Fierce Obsessions

Page 30

By midnight the only people still around were he, Riley, her uncles, Lucy, the Alphas, and Hugh. Everyone was smashed, except Tao, who hadn't touched a drop of tequila.
Lucy slammed down her glass and lifted her hands. "I'm done," she slurred. "You win, Ri."
"Doesn't she always?" grumbled Max, resting his chin in his hand.
"Lucy, come dance with me, sweetheart," urged Ruby, who'd been swaying in the center of the tables for a while now.
Lucy's brows drew together. "But there's no music."
"We can't let a little thing like that stop us." Ruby dragged her daughter out of her chair. "I'll sing."
"Oh God, no, don't sing," Sage begged his mate.
Ruby planted her hands on her hips. "Are you saying I don't have a good singing voice?"
Sage lifted his glass. "Woman, you're tone-deaf and you know it."
Hugh laughed, which earned him a scowl from Ruby.
"That was mean, Dad," Lucy told him. "I'm not saying it isn't true, but it was totally and utterly-" Her body jerked just as a thunderous sound cracked through the air.
Tao knocked Riley onto the ground and covered her body with his, shouting, "Everybody down!" The ravens dove to the floor, knocking glasses everywhere. Sage and Max army-crawled their way to Lucy. Ruby was already there, putting pressure on Lucy's chest, her hands red with blood. Shit. Feeling Riley wriggle under him, he hissed, "No, stay still."
"But Lucy-"
"Will be all right," Ethan assured her. "Max is with her now; he'll help."
If he'd been on his own territory, Tao might have risked trying to get to Lucy, knowing Taryn could heal him if need be. He'd never realized just how much he truly relied on Taryn's healing skills until then. "Be still for me, Riley," he growled.
She punched the ground. "I need to check Lucy!"
"What we need is to get her inside." Luckily, the ravens were already well ahead of Tao on that one. Sage, Ruby, and Hugh did their best to shield Max as he carried Lucy into the main cabin. Tao nodded at Ethan, who then helped him provide cover for Riley as they followed the others inside.
In the den Ethan went straight to Max, who was leaning over the sofa and using his limited healing skills on a half-aware Lucy. Ruby paced at her side, frantic, while Sage yelled orders into his cell phone to "find that bastard." Just moments before, they'd all been swaying and slurring. Nothing like a shooting to sober everyone up.
Finally Max straightened, sweat beading his forehead. "The bleeding's stopped. The bullet missed her heart and doesn't seem to have done any internal damage. She'll probably be asleep for a while."
"Thank you, Max." Stroking her daughter's hair, Ruby looked accusingly at her mate. "You told me you were sure the human was long gone." Her voice shook with suppressed rage.
"We all thought that," said Sage. "Hugh and the enforcers were sure he was nowhere near our territory."
"Obviously they were wrong," Ruby clipped.
"We searched everywhere," Hugh told her. "Every area, every cave, every possible hiding place you can think of. There wasn't even a trail to follow."
Ruby whirled to face Tao. "I want the name of this human who has assassins shooting my daughter!"
Tao lifted his chin. "I don't think it was him."
Everyone swung to face Tao, their eyes widening.
"Excuse me?" asked Ruby.
"It makes absolutely no sense that he would ask someone to shoot your daughter," said Tao.
Hugh exchanged a look with Sage. "Maybe he did it to get at Riley."
Tao shook his head at the Beta. "He shot at Riley to get at me. Or at least I thought he did. There's no reason for him to think that shooting Lucy or any other member of this flock would hurt me. The guy's brother is dying, and he has it in his head that my Alpha female can help. He's pissed at me because he feels I didn't heed him. Does it make sense that he would have someone shoot at Riley as a warning to my pack? Yes, it does. Does it make sense that he would have someone shoot Lucy? None at all."
Ruby clutched the collar of her sweater. "He might mistakenly think Lucy means something to you."
"And why would he think that?" asked Tao. "I've spent no real time with Lucy. What's more, she's no one to my Alphas-they're the people he wants the attention of, not you."
Hugh rubbed the back of his head. "Who else would shoot at Riley and Lucy?"
Tao raised a brow. "You don't think it's odd that, out of all the things this person targeting them could have done, they shot at them? As I understand it, there was only ever one other time a gun was used against your flock members."
Riley closed her eyes, not liking where she suspected he was going with this. She took a deep breath, trying to calm her raven.
"Wade's dead," Ruby whispered.
"But maybe someone feels he didn't finish his job," said Tao. "Lucy was supposed to be at that party, wasn't she?"
Sage nodded, brows knitted. "She was on her way there when the shooting started."
Ruby jutted out her chin. "No, this is totally unrelated."
"Where did Wade get the gun?" Tao asked Sage.
"We figured he stole it from one of the humans who go hunting around here," replied Sage. "But the person who shot Lucy and Riley used a rifle, Wade used a shotgun. He dumped it outside Alec's house before he shifted and flew off into the mountains. We destroyed it."
"They're likely using a rifle because it's better for shooting long-distance targets." Tao folded his arms. "Just because it's not the exact same weapon doesn't mean I'm wrong."
Ruby looked from Sage to Tao. "You can't seriously think one of the flock did this."
"Why not?" asked Tao. He understood why she wouldn't want to believe it, but he wouldn't placate her-they all needed to face the facts so they could take appropriate action. As long as they were blaming the wrong person, no one was safe.
Ruby opened her mouth, but no words came out. She shook her head again. "I won't believe it."
"Whatever way you look at this," began Tao, "it makes no real sense that the human would target your daughter. Riley was right there at the table. He could have just as easily shot her"-the thought made his stomach roll-"but he chose not to. Lucy wasn't near Riley, so he couldn't have accidentally shot her. I don't think it's a coincidence that two people who should have technically died at the shooting are now being targeted with a weapon similar to what would have killed them that night." He turned to Riley, who looked a little shell-shocked. "Who else should have been there?"
"Um, Cynthia. Apparently she had a 'wardrobe crisis' or something." Riley looked to Sage for confirmation, and the Alpha nodded.
"Duncan should have been there too," said Hugh. "And Sawyer."
"Why weren't they?" Tao asked.
Hugh shrugged. "I don't know about Duncan; you'd have to ask him."

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