Castrose Zukan returns to the hideaway his brother, Clayton, had been using, only to find it destroyed. After checking the escape route they’d created, he discovers Clayton didn’t leave alone. While it takes a few days, Castrose figures out who took him…and where. He sneaks into the United States and heads to a little mountain town called Stone Ridge. What he doesn’t expect is to become the hunted.
When Eion MacDougal watched his two eldest brothers and dozens of others in their wolf shifter pack find their mates, he never lost hope that he would find his own someday. Out hunting with family in wolf form, that day comes when he runs across a guy with a sniper rifle. Revealing himself has unexpected consequences. The big, blond human faints.
With help from his family, Eion takes him home. Help from his pack tells him who the human is…and why he’s there. When Castrose wakes, can he win the man’s trust? Or will his mate flee from Eion when he learns he’s part of the group that kidnapped the human’s only family?
As soon as the buckle seatbelt light flashed off, Castrose Zukan unclipped the clasp and rose to his feet. He longed to stretch his arms over his head and pop his back, but he knew that would have to wait. Even flying first class, Castrose found the seats on the airplane uncomfortable for his big six-foot-three-inch frame.
Time to get off this damn bird, so I can stretch my legs.
Castrose grabbed his carry-on bag from the overhead storage bin. Slinging the satchel over his shoulder, he straightened his suit coat, then began making his way down the aisle toward the door. Even as big as he was, Castrose easily maneuvered around the other fliers and made it to the door nearly first.
Sometimes, military training came in handy in unexpected ways.
Slipping from the plane, Castrose strode steadily down the attached tunnel. He followed the tide of people toward the customs check and found a slow-moving line to stand in. When he finally reached the head of the line, Castrose pulled his fake identification from the inside pocket of his suit coat.
Castrose spotted a passenger moving away from a booth, so he headed that way. Offering a slight smile, he handed his identification to the attendant.
The man behind the counter read over the information, glanced at him, then placed a stamp on his passport. “Welcome to Houston, Mr. Randin. I hope you enjoy your stay.”
“Thank you,” Castrose replied, giving the man another small smile as he took his passport back.
As Castrose moved away from the counter, he tucked his forged information back into his suit coat. His documents listed his name as Daniel Randin, a Swedish native who had diplomatic immunity. That meant his bag wouldn’t be searched, allowing him to break down his sniper rifle and carry it on the plane with him.
While there was always the low chance of getting hassled, Castrose had chosen to take the chance. He’d been through so many custom checks that he’d learned what set off people’s radar and knew to avoid that. In this instance, acting as a weary business traveler was a damn sure bet that he would be waved on through.
And I was right.
Without a bag to pick up and only having the clothes on his back and one change in his bag—which were wrapped around the pieces of his weapon—Castrose headed toward the car rental area. Once there, he had to stand in another line. Rubbing the back of his neck, he silently urged the rental company to open a second line.
Castrose almost chuckled when two minutes later, another employee appeared from the back and did just that. Within ten minutes, he’d used his forged documents to rent a four-wheel-drive pick-up truck. Evidently, in Texas, that was fairly common, so he even had his choice of blue, red, or black.
With keys in hand, Castrose left the airport. He found his vehicle in the slot the woman had indicated on the map. After placing his satchel on the floor of the passenger side, he climbed behind the wheel and fired it up.
As Castrose drove, he searched for a fast food joint. He hated plane food. First, it was never enough. Second, even in first class, it tasted like shit.
Spotting a sub sandwich place, Castrose hummed. “Oh, yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about,” he mumbled. With a sigh of relief, he parked in the lot and hustled in to get a few sub sandwiches for the trip.
While Castrose could have caught a connecting flight and flown directly to Denver, he’d chosen to drive. He hated flying and crossing the ocean was long enough. Besides, it gave him time to wait for his contact in the CIA to get him the last of the information he needed.
There was something odd about how someone from a hick town had managed to infiltrate his brother’s home.
Castrose still remembered the shock he’d felt when he’d driven to his hidden parking spot, hiked toward the abandoned cabin, and found the destruction of the home. His heart had skipped a beat, and he’d gasped. He’d swept his gaze over the devastation as he’d rubbed his chest.
His brother, his only family, had been in that cabin—Clayton Zukan.
While Castrose had learned bomb-making while in the military, his younger, much-smaller brother, had taken his training manuals and turned it into an art form. His bombs ended up in high demand. Turning his skills toward sniper-dom, Castrose had ended up a hell of a shot, and after leaving the military, combined with the martial arts training he’d enjoyed since he was five, he’d had an easy segue into becoming an assassin.
Castrose and Clayton had banded together and created a kickass team. It was a good thing his brother had a moral compass. Clayton laid the ground rules for who they sold to, who they allowed to hire them, and always demanded Castrose confirm that what the client said had happened was actually the truth.
Without Clayton, Castrose knew he would lose those values. He had never considered himself a bad man, but he certainly wouldn’t be called good, either.
I need my brother.
Fortunately, Castrose had located the exit of their underground lair’s escape tunnel. While the opening itself was charred from the flames of the explosion, the land itself had given him plenty of clues. He had found tracks…a lot of tracks. Castrose recognized his brother had left one of the sets.
Thanks to the maker.
Collecting his discreetly placed cameras, Castrose had felt a wealth of relief to discover that not only was Clayton alive, but he was also uninjured. Hell, the group who’d escorted him to a hidden SUV hadn’t even trussed him. In fact, Clayton had been chatting eagerly with them, appearing to question them and get responses in return.
Just who the fuck are these guys? And why didn’t Clayton leave me a message?
Castrose had holed up in a hotel room and spent several days watching the sites where his brother might reach out to him. In the meantime, he had delved into their recent accepted assignments. If someone had managed to track Castrose and Clayton to their secret hideaway in Romania, then they had to be very good, have a lot of money, or perhaps both.
In conjunction with that, Castrose had cross-referenced everyone in the person or person’s life with acquaintances, friends, or family.
It had taken Castrose three days to spot a correlation.