Read The Finding Online

Authors: Nicky Charles

Tags: #Romance, #Suspense, #Trilogy, #sequel, #werewolves, #lycans, #General Fiction

The Finding

BOOK: The Finding
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THE
FINDING

By

Nicky
Charles

SMASHWORDS
EDITION

* * * * *

PUBLISHED
BY:

Nicky Charles
on Smashwords

The Finding

Copyright ©
2011 by Nicky Charles

Other works by
this author:

Forever In
Time

The Mating

The Keeping

Smashwords
Edition, License Notes

Thank you for
downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share it with your
friends but please do not post or archive without asking me first.
If you like the story, please tell your friends, add the title to
reading lists etc but direct people back to my official
distribution sites. Please keep this book in its complete original
form, with the exception of quotes used in reviews. No alteration
of the content is allowed.

Your support
and respect for the property of this author is appreciated.

This book is a
work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or
places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters
are productions of the author’s imagination and used
fictitiously.

This book
contains mature content (language, violence, sexual situations)

and is intended
for adult readers.

*****

Many thanks to
Jan Gordon, my wonderful and tireless editor. Out of the goodness
of her heart, she rereads, advises, encouraged and prods me
throughout the entire writing process. Without her my stories would
just sit on my hard drive. Also thanks to all of the ‘Gutter Girls’
and my readers at Fiction Press who have offered their feedback,
encouragement and allow me to practise my writing skills on
them.

This book is a
sequel to The Mating and The Keeping. You really should read them
first for this book to make sense. Like all my stories, the idea
for writing The Finding began quite unexpectedly when Cassie
suddenly appeared in The Keeping. The concept grew in response to
feedback from my readers who were curious about what happened to
the young girl. This is her story, as well as that of my villains,
Marla and Aldrich and my previous couples, Kane and Elise, and Ryne
and Mel. I hope you enjoy visiting with them again.

*****

THE FINDING

*****

Prologue

Cassie stood at
the edge of an alleyway, staring out at the breaking dawn. A few
cars drove past but none of the drivers turned their heads in her
direction. Just to be sure, she stepped back a bit. The street was
lined with stores and small businesses, and in the distance there
appeared to be a number of flashing, lighted signs. If she didn’t
know better, she’d think it looked like Las Vegas, but that was
ridiculous. The bus she’d been on couldn’t have travelled that far!
She tucked her hair behind her ears and furrowed her brow,
wondering where she might be, and how she’d ended up in an
alley.

The last thing
she remembered was lying on a bed in a motel, having spent half the
night fleeing from the sight of her uncle’s death and the wolf
attack. She’d taken her medication and tried to calm down by
thinking of happier places; that was the last thing she could
recall until waking up here, just a few minutes ago.

Blearily, she’d
opened her eyes, at first too groggy to even wonder why her body
was wedged between a brick wall and a dumpster, her muscles cramped
and aching. Then she’d become aware of what had stirred her from
her sleep; a tickling sensation on her hand. Rolling her head to
the side, she’d discovered a mouse was crawling over her palm.
Screaming, she’d snatched her hand back to her chest and skittered
a few feet away, watching in a combination of horror and disgust as
the tiny creature ran into a hole under the metal bin.

She’d been
wiping her hand on her shirt, trying to erase the feeling of small
feet and quivering whiskers when another shock hit her. Frantically
she looked around, her brain suddenly acknowledging she wasn’t in
her motel room. Her heart had been pounding, panic wrapping around
her like an iron fist as she took in the fact that there was no
bed, no TV, no faded curtains; just brick walls, utility meters,
bits of garbage and graffiti.

The strap of
her bag had been clenched in her hand; amazingly enough, when she
checked, there was still money inside it, so she hadn’t been
robbed. And her clothing, though filthy and wrinkled, was intact
which probably meant she hadn’t been assaulted. Her skin crawled as
she thought of all the things that could have happened to her while
she’d been unconscious. Obviously something
had
occurred
though, otherwise how had she arrived in this place?

Wracking her
brain, she had no recollection of the events that led to her being
here. She glanced fearfully at the shadowed areas around her,
wondering if the werewolf had something to do with this; if he was
lurking, waiting to attack. There was no sign of the creature, but
she couldn’t relax. It might still be following her, ready to end
her life as easily as it had ended Mr. Aldrich’s.

Just the memory
of the large black wolf and its blood drenched muzzle had her
shivering, despite the relative warmth of the air. She stepped back
into the alleyway and, wrapping her arms around her waist, hunkered
down by the dumpster where she’d awoken. The smell of garbage and
stale cooking grease assaulted her nose and she made a face.
Striving to ignore the unpleasant odour, she leaned her head back
against the brick wall and stared at the graffiti covered sign that
graced the steel door straight across from her; Chinese and Thai
Restaurant, Deliveries Only. She furrowed her brow;
hmm...apparently she was in a back alley behind a number of
businesses. Glancing to either side, she noted other similar doors
giving support to her assumption.

Okay...a back
alley, a restaurant, but where...?

At that moment
a white delivery truck turned down the narrow passageway, roaring
towards her. Cassie pressed herself closer to the wall, feeling a
moment of panic before realizing the dumpster provided her with
some protection. She exhaled in relief and adjusted her position so
she could observe the vehicle as it stopped a good distance from
her hiding place.

Eventually, a
man got out whistling tunelessly. She watched him go about his
business, taking cartons out of the truck and balancing them
carefully as he pounded on a door. The door swung open and he
handed the containers to someone who stood just inside the doorway.
A few words were exchanged but she was too far away to make out
what they were.

The man never
once glanced in her direction, solely focussed on his early morning
duties, but Cassie knew she had to move. No doubt other trucks
would be through there in the near future and she didn’t want to be
found crouched by a dumpster. People would ask questions; questions
to which she wouldn’t have any answers.

Cassie bit her
lip, her mind racing, searching for possibilities. She’d never been
alone before; there’d always been someone with her; guiding her,
smoothing the way. Knowing she needed to do something—to go
somewhere—but being solely responsible for the decisions and the
consequences all seemed so overwhelming. How she longed to be back
in the security of her uncle’s home. To hear him blustering away;
to see Franklin, the butler, pulling faces behind the old man’s
back. To have Cook fussing and making her favourite meals... Her
chin quivered. Oh God, how could her world have been destroyed so
quickly?

A lone tear
trickled down her face and she quickly wiped it away. Crying
wouldn’t help or change facts. Her uncle was dead and she was alone
now with a crazed werewolf chasing her. There was no one to lean
on, no one to come to her rescue. She had to handle this situation
on her own and that meant finding safe shelter and food; she needed
to hide, perhaps even needed to establish a new identity.

As she tried to
come up with a possible course of action, she gave a short, wry,
laugh, realizing that her private tutors had never covered topics
related to running for your life while being chased by a werewolf.
How remiss of them! She’d really have to bring that point to their
attention...

Her brief
moment of levity quickly died at the sound of the delivery truck’s
engine starting. It roared past her leaving a cloud of exhaust and
dust in its wake. Coughing, Cassie forced herself to her feet,
wiping her eyes and giving an inelegant sniff. Action was better
than just staying in one place; at least it gave the impression
that she had a plan. Still holding tightly to her bag, she walked
back to the end of the alley, resuming her earlier position in the
shadows.

The sun was a
little higher in the sky and people seemed intent on getting to
their work or appointments, hurrying by her hiding place. No one
glanced towards the shadowed alley entrance. The relative anonymity
of her position gave her some modicum of comfort as she considered
her options.

Cassie eyed the
various businesses, her eyes skimming over dress shops and nail
salons before finally focussing on two; a restaurant on the corner
and the variety store beside it. She bit her lip and squared her
shoulders. Maybe...

“Hey there,
girly! What’re you doing?” A voice spoke from nearby and she
jumped, backing away until her spine was against the opposite brick
wall. Her vision blurred for a moment as fear washed over her. Had
the werewolf found her? No, it couldn’t be the creature; it
wouldn’t give her warning by calling out.

Blinking
rapidly, she forced her eyes to focus on the speaker. It was a
young man, probably in his early twenties. He had brown hair, blue
eyes, and was dressed in a respectable looking shirt and pair of
pants.

Cassie clutched
her bag tightly to her chest while staring at him warily.

“Are you okay?”
The man had a faint look of concern on his face but didn’t attempt
to approach her. “Are you in trouble? A runaway?”

She shook her
head and licked her dry lips. “No.”

“Funny, ’cause
you sort of look like life’s been treating you pretty bad.” He
studied her for a minute, then smiled and held out his hand. “My
name’s Kellen. Kellen Anderson.”

Hesitantly,
Cassie extended her own hand. “I’m...er...Sandra.” She heeded the
voice inside that told her not to reveal too much, so she switched
to another derivative of her full name.

“Pleased to
meet you, er...Sandra. Strange name, with the ‘er’ in front of it.”
Kellen grinned and winked. “Never mind. I’ll just call you Sandy,
okay?”

She nodded not
sure if she trusted this jovial person.

“You look like
you could use something to eat and maybe a place to stay? I’ve been
down on my luck before, so I know what it’s like. Actually, I’m
sort of the downslide right now since I just dropped a wad at a
poker game up the road. Come on. Misery loves company. I’ll buy you
breakfast, no strings attached.” He gestured towards the
restaurant.

“I...I have
money.” Immediately after she spoke, she chastised herself. Telling
a complete stranger—one she’d met at the edge of an alleyway, no
less—that she had money was not a good idea. Trying for some damage
control, she qualified her answer. “Not much, but enough to buy my
own food.”

Kellen
shrugged. “Sure. No skin off my nose. But at least we can sit
together, right? Eating alone is no fun.”

Her stomach
chose that moment to growl and he laughed, holding his hands out at
his side. “Hey, I’m completely harmless and you’re starving.
There’s usually a crowd in the restaurant, so you don’t need to
worry. You won’t be alone with me.”

Cassie bit her
lip and then gave a brief nod. The idea of being by herself was
daunting; the werewolf could be anywhere, but surely it wouldn’t
attack in front of witnesses. Having someone with her, even a
stranger, seemed like a good idea. Besides, she needed information
and right now this person—Kellen—was her only source.

“Not much of a
talker, are you?” Kellen quipped as he led her across the street.
“That’s okay, though. It doesn’t bother me. Listen, no offense but
you might want to get cleaned up a bit. There’s a ladies’ room
right inside the door. I’ll get us a table while you use the
facilities.” He held the restaurant door open for her.

She gave him a
brief smile. “Thanks, I wouldn’t mind washing up a bit.” As she
headed to the washroom, she glanced back. Kellen was already
sitting down, perusing the menu. Cassie allowed herself to relax a
little bit. He seemed harmless enough...

*****

Three years
later, in Stump River, Ontario, Canada...

Bryan sat in
front of the computer, frowning at the screen. He drummed his
fingers on the desk and sighed then ran his hands through his hair,
flexing his shoulders and arching his back.

Ryne looked up
from the papers he was working on. “Let me guess; you’re still
brooding about that girl, right?”

BOOK: The Finding
5.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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