Savage Urges (The Phoenix Pack #5) - Suzanne Wright
Finding an unconscious shifter on your doorstep was a definite buzzkill.
Frowning in surprise, Makenna Wray double-blinked, half expecting him to disappear. Nope, he was still there, which just went to prove that Friday the thirteenth really was an unlucky day.
She gently toed the male body, which smelled strongly of wolf. No response. She squatted beside him, only then realizing he was just a kid. He looked approximately sixteen, but his scent wasn’t ripe enough for that age. There was a small pool of blood by his head, but nothing that would indicate an injury he wouldn’t quickly heal from, given that he was a shifter. There was also some vomit on his clothes, but it would seem that he’d spewed up elsewhere.
Given all the facts, she suspected that he’d tumbled down the steps that led to her basement apartment. She might have worried that he’d been pushed, but she could scent two other things. Beer and drugs. As such, it was likely that he’d fallen in his drunken, drugged-up state and knocked himself clean out. Idiot.
Normally, she’d be unsure of what to do next. Of course, she knew what society dictated she should do: check that the stranger was alive and call for help. Well, she could hear his heartbeat clearly enough, so she could cross the first off the list. As for calling for help . . . that part wasn’t so simple.
Packs were insular and private. They understandably didn’t like outsiders knowing or involving themselves in their business—especially lone shifters like herself. And Makenna wasn’t fond of the idea of having strangers in her home; it was essentially her territory, and she was naturally protective of it.
So yeah, she’d ordinarily be hesitant in getting involved in a shifter pack’s business. But as she took in the kid’s rumpled clothes, undernourished appearance, and the distinctive musty smell typical of a homeless shifter, Makenna wondered if, in fact, she was looking at another lone wolf.
Of course she could be wrong. In any case, she couldn’t leave him out here. This wasn’t a good area for unconscious people—hell, it wasn’t a good area for conscious people. And the truth was she was a sucker for a person in trouble.
Once she’d unlocked her front door, Makenna slipped her arms under the kid’s armpits and dragged him through her small apartment to her bathroom, where she dumped him in the shower.
Then she turned on the cold water.
He sputtered to life, shaking his head and coughing. He tried to stand, but his legs buckled. Wild, stunned, bloodshot eyes settled on her. “Who the hell are you?”
“I’m the person who found you unconscious on my doorstep,” she replied dryly. “Who the hell are you?”
He squinted. “You did?” The wildness faded from his eyes, revealing an inner turmoil that she could have related to at his age.
Taking pity on him, she turned off the water. “How’s your head?”
He touched the back of his head and then winced. “A little sore.” His nostrils flared. “You’re a shifter. A wolf.”
“Yes. And you didn’t answer my question. Who are you?”
He regarded her warily. “Zac.”
“I’m Makenna. Why did you come here tonight?”
“I don’t remember how I got here.” He ran a jerky hand over his tangled hair. “I was at a party. A fight broke out there, so I left and . . .” He trailed off, slanting her a suspicious glance. “I guess I took a wrong turn somewhere on my way home.” He struggled to his feet. “I have to get back. My pack will be wondering where I am.”
“You’re a loner, aren’t you?”
Loners had a bad reputation among shifters and were generally distrusted. Some shifters chose the lone wolf lifestyle, but some had no choice. In any case, it wasn’t a pretty fate. They were thought to be on their own because they were banished from their packs for committing awful, heinous crimes. And without the safety of a pack, they became easy prey for other shifters, so a number of them became assassins for hire to earn money and protection. But being in a pack wasn’t always a good thing, and it didn’t necessarily make a person any safer from harm.
Panic flashed across Zac’s face. “No, of course not.”
“That party you went to . . . Let me guess, it was Tariq’s party.”
His mouth pressed into a thin line. “You know Tariq?”
“I know Tariq.” He was a shithead who recruited loners to work for him. “You should stay away from him.”
Zac bristled. “He’s my friend.”