CHAPTER TWO.

#Chapter 2 Half a million dollars

The Next Morning

"Who are you?"

I came awake with a jerk, disoriented and aching all over. A heavy male body lay beside me---we were both naked except for the sheet covering our bodies.

Embarrassment stained my skin bright red. I searched my memories of the night before, trying to figure out how I had gotten here while attempting to wrap the sheet around my body. I stopped when I realized I'd left my bed partner totally nude.

My skin felt too hot and too tight as I tried to work out how to get myself out of the situation.

I was not used to being around naked men even if I was a werewolf. We cared about propriety no matter what humans thought!

I remembered myself saying over and over, "I'm your mate!"

I eased myself off the bed to look for clothes. I tried to be as quiet as I could so I did not wake up the stranger. I did not take the sheet to spare his decency, instead of sacrificing my own modesty: I would rather be caught naked than have to face a naked man I'd evidently seduced with all the subtlety of a bitch in heat!

His scent was all over me, all over everything really. Rich and masculine, every time I breathed I felt as if I was being surrounded by the forest with hints of wood and a warm spice I could not name. I wanted to crawl back into bed beside him and never leave.

My wolf, Rayne, grumbled in my head, "We should not leave! He is our mate!"

An open suitcase was on the dresser. I took a white button-down shirt out to cover myself. He was huge compared to me; his shirt was long enough on my body to cover me almost to my knees. I took a necktie to act as a belt around my waist.

"We have to get home to Ethan! He is only fourteen, Rayne! What if Patrick's debtors come for him?"

"Our mate matters more! Can't you tell? He smells so good! He is the strongest Alpha we have ever met."

The shock had me turning to look at the male asleep behind me.

He was an Alpha?

Rayne groused louder in my head, "Of course, he is an Alpha! Take a deep breath! No one will dare hurt us with his scent marking us as his."

Was he Alpha to a whole pack?

I looked at the collection of personal belongings littering the top of the dress besides the suitcase. I left his wallet, keys, and money clip alone. I was no thief!

A gold card case had the initials "TW" on it; I found business cards inside all saying they belonged to Tyler Wright of Moonrise Entertainment.

House Wright was the Alpha House of Moonrise Pack.

They were the biggest werewolf pack in the USA in both members and resources. They could buy and sell any of the other packs without breaking their bank accounts.

Every wolf knew them; their Alpha was an older male, older than my father even.

I supposed this meant the man in the bed was related to them somehow, but he wasn't their leader which was a relief.

Knowing in part who he was helped shake off some of my fear though my hands wouldn't stay still, trembling from nerves as I prayed with all of my strength I would get away before he awoke.

Rayne continued to insist we stay with our mate. I took one of his cards so we could contact him later.

We had to get to our brother. Ethan was only a child!

I could not stop worrying over my fated mate being a real, fully grown Alpha. He might even be the Alpha of a sister pack to House Wright. I did not know enough about Moonrise Pack to know their lower houses.

I knew I had to leave before he woke up though. An Alpha would stop me from leaving until we were properly marked as each other's mates. His wolf instincts would insist I stay with him no matter how worried I was about my baby brother.

Ethan was too young to fend for himself, period, and I knew our father would not protect him. Patrick -I refused to call him 'Dad' after what he'd done to me- had proven he didn't care about his children when he sold his daughter to pay his gambling debt.

I could not find a phone in the room other than the man's personal cell phone which was locked.

I left the room after checking the hallway was clear; I took the elevator down to the lobby level where I saw the word 'LUST' on the wall. I blushed again as I realized I was in a place famous for pleasure.

As I got off the elevator, a woman in a skintight black dress came over to greet me, holding a tablet in her hands, "May I be of service?"

I steadfastly refused to consider what sort of 'services' she might offer.

"Yes. Can you please call me a ride?"

"Of course," she replied smoothly, pulling up a rideshare app on her screen, "What's the address?"

I started to give her my home address only to stop when I realized it probably was not smart to go there.

I gave my best friend Bella's address instead of as I knew I would be safe with her family. We had only met our freshman year in high school, but Bella was more like a sister to me than a friend.

On the ride to Bella, Rayne fussed, "I want to go back! We left our mate with neither of us marked. What if he thinks we're rejecting him? What if he thinks we are not proud to belong to him?"

"What if he thinks the sun no longer rises in the East or sets in the West, Rayne? He'll get over it. Ethan is only a boy. He needs us to make sure he's safe because Patrick is not going to protect him."

Rayne would get over leaving our mate this once.

We would have the rest of our lives to be with our mate.

Ethan would only have a life at all if we took care of him.

Bella surprised me by giving me my cell phone as soon as I came through the door.

"I found it with your backpack outside school. I went to my parents, but we did not know what to do except call Patrick. He told us---"

She stopped talking and looked away from me. The look on her face made it clear Patrick had not said anything nice to her family when they had called worried about me.

"It does not matter. Thank you, Bella. Thank you so, so much."

I straightened my shoulders as I pulled up Ethan's name to call him. The phone only rang once before being answered.

"Ethan! Are you---"

"It is about time you called!"

Patrick's voice stunned me into silence.

"I hope you are happy! They took your brother after you ran off. If you had just stayed the night with them, show 'em a good time, you would be home by now and your brother would not be missing."

"A good time?" I repeated.

My lips felt numb.

"They said you ran off to some Alpha. Figures you'd find the only single Alpha in the place. I knew you were a slut just like your mother. Did you have fun with him? I hope you had fun. They are going to kill your brother if you do not get the money they want."

"If I do not get the money? How am I supposed to get them any money?!"

Patrick snarled, "That is your problem! I did my part. I gave them to you. The debt became yours the second you ran out of the room! It was five hundred grand. They get it or they kill Ethan."

I had never hated anyone as much as I hated Patrick at that moment; Rayne growled inside my head with the desire to tear out his throat. He was no father. He was not even a man.

"You---you do not even deserve to be called an omega! You deserve to die for refusing to help your own family!"

"Ask your new Alpha for help! What is his name anyway? Did you even bother to get it?"

"Tyler Wright," I snapped.

"Tyler Wright?" Patrick practically yelled, "You're lying! Whatever. Call Mr. Tyler Wright to help you get Ethan back. The Wrights can afford it."

"Ethan is your son!" I cried, refusing to even consider using my new mate for money.

"And I can have another one! I'll send you the details. Good fucking luck."

He hung up before I could say any more and my phone buzzed in my hand as messages began to come through.

Bella asked, "Are you sure they've taken Ethan?"

I opened the messages Patrick sent, reading them quickly as feelings of dread swept over me.

The last message was a video clip.

"It's a video."

I showed Bella the message; she took a deep breath before taking my phone to hold between us. Her hand was steadier than mine.

Ice started to race through my veins as I saw Ethan bound to a chair. My shaking hands froze as I took in his bloody face; my body was an ice sculpture by the time I noted his battered face and taped mouth.

A man in a mask explained Ethan was safe for a week---"Then we send you more of these little home movies. You'll get another seven days to get the money or he dies. You'll get a video of that, too. Two weeks, Pat. Or else."

The message cut off and left us staring at each other, both too frozen with fear to speak.

We were both crying when Bella's parents came home. They asked what was going on and it took everything in me to answer.

"I have to get half a million dollars or my brother Ethan dies!"

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