Jago has known Corbin is his mate for a while now, but he gave him all the time and space he needed in the hope Corbin would decide he wants Jago. He knows it’s not going to be easy because of Corbin’s past and what he was raised to be, but he has hope. Then the creature that haunts the woods around pack territory kidnaps Jago, and Corbin comes to his rescue. It doesn’t mean all is flowers and rainbows between them, though.
Corbin doesn’t know what to do with Jago. He’s been raised to be cool and emotionless, and Jago is threatening that. Corbin doesn’t know how to be different, but the lure of having a mate and all it entails is calling out to him, and Corbin wants to surrender. The only thing stopping him is himself, but when he hears Zach and Jago talk about what Jago’s father has done to him, he finally caves in. Jago needs him, and Corbin can’t resist the mating instinct that’s growing inside.
Jago and Corbin mate and everything is right in their world—for a little while. Corbin is still trying to navigate his new relationship and to become more human when a menace both new and old rises on the horizon, putting him and everything he now holds dear in danger and changing their lives forever.
Jago pressed his back against the cold stone. He never looked away from the creature that had taken him, but he couldn’t help but wonder why it hadn’t killed him yet. It looked like Kameron was right—the thing in front of Jago was intelligent, at least to a point. Jago wasn’t sure how much it understood, or if it was able to talk and explain itself, but he was about to find out.
“What do you want from me?”
The creature looked at Jago and grunted. Jago shivered at the sight of the fangs peeking from under the creature’s lips, but it didn’t look like the thing wanted to hurt him. Yet.
“Why did you take me?”
The creature stopped walking back and forth at the entrance of the cave they were in and turned to face Jago. Jago grimaced—even in the darkness, what he could see of the thing was something he knew he’d never forget. Black fur, twisted legs, long claws, and a face that would have looked almost human if it wasn’t for the fur and the way the nose and mouth looked like a half-developed muzzle. It was more elongated than a human face, but not as much as a dog’s. It made the fact that the creature was a mix of human and canine obvious.
The creature sat in front of Jago, far enough that Jago didn’t feel threatened—not much more than before, anyway. It didn’t answer Jago’s questions, though, so Jago decided to push. “So? What do you want from me?”
The creature grunted again, and Jago thought that was all the answers he was going to get, but instead the creature opened its mouth. “The alpha.”
The creature’s voice was broken and sounded more like a growl, but it was clear enough that Jago understood what it had told him. “You want Kameron?”
The creature nodded.
The creature shrugged. Jago squirmed, trying to find a more comfortable position even if he knew it wasn’t possible, not as long as he had to stay on the cold stone. He couldn’t feel his ass anymore, and he was shivering. At least the creature had waited for summer to kidnap him, but the cave they were in was still cold as fuck, and he was only wearing a thin T-shirt and a pair of board shorts.
“So you want Kameron because he’s the alpha. Why did you take me, though?”
“Friends,” the creature grunted.
“Because I’m friends with Kameron?” The creature nodded. “And you thought he was going to come to get me back?” Another nod.
Jago felt kind of crazy for trying to talk and reason with the thing in front of him, but it was either that or wait for it to kill him, and he wasn’t about to wait for death without at least trying to do something. He knew people were probably already looking for him, and the creature was correct in its assumption that Kameron would come and look for Jago. But it probably hadn’t thought about Corbin, and Jago felt kind of sorry for the creature, because he knew Corbin would be furious.
Not that Jago and Corbin were mated yet, or that they were even civil to each other. Corbin had gotten over the fact that Jago was his mate pretty fast, and he’d basically disappeared ever since. Jago saw him only in passing now, no matter how many times he tried to talk to him. But even with their strained relationship, Jago knew—or rather, he hoped—that Corbin would come for him.
“Why didn’t you take Zach?”
Yeah, that made sense. “Why me and not someone else?”
“You live with him.”
“And you thought that meant I was closer to Kam and Zach than anyone else.” The creature grunted in assent, or at least Jago thought so. “Sorry to tell you this, but you’re wrong. I might live with them, but I’m really just another pack member to them.”
That wasn’t strictly correct, but it was true that Jago wasn’t exactly Kameron or Zach’s best friend. He liked the alpha couple well enough, but his best friend was Craig. Jago didn’t really have that much interaction with Zach outside of the house, and even less so with Kameron.
The creature grunted again and got up. Jago realized a bit too late that the fact that he wasn’t that important to the alpha pair might mean the creature would kill him and try to find someone else, but it went back to the cave entrance rather than toward Jago.
Jago relaxed just a bit and hugged his knees to his chest in hope of getting warmer. It didn’t help much, but it was better than nothing. Jago was still curious, and since the creature didn’t look like it wanted to eat him, he decided to try to get more out of it. He didn’t think Kameron’s first thought would be to try not to hurt it, and he knew the creature would be lucky to make it out of the upcoming confrontation alive.
“Why do you want Kameron?”
Jago waited for an answer, but the silence lengthened. He thought the creature was done with answering, but it shifted and looked at him again. “Need to take him.”
Jago closed his eyes. That sounded way too much like something Corbin might have said, and he hated it. He opened his eyes again and looked at the creature. For once, he didn’t see a monster, but rather someone—something—that hadn’t asked to be like it was. “You were born in a lab.” It wasn’t a question, but the creature nodded.
“What... what are you?”