“What the fuck happened last night,” Dominic growled as he paced around the couch in his apartment.
Hailee watched everyone flinch as Dominic nearly exploded. The whole drive back he had been rather quiet, the vein along the side of his neck pulsing with his temper. She wasn’t sure how all the pieces fit together yet, but she was willing to bet money that Bojing had something to do with Doug getting loose. She knew Dominic suspected it as well, which was definitely a contributing factor to his terribly foul mood. Mostly though, he was just pissed about having to come home four days early.
“We’re not exactly sure,” Jupiter was the first to respond. “But apparently one of the links in Doug’s chain snapped.” She spoke in slow, even tones as though she was dealing with an angry drunk. Something she probably had an overabundance of experience in, having been a bartender for over nine years. “We inspected the other chains as well,” she continued. “Both mine and Ava’s-- and it looks like a few of the links had been tampered with.”
Hailee noted with curiosity how Dominic glanced towards Doug for clarification. During their week long stay on the farm, Pops had talked numerous times to Dominic about wolf packs and their structures. She had listened intently while John explained that there hadn’t been an Alpha for over a century, it would appear all of that was about to change.
“Some of the links showed signs of stress fractures.” The other officer held his hands up before forcing them apart. “Like a rubber band that has been stretched to its max,” he explained.
“And the only other person strong enough to do that besides me?”
“Big Dragon,” Doug and Jupiter replied softly in unison.
Flipping on the television, Hailee moved behind Dominic as he sat down in the big lazy-boy across from everyone. Her fingers skillfully worked on the kinks in the incredibly thick muscles along his neck and back, but her mate only seemed to grow more tense as channel after channel continued to play the same breaking news. It appeared now that reports from all over the country were pouring in about people who seemed to shift into large, powerful animals. She knew he was hoping that the media frenzy would have died down by now, but apparently even the announcement of a potential meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Trump couldn’t top this story.
She pulled Dominic’s shoulders back towards her as he slumped forward with a heavy sigh. Shepard Smith had just finished up a report about a YouTube video that had gone viral overnight. It showed a man irrefutably transforming into a black bear right before the viewers eyes, but the real horror seemed to be in the story coming up next. Apparently another three hundred people had gone missing from Chicago last night bringing the total somewhere around twelve hundred.
Surely not all of the missing people were vampires. But even if half had been transformed by now, and her calculations were right, Big Dragon could literally turn the entire population of Chicago in just under twelve days. She wondered how long it would take to turn the whole world. Four, maybe five years-- but then what? What was the end goal here?
“We won’t let it get that far,” Dominic promised as he suddenly interrupted her thoughts. He gave her hand a small pat as he placed his much larger one over hers. She hoped he was right but the numbers were just totally against them. Six werewolves against six hundred vampires?
With a sigh of her own, Hailee moved into the kitchen.
“Want to hear something funny?”
Hailee figured Ava must have been able to sense her frustration as the red-head followed her into the other room. She didn’t respond though as she took out a few pounds of pork sausage from the freezer and placed them in the microwave to begin defrosting them.
“He’s been a werewolf for less than a day, but Justin’s afraid he’s going to be mated to a man.”
Hailee couldn’t help but snicker slightly at that. From what she had heard, Justin had always been such a womanizer. It would be funny as shit if the Fates believed in karma.
As Ava shifted through the cabinets to find the baking mix, her mood turned sober. “What do you really think is going to happen, Hales? I’m just kind of surprised that Bojing would turn on you like this-- you know, by exposing the werewolf world and all. He has to realize he could be exposing himself as well.”
“And why on earth would he care about that-- about me?” Hailee questioned. “Every day his sire bond grows weaker, and I know he can feel it too. I remember a little bit more all the time and the longer we’re apart, I become more of a threat.”
Hailee paused for a moment as she braced her hands on the counter. She quickly brushed away the few tears that had fallen, but they didn’t go unnoticed.
“It doesn’t matter what things you did while under his compulsion,” Ava soothed as she rubbed her hand along Hailee’s spine. “You can’t beat yourself up over something that you had no control over.”
Hailee nodded her head, but she wasn’t sure if she would ever fully get over the guilt she held.
“Does Dominic know?” Ava gently asked.
With a sniff and a nod of her head Hailee answered. “Some of it,” she confessed. “I’m not sure how he would handle knowing everything that went on though.”
“Well, he proposed didn’t he?” Ava smiled as she grabbed for Hailee’s hand. “So obviously he doesn’t care about--”
The red head trailed off as she held up and inspected Hailee’s bare ring finger.
“What do you mean, oops?” Hailee countered. As she wrenched her hand back, the she-wolf turned on her cousin. “Tell me what you know,” she demanded.
“I can’t,” Ava sheepishly took a step back, she was growing increasingly aware of Hailee’s pupils beginning to dilate. “C’mon Hales, you know he’ll kill me.”
She could feel a wicked smile tug at her lips as Ava’s hand flew up and over her eyes. “You know that’s pointless,” Hailee taunted. “I can still compel you.”
A soft whine escaped Ava as she backed up into the refrigerator.
“Ok, fine!” She shouted as she removed her hand. “He was planning on proposing to you right after the full moon,” Ava blurted out. “But he probably didn’t get the chance with everything that happened. He’s been carrying around this big ole rock in his gym bag since Chris--”
But Hailee didn’t wait for her cousin to finish the sentence. As she rushed back out to the living room, she made sure Dominic was still watching the television before sneaking over towards the elevator doors. Sure enough, the black bag with the word ‘Animal’ across the front was still laying in the entry.
Hailee took a deep breath as she moved towards the bag. She could hear her mate growing restless as he felt her own excitement through their bond. As quietly as possible, Hailee unzipped the bag. She had just shoved her hand inside when Dominic stood up.
“What are you doing?” he asked, turning around. As he took her in, kneeling on the floor beside his gym bag, the look of panic in his eye was proof enough.
“I was just getting ready to do some laundry,” Hailee lied smoothly as she stood back up. She smiled broadly as she watched Dominic visibly relax.
Hailee took a step forward, intending to head back towards the kitchen when suddenly the elevator’s bell rang out, indicating that someone had arrived on this floor. Her face mimicked Dominic’s as she spun back around, confused. You needed a special key to reach Dominic’s floor, or else Moises would have called--
With an audible gasp Hailee took another step back as the doors slid open. She barely had enough time to scream as two sets of arms reached out before pulling her inside.
She could hear Dominic’s earth shattering roar as she flailed in Wes and Jackson’s arms. In the back corner, Ty looked busy as his finger worked across the screen of a large iPad at a furious pace.
With an elbow to his head, she could hear Wes cuss before losing his grip. She turned her body around to face Jackson, but his hold on her was much stronger than Wes’. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Dominic rush forward. He leapt over the back of the couch, but the polished doors had begun sliding closed.
“Dominic!” She screamed. She could feel herself growing helpless as she watched them close.
At the last possible second, Dominic’s hand shot between the opening, causing the metal box to come to a screeching halt. Despite Ty’s best efforts, the large weremale was actually wrenching the doors open. Hailee could see he was trembling as his fingers left behind marks in the metal.
Jackson pulled her back further into the elevator as Ty continued to tap on his pad. It was Wes who surprisingly took a step towards her mate, but she could smell it on the air, he was no longer human. With a cocky grin he pulled back his fist.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to do this, Wolf Cop.” Wes snarled the nickname before punching Dominic square in the jaw. Though it only stunned the big alpha momentarily, it did the trick. Hailee whimpered as she watched Dominic stumble backwards and the doors finally close.
As they began their descent, Ty tapped a shaken Hailee on the shoulder before turning his iPad towards her. A familiar looking house came into view on the screen. It was completely dark save for the blue glow of the porch light, and almost immediately she recognized it as Doug’s house.
“We have a few men waiting for my call,” Wes began as he moved closer, looking over Hailee’s shoulder at the screen. “If you don’t come easily, or you try to run, we’ll have Molly and all those poor, innocent children slaughtered.”
Hailee tugged her arms free from Jackson, before turning towards the other man. “And what would I care?” Hailee shrugged before levelling her gaze at Wes. “I’ve never even met the woman before.”
“We thought you might say that,” Wes smirked as he nodded at Ty. “But we all know that no matter how big and bad of a she-wolf you try to be, you’d never put anyone knowingly in danger.”
Ty did something on the screen before placing the tablet back in her line of sight.
“Tell me, when’s the last time you heard from your friend, Mingo?”
There was barely enough time for Hailee to see the eagle shifter-- tied up, broken and bloodied-- when suddenly everyone lurched forward as the elevator came to a stop. Hailee thought maybe the breaks had malfunctioned as the box lowered to the ground, but as she looked up, she realized they were only near the tenth floor or so. The trio of vampires scrambled as something began moving above them. Ty frantically worked to get the elevator moving again, but Hailee’s heart had swelled with the idea that Dominic had come for her.
But then she remembered Mingo, and Molly, and Doug’s kids. The smile fell from her face but even Wes and Jackson watched in amazement as Dominic ripped the escape from off the top. With his pants and shirt clinging to him in shreds, the large weremale struggled to drop through the human sized hole into the elevator carrying his mate. The sight before them was nearly horror inducing as Dominic had been caught in some weird half human, half werewolf hybrid state. While his height had increased and his muscles enlarged, his skin had darkened to an almost iridescent coal color but remained entirely free of any hair. The rest of him had remained for the most part human as well, except for the claws that tipped each of his hands and the rows of sharp fangs protruding from his lips.
As his heavily muscled arms wrapped around Hailee, she found herself gazing longingly into those glowing sapphire eyes. Her hand caressed the side of his cheek as he cradled her against his broad chest. She took refuge in the hope that he would come for her again.
“Put me down,” she ordered, noting how his eyes had dilated to match her own. “You will let me go, and you will shift back into your human form,” she compelled.
He seemed to hesitate for a moment, but ultimately complied. Hailee’s heart nearly broke as he melted down into his normal state.
“You will stay here,” her voice quivered slightly as he tilted his head. “And never forget--”
She was unable to finish her words as Jackson placed a cloth over her nose and mouth. She remembered smelling something intoxicatingly sweet as she fell back into the darkness.