Fated Surrender by Alanea Alder

  “Liam, lock the pride house down. Bran, you do the same thing at the pack house. Call in those outlying families. There is a killer on the loose in Arkadia. I’m forwarding to you the footage that David and Daniel gave me.” Connor darted to the diner door and looked out trying to identify any possible threat.

  “You got it, Connor,” Liam said. Everyone heard him start shouting orders before the call ended.

  “Connor, is he a distance killer or up close and personal?” Bran asked.

  “Up close and personal. He’s running on Shifted Death, so his actions will be unpredictable and erratic. Hard to anticipate but it may make him sloppy,” Connor explained.

  “Okay, we’re closing down the pack house now. Call with any updates,” Bran said before hanging up.

  Connor went back to the counter that had the phone connected to Griffin.

  “Sir, I’d like to request two units of Sentinels to begin patrols in Arkadia before nightfall,” he asked.

  “He’s there isn’t he? He’s targeting you,” Griffin said.

  “Yes sir. He is after my family.” Connor turned to look at everyone in the diner. To him the whole town was his family.

  “Hold tight, Arkadion. We’re on our way,” Griffin said and hung up.

  “I’m going to grab Peyton and then head to the pack house. Maybe the threat of a killer will get him to finally leave the bar. Connor, call me if you need help in patrols,” Mojo said and waved before walking out the door.

  “Roman, make sure you check in with everyone, all coven members are to return to the house immediately. I’m bringing in David, Daniel, Nic, and Ashby. We’re being targeted by a killer who is addicted to Shifted Death, so be prepared for anything,” Gabriel spoke calmly into his phone.

  “Yes sir. Baptista is rounding up everyone now. Should we close Purgatory?” Roman asked. Gabriel looked to Connor for his opinion. Connor nodded.

  “Revenge set aside, he is an addict. If he can’t get someone in town he will go looking for another shifter. Purgatory is perfect hunting grounds for him,” Connor said. Gabriel nodded.

  “Okay, sir, I’ll call Noel. They will close Purgatory and go underground. Hurry home,” Roman said. Gabriel ended the call and held out a hand to Ashby, who was trembling.

  “Let us go, mon ange. Roman will start having kittens if we’re not back soon.” Gabriel used his melodic voice to soothe his mate. Ashby visibly straightened. He turned to the twins, who were desperately gripping each other’s hands.

  “Come on, guys, I’ll make s’mores and we can catch up on our cheesy sci-fi movies,” Ashby said, putting on a brave face. Nic, seeing how scared the twins were, also smiled at them.

  “I’ll make my famous hot chocolate,” he said, wrapping an arm around Daniel.

  They nodded and all five headed to their cars.

  Connor looked over to see Madison sitting quietly at the table. She looked at him with utter trust in her eyes. He looked over to see Rebecca walking over to the counter where he had left the pictures.

  “Rebecca, don’t!” he yelled. But it was too late, and she had already gotten to the photographs of her, Kate, and Sebastian. She swayed and Aleks caught her. When Aleks saw the photographs he roared and looked at Connor.

  “We find him and he dies,” Aleks said. Ma shuddered as she looked at the pictures and pulled Rebecca into her arms.

  “Aleks, you and your brothers make sure that the people who live in town go to one of the lock down houses. Claybourne, you and Felix are welcome at the Arkadion ranch. You’re family,” she said.

  “I’d like to stay with Rebecca anyway. Let me run to the clinic and grab some things,” Claybourne said.

  “When you’re done, come back here and we’ll ride back to the ranch together,” Ma offered.

  “Thanks, Doc.” Aleks shook the man’s hand, and he, Emmett, and Duncan left the diner before splitting up and jogging in opposite directions. Claybourne and Felix were right behind them heading to the clinic.

  Madison stood and walked over to Connor. The picture of her laughing in the diner flashed in his mind’s eye. He pulled her into his arms.

  “This is all my fault. I brought him here,” he said miserably.

  “This is not your fault. The only one who can be blamed for this is the killer,” Madison said, wrapping her arms around him. He breathed in her scent and began to calm down.

  “He’s after my family. My baby sister, my friends,” he whispered. It was his worst nightmare come to life.

  “We’ll get him, Connor, and then he won’t be able to hurt anyone else again,” she said confidently.

  “What about your friend Giddey?” Connor asked, pulling back to kiss his mate on the forehead. She snorted.

  “It will take him at least a week to figure out what to pack. I probably won’t hear from him for a little while,” she said, grinning.

  “I’m nervous. He’s breaking pattern. In those pictures he has targeted three unborn children. It’s a sign that he is even more unpredictable and dangerous than before.” Connor sighed.

  “One little guy versus all of Arkadia? I think the odds are stacked against him this time. He must really be unbalanced thinking he could come to this town and hurt someone,” Madison said, shaking her head.

  “Ma, I want my gun,” Rebecca said quietly. Ma nodded.

  “It’s in my safe at the ranch. Aleks didn’t trust you with it in your house. We’ll pick it up and then we’ll go to your house. You can show me all the new things you have done with the nursery,” Ma said, rubbing Rebecca’s arms. Aleks walked through the doors with Pa, and both wore grim expressions. Pa immediately went to Ma and kissed her before kissing Rebecca on the forehead.

  “Aleks and I pulled up the SUV and my truck to the front door. Claybourne and Felix can ride with Aleks and Rebecca. Marg, you and I can follow in the truck. Connor, are you okay bringing up the rear?” Pa asked.

  “Yes, sir,” he said.

  “I called the boys and told them to meet at Aleks’s house,” Pa told Ma.

  “I’d love to see the nursery. I’ve never been an aunt before.” Madison turned and smiled brightly at Rebecca. Connor could tell she was trying to distract his tiny sister. Rebecca’s eyes widened.

  “That’s right! You’re going to be Aunt Madison. We’re having a boy! I want to name him Liam Gabriel Arkadion, but Aleks said no.” Rebecca sighed.

  “I told you. We need an A name. And why would you want to name him after that annoying cat?” Aleks asked grumpily, trying to keep the conversation light.

  The door opened and Connor turned quickly to see who it was. It was Claybourne and Felix returning with their medical kit. Connor turned to Aleks and Pa.

  “Let’s go,” he said and held out his hand to Madison. She laced her fingers in his and he walked with his family to their cars.

  Chapter 7

  Connor sat next to Madison the next morning at breakfast.

  “People need to be able to leave their homes,” Ma started.

  “Let’s keep it to a minimum then, only those who have to leave,” Connor said.

  “I’m going to open the diner. Those poor Sentinel boys need to eat,” she said. Connor grinned. Those poor Sentinel boys were the most lethal men on the planet.

  “I need to go in. I want the clinic open and prepped for emergencies,” Claybourne added, spreading Ma’s homemade honey butter over the fresh, hot biscuits.

  “If you’re going, I’m going, too.” Madison looked at Connor.

  “No way in hell,” he said. She stared at him.

  “No.” He grabbed a biscuit. She continued to stare at him.

  “No, Madison.”

  “I shift into a tiger, Connor, I’ll be on alert and surrounded by Sentinels. I’ll be okay.” She placed a hand on his forearm, and her warmth seeped into his skin.

  “Stay in the diner. Don’t wander off,” he compromised.

  “Can I go, too?” Rebecca asked.

  “No,” everyone said in un
ison. Rebecca pouted for a second before yawning.

  “Actually I think I’ll head back to bed. I’m exhausted this morning,” She stood and stretched. Aleks looked alarmed.

  “Are you okay? How’s the baby?” he said, hovering around her.

  “We’re fine.” Rebecca yawned again.

  “Night, y’all,” she said and walked out of the kitchen. Aleks turned to Claybourne.

  “Doc, is she really okay?” he asked. Claybourne nodded.

  “She’s fine. It’s understandable that she would be tired with everything that has been going on. Her stress levels are up. Who’s staying at the ranch?” he asked.

  “Pa, Finn, and Benedict are staying here,” Aleks said.

  “One of you all will need to make sure she gets plenty of water to drink. But otherwise, naps are good for her,” he advised.

  “Thanks, Doc.” Aleks sat down looking relieved.

  “Claybourne, did you and Felix want to ride with Madison and I?” Connor asked.

  “That would be great. My car is still at the clinic.”

  Connor looked at Felix and Madison.

  “You two about ready?” he asked, downing the rest of his coffee. Both nodded.

  “Okay then let’s go.”

  * * * *

  Hours later Madison sighed from her barstool. It was too quiet. Madison hadn’t been in town long, but she knew for a fact that the diner was never this quiet. Or empty. Ma worked quietly in the kitchen creating warm, filling meals for the Sentinels and Arkadion patrols as they popped in to grab a bite to eat. She sighed. Rebecca would be heading to the diner soon, claiming she was going stir crazy with only Finn and Benedict to keep her company. But Madison had to agree. She was slowly losing her mind in the diner.

  “Ma, I’m going to walk down to the clinic and hang out with Felix,” Madison said when she couldn’t take it anymore. She’d return when Rebecca got here.

  “Madison, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I don’t like the idea of you out there walking around by yourself,” Ma said, walking up to the counter wiping her hands on her apron.

  “I’ll be fine. If I can survive the streets of New York I can walk less than a block in Arkadia to my brother’s clinic. I’d like to get to know my new brother-in-law,” Madison said, putting her jacket on.

  Ma gave her a dubious look.

  “I’ll call when I get there,” Madison promised, waving her cell phone.

  “Okay, but call me the second you get walk through those doors,” Ma agreed.

  “Bye, Ma,” Madison said, pushed open the door, and headed down the street. Less than five minutes later she was walking into the clinic. She pulled out her cell and called the diner.

  “I’m here all safe and sound,” she reported.

  “Good. Stay out of trouble.”

  “I’m with Felix,” Madison reminded her.

  “Good point. Keep him out of trouble,” Ma said, laughing.

  “I’ll try.” Madison shook her head and slid her phone into her inner jacket pocket.

  “Hello! Felix, Maddox,” she called out.

  “Back here,” her brother yelled.

  She headed to the back through a set of large, glass double doors. She smiled and looked around. This place was her brother all over from the bright-white counters to the stainless steel cabinets.

  “Madison, what are you doing here?” her brother asked, looking up from his clipboard.

  “I was about to give myself a thousand paper cuts with the sugar packets for fun, before using the salt shaker on the wounds,” she said, jumping up on one of the examination beds.

  “Oh thank god! I was going out of my mind here with him to keep me company. He wants to inventory the clinic. Again.” Felix moaned as he stretched out on the other bed.

  “So what should we do?” Madison asked. Felix shrugged.

  “Great, now I’m just bored with company,” Madison said, flopping backward on the bed.

  “You could tell me embarrassing stories about Claybourne,” Felix said with a grin.

  Madison sat up smiling.

  “We can do that. By the way. Why do you call him Claybourne?” she asked, curious.

  Felix blushed. “It was the name I knew him by when we met. It was either that or OCD Doc.”

  “He can be a bit particular,” Madison said, nodding.

  “He is still in the room,” Claybourne said.

  “We know,” both Madison and Felix said together.

  “Okay so spill,” Felix said, lying on one side and propping his head up on his hand.

  “Well…” Madison started.

  “Madison,” Claybourne warned. She winked at him.

  “Did you know that Claybourne was a competitive swimmer in college?” she asked, and Felix’s eyes grew round.

  “No. He didn’t tell me that, though he is still rocking that swimmer’s build,” Felix said.

  “He had a group of fan girls that were determined to fuck him into being straight,” she said. Claybourne turned to face her.

  “That’s not true.” He turned back to his inventory sheet then turned back.

  “Is it?” he asked. She nodded.

  “Remember your sophomore year I came to visit? I had to put three of those bitches in traction so they would stay away from you. I swear they were almost to the point where they were going to drug you.” She rolled her eyes.

  “Bitches!” Felix hissed.

  Madison nodded then looked at him questioningly.

  “So how does that work for you as a hybrid? When I’m pissed, I hiss, I echo my tiger. But aren’t you everything?” she asked. She felt a wave of urgency from Connor. She glanced at her phone to ensure that she hadn’t missed a call from him.

  “Everything and nothing. I can shift into any animal that I have seen. But I don’t have an inner animal they way you do. When I get upset I tend to lash out with the animal that is influencing me the most at the time. Since I’ve mated to Claybourne, I feel like I almost have my own little tiger. Sebastian has said the same thing, since both his mates are lions, that he feels a lion more now than anything else,” Felix explained.

  “Doc! Doc! Come quick. One of the Sentinels has been shot,” Riley said, bursting through the doors at a run.

  “Connor?” Madison gasped. Riley shook his head. She sagged in relief.

  “Why in the hell didn’t they bring him here? All my equipment is here. Felix, grab as much as you can and follow me. There’s no telling what we’ll find when we get there,” Claybourne said, pulling bandages and supplies out of his cabinet. Felix started doing the same thing.

  “Bring the kit for stitches? Or are we bringing him back here for that?” Felix asked.

  “Better bring it just in case. Ready?” Claybourne asked, hefting his bag. Felix nodded, grabbing his backpack.

  “Be back soon,” Claybourne said to Madison, and all three men left at a run. Madison lay back down.

  “Well fuck.” She stared up and started counting the dots on the ceiling.

  “Excuse me, I need some help,” a voice called from the waiting room. Madison popped up and hopped off of the bed. She walked through the glass double doors to see a shifter holding his arm at an odd angle.

  “There was this man, he attacked me!” the shifter started.

  “Hold on, let me get a sling for that,” Madison said and turned to head back into the treatment room. The second her back was turned she felt a brush of air and then a body standing behind her. She was about to turn back around when a cloth was held over her nose and mouth. She felt a small body jump on her back, and strong arms wrapped themselves around her neck. She twisted and turned, trying to buck him off. When she couldn’t hold her breath any longer she drew in deep breaths of sweet-smelling air into her starving lungs.

  “Nighto, Madison.” A voice laughed. Then there was darkness.

  * * * *

  “So you’re mated now huh?” a rough voice asked him. Connor turned from his meeting with his brothers and
the other Arkadion leaders to see one of his closest friends from Sentinel walking up to meet him with four men at his back. He stepped away from the hood of his truck where Finn and Benedict had joined them in the huddle in the main intersection of town.

  “Baron! I’ll be damned. I never thought they’d send you. You don’t know how relieved I am to see familiar faces,” Connor said, beaming, walking forth with his hand extended.

  Baron smiled and took Connor’s hand before pulling him into a bear hug.

  “Aww I knew the Professor missed us,” a light male voice said. Baron turned and scowled at the jokester.

  “Shut your hole Ricochet,” Baron said.

  “But Baron…” Ricochet took one look at their squad leader and began whistling.

  “Ricochet, one of these days he is going to kill you. And based on his case reports for the past fifteen years that detail your running commentary, he would probably get away with it,” Connor said, laughing and bumping fists with Baron.

  “You always were a suck-up, Professor.” Another man grinned and head-butted Connor as a form of greeting.

  “Fuck man. Dammit, Jaws, I told you to cut that shit out.” Connor winced and rubbed his forehead.

  “Don’t be such a pussy. Come here, man,” Jaws said before pulling Connor down and kissing him nosily on the cheek.

  “Don’t mess up his makeup,” a deep voice said from the back of the group.

  “Fuck you, Casper,” Connor said, wiping his cheek.

  “Casper?” Liam asked. The extremely tall, well-built tank stepped forward.

  “Funny huh. Big black man with Casper as his call sign. What can I say? Someone used it a long time ago and it stuck,” Casper said, spreading his hands.

  “It can’t be any funnier than a wolf named Bear.” The second mountain-like man moved from Casper’s side and clapped a beefy hand on Connor’s back.

  “Guys, sorry. Baron, Ricochet, Casper, Jaws, Bear, meet my brothers. Aleks, Benedict, Duncan, Emmett, Finn, and Gavin. To the left are our town leaders, Liam Lewenhart, Bran McGregor, Caleb Donovan, and Prince Gabriel.” Connor turned to his family.

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