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Accepting His Human

By:Charlie Richards

Accepting His Human
Charlie Richards

       Wolves of Stone Ridge Four



To all those who love shifters as much as I do!





Chapter One


rake Whitton strode out of the building, fighting back the urge to run. Man, those guys give me the heebie jeebies. If he D

didn't need the grant money so bad, he would have told them no after the  first meeting. But it was tough to find anyone willing to front money  to a crypto zoologist, and one thought to be eccentric at that.

Maybe he should walk away. It wasn't like he needed to do research to  survive. He'd fallen back on his teaching degree last year after the  critics tore apart his paper on the existence of the chupacabra. He  should have known better than to publish something so controversial.

Drake rubbed a hand over his lean face, realizing he'd lost weight since  taking this grant from the Crystal Lake Corporation. Their schedule for  results was pretty aggressive, and Drake often found it difficult to  find time, if he even remembered, to eat. And getting enough sleep at  night? Forget it. He was lucky if he managed four hours.

Letting out a sigh, he lifted the key fob and pressed a button. The  lights to his hatchback Ford Focus blinked, and he heard a muted click,  the noise that meant he was pushing the button to unlock an already  unlocked car. Odd. He felt certain he'd locked it.

Drake glanced around warily but saw nothing amiss. He was the only one  in the parking lot. Rolling his shoulders, he tried to relieve the  tension. He continued to sweep his gaze over the area as he climbed into  his car. After putting the 1




keys in the ignition, Drake fastened his seatbelt and started the  vehicle. He put the car in reverse and looked in the rear view mirror,  checking for traffic that he knew wasn't there.

His eyes widened as he focused on the gun.

"Drive," the man lying across his tiny backseat ordered.

Drake's jaw dropped open, and he struggled to breathe.

"Just drive and you won't get hurt." The rasping order of the gunman came again.

Nodding quickly, he headed out of the parking lot. "W-where do I need to  take you, sir?" Drake managed to squeak out after several moments of  tense silence. Yeah, that sounded so un-manly, but he was a college  professor and scientist, not a courageous man.

"Grady," his armed hitchhiker wheezed.

It was then that Drake noticed the metallic scent of blood filling the  small car. Another look in the mirror showed the bruising covering the  man's face and the dark, dried blood caking his arms. His eyes widened  even more. What had happened to this man? "Is your name Grady?" For a  second the man just stared at him, and Drake worried he'd managed to  anger him.

The man shook his head slowly and said, "Need to get to Detective Grady Stryker."

The man's words were slow and deliberate, as if each word was an effort.  "Detective Grady Stryker?" At the man's slow nod, Drake couldn't stop a  smile, or the nervous laugh.

That's odd. Why would a kidnapper want to get to a cop?

Hopefully this Grady fellow wasn't crooked. "Okay," Drake said softly.  "Just relax. I'll find Detective Stryker for you." His words seemed to  soothe the man because he eased back onto the seat and let out a sigh.  Drake worried his lip, eyeing his uninvited, and evidently severely  injured, passenger. What on earth happened to him? Should I take him to  my condo? If he were to find this detective, he'd need to get 2




online and do a search, and it wasn't safe to use his phone and drive. Hopefully, this guy wouldn't be too far away. Or maybe …

"Do you know Detective Stryker's phone number?" His inquiry received no  response. On a straight stretch of road, he took a long look in his  mirror and realized the man had passed out, either from exhaustion or  from his injuries, Drake didn't know. Okay. My condo it is.

Fifteen minutes later had him driving through the gate of his secured  community. He hurriedly parked his Focus in his garage and hit the  button to close the garage door, locking them inside the cavernous room.  If he could get the gun away from the man and then get online, maybe he  could locate the detective and get some answers, or he could drive back  out of the garage and to the nearest police station.

Another look in the mirror at the severely injured man had Drake opening  the door and shoving his seat forward. He sucked in a breath as he got  his first good look at the stranger. Short dark hair was matted with  blood, and dark, square facial features were obscured by bruises, scabs,  and a bushy beard. Even in sleep, the man clutched a rough, gray,  military style blanket around his body. The arm he could see, the one  holding the handgun, was pale, a chafing line around the wrist  indicating confinement, and needle marks.                       
       
           



       

Crap! Is he a druggie?

Having no way of knowing, he carefully eased the weapon out of the  unresponsive man's fingers. Not knowing anything about guns, he set it  on the floor and used a foot to push it under his car. Then he reached  forward and pressed his fingers to the man's neck. Relief filled him  when he found a pulse, weak, but it was there.

Drake pulled out his blackberry and started a search. He found a  Detective Grady Stryker who was a homicide officer commissioned out of  Stone Ridge, a town a little over an 3




hour from Colin City, where Drake lived and worked.

Noting the number, he entered it into his phone and pushed send.

He crossed his fingers for luck, praying the man would answer. A glance  at his watch showed him it was already nearing ten-thirty at night.  Cringing at having to call anyone this late, Drake worried his lip and  eyed the prone form still in his car.

A deep voice answered on the fourth ring. "Stryker here."

"Detective Grady Stryker?" Drake asked warily.

"Hello? Anyone there?"

Drake frowned. "Is this Detective Grady Stryker?" he asked, a little louder.

"Fuck, I can't hear anyone. Piece of shit." He heard the deep voice growl into the phone.

"Give me that," another man said, his voice faint enough that Drake  realized he must have been standing right next to the detective. "Hold  on," the second man said, his voice much clearer.

Drake knew the stranger now spoke into the phone, to him.

"You gotta stop playing with the buttons, stud. You screwed with the volume again."

Drake's brows shot up. Stud? What on earth? Seconds later, he heard the tenor again.

"You still there?"

"Yes," Drake managed to answer, thoroughly confused.

"Good. Hang on."

"Stryker here." The deep bass voice sounded into the phone again, this time with a hint of irritation.

"Are you … are you Detective Grady Stryker?" Drake asked, suddenly hesitant.

There was a short silence, before, "Yeah. Who is this?"

"My name is Professor Drake Whitton. I picked up 4




someone who says he's looking for you." Drake stared at the injured man as he spoke, willing the man to wake up. He didn't.

"Who?"

Well, that was the million-dollar question, wasn't it? How to answer …   "Um. I don't know his name. He kinda … well … I gave him a ride, and he  passed out in the back. He's injured. There's bruising on his face and  blood on his arms."

"Shit!" the detective snarled. Hushed voices murmured in the background,  this time too quiet for the sensitive phone to pick up and pass on.  Finally, he heard, "Does he have dark hair and eyes? Stands about six  foot?"

"Uh … " Drake swept his gaze over the man. "He has dark hair. I didn't  notice his eyes, and he's lying down, so I don't know his height."  Before the detective could say anything else, Drake said, "Look. He's  pretty beat up. I think I should take him to a hospital. Maybe you could  meet me there." The next long pause made him twitch nervously. What if  the detective thought he was the one who beat the guy up?

Of course, one look at him, and the guy would know that wasn't even a  remote possibility. Drake was five-foot-nine with light chocolate skin,  thanks to his half African American, half Swedish father, wore glasses,  and was skinny, not lithe or tone or any of those flattering ways of  saying someone was thin. He had to work to weigh more than one hundred  twenty pounds, and women were more interested in getting some meat on  his bones than dating him, which was good, since Drake was gay, very,  very gay. He couldn't imagine what he'd do with a woman if she ended up  interested.

"Are you near Colin City or Sugar Creek?" The deep voice interrupted his stray musings.

"Yes. Colin City."

5




"Take him to Colin City Hospital. Know where that is?"

"Yes."

"Ask for Doctor Carmichael. I'm going to call and tell the doc he's coming. Can you do that?"

"Yes." Oops! Now I feel like a broken record, better say something else.  "I'm not too far from there. I'll have your friend there in about ten  minutes or so."

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