HEAT

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Plan in Motion

Leander

Face twisted with obvious disdain, the ridiculous human male snapped at me, “Are you the no good prick who knocked her up?”

For a moment, all conscious thought fled my brain. I was utterly lost. My Wolf was equally frozen in my mind, standing stock still, not even a tail twitch. The human’s words didn’t make any sense. Of course, I understood the question and the implication, but the concept was just too impossible to wrap my brain around. Was it really possible? Could Hycinth be carrying my unborn young? Every indication from the male’s narrowed eyes and combative expression to Luca’s quick intake of breath pointed to the shocking truth.

Abruptly, my Wolf sprang back to life, sending out a surge of Alpha dominance I’d never experienced before...

...every Wolf in the room dropped to the ground.

The force of it shocked even me.

The snarling animal in my head vibrated with out-of-control animosity. He wanted to his mate and his pup...and he wanted them now!

I wanted the same, but first to get a grip on my sanity, I needed verbal confirmation. Turning to Luca, my voice lowered dangerously. I spoke slowly just to make sure he understood the question completely, “Is this asshole telling me she’s pregnant...with my pup?”

A hard shudder rattled down Luca’s spine. He gasped for air, “Y—yes.”

Yes...

Inconceivable but true, which meant Hycinth had to be more than half way through her pregnancy...and once again, this male had stood between me and what was mine. My hands clenched into fists as I resisted the urge to rip out his throat. Luca blanched, recognizing my lethal intention. A few of the wolves behind me moaned.

“And you didn’t think to mention that on the phone earlier?” I didn’t bother waiting on Luca’s reply before another thought occurred to me. My head snapped toward Sydney. “Did you know she was pregnant?!”

“No!” Sydney panted on her knees, hands splayed on the floor in front of her, struggling to keep herself upright. “I had n-no idea.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I told her she should tell you,” Lucky gritted, struggling to get the words out. “But she is my family. I’ll always stand by her choices...right or wrong.”

I glared at him and spat, “Well, just look at how well that plan worked out! She wouldn’t be missing right now if she’d been in my care.”

He flinched and hung his head.

“Hey, man,” the biker interrupted, eyes wide, holding his gun in the air. If I could have, I would have laughed. I didn’t give a shit about the weapon. His stance remained defensive. “I don’t know what you’re doin’ to them. But you need to let that shit go for a minute. Right now, she needs our help.”

“I know that!” I hissed. But knowing it and doing it were two different things. My Wolf was stomping around in my head, snarling to get free so that he could track our mate. But given what I already knew about Hycinth’s abduction, running around outside, trying to catch her scent, wasn’t going to be productive. Taking a deep breath in, it required every bit of my discipline to pull back and contain my wildly out-of-control alpha influence. A low flow of energy continued to emit from me, but finally, I had a grip on it.

A burst of air whooshed from Luca’s lungs. His body sagged with profound relief. Grunts could be heard as the other wolves staggered to their feet.

Keeping a keen eye on me, one of the other bikers, a burly male with a tatted bald head and unruly beard, stepped behind Luca and crouched down. Gripping under his arms, he pulled Luca to his feet, muttering, “You okay, Whiskey?”

Whiskey? And then I remembered. It was probably Luca’s alias. I didn’t have time to wonder or care why he was still using it.

“Yeah, Frank,” Luca grunted, stumbling a bit while the biker steadied him.

I snarled at Luca, “What did you find out about the vehicle? Do you have a lead on her location?”

The first biker’s cell phone began to ring. Hesitantly, he lowered the weapon and pulled the phone from his pocket, placing it to his ear, “What’dya got?”

It wasn’t necessary for the biker to relay the conversation as every Wolf in the room couldeasily hear the unknown caller respond, “Tag is registered to a Cameron Martin. I’ve got his address. About an hour away but somethin’ ain’t right.”

Brows pulling together, the male drug his hand through his short disheveled ash-blonde hair. “What do ya mean?”

“Doubt this vehicle was used for a kidnapping. It’s a small car. Didn’t you say we were looking for something bigger?”

“Yeah, I think so.” The biker turned his attention back to Luca. “What type of vehicle was it?”

“SUV,” Luca still struggled to catch his breath, “black...I couldn’t tell the make and model.”

“We’re looking for an black SUV,” the biker relayed to the caller. “So the tag is stolen?”

“Nah, that’s just it. It clearly doesn’t fit the vehicle, but it hasn’t been reported as stolen.”

The biker rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay. So, who doesn’t file a report when their tag is stolen?”

“Got me,” the caller answered.

“Maybe the tag is borrowed,” Sydney offered, taking a step forward.

All eyes in the room tracked her movement, including the bikers whose attention widened just slightly as he noticed her, but he didn’t reveal his thoughts. Sydney ignored him, focusing her attention on me instead.

“Explain,” I demanded.

“Maybe this Cameron Martin didn’t report it because he knows it’s being used.”

Ever walked to my side. “Family member or friend, then?”

Still holding the phone to his ear, the biker nodded. “Possible, but why? Even if he’s willingly trying to throw you off the actual vehicle’s trail to help someone else, he’s gotta know you’d track the tag back to him.” The male eyed me up and down, and then gave a quick glance around the room at the heavily armed wolves. “I’m guessin’ the fucker knows who’s comin’. Stupid to call that kind of attention to himself.”

I couldn’t deny his logic. Whatever the reason Cameron had for sharing his license plate, he’d already signed his death sentence in doing so.

“Diversion?” Sydney suggested. “A false trail to stall us.”

“Maybe,” I acknowledged.

As I contemplated, the biker Luca had referred to as Frank walked to a nearby table with an open laptop. He sat down, his fingers running across the keys, before grunting, “What’s the address, Tommy?”

The male holding the phone repeated the question into the receiver. The caller rattled off an address. Tommy relayed it back to Frank whose fingers flew across the keyboard.

Both Ever and I walked to stand behind Frank. His spine tensed at our approach, but he didn’t take his attention away from the monitor. Placing a finger on the screen, he muttered, “Here.”

We stared intently at the map he’d pulled up.

Ever took out his phone and keyed in the information. Lips pressed into a hard line, he muttered, “Yeah, about an hour away. But this is too easy.”

“I agree,” I scowled. Dagger wouldn’t make it that easy for me to find him.

But if not there, then where?

My Wolf paced in the back of my head, his impatience spiraling. I gritted my teeth to contain him. I hated the delay as much as he did, but we needed to be smart.

Frank opened a new window in the browser, his fingers once again dancing along the keyboard.

“What are you doing?” I stared at the Facebook page he’d opened.

“You said friends or family, right?” he replied, his voice tight with tension.

Understanding lit my expression. Within another second, a screen with several potential profiles appeared. I turned to Luca. “Come here.”

He hurried to stand next to me.

“Any of them look familiar?”

Leaning in, his head almost resting on Frank’s shoulder, he studied the screen intently.

Frank scrolled down slowly. “These are all of the Cameron Martin’s in the state.”

When Frank reached the bottom, Luca shook his head, his frustration evident. “I don’t recognize any of them.”

“Start with the profile closest to the address,” I said. “Maybe Luca will recognize one of the friends.”

Frank seemed to be on the same wavelength because he was already opening one of the Cameron Martin’s.

Right away, Luca leaned in even closer. “Stop!”

His reaction caused an electrical spark of anticipation down my spine. My Wolf itched to get free. We pressed forward, staring intently at the screen.

Luca reached over Frank and tapped the screen. “That looks like the vehicle!” He pointed at an image of Cameron Martin with three other males standing in front of a large black SUV. The image was backlit putting their faces in shadow.

“But I can’t tell if it’s them.”

“It’s got to be them,” Ever ground out. “Did you see the size of them?”

He was right. They were too big to be human. Frank clicked into the friend list and began to scroll.

Several profiles down, Luca lurched forward, pointing at the screen excitedly, “There! Him!”

“You still got Duke on the line?” Frank called over his shoulder to Tommy.

“Yep,” Tommy replied, “Hit me with it.”

“Chris Martin. Brother,” Frank read from the screen.

Tommy repeated the information to the caller, adding, “I need an address on this asshole ASAP.”

“Got it,” the caller replied and then went silent.

While we waited, Frank continued to run through the friends list. He went slowly, giving Luca a chance to carefully examine each one. After a few minutes, Frank reached the bottom.

“I don’t recognize anyone else.” Luca took a step back, drawing in a breath of frustration and releasing it.

Almost simultaneously, the caller came back on, “Got something for ya.”

I turned to Tommy. His jaw was clenched as he listened, nodded, and then relayed the address out loud. Frank quickly opened another window and keyed in the address. Ever also enter the information on his phone. As soon as it came up on screen, I studied the location. “It’s farther.”

“About two hours east,” Frank agreed.

“Can you show both locations on the same screen and zoom in so I can see the surrounding terrain?” I asked.

He easily complied.

I looked over my shoulder at Ever. “What do you think?” I didn’t need to communicate the gravity of my concern. He understood perfectly. We were already low on manpower. Splitting up would further reduce our chances of success.

Posture rigid with tension, a vein in Ever’s neck bulged as he stepped forward and leaned in to study it with me. He pointed at the second location on the screen. “There is more natural terrain here, woods and forest. It would be more defensible than the other. It was also harder to reveal and related to the vehicle not just the tag.”

I nodded. I’d thought the same thing. “It still feels too easy. If he really wanted to, Dagger could have hidden his tracks much better.”

“Yes, we could be walking into an ambush,” Ever agreed through his teeth, “but a part of me thinks Dagger wants you to find him.”

Ice ricocheted through my heart because I understood exactly why Ever had said that and why there was a high possibility he was right. But I couldn’t respond to his words, not then and keep my sanity at the same time. Besides, my response to his point wasn’t really required. We both knew we didn’t have a choice on our next step. We had to go to both locations which meant splitting up.

“You and I will go to the second location along with five men. There’s a much higher chance she’ll be there.”

He gave me a hard nod.

I faced Sydney. “Take the remaining men to the first location.”

“Got it,” she replied grimly, already putting the location in her phone.

“I’m going with you,” Luca took a step in Sydney’s direction.

Tommy walked to stand next to Luca. “Where he goes, we go.”

“No,” Luca replied quickly. “It’s far too dangerous.”

Shoulders pulling back, Tommy’s voice hardened, “Look, Whiskey, it’s pretty fuckin’ obvious there’s somethin’ different with all of you. I don’t know what it is, and I’m not sure I want to, but it’s clear, both you and Abby need as much help as you can get.”

Luca turned his attention to me, a question in his eyes. Tommy followed his questioning gaze.

It was forbidden to reveal our secret, but at the moment, I couldn’t deny the human’s reasoning and frankly, I was ready to throw all the rules out the window when it came to Hycinth. Besides, chances were low she was even at that location. If it happened, I would deal with it then.

“Do it.” I nodded.

“Let’s go, boys.” Hands wrapped in fingerless leather gloves, Tommy cracked his knuckles as he ordered the other two. The muscles in his tatted arms bulged.

They had no idea what foe they were up against, but if any human had a chance against wolves, they had the necessary physique to pull it off. Not to mention, they’d survived Dagger’s last attack. Maybe they wouldn’t die in the process.

I refocused on Sydney. “By the time you arrive, Ever and I will be about forty-five minutes to the East of you. If Hycinth is at your location and not in imminent danger, contact me and don’t engage unless you have to.”

“Understood,” Sydney replied shortly.

Plan in motion, we all walked out the door...

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