Home > Catching Her (Savage Kings #2)

Catching Her (Savage Kings #2)
Author: Milly Taiden

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Carter

 

 

Carter King sat in the back of the darkened restaurant. The booth’s seats were plush and deep, and its velvety-slick burgundy-material walls were high enough to hide anyone. He looked into his drink, twirling the dark liquid around. The aroma tickled his shifter nose. It was pleasant and almost comforting, so he brought the glass up to his lips for a sip.

The bourbon was smooth and smoky on his tongue, and he held it in his mouth before swallowing, letting the momentary burn soothe him.

It was gone all too soon.

There wasn’t enough alcohol in the world to make the ache in his chest go away. Now, if he only knew why the hell he was feeling so terrible and so damn sad, it would be a whole lot better. That he couldn’t even figure out why he wasn’t feeling like himself really bugged him.

Carter King wasn’t used to not getting his way. He was used to the opposite: he would naturally get what he wanted, or he could convince people to do what he wanted. He had a silver tongue, and he could sell grass to an antelope. Being able to flash his blue eyes sure helped. They were his weapon of choice, along with his dimpled smiles.

Soon enough, he spotted his older brother, Weston, walking into the large dining room with a glower on his face, as was his custom. Not that they would actually be eating together. Weston still had a thing about food. He didn’t eat in front of other people as a rule. It was a throwback to their childhood hardships. Not that anyone actually knew where the hell that particular trait came from. Ever Carter had no clue, but he knew better than to ask.

“What’s up, you surly old man,” Carter greeted him.

He growled low at the usual comment and motioned for the waiter to bring over a drink. “Don’t start with me. I’m not in the mood.”

“When are you ever in any kind of good mood?” Carter teased. It was so damn easy to tease Weston, and though it usually made Carter feel better, tonight, it was dulled.

What the hell is wrong with me?

“We need to do something about this ridiculous plan,” Weston grumbled, sniffing the tumbler of bourbon the waiter brought him. Contrary to his usual habit, Weston didn’t down the drink like it was going out of style. He sniffed it with his eyes closed and then pushed it away.

Carter’s jaw was on the floor. “You really not gonna drink that?”

“No” was the curt answer.

“Well, don’t mind if I do.” Carter refilled his own glass with it and swung it back, nearly finishing it. The burn was good, but it was gone too quickly once again.

“Did you hear me? We need to put a stop to all of this nonsense.” Weston’s voice was low, rough, and every little bit the voice of an annoyed predator.

“You mean Mom, Elisa, and Zoe’s plan to find our mates?” Carter knew that was it, of course. He had been thinking about nothing else.

Maybe that’s why I’m so turned around, he thought to himself. But no. That couldn’t be it. He couldn’t be off the booze, food, and casual sex because his family members wanted to find his mate.

His melancholic mood had started a bit before then, hadn’t it? He was pretty sure it had. He convinced himself that was true.

“What can we do to stop Mom?”

Weston winced. “Anita is stubborn.”

Carter chuckled. “That’s definitely the pot calling the kettle black. We come by our stubbornness naturally. We get it from her.”

His brother didn’t like that. “Anita can’t have given us her stubbornness.” Even though Weston was thirty-two years old and had been adopted by Anita King when he was six years old, he still refused to call her by anything other than her first name. It was always Anita. Never Mom.

It hurt Carter to see his mother’s face fall when it happened, but it was nothing to the disappointment Mom must’ve felt. As always, Carter felt a bit protective of his mother. She might have adopted him when he was five, but she was the only mother he knew and remembered. More importantly, she was the only mother he cared to have. She was awesome … plotting to find their mates, notwithstanding.

“Can you believe Elisa agreed to push her birthday party six weeks to go along with this? It’s unbelievable!”

“I know,” Carter agreed. “I know, but what can we do?”

“Not go to the party.”

Carter winced. “Look, I’m all up for not finding my mate, but is missing our little sister’s eighteenth birthday party really the way to go? You know she and Roman will hunt us down if we don’t go.”

Their younger siblings, Roman and Elisa, had eleven years between them, but they were close. As close as Carter and Weston were.

“I don’t know, but it’s a plan. Maybe I’ll be out of the country by then.”

“But,” Carter stated, “you’re assuming that your mate will be at the party. Really, what are the chances of that? There are a whole lot of women out there in the world. Mom is good and probably one of the smartest people alive, but how will she find two mates for two sons? It would be insane odds.”

“If anyone can do it, it’ll be her.”

Carter groaned. “You’re right. But even at that, some shifters go through their whole lives never meeting their true mates. Why should we be so …” He stopped himself in the nick of time. He had just been about to say lucky. That wasn’t what he meant, was it? “Why should we be so unlucky?” The word tasted wrong on his tongue, like he hadn’t really meant it.

Weston arched a brow at him as if he had sensed the slip-up. “Well, what can we do? We need to find a plan. Make a pact. You and me. Right now. No matter what happens, if we meet our mate, we will walk away.”

Carter considered this for a few moments. He had heard from other shifters that the mate sense was very strong. That it was almost impossible to ignore the deep pull that attracted fated mates to each other. Would he be strong enough to resist it? He had no clue but making a promise of this magnitude without understanding and knowing the consequences felt more than a little foolish. Thankfully, Carter was always up for a little bit of foolishness.

“I don’t know if we could,” he finally said.

Weston rolled his eyes. “Shifters are a bunch of sentimentalists. There’s no way it’s actually as bad as they claim. Come on. We can stay away from a couple of women.”

It was on the tip of Carter’s tongue to ask his brother what was so wrong with finding his mate. Carter knew his reasons. He didn’t feel ready to be tied down, and he didn’t know how to be a one-woman kind of guy. He had never done that in his life. He preferred to date around and keep his options open. Besides, he was a pretty competitive man, which often translated to attracting the wrong kind of woman.

He didn’t even know what the right kind of woman would be for him. He was mildly curious.

That pressure in his chest returned, and he tried to ignore it. He knew that no amount of scotch or bourbon would erase it.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. We don’t know what we’re up against.”

“Sure we do,” Weston cut in. “It’s just fate.”

Carter laughed despite himself. “Just fate, huh? And who are we to go against fate?”

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