CHAPTER 44

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Violent shaking threatened to yank me from the peaceful darkness. Fingers groped my arms and poked my face.

"Kota," Sean yelled at me.

The familiarity of his voice lured me to consciousness. I focused on his sweet smile, bright blue eyes, and shaggy blond hair. Mmm, I'll never get tired of Sean's looks.

"Red. Come on. Hey, Jordan, get him away from her," someone said.

I didn't recognize the soothing tenor voice, but it sent a wave of refreshment over me like I'd jumped into a cool lake on a hot summer day.

"No." Fist hitting flesh sounded. "Kota. Wake up. Please, God please be okay."

Two of the tugging hands vanished. Was someone hurting Sean? I willed my eyes open and found a guy with dark hair and dark eyes staring down at me. His pale skin crinkled around his eyebrows as he stared at me.

"Red?"

It wasn't Chip, though. Had another Shifter snuck into the alley? I palm punched the guy's chin, and he stumbled away from me. I rolled into a backward summersault and pushed myself to my feet, then crouched, ready to touch anything that needed frying.

"Sean?" I yelled.

"Here."

I looked to the side. Jordan held him back near a wall that was more fireplace stone than drywall. Briana and Shelly stared, standing next to the guy with the dark hair and black ink on his arm. They didn't seem scared of him, though, so he must not be a demon.

But who the hell was he?

I glanced around, then faced Sean again. "How'd we get here? What's happening? Where's Chip?"

"Chip?" the dark-haired guy said.

"The Shifter, Chip. Sean, did you get him?"

I stood straight, staring at the strange surroundings. How'd I get into a basement? I stared at the big TV and saw my reflection on its blank screen. Dark smudges on my arm caused me to look down.

My heart lunged into my throat when I saw black ink on my flesh. I rubbed it with my hand, but it didn't budge. It matched the stranger's tattoos.

"Sean? Sean? What's happening?"

"Oh, God," the stranger gasped. "It's gone. Her memory is gone."

Sean rushed toward me, hands outstretched. Blood soaked his t-shirt at the shoulder. "Kota. Hold on. Just hold on."

"You're bleeding." I reached out to him, but everything suddenly felt very heavy, like lead flowed through my veins.

"I'm okay." His strong hands grabbed my elbows and eased me to the carpeted floor.

I peered over his shoulder to the stranger. He seemed so familiar the way he watched me, analyzing every move I made. I looked back to Sean. "Where are we? Did you get Chip? He followed me into the alleyway, you were going to come up behind him and get him."

"Yeah, Kota. We got him." Sean combed my hair away from my face with his fingers, then glanced back to the team. "You don't remember anything else?"

"No. I-um-I tripped on something. He was going to kick me in the face." I looked up at the textured ceiling, but my gaze was pulled back to the stranger again.

He'd sagged against the wall, leaning forward, hands on his knees. Briana rubbed his shoulder. The lines weaving down his arm drew my attention from his big, brown eyes. I held up my left hand and saw identical markings. "What's happened? How do I suddenly have tattoos on my arm? And why do they match that guy's?"

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