Read Matthew's Chance Online

Authors: Odessa Lynne

Tags: #Gay Romance Fiction

Matthew's Chance (6 page)

BOOK: Matthew's Chance
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Matthew nodded again, throat too tight to speak. He didn’t want to trap himself in a building with this wolf, but he didn’t see that he had any other choice at the moment.

He looked over his shoulder one last time and then walked inside.

* * *

Matthew woke in the double bed alone. Watcher had told him to sleep and then left him in the dark room without another word. Matthew had removed his wet socks—nothing else—and climbed onto the bed. He didn’t even remember falling asleep, but it must have been fast.

He looked around in the dawning light and listened, but all he heard was the faraway pecking of a woodpecker and the chirp of a bird that had probably made a home somewhere under the eaves of the cabin near the only window in the room. Sunlight spilled over a trunk shoved up under the sill.

Matthew eased up in the bed, and his stomach growled loudly. He took stock of his injuries, but he seemed to have healed almost everywhere—except for his hand. His two smallest fingers jutted awkwardly to the side and down and when he tried to move them, they felt almost as if they’d been cemented in place. He exhaled roughly. He could only be grateful the pain had eased enough that touching them didn’t do more than tingle uncomfortably.

With a last look around the room, he pushed himself out of the bed and went looking for his unwanted companion.

He found Watcher standing by the broken window, staring through the upper panes into the woods. Last night, Matthew had been right about the road. Packed earth split down the middle by briar and bramble curved through the trees and back around the corner of the cabin out of sight.

“There’s food,” Watcher said, making a gesture with his head to indicate a doorway on the other side of the front room while allowing him not to lose sight of whatever it was that had his attention.

“Thank you.” Matthew walked slowly through the cabin’s only floor, found the bathroom and took a piss, then washed his face. The generator hadn’t been left running, but there was obviously enough power to run the water recycler. Most modern water systems used a separate power supply anyway, but there’d be no hot water. After that he went back to the small kitchen and found that the wolf had left several open containers on the table.

Matthew wondered who would have left so much behind, considering how hard food could be to come by for those humans stubborn enough not to have left the protectorate to the wolves.

But he ate the canned meat and crackers, as much as he could make himself eat, knowing his energy levels had been severely drained by the healing process, and knowing he might need extra energy later. He crunched his way through two crisp apples and a handful of pecans and then mixed a glass of powdered milk and drank it down, even though it tasted horrible.

The thing about the biotech was that it meant he might have a chance if the wolf’s mating instincts overcame the repression drugs that had to be coursing through his blood.

Matthew didn’t give a damn about fucking that wolf if it came down to that, but he had information to get to Ash and he wasn’t about to let himself be used as some kind of pawn in whatever unfinished business that wolf had with Alpha Craig.

He could fight if he had to, although his chances wouldn’t be great. And unlike last night when he’d had to worry about abandoning Sal and Chen and their sister to the wolf, he could run if the chance presented itself.

* * *

“What’s this unfinished business you have with Alpha Craig?” Matthew asked from the worn sofa tucked against the wall opposite the window.

Watcher hadn’t left that window once in the last three hours as far as Matthew knew.

Just like the last time Matthew had asked him a question, Watcher’s head tilted to the side and he avoided answering by changing the subject, “You should shower. You reek of blood and sweat and your strange human scent.”

“Is my scent strange because it’s human or because it’s not quite human anymore?”

Watcher turned his head, his bright eyes catching the light as he stared at Matthew. “Your scent is entirely human, and it’s … appealing. Stop talking to me.”

Matthew sat back and shut his mouth. The thought of running had crossed his mind more than once, but Watcher’s strange behavior had left Matthew feeling cautious.

A few hours later, he showered in cold water and returned, wearing a clean shirt he’d dug up out of the bedroom closet and the pants Sal had given him.

He ate again, then started rifling through the kitchen.

The wolf’s voice interrupted the soft slide of a drawer opening. “If you try to find a weapon, I’ll tie your hands and feet. Come sit in here with me.”

So Matthew returned to the front room and sat, leaving the room only to go to the bathroom.

Sometime in the late afternoon, he fell asleep on the couch and slept for nearly two hours.

The afternoon passed and evening set in, and the inside of the house darkened with shadows. A late autumn breeze came through the broken window, stirring the hair at Matthew’s temple. The chill in the air raised gooseflesh on his arms.

Then, for no apparent reason that Matthew could see, Watcher went from casual to alert, his shoulders stiffening abruptly, his body curving in on itself and his dark claws extending.

Matthew sat up and brushed his hand through his hair and watched carefully, waiting for any sign that might tell him what he should do. He didn’t speak, for fear that he would distract the wolf, or draw attention to himself.

Watcher leapt over the window sill and took off into the growing darkness.

Matthew scrambled to his feet. Had he just been left behind or was there something out there that he needed to be worried about?

Earlier he had searched the bedroom, the hall closet and the bathroom. Whoever the cabin belonged to hadn’t left much behind, other than some household goods. No guns, no real weapons that he could find.

The kitchen probably had knives, but the wolf had stopped him from searching earlier.

Watcher came flying back through the window, hurtling across the room so fast Matthew didn’t have time to do more than stagger backward. The wolf careened into him, jumping at the last moment and putting himself between Matthew and—

More wolves.

One came lunging through the window, another on her heels.

“He’s one of yours. I’ll release him if you offer me sanctuary. If you do not—” Watcher grabbed Matthew’s arm and jerked him forward, claws pinching at the bare flesh of Matthew’s arm. Watcher’s other hand clenched tight around the back of Matthew’s neck. “I will tear out his throat and throw him at your feet before you reach me.”



Chapter 6

Matthew tensed at the threat to his life.

Another wolf stepped through the window, the others moving aside for him and as he came into view, Matthew recognized Ash, as beautiful as ever and with eyes that glimmered like the purest amber.

“You will not,” Ash said.

Matthew’s insides clenched.

God, he couldn’t believe how strong his attraction to Ash had remained, even after three years of unrequited longing.

Ash’s careful gaze never wavered, his eyes locked on Watcher.

“He is yours,” Watcher said, his challenging tone gone, replaced with calm curiosity.

“He is not mine. He belongs to First Alpha’s mate.”

That took Matthew aback and he knew he hadn’t hidden his surprise when one of three wolves flanking Ash gave Matthew a lingering stare.

Matthew didn’t understand that reaction, the same as he didn’t understand what the hell Ash had meant.

He didn’t belong to Brendan. For God’s sake, he and Brendan hadn’t been together since Brendan had been taken by the first alpha.

But maybe this was something else, because Watcher loosened his grip on Matthew’s arm.

Matthew took advantage. He jerked free and threw himself as far from Watcher as he could. Claws nicked his skin and he landed hard, rolling, and his back slammed into the corner of the wall between the front room and the kitchen with a breath-stealing jolt.

Wolves roared and furniture skidded across the floor as Ash and the wolves with him jumped Watcher. The sofa jolted, sliding to within a foot of Matthew’s head.

Matthew staggered to his feet and leaned against the doorjamb.

Ash had Watcher on the floor, his hand at the wolf’s throat, claws biting into flesh. The female had Watcher’s legs trapped and another wolf stood over them.

“Why should we offer you sanctuary?” Ash demanded. “You threatened a human’s life.”

The wolf’s eyes gleamed, the shadows bringing out a faint glow. “He’s not fully human any longer. You know this. Even so, I haven’t harmed him. Ask him.”

Ash raised his head. “Matthew?”

Their eyes met. Matthew gave Ash a sharp nod.

Watcher spoke again, his graveled voice defiant. “My heat cycle is near but I didn’t claim him to mate.”

Ash looked at Matthew again. Matthew shrugged.

“I also left the humans with him unharmed.”

At that, Ash removed his hand from Watcher’s throat.

“Who is your Alpha, Watcher?”

Watcher said something in the wolves’ language that Matthew didn’t understand and didn’t know how to translate, and he could only assume it was the name Ash had asked for.

The wolf standing behind Ash stiffened and shared a glance with the female.

“And you want sanctuary?” Ash continued.

“I do.”

“You’ll swear fealty to First Alpha
and if you do not abide by your word, you’ll die a traitor’s death. Forgiveness must be earned through submission.”

“I swear my fealty.”

Ash stood and offered the wolf his hand. Watcher took it and pulled himself to his feet as if he and Ash understood each other completely.

Matthew didn’t know what to make of what he’d seen. It made no sense to him that Ash would simply accept the wolf’s word but that looked to be exactly what Ash was doing.

The wolves confused the hell out of him sometimes.

Matthew stayed put and waited for Ash to come to him. Since he had no idea what was going on with Watcher, he figured that would be the smartest thing. But then Ash turned away and gestured to one of the other wolves while Watcher stood unmoving in the center of the room. A moment later, another wolf entered, dragging a human in by the scruff of his neck.

Matthew jerked himself away from the wall.

Sal’s eyes fixed on Matthew. “What the fuck have you got me mixed up in?” he demanded, struggling hard against the grip on both his arm and the back of his neck.

Matthew threw a startled look at Ash, but Ash had stepped back and another wolf came forward. Matthew thought he recognized him, but he couldn’t be sure.

He’d met many wolves in the last three years, but his contact with them never lasted long. Only Ash had spent any real time with him, usually at meals away from the other wolves. Matthew had spent most of the rest of his short time at the den complex with Brendan, or Brendan’s friends Ian and Fletcher and their acquaintances.

“Quiet,” the wolf said to Sal. “What were you doing following us?”

Watcher didn’t take his eyes off the confrontation, while several other wolves congregated near Ash.

Matthew tried not to feel uneasy. He hadn’t expected Ash to arrive with such a large group of wolves.

For God’s sake, heat season had started and having this many wolves together, and with humans around to boot, didn’t seem like a smart strategy.

“I wasn’t following you,” Sal said. He glared toward Matthew and gestured his way with a sharp nod. “I was following Paul—Matthew, whatever the fuck his name is.”

The wolf’s glittering eyes turned toward Matthew. “And why were you following him?”

Sal turned mutinous. “None of your goddamn business.”

The wolf turned back to Sal. He took Sal’s chin in hand and Sal swallowed visibly hard.

“It’s very much my business,” the wolf said. “He’s in my care and I need to know if you meant him any harm.”

Sal sniffed and met the wolf’s eyes. “Fuck off, wolf. I’m not answering any questions.”

Matthew winced but kept his mouth shut. So far the wolves seemed to be acting pretty damn normal considering heat season had started. Whether that was because of the repression drugs they used whenever they could or because it was still so early in the season, Matthew couldn’t say. All he could do was feel grateful that the wolf seemed to be maintaining his calm despite Sal’s defiance.

The room had grown darker over the last fifteen minutes, dark enough that Matthew found it increasingly difficult to make out the finer points of the wolves’ expressions, although he knew the wolves wouldn’t be having the same difficulties in the failing light.

“Do you know why this one was following you, Matthew?” The wolf’s heavy accent mangled Matthew’s name.

Matthew had no reason to lie. “He thinks he’s in love with me. Maybe thought he was trying to protect me.” God, the irony of that statement wasn’t lost on Matthew. It was almost the exact situation he’d found himself in with Brendan three years ago. He’d been the one who’d thought he was in love, and he’d been trying to protect Brendan.

Sal reached over his shoulder and tried to wrestle the wolf’s hand off his neck. He glared at Matthew. “You fucking asshole,” he said, low and furious. “I should have listened to Gage.”

Matthew crossed his arms, favoring his still damaged hand. He looked up to see Ash staring at him intently. A shiver chased down Matthew’s spine, and he looked back to the wolf who had asked him the question.

The wolf’s brilliant gaze flickered between Matthew and Ash, and Matthew couldn’t shake the feeling that the wolf knew a hell of a lot more about Matthew than Matthew knew about the wolf.

explained to me the urgency of his mission to find you. I regret that my own mission delayed us.” The wolf’s eyes flickered over Matthew, pausing at the sight of Matthew’s awkwardly positioned fingers. “Are you hurt?”

Matthew sniffed and rubbed his nose, his discomfort growing by the second. “I’m fine,” he said. “Just need to see a doctor soon. I had to fight. My hand got hurt.” He didn’t want to say more, but Sal didn’t give him a choice.

BOOK: Matthew's Chance
6.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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