Shay Thompson has fallen farther than ever before. Despite her poor upbringing, she’d thought moving to Scotland would be the highlight of her life, a change for the better. But the man she’s been cyber-dating isn’t who he seems to be.
Laird Ross Fraser detests men who prey on women. When he hears Shay cry out in the night, his beast urges him to answer the call. He never thought rescuing one tiny lass would end up changing his life forever.
**This is a novella – No cliffhanger!**
The sounds of flesh slapping flesh should have sent Shay scurrying out of the alley, but something drove her forward. The pub owner had said Mac had headed this way, but she knew he must be mistaken. Grunting and a female’s moans filled the air, telling her exactly what she’d find, but she hoped like hell she was wrong. Things were far from perfect with Mac, but she had nowhere else to go. If she walked out on him now, she’d be homeless. The couple came into view, and she couldn’t deny the tartan Mac had been wearing when he’d left earlier in the day. He had some blonde pressed against the wall while he gripped her hips tight and drove into her.
She gasped and spun to flee, but Mac must have heard her. He cursed and jerked his kilt down as he stormed after her. Shay nearly tripped over her feet trying to get away, but she wasn’t fast enough. Fear skated down her spine as Mac gripped her arm, pulling her closer. His cheeks were flushed from a night of drinking, and there was a wildness in his eyes. She could almost see the evil lurking in their depths, and she wondered what her punishment would be this time.
“Mac, you’re hurting me.” She tried to twist out of his grip, but his hold on her tightened until she feared he’d break her arm.
“Spying on me are you, lass? Did you like what you saw? Want to come join us?” His grin turned downright sadistic. “Maybe you’d like it even more if I invited some friends out here.”
Her heart raced as bile rose in her throat. She wouldn’t put it past him to make good on his threats. Every time she’d disagreed with him, there had been a beating, or he’d withheld food. One night, he’d been so infuriated, he’d stolen all of her clothes and made her go naked for a day. He was a bully and an asshole, but she didn’t know what to do. Without any money of her own, she couldn’t leave, no matter how much she wanted to.
“Mac, please don’t do this.”
He sneered at her. “You’re such a saint. Saint Shay. Like you’re too good for my friends and me to fuck anytime we want. Ailish isn’t so squeamish about it,” he said, motioning toward the woman who was watching them with interest.
If she wanted him, she could have him. Why anyone would put up with Mac Craig was beyond her. All right, so she’d put up with him, but only because she’d been without options. But she was seriously starting to think that being homeless might be a better alternative. It would only be for a few weeks, just until she found a job and could earn some cash. The pub was almost always hiring. Although, that might mean seeing more of Mac, and she wasn’t sure she was up for that.
“I’m done,” she told him.
“Done fighting me?” He grinned.
“No, I’m done with you. I’m packing my shit and leaving you, Mac. No one deserves to be treated like this. I’ve put up with it for too long, but I won’t do it for one more moment.”
His hand tightened even more and she cried out. Mac pulled her off her feet and slammed her into the brick wall of the pub. She felt her teeth rattle and her bones felt like they might snap. He slammed her into the wall twice more, until stars flashed behind her closed eyelids and she wondered if she’d remain conscious. Mac grabbed her by the throat and squeezed until she was gasping for air. Her vision began to darken and she wondered if this would be the end.
A low growl filled the alley, and a shadowy figure loomed. “Let her go.”
There was an eerie glow that looked almost like animal eyes. The man growled again, the sound sending shivers down her spine. He advanced on them, stepping into the light. Shay would have gasped if she’d been able to breathe. Even her oxygen deprived brain registered that he was stunning.
Mac released her and she fell to the hard ground, sucking in as much air as she could. She watched as Mac faced off with the stranger, hoping her knight in shining armor wouldn’t get hurt going up against her now ex-boyfriend. Tears clouded her vision as she massaged her aching throat.
“Leave the lass alone,” the stranger said.
“And why should I listen to you?” Mac asked before spitting on the ground at the man’s feet. “If you want a fight, I’ll give you one.”
“Do you no’ ken who I am?” the stranger asked.
Mac scanned him from head to toe, pausing on the tartan the man wore. Blue and green with thinner red and white lines, she didn’t see anything spectacular about the garment. She knew that certain tartans belonged to some of the older clans. Was he part of one? Did that make him aristocracy? Her thoughts were muddled as she watched to see what would happen.
“You’re him. The Fraser laird with the beast inside.” Mac retreated a step. “You killed Donny Allen.”
“He deserved it.”
Was the man a killer? Could her night get any worse? What would he do with her once Mac turned tail and ran? Because she knew her ex well enough to know that if he deemed the stranger a threat, he’d run as fast and as far as he could.
The stranger moved closer. “And aye, I’m Laird Ross Fraser. If you harm one hair on that lass’s head, I’ll tear you to shreds, much the same as Donny. I donae condone violence against women.”
“Maybe the stories arenae true. Maybe you dinnae really kill Donny, and you just want to scare me off.”
Laird Fraser opened his mouth and let loose with a roar that shook the buildings and the very ground. His eyes glowed gold, and she watched as his teeth lengthened. Her heart kicked in her chest. She’d heard the tales of shifters roaming the highlands, but she’d laughed it off as being ridiculous. Maybe she shouldn’t have been too hasty. His muscular chest grew a fine layer of brown fur and his nails sharpened to points.
Mac whimpered before taking off in the opposite direction.
Laird Fraser approached her and Shay scrambled back against the wall. There was nowhere for her to run, nowhere to hide. As he loomed over her, she opened her mouth to scream. A paw-like hand reached for her as her fear overtook her. She barely heard the “easy, lass” that he crooned right before everything went black and she passed out.