Claiming Their Mate

By: Vella Day

Chapter One


Halfway up the stairs of the home Chelsea Wilson planned to show, scratching noises echoed through the downstairs.

She leaned over the railing and shouted, “Hello?”

When she didn’t receive a response, she shrugged and headed back to the foyer, where the sound continued. She called out again but received no response this time either. Someone had to be here.

As she walked through the dining room, she made a mental note to inform her clients about the white wainscoting on the walls and the rich blue and white wallpaper accent wall.

She moved from the dining room to the living room and toward the back of the house to find the source of the scratching. Her gaze was so focused on her destination, she tripped when her foot hit something hard. “What the fuck?”

She looked down. “Jesus Christ.” Her heart shot straight to her throat and her muscles locked.

A human leg.

She swallowed the moisture in her mouth and slapped a hand on her chest. It was Jeffrey Wendlick, one of the realtors at her company. “Jeffrey?” Her breath whooshed out.

Do something. She dropped to her knees to check for a pulse. He was positioned chest down, but his head was turned to the side. His mouth was agape and his eyes were wide open, implying he might already be dead. Her own pulse reached the danger zone.

Only now did the unpleasant metallic smell of blood reach her. A smashed cell phone lay in the fresh pool of blood next to his hand. As she reached for his throat to check his pulse, hoping that by some miracle he was still alive, she spotted the huge gash across his throat. “Oh, my God.” His throat had been ripped open. Bile raced to her mouth, and she crab-walked backward.

Regaining her balance, she stood and stepped away from Jeffrey’s corpse. She kept her gaze on him, hoping if she looked hard enough, he’d move.

Nails scratching the tile in the back broke through her reeling thoughts.

Get the hell out of here.

If she didn’t, she might end up like Jeffrey. Blanking her mind to his gruesome death, she sped toward the front. A back door banged shut. That couldn’t be a dog. Panic clawed through her body. She reached the main entrance and rushed outside, then hustled down the steps. Damned high heels made moving quickly impossible. She kicked off her shoes, picked them up, and ran. Her mind spun.

Damn. She’d forgotten to call 9-1-1. Once she was safely locked in her car and out of there, she’d advise the cops about the murder.

Her car was parked nearby, across and down the street. She glanced slightly behind her to see if any vehicles were coming. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a man running from behind the house. All she could think was that this was the guy who’d murdered poor Jeffrey.

“Hey, bitch!” he shouted.

Her body froze. She spun to judge how far away the threat was. The man stood a good thirty feet from her.

Remember what he looks like so you can tell the cops.

Under six feet, dark hair, fairly dark skin.Shit. That wasn’t good enough. She dragged her gaze down his body and spotted the gun in his hand.

No!

Adrenaline swamped her. Her eyes hurt and her mouth turned sand dry. She forced her feet to move, but sludge had replaced her blood. You have to go.

Just as she twisted to run for the car, a painfully hot sensation pierced her arm. Red oozed up from a hole in her forearm and bile tinged her mouth. Holy fuck. The bastard shot her. She stole a quick glance at her assailant, who was heading straight at her.

Too many options confronted her and yet not one seemed plausible. Knowing she’d never make it to her car before he caught her, she ran the other way. She headed behind the house and prayed for either a way out or a weapon to bash in his head if he tried to attack her again. Her arm throbbed and her thoughts splintered.

Go!

She dropped her shoes and made it to the backyard, hoping he wouldn’t follow her.

Right, and you own this week’s winning lottery ticket.

Think. A small shed sat in a fenced area in the far back corner, which made it off-limits.

“I’m coming for you. You can’t escape.” His singsong voice rattled in her brain.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

No one was around to help her. As she gulped in mouthfuls of air, all she could think to do was race to the other side of the house and hope to emerge behind him. With each step, her legs felt like she was lifting iron. The image of Jeffrey’s ripped throat reminded her how much danger she was in. She immediately clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle her scream. Her nostrils flared.

Once she made it to the east side of the house, her gaze bounced between a tree she might hide behind and the hedge nestled against the house. The man’s thrashing and obnoxious chants told her he was nearby. Her arm hurt and her stomach roiled and threatened to erupt. Quick. Just hide. She ducked behind the thorny bush, scrunched low, and labored to control her loud breathing.

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