Ride: Episode Twelve
RIDE: FINALE – EPISODE TWELVE
Maelíosa’s his mate, but she’s in trouble. He’s so screwed…
Sage is between a rock and a hard place. Just when he thinks he’s found happiness, a hate group rocks the púca shape shifter clan. He’s out of time and out of options when a rescue goes wrong. Will he save his sexy, sassy, curvy mate in this explosive series finale?
Reader Note: This book is for those who are 18+. It contains explicit language, sexual situations, and one helluva cliffhanger. However, if you like curvy shifter romance, a stallion who can’t resist his curvy woman, and a dash of humor, then this is the story for you. Please read these installments in order. Enjoy!
Maelíosa struggled to open her eyes, but the intense pain in her head weighed her down. She frowned—this wasn’t right, it didn’t feel like her big, comfortable bed. Her mouth was dry and tasted coppery, like she’d been bleeding. It took her a moment to realise that her hands were asleep. And somehow she wasn’t able to lift them from her sides.
Her eyes flew open. She was in a dark, dimly lit room that smelled dank. She discovered with relief that she was still dressed. Thank fuck for small favours. Maelíosa swore that when she got her hands on the arsehole who’d knocked her out, she was going to bash his head with a brick. See how much he liked it.
Everything came rushing back to her: Cyn’s kidnapping, Fallon going ballistic and chasing after her. Maelíosa, Sage, Kieran, Tomas, and Niall all chasing after him. And then those stupid communication portals made of plastic. Bloody human devices—they never worked right. The plan had gone arseways, that was for sure. Some chancer knocked her over the head and hauled her here, and now they’d have to find and rescue two instead of one. Bloody brilliant! She laughed out loud.
Maelíosa’s head snapped up. It was difficult, but she managed to turn sideways. Her whole body ached, pins and needles shooting up her arms and legs. She blinked. “Cyn?”
The room was poorly lit, but if she wasn’t mistaken, Cyn was sitting in a chair next to her.
Cyn chuckled. “You’ve been out for ages. I expect you’ve come to save me and all that rubbish?”
“We tried. Fat lot of good it did you. I’m really not sure what happened. I was waiting outside for a chance to sneak in, and then my…” She struggled to remember the name of the blasted human technology which had failed her brilliantly at the last moment. “My walkie-walkie broke. But I’m not sure how the damn thing even worked to begin with.”
Cyn snickered. “You mean a walkie-talkie.”
There was an awkward beat of silence.
“And this is just grand, isn’t it?” Cyn cracked a wry grin. “The one person who hates me is here to save my bloody guts!”
Maelíosa sighed and tried in vain to pull her hands free from the ropes around her wrists. “I don’t hate you. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We had a plan…all of us. And something went terribly wrong.”
The taste of fear in her mouth grew stronger. Of course, she was happy Cyn was alive and well (aside from being cuffed to a chair), but she was worried about Sage. Her mare didn’t like being separated from her mate any more than she liked being tied up. Sage was a bloody SEAL—he should be fine—but she couldn’t shake the idea that something bad was about to happen. After all, she’d been caught unaware with a strong blow to the head. What if their plan had completely failed, and those Only Human arseholes killed Sage and all of the rest of them? Her heart contracted as if it were squeezed in a vice—she couldn’t handle losing her mate, her father, her brother, and two of her dearest friends all at once. If this whole thing fell apart…
Cyn coughed. “I don’t know how long I’ve been down here. It feels like ages. And these bloody gits upstairs are hell-bent on killing Fallon and destroying the clan.”
“I’d like to see them try,” Maelíosa said, deliberately making her voice stronger. Even if she didn’t feel particularly strong, she’d never let on, not to Cyn, or to those fucking cowards.
“I think they already have,” Cyn said.
“They don’t know who they’ve picked a fight with. Our lot will argue and fight with one another, but watch ’em come at us, and see them all unite.” Maelíosa shook her head. “And Fallon is the strongest of them all.”
Cyn chuckled. “I know. And I can’t believe he let you all come with him!”
Maelíosa licked her lips. They were already cracked and dry, a sure sign of dehydration. Though her mare was prancing around her, she could tell that they were both in need of water and eventually food. The basement had a sour, acrid smell—part urine, part stale sweat. Maelíosa shuddered at the thought of how they’d been treating Cyn. She hoped like hell that Cyn had kept quiet about her condition.
“Truth is,” Maelíosa said after a pause, “he didn’t let us come. He took off after he announced that you’d been taken, and refused our help because he didn’t want to risk your safety. They told him they’d kill you if he didn’t come alone.”
“Of course, that’s Da’s way. I knew his stubborn arse wouldn’t give two licks what we had to say.” She sighed heavily.
Cyn laughed. “I bet.” She grew quiet for a moment, and then sighed. “And what, you lot were forced to track him?”
Maelíosa could practically hear the smile in Cyn’s voice, her exasperated pride over what her mate had done, even though she couldn’t make out her features very well.
“Aye. And Sage used his military knowledge to figure out where they were holding you. We met up with Fallon before he stormed the place on his own. He was prowling around, waiting for a chance to sneak in.” Maelíosa snorted. “You should’ve seen him. It was something else. He had a spear and a crossbow. Can’t tell you the last time he’s actually had to use one, but mind you, that didn’t stop him.”
“A crossbow? Blimey. He wasn’t bleeding kidding, was he?”
Maelíosa’s throat tightened. “Not at all.”
“Maelíosa, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that Nathan would kidnap me like this… Thing is, I’d just gotten out of a meeting with my agent. Nathan called, said he wanted to apologise. I actually fell for it! Can you believe that bollocks?” Cyn shook her head in the semi-dark. “And as soon as I was on my way there, some arsehole grabbed me and threw me in a van.”
A lump formed in her throat. Maelíosa wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting—some kind of a small operation? A group with a few radicals and a dangerous mission? These people were deadly, and organised. They’d clearly been holding Cyn for a reason. Her mare whinnied uneasily, and Maelíosa shifted against the bonds holding her to the chair.
“You know this isn’t your fault. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Besides…” Maelíosa said, drawing herself up as tall as she could against the ropes.
“It’s no use. I already tried squeezing out of these cuffs.”
“You’re breeding with a new babby. My wee little brother or sister.” Maelíosa whispered. “And that’s definitely a reason to get us out of here. We need to make sure the wee one is—”
“Shut it,” Cyn hissed. “I don’t want them knowing—”
“Why’dyou think I’m whispering?” Maelíosa hissed back at her.
Suddenly there was movement at the top of the stairs, and a man appeared. Maelíosa held her breath as a portly, middle-aged bloke tottered down the steps.
“Cyn,” the man cooed. “Cyn, I had no idea! Why didn’t you tell me?”
Nausea bubbled up inside of Maelíosa until she thought she’d be sick. What had she done? And how long had he watched and listened to them, creeping in the darkness? The man walked toward them, and for a moment she was afraid he’d turn on her. But what made her even sicker was that he ignored her completely. It was like Cyn was the only person in the room.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Nathan,” Cyn said in a strangled voice. “I haven’t kept anything from you.”
Even though Cyn was one of the strongest women Maelíosa had ever known, she could tell that her stepmother was inches away from tears.
“I didn’t know you were pregnant,” Nathan said.
Nathan put a hand on Cyn’s shoulder. Maelíosa cringed—if she wasn’t roped to a chair, she’d have knocked him out. But Cyn shrugged off his unwanted touch. She had to admit her stepmother could handle the prick on her own.
Nathan backed away, withdrawing his hand. “If I’d known…”
Cyn laughed bitterly. “Like it would’ve made a bloody difference. Nathan, you don’t give a fuck about my safety. If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t have let those arseholes chuck me in the back of a van.”
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t know,” Nathan cried, seemingly oblivious to her words.
“Nathan, shut it. You did know, or you should have known, what was right. But we both know it wouldn’t have made a bloody difference. You’re so hell-bent on hurting Fallon you nicked me up off the streets anyway!”
Nathan paled, his chest heaving. “Cyn, please… I love you.”
He sounded bloody pathetic. Maelíosa didn’t know why he thought Cyn being pregnant would change anything. His actions were crazy no matter how you spelled it out. There was something seriously wrong with him if he couldn’t see that, and it kind of scared Maelíosa.
Cyn twisted away from Nathan in her chair. “I don’t believe that.”
“You need to let us go, Nathan. And we’ll think about going easy on you,” Maelíosa said sharply.
He completely ignored her. The greasy, unkempt man stared at Cyn; his eyes were pleading and hungry. Maelíosa realised with growing horror that he was obsessed with her stepmother. Maybe they could use that to their advantage, but it could also be a huge obstacle to them getting out of there alive.
“How could you say that?” His voice was hushed and dark, like a man praying for his life. “I love you so much.”
“Then let me go,” Cyn said wearily. “You really need to let us go, Nathan.”
Nathan ran a hand through his dishevelled hair. “You don’t get it. You really don’t understand how I feel about you or why you’re here. I did this to save you from yourself, Cyn. You don’t belong with that beast. You never did.”
“I guess I don’t understand,” Cyn said, her eyes cold.
Nathan shook his head. He turned toward Maelíosa, as if seeing her for the first time. Then he sighed, backed out of the room, and trudged up the stairs.
When he was gone, Maelíosa strained against her ropes. “I can’t get these bloody things loose.”
“Can’t you shift?”
“I wish… Normally I’d be strong enough, but I think that eejit gave me a concussion. My mare can’t seem to push out of it,” Maelíosa said, feeling like a huge failure. “I’m sorry, Cyn.”
Cyn waved her hand in the air dismissively. “I was hoping for some kind of magic, but we’ll figure out how to escape anyway.”
Maelíosa nodded. “Aye.”
Cyn shifted, jangling her arm against the chair. “This bloody cuff is killing my wrist.”
Maelíosa swallowed. She was hurting, too, but somehow it seemed unfair to compare her pain to a pregnant woman’s—and one who’d been in the basement for much longer. Still, her head ached.
Maelíosa gritted her teeth and threw her full weight against the ropes. “I’ll get us out of here. I promise.”
The ropes strained, but didn’t break. She worked harder, desperately trying to free herself, until she was panting. A coat of sweat appeared on her brow. She twisted and struggled at the ropes, knowing it was all in vain. Even if she was able to wiggle out of the ropes, she had no idea how to help Cyn. Metal cuffs were a lot stronger than some manky old rope. Maelíosa was wheezing from the exertion, and stopped to rest for a moment. She laughed out loud at the impossible predicament.
“What’s so fucking funny?” Cyn asked.
“Me and Felicity were in a similar situation with that Archer arse. We’ll be okay,” Maelíosa said.
“Whatever you say,” Cyn said bitterly. “I’m all ears.”