For the Soul of an Outlaw 2018By: T S Joyce
It wasn’t sickness that had made Genie go still and quiet.
It was sadness.
The Two Claws Clan was hugging in the barn, crying for joy over the news of Karis’s pregnancy, but Genie’s reality was very different.
The crows were coming for her, and there was no sanctuary here anymore. Life had been easier when Ramsey hadn’t known where she was. It was easier when she didn’t feel so deeply for these people, before Colton had proved he was a loyal friend.
It was clear as crystal he would die to keep her safe. But to him, she was just a pet. He had no idea what she really was. Another wave of guilt wracked her chest. She gripped the exposed ceiling rafter she was perched upon with her little claws, but barely kept from swaying under the weight of the trouble she’d found.
God, no one had ever dug a deeper hole than her, and now it wasn’t just her at risk. Now there was a cub.
And on top of it all, on top of everything else, her heart was aching because she missed someone, two someones, who had left without her having the courage to expose her true self.
Below her, the Clan laughed and wiped their eyes in happiness over the bright spot in their future. Over a cub that would give them even more to fight for.
But that story would never belong to Genie.
Ramsey would never quit until she belonged to him again.
Before Genie had come here, she hadn’t known what love was. But here, she’d known happiness as she watched her friends find their mates and fight for a good life she’d always thought was impossible for people like them.
She owed Colt and Karis a debt for showing her what real friendship, loyalty, and kindness were.
She didn’t know how she was going to accomplish it, but she was going to save the Two Claws Clan from this war.
Kurt gritted his teeth as he looked down at the glowing screen of his cell phone. Trina was calling. Again. Probably to weasel his location from him because that cougar shifter had blurred lines when it came to loyalty. The whole damn Darby Clan did.
His phone dinged. Oh good, another voicemail he would ignore.
But when a text came through that said she’d sent an image, curiosity got his cat. He opened it and squinted at the picture of a street fire. Looked like it was burning right in the middle of Main Street in Darby. What the fuck?
He picked up the phone from the old, ratty motel bed and studied a second picture that came through. It was an aerial view, probably taken from the roof of the GutShot bar.
The fire was in the shape of a bear.
This was a death oath, an obvious one, and whoever had burned it had lit it right there in the middle of town for every shifter and human alike to see. These flames meant the Two Claws Clan of bear shifters was in deep shit.
Kurt checked that Gunner, his six-year-old son, was still sleeping soundly under the covers of the musty bed. It was the best he could do for his boy when they were on the run like this.
Trina was calling again.
“Hello,” he answered.
“You need to get back to Darby.”
“So your Clan can hunt me again? No thanks. I have a cub to protect.”
“Kurt, there is no Clan chasing you anymore. There is no Clan at all.”
“Yeah?” he asked, tired already of Trina’s bullshit. He leaned back on a locked arm and asked, “Then who is burning a death oath for the bears?”
“Red Dead Mayhem.”
Kurt sat straight up. The air had gone thick, and he felt like he was inhaling cement. The crows were after the bears?
“What do you mean there ain’t a Clan chasing us?”
“They’re dead.” Trina choked out. “All dead.”
“The Darby Clan?”
“They drew the grizzlies into town, then attacked the Two Claws females when they were unprotected. Tried to Turn Hairpin Trigger’s mate and scarred the Warmaker’s mate real bad. The crows joined the war. The bears killed every single cougar shifter in this godforsaken town except me and Dad.” She was crying pretty good by the end of the explanation. He could tell by the hitches in her voice and the waver of her tone.
“Well, they fuckin’ deserved it,” Kurt growled, his veins filling with red rage. “When?”
“The night you left town. You missed the war by hours. Trig’s mate was Turned into a polar bear so save her from the mountain lion the Darby Clan put in her.”