A storm was coming...
...and when he arrived, he would burn the world down to get to Hycinth.
There would be nothing and no one who could stop the devastation he left in his wake.
I just hoped he got there before Dagger could carry out whatever diabolical plan he had for her. I’d seen the craziness in that male’s eyes. He wasn’t right in the head even before Leander maimed him.
I snapped out of my dark thoughts. I still had work to do. There had to be a way to trace the license plate. I worked to keep my fingers from trembling as I dialed Tommy’s number.
“What’s up, Whiskey?” Tommy answered on the first ring, his voice instantly wary. I didn’t normally call him, and certainly, not late at night.
My throat was bone dry as I gritted out, “I need your help.”
“Fuck,” he swore. “What’s going on? Is it Abby? I mean, Hycinth. Is she okay?”
I worked to keep my emotion at bay. “No, Tommy, she’s not. Someone abducted her. I got the plate, but I don’t have any resource to run it.”
Without missing a beat, Tommy barked out, “Leroy! Get your ass in here, now!” He came back to me, “Okay, gimme the number.”
I recited it from memory. I would never forget those letters and numbers. They were burned into my brain the instant I lost my sister. Tommy relayed the information to whoever was in the room with him. “Call Duke at the police station. Get him to run this fucking plate, asap!”
“Yeah, boss, got it!” I didn’t recognize the male’s voice to respond.
“Leroy, get the boys ready to go. We leave in five!”
Leroy responded in the background, “Done!”
It would be more complicated with Tommy here when Leander arrived, but I wasn’t going to turn him away. I needed all the help I can get. I stayed on the phone a few minutes longer with Tommy, explaining more details. When I finished, he muttered, “Okay, Whiskey, we’re on our way.”
I hung up the phone.
A cold pit churned in my stomach.
“Ever, I want ten warriors armed to the hilt and ready to go in fifteen minutes!” I barked out orders, “and my father....and Grace.” Nausea roiled in my gut at the mention of the healer. She was an all too real reminder of the significant probability Hycinth would not come out of this unscathed or if Dagger had his way, breathing.
My Wolf howled his rage. His thirst for blood was unparalleled...
...and I would let him have as much as he wanted.
When Hycinth left, I thought I couldn’t feel any worse than I already did.
I was wrong...
...so ridiculously fucking wrong.
Because nothing could compare to the living horror of knowing Hycinth was in the clutches of that bastard Dagger.
With great effort, I shoved the acute fear out of my mind. I couldn’t let anything drain my focus. Instead, I gave free reign to my rage. I allowed the darkness to envelop me and seep into every pore of my being.
“On it!” Ever shouted as he ran out the door.
I headed in the opposite direction. Reaching the room I’d temporarily occupied before moving into the treehouse, I tore through the closet, changing into military-style wear, cargo pants, a tight but flexible T-shirt and boots, all in black. I didn’t bother with any other clothing. My comfort was irrelevant, and sleep wasn’t on the agenda until I found Hycinth.
Strapping several knives across my chest and holstering a Glock around my thigh, I hauled ass down to the armory. My Wolf considered the weapons unimportant. He would deal out destruction using his teeth and claws.
I knew the minute my father was awake because his thoughts pushed into my head, “What the fuck happened?”
I didn’t bother recapping the obvious. It wasn’t what he was asking. He wanted to discuss strategy. “We don’t know who he’s working with. Luca didn’t recognize any of them, so they aren’t from his old pack. I’m going to take ten warriors and Grace with me.” I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the healer that accompanied us had to be female because, God forbid, if Hycinth were hurt, my Wolf would be so out of his mind he would tear into any male that got near her, even if that male were trying to help.
“Is that going to be enough? Luca might not have recognized those five, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t leading you into a trap masterminded by the Diamante pack,” he countered.
I couldn’t deny his reasoning but didn’t have much choice. “Yes, I could be walking into a trap, but they could also be trying to draw as many warriors away so that they can attack here. There are too many wolves in our pack that need the protection of the rest of the warriors. I won’t leave them defenseless.”
His voice was silent in my head for a moment. He didn’t like the odds, but he couldn’t deny the truth of my words. ”What details do you know? Is there anything I can do from here?”
“I know I should have killed that fucker when I had the chance,” I hissed. Regret washed over me so sharply, I struggled to stand. I would forever feel guilty about that decision. It would haunt me, just like the death of my mother. I shoved the crippling thought away, clinging to the only emotion and would allow right now, abject fury.
My father didn’t reply, but his dread and compassion came through the mindlink loud and clear. He knew exactly how I was feeling. And he hated that I was now standing in his shoes.
Reaching the armory, I found several wolves swarming in organized chaos. Jaws and eyes set in fierce concentration, they followed my instructions, packing a wide assortment of weaponry. All were dressed in black on black. They looked more like a SWAT team than wolves, but since we didn’t know where the battle would take place, we needed to be able to blend in with the humans.
Abruptly, my father’s audible voice came from my behind me, “We’ll be out of mind link range. Do you have phones on you?”
I spun around to face him.
But Ever answered for me, “Yes. We’ve pack communication and back up power.” He finished zipping up the bag in front of him and turned to assess the progress of his team of wolves. Most were ready to go.
Walking to Ever’s side, I said quietly, “If you want to stay...”
His expression hardened, making his answer clear, but I continued anyway, “You know this might mean an imminent attack on our border. You have a pup on the way.” I wouldn’t take this choice away from him, not when he had so much at stake.
A muscle in his jaw flexed. “Leander, I belong by your side. Cyril, Asher and the other warriors will protect what’s mine.”
My throat tightened. I gave a hard nod.
The rest of the warriors were silent now, prepared and ready to go.
As we made our way out the door to the waiting vehicle’s, Sydney was just entering the compound. What was she doing here? She was supposed to be visiting Hycinth’s pack and wasn’t due to return for several more days.
Eyes wide as they darted around that the wolves loaded into waiting cars, she ran up to me. “Leander, I have to talk with you!”
“I don’t have time for this right now, Sydney,” I hissed, moving around her.
“Leander!” her voice rose, “I spent the day with Luca...you need to hear what I have to say.”
Her words stopped me in my tracks. I spun around to face her. “What the fuck did you just say? You were assigned to visit the Diamante pack. Did you go see him? Did you see Hycinth? Dagger?”
Sydney’s eyebrows shot up. ”Dagger? What does he have to do with anything? No. Luca came to the Diamante pack. I spent the day with him.”
“Why the fuck didn’t you call me?” I advanced on her, my blood already boiling, ready to explode.
She took an instinctual step back, away from my anger. Her eyes lowered submissively. “I needed to tell you in person, t-there’s...a lot to say.”
Ever threw open the door behind me. “Leander, tell her to get in. She can tell us on the way.”
I grunted in agreement.
Without another word, Sydney jumped in the SUV. She sat facing Ever and I in the rear section of the vehicle. Body stiff, she remained silent, feeling the anxiety radiating off of Ever and me.
“Tell me what happened with Luca,” I snarled. “Was Hycinth with him? Did you see her?”
She shook her head. “It was just Luca. He returned to the pack because he found out his mate had been k-killed.” Swallowing thickly, she blinked away tears.
I frowned. My heart twisted in pain at that knowledge. But what I didn’t understand was why Sydney was so emotional. Her and Luca hadn’t been on the best of terms, but since her own mate had been murdered in cold blood, maybe she was associating with him on a deeper level.
“How did his mate die?”
“Alpha Grant,” she whispered.
Ever inhaled sharply. My eyebrows shot up. “Are you saying that Luca’s father killed his mate? How is that even possible? The bastard has been dead for three years. I made sure of it.”
A tear slipped down her cheek. She swiped it away. “Oracle Memoree visited him and Hycinth a few days ago. Apparently, when Alpha Grant saw you in your Wolf form, he made the correct assumption that you were Hycinth’s mate, which was not acceptable to him, so he planned to take you out of the picture.”
A fierce growl slipped my throat. I knew Alpha Grant hated my father and our pack, but I had not been aware he was gunning for me personally.
And then a horrible realization occurred to me...
If I was the target, had my mother simply gotten in the way?
I couldn’t deny the very distinct probability. Once again, guilt overwhelmed me. Not only had I not made it to her in time, but would she still be alive if it weren’t for me?
I couldn’t even process that revelation at the moment and refocused on what Sydney was saying. “What does this have to do with Luca’s mate?”
Biting her lip, she twisted her hands together. “Besides telling him who killed her, the only other thing the Oracle shared was her name—Madison.”
Her words hit me like a ton of bricks. “Your sister.”
She nodded and swallowed again.
“But why?" Ever interjected. “The male was evil but why kill his son’s own mate?”
“Because once you were out of the way, Hycinth would need a mate.”
I was stunned into silence and slumped back into the seat.
Evil was too good of the word for that Wolf.
I’d never regretted my decision to put him down. I just wish I’d have done it before he inflicted so much pain.
“So, he went back to his old pack for information,” I said. The puzzle was becoming clear, but there was still a missing piece. “I’m sorry, I know this is hard for you. I don’t mean to trivialize it, but why was it so urgent that I know right this minute? What else did you talk about?”
Wiping the remaining tears from her cheeks, her expression cleared, determination taking the place of sadness. “Leander, she doesn’t know.”
The overwhelming stress caused my patience to run thin. I snapped, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Luca didn’t know that Isabelle was pregnant when she was killed. Hycinth didn’t know!”
My brows furrowed. “Yes, she did. She told me herself,” I insisted.
Sydney shook her head. “There was no way Luca faked his reaction to the news. His shock and devastation were real. Luca had told her the same thing he’d been told—that Isabelle’s killing had been gruesome and you found her.”
“Leander? What exactly did Hycinth say to you that day?” Ever asked.
I forced myself to examine the memories I never wanted to think about again. What had she said? When I asked if she knew everything, her reply came back to me. I muttered, “She’d said that Lucky had explained the violence. And then she apologized that I found her in that way.”
“That was it?” Ever pressed.
“The way she said it,” I replied, still trying to wrap my head around the truth. “Hycinth had been adamant that she knew everything. And her wording could have been taken to be consistent that she did.”
“Well, fuck.” He exhaled heavily and ran a hand through his hair. “Honestly, it makes more sense that she wouldn’t know that particular aspect.”
My hand clenched into a fist. “Does it really matter? Maybe she didn’t know, but it still doesn’t change the reason she left me—I killed her parents.”
“I don’t know if it would have changed anything or not,” he admitted in resignation.
“Maybe not,” Sydney said softly, “but according to Luca, Hycinth has been just as miserable away from you as you have been away from her. He’s been trying to help her grieve and finally let go of the past. We didn’t get into the details, other than for him to confirm she wants to come back to you. Didn’t she call you? Isn’t that where we’re headed? ”
Hope flared so sharply in my chest, I couldn’t breathe. Gulping in air to refill my straining lungs, I ignored her questions and demanded, “He said that? He said specifically that she wanted to return?”
Sydney gave me a small smile, but there was sadness in her eyes. “She does, but, Leander, Luca said she was making progress on her past, but the revelations that your mother and Lucky’s mate are both dead because of her has hit her hard, and when he left me, she still didn’t know about the death of your sister. Her overwhelming feeling right now is guilt. She thinks it’s too late. She’s been the cause of too much pain. She believes you and the pack won’t want her now.”
Her words were so shocking, I struggled to come up with a response. My head was just empty for a moment.
After a long moment, I jerked back to life and the situation at hand. “No. She didn’t call me. Luca did. Dagger and five other wolves broke into their home and kidnapped her,” I growled, rage running through my veins again.
Sydney gasped, her hand coming up to her mouth, “Oh no!”
Ever gave her the details while I tried to process the information she provided.
Hycinth wanted to come back!
That was all I needed. Obviously, we had a lot to work through, but if we both wanted to be together, somehow, we could get there...we could make it work.
Now I just had to get her back in one piece.
Tommy, Leroy, and Frank arrived within twenty minutes. Seeing my blood splattered everywhere, Tommy’s eyes darkened. He did a double take of the room, assessing for danger, and then his intense gaze zeroed in on my leg.
“It’s just a sprain,” I grunted. Not exactly true. It had been broken, but I had already snapped it back into position so that it could heal correctly. I wouldn’t be able to shift for a few days, but within a few hours, hopefully, by the time Leander arrived, I would be mobile again.
While we waited for news from his resources at the police station, Tommy and Frank helped me clean the blood off my body and change my clothes. They asked several more questions which I tried to answer as best I could without revealing werewolf information.
Waiting downstairs in the tattoo shop, another hour and a half went by. I was healed enough and too restless to sit down any longer, so carefully stood to my feet and slowly paced across the room.
I felt Leander before I saw him...
...and he wasn’t holding back any of his Alpha power and influence.
The force of it dropped me to my knees.
I hit the ground hard. It was all I could do not to fall flat on my face. A shockwave of pain reverberated in my damaged leg. “Fuck!” I panted.
Tommy jumped up in alarm and crossed the room. He crouched in front of me, and grabbed my face, trying to force eye contact, but my eyes rolled back in my head.
The pain of Leander’s influence rattled through my brain, rendering me unable to think.
Tommy gave my shoulders a firm shake. “Whiskey! What’s wrong with you, man?!”
Abruptly the door opened, and Leander burst through!
I couldn’t help but angle my neck toward him. My Wolf whined.
A group of heavily armed wolves filed in behind Leander. They were visibly struggling with his influence but remained on their feet.
Tommy lurched to his feet, jerking his gun from its holster on his thigh. “Who the fuck are you?”
Leander’s Wolf was already at the surface, eyes glaring back at Tommy. “I’m Leander. Who the fuck are you?”
“Leander?” Tommy eyed him up and down, his disapproval evident. “Are you the no good prick who knocked her up?”
It was as if all of the air was sucked out of the room...
...leaving a void of madness behind.
My heart beat thunderously in my chest as I watched Leander’s expression change.
It went completely blank.
And then a force I knew I couldn’t survive hit me...
Not just me.
...every Wolf in the room hit the ground hard, moaning under the onslaught.
Even Tommy and Leroy stumbled. They didn’t fall, but I’d never known of a human affected by Wolf dominance before. Tommy shot a hand out to catch himself and cursed, “What the fuck?”
Leander ignored him, turning his feral expression on me, his tone deadly soft, “Is this asshole telling me she’s pregnant...with my pup?