Judgement by Brannan Black

Judgement by Brannan BlackJudgement
Wolfman Apocalypse Collection, Book 3
by Brannan Black

Changeling Press

eBook ISBN: 06644-02137

I didn’t count on getting attacked by rabids — violent, crazy rabids — or rescuing two slightly less crazy wolfmen and a blind woman. Or ending up back at my mother’s compound.

My mother’s a surgeon. With any luck she’ll be able to save Derek. And convince our two factions not to kill one another. And maybe — just maybe — find some common ground between us that offers some hope for the future. Because where Mace is concerned, I kind of like the idea of us staying alive…

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Chapter One

I jerked up in bed, sweat beading my brow, my heart pounding.
“Daniel?” Mace stuck his head in from the bathroom.
“I’m OK, just had a bad dream.” A fucking nightmare! Tat was tearing Mace apart while the Major and Frank held him down. The rest of the compound just stood around laughing while I tried to get someone to help me stop them.
“You still worried about Tat?” He walked back in the bedroom, naked. Fucking sex god naked. Even bandages and a cast looked sexy on him. He’d pulled his hair over one shoulder while he finished braiding it. I wanted to yank the braid back out and wrap my hands in it while I fucked him senseless.
“Fuck it, Mace. After all you’ve done to convince everyone you’re a good guy, you really want the whole compound to watch you two try to kill each other?”
He stalked over to sit beside me on the bed. That man never just fucking walked. Not like a human, anyway. He moved with an animal grace that never failed to get my cock hard. “There won’t be any trying, Daniel. He put the pack at risk. He lied to Hawk about what I told him and he came within minutes of starting an attack on this compound. I won’t tolerate that.”
“Right, and did you forget you have one arm tied behind your back, so to speak?” I rapped my knuckles against his cast.
“It’s healed enough for your mother to remove it. I can and will take Tat down, Daniel. Don’t ever doubt that.” His eyes glowed brightly to match the deep growl in his voice.
“Fuck, Mace. Don’t pull that show no weakness crap with me. We both know you’re not one hundred percent. And you said your first fight was close. You won’t have Slade or Hawk to watch your back. Don’t do this.”
He stepped up and cupped my cheek with his palm. “I have to, Daniel. He challenged me, and most of the pack knows it.” He shrugged and let out a deep breath. “I take him down now or face even more challengers. And they won’t wait for me to heal, either. Besides, I’ve got you watching my back.”
His sly wink had me wondering just what he meant by that. In a dog pack, caveman sort of way I understood why he had to face Tat. And I fucking hated it. Images from my dreams cooled the heat in my cock.
Mace leaned against me, his naked body pressing mine back into the bed.
“I know you’re just trying to distract me.” I arched a brow at him and leaned away.
He mirrored my moves. “Umm, you sure that’s all?”
I chuckled. “Fucking horny wolfman.” I tried to crawl out the other side of the bed. “We’ve got shit to do, starting with breakfast.”
His strong grip held me in place while he crawled over me, pinning me with his weight. His hands trailed down, teasing through my chest hair. He slid his thigh between mine, pressing and rubbing the underside of my balls.
“Mace…” I promptly forgot what I was going to say as his tongue danced across the hard peak of my nipple and a hand stroked down my reemerging hard on.
“Exactly.” He punctuated each word with a hot, sucking kiss lower down my belly and a firm stroke of my cock. “What. I. Had. In. Mind!”
By the time he placed a kiss on the broad head, I was hard, eagerly thrusting up to meet his mouth as it closed around me. I moaned, hands gripping the sheets, my legs pinned by his heavy frame. He rocked his hips, thrusting his hot cock between my legs.
“Turn around,” I choked out, tugging at him. He raised his head, a quizzical look on his face. “Turn around so I can suck that beast of yours.”
His eyebrows shot up and a grin stretched his face. He swapped positions, crouching over me. Wrapping a hand around him, I licked the head of his dick, down under the rim.
He moaned around my cock, the vibration tingling up my spine. He sucked me down deeper and I groaned my pleasure around his. His hips rocked in time with his head bobbing up and down my length, sucking so hard I felt like I would turn inside out. I held on to his hips, letting him fuck my mouth as he sucked me off. His big body quivered with the strain of holding back. I’d never known him not to come before me, at least the first time.
My balls drew up tight. Heat pulsed down my cock with each pull. Nearly mindless, I struggled to focus attention on him. Make it as good for him.
Unngghhh!” Hot come pulsed into Mace’s mouth just moments before his moaning whine rumbled up along with his jiz. I swallowed around his cock, trying like hell not to choke as waves of pleasure rolled through me.
Mace collapsed off to the side, breathing hard and smiling. “See, arm’s fine.”
I made the mistake of rolling toward him. Pain shot from my shoulder sharp enough to take my breath. I flopped back. “How nice for you,” I groaned out. Fucking beast! It would take the gunshot wound on my shoulder weeks to heal. His fucking crushed arm was good to go in a day? It sucked to be me, or at least to be human.
I never kept much food in my place so we headed down to the big house once we were dressed. Angie and Kim were sitting on the small porch at the foot of the stairs to my loft. The day looked clear but had a serious chill to it.
“Morning ladies. Afraid we’ll get lost on the way to breakfast?” I was in no mood for their shit.
Angie snorted. “Just following orders. The council’s, not the Major’s.” She had her hands in her pockets, and one hung heavy, no doubt weighed down with her Glock. Kim rested her hand on her holstered gun and fell in behind us. Keeping her coat open couldn’t be a lot of fun this morning. That little mean streak of mine hoped she was freezing.
Mace glanced over his shoulder, zeroing in on the one open window on the top floor of the barracks. “And whose order is she following?”
I snorted rudely. “Do we even have to ask? Fucking bitch.”
Angie shook her head no. “Major’s been locked up with Chris and Anna until the council decides what to do with them. Whoever that is, she’s on her own.”
“I thought Chris and Anna were on their way out already? For bringing guns to the meeting yesterday.”
Angie shot me a hard glance. “Death penalty for obeying their commander? We both know that’s what getting kicked out of the compound means. The council thinks that’s a bit harsh.”
I shook my head. “They knew the consequences up front. It’s still Mom’s house. The council has no right to overrule her.”
Angie chuckled. “You never have understood politics or even human nature. It’s not that easy, but your mom can handle it.”
We reached the porch and went in, heading straight for the kitchen. Mom stood at the stove fixing breakfast. Eggs, biscuits and gravy with a bit of sausage in it. We’d managed to store a fair amount of flour and last year even harvested a fresh crop of winter wheat. There were some decided advantages to setting up on a ranch that already had pigs, chickens and cows. Although most of the cows didn’t make the first few winters. We didn’t have enough hay to feed them when the snow got too deep for them to forage. Pigs were a lot easier as long as they didn’t get too cold. They eat anything and everything, great recyclers.
Mace’s eyes lit up and he inhaled deeply. “Damn, that smells good!” He offered Mom a smile that she returned freely. She handed him a plate already heaped with food and took one for herself to the table. Guess I had to serve myself. And I’d been worried she didn’t like him?
“Eat up, I want to change your bandages before your friends arrive. And you might want to spend some time with Jeremy. Your lesson in manners has worn off completely.”
Mace nodded and spoke around a mouthful of scrambled eggs. “To be expected. Before I deal with him, though, I need you to remove these bandages, the stitches, and the cast.”
“That cast isn’t going anywhere, Mace. I am quite sure you’re not that healed up.” Mom gave him her sternest look.
I poured myself some of the herbal tea we grew. I took a sip and grimaced.
“What’s the matter, Daniel? That stuffs pretty good.” Mace grinned and winked at me.
“It’s not coffee! That’s what’s the matter.”
Mom clucked her tongue. “It’s been how many years since we’ve had coffee? And you’re still whining about it.”
Mace chuckled, a self-satisfied look crossing his face as he shoveled in another bite.
I smirked. “I had coffee every morning at the den.”
Her eyes flew wide. “Where’d they find coffee?”
Mace shrugged. “In a warehouse. We took it all and stored it with the rest of the supplies in our basement.”
“Oh? How do you keep the bugs and mice out of it?”
“Food goes in one of the walk-in freezers. They don’t work except to keep vermin out and stabilize the temperature. And we seal everything in plastic or metal containers.” A grin twisted the edges of his lips.
Mom, Angie and Kim stared at me like they couldn’t believe it.
I couldn’t help my smug tone. “They have a fu– ah, damn shopping mall in the basement. Clothes, blankets and shit all sealed up. They must have cleaned out half the city.” I wondered who’d had the foresight not only to grab all that stuff but store it properly, too.
Mace snickered. “No, just our territory. Keeps the scavengers from stealing it.” His gaze locked on Mom’s.
She nodded and returned to eating. Her voice sounded casual but her question was anything but. “Are there parts of the city that haven’t been claimed?”
Mace chewed thoughtfully. “Some, mostly on the edges or where there’s nothing worth fighting over. But I don’t think that’s going to last much longer. More packs are getting organized all the time and there’s less stuff lying around that’s still worth having. Rodents have proliferated now that most of the cats and dogs are gone.”
I snorted. Eaten by rabids, most likely. I briefly wondered if any of that mystery meat in the den’s stew had been someone’s pet. Or a rat, eww! Wolfmen weren’t picky about what they ate as far as I knew.
As soon as we’d finished our quick meal, Mom hustled us over to the clinic. She waved Mace to the exam table. “Take your shirt off and have a seat.”
She didn’t say anything about how healed Mace looked but I could see it in her face. The smaller bruises had vanished. The gunshot wounds looked weeks, maybe even months old with little scaring. Even his face looked almost normal, just a bit mottled with the last of the bruising.
Mace arched a brow at her and flashed a magnanimous smile. “You do nice work. Now how about this cast?”
“No way even you could heal a break that bad this fast. Especially since you wouldn’t let me put any pins in.”
I couldn’t imagine how Mace had convinced her not to. She didn’t even have any bite marks.
“Like I told you, the pins would’ve caused problems when I healed over them. I’ve seen it. Now, the cast?” His steady gaze met Mom’s in a duel of wills. A brief urge to sell tickets hit me. This could be better than a prize fight. “This is not needed and it makes me slow in a fight. It has to go, now.”
Mom pursed her lips and crossed her arms. “Planning on picking a fight?”
“Tat’s challenged my authority for the last time. If he sees me hobbled like this, he won’t just try to defeat me, he’ll try to kill me.”
“Then we’ll just have to make sure he doesn’t get the chance,” she tossed back with all the arrogance of years in charge.
Mace snarled and his eyes took on that eerie glow. I had to give Mom credit, she didn’t twitch or even blink. Without breaking his glare, he raised his good hand and sliced into the cast with a claw.
Mom grabbed Mace’s hand, earning a snarl and snap from him. This time she did flinch, but still held on. “Don’t give me that! You are not clawing your cast off!” She shoved his hand away.
“Then you take it off, but I am not greeting my pack like this!” Mace’s lips curled back to show his fangs. Mom remained as unmovable as the Rocky Mountains. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him her fiercest stubborn look. Mace growled louder with his fangs in full display.
“Would you two kids play nice?” They both turned on me, Mom’s eyes wide with shock before narrowing in anger. Mace just growled louder at me.
“Daniel Baker, you do not speak to your mother that way.” Arrogant surgeons had been known to blanch at that tone. Long years of practice let me keep the wincing inside.
I arched a brow. “Then stop with the pissing contest. Tat will be here any minute. There’s no time for this shit.” First I poke the bear, then I tease it. Fucking stupid, Daniel.
Mace’s angry yellow gold eyes locked on me. Snake quick he had me by the shoulder, a growl rumbling louder from his chest. I shifted my gaze to the floor and then out the side of my eyes to Mom. I think she finally got it and backed away.
Several tense heartbeats passed before he spoke, a deep growl distorting his words. “Get this thing off my arm. Now.” He let me go and swung around to face Mom. Fuck, he was on edge this morning.
Thank God the door flew open before they started round two.
“Sounds like someone’s in a bad mood this morning.” Angie swaggered in. “The truck’s pulling up to the gate. Should we let them in?”
Mom’s terse words sliced through the tension filled air. “Just inside the gate will be fine.”
Mace snarled his agreement.
Angie backed out the door and fled down the hall in a flash. I couldn’t blame her. I’d run too if I could get away with it. Instead, I got to play referee. Lucky me. “Mom, please, just cut it off. He’s a big boy and knows the risks.” She frowned at me. She was gonna making me fucking beg. “Please, for me?”
Mom sighed heavily, looking at Mace’s arm. “If you break it again, I’m not fixing it.” She opened a drawer and retrieved the cast saw. “Hold still, this will hurt if that bone hasn’t healed enough. I’d feel better if we’d put the pins in.”
Mace sat back on the exam table and rested his arm on the tray Mom pushed toward him. His face showed no sign of discomfort as she cut it off, not that it meant anything. He wouldn’t show pain even if it was killing him.
Once done, she carefully palpated the well healed scars from the surgery. Her brows knit down in a frown. “Hmm, feels pretty solid. Any pain?”
“Only when you squeeze it really hard.” Mace sounded slightly irritated. It wasn’t like him to be so touchy. I’d bet he was as concerned about confronting Tat as I was. And that wasn’t a good sign.
Mom clipped out the wound staples she’d put in without another word. Her pursed lips showed her disapproval perfectly well. As soon as she finished, Mace drew his shirt on, ignoring the denim jacket I’d found to replace his ruined leather one.
Angie waited just inside the clinic door, eyes on the truck and a single barrel twelve gauge in her hand. I grabbed it from her as I hobbled after Mace. The chances of killing wolfmen with a shotgun weren’t high, but it’d sure knock them on their ass. Hell, hit them right and they’d need to grow new legs. Could they do that? That would be fucking insane.
The truck sat just inside the front gate, engine off. Three wolfmen leaned against it. Tat had his arms crossed and a smug smile on his face. The early morning light highlighted the tattoos on his bald head and bare arms. Didn’t these guys feel the cold? He locked his gaze on Mace and stayed there as if he hadn’t a worry in the world.
Mace’s body slipped into that deceptively relaxed gait as he crossed the yard.
The other two I didn’t know well. Lanky, fair haired Race and black as the ace of spades Spider hung together at the compound with a couple other of the younger adults. They’d never bothered me and I thought they were firmly in Mace’s camp. They shifted nervously, moving away from Tat. No doubt they could see the fight coming and wanted no part of it.
Tat raked his gaze slowly over Mace. “You’re looking better. How’s the arm?”
I couldn’t see his face, but Mace’s voice sounded relaxed, conversational even. “Feels fine. You know how those human women worry about every little scratch.”
The other two wolfmen put the truck between them and Tat. It also put them farther from Mace. OK, so maybe they weren’t that firmly in Mace’s camp. Unlike the fight at the den, neither had any supporters backing them. Except me. I wasn’t gonna let Mace down. Tat was on his own.
Tat stood, arms loose, a smirk on his face. “If I hadn’t seen what they did to you before they brought you here, I might believe that. Those bullet holes have got to hurt still.”
Mace shrugged and planted himself loosely in front of Tat. “And yet you still put the pack at risk rather than face me yourself. You lied to Hawk and nearly started a fight we didn’t need. Did you even think how many of our own might die? Do you care?”
Tat stood fully. “A true leader does what’s necessary to protect the pack. Even if that means losses.”
Mace snorted. “Uh huh, and if I just happened to get killed in the process, so much the better for you. Planning on Hawk accidentally taking one in the head? That would make it real easy for you to step in, wouldn’t it?”
If he weren’t such a dick, I’d love to play poker with Tat. His face gave away everything. Fucking bastard had been plotting to get Mace killed. I spared a glance at the other two wolfmen. They both looked shocked and angry. Either way this played out, now the pack would know how far Tat would go to be leader. Would it matter in a world where the strongest ruled?
Tat spit at Mace’s feet. “You still aren’t fit to lead this pack! You all but cower in front of these humans. You’re weak without your betas to back you. The pack deserves a real alpha leader. Someone strong enough to protect the pack, strong enough to defeat our enemies.” His gaze never wavered, but a slight hand gesture made it clear who he meant. The compound in general, and Mom in particular.
Mace snorted. “And you think that’s you? I proved you wrong twice already.”
Tat growled and moved into the open, clawed hands open and tense, ready to strike. They started to circle.
I pumped the shotgun once, the sound echoing in the suddenly silent yard. “Back off, both of you.” Mace and Tat froze. “This isn’t your den. You won’t be doing this here.” I stared straight at Tat, locking my gaze to his. He growled and took a step toward me. A single puff of dirt by his foot and the crack of a rifle froze him. I arched a brow and smiled with false sweetness.
Mace turned his angry glowing eyes on me. His lips twisted up to show all his fangs and his growl deepened. I hadn’t seen that much anger directed at me for a while. Maybe ever. He stalked toward me without a word. That fight or flight instinct I’m supposed to have? Locked up like a PC with the blue screen of death, a lifetime ago.
He stopped with the end of the barrel jammed into his chest. “If you’re going to shoot me, you should have done it before now, chosen.” His voice sounded a lot more human than the look on his face.
I dropped my gaze. If he felt the need to put me in my fucking place here, it would get real ugly, real fast. Mom wouldn’t sit by and allow it. Shit, whoever had that rifle could splatter his brains all over me. So fucking not good!
He took a step to the side and wrenched the shotgun out of my hands. I winced as pain shot from my shoulder.
“Don’t you lay a hand on him, Mace. This is my den and that is my son.” Of course Mom had to say something. Couldn’t she see I was handling it?
Mace leaned close, speaking for my ears alone. “Not what I had in mind when I asked you to watch my back. You know you’re gonna pay for this later.”
I glanced over at him just in time to see that predatory look turn to lust. Shit, maybe I couldn’t handle it. A slight smile twisted his lips when he focused on my suicide cock thickening in my jeans.
Mace handed the shotgun to Mom. Tat stood there with a triumphant smirk on his lips and death in his eyes. I had no doubt he’d attack Mace the first chance he got.
“We can finish this discussion later. Right now, we need to get the kid out of here.” Mace turned his back on Tat without even a glance. He might as well have slapped him. Leaving his back open showed just how little he feared Tat.
Tat’s eyes narrowed, and fury suffused his face. For a few tense heartbeats, I thought he would jump Mace from the back. His gaze swept around to every gun pointed his way, then back to me. He snarled. “When I’m done with him, you’re next, brain boy.” He stomped off to lean sullenly against the cab of the truck. Several women kept a close watch on him.
“Uh, Mace,” Spider spoke hesitantly, “the truck’s running on fumes.”
Mace paused before turning to face me. “So, Daniel, where’s the fuel?”
Mom snorted. “I’m the one you should be asking. And frankly, why would I give you any?” She faced him with that stubborn set to her chin.
“I’ve been giving that some thought.” Mace and Mom both turned to me. “Why don’t we get out of this fu… freezing wind and talk about it.” I shifted slightly, taking the weight off my still healing leg.
Mom’s eyes narrowed for a moment, then she nodded. “The council should join us inside. The rest of you can wait in the truck.” Her gaze pinned Tat. He snarled and she cocked a brow in clear challenge. Tat might be an ass, but he wasn’t stupid enough to make a move with a dozen guns pointed his way. He let his gaze drift to the ridgeline. His lips twitched like he was holding back a smile.
Fucking son of a bitch! How many snipers did he have up there? Was he still trying to start something that would get Mace killed? That’d be a real trick with his ass in the line of fire. The ends of his lips curled in a sneer, his yellow eyes full of challenge, but I refused to be intimidated. I left him scowling at my back as I strode to the house. OK, I fucking limped. Stupid crutch spoiled the effect completely.

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