He shifted in the chair, readjusting his bound hands in an effort to keep the circulation going. He’d been tied up like this, arms behind his back, secured to the back legs of the wooden chair. His feet had been tied to the front legs. The weres had made sure he wouldn’t be able to even attempt to help Carly the night they’d decided to take her away. First by knocking him into near unconsciousness. Then by finding the simplest chair in the house and attaching him to it.
As soon as they’d left with her, Ben had begun beating him. What started out as nothing more than a hot-headed tantrum had turned into a nightly routine. Matt knew it by heart now. Ben woke, ate, and came looking for him. Why he thought beating the woman’s brother he claimed to love more than life itself would help him win her heart any was anybody’s guess. Then again, Ben wasn’t one to think logically. He’d seen that for himself on more than one occasion.
Nobody was safe here. Not the help. Not the people Ben claimed were his friends and certainly not women. From what he could tell, Ben used them, abused them, drained them and then moved onto he next. He treated them like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Matt had counted no less than twenty since the night he’d been here. They all walked in, but none had ever walked out.
A noise outside the window made him force his eyes open. Nobody ever came around here during the day. As he focused on the welcome figure in the window, he tried his best to get his hands loose. It was a feeble attempt, but seeing Carly again had given him a reason to try.
“Get still,” a gruff voice mumbled from behind him. He stopped struggling and let the man cut the ropes. “Can you walk?”
“Hell if I know, “ Matt said, rubbing his bloody wrists. “I haven’t tried to move my feet in days.”
“Humans,” the man sighed. He tossed Matt’s body over his shoulder and tromped back outside to the van waiting in the driveway. Carly jumped in just as her escort dumped Matt in the back. He shook his head at her and slammed the back doors shut. Climbing into the driver’s side, he looked into the back and motioned to the blanket in the corner. “It’s not much, but it’ll keep him warm. Knowing that Vamp’s temper, he’s more than likely got a lot of healing to do and unless he’s a were and doesn’t know it, he’s got a fever.” He shook his head again and put the van in drive. “Why you want average is beyond me.”
“Average is safe,” Carly shot back at him. “Average doesn’t use me. Average doesn’t expect me to read minds and manipulate their rivals. Average loves me for me. Not what I can do for him.”
“Whatever floats your boat, sugar,” he snorted. “Your loss.” As he turned onto the road, he turned up the radio, determined not to listen to the sappy reunion that was sure to come.
“How did you-”
Carly put her hand over his mouth and gestured toward the driver. “As much as I want to fall in your arms right now and have you tell me everything will be okay, I can’t. They respect strength. I need you to muster up as much as you can.” She looked at his battered body and smiled. “I’ll take care of you behind closed doors, but in front of them, you have to stand on your own two feet. I know it’s a lot to ask, but it’s critical.”
“To who?” he asked. He wasn’t mad, he just needed to know who’s tail was on the line if he screwed up. “You or me?”
“Both of us.” Carly laid the blanket over him and laid his head in her lap. “I told them I wouldn’t tell them another thing unless they agreed to go after you. They resisted at first, but when Alana sent her cop friend to check them out, they figured it was better to at least try to get on her good side.”
“Cop friend? Alana?”
“Chris,” she answered. “Apparently he knows where she is. He’s trying to get her away from Nicholas, but I’m not sure he’ll have much luck. She’s torn, Matt. She loves him, but she can’t wrap her mind around what he is. What he has to do to live.”
“He hasn’t turned her then?” Relief washed over him when Carly shook her head. Nicholas was a nice guy, but he wasn’t so sure he wanted Alana with him if it meant she had to change. “Where are they?”
“Chris won’t say. He’s afraid Ben will find out somehow and go after her.”
“So what’s the plan? How do we get out of this alive? All of us.”
“We deal with the weres first.” She glanced at the driver to make sure he wasn’t listening and leaned down to whisper in Matt’s ear. “Chris has agreed to turn a blind eye so they can have their little war with the understanding that the winning side help eradicate Ben altogether. They want him gone anyway so that wasn’t a hard sale.”
“What else?” He could hear worry in her voice.
“They want Nicholas gone too.”
Matt sat up, maybe too quickly. He shook off the dizziness and grabbed Carly’s wrist. “Dead gone or out of town gone?” Either way he stood to lose his little sister.
“Either. They want this territory to themselves.”
“Does Alana know?”
“No.” Her eyes met his. There was far more to this plan than she wanted to tell him now. “Chris is handling that. He’s planning to talk to Nicholas about it tonight. Alana doesn’t know that either.”
“She will when he shows up.”
“No, she won’t.” Carly cleared her throat as the van came to a stop. She couldn’t risk the driver overhearing any part of Chris’s plan.
“Just tell me she’s okay.”
“I can’t.” The truth was, Nicholas had blocked her from entering his mind. The last memory she’d seen was of him feeding off Alana while she slept.