Chapter 4 is here! Hope you are loving Wolf Dancer so far! Just 1 day until release!!!! I’m so excited 🙂
Katalina slipped out of the back door. She’d been at her father, Jackson’s, with Bass. Not interested in listening to the meeting, she’d hung out with the River Run members at the house. The meeting had gone on slightly longer than she’d expected. Ordering Arne to stay at the back door, she crept quietly toward the barn behind Jackson’s house, where River Run and Dark Shadow were convening. Katalina knew without even peering inside that Bass wasn’t there.
Sensing someone else lurking, Katalina smiled as Toby came into view. Indicating for him to be quiet, she pointed toward the house and padded back. Once out of ear shot of the barn, Katalina spoke. “What’s going on, Toby?”
“What makes you think I know?” he asked as he stroked Arne behind the ears.
“Come on, Toby. It’s what you do. You’re the collector of secrets.”
“Hmm…Collector of Secrets… Yeah, I like that…has a nice ring to it,” he replied, nodding in approval.
“Toby.” Katalina groaned, “Focus.” Sometimes she forgot he was only fourteen. He was so often given tasks someone older should do, but many of the River Run members had grown up too quickly. War did that. Katalina was glad it was over.
“If I tell you, promise me you’ll not freak out.”
“Just tell me,” Katalina demanded, her hands coming to rest on her hips. Her heart picked up speed as her mind dredged up images of every possible scenario.
“Okay…I’ve not heard much, I saw Bass leave —”
“When?” Katalina interrupted.
“Ten mins…tops. So I went to check it out. Turns out some guy back from, you know, before you came, well, his brother was killed in the takeover. He’s kidnapped Nico and some girl.”
“And Bass has gone alone to face him?”
“They were the terms. Bill’s sure pissed about it though, but Bass is his alpha. What’s he gonna do?”
“Where?” Kat asked, stripping off her jacket.
“Some warehouse.” Toby’s eyes widened. “Kat, what are you doing?”
“Going after him,” she replied, pulling her feet free of her jeans.
“Come on, Kat, you promised not to overreact.”
“I said no such thing.”
“What the hell is that?” Toby gawked.
“This?” Katalina asked, pointing to the pretty leather sheath holding her blade. Nico had given it to her a few days earlier after finally deeming her fit to carry a knife. Katalina had no idea something designed to sheaf her lethal knife could be pretty. It had a strip of plaited leather down the middle and a fine filigree pattern marked out in the leather. He’d given her a shoulder strap too so she’d always have it within easy reach. Yet she’d not quite found the words to explain to Bass why she felt the need to carry a knife and had opted instead to tuck it in the waist of her jeans, where it was easier to avoid Bass feeling it. “It’s a knife, Toby,” she continued.
Stripped down to nothing but her underwear and a thin cotton slip, which had now become an everyday essential — it was small enough to roll up and carry in her wolf mouth — Katalina took her knife from its sheath.
“I can’t let you go. You know that, right?”
Katalina smiled. Pulling the slip from over her head, she shed her underwear. Toby tried to stay facing her, but in the end, huffed and turned around. Katalina wrapped the slip around the blade of her knife.
“Jackson’s going to kill me. Best case I’ll be on patrol all night, all week…and I have plans,” he whined.
Katalina laughed as she placed the wrapped knife at her feet. “How about I make it look like you tried to stop me.”
“How you gonna do that?” he asked, turning back around.
Katalina balled her hand into fist. Stealing herself for a task she didn’t want to do, she clocked Toby with a punch. He stumbled back with an oomph.
“Stay, Arne,” she commanded before changing into her wolf. Katalina picked her bundle up with her teeth and caught one last look at Toby, hand on his jaw, a look of shock in his eyes. Arne stood obediently at his feet,. She then took off.
“Follow her, Arne,” Toby ordered as Katalina disappeared into the trees.
She broke the rules, but didn’t care. Bass had a fifteen minute head start on her so she needed to stay in her wolf form if she had any hope of reaching him in time. Her muscles burned in protest as they stretched to their limit. Her claws scraped against the bitumen beneath her paws as she raced through the streets heading toward a more industrial part of the small town of Atlanta, Michigan.
Picking up Bass’s scent, she turned sharply down a street. Katalina urged her body on. Fate was on her side while she ran. The streets of Atlanta were deserted — most likely due to the rumbling storm in the distance. Its heavy clouds created a dim light and a closeness which promised rain. Taking a sharp right as she followed his scent trail, she realized he’d stayed in his human form, so maybe she had a few more minutes’ grace. Skidding between two large warehouses, Katalina came to an abrupt stop as Olivia stumbled out of a door, struggling to keep Nico upright.
The coppery scent of blood coated her tongue. Her eyes focused on Nico and the wound on his side. Shifting, she held her finger to her lips. Olivia didn’t respond, yet Nico, even though he looked like he’d pass out any minute, straightened slightly, nodding.
Quickly and quietly, Katalina unwrapped her knife and pulled on her slip. Blade in hand, she looked around, seeing a window above with a fire escape. Indicating to Nico and Olivia, Katalina gestured for them to close the door as she opened the window.
Realization lit Nico’s eyes, his hand rested on the door waiting for her count down. One, two, three, she mouthed and pulled the window up as Nico slammed the door shut. Inside, Katalina scanned her surroundings and formulated a plan.
Bass was cuffed and bound in the center of the building. Bowen walked around him talking, smug in his capture. At first glance, he looked uninjured but Katalina picked up the slight dip in his walk. She also noticed his hand clamped firmly over his bleeding stomach.
Bass, sensing her as she neared the edge of the upper floor, locked his eyes with hers for a second, emotions swimming across them; surprise, anger, fear…
Walking to a section of the damaged railing, which crumbled away, Katalina gripped her knife like Nico had taught her. Taking a deep breath, she allowed her wolf to the surface, and jumped.
Hitting Bowen hard, they crashed to the floor. The impact knocked the air from Katalina but she forced her brain to keep functioning, and swung her knife, embedding it into his chest.
Bellowing with rage, Bowen’s rough hands gripped her thigh, and flung her off.
Never lose the grip of your blade. Lose it and you’re dead. With Nico’s voice in her mind, Katalina refused to let go of the handle of the knife, even as her wrist twisted painfully. Landing on her back, her head bounced off the hard concrete floor, stunning her momentarily.
Gritting her teeth, Katalina jumped to her feet, bracing for Bowen’s next move.
“Looky what we have, Sebastian. Looks like your bitch has come to play.” Bowen laughed.
Katalina refused to look at Bass. One glance and she’d lose her nerve. Bowen outweighed and outmatched her, she knew that. Yet she also knew leaving Bass alone wasn’t an option either.
“You’ve grown a pair since I saw you last. What happened to the frightened girl?” Bowen sneered.
Katalina didn’t answer. She clenched her jaw, ready to diminish the confidence in his tone.
“Such a shame to kill such a fine specimen. I’d keep you for myself but watching Sebastian’s face as I strangle the life from you will be so much sweeter.”
Bass’s growl echoed off the walls. Katalina heard his scuffles as he tried to free himself, but again, she forced her eyes to stay on the threat. Bowen charged. Katalina emptied her mind, her breath the only thing she concentrated on…In, one, two, three…Out, one, two, three…
Twisting at the last second, she used her size to her advantage, nimbly avoiding his big clunky frame. Her knife slashed across his back, enraging him further. Turning with on an animalist yell, Bowen lashed out, catching Katalina across the face with the back of his hand.
The slap of the impact vibrated through her head and Bass’s fearful cry made her blood run cold. Her cheek bone cracked and her brain rattled in her skull. Yet she refused to go down. Screaming, she raced forward. Swinging wildly, his blood sprayed hot across her bare skin before Bowen hit hard. She went down.
Katalina heard the clatter of her knife before she realized she’d dropped it. Stomach lurching, Bowen appeared on top of her seconds later, his calloused grubby hands squeezing around her throat, choking the life from her. Frozen, fear gripped her as she lay gasping for breath. Bowen’s triumphant smile in her face.
Katalina turned her head, dragging her eyes from the man who was going to kill her, to take one last glance at the man she loved. She wasn’t sure what she expected to see when she looked toward Bass, but anger wasn’t an emotion she’d imagined. She stared, detached from herself, Bass’s dark eyes her only focus.
“Fight,” Bass growled at her. The weight of his command pressed against her bones.
Her wolf bristled and rose, unfreezing her. Reaching blindly for her blade, Katalina struggled to throw Bowen off her. Her fingers brushed the tip of the knife handle, but she couldn’t quite reach it. Black spots floated before her eyes while her brain grew foggy from lack of oxygen.
The bang of a door, the scrape of metal.
“Kat,” Olivia called as she kicked her knife within reach.
Grasping the blade, with the finest thread of hope running through her, Katalina forced the last of her energy into driving the blade into Bowen’s side. Stabbing him repeatedly, he reared back growling, his hands releasing her neck to hit back. Dragging in a gargled breath, Katalina swiped as she sensed another presence enter the warehouse.
Her mind blacked out, her vision swaying.
Bowen was ripped from her. The sound of tearing flesh and an angry bark filled her head before there was a thud and silence.
Katalina pushed up on her elbows, blinking as she dragged in a deep lung full of air, and smiled at her rescuer.
“Good boy,” she croaked as Arne whined, pressing his blood-stained muzzle against her face. A shadow loomed above her. “Hey.” Katalina smiled sheepishly.
“Could you please find the keys to get me out of these cuffs,” Bass ground out through his teeth, the rope from around his legs broken.
Katalina pushed her sore body up and checked Bowen’s pockets, her nose wrinkling as she took in his torn neck. Finding the key, she stood and released Bass. He turned to face her, the expression on his face unreadable.
“Are you mad at me?” Katalina asked quietly, apprehension swirling in the pit of her stomach.
“What were you thinking, Katalina? Taking him on alone?”
“I was protecting what’s mine,” she replied firmly, not taking her gaze from his. Though the croak in her voice didn’t help her cause.
A low rumble made its way up his chest. “You are the most stubborn, reckless —”
“Hey!” Katalina rasped.
“Brave woman, I know,” Bass finished, a soft smile spreading on his lips. He pulled her flush against him kissing her hard on the mouth. “Yet in future, I’d rather you’d listen and stay where it’s safe.”
“Lecture me later. Nico was in a bad way when I arrived,” she answered, gingerly touching her throat, and turning toward the door.
Is Arne the best dog in the world or what!?
Q) Who gave Katalina her knife?
A) Leave your answer below in the comments
*winner will be emailed and announced on my blog in feb*