Buy/KU link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BGRJR4L
Book #2 in the Heart of a Jaguar series.
(Book #1 is Paws and Claws)
What lengths will a corrupt Alpha go to get what he wants?
Beaten, broken, and left in agony by his Alpha, jaguar shifter Delta Bert Morris is nothing but a pawn Alpha Hogan uses to blackmail Bert’s mate. Helpless and terrified, Bert doesn’t see a way out of the situation Hogan has created. He fears his mate will give into Hogan’s demands.
What will a delta sacrifice for his mate?
After seeing the video of Bert’s torture, Delta Alvin Hall is desperate to save him. Following Hogan’s commands, he tries to kidnap his Alpha’s mate, forfeiting his honor in the process. He fails spectacularly. But instead of killing him outright for his betrayal, his Alpha involves the Shifter Council to help rescue Bert.
What will the cost be?
Things go horribly wrong, and the price Bert pays is horrifying. Losing control of his jaguar, Bert shifts and takes off. When animal instinct suppresses the human spirit, the shifter often loses himself.
A jamboree destroyed by an Alphas greed, a shifter lost in his animal, and another shifter who sacrificed everything. Can Alvin and Bert find their way back to one another? And if they can, what kind of future could they possibly have together?
*Trigger Warning: Contains some scenes of violent content
Pain exploded along the side of Bert’s face. He dropped to his knees, curling into a ball in a useless attempt to protect his head.
Dun, one of Alpha Hogan’s betas, paced around him, laughing softly. The sound chilled him. Even though shifters ran hot, lately all Bert felt was a seeping coldness. Being stripped of his shirt didn’t help—not that it was much more than a rag. He fought not to whimper, but the agony from the relentless beatings were taking a toll on his body. He desperately needed to shift to heal his wounds, but he couldn’t because Alpha Hogan had commanded him not to, the ruthless son of a bitch.
Alpha Hogan’s voice splashed against Bert like sewage, hot and nasty, and he recoiled. More pain flared through his body from the movement. He sucked in a breath and promptly started coughing. Bert tried to open his eyes, but one was already swollen shut. Hastily he swiped at the blood dripping into the other and focused on his Alpha. Goddess, how he hated that man and his betas.
“I always knew you were weak, but this is beyond ridiculous.” Hogan leaned back in the rickety wooden chair, a curl of smoke rising above his head. He puffed on the stogie once more and blew the filthy-smelling smoke in Bert’s direction.
Gagging, Bert braced a hand on the floor and tried to force himself into a sitting position. Dun calmly strode in front of him and stomped on his hand. Something cracked. Bert yelled, collapsing once again, cradling his hand. Scared to see the damage but unable not to look, he glanced at it. Oh fuck. One finger was bent awkwardly, and he moaned. His hands were how he made a living. If he couldn’t work, then what?
Slowly Bert pushed himself up again. Damned if he’d lay curled up at his Alpha’s feet, whimpering. “Alpha—”
“Shut up!” Dun viciously kicked him in the ribs with his steel-toe boot.
Bert howled, wrapping his arms around his body. Black spots danced before his one working eye as a rib broke. Panting from the hot, stabbing torment, he lifted his head and glared at his Alpha. That earned him a kick to the back from the other beta, Wheaton.
Bert fell to the ground, his body screaming. He seriously began to wonder if they planned on killing him. There was only so much even he could take, especially as he was a delta and two betas were beating him. Being unable to shift didn’t help. Bert spit blood on the shack’s dirt floor.
“It’s really too bad your mate is being so stubborn.” Alpha Hogan sighed. “Makes you wonder just how much he cares about you, doesn’t it?”
The slimy bastard. Alvin’s care, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with it.
Bert glanced at his Alpha. The maniacal gleam in Hogan’s eyes terrified him down to his toes. Alpha Hogan was insane, greedy, and frantic for money to save his failing jamboree.
“Please, please allow me to shift,” Bert begged from the floor, tossing his pride out the window. He was having trouble breathing. What if that broken rib had punctured a lung?
“Unfortunately we’re not quite finished.” Alpha Hogan stood, then nodded at the two betas. “As I said, Alvin is still resisting me. I informed him of what I required—nicely, I might add—but maybe this will help him understand how serious I am.”
Wheaton grabbed Bert. Hogan’s words terrified him, and Bert fought, not that it did any good. Wheaton slammed him into the chair Alpha Hogan just vacated and held him down. Out of the corner of his good eye, Bert saw Dun walk to a corner of the shack and pick up a coil of rope.
The sadistic smile on Dun’s face damn near stopped Bert’s heart. He struggled in Wheaton’s hold, but the pain and being half-starved had weakened him. Even though he knew it would do no good, he debated shouting for help. No one dared to disturb Alpha Hogan and his betas when they were in this horrible little hovel. They all knew what went on in here.
“No!” Bert screamed, fighting harder against Wheaton. “I told you everything.” He hadn’t wanted to, but they literally beat the information out of him.
“Indeed you have.” Alpha Hogan glanced over to the scarred table set off to the side. “That thing still recording?”
“Yes, Alpha,” Dun answered as he approached Bert. “We have video of this.”
“What?” Horrified, Bert followed Alpha Hogan’s gaze. There on the table was an old tablet that had been propped up. They taped my beating?
“Should make for interesting viewing, don’t you think, Bert? Maybe this will convince Alvin,” Alpha Hogan said.
Panic flooded Bert at the implication. “Oh goddess, no! You can’t mean to show Alvin that video! You bastard! Do you know what that’ll do to him?”
“Get his attention, I’m hoping. I’m sure Delta Alvin will appreciate the seriousness of the situation after viewing it.” Alpha Hogan laughed with Dun, ignoring Bert’s agonized look. “But….” Alpha Hogan glanced at Bert and flashed a tight-lipped smiled. “Just in case he doesn’t fully grasp it, we’re going to give your mate all the—shall we say—motivation he needs.”
Heart pounding in terror, Bert fought viciously, but his body had nothing left to give. Wheaton jerked his arms behind him, and Bert’s head spun from the pain. Dun wound the rope around his chest and through the open back of the chair until he was securely tied.
“Make sure he screams. Loudly too.” Indifferent, Alpha Hogan studied Bert. “Delta Alvin needs to understand exactly who he’s dealing with.”
The first kick from Dun’s steel-toe boot to his right knee robbed Bert of breath. Agony exploded, and he couldn’t think for the torment bleeding through his veins. The pain was unlike anything he’d ever experienced. Jabbing sharp knives into it would’ve felt better.
His body shuddered. Even though his hands were tied behind his back, they strained to reach forward to protect his knee. The roughness of the rope bit into the tender skin on his wrists as he thrashed. Gods, they’d tied his hands so tight that they were already going numb.
Finally his lungs unlocked, and he fought not to scream. He wouldn’t give the bastards the pleasure. He damn sure wouldn’t contribute to the horror Alvin would go through when he saw the video of Bert being beaten.
“I’m not hearing anything, boys,” Alpha Hogan drawled.
Wheaton punched Bert in the side of the head, and Bert’s head jerked from the impact, his vision blurring. Dun kicked Bert again—to the same kneecap. Tears ran down Bert’s face, but he growled instead of crying out, still refusing to scream for Alpha Hogan. Fuck if he’d give that insane bastard what he wanted.
But by the tenth kick, his kneecap shattered.
Bert started screaming.