Caught Beast Mate (Beast Mates Book 4)

By: Milana Jacks

Chapter One


A steaming pot of God knows what simmered on the stove. My stomach growled in protest at my new vegetarian diet, but I wouldn’t eat the meat that Hasel, the beast matriarch, had prepared if it were the last food on Earth. I shook off my backpack and dropped it on the floor. This early in the morning, everyone went about their business, which made it a perfect time for me to go about mine.

From the bottom cupboard near the stove, I got three wooden sticks and put them in my bag on top of the red cloth Momma Jo, the human matriarch, had given me. Every morning, Hasel made fresh bread, so I threw yesterday’s bread in the pig bucket, broke off a piece from the new one, and tucked it in the pack’s side pocket. My water bottle needed topping up. If something were to happen to me out there in the desert, having water made the difference between life and death. I filled the bottle from the drinking water bucket.

After half of us humans had gotten sick with vomiting and diarrhea, hunters, beasts that settled in the community, dug for cleaner water and put purifiers in it. Beasts seemed less worried about clean water than we were. Perhaps they had better immunity. I didn’t know, but I was on my own, and these past months had taught me how to survive. Packed and ready, I headed out.

“Hey, Sienna,” the menace of my life said and propped his hand on his hip. An eight-year-old boy of four foot ten, with blond hair and blue eyes, Cole wouldn’t leave me alone. At first, I thought it was cute that he considered me “his woman,” but after a month, it got annoying. “Hey, Cole.” I headed for the opposite exit.

“Wait. Where’re you going?”

“Nowhere. Everywhere.” I speed-walked through the hallways, reached the last room, passed Mr. Silent—a guard beast who could be mute for all I knew—took a right and swung open the back exit. Early morning sun bathed my face, and I looked up with a sigh. Spring was coming. I loved springtime. Not too cold, not too hot, and where I’d grown up, on Big Bear, we even got wildflowers.

No wildflowers out here in Nowhere, New Mexico, but the sun still reminded me of springtime.

“Can I come with you?” Cole asked.

Gah! I couldn’t even enjoy my moment. “No.”

“Why not?”

“Don’t you have something to do? Like bug Zarik over there?” I pointed at the beast who was throwing spears at the makeshift targets over the community walls. He did it every day, same time, same way, and after he threw his five spears, he’d go out to fetch them. I presumed he practiced for when his imaginary enemies tried to seize the place. These hunters never rested, always on alert as if we didn’t live in the middle of nowhere and as if humans would actually dare attack a beasts’ nest.

“Zarik only lets me get the spears, not throw them. I’m bored.”

“You’ll be bored with me too.” I found my rusty black bicycle where I’d left it leaning against the wall, checked the horn, then waited. The evil highlight of my days. Zarik stretched his powerful body, his right arm at a precise angle. He sprinted and…I honked.


Zarik stumbled.

Threw the spear.

It hit the wall and broke in half. He cursed, spun around, and pointed a finger at me. “Female, I will bend you over my knee for this.”

I winked at him. Despite the remark, Zarik was a gentle, lonely male who only ever asked me to help him bathe. His mellow demeanor suited me. I didn’t like being around bossy beasts like Mayhem. Or any beasts at all. Unfortunately, avoiding beasts was impossible. I hadn’t stayed in this community by choice. I was stuck here.

Cole tugged my sleeve. I climbed on my bicycle, ready to go. “I don’t have another ride,” I said. “You can’t come with me.”

“I’ll run next to you.”

“It’s too far.”

“I am strong.” He bent his arm at the elbow and showed me his scrawny little muscles.

“You are very strong, but I still can’t take you with me.” I pedaled away.

Daddy used to tell me not to trust anyone. That bad times bred even worse people. That nobody would stand for me but me. And him. Daddy always stood in my corner. The problem? Daddy wasn’t here. I was on my own, and I wanted him with me, because if anyone knew a way to get back home, it would be my father.

My ancestors had survived the Great Nuclear War because my great-great-grandpa Bob had been one of the people who believed in UFOs. The entire population of Big Bear had called him crazy when he walked around with a backpack filled with emergency supplies. But then the nuclear storage places started exploding, and Grandpa Bob became the most popular man in Big Bear. As the nukes engaged around the United States, wiping out everything in their radius, and as we fought other nations who threatened us, people begged Grandpa Bob to open up his shelter.

Inside the sealed underground bunker that he’d been building all his life, he watched them plead for mercy. He didn’t let them in. Not enough supplies, only enough food for him and his family. When Daddy told me this story, he said we should always help out others, but never at our expense. We had to learn to say no if it threatened our survival.

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