Read Matthew's Chance Online

Authors: Odessa Lynne

Tags: #Gay Romance Fiction

Matthew's Chance (9 page)

BOOK: Matthew's Chance
8.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The vehicle had been abandoned on the old road and one human sat slumped in the passenger seat, blood soaking the front of his torn shirt. Matthew recognized Tim. He clenched his fist. The wolves didn’t usually kill humans. They ran. They almost always ran, despite their superior technology and their physical advantages.

So why not this time?

The three wolves who had been hurrying for the cabin right before Matthew had been yanked inside were on the ground and they were covered with blood. They weren’t moving, and Matthew couldn’t help staring. Wolves were so hard to kill. How could they be dead?

Watcher started down the steps with Sal. “They were shot.”

“Goddammit,” Matthew said, slamming his fist against his thigh. “The bullets. They’ve done something to the bullets.” And then he realized Ash was out there, and Gage and his men had crates of those damn bullets.

An alpha howl carried on the wind. Every hair on Matthew’s body stood on end. “Shit. Where are you taking us?”

“To a safer location to wait for the others.”

Matthew looked into the woods again, and then back at Watcher, then to the vehicle sitting on the road. “I need a weapon. I’ll catch up.”

Matthew jogged for the vehicle, forcing himself to ignore the sight of Tim’s body.

“Don’t fall behind.” Watcher took a moment to haul Sal over his shoulder and head for the thickest part of the forest surrounding the cabin.

More gunshots echoed in the distance, deep into the woods in the direction opposite the one Watcher had just taken.

Matthew rifled through Tim’s pockets one-handed and found a phone and a lighter, which he stuffed into the front pocket of his pants. Then he unstrapped the holster from Tim’s thigh, but he couldn’t strap it on so he tossed it to the ground, and then picked up the gun that had fallen onto the floorboard at Tim’s feet. He checked for bullets, saw that the clip was only missing a couple, and then shoved the gun into his pants.

He knew better, but it was the best he could do with his hand in the shape it was in.

Another roar in the distance sent his heart racing. He looked in the direction where Watcher had disappeared and then toward the fading sounds of gunshots and roaring wolves. He pushed Tim forward, reaching over him to take the rifle off his back.

Then Matthew started running, not in the direction that Watcher had taken with Sal, but toward the wolves, and Ash.

He wouldn’t leave him to be shot and killed and left in the woods by that asshole Gage.

No way in hell.



Chapter 9

Matthew couldn’t stop the sweat from dripping into his eyes as he lined up his shot. He knelt precariously close to a sharp drop where the trees ended abruptly and the ground had fallen away, nothing but a vertical rock face below.

He heard voices in the distance, but he ignored them in favor of keeping Gage in his sights. He couldn’t correct quickly when Gage moved because of the way he had to favor his damaged hand, so he had to stay focused.

Gage and three others milled around, trying to find the blood trail they’d been following when Matthew caught up to them.

“I know that fucking wolf is bleeding out so where’s the fucking blood?”

Cary rubbed his finger under his nose and squatted on the ground. He picked at a few leaves and twisted this way and that, and Matthew knew the asshole was trying to act like he knew what he was doing.

Cary couldn’t track worth shit and he’d proved it time and again when he’d tried hunting deer for food. Tim had been good at tracking, but Tim was back at the vehicle dead.

Gage fisted his hand in the back of Cary’s shirt and yanked him off his feet. “Stop acting like you know what you’re doing, you dumb cunt.”

Matthew’s finger clenched and he tried not to let his aim waver. He was trying to shoot with the wrong hand and he suspected he was going to be a terrible shot at this distance. If he’d been sure he could make the shot, he would have pulled the trigger already.

He either needed Gage to come closer to his position, or he needed to work his way forward. His problem was that his cover ended where he knelt. If he moved even a few feet closer, he would be on the edge of the clearing and plainly visible to Gage and the guys, and Gage wouldn’t hesitate to kill him.

Gage wasn’t just a mean bastard. He was a crack shot. He’d proven it more than once over the last four months, and Matthew knew that in the condition he was in, he had to make sure he could kill Gage before Gage had time to kill him.

A limb snapped nearby and Gage’s head came up.

Matthew tried to pinpoint the origin of the sound but he couldn’t see anything moving in any direction. And then a flash of metal drew his gaze. An unlaced boot sat haphazardly on the forest floor.

Then a roar reverberated through the air from somewhere high above and Matthew twisted so quickly he lost his balance. He wobbled at the edge of the precipice for one heart stopping moment before he lunged forward and dropped to the ground, rifle still in his hand.

He heard a scream and when he raised his head, he saw a wolf slashing her claws through the air right at Frankie’s chest.

And then Ash dropped from the trees, roaring and slashing as he landed on Cary. Cary screamed and fell under the furious onslaught.

Gage shot the female wolf who had taken out Frankie and she stumbled but didn’t fall. She turned on him and Gage shot her again and then spun on Ash, firing twice.

Ash stumbled back.

“Gage!” Matthew hollered. “You son of a bitch!”

Gage swung his gun around in Matthew’s direction, already pulling the trigger.

Ash lunged for Gage, slashing his claws through the air and cutting through the muscle and tendons of Gage’s arm. Gage screamed and dropped the gun.

Ash tore out Gage’s throat, leaving him to gurgle as he toppled to the ground with a muffled thump.

A second later, Ash dropped to the ground on his knees, then fell slowly forward.

Matthew staggered to a stop, feeling the burn in his stomach spreading rapidly. He wavered there for a moment, wondering why the hell the pain wasn’t receding and then the forest spun around him and the ground rushed up to meet him.

He pulled his hands away from his belly. Blood coated his fingers.

“Goddammit,” he said.

* * *

Matthew woke up screaming, hands holding him down as he thrashed. Something burned in his gut and a fiery pain stole his breath and his scream turned to a whimper.

“Shh,” someone said, and he felt the warmth of a hand on his forehead. “The pain will ease once the bullet’s removed.”

He recognized Watcher’s voice and he turned his face in that direction. “Please,” he said, although he wasn’t sure what he was asking for. But he hurt so bad, the pain washing through his entire body in waves.

Something hard pressed at his belly and he screamed again. Then he passed out.

The next time Matthew woke up, he came to quickly, his pulse pounding and his memories crisp and bright. He ran his working fingers down over his stomach where blood-soaked fabric clung to his skin, feeling for the gunshot wound. One finger slipped into a small hole. Underneath, his skin felt tender and hot and rough with scabs.

“Ash,” he said and then had to clear his throat because his voice had sounded more like a groan than speech. “Ash,” he said again, louder.

“Submit!” Alpha roared.

Matthew threw his arms over his head and curled up tight, his heart thundering, before he realized the roar hadn’t been meant for him. He rolled to his hands and knees to see Alpha, Watcher, and another wolf wrestling Ash down onto the forest floor.

Matthew scrambled to his feet, one shoe sliding in the thick layer of damp orange and red leaves. He pushed to his feet, putting pressure on his belly with his damaged hand and using the other to grab at a thick sapling for balance.

Alpha turned and caught Matthew’s gaze. “Go,” Alpha said, “Run!”

Matthew stood stiffly, hand wrapped around the smooth bark of the tree, not knowing what the hell Alpha meant, because humans weren’t supposed to run.

Heat season had started…

But then Ash roared and slashed at Alpha catching him in the side of the face with his fully extended claws and ripping through the flesh of Alpha’s cheek.

Alpha lunged at Ash and roared, “Submit!” and grabbed the column of Ash’s throat with a clawed hand even as Ash thrashed so hard that Watcher fell back, his own claws digging deep into Ash’s upper arm.

Matthew had no idea what the hell was going on.

Sweat beaded across his forehead and he swiped it away with a trembling hand.

Alpha’s head turned and his gaze pinned Matthew. “Your scent,” he growled out, accent thick and eyeteeth glinting sharp and bright.

“I don’t understand,” Matthew said. “What—”

“Submit!” Alpha roared, staring right at Matthew with burning eyes. “Go!”

Matthew took one last look at Ash fighting against the wolves holding him down, and then he took off into the darkening woods at a dead run.



Chapter 10

After a few minutes of all out running, Matthew had to stop to catch his breath. He dropped to his knees and sucked in air in great gasping gulps as he tried to figure out where the hell he was.

Over the tops of the trees he could still see the faint red of sunset. The cabin was somewhere to the north, but he had no idea if that way was safe either.

He staggered back to his feet and turned west, weaving his way through thinning red oaks and thickening pines.

He didn’t understand why the alpha had wanted him to run. He wasn’t even sure Ash was okay, because he’d watched Ash fall after Gage shot him and been terrified that Ash was dead.

Matthew knew of wolves who had taken many more bullets than that and hardly reacted at all, so those bullets had to have been special, maybe part of the stash Matthew had seen back in the old elementary school.

The sharply scented pines wouldn’t hide his scent completely but they might make it just a little harder for a wolf to pick out his smell.

He shouldn’t have left. What if Alpha and Watcher—

Watcher. Shit.

Where was Sal?

The thought startled him enough that he stopped dead in his tracks. Matthew raked his hands through his hair and turned, thinking for half a second that maybe he should go back.

He was so goddamned confused—and tired, and—and—

What the hell was wrong with Ash? Was the alpha trying to treat his wounds, or—or—had the repression drugs worn off?

Matthew let out an explosive exhale. Fuck. Of course.

Of course that’s what had happened. When he was healing, the biotech made Matthew’s mind race and significantly increased how fast he metabolized just about anything he ate or drank. In fact, he hadn’t gotten drunk once since the wolves had given him their biotechnology. Not that he’d tried too hard. Getting drunk around people he couldn’t trust would have been stupid anyway.

But the repression drugs would never work as a long-term solution to the conflict between the wolves’ heat and the human scent trigger unless the wolves discovered a way to shut off their biotechnology.

And there was one thing they’d found it necessary to make him understand completely before they would let him accept their offer, something they had explained to him in great detail.

The biotechnology could never be removed.

It would replicate inside him, give him a long life and keep him healthy for many years past his natural human life-span, even protect him from illness and help him heal if he was injured while spying for them.

But he would never be free of it once it was introduced into his body.

A howl in the distance startled Matthew out of his thoughts and sent a surge of adrenaline rushing through him. He pushed his stiff hand against his sore stomach, but the pain didn’t increase and he could only hope that running wasn’t causing unintended damage that wouldn’t be easily repaired.

He ran a few feet further into the pines, then had an idea.

He backtracked until he saw more oak trees than pine and then stripped off his bloody, sweat-soaked t-shirt and tossed it over a limb at near chest height, then spun and headed back into the thickest underbrush he could find. Briary vines picked and scratched at his skin, setting off a thousand tingling burns along his arms and chest.

He kept going, pushing through the thickest of the brush as the sky darkened and he started having trouble seeing clearly more than ten feet in front of him.

And then the thicket opened up and over the sounds of crickets and cicadas and the whisper of a breeze, he heard a burbling gurgle that got louder with his every step. The ground softened beneath his feet, and he crested a small hill to see moonlight glinting off water and a narrow creek that filled the dip below, twisting through the trees until it disappeared into the dark forest ahead.

Matthew splashed his way into the knee deep water, shivering at the chill of the cool water against his hot skin. He crouched, and then just sat down in the water, letting it wash around him to sting the already healing scratches that covered him from neck to waist. Walking around in wet pants would be uncomfortable, but he stank of sweat and fear and blood, and that was even worse.

He cleaned himself off as best as he could. He would be covered in sweat again soon enough but this was better than doing nothing, and every bit of scent he washed away would make it just a little easier to hide from the wolves’ sharp senses.

He was running around in the woods of the protectorate and heat season had started, and hell if he knew why Alpha had wanted him gone, but he knew how risky traveling in the wolves’ territory was right now. He had to do something to protect himself.

Maybe Alpha hadn’t realized that Matthew would have submitted to Ash. Even if Ash only needed him temporarily, Matthew would’ve submitted.

He ducked his head under the water, scrubbing at his hair. As he came up out of the water, he thought he heard a howl from the direction he’d been traveling and the hair on his arms and the back of his neck prickled.

BOOK: Matthew's Chance
8.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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