Fated Surrender by Alanea Alder

  “These guys are the squad I served with when I was active duty,” he explained.

  “It’s like a damn reunion,” Jaws said.

  “Except for Spider,” Casper said quietly. All of the Sentinels clenched their fists and looked at each other.

  “It’s why we insisted on coming. To keep your family safe and to find the sick fuck who killed Spider to make sure he dies,” Baron explained.

  “We can’t tell you how much it means to us that y’all are here. In the envelope of photos that Connor got, he targeted our pregnant mates,” Aleks said, grinding his teeth.

  “Don’t worry, big man, we got you covered. Besides our squad we have one more patrolling the perimeter. He’s not getting anyone else,” Ricochet said, looking up to Aleks.

  Connor had to shake his head. Ricochet was one of the exceptions to recruiting, coming in at only five foot eight inches tall. After he managed to choke out the members of the review board for recruiting, they took him more seriously when they woke up.

  Connor heard the slightest click, and his body was moving before his mind had a chance to process what he heard.

  “Down!” he yelled, tackling Aleks to the ground. He heard a man yell out.

  “On the roof across the street. Find him,” Gabriel ordered. Three vampires immediately darted forward. Connor looked up to see the prince standing back straight, eyes a burning red.

  “Man he is one badass-looking motherfucker,” Ricochet joked, holding his shoulder as sweat beaded on his forehead.

  Gabriel turned and looked down at the injured Sentinel, his eyes settling into an eerie, emotionless, doll-like state.

  “Only to those who threaten to harm what is mine,” Gabriel said, his fangs elongated.

  “I take that back, the red was cool. That soulless black is creeping me out.” Ricochet grinned up at Gabriel, who shrugged and grinned back, though his was more feral.

  “Anyone else hit?” Connor demanded, sitting up. Aleks whacked his shoulder.

  “What was that for?”

  “I’m the older brother. I save you. Don’t forget that.” Aleks frowned at him.

  “Trained Sentinel.” Connor pointed to his chest.

  “Baby on the way. Brother,” Connor said, pointing to Aleks.

  “Sorry, I win.” Connor shrugged.

  “He’s got you there, Aleks,” Liam said, helping Connor to stand.

  “How do we know he’s not still up there about to shoot?” Bran asked.

  “Because he knew that from the time the shot was fired until we found his location would be approximately three minutes. He didn’t have time to stick around,” Baron explained.

  “Connor, I thought you said this guy was more up close and personal?” Bran asked.

  “He’s broke pattern.”

  “What does that mean?” Caleb asked.

  “It means we have a bat-shit crazy shifter on our hands that has taken up a recent interest in hunting rifles as opposed to filet knives,” Bear explained.

  “Wonderful. Just what I wanted to be dealing with before Thanksgiving,” Liam muttered.

  “I sent Riley to get Doc, they should be here soon,” Bran said.

  “Thanks, the last time I was shot, Casper tried to sew me up. It wasn’t pretty,” Ricochet said.

  “We’ll try to avoid that this time,” a crisp, cultured voice drawled. Connor turned to see Doc and Felix rushing up with Riley.

  “Thanks, Doc,” Connor said.

  Connor watched as Doc helped Ricochet lift his shirt. Like the rest of the squad, he was wearing fatigues. Out of nowhere, he felt a flash of panic. Looking around and frowning, he couldn’t place where it was coming from.

  “Damn,” Doc said.

  “What?” Connor asked.

  “There’s more damage to his shirt than to him, and it’s closing up right before my eyes,” Doc said, watching the bleeding slow to a trickle.

  Doc went to stand and swayed. Felix steadied his mate.

  “Claybourne?” he asked, concerned.

  “Just got dizzy for a second. I’m fine now.” Doc kissed his mate on the cheek.

  “I work with my animal a lot, and I’ve learned how to speed up my healing a bit,” Ricochet said, wincing as he rotated his arm. He looked up at Connor.

  “Dude, I’m starving.” With Baron’s help, he stood.

  “Come on, guys, let’s grab lunch and then head out for patrols. We’d just be right back here in an hour anyway to eat,” Connor said, pointing to the diner. He couldn’t shake that uneasy feeling. He looked around, trying to determine if they were being targeted, but didn’t see anything.

  “I’ll run and get Madison from the clinic and drop off our gear,” Felix said, taking both medical bags.

  “Be careful,” Connor and Doc said at the same time. Felix stood to attention and snapped a salute. Ricochet laughed. Felix trotted off as the others walked into the diner.

  “Let me guess, you boys are hungry?” Ma asked, laughing.

  “Yes ma’am,” Baron said as the Sentinels all grabbed a chair. Everyone else sat where they normally did.

  “Call me Ma,” Ma said.

  “Okay, Professor’s Ma,” Jaws smiled.

  “Why do you keep calling Connor the Professor?” Benedict asked.

  “Maybe he doesn’t do it at home, but with us he has this annoying-as-hell habit of answering a question with not just one, but two or three questions,” Baron said. Everyone started laughing.

  “Hey!” Connor protested.

  “Sorry man, but you do. But that’s okay, it usually makes me think,” Finn said, laughing. Connor shrugged his shoulders.

  They heard the door swing open and slam into the wall behind it. Felix stood there breathing hard, a look of panic on his face.

  “Please tell me Madison is here,” he pleaded, his eyes filling with tears.

  Connor felt his heart stop. He looked around wildly as looks of panic flared and took off like wildfire. He couldn’t breathe. Why couldn’t he breathe? Connor put a hand to his chest and felt himself hunch over. He felt himself being hauled up and looked up into his brother’s face. He saw Aleks’s lips moving, but there was no sound. All he could hear was his heartbeat thundering loudly as pressure built behind his eardrums.

  Sound came back all at once as he stood and looked at his brother, his chest heaving. Aleks began to push him to the back door.

  “Breathe, little brother.” Benedict supported Connor on one side, Aleks on the other.

  When the cool autumn air hit his face, he opened his mouth and an ungodly scream emerged. He balled his hand, cocked his arm back, and buried his fist in the brick siding of the diner. Again and again he slammed his hand into the brick wall, heedless of the sounds of his own bones breaking.

  Aleks pulled him away from the wall as he was about to swing again. Connor felt his canines drop as he challenged his older brother to let him go. He threw his head back and roared. Aleks simply wrapped his arms around his chest and held on. Connor thrashed, screaming out his rage. His mate was gone! He had failed to keep the most precious thing in his life safe. He screamed again and again his impotent rage.

  “Connor?” a soft voice called out from the doorway. Snarling, Connor swung his head around and growled at the voice. When his eyes focused, he saw Rebecca standing in the doorway of the back door to the diner. She was weeping gently, but it was the pain in her eyes that made him stop his struggles.

  “Becca, go inside, I don’t want you around me when I’m like this,” he growled.

  Rebecca walked up and pulled Aleks’s hands away from Connor’s chest. Connor sagged and she stepped into his body. She wrapped her small arms around him, her hardening belly pressed between them.

  He felt another arm wrap around one arm and he looked down to see Ashby crying. The small, angelic man buried his face in Connor’s upper arm. He took a step back and bumped into his older brother. Aleks placed warm, steadying hands on his shoulder. Kate came over and held his other arm,
both of her mates right behind her. Benedict reached in and rested a hand on top of Aleks’s on one shoulder. Nic came and stood behind Ashby. Sebastian walked up behind Rebecca and placed a supporting hand on her lower back. Connor closed his eyes and let the tears flow.

  When he opened them again, the small courtyard behind the diner was full of his family and close friends. Rebecca stepped back and smiled up at him. She sniffed then balled up her tiny fist and punched him as hard as she could in the stomach. Connor grunted and bent over slightly. She stood on tiptoe and cradled his face between her two small hands.

  “For someone so smart, you really are dumb.” She smiled up at him.

  “Why do you have to carry these burdens alone? Why wouldn’t you want the support of your family and friends, especially when you give so much of yourself all the time? Is it so hard to surrender the responsibility so that you aren’t crushed by its weight?” Her eyes searched his face.

  Connor shook his head. Rebecca wrapped her arms around him again.

  “You ready to roll, Professor?” Baron and his Sentinel squad stood in the background waiting for him.

  “Yup, just needed someone to talk some sense into me.” Rebecca beamed up at Connor. He was about to step back when he felt something jab him in the hip. Surprised, he looked down. Rebecca’s face held a look of wonder, and she placed a hand on her belly.

  “That was him! He totally just kicked you!” She laughed.

  “What really? Let me feel,” Aleks said, moving Connor out of the way. He dropped to his knees and placed the side of his face against her belly. Connor watched as Aleks suddenly leaned back.

  “He kicked me in the face!” Aleks laughed out loud.

  Rebecca turned to Connor a look of determination on her face.

  “Your nephew wants you to bring his Aunt Madison home.”

  Connor nodded and turned to Baron.

  “We’ll search every inch of the warehouse district.”

  Baron’s face became thoughtful.

  “Are you sure that’s where he took her? He has broken pattern. They could be anywhere.”

  Connor growled in frustration.

  “Connor is right, they are heading north toward Brighton,” Daniel said without looking up from his tablet.

  Connor pushed past Bran and Caleb, stepping right next to Daniel.

  “How can you possibly know that?” he asked.

  “While you were having your breakdown…”

  “Daniel!” David hissed.


  “Tact, Daniel, remember?” David rubbed both hands over his face.

  “Fine, ‘episode.’” Daniel used his fingers to put it in quotations. David punched him in the shoulder.

  “Report!” Baptista barked. Connor could have kissed the man.

  “Anyway, I asked around and Ma and Felix both confirmed that Madison had her phone on her,” Daniel explained. He looked up at Connor and smiled. Connor stared at him waiting for of the explanation. David came to his rescue.

  “Daniel and I can track cell phones as long as they are on. I could explain that method, but you would only get confused and it’s not really applicable in this instance. We hacked her Apple account and looked at Find my Phone.”

  “All right guys, let’s get moving. He has about a twenty to thirty-five minute head start.”

  As everyone began splitting up and moving toward different vehicles, Jaws came running up to them from the woods.

  “Three men from the other squad are dead, shot. It’s how he got her out of town,” he reported.

  Connor, scared to death for his mate, turned to the large group standing outside the diner.

  “Who is riding?” he asked.

  “Me, Duncan, Emmett, Benedict, and Gavin are in one SUV,” Aleks started.

  “I’m riding with Gabriel, Ricochet, Baron and Jaws,” Finn added.

  “Bran, Caleb, and Liam will stay behind to guard the town,” Ma said.

  Connor looked to Doc Claybourne. Felix had his arm wrapped around his mate.

  “Doc, you coming?” Connor asked.

  Doc shook his head.

  “I’d be a liability. There is no telling what I would do to that fiend if he has hurt my sister. I’m prepping the clinic. Bring her straight to me.” Doc’s cold eyes met Connor’s. He nodded.

  “What about me?” Daniel asked, pushing his way to the front of the group. Connor thought for a second.

  “Oh yeah. You’re in the trunk.” He turned to head toward his truck with Casper and Bear. Daniel started sputtering.

  “Episode?” Connor asked. He turned back to face Daniel and raised an eyebrow.

  “Fit?” Daniel asked. Connor sighed.

  “Get in the truck.”

  “Daniel. Do not distract them,” Gabriel said slowly, enunciating each word. Daniel gulped and nodded his head. He turned and scrambled into the backseat of the truck.

  “Let’s ride,” Connor said.

  Chapter 8

  Connor heard the sound of protesting metal and realized he was gripping his steering wheel too tightly again. He forced himself to take a deep breath before he plowed his truck into a tree.

  “Connor, they have stopped moving. They have been at their current location for five minutes. Either he has found and ditched the phone or they have parked,” Daniel announced from the back.

  “Where are we heading?” Connor asked.

  “Wow, this guy is smart,” Daniel grunted.

  “Why?” Connor demanded.

  “Hold on.” Daniel tapped away on his iPad. Seconds later he sat back in amazement.

  “He is a sick bastard, but he’s smart.”

  “Why?” Casper asked.

  “He’s using the old Chinese import warehouse. I saw it in the case notes Connor had, that building had already been shut down by Sentinel in another case. I read that a doctored version of what happened there was released to the human press,” Daniel explained.

  “Wait, I know that place. Ricochet and I were part of the team that shut down a branch of the drug ring that was operating out of that building. We know the layout,” Casper offered. Daniel gestured with his hands as if to say exactly.

  “He was probably betting on the fact that you wouldn’t check someplace you’d already cleared. It suited his purposes down to the ground. Soundproof rooms, medical equipment, and cells.” Daniel shook his head.

  “Get the address to Gabriel and Aleks. We’ll come at the building from all four fronts. This bastard isn’t getting away.” Connor growled. Daniel’s fingers were flying over his phone when Connor’s phone began to ring. He dug it out of his front pocket and nearly dropped it when he saw who was calling. Quickly, with a shaking hand, he answered the phone.

  “Madison, baby, are you okay? Where are you?” He pulled over to the side of the road and in his rearview mirror he saw two SUVs pull over behind him.

  “Sorry, Madison can’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name and number she will get back to you… Never!” A high-pitched male voice cackled.

  “You leave her alone, you bastard! If you so much as touch her!” Connor screamed into his phone. In the back he heard the back door open and close. Daniel had jumped out and was running to the other SUVs.

  “I wish I had more time with sweet, lush Madison. Redheads are supposed to be great fucks. But I’m not as stupid as you think I am. I know you’re closing in on us. You see, Madison will be my ultimate revenge. The mate of an Arkadion. As an Arkadion you have known nothing but privilege from being one of oldest royal shifter families. You’re all bears, strong and tall. I bet you’ve never known the humiliation from being bullied or ignored.” The male voice grew more agitated with each word until he was screeching.

  “I can help you. It’s the drugs in your system that are making you feel aggressive. Let me take you back to Arkadia and we can get you well.” Connor controlled his breathing and spoke evenly. The driver’s side door opened, and Aleks stood there looking conc
erned. Connor held up a finger.

  “Nope, nope, nope. You see, you see, I have it all planned out. I’m done with this city, time to move on. But before I leave, I can destroy you by killing your mate. Me, nobody but me, can take down an Arkadion. Don’t keep us waiting, she will run out of blood before you get here, and I’m so hoping she’ll die in your arms.” There was another maniacal laugh and then the screams began. Scream after tortured scream.

  Connor stumbled from the cab of his truck, fell to his knees, and vomited. Aleks took his phone and ended the call, cutting off the sound of Madison’s anguish. Struggling to his feet, Connor wiped his mouth. Aleks helped him to stand.

  “We have to go. Stealth doesn’t matter now, he knows we’re coming.” Connor went to get back in the driver’s seat, but Aleks stopped him. Daniel jumped into the backseat.

  “Casper, you drive. We don’t stop for anything!” Aleks steered Connor to the passenger seat and seat-belted him in. He closed the door and banged on the roof.

  “Go!” Connor heard his brother yell, and the truck jumped forward.

  “I got this, Professor. We’ll get her back,” Casper said, concentrating on the road.

  Connor stared at the road in front of them as the truck picked up speed, and he prayed harder than he ever had in his life.

  * * * *

  Madison woke to a dark room. The only light came from the hallway streaming down between the row of bars in the door. She went to sit up and gasped. She wanted to shift and heal, but her animal was reacting sluggishly. That sick freak must have drugged her to keep her from shifting.

  “Are you real?” a voice asked from the corner.

  Sitting up gingerly, she leaned against the wall carefully. Her back felt bruised and from the stickiness she felt trickling down her spine, she was still bleeding. She knew she was injured badly and was frightened at the lack of pain. Her body was trying to protect her mind. She wondered how much time had gone by while she had been unconscious.

  “I’m real. Where are you?” Madison could make out the shape of a chair and hanging straps. She looked behind the chair to the corner and she saw a figure huddled in on itself.

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