I bolted up in bed, my heart pounding, the sounds of a shotgun blast ringing in my head, the smell of blood and gunpowder in my nose. For a heartbeat, I was back in the truck, blowing that rabid's head off. I gulped several deep breaths in the dim light of Mace's room. I might be living here but it didn't really feel like mine, yet.
I fell back onto the sweat soaked sheets. Without windows to let in light, I had no idea what time it was. The passing sounds of laughter and voices carried through the door. So. Morning. I should get up. I should. But I didn't fucking feel like it.
I heaved a sigh and forced myself out of bed. Laying there wallowing wouldn't help. I needed to get busy and stay busy. Too busy to remember yesterday's carnage and my place in it. Too busy to think about all the other times I'd had a wolfman in my crosshairs. And pulled the trigger. My stomach clenched, and the taste of bile rose in my throat.
Oh, I knew I'd had no choice but to pull the trigger. That really didn't make it any easier. Not even when I thought they were all monsters, inhuman beasts that would maim and kill anyone in their path. Now, fuck, how many had I flat out murdered? What if someone like me had gotten to Mace?
I sucked in air, fighting the nausea rising inside me. I couldn't even be sure I'd killed any, not at the distance I normally shot from.
Yeah, keep telling yourself that, maybe someday you'll believe it.
Finding my clothes with just the light leaking under the door wasn't always easy, but last night I'd undressed alone, so I'd put them away. Unlike those nights Mace helped strip me and they got tossed everywhere in our rush to get naked with each other.
How long had it been since I could put clean clothes on whenever I wanted? Way too fucking long.
After a quick trip to the showers, I entered the main room. The tension stretched so fucking tight one wrong pluck of the string and the whole thing would snap in our faces. The pack hadn't been this tense since right after Tat died.
Warning snarls equaled polite hellos. A fair number of the pack members sported new bruises or scrapes. The newly adopted rabids looked far worse.
The only woman in sight was Doc. She was working on a rabid with freshly washed dark hair and warm brown skin. Looked like the one who'd been pretty shot up. As I got closer, I could see he had plenty of new bruises and claw marks. Doc stitched a deep wound in his arm. Looked like a bite. Slade had his claws wrapped around the guy's neck, tips dinting his skin, in a not so subtle warning to behave. The rabid's feral gaze locked onto me, hungry, wild. A chill caressed down my spine, raising all the hair on the back of my neck. Could such a fucking wild beast really be tamed?
Slade's growl called his attention off me. Not far away, the other two who'd submitted after the fight sat with a pack member on either side. One of them tracked me with his one open eye. Must have been a rough fucking night. Hound sat next to him and snarled. The rabid dropped his gaze, whining softly, which earned him a pat on the head. Yeah, good dog. Fuck.
Mace stood near the weapons locker talking in low tones with Hawk, Vegas and Cowboy. Ice and Wraith leaned on the wall nearby, listening no doubt, but also keeping a wary eye on the room. China, like the other women, was nowhere in sight.
I scanned the room. "Hey, anyone seen RK?" I got several confused stares. "The blond rabid that was hanging out in the corner last night, looks like road kill? Quiet and kind of shy for a wolfman?"
Several rude snickers startled me, but no one bothered to answer. "Obviously you know who the fuck I'm talking about. Where is he?" A few snarled at me before ducking their heads. What the fuck was up with that? "What the fuck happened to RK? Tell me he's not what's for breakfast."
That got a bunch of nasty snickers. "Try behind the couch." A weasely looking wolfman pointed toward the back of the room. What was that fucker's name? Guess I didn't really care.
Behind the couch? What the fuck? He'd seemed fine when I left last night, hanging out in a corner, staying out of the way. No one had seemed interested in him.
"No, the one over there."
So, not on the dais but the massive leather beast set at an angle and snugged up against the dais and the wall. It had one of those high backs that leaned just a little with a thick roll along the top. I leaned over and peered behind it. Crammed into the small space where the platform and wall made a corner was RK. He curled in tighter as I watched him.
I moved to the end of the couch, pulling the end out to give myself some room, and crouched down so I could see him. "Hey, RK, buddy, come on out. It's breakfast. You hungry?"
Freaky pale yellow eyes stared back at me unblinking. He didn't move, just stared.
Someone landed on the couch with a loud thud, rocking it back slightly and jamming the big soft roll on the top edge into the wall. I fell back on my ass in surprise and RK tried to make himself even smaller.
A couple more wolfmen joined in, shaking the couch and taunting RK. One reached behind, swiping at him with his claws. RK whimpered and flattened himself like he thought he would fit under the couch. Was he fucking shaking?
"Fuck off. Don't you assholes have anything better to do?" I jumped to my feet, facing those fucking bullies.
They stopped and snarled at me. Fuck, when was I going to learn some tact? At this rate I'd be dead first, a victim of my own big mouth. I backed into a hard body and jerked forward. Fuck! A gentle hand steadied me. I relaxed. Mace, thank God.