Charming the Beast Page 24

Keegan slanted a fast glance Connor’s way. “Would you kill for her?”

“Yes,” he gritted out.

“Turn on your friends? Your own brother?”

Fuck it. “Yes.”

“Would you die for her?” Keegan taunted.

“Connor, stop,” Chloe said.

“Yes,” he told Keegan. “Anything.”

Keegan inclined his head. “Good. You just might get the chance to prove that.”


The miles ticked past. The moon rose higher. Its power called to Connor.

“I saw you when you were a child, Connor.” Keegan’s voice had gone cold. “I found you…right after I turned eighteen. You were younger, probably, what…twelve? You hadn’t shifted yet. I could tell because when I watched our father peel the skin off your chest, you didn’t heal.”

“You sonofabitch,” Duncan snarled.

“I watched that for a long time. It was interesting. You didn’t cry out for mercy. You didn’t beg. You just…endured.”

Duncan lifted his gun. “Shut up.”

“I realized then that you were really more like our mother. You didn’t fight back. You just took the pain he gave you.” Keegan shook his head. “And I was like our father…because then I went home and I tore the flesh from those bastards who’d raised me. They begged for mercy, but I didn’t give them any.”

Duncan’s gun fired.

The dart didn’t hit Keegan, but it lodged into the side of the van, less than an inch from Keegan’s head.

“I won’t miss next time,” Duncan promised.

Connor realized his own claws had come out.

“Turn left on Geronimo,” Keegan said.

And Chloe sucked in a sharp breath.

“Oh, starting to figure this out, are you?” Keegan asked her. “It took you long enough.”


“There is no Geronimo Road or Geronimo Street or Geronimo Avenue on the map,” Olivia said, sounding frustrated. “The guy is just jerking us around.”

Eric didn’t think so. He’d caught the sound of Chloe’s quickly indrawn breath.

Then he heard the crackle of her radio coming to life.

“In about thirty minutes, we’ll be coming to an old dirt road,” Chloe said. “It doesn’t have a real name…I used to call it Geronimo Lane. My…my mother and I called it that. She was part Apache, and she used to tell me stories about Geronimo.” Her words came a little faster. “She had an old ranch up here. We’d ride horses in the summer. I thought my dad had sold the place after she died. He never let me come back here.”

Probably because he turned the place into his own experimental prison.

Olivia was pulling up a larger map of the area on her laptop. He saw a big building, one that looked to be surrounded by a heavy fence.

Metal or silver? He’d lay odds on silver.

“We’ve got a destination,” he muttered to the team with him. “Now let’s move the hell in. And be ready—for anything.”

Chapter Fifteen

“Have you ever wondered about your mother?” Keegan asked Chloe.

They were driving down Geronimo Lane. She could hear the echo of laughter around her. Feel the memories. She’d been so happy there. Riding on the horse with her mom. Her hair had flown behind her and they’d gone so fast.

“She left your father for another man, but come on…did you blame her?”

No, she hadn’t.

I just wished that she’d taken me with her.

“You know, that story was bullshit. She didn’t leave with another man.”

Her fingers tightened around the radio.

“She was like you, Chloe. A werewolf. She realized your father wasn’t…well, he wasn’t her type.”

Did she realize he was crazy?

“She was going to take you both away, but he stopped her.”

The van slowed. Braked.

“And he brought her here. I think she was his very first prisoner.”

The back doors opened. Chloe ran and jumped out, nearly hitting Eric. She spun around and saw a big, gleaming fence circling the property. Silver? Yes, yes, it looked silver.

Is my mother in there? That couldn’t be possible.

She walked toward the fence. Once upon a time, a small ranch house had stood about thirty yards away. Now, a tall, menacing building rose from the darkness.

“This is the original Purgatory,” Keegan said. “Only there are just a few prisoners left here now.”

“Lock him in the vehicle,” Eric ordered as Duncan and Connor climbed out of the van. “We’ll go into this place and find out what the hell is happening.”

Chloe’s feet felt rooted to the spot.

“If he’s got prisoners in there, then he probably compelled them,” Duncan warned. “We need to fire the tranqs on sight. Let’s knock them all out, then we can assess things.”

Shoot first? But—

“Is it midnight yet?” Keegan asked, sounding mildly curious. “It sure feels close to the witching hour.” His voice deepened. “You didn’t catch all of my pack, you know. I had a few waiting in the wings. Waiting here. Waiting…until they saw us arrive.”

An explosion rocked the night. The force of the blast sent Chloe flying back. Before she hit the ground, Connor caught her and held tight.

She looked up and saw the fire blazing, just behind the fence. Rising and rising, the orange and gold flames were shooting toward the sky.

“Better hurry, if you want to save anyone…” Keegan said.

Then she heard the cries. Howls and screams. And they were all coming from the fire.

“Oh, my God.” She glanced into the armored van, staring at Keegan in horror. “What did you do?”

“I said I’d take you to them…”

Eric and Connor were running toward the fence.

“I never said anyone would get out of that place alive.”

She started running after Connor. Keegan’s mocking laughter followed her.


“Do you want your brother to die?” Keegan asked Duncan.

Duncan had taken a position at the back of the armored van. Duncan still had that gun of his at the ready.

“I mean…your other brother. Connor. Not me.” Keegan smiled. “Because Connor needs back-up. I might have left some seriously f**ked-up inmates waiting on him.”

Over Duncan’s shoulder, he saw the doctor—Holly—rushing after Connor.

“And there goes your vamp mate,” he added. “A tasty little morsel. They’ll eat her right up.”

“Holly can handle herself,” Duncan growled.

But he looked over his shoulder.

“Normally, she could. She can’t…not against what’s waiting inside.” Time for a new surprise. “I lied…I do that. There aren’t innocents inside. No one is innocent any longer. They’re the monsters we made—the senator and I.” That dumbass David Vincent had never ever realized how much Keegan and the senator had been scheming together. Even if the guy hadn’t lost his wolf, Keegan had planned to take over as pack alpha. “We played and now they wait.” He could smell the smoke. “It’s really better to let them all burn. I’m doing you a favor with the fire. Because if they get out, they’ll kill anything in their path.” He exhaled. “It’s such a good thing that my Chloe can come back from death.” He paused. “Can your Holly?”

“Screw you,” Duncan said. Then he fired a tranq dart. The dart came at Keegan, spinning, fast—

He doubled-over. Sagged and hit the bottom of that van.

“Keep an eye on him!” Keegan heard Duncan shout. “Don’t let him out of your sight. If he so much as twitches, shoot him again.”

Then Duncan was running away.

Ah, that was the way of mates. If one was in danger, the other had to rush in to the rescue.

He uncurled his claws. Being a cross-over did have its benefits.

He’d just f**king caught that tranq with his claws. Caught it and…

“Hey, ass**le…” Keegan called to the man standing guard. “I’m twitching.”

The guard—a human—raised his weapon.

Keegan threw the dart at him. It hit the guy in the chest and the man fell back, crying out. But Keegan was already tearing at his shackles. He broke his wrists and he got his hands free. Cracked his ankles and escaped.

When he leapt from the back of that armored van, he was already transforming. He bounded out, moving fast, faster…

Duncan leapt into his path.

Hello, brother. I get to kill you first.


Eric beat her to the door. He ripped it right off its hinges, just yanked that heavy metal door out of the way as if it weighed nothing.

Someone has been holding back on us.

Smoke billowed out, choking her, and Chloe put her hands over her mouth. She and Connor ran inside and—

A werewolf leapt at Connor. The beast came out, with his teeth going right for Connor’s throat. Connor grabbed the wolf and slung him back.

“Stop!” Chloe screamed at the wolf. “We’re trying to help you!”

The werewolf charged at her. It rushed, moving faster and faster, and its eyes were wild.

She lifted her gun and fired. The tranq hit the werewolf in the side.

“Shoot first,” Chloe whispered. Right. Okay. She could see where that might be a good idea in this place.

Because it was chaos.

Eric grabbed the wolf Chloe had just hit and dragged him from the inferno. She saw Holly pull another unconscious wolf outside.

Chloe turned to the right and nearly ran into Connor. He wasn’t moving. Just staring at her with a glittering gaze.


“We need to get out.”

“There are more—” Chloe coughed on the smoke. “More people here…we can help! They’re panicking because of the fire.”

Then she heard the low, menacing growls.

Through the smoke, she saw the increasing glow of the silver eyes.

“No,” Connor said. “They’re attacking because that’s what Keegan wants them to do.”

Connor raised his gun. Her fingers tightened on her weapon. They both fired when the werewolves—at least five of them—attacked.


Duncan had Keegan on the ground. Keegan could feel the press of the bastard’s claws on his throat.

He could also hear the thunder of gunfire.

“How long…will their tranqs last?” He knew how to play this jerk. “Are you going to…leave your brother again? Let him scream? Beg?”

Duncan’s gaze shot to the right. Toward the sound of that gunfire.

“Die?” Keegan taunted.

Duncan’s claws cut into Keegan’s throat.

“Maybe you are like our father…”


Fuck, now who was it?

But then he caught the scents in the air—the blonde vampire and his mate.

“Duncan, get in there and help Connor! We’ll control Keegan.”

They wished they could.

But Duncan was on his feet. And running for the house.

Keegan stayed on the ground, biding his time. Yes, the vampire was supposed to be strong. He’d researched this one. And the woman with him…he knew she was the one who’d killed David Vincent’s beast. “I should thank you,” he said to her.

The flames were crackling.

“Because of you, I got to be alpha. David was in my way for so long.” He nodded. “So I’ll let you live.”

She glared down at him.

“Don’t have a wish for me?” he taunted her. “Because I thought that was what you did. You made wishes come true.”

“Not anymore,” she told him. Ah, yes, there was a flash of fang.

How disappointing. Now she was just another vamp.

“You should have been more.” He turned his head, but made no move to leap to his feet. “Perhaps you could have saved them then.”

Because it was only a matter of time. He hadn’t just planned one explosion…

That building will burn to the ground.

Time for more fireworks.


Another explosion shook the building. Connor grabbed Chloe and held her tight, covering her with his body as chunks of the ceiling rained down on him. “We have to get out!” They’d already dragged out the werewolves who’d attacked them. “Come on, we need to go!”

Chloe was covered in ash and she trembled against him.

Screw this shit. It had obviously been a set-up from the beginning. He lifted Chloe into his arms and ran for the door—

“Help me!”

The words reached him as a whisper. So low. So lost.

A woman’s voice.

He stilled.

“Connor? Connor, what is it?”

He looked over his shoulder. More fire was spreading. More explosions. The place had been set so that it would destroy them when they raced inside.

And it would destroy the paranormals Keegan and the senator had kept here.

One of those paranormals sounded as if she were trapped below. And she was begging for help.


He carried Chloe outside. The fire was too hot. Burning too bright.

He saw Duncan rushing toward him. Saw Holly just a few steps away. Eric was kneeling near the unconscious pile of werewolves.

Connor’s breath burned in his lungs.

“Help me!” That desperate voice wouldn’t be heard by everyone. No, it—

“Connor, someone is in there!” Chloe’s enhanced senses had picked up the cry. “Someone is trapped!”

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