’m not that little. She sighed.

My little wolf, he insisted with a proud smile.

Well, let’s see if I can turn back into the less furry version of myself. Sam closed her eyes and pictured herself as human again. In seconds, she shimmered and shifted back to her human form.

Malcolm’s eyes widened in surprise and pride as he witnessed her newly mastered ability. She stood before him, her clothes torn, a bloody gash on her leg, and an ugly purple bruise marring her lovely face. Anger flared deep inside of him at the sight of her wound and the memory of Brendan’s betrayal. He softened, however, as he watched her go to her friend. Kerry was still passed out on the other side of the room.

She stepped over the bloody mess by the edge of the pool. Sam knelt down next to Kerry and gently moved the hair from her face. She groaned and moved slightly as Sam looked her over. With a wave of her hand, Sam removed the tape from her wrists and feet. She felt pretty good about her newfound comfort level with her abilities. The moment she’d shifted into her wolf, it was as if every one of her abilities clicked into place and she was finally a puzzle with all of its pieces.

Kerry stirred briefly and let out a soft moan.

“Shhh. It’s okay,” Sam whispered. “We’re going to get you home.”

Sam brushed the last few strands from her friend’s swollen black eye. Any regrets she had about killing Brendan were gone as she looked at Kerry and then around the room. She went down the laundry list of horrible, hateful things he’d done. Sam saw Malcolm watching her lovingly. She went to him immediately and knelt down to examine his injuries, paying no attention to her own wounds.

Malcolm forced himself to a sitting position and watched his mate with awe. She had shifted instinctively and without the ancient language. She truly was special and had more power than anyone expected. Malcolm interrupted her inspections and took her hands in his. He kissed both of her palms tenderly. Taking her face in his hands, he locked his eyes on hers as his thumb gently stroked her cheek.

Sam looked into his eyes and felt tears of relief prick the back of her eyes. It dawned on both of them how horribly close they’d come to losing each other. She tenderly captured his lips with hers. In her mind, she heard him whisper softly. I love you, Samantha. Forever.