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Room 217

“She’s everything, even when she’s treated like nothing.”
~R.H. Sin


Anna had left five days ago, and the morning after, we discovered Riley and Akira never came back from their patrol. Ever since, our pack had been working around the clock in groups of five or more to search for them, but each time, the results were the same: no Riley, no Akira, and we lost our sense of smell for at least an hour.

“It’s the Shadows, it has to be,” Caleb said, flipping through paperwork in our hotel office. Despite our worry over our packmates, we couldn’t let our business slip. Mom and dad switched off with me, Caleb, Ember, and Josie every other day, partially as a reprieve from the stress and partially to ensure the hotel remained afloat. We didn’t have money issues, a far cry from any, but we didn’t want to neglect our duties and end up having some in the long run. I hated not being out there searching for Riley and Akira, but I also trusted my parents.

“If it is, then we have two enemies: the Shadows and the Controllers,” I replied, leaning back in my chair and staring at the ceiling. “If the Shadows really did take them, they’re most likely nowhere near here, and we have no god damn chance of finding them.”

Caleb braced his head in his hands. “Do you think they’re okay?”

I rolled my head to look at him and saw Caleb staring at a picture on his desk. It made me realize he wasn’t talking about Riley and Akira. “I hope so… I’d call Spring Queen, but it’s not an emergency yet. Not in her dictionary, at least.”

“What about Ice Queen? Last we heard of her, Spring Queen was saying she was in serious trouble.” Caleb sighed, rubbing his face. “I know I’m supposed to an alpha, but my brotherly instincts are kicking in, and all I want to do is run and find her. Find them. We should’ve stopped the fight that night. We should’ve done something!”

“I know,” I agreed quietly, flashing back to the headlight-illuminated fight in the middle of the road, my dad beating the shit out of a non-resistant Spencer; Elsa hurling accurate accusations our ways; Me blocking Anna from joining her sister in fear Anna would leave with her only to have her go anyway at a later date. “One day, when we see her again, we’ll need to make it up to her.”

“If she’ll even forgive us. I don’t know if I would if I was in her position.”

“There has to be something we could do, even if it’s just giving her time to trust us again. We’ll figure it out,” I promised. I turned to stare out at the rising sun, just now peeking over the imposing Rocky Mountains. “We should-”

My office phone rang obnoxiously, and I made a wild dive to grab it before I had to listen to it any longer. Picking it up, I greeted, “This is Hunter.”

“You’ll find your missing pack mates in room two-seventeen,” a deep, distorted voice said. The stranger hung up.

“Who is it?” Caleb asked, concern falling onto his face. “Dude, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I hung up the phone. “Text mom and dad and tell them to get here immediately and to meet us in room two-seventeen.”

“Why? What’s going on?” Caleb asked, falling into step with me as I headed to the instructed room. I explained the brief phone call, and my brother blanched. Immediately, he whipped out his phone to text our parents. His fingers were blurs as he typed. It was the reason I had him do it because no one could text faster than Caleb.

Without trying to appear like we were running for an emergency to avoid alerting our staff to anything awry, Caleb and I made our way up to room two-seventeen. We pressed our ears to the door, listening for anything on the other side. Besides two heartbeats and shallow breathing, nothing else could be heard. Nodding at each other, we cautiously opened the door and poked our heads in.

“Hunter, my sense of smell is gone,” Caleb said. “Shadows or Controllers have been here.”

We slipped inside, shutting the door behind us and adjusting our eyes to the darkness. I could make two pairs of feet hanging off the bed. I recognized the beat-up Converse on one of them, and all sense of precaution flew out the window.

I surged forward to check on Riley. He was unconscious next to Akira, whose eyes were fluttering open. Caleb turned on a lamp and knelt down next to her.

“Akira, can you hear me?” Caleb asked gently, placing a hand on her arm.

“Y-yeah. Where… where am I?”

“You’re at our hotel. Safe and sound. We don’t know how you got here, but we’ll ask you that later when you’re feeling stronger.”

“Shadows. Out of nowhere… they appeared… out of nowhere.” Tears welled in Akira’s eyes as she reflected back on the kidnapping. “We couldn’t escape. We-we couldn’t smell them approaching. I’m sorry, Caleb. I’m sorry, Hunter.”

“Hey, hey, don’t apologize. There’s no need. It’s not your fault, okay?”

“Anna,” Riley croaked, regaining consciousness. “Elsa.”

I glanced up at Caleb, stunned by my packmate’s words. It prompted me to ask, “What about them?”

“One of them. Th-they’re the reason… we were freed,” he said. “God, my head.”

“You’re positive it was one of them?”

Riley nodded. “Absolutely. No mistaking it. She even waved at me.”

I noticed a tic in Caleb’s jaw before he stood up and declared, “I’m going downstairs to grab you two something to drink and eat and some medicine for your headaches.”

I nodded, understanding the real reason behind his sudden decision. He clapped me on the shoulder on his way out, and I focused my attention on Riley and Akira, trying to keep them awake.

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