Fated Surrender by Alanea Alder

  “I had a general idea of what he looked like, knew he was a smaller guy, I should have never turned my back on him. He just looked so small and helpless.” She buried her face in her pillow. Connor pulled her out of her pillow.

  “That is how he kills, sweetheart. He wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t work.”

  Suddenly she sat up and gripped the sheet to her chest.

  “Where are my clothes?” she asked. Connor blinked, surprised.

  “You shifted, remember? They were shredded.”

  “Damn it. I loved that outfit. I hate that bastard!” she yelled. Recognizing the need for anger, he nodded.

  “I had to special order that blouse from the designer himself! He doesn’t normally produce shirts with my size bust. Motherfucker!” she screamed.

  “I’m here for you, sweetie!” a voice called out, and Rian swept through the glass double doors with Emmett in tow.

  “I hope you don’t mind but I raided your suitcases. I thought you might need a change of clothes. Honey, I am scandalized and inspired by your lingerie collection.” Rian dropped a bag on the bed and pulled Madison into an embrace. Connor’s ears perked up.

  “Lingerie collection?” he asked. They ignored him.

  “Come on, honey, let’s get you in the shower. I always want to wash after a shift. It feels so much more luxurious that way. I even brought your shower gel and makeup bag. I cannot wait to play with your makeup. It’s all quality stuff.” Rian helped Madison off the bed. Felix came around and made sure her sheet stayed wrapped around her body.

  “The showers here actually aren’t bad,” Felix chimed in as they started to lead her from the room. Connor went to follow, but Rian shook his head.

  “Sorry, girl time.” The three disappeared into an adjoining room. Puzzled, Connor turned to Emmett who only shrugged.

  “But aren’t they?” he asked Doc.

  “I wouldn’t worry about it, Connor,” Doc said, looking more composed.

  Nearly an hour later, Madison emerged looking more like herself than the trembling, pale woman she had been earlier. Connor was worried that her old fire hadn’t returned then chastised himself. Her emotions weren’t as easily changed as her clothes.

  “I feel a thousand percent better. Thank you both so much.” Madison leaned over and kissed both Felix and Rian.

  “Hey, I broke into Connor’s house to get your stuff, don’t I get a kiss?” Emmett pouted. Laughing, Madison kissed Emmett on the cheek. Connor narrowed his eyes at his brother.

  “What do you mean you broke into my house?”

  “Door was locked, had to pick the lock.” Emmett shrugged.

  “Come on, Ma will want to look you over to make sure you are okay.” Connor wrapped his arm around her waist.

  The group walked to the diner. When they walked in, all talking stopped. Connor could feel Madison tense up.

  “It’s about freakin’ time! Oh good, Rian is with you. Madison, do you have a pie preference for Thanksgiving? Rian, Damian said to check your damn phone, something about a certain napkin being out of stock.” Rebecca waved her clipboard around. Madison relaxed against Connor.

  “I loved Connor’s chocolate pie. I couldn’t wait to get it in my mouth,” Madison said without missing a beat. Connor was staring at his mate and ran into a table.

  “Watch it, Connor, I think you may need that later.” Rian laughed. Connor breathed out his mouth as he tried to walk normally to their table. Damn if this wasn’t embarrassing. Madison was trying her hardest not to laugh and wasn’t being successful. He grabbed her ass before she sat down and she squeaked.

  “There she is. Madison, are you okay?” Ma came over to the table and hugged Connor. Just breathing in her perfume suddenly made everything okay.

  “I’ll be okay now that I’m back with Connor in Arkadia. I’m starving though,” Madison admitted.

  “Me, too, Ma,” Connor added.

  “I have beef stew or chicken and dumplings. I knew that you would want something warm and comforting,” Ma offered.

  “Stew.” Connor smiled up at his Ma.

  “Chicken and dumplings for me. Sounds heavenly.” Madison rubbed her stomach.

  “I’m glad you’re okay, baby girl.” Ma hugged Madison before returning behind the counter to dish out their dinner.

  “What do you mean they are out of bronze? I spoke to them yesterday and there were no issues. No, pumpkin orange will not do. Call them back and tell them they are not offloading their surplus Halloween shit on us. I ordered bronze, they confirmed bronze, and I will have bronze on my Thanksgiving Day tables!” Rian yelled before taking a deep breath.

  “Sorry, babes, not your fault. I’ll call them back tomorrow. Yeah, yeah lurves you, too.” Rian hung up his phone and turned to them.

  “Unfreaking real. You just can’t get good service anymore. They are so getting crossed off the list.” Rian crossed his arms in a huff. Madison looked at Connor.

  “The list?” she asked, turning back to look at Rian, who brightened.

  “Yes, the list. My master list of event-planning vendors. They were my go-to company for linens. Not anymore. They’ll be sorry when I update my blog,” Rian explained.

  The rest of dinner went by, and Connor could tell that everyone was keeping conversations light. He was grateful. When he caught Madison yawning for the third time, he decided that it was time to go.

  “Everyone, thank you,” Connor said as they walked out.

  “Anytime, bro.”

  The drive home was quiet as Madison kept dozing off and on. When he pulled into the driveway, she was snoring lightly and purring in her sleep. Thinking these were possibly the cutest sounds he had ever heard in his life, he hated to move her, but with the truck turned off, it would be getting cold quick. He got out of the truck and closed his door. He checked and sure enough his front door was unlocked. Cursing Emmett, he went back to the truck and opened the passenger-side door. He unbuckled his mate and pulled her into his arms. His bear rumbled his approval. This is where she belonged. He kicked the door shut and walked into the house. He reached out and quickly deadbolted the front door before walking upstairs.

  Madison began to wake up as he lay her on the bed. He was in the bathroom when he heard her call out his name.

  “Connor?” Madison was sitting upright in bed, a scared look in her eyes. Connor would rip off his own arm to wipe the fear from her mind, to rid her of the memories that she had with her brush with evil.

  “I’m here, wildcat. Let’s get you in your jammies,” he said, smiling. The fear left her features and her mouth twitched.

  “I’m a grown woman from New York, we don’t have jammies. We have jim jams,” she clarified. Connor bowed deeply, flourishing his hand in a grandiose manner.

  “My apologies, my lady. Of course you could always sleep naked.” He stood up straight and wagged his eyebrows.

  “No way. One, you’re a tad on the hairy side, you would tickle me to death in my sleep. Two, you’re a nuclear furnace. I need some fabric between us or I’ll burn up.” Madison bounced off the bed and went to the closet where her suitcase was. She opened the door, turned on the light, and walked in.

  Connor was ready to go to bed as he watched his mate match her T-shirt and lounge pants. She held one up then the other.

  “The green outfit matches the sheets,” he advised, amused.

  “Okay, pink it is.” She undressed, sighing in relief when she took her bra off. Connor never realized how heavy breasts must be to carry around all day. Madison’s slender shoulders had red strips from her bra straps. She quickly pulled on her pajamas and darted past him to launch herself on the bed. Grinning, Connor closed the closet door and joined his mate in bed.

  He turned off the light and slipped between the sheets. He pulled Madison in close to his body, savoring her presence.

  “Don’t let go,” she whispered.


  * * * *

  Connor was at his wit’s e
nd. All morning Madison had been subdued, quiet, and sweet. Not his usual wildcat. She sat at the table closet to the kitchen and listened to everyone else talk. He was about to pack it up for the day and take her home when Rebecca came waddling into the diner carrying a stack of thick, heavy-looking books. Mojo immediately jumped up and took the books for her. Connor frowned.

  “Thank you, Moe. Those were a wee bit heavier than I thought.” Rebecca made Mojo lean down so she could kiss him on the cheek, which of course set his face ablaze.

  “Anytime, darlin’.” He grinned and went back to his table.

  “Becca, what did we tell you about carrying heavy books?” Connor demanded, walking around the counter to stand in front of Rebecca. Throughout her pregnancy he was her self-appointed health warden. This time she had the decency to look contrite.

  “I know, but it was only three books and I wanted to show them to Madison,” she said, arching her back.

  “Rebecca is your back okay?” Madison asked, reaching out to rub Rebecca’s lower back. Rebecca sighed in relief.

  “It’s been twinge-y lately. Anyway, I think I found a project for you. I can’t pay you for your help though,” Rebecca said honestly.

  “Lay it on me, sister,” Madison said amusedly as she kept rubbing the small woman’s back.

  “After Sebastian and Felix’s hearing, I started reading all the council law books I could get my hands on. Some of the laws still in practice are archaic. Everything needs to be reviewed and revamped to match modern society,” Rebecca explained, stepping away from Madison and smiling her thanks. She sat down across from her at the table.

  “Rebecca, some of those laws are in effect because we are shifters. There won’t be the same laws that you’re used to as a human.”

  Rebecca shook her head at Madison.

  “Read the pages I have marked in the first book.” Rebecca pushed the heavy tome over to Madison.

  Madison lifted the heavy book and flipped to the first section. Connor watched as her eyes narrowed and her mouth became pinched. There was his hellcat! Thank god for Rebecca!

  “You have got to be kidding me. I mean, no one actually goes by these laws do they?” she asked, her face flushed in anger. Sadly, Rebecca nodded.

  “I know of that example because a girl’s mother from a wolf pack in Pennsylvania sent me a letter begging me to change the law.” Rebecca had both fists clenched on the table top.

  Concerned, Connor took a seat between the two women. He lay a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder.

  “What law?” he asked.

  “That an Alpha is allowed to have sex with any female in his animal group and it’s not rape if she becomes pregnant, since she is producing young for the group. The woman who contacted me was the mother of a ten-year-old girl who caught the attention of their Alpha. Neither she nor the baby survived.” Rebecca took a shuddering breath.

  “She was going to go to the council, but the Alpha said that he was acting within the boundaries of shifter law. There are worse laws in there,” Rebecca said, meeting Madison’s eyes. Madison’s eyes flashed. Connor could tell she had found something in Arkadia that she could fight for.

  “Give me a few days to read these. I’m not as quick a reader as I hear you are, nor do I have an eidetic memory. But, I’m no slouch. What in the hell has the council been doing?” Madison demanded to no one in particular.

  “You don’t even want to know how long it took Lachlan to get Liam’s Law passed.” Ma sighed.

  “Well, all that is about to change. Those old bastards won’t know what hit them,” Madison said heatedly.

  “Poor Lachlan.” Rebecca grinned.

  “Poor nothing. They hold the most prestigious titles in our world, it’s about time they earned their keep,” Madison huffed.

  “Go get ’em, hell cat,” Connor cheered.

  “Hellcat? I thought I was your wildcat.” Madison smiled warmly at her mate.

  “You have been upgraded,” Connor said in a robotic tone. Rebecca’s head came around and she stared at Connor.

  “When did you start watching?” she asked, bouncing around in her chair.

  “Ever since I cancelled my cable service, I’ve been doing marathons on Netflix,” he admitted.

  Rebecca gasped, looking appalled.

  “Without me?”

  “Sorry, Becca, I’m all caught up now,” he said.

  “Well you can join the Inner Court for Syfy Saturdays since you’re flying your geek flag,” Rebecca announced.

  “I have to text Ashby, he’s going to flip.” Rebecca giggled, pulling out her phone.

  “He may need the distraction,” Madison said quietly. Rebecca became somber.

  “Rhys will pull through. There is nothing Gabriel can’t do,” Ma said wisely. “And that’s exactly what I’ll tell Ashby, too.” Her tiny fingers flew across the phone. Connor held up his hand and looked at his larger fingers. He always had a hell of a time texting. Madison reached over and patted his arm.

  “I love your fingers,” she said, winking. He gave his mate a shit-eating grin and pulled her down for a kiss.

  “Connor, do you have Skype set up at your house?” Rebecca asked, fingers still moving at the speed of light.

  “Yeah, I had David and Daniel set me up so I could do conference calls with Sentinel.”


  Connor started to get nervous.

  “Becca what are you planning?” She looked up at him, grinning.

  “Mu-wha-ha ha ha.” Connor turned to Madison.

  “Be afraid, be very afraid,” he said. Madison laughed and went back to reading the law books. Connor wanted to tell her he wasn’t kidding. He contemplated picking up his mate and heading back to their house. But he knew that would only make things worse. Sighing, he stood and went back to work prepping for dinner.

  “Wise decision, son,” Pa said, sipping his coffee.

  * * * *

  Connor dialed into Skype from the computer that was connected to his fifty-five-inch LED HDTV. It didn’t take long before other video connections started to pop up on screen.

  Felix was snuggled with Doc on one screen. Rebecca and Aleks on another. Kate, Caleb, Bran, Gina, and Riley were from the pack house connection. Liam, Kent, Sebastian, Rian, Damian, Rex and Kaden were connected from the pride house. Finally Ashby, Nic, David, Daniel, Baptista and Roman came online from the coven.

  “Okay what are we watching?” Kate asked.

  “I hear there is a super cheesy shark movie on SyFy,” Ashby said, wedged between Daniel and Nic. David sat on Daniel’s other side.

  Kate, Caleb, and Bran were curled up together under a gorgeous teal quilt.

  “It will have to be something on cable so we all see the same thing at the same time.” Sebastian dipped into the large bowl of popcorn he was sharing with his mates.

  “Connor doesn’t have cable, just basic channels,” Rebecca reminded Sebastian.

  “Oh yeah.” His face fell.

  “We can fix that,” David grinned.

  “Connor, go to your email and click on the link I sent you. It should take you to a live feed of a video we’re streaming. Gabriel sprung for the deluxe package with the internet service provider, so there should be no lag,” Daniel explained.

  Connor pulled out his laptop and attached it to his TV, creating a split screen. He clicked on the link and they were watching SyFy. As the movie started, Connor got comfortable. It was nice that they were all connected like this but comfortable in their own homes. Then the comments started.

  “You have got to be kidding me!” Kate exclaimed.

  “That was so over the top it was almost cool,” Ashby admitted.

  “Okay that was just bad.” Rian laughed.

  “I’m kinda rooting for the sharks,” Madison said. Connor laughed.

  “Hmmmm.” Sebastian looked at the screen thoughtfully.

  “No fucking way, Sebastian, alligator is scary enough.” Rian shuddered.

  “Duhh Du
h. Duuuuuuh Duh.” Liam starting doing the Jaws theme and Rian chucked a pillow at his head.

  “This is a really cool setup.” Connor admired how easy it was to connect everyone.

  “David and Daniel did it. Kate and I were moping around the diner thinking about how we were going to be housebound after the babies are born and they came up with this idea,” Rebecca said excitedly.

  “You just have to remember to turn off the camera if you’re going to have an afternoon delight.” Kate leered at Rebecca, who blushed. Everyone laughed.

  “Wait, you mean the camera was on that one time?” Aleks demanded.

  Rebecca looked everywhere but at her mate, turning the color of a tomato. Connor couldn’t help it, the look on his brother’s face was priceless. He reached down and did a print screen to capture the image.

  “Becca!” Aleks roared.

  “What! You practically jumped me that afternoon because I made my famous lemon pound cake. I could barely get two words out. It’s your fault,” Aleks stammered.

  “Oh she got two words out all right. ‘Oh. God’,” Kate roared. Rebecca thought about it for a few seconds and then beamed at her best friend.

  “Oh yeah.”

  Rian was laughing so hard he was having trouble breathing.

  “It’s not that funny, Riri.” Kate eyed her friend who was still gasping for breath. Rian shook his head.

  “Care…bear…stare.” There was a moment of silence before he lost it again. Rebecca was laughing so hard she was grabbing her stomach. Kate was laid out between her mates gasping for breath. Ashby’s giggles had attracted most of the coven around their sofa.

  “Oh. God.” Rebecca panted. Which set everyone off again. When they finally calmed down Connor grinned at his brother, who looked equal parts amused and mortified.

  “I hope the baby decides to come early. It would be great if he were born next week.” Rebecca smiled.

  “Why, Becca?” Connor asked.

  “It’s my birthday next week,” she said, smiling brightly. Everyone came to a grinding halt.

  “What!” Rian screeched. Kate, Ashby, Nic, and Sebastian looked frantic. Aleks just looked like he had been punched in the solar plexus. Rebecca looked around confused.

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