In Which I Spot Agent Bhuvani
She introduced herself as Agent Bhuvani, a name that meant nothing to Adam. “Did Tyrone send you?” he asked.
She nodded. “There was a break-in at the Paranormal Defenders’s center recently. Some very sensitive information may have been stolen.” Bhuvani narrowed her eyes at him. “Do you know anything about this, Mr Dark?”
He folded his arms. “Maybe.”
“No maybes, Mr. Dark.” It sounded like he was testing her patience already. “Do you know anything, or don’t you?”
“And how do you intend to find out?”
“Don’t test me, Dark!” She tapped a finger on a lump beneath her jacket -- presumably the gun on her belt. “Do not freaking test me.”
“But you have orders. I assume you have orders, right?”
“I’m the kind of agent who likes to push the envelope on orders.”
“Push it all you want, Ms. Bhuvani. You’re getting nothing out of me.”
With a smirk, she yanked out her gun and pressed it into his shoulder -- a place where no vital organs could be hit, but bones and major veins were well in the way. “This’ll hurt like hellfire under your skin, Dark,” she said. “And there’s no telling how sick you’ll get from the silver in your blood. Do you really wanna be down and out for who knows how long while my men scour through your ranks for our thief? Defenseless? Is that what you want?”
“No,” he admitted, but he didn’t give up the information, or even so much as uncross his arms.
A muffled shot rang out, tiny chips of a nearby brick wall spewing out from behind Adam’s head. He clicked his tongue. “You just wasted some perfectly good silver.”
“That was lead. I was bluffing about the silver poisoning.” She opened the guns cartridges, revealing two ordinary bullets, and one that didn’t match the rest. “For now, at least.”
“I don’t know the names of the people involved. I’ll tell you that much.” It was almost not a lie. Almost. He truly didn’t remember anyone else involved; there was that ex-Marine, he remembered her, and the blonde kid who was singing tonight was named Jason, but there were others he didn’t know. A girl who hung around with Riley Flanders, and a biker and a redheaded kid who’d both arrived only days ago. The only name he knew, he knew two names for: Jac Ravenheart, and Hailee Jackson.
Bhuvani lowered her gun. “Fine. If you insist, I’ll accept that.”
“It’s the truth.”
“If I find out you’re lying, this is going to the Director.”
“And if I do that....” She shook her head, whistling under her breath. “You’d have better luck getting Lucifer himself to uphold a bargain than a pissed-off Dante Tyrone.”
“I understand, Agent.”
It was obvious she was unsatisfied, but she backed off. “Rest assured this report will be sent to Tyrone.”
“I’m sure it will.” Adam straightened up, squaring his shoulders. What am I doing? he wondered. I’m not going to let her push me around. I’m not going to let any of them push me around. “Time for you to go, Agent.”
She turned up her chin. “Is it, now?”
“Oh yes, it is. If you’re not out of this establishment in five minutes, you’ll be needing those defense skills of yours -- if a Defender even knows how to defend themselves.”
He turned his back, walking for the door, tense as a bowstring and listening carefully for any movement. Bhuvani could still shoot, after all. He opened the door, took a quick glance back -- she was still there -- and went inside. Five minutes, agent.
I gave Levi a shocked sideways glance, and saw that he had the same thought I did: what was going on? When I looked back at the table, Dark had returned, and was murmuring something I assumed was an apology to his wife, who looked every bit as confused as I was.
“I knew it,” Levi said, almost smugly.
“You knew what? Don’t give me that look.”
“I knew we couldn’t trust Adam Dark.”
“What makes you think we can’t trust him?”
“What makes you?” he countered.
“I just saw him talking face-to-face with an agent of the enemy. I think that’s enough of a reason to distrust him. You, however, had no such reason. So, what made you think that way?”
“Hailee,” he replied, “when you’ve lived around lycans -- hell, when you’ve lived around people -- as long as I have, you learn the warning signs. Little things, subtle things, but they speak volumes. The way he acted around you, as opposed to how he acted with everyone else....”
“Well, that could be explained. We’re the new guys, after all.”
“I wanted to think that was it, but something just didn’t sit right. Be careful, Hailee. Be really careful, and don’t get any ideas.”
“‘Any ideas?’” I repeated. “Pray tell, Mr. Sullivan, what ‘ideas’?”
“Don’t make any wrong moves. Lay low. Don’t give Dark any reason -- any reason at all -- to think you might be a threat. If he thinks you’re eying his power, he’d take that chance to pounce.”
“Eying his power?” I sputtered. “Why would I do that? I’m laying perfectly low, thank you very much.”
“Lay lower. That’s the only advice I can give you.”
“Eying his power,” I grumbled, leaning back with my arms crossed. “As if I would ever do such a thing.”
“Oh, come on,” said Levi, “you can’t deny that you give that vibe sometimes. I know you never would, not really, but if I was an Alpha who didn’t know any better, I’d have you down as someone to watch.”
“Come on, Levi!”
“I would! I’m only being honest,” he shrugged. “Tread lightly, and we should be fine.”
“But if he’s working with....” I realized how many lycans, and how many strangers, I was surrounded by, and lowered my voice a level. “If he’s working with you-know-who, then we can’t go to him for help. We can’t ask his men to join us. We’re back to square one!”
“Hang on, hang on. I didn’t say he was working with them. I just said not to trust him.”
Levi didn’t need to tell me that. I was trusting Adam Dark less and less by the minute. “Lay low,” I repeated. “Tread lightly.” In truth, that was the opposite of what I wanted to do. What I wanted to do was confront him, or take the chance to ask him for help before it was too late, or something. Anything but sit and wait.
And then I understood why Levi would “have me down” as a challenger.
I itched to tell someone what I’d seen, anyone. Lana? No, definitely not Lana. She was too close to Dark; if anything, she’d disbelieve me, maybe even report my “accusations” to her Alpha. Riley, perhaps? He was also quite committed to him, but he seemed to be as committed, if not more, to Victoria. Surely she could convince him I was being honest.
For all I know, I realized, she could have told him the truth already. I trusted Vic too much to believe she would do that, but...who knew? Love can do funny things to a person.
Strangest thing was, I wouldn’t really mind if she had, if he was on our side. I quite liked Riley, and at the rate he and Vic were getting steady, just about anyone could guess he wanted to be her mate. At that point, one way or another, he’d have to know the truth. I’d like to see him become part of the pack.
“Hey.” Fred beckoned me out of my thoughts. “What’s going on?”
I sighed. “Truth? I don’t know.” I made sure to keep my voice low. “It’s about Adam Dark.”
He cocked his head to the side, surprised. “What about Adam Dark?”
I told him, in as few words as possible, about the agent’s visit. Fred’s eyes widened. “Do you really think....”
“I’m not going to assume anything,” I said quickly. “I can’t say, for sure, what I saw. But...man. It’s hard not to assume.”
“You are right about that. Whoosh...this changes everything, doesn’t it?”
I looked, one more time, at Adam talking affectionately with his wife, and then around at the rest of “the gang” (as I had begun calling them).
I hoped -- I really hoped -- that none of them were traitors. They couldn’t be, right?
“Hailee.” Again, Fred interrupted my private conversation -- private conversation meaning just me and me. “What are we going to do now?”