What in God’s name was that smell?
It wasn’t a bad smell, mused a slowly waking Taryn whose eyelids were too heavy to lift. It sure didn’t belong in her bed though. Her sleep-fogged brain was able to tell her three things. One, the smell was actually a person’s scent – a most delicious scent; fresh pine, spring rain and cedar wood. Two, the alluring scent belonged to a male. And three, that male was a wolf shifter, just like her. Taryn Warner did not smuggle strange guys into the pack house, even if they did smell delicious.
Forcing a droopy eye open, she peeked at the space beside her and was able to confirm her suspicion that the mystery male was long gone. Swerving her head – which felt unnaturally heavy – she peered at her alarm clock. Or, at least, she would have done if it hadn’t done a disappearing act. Along with her bedside table. And these silky sheets beneath her, she suddenly realized, were not her sheets.
With a start, she sat up. And cursed. Nope, she wasn’t in her room. In fact, she wasn’t even in her home. Scanning her surroundings warily, her eyes widened in response to not only the luxury around her, but also the realisation that she was inside what looked to be a freaking cave. A cave?
It was no Stone Age cave though. Hell, no. The light cream sandstone walls were all perfectly smooth apart from the occasional niche that was being used as a mini shelf. The floors were covered with a plush beige carpet that looked invitingly soft. There was a very masculine-style triple wardrobe and large set of drawers; both a dark oak that matched the headboard of the platform bed. The bed itself was under a smooth arch that had been hewn into the cave, making it cosy despite that the bed was huge. But not cosy enough that she was enjoying this freaky little scenario.
Although her inner wolf was on the alert, she wasn’t nervous or anxious. Taryn snickered. Her dumb wolf didn’t even have the sense to worry that she was in a strange place – a cave, no less – that she had no memory of arriving in. It was probably a good thing that she was latent.
So…had she gone out with Shaya and somehow ended up going home with a guy? That didn’t ring right. For one thing, she couldn’t recall arranging a night out, let alone actually venturing out. Moreover, her position as pack healer meant she was constantly on call and so getting ridiculously drunk was something she never did. Also, she was fully clothed – casual clothing that she would never wear on a night out – and there was no smell of sex on her or the bed.
What was the last thing she remembered doing? Despite the fogginess in her brain she could recall heading to the internet café at around noon. She sure didn’t remember getting there. Of course it was worth noting that she suffered from NRS Syndrome (Never Remembers Shit), but this was different. It was like there was a gap in her memory.
Taryn heaved the air around her into her system, filtering through the various scents. There were only two individuals that she could smell beside herself and the yummy smelling wolf. Another male and a female, both of whom were also unfamiliar wolf shifters. At least she could be sure that she wasn’t in the grasp of that dick alpha, Roscoe, who didn’t give a crap that she didn’t want to be claimed by him. For that matter, her father didn’t give a crap either; he was too busy trying to build an alliance with the other pack and if that meant using his daughter to get it, he happily would.
She wished she could say that it was just because he was so desperate for an alliance. But no, her dad already had plenty of alliances with other packs. He simply didn’t have time for his only child because, as a latent, she was a blow to his pride, an aberration in his bloodline. He hated her because, as he had seen to her conception, she was his weakness. She put his ‘greatness’ into question for the rest of the pack. Or so he thought. He certainly wouldn’t bother putting her photo on a milk carton if she never got home from wherever the hell she was.
Spotting a set of beige curtains, she flicked the bedcover aside and rose from the bed. Dizziness momentarily rushed over her and she swayed. Jesus, what was with her? Staggering to the curtains with sluggish, ungraceful movements, she parted them to reveal a bay window – a window that was unfortunately locked. Rather than morning, it was more like late afternoon. Did that mean she hadn’t spent the night here and had only been here a few hours? Or did it mean she had just had one hell of a sleep?
Her eyebrows almost hit her hairline as she took in the view. Most packs had a massive luxury lodge surrounded by a number of cabins. Some even had lodges situated on cliffs. But this place wasn’t on a cliff, it was the cliff. With the arched, lighted balconies and the smooth stairways leading to different levels, it was like those ancient cave dwellings versus the town of Bedrock.
What. The. Fuck?
Below was grass. Grass. More grass. A huge forest. So, from what she could tell, she was in some kind of huge cave system in the middle of no man’s land. She had heard of caves having been hollowed out and turned into homes or even hotels, but never had she expected they could be made to have such a warm, contemporary look. Something told her she was still in California somewhere, but she had a feeling the cab ride home was going to be expensive. Good thing her kidnapper was wealthy. Especially since there didn’t seem to be any sign of her purse anywhere. If this was all a joke she so didn’t get it.
Smoothing out the bane of her existence that couldn’t seem to decide what shade of blonde it wanted to be, she headed for the door on shaky legs. She might have been cautious if she wasn’t so annoyed, woozy and confused. Besides, she figured that if these wolves had any intention of hurting her they would have done so already, and they definitely wouldn’t have left her to sleep on such a comfy bed in an extravagant room.
She tugged on the door handle but, to her horror and frustration, the door was locked. Locked? “Hey!” she called out as she knocked loudly. No response. “Helloooooooooo!” Still nothing.
So, to sum up, she was in a strange place around strange shifters and she was being confined? Well now her wolf was pissed. Being cooped up was enough to infuriate and agitate any shifter. “Hello! This is your captive speaking! Open the freaking door!”