It couldn’t be… there was no way! Those bastards worked fast. But it couldn’t be from anyone else. I know the insignia well. Had left these tokens for others. But I wasn’t ready to go back. I don’t think I ever would be. 20 years I had been held under their thumbs. My youth completely overtaken by them. But I couldn’t just ignore the matte black envelope on my stoop. The insignia of a wolf with purple and grey swirling smoke curling around its howling profile…calling me back. Well, sorry boys, the number you’re calling has been disconnected or is no longer in service.
Sighing I scoop up the envelope and stuff it into my purse. With my luck it’ll get lost in there. Hopefully. Unlocking the door to my townhouse I can hear loud voices with a background of shooting and bombs going off. I sigh. Never did like those sounds.
“Starling? Babe? That you?” Kailer yells from his office… literally to the right of the entry door… it has glass French doors for crying out loud! If he looked away from the 3 computer screens in front of him, he would know.
“Yes Kailer. Its me…” I sigh as I shuck my boots off in the entryway, tossing my keys on the hook and depositing my coat and bag.
Walking into his office I lean against the door jamb and cross my arms over my chest. Waiting. He finally looks up and stares back at me.
“Did you leave this room at all today?” I huff out.
“Uhhh…well… I mean… No. No, I didn’t.” His voice tapers off as I hear his friends yelling at him to pay attention. His attention diverts as I turn away from him chuckling.
I know I love the man. And after five years I’ve grown accustomed to the daily routine. But it still rankled me, occasionally, the amount of time he spent on that computer. As I walk across the entry into the living room I turn back to look at him again. Kailer is tall and lean, brown hair, grey eyes, and a nicely grown out, tended to, beard. He’s an IT guy who has an office… but more often than not, works from home. Especially the last year or so. I see him start laughing animatedly with his online friends. The sound almost childlike. Smiling, I continue through the living room and turn right into the open plan kitchen.
I love my kitchen. When I bought the place it was closed off from everything else with dated appliances and a teeny little pass through window that looked into the dining area. Another wall cut the dining room off from there! But I wasn’t having any of that. Pretty much the day I signed papers and got the keys I started tearing walls down. Quickly discovering renovations were not one of my strong suits I called my parents, all four of them, to help me. And now… now I have a beautiful open living, dining, and kitchen space. The colors were soothing to me, even if I took my inspiration from the group who took my youth away. Purple in all shades accented all my grey, white, and black furniture. I couldn’t really get away from the color scheme so it traveled through the whole townhome. What can I say? I like what I like. From the entryway you can follow the hall straight and find a full bathroom and guest room on the right. Continuing down you’ll come to a mud room that doubled as my laundry room ( I hadn’t decided on anywhere else to put it) and that lead out to my tiny outdoor oasis. But you could also go up the stairs that started at the living room entrance at the front. In front of you was a small yet spacious alcove with a deep comfy window seat, surrounded by built in bookshelves, that looked out into the backyard. Turn right and you had my “office”, which was pretty much a catch-all room since Kailer moved in. Or you could turn left into the master suite with two walk-in closets and a massive, spa worthy, bathroom.
Turning on the tablet built into one of the shelving units I scroll through all my recipes deciding on what’s best for dinner. Something easy tonight probably. I wasn’t feeling much in the mood to cook after finding the calling card. But I needed to clear my head and think up a plan. I didn’t want to leave my beautiful home. I worked hard this last year to make it my dream place. It was paid for… so I didn’t have to sell it. But who knew how long it would take me to shake them? When could I come back?
My phone starts ringing from the entryway and I groan, annoyed. Hoping it’s not my boss, I still race to the front to answer it before it goes to voicemail. She hates that! Grabbing my bag and all but dumping it onto the table I finally grab it and swipe to answer it.
“Starling Royalle.” I say into the phone. I see Kailer pop his head out to the side of his set up. Quirking an eyebrow at me. It’s Friday, I’m off the clock, and I just answered my phone with my “work voice”. Rolling my eyes I start depositing my junk into my purse, lingering on the envelope while I wait for a response.
“Cute. Better than “Alpha F” I suppose.” His cigar rasp voice reaches me. And I freeze.
“I’m sorry sir, I believe you have the wrong number.” I pull the cell from my ear readying to hang up.
“Wait! Alph- I mean Starling! Don’t hang up-“ He’s yelling as I swipe to disconnect.
Breathing deeply I turn around and smile at Kailer, who for some reason stood up from his desk. The wireless headset draped around his neck while shouts can be heard from it.
“Wrong number!” I say cheerily before scooping up the envelope, which practically burns in my hand, and turning back to the kitchen.
Nope. Take out tonight. I can’t pretend my life is normal. They obviously have too much information now. I have to determine a plan. So many questions swirl through my brain as I place the order for pizza from the tablet. Calmly walking back to Kailer’s office I can see him preparing to end his game with his friends.
“Hey, I have to do some work for Lydia so I’m headed up to the office. I ordered pizza so it should be here within the hour. Will you keep an eye out and let me know when it’s here?”
“Pizza? Really? You hate pizza… Starli what’s going on? Who was that on the phone?” His concern guts me on the spot. And I hate lying. But it’s for his safety. My stomach churns with that realization.
“No idea. Wrong number. He was looking for someone else!” I turn quickly and bolt up the stairs. I round the corner into my office as I hear the game resume downstairs. Sighing I shut the door and use my thumb on the knob to activate the locking system. Hey, I may not be a spy anymore but it’s old habits to break! Security is very important.
Flipping on the light and squeezing between boxes to get to my desk I punch my password into the wireless keyboard, the only thing on the desk. I hear booting noises as well as the silent slide of walls which house the monitors. Placing my phone and that dammed envelope in front of me as I sit down I cringe. I do NOT want to open this. The group is very high-tech and advanced. There could be a tracker in it or…something. But I know I have to.
Sliding my finger under the flap, I breathe deeply and open it. A lone, heavy duty, silver card slides out. Interesting. Flipping it over I see the rough scratch of my commanders handwriting.
“Found you. The Pack calls Alpha F. Mission.
Commander “X” “
Nope. Nope. Not happening. Those bastards!