Dominic scanned the crowd on his way back from the restroom-- a skill that seemed to come naturally anymore since his completion from the training academy. There didn’t appear to be any signs of immediate danger in the vicinity, but intuition and his bristling hackles, relayed a much different message.
As the melodious laughter from his mate carried over the beat of the club’s music, Dominic found himself gravitating towards where she still sat at the bar with her friends. His eyebrows scrunched together as he neared, the giggling growing louder and giddy.
“What’s so funny?” He finally asked.
Before the words had even left his mouth, Dominic regretted asking. The women had deadpanned as they all turned towards him, leaving no doubt that it had been at his expense.
What had she told them about him, he wondered. Was he a terrible lover? Too rough? Too serious? Maybe he had read her wrong. Maybe she had wished for someone shorter and less muscle-bound.
Wrapped up with the thoughts of his own insecurities, Dominic barely heard Hailee whimper his name before she suddenly fell against his chest. If not for his quick reflexes and the plethora of werewolf abilities he had recently obtained, he probably wouldn’t have caught Hailee at all. As his strong arms encircled her protectively, Dominic’s head swiveled back and forth between the women at the bar.
“So this is where the Wolf Cop comes to unwind.”
At the sound of the man’s voice time slowed all around him. His nostrils flared as the essence of intoxicating sweetness drifted towards him, and the blood rushing through his veins laced with adrenaline in preparation. In the twilight of dawn, in a back alley shortly after he had been bitten, Dominic remembered having this experience once before.
As he spun around to face Chicago’s most notorious drug lord, Dominic knew that if he could shift, the beast inside would rip the vampire apart
“What the fuck did you do to her?” Dominic seethed.
With Hailee safely secured in one arm, his free hand clenched into a gigantic fist. Every silent moment that ticked by, the hulking officer grew more and more furious. Pretty soon, he would be able to rival Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson. Even the Avenger’s wouldn’t be able to stop him.
“She’ll be fine,” Big Dragon replied casually. “A little silver never hurt anyone,” he shrugged. “Besides, every once in a while it’s good for a little she-bitch like Hailee. Helps keep her in line -- submissive even-- if you know what I mean.”
With all the strength she could muster, Hailee lifted her head from Dominic’s shoulder. “Fuck you,” she spat. Her head flopped back against his big chest.
Big Dragon tossed Hailee a wink, but Dominic choose to ignore it as concern flashed across his face. Glancing down at his mate, he noticed that her mouth was pressed into such a firm line, that her lips were actually starting to turn white. The thin, bluish veins underneath her skin pulsed upwards uncomfortably, and as every precious ounce of his mate’s flesh flushed with a searing heat, Dominic’s own body began to sweat in response.
“I’m going to kill you,” Dominic growled. “Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or even next week--” He trailed off for a moment, licking his lips as he seemed to nod in agreement with his own silent vow. “--but you should know. I’m going to kill you.”
Big Dragon looked stunned for a moment, staring blankly ahead. It was evident he had never been spoken to in such a way, nor had he ever had any reason to believe such a threat could exist. He recovered quickly though, and without so much as a second thought to the warning, the vampire tossed his head back before letting out a ridiculous laugh.
“So, the big ‘Wolf Cop’ thinks he can intimidate me.”
The Vampire’s lips pulled back into a devilish smirk, revealing two long fangs that glistened against the club’s dimmed lights. “Perhaps we should change your name to the big, bad wolf instead,” he suggested mockingly. “Or maybe I’m the real wolf here, and you’re just one of the three little pig-fucks.”
“Can you even kill me?” He continued to taunt. “Or does that go against some moral code of police ethics.”
Dominic trembled as he struggled to hold back his emotions. The mate bond he shared with Hailee was driving him nearly to the brink of insanity-- torn between caring for her and his own desires for murderous intent. As his finger nails dug painfully into the soft flesh of his palm, the large cop took a threatening step towards the ancient vampire.
“I’m sure my brothers in blue, would have no turning a blind eye.”
“Ah yes, I can see the headlines now,” Big Dragon smiled as he raised his hand in the air. “Chicago PD at it again: Murder in the streets, city outraged. The only problem is, you’ll either be dead or behind bars. And me? Well, I’ll become a victimized hero.”
Big Dragon turned serious as he levelled his gaze at the cop.
“I own this city, mutt. And you’d do well to accept, that pretty soon-- I’ll even own you.”
Dominic’s heart began to race as Big Dragon’s eyes flashed with a yellow glare.
“Submit, pup!” The vampire grit his teeth as the tension in the room grew thick. “Women, children, your family and friends-- no one will survive if you don’t fall in line.”
With a shake of his head, the weremale held his own. Never once did he look away. Clearly, something Ava and Jupiter hadn’t seen before. As the women’s mouths fell open at the same time, a thunderous growl tore from Dominic’s chest.
“I told you my boy had spirit!”
Both men had been so caught up in their stare down, neither had heard the other police officer walk up.
“Didn’t I tell you my boy had spirit?” As Wes clasped Big Dragon on the shoulder, Dominic’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“You’re a cop!” Dominic snarled. “I didn’t want to believe it at first--” He trailed off, shaking his head until his face lit up with realization. “You’re the rat! All this time, it was you feeding him information.”
“You wouldn’t believe the benefit’s package!” Wes laughed. “Riches, power, the promise of eternal life. It was a tough decision, but somebody had to do it!”
Dominic’s face flushed with anger and he was sure that if it wasn’t for the nearly unconscious girl in his arms, he would have torn Big Dragon’s familiar apart. “To serve and protect, do those words even mean anything to you?”
Wes looked conflicted as he took a step back. Before he could answer though, Big Dragon grabbed hold of the younger officer and flashed off with him into the night.
Once the two men had exited the building, Ava grabbed a glass of water and hopped over the bar. As she pressed a hand against her cousin’s forehead, the red head looked up at the big man.
“I’m curious--” the cop watched as Ava cautiously glanced around her before continuing. “--how in the world did you resist him?”
Dominic helped Hailee get all settled in-- extra covers, a bucket and a bottle of Gatorade. After three hours of continuous puking, it seemed it was all he could do to help her as she finally passed out from exhaustion. He pressed a kiss to the top of her forehead, checking on her one last time before leaving a note on the nightstand beside her. He was pleased to find that her fever seemed to have finally broken. Ava had warned him when they left the club, that things would get worse before they got better.
Tightening the strings on his basketball shorts, Dominic grabbed the lanyard with his gym key before heading out. As soon as he made it through the rotating glass doors, his feet pounded the pavement as hard as they could. It was exactly fifteen blocks to the gym where the city’s officers received a discount for helping keep Chicago safe.
It was the perfect distance to get in some cardio before he hit the weights. And apparently, it was also the perfect distance for his previous self doubts to come crashing over him. The further he got away from Hailee, the faster the fear and guilt crept into his mind.
He had failed Hailee, failed to protect her and keep her safe. Before he had been bitten, he had thought he was doing something good in the world, helping to keep the city safe from the monsters and thugs that lurked in the night. But now he knew it was all just a façade. As long as Bojing breathed as long as he and his familiars roamed the streets, nobody was truly safe.
Dominic sighed in relief as he entered the twenty-four hour gym. It had always been a good little place for lifting weights-- unlike the big name franchises that everyone flocked too-- and it was relatively empty right before the sun came up. He quickly racked his weights and slid under the bar. Nearly five hundred pounds of resistance and still, it wasn’t enough.
Across the room, hidden by the shadows of the towering machines, another man grunted before dropping his loaded barbell on the floor. Dominic’s head jerked towards him, automatically drawn by the noise. He failed miserably in trying to resist rolling his eyes. Some guys would never learn.
As the man stood from his bench, Dominic watched him sling a sweat soaked towel over his shoulder before slinking away. He hadn’t even bothered to pick up after himself.
With a clang of metal on metal, Dominic scowled as he re-racked the weight. He thought about muttering the words lazy and prick under his breath as the other guy neared.
“Dominic?” The other man chuckled nervously at the sight of his partner. “How the hell have you been?”
Dominic grunted in response as he sat up and positioned himself to do some repetitive curls. He then watched as Doug mopped the sweat away from his bald head before gesturing towards either side of the bar Dominic was lifting.
“That’s an impressive load you’ve got there.” Doug whistled before nodded towards the weight.
Dominic’s breathing had grown heavy but he remained stoic, counting silently in his head. His arms barely felt any strain at all and he soon decided that this was nothing but a waste of time.
“What are you doing here?” Dominic asked as he began stacking the plates back along the wall. He hadn’t meant for it to come out as harshly as it did.
Doug awkwardly cleared his throat before lowering his gaze. “I got some bad news right before the holiday,” the other man began. “Chief says if I don’t get my levels under control, they might have to bench me.”
“You mean like retirement?” Dominic actually felt something close to empathy as he looked back over his shoulder at the other man. With a new baby on the way, he couldn’t even imagine what Doug and his wife must be going through.
“That’s what was implied,” Doug nodded. “I can’t believe this is it for me. I’m not even fifty yet and I’ve already got high cholesterol, blood pressure through the roof, and on top of it all, they’re telling me I’m now a diabetic. I’m screwed, Dom! What if the only job I can get is working security down at the Woodfield Mall? I don’t want to be a rent-a-cop! And the only advice the doctor had for me was to lay off the donuts. Lay off the donuts? Doesn’t he know I’m a stress eater?”
For the second time that day, Dominic wished he had never asked. When he got back home, he swore he was going back into hiding in the introvert closet and never coming out again. You would find Narnia first before you’d find him buried deep inside.
He thought about bolting out the door and booking it down the street as fast as he could, but come Monday things would just get awkward since Doug was still his partner. He wished there was some way he could help the man, but he had seen Doug on a diet before, and he didn’t want to get anywhere near his hangry.
“Look man, just tell me. What’s your secret?” Doug begged. “It’s steroids, right? It’s gotta be steroids.”
Dominic’s head swung back around as he looked over his shoulder like the man had grown two heads.
“What is it with you and steroids?” Dominic frowned.
“Deny it all you want,” Doug shot back as he shrugged. “But ever since that night when you disappeared a few weeks ago, you’ve been acting really strange. And I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen someone lift four hundred pounds without even breaking a sweat.”
“Five hundred, actually,” Dominic muttered under his breath.
“The weight,” Dominic repeated. “It’s five hundred pounds.”
He sighed heavily before turning to face Doug. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep such a secret.
“You’re right though,” he nodded. “Something did change that night a few weeks ago. But if I tell you, you’ll just think I’m crazy.”
Before he knew what was happening, Doug had moved forward and placed a hand against Dominic’s arm. “Aw, I would never think anything negative about you, Nicki!”
Even though he was kidding, Dominic snarled before removing Doug’s hand. ”Never call me that again. You hear me? And I swear if you touch me once more, I will kill you,” the big man promised. “Death and pain. Lots and lots of pain.”
As the other man nodded his head, Dominic contemplated whether or not he could really disclose what happened that night to Doug. On one hand, he could see how beneficial it would be to have someone else who knew the truth about Big Dragon and Wes. But on the other hand, Doug was kind of a puss and at any moment Dominic was sure he would crack under the slightest bit of pressure. It was already dangerous enough having Wes know what he truly was.
Dominic inhaled sharply before holding his breath. Hopefully he was making the right decision here.
“I know how this is going to sound,” Dominic began. “But you have to believe me when I say there are things out there that are far worse than gang bangers and drug lords. The things that go bump in the night, the ghosts and demons, witches and vampires, they’re all real.”
When Doug rolled his eyes, Dominic knew he was losing him fast. “Oh c’mon, man--”
“I’m serious,” the big man shook his head. “That night when I left you, I heard a woman screaming in the alley. I got out and went to go investigate, when I found her with a knife sticking out of her side. The perp who attacked her, he looked at me with these glowing yellow eyes. He flew away Doug. He actually fucking flew.”
Dominic paused before looking down at his friend. “When I ran to help the woman up, I pulled the blade from her and found that somehow she was already healing. Her eyes, they flashed with the most brilliant green I’ve ever seen. It was mesmerizing, and then her canines elongated before sinking down into my flesh. The woman? She bit me that night, and claimed me as her mate. I haven’t shifted yet so I can’t claim her back just yet. But I love her, Doug. And now-- I’m a werewolf.”