Permission to Engage
With his attention razor-fixed in front of him, Samuel drove like a bat out of hell, careening the large SUV through darkened streets, around corners and barely stopping for street signs. I resisted looking at my watch for the hundredth time. We’d already been on the road for thirty minutes headed toward the first location, the residence of Cameron Martin, owner of the license plate. The initial directions had given an approximate travel time of one hour; however, at the rate we were going, we’d be there in less than ten minutes.
Silence reigned heavy in the vehicle, a palpable weight of tension, everyone deep in thought, adrenaline-riddled bodies tensed for the inevitable fight ahead. The knot of dread in my stomach churned. Not only did I fear for Hycinth’s life and well-being but there was no shadow of a doubt in my mind that whatever came next wouldn’t be pretty. Not every Wolf would make it out alive. It was always that way with war.
Staring out the window, I found myself absentmindedly fingering the locket hanging from the delicate gold necklace around my neck, an unconscious desire to touch and be near the only small token I had of my lost mate, Madison. Events had happened so quickly over the last few days that I hadn’t even had time to process her loss, let alone begun to grieve. But I couldn’t let my mind go there. Not now. Not if I wanted to remain sane. Hycinth needed me and I would do whatever it took to get her and the tiny pup in her belly back in one piece.
“We should be there in another five minutes,” Sydney broke the silence, her normally melodic voice radiated hard with fierce determination.
I looked up to find her staring over her shoulder at me from the front passenger seat. Her intense gaze fixed on my thumb that was slowly brushing the front side of the locket. Releasing the precious gift she’d given me, I placed my hands in my lap. I wasn’t embarrassed she’d caught my sorrow, I just didn’t want to go there right now, even with her. But my words were not necessary. From the spark of infinite sadness that flickered in her eyes, Sydney understood exactly how I felt and what I needed and she said nothing about my actions. Instead, she inhaled slowly and let the breath out. “Remember, if Hycinth is there, we don’t engage unless we have to.”
“Got it,” Samuel gritted out from the driver’s seat.
I nodded my agreement. We were down to five warrior wolves, myself and Sydney, and the three bikers. Not great odds against whatever force Dagger had amassed, and I had no desire to further risk Hycinth’s safety by going into battle without Leander and his team of wolves unless we absolutely had to.
Sydney turned her severe gaze to Tommy who sat next to me in the back seat. From her straight spine to searing blue eyes, Sydney’s body language affirmed she was in charge and that she took responsibility seriously. Unblinking, she waited for Tommy’s explicit confirmation that he understood her orders.
Maintaining his intense eye contact with Sydney, Tommy spoke gruffly through the communication device attached to his ear to Frank and Leroy who were traveling separately on their bikes, “Didya hear that, boys? No makin’ a move ‘til the lil’ filly says.”
Sydney’s eyes narrowed at his description of her, but she said nothing.
“We got it, boss!” Frank’s response crackled through my in-ear mic.
Pupils dilated almost fully to accommodate the low light, Tommy’s coffee-brown eyes gleamed with anticipatory wicked intent. “We’re on board. Let’s get this shit done.”
I was glad to see his overt confidence. He’d need every advantage of internal fortitude he could draw on to survive the impending slaughter.
Sydney turned back around to face the front without acknowledging his response. Placing her fingertips on the small communication device in her ear, Sydney addressed the four wolves in the vehicle behind us, “Aiden?”
“Roger that, Delta,” came the swift reply through our headsets.
Tommy continued to stare at Sydney’s profile. He’d spent much of the trip studying her and didn’t seem to mind her pointed indifference to him even though It was clear she had his attention. I just wasn’t sure why and I didn’t really have it in me to care about his reasoning at the moment. I was just grateful he was there. I’d take any extra help even if it came from humans, and I prayed the bikers wouldn’t become just another casualty by the time the night was over.
After another minute, Samuel decreased in speed as we entered a sparsely populated residential area surrounded by woods. We had to be within two miles of the house now. Sydney pressed down on window switch attached to the door. The glass slid down a few inches. Tilting her nose toward the small opening, Sydney took a short sniff and then quickly rolled a backup, hissing, “Stop and cut the lights!”
The hair on the back of my neck stood straight. I’d smelled the scent the same time she had—wolves!
Instantly, Samuel slammed on the breaks causing the seatbelts to lock as our bodies lurched forward under the force of inertia. The headlights of both SUVs and the two motorcycles went out, casting us in almost complete darkness.
“Frank and Leroy, continue toward the front of residence but when you get within distance stay out of sight until you get my orders,” Sydney barked through the intercom system. “Aiden, follow me around to the back. We’ll enter through the woods on the north. I don’t know if Hycinth is there, but we’ve definitely got company.”
Tommy peered intently through the glass. There was no way he could scent the opposing wolves and nothing was visible outside, but he didn’t question Sydney’s assessment.
Looking up from the small phone in her hand, Sydney ordered Samuel, “Turn left.”
Samuel did as she instructed. Aiden followed while the Frank and LeRoy continued straight’s. After another half-mile, Sydney pointed toward a break in the trees. “Stop here.”
Both Samuel and Aiden navigated the SUVs as far into the treeline as possible to conceal them. When they were completely stopped, all of the wolves and Tommy piled out of the two vehicles.
Instantly assuming point, Sydney took off through the woods. No command was required as the wolves fell into military precision behind her. Surprisingly, Tommy managed to stay by my side, probably due to our slower than normal wolf pace, a result of navigating through the thick trees.
The closer we got to our target, the more I began to suspect we were at the right location because with every step the stench of wolves grew stronger which meant one thing. There were a lot of wolves here.
Abruptly, a desperate, pain-filled scream beat through the air—Hycinth!
She was here.
And there was no doubt she was in imminent danger. Adrenaline surged through my veins like a drug, chilling me to the bone. Without thought, I broke formation and rocketed forward, passing the wolves ahead of me and even Sydney...only to be tackled from behind. Going down hard, I fell face forward into the thick brush, prickly weeds scraping the exposed skin on my forearms and hands.
Her body draped over my back with arm wrapped around my neck and the other gripping one of my hands, Sydney whisper-growled in my ear, “Stop! You know better than this!”
The terror-filled noise didn’t stop with one cry but continued with heartwrenching wail after wail...
Tears pricked my eyes. My body shook uncontrollably. But I resisted the urge to toss Sydney off of me because as much as it killed me not to haulass straight to that fucker and rip out his throat for hurting my sister, Sydney was right. Running in half-cocked was the quickest way to get Hycinth killed.
Lifting off of me, Sydney spun around to face Aiden while Samuel helped me to my feet.
Aiden stood rigid, his body quivering with animosity, his phone held in a death grip against his ear.
“Leander?” Sydney mouthed.
Aiden nodded hard, pulled the phone away from his ear and shoved it in his pocket. “I didn’t have to tell him. He heard. He’s on his way. Permission to engage.”