Page 88 of Redemption Road

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“You did good,” Titus said gruffly from behind him. “Your Dad would be proud.”

Ryder didn’t look around. The praise moved him, and he didn’t want Titus to see his expression. He shook his head. His father would probably blister his butt for being stupid enough to risk his life like this.

An Alpha couldn’t afford to take risks. If he died, the pack bonds would snap until someone could gather them up again. Usually that was the pack Second —but Jessie was a new Second herself, and his mate. She might not survive his death. And then what would happen? He shuddered, realizing what he’d just risked. Not just his life, but his mate’s life. And maybe many more.

In the parking area, someone had started a bonfire, and Mucho led the men toward it. They were so thin, Ryder thought, and his anger burned as hot as the fire itself.

He could feel the wolves, all of them. The ones who were in wolf form and hunting. The men who had been trapped down there—cold, hungry, hurting. The others, alert and ready. The danger wasn’t over. They all knew it.

Oh, he wasn’t worried about those men who had been in the basement. But they’d been down there for a reason. Someone had left them there. Someone who knew he was coming? Maybe, he acknowledged, thinking of Sharon Campbell. Or maybe just figuredsomeonewould come —eventually. Sometimes havoc was all that a saboteur was looking for.

But Ryder thought there had been more shifters up here than this. Where were they? He glanced at the pine forests that surrounded the lodge in its peaceful little valley. It had been the site for a lot of misery over the years. Too bad. It was beautiful here. But Ryder knew he was going to burn down the rest of this husk. A funeral pyre for the dead in the basement; a cleansing of the evil that men had brought to this portion of the forest.

And look at him getting all poetic, he thought with a laugh. He started forward toward the bonfire.

He heard the sound of a rifle crack. He felt the pain as the bullet hit.I love you!he screamed through his mate bond, dismayed that he had never said it to her in person. It had seemed too soon. Ironic that, they were mates after all. But love was something else. It took time to bloom.

Time they weren’t going to have.

Chapter 21

Day 160 of the re-emerged Hat Island pack, Thursday, Nov. 14, near Kamloops, B.C.

Benny heard the rifleshot, and he shoved his shoulder into Ryder’s side sending him careening to the ground. Too late! He knew the bullet had connected. He just didn’t know how bad it was going to be.

“Get me some light!” Benny ordered Titus, who took off for the Expedition at a run.

Benny ripped open Ryder’s sweatshirt. He could feel it was already soaked with blood. Shit. His hands smoothed over his brother’s chest, seeking the wound. There. High on the left side, below his collarbone, but above his heart.

He hoped it was above his heart.

Titus got the Expedition moved up close, angled a bit to cut the glare and to provide some protection from another shot. Benny was grateful —Titus was a good person to have at his side in something like this. He looked up at the hillside, wondering if the sniper was still out there. He hadn’t heard a vehicle leave. So why hadn’t he shot again?

Bad angle? Maybe. A sniper was a patient shooter. He’d probably lain up there for hours, maybe even a day, just waiting. And he’d wait just as long for his next shot if that was what it took.

Or move around for another angle? The sniper might be doing that too.

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