NEW TITLE: Caged
SERIES: The Holloway Pack
AUTHOR: J.A. Belfield
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
RELEASE DATE: 10:7:2016
If the meek can become deadly, the strongest can be weak.
For Ethan Holloway, his mission to find a missing werewolf should be simple. Crack a few heads, bust a few chops, and the solution always reveals itself. Always.
Not this time.
Ethan's reputation precedes him, and because it does, someone is ready. Waiting. Unbeknownst to Ethan, he's about to go down. Hard. Against a foe he never suspected and in a world he never imagined could be real.
What awaits Ethan is a fight not only for his reputation, but also his pack, his female, and his life. If he survives, damage control will become priority number one.
If he survives.
Because even Ethan's not sure he's strong enough to take on an entire race all by himself. Especially one hell bent on exposing who and what he is in the name of sport.
We arrived at Shelley’s just before nine am. Like she’d been looking out for us, the front door to her house opened, the moment the truck drew to a stop. I didn’t have to get close to see the panic in her eyes and the deep blush of unrelenting emotions in her face.
The slam of my door drowned out her delicate steps along the path to greet us. Her hands reached out, as if she considered us her lifeline, before she pressed her fingers against her lips. “I can’t thank you enough for coming.” A shiver jerked her tiny shoulders as she spoke, while three singular tears rolled down cheeks still red from an earlier batch of crying.
“Come on.” I slid my arm around her and drew her to my side. “Let’s go in.”
Her crown barely reached my armpit as she leaned into me and allowed me to guide her toward the house. Behind us, Sean and Dad’s feet hit the path.
The brightness of the day gleamed through the window, bathing Shelley’s magnolia-coloured home in warmth and light. Four dirty mugs sat beside her mobile and house phones on the coffee table. A burgundy throw, which matched the deep shade of her hair, lay scrunched into a heap on the sofa, as though Shelley had spent the night there on constant vigil.
I walked her across the room and sat her down, but she pushed back up.
“Please don’t make me sit.” She worried at the nail on her thumb. “I’m so sick of sitting and waiting for everyone else to do their job.” Her gaze met mine. “Do you think it’s like those others?”
“When did you last see him, Shel?” I asked.
“Friday.” Her fidgeting feet brushed over the carpet, as the two armchairs creaked beneath Sean’s and Dad’s weight. “Friday dinnertime. Is it like the other disappearances?”
I frowned. “Friday was four days ago.”
“He was staying at his friend’s. He wants more independence—doesn’t like me hassling him all the time. I thought he’d be okay.” Her eyes beseeched as she stared up at me. “He promised they’d be indoors before dark. Col’s parents were away the weekend—”
“Colum Delaney?” The other kid from the news.
“Is he ...” Rubbing a hand across the crick forming in my neck, I lowered myself onto the sofa and took Shelley’s arm to draw her down with me. “Is Colum a wolf, too?”
Her head shook as she balanced on the cushion’s edge.
“Human?” Brow lifted, I twisted toward Dad, who frowned, and turned back to Shelley. “And there’s no sign of him, either?”
“No. Dave and Lisa ... Col’s parents—they came back last night from their break. That’s why Gabe stayed over—they had the house to themselves, had plans to ... I don’t ... but Dave said they came home to the back door wide open, the coffee table smashed, take out trashed on the carpet ...” She sucked in a deep shuddering breath, wringing her hands together.
“So they rang the police.” My jaw tightened as the scenario formed in my mind. “Figures they would. Why didn’t you call us?”
“I hoped they’d show up, I think. It all seemed so definite when the police knocked on my door and made the report. I was about to call you this morning ... then ... on the news ...” The panic cleared from her eyes a little as her gaze bored into mine. “Is it like the others? Tell me the truth, Ethan. Is it the same as the other disappearances you warned me about?”
As much as I wanted to lie and ease the blow, I couldn’t. “Except for the missing human?” I gave a small nod. “It looks that way.”
“The others haven’t been found, have they?” she asked. “They haven’t shown up—”
“Yet,” Dad cut in. “Doesn’t mean they won’t.”
Shelley turned to each of us. “How much do you know about the disappearances?”
“Nowhere near enough,” Dad said.
“You must know something, or you wouldn’t have called me last week to keep a close watch on Gabe.”
Dad’s gaze met mine—Sean’s, too. The worry over how much to share with her seemed to cross all of our minds.
“You’re not going to tell me, are you?” she asked. “I get it,” she said with a small nod, as we all turned back to her. “I’m not part of your pack, so why—”
“I was contacted,” Dad said, leaning forward, “the evening before Ethan called you, by Jack Brosen—he’s the Alpha of a pack who runs here, in Shropshire. He wanted to know if I’d followed the news, and to ask for the favour that if I knew anything, I share it.”
Lines creased Shelley’s brow, but she didn’t say anything.
“His son has gone missing—just like Gabe,” Dad continued. “But he kept it off the radar. The ones on the news are the ones officially reported. We have no idea how many more have been taken. Just as we have no idea where they’re going, or who’s taking them, or why. Jack’s also worried it’s more than just werewolves that have gone missing.”
“What do you mean, Nathan?”
“Five of the reported disappearances have been female,” Dad said. “If there were that many female werewolves nearby?” His shoulders lifted with his shrug. “Trust me, I’d have heard about it.”
“So ... so, they are taking humans, too?” Her brows rose higher with each word, but Dad shook his head.
“I don’t think they’re human, either.”
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