“C’mon man. This can’t be healthy,” Doug commented as he loaded up another fifty pounds. “I mean seriously, dude. The bar looks like it’s about to snap.”
“Just one more,” Dominic insisted. He barely even grunted as the weight seemed to glide effortlessly in his capable hands.
“You said that at least twenty reps ago,” Doug replied. He licked his chapped lips nervously before treading forward. “This isn’t going to bring her back, ya know.”
With a noisy bang, Dominic slammed the bar back in the rack.
“You don’t think I know that?” he growled. As his head fell heavily into his hands, his shoulders heaved as a light sheen of sweat glistened off his chest. It only took an impossible weight and an undetermined amount of time, but he was sure in the morning he would finally feel the burn.
“I just wish I knew where she was.”
“Have you checked the red light cameras?” Doug asked before taking a seat beside him.
Nodding his head, the large weremale appreciatively accepted the towel from Doug’s outstretched hand. “I even tried tracking her cell phone, but she must have deactivated it.”
“What about her IP address?” Doug suggested. “Or bank accounts? GPS? Facial recognition?”
“I’ve tried all of that,” Dominic sighed. “I swear, it’s like she just vanished or something.”
As he stood up from the bench, Dominic angrily whipped the sweat soaked towel across the room.
“I’m sure she just needs some time to cool off.”
Doug tried his hardest to sound convincing, but Dominic knew the truth. With a shake of his head, his hand ran along the back of his neck. “I don’t know, man. You should have heard me,” he confessed. “I basically told her I wished we had never met.”
“I know!” The hulking officer cringed. “God, I’m such a douche.”
“But I thought you loved being a were--”
Eyes widening as he glanced around, Dominic rushed forward before throwing his large hand over the other officer’s mouth. “What the hell man?” he hissed.
He proceeded to haul his partner off towards the locker room, making sure they were alone before locking the door. “You can’t just blurt that shit out,” Dominic scolded. “Do you know what would happen if humans ever found out about us?”
“Right, right. I’m sorry.” Doug nodded his head as Dominic slowly removed his hand. “Sometimes I just get a little excited, you know?.”
With a huff, Dominic flipped back the lock on the door while Doug began gathering his things for the shower. A moment later Dominic had stripped down as well.
“So,” Doug tried again. “I thought you liked being a big furry badass.” The man chuckled slightly at his own joke while Dominic rolled his eyes.
“I do,” Dominic answered truthfully. The unrivaled strength, the enhanced speed and endurance, the sex-- God, the sex. There really wasn’t anything not to like. “I just-- I don’t know, man.” He lowered his gaze. “I was just so angry.”
“Well, you had just lost your sister,” Doug sympathized.
“Yeah,” Dominic mumbled. “But we really weren’t all that close.”
Doug froze a moment as he looked up from lathering his body. “Well then damn, boy. You really did fvck up.”
“I know.” Dominic sighed again as he continued to rinse himself. “And I don’t-- I don’t think she’s coming back.”
It had been five days since he’d lost everyone he loved. His sister had been cremated the next day, no questions asked since he was a cop and Cook County was crooked as fuck. Henry was halfway across the country, and as for Hailee-- in the very least he had expected her to return home a day. Hell, he honestly thought it would be more like a few hours.
“Have you checked the Atlantis?” Doug suddenly broke into Dominic’s thoughts.
As his gaze fell on the much shorter man, Dominic couldn’t help but notice how Doug looked like he had actually lost a substantial amount of weight. Maybe in another month or so, he would finally have the partner he always dreamed of. His mouth actually bobbed open for a moment as he envisioned the two swapping muscle building tips and protein shake recipes.
“No, I haven’t,” he admitted once he’d finally snapped out of his daydream.
He was scared to death of stepping foot in that place. Surely just one cell phone recording of him shifting could end werewolves peaceful co-existence in the world. He wasn’t even sure if he could handle an encounter with Bojing right now. Especially if it turned out that Hailee had gone running there for shelter.
Dominic sighed as he tossed his used towel in the dirty laundry bag. It was starting to look more and more like the Atlantis was probably where Hailee was hiding out. Where else could she have possibly gone he wondered as he finished buttoning up his uniform. Who else would have the kind of technology to erase her digital footprints?
After about another ten minutes of contemplation, both officers were suited up and heading towards their unmarked SUV.
“Why don’t you let me drive today?” Doug offered. With one of Dominic’s eyebrows raised in skepticism, Doug was quick to add-- “I promise. No funny business this time. Both hands on the wheel, twelve and two.”
“You mean ten and two.” Dominic corrected. He was already regretting the decision and he hadn’t even handed Doug the keys yet. The look on his partner’s face was priceless though as it lit up brighter than the Griswold’s house on Christmas.
“Seriously?” Doug squealed.
Dominic nodded as he watched Doug pluck the keys from his hand.
“Well alrighty then!” Doug hollered as he hopped into the driver’s seat. “You comin’ Miss Daisy, or what?”
With a roll of his eyes, Dominic eventually followed. He was beyond regretting this decision.
“Where the hell are we going?” Dominic asked a few minutes later. Doug had just turned onto the Dan Ryan expressway heading south towards Indiana.
“Guess that’s for me to know and for you to find out!” Doug laughed, almost maniacally as he did so.
With a sideways glance, Dominic muttered under his breath. “I think I liked you better before I bit you,” he groaned.
“That’s funny,” Doug quipped. “Me too!”
Dominic was about to comment how getting bit was probably the best thing to ever happen to Doug’s fat ass, when Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas” suddenly blasted across the radio.
Drumming his fingers along the top of the steering wheel, Doug turned to Dominic pausing long enough to ask. “Doesn’t this song just always put you in the mood for Christmas?”
Dominic wanted to rip his ears off as visions of Hailee dancing in her lacy bra and matching forest colored panties popped into his head. It had been the day after Black Friday, after she had come home with blood staining her arm and smelling of other men and their arousal that she had sang this song for him. She had the song blaring so loudly, he still wondered how they hadn’t gotten a call from Moises down at the front desk.
“Not much of a Mariah fan, huh?” Doug remarked as Dominic jammed one of the preset buttons with his thumb. “That’s ok,” the other man shrugged. “Bono is just as good.”
“And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time--”
Dominic slumped down in the passenger seat as Doug immediately began singing along. Sometimes he wondered if he was the only person in Chicago counting down the days until December twenty-sixth. It could have been a whole lot worse he decided. At least it hadn’t been Wham or little Michael. Of course, by the time they had pulled into the parking lot of the gentlemen’s club, both songs had been played and sung too-- twice.
It was a good few minutes later when Doug leaned forward and turned down the radio. Dominic however, continued to sit and inspect his hands with an intensity like they had suddenly become the most interesting thing in the world.
“What do I even say to her?” He finally asked.
“You could always try ‘I’m sorry’--”
“Obviously.” Dominic’s eyes narrowed in contempt.
“Then, once you have her attention, you tell her how much she means to you.” Doug continued on as though Dominic had never interrupted him. “You tell her she’s the breath in your lungs, the blood in your veins. Without her you don’t exist-- you can’t exist. Without her, everything else will cease to exist.”
And for Dominic, it already had. With a solemn nod, he got out of the car.
“You’ve got this!” Doug shouted before offering a thumbs up.
The officer stiffened though nobody else was around. “Maybe you should leave the engine running,” he suggested as he slammed the passenger door shut. Leave it to Doug to make him feel like a kid in the dropoff whose mother had just screamed ‘I love you’.
His large stride quickly had him strolling up to the double doors of the club. Dominic nodded towards the bouncers who flanked either side, recognizing them as the twins that were there the day Big Dragon had sexually assaulted his Hailee. If only he had been able to shift then--
“Make it quick, law dog.” The one on the right directed as he handed Dominic back his badge.
They may have looked intimidating to the regular clientele, but at half a foot taller and with at least seventy-five pounds on each, Dominic was not impressed.
“Trust me,” he growled. “I don’t plan on spending any more time in there than necessary.”
As he muscled his way past the twins, a few club goers immediately made a mad dash for the exit. Certainly it couldn’t be due to their involvement with any illegal activities, Dominic scoffed. With a little less than half the patrons suddenly emptying out after catching a glimpse of the Wolf Cop, it didn’t take long for the sickly-sweet scent of Big Dragon to waft his way.
“It seems you’re very bad for business, Mr. Hastings.”
Dominic could feel his core temperature heating up at the sound of Big Dragon’s voice. The beast inside fighting to push forward-- to kill.
“And I’m afraid without a warrant, I’m going to have to ask you to leave my club.”
The officer was nearly trembling as he turned around to face Bojing. “And I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave my city,” Dominic countered. “Preferably before it’s turned into a blood bag.”
“So she told you.” His tone implied it was more a statement than a suggestion.
“Of course she did,” Dominic found himself replying. With the words, “she’s mine,” Dominic watched Big Dragon falter.
“I guess only time will tell.” The vampire folded his hands calmly in front of himself as he recovered. Though Hailee’s sire bond may have been crumbling right before his eyes, he would never admit it. “And to think, I was actually about to offer you a job.”
“You couldn’t afford me.”
Pivoting on his heel, Dominic headed for the door. His wolf was relieved Hailee wasn’t here at the Atlantis. It was obvious she hadn’t been in days. But now what? How in the hell was he supposed to win her back if he couldn’t even find her.
As luck would have it, Dominic felt someone bump against his shoulder before slipping something into his hand.
“Easy, man.” The guy was smart, averting his gaze from Dominic’s stare. “I’m just trying to help a friend,” he muttered, slowly raising both of his hands in submission as he struggled to breathe.
With a quick glance down at the scrap of paper, Dominic loosened his grasp around the other man’s throat. Standing around six foot one, with shaggy brown hair and an athletic build, Dominic guessed this guy was somewhere in his mid to early twenties.
“You’ll find her there,” the kid gestured towards the address in Dominic’s hand.
He was sure he had seen the kid once or twice before, but the slight stubble around his face was throwing him off.
“Why are you doing this?” Dominic’s eyes narrowed as he studied the kid. If he remember correctly, he was pretty sure his name sounded a lot like Ringo. Not that it mattered. What Dominic needed to figure out was could he be trusted.
“I shouldn’t,” the other guy confessed. “From what I heard, you were terrible to her.”
Dominic growled slightly, but he wasn’t sure who it was directed at. The kid wasn’t wrong though. And without another word, Dominic turned and headed for the door once again.
“She’s miserable without you,” Mingo called to him. “But make no mistake. If you break her heart again, I swear, I’ll break your neck.”
Pausing, Dominic glanced back over his broad shoulder, long enough to see a glimmer of electric blue flash in the kid’s eye.
“It’s been a pleasure, Alpha,” he bowed.