A blue and gold empty beer can fell from Dominic’s hand as he startled awake. He cursed slightly under his breath at whoever was pounding on the fire escape door, but instead of answering, he just pulled another can from the box beside him. He had no idea how long he had been in this vegetative state. It could have been weeks-- could have been months-- hell, at this point he wasn’t even sure if he still had a job-- or a life.
The only time he got up from his chair anymore was to either relieve himself, or to make food when the growling in his stomach became too unbearable. There were a couple of other times when he had ran out of beer as well. On his last trip, the store clerk had watched in awe as Dominic carried eight, twenty-four packs without even the hint of a struggle.
He was hoping that he wouldn’t need to go out for a few more days, but the piles of empty cans around him spoke the truth about how much he had actually drank. He also knew he was running low on food. But honestly, without Hailee, what was the point in even living anymore?
“For god’s sake Dominic, open the fucking door!”
He was surprised to hear Jupiter’s voice echoing about the other side, but he was too stubborn to move. Or was it too drunk?
As he looked down at the newly opened can in his hand, he swore the label actually read fucker’s until his vision refocused. Dominic slammed the Foster’s back in a single slug before crushing the can and tossing it. It landed and rolled near the larger pile along his weight set. He had found that with his werewolf metabolism, he needed to pound a can every twenty minutes or so if he wanted to stay drunk.
“Oh my god, what’s that smell?”
Dominic bristled slightly at the soft click of the door’s lock flipping back.
“I don’t know, but it smells like something died in here,” another voice agreed.
Dominic could feel his eyes roll back so far in his head he could almost see his spine. As the entire Scooby-Doo gang shuffled into his foyer, he made a quick mental note to find out how in the hell they had gotten their hands on a key--
And then destroy it.
“Oh my god,” Ava gagged as she lifted her hand to cover her nose. “Seriously, when’s the last time you had a shower?”
Dominic grunted in response as he watched her kick a few cans out of her way. Giving a shrug of his shoulders, he didn’t think he smelled that bad. He was moving to grab another beer can out of the box when suddenly Justin threw open the curtains.
“Get out!” Dominic roared, his hands flying up to cover his eyes. A tear actually rolled down his cheek as he winced at the sudden intrusion of light.
But instead of leaving, an ice cold Gatorade was suddenly thrust into his hand along with three extra strength ibuprofen.
“Come on Dom, we’re just worried about you, you know?” Doug spoke gently as he squatted down in front of him. “It’s been a month and none of us have seen or heard from you.”
Dominic’s head flopped backwards as his big hands scrubbed his face in frustration.
“I mean c’mon man, don’t you even want to try and go after Hailee?” Justin asked.
Clearly that was the wrong thing to say as Dominic’s head snapped in the direction of the newly shifted werewolf. As the features on his face hardened into an angry glare, he thought about getting up and strangling the young pup with his bare hands. Luckily for Jupiter’s brother, he was too drunk to walk let alone think straight.
“I did,” he finally growled, the sound rolling across the room low and deadly. “I even had her in my damn grasp!”
Dominic paused as his throat seemed to tighten. But then, the entire room could suddenly feel his shift in mood. As he tilted his head up to look them all in the eye, his lips pursed angrily together.
“She made her choice,” he slurred as his eyes narrowed at his own funny sounding words. “She compelled me to put her down and then told me to stay put.” As he reached for another can of Foster’s he held it up as if giving a toast. “I hope she has a lovely life.”
“Oh-my-gawd,” Ava scolded as she swiped the beer from his hand before he could take another swig. “She only did that because Big Dragon had Mingo held hostage and was threatening to kill Doug’s wife and kids.”
Dominic turned towards Doug, the skepticism written all over his face.
“It’s true,” the other officer nodded. “We pulled the security footage from inside the elevator and could hear everything Wes was saying to Hailee.”
Dominic blinked a few times at the ragtag band of werewolves standing in front of him. So she hadn’t chosen the leech over him after all. Great. But she had still worked some of the fvcking vampire mojo on him.
“Seems fair,” he nodded stiffly in agreement. “But there’s still the matter of her compelling me,” he complained. “Just seems like every time I turn around I find out something else she’s been hiding from me.”
“You mean kinda like how we’ve been hiding our plans to take Big Dragon down behind her back?”
Dominic stared blankly ahead at Doug as he let his brain marinate on the other man’s words. Leave it to the donut lover to find some sort of connection between the too.
“You know I’m right,” Doug softly urged.
It started out slow at first, but eventually Dominic nodded his head.
“Bojing removed so many of Hailee’s memories,” Ava began as she moved to stand next to Doug. “He’s compelled and trained her to be the perfect killing machine. And everyday she’s with you, she remembers just a little bit more. She has so much guilt over the things he’s made her do-- she needs you Dom. Needs you to be loving, patient and most of all understanding.”
As he unscrewed the lid on his gatorade, Dominic turned towards Ava and nodded. It was about all his drunken mind could do but even through the haze he knew she was right. He could almost feel his wolf willing the alcohol out of his system.
“There are a few other things we need to discuss while you’ve been MIA,” she said. “The house that Hailee told you about in South Carolina, the one owned by Bojing’s claimed one?”
Dominic nodded as he remember Hailee telling him about it on their trip down to West Virginia.
“Well, it turns out it was a bust,” she explained. “I have satellite images to prove it’s still vacant and the grounds have remained completely untouched.”
“Also, the day Hailee was taken, Wes handed in his letter of resignation that morning-- effective immediately,” Doug informed him. “We’re pretty sure Big Dragon turned him around the same time.”
“The Atlantis has been closed for remodeling too,” Jupiter added. “We checked it out, and nobody’s there. It’s like Bojing has gone into hiding or something.”
“Or something,” Dominic muttered, his hand balling into a large fist as he repeated the words. “It sounds like he’s playing it smart, analyzing his options and building up his numbers. While we were down in West Virginia, John mentioned that the blood sucker used to be an Emperor. He’s strategizing, playing war games,” Dominic nodded his head in assurance. “And for his first act, he’s pinned the disappearances on us.”
“You haven’t been keeping up with the news, have you?” Doug asked. “I thought so,” he responded when Dominic shook his head ‘no’. “Last night Bojing rounded up his largest number yet.”
“How many?” Dominic asked, his voice barely above a whisper. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to know. Not that it made much of a difference anyways. The bloodsucker had Emmanuel in his pocket and everyone else followed suit. Everyone else was just too afraid.
“Six hundred and fifty.”
Dominic inhaled sharply.
“That’s not all,” Jupiter spoke up from where she stood next to Justin. Her brother hadn’t moved an inch from beside the curtains. “The streets are empty,” she told him. “And there’s a city-wide curfew in place. Everyone’s on edge and the panic is actually starting to spread to nearby areas like Detroit and Milwaukee.”
“It’s becoming a different world out there,” Doug agreed. “And I think it’s finally time to take down Big Dragon. We’ve brought in a couple of people that we’d like you to meet--”
Dominic’s back grew rigid as two other men came into view. He could sense the power radiating off the first one who entered, though it wasn’t enough to make him feel threatened. His wolf, while growing slightly restless, assured him that his own power was equal if not greater.
The bearded man, who was all dressed in black, was of average height with a medium type build. His dark, greasy hair seemed to be blown back permanently by the wind while numerous tattoos crawled across any visible fair skin. With such strong scents like burnt rubber and gasoline, Dominic was sure the man was a biker.
The second, while much taller than the first, also seemed a lot less intimidating. The man carried himself with a silent strength though, and the long raven colored hair that flowed down his back could only be described with one word-- beautiful. Dominic noted how the turquoise necklace around the man’s neck complimented his dark eyes and rich skin tone, a russet, reddish brown.
“Dominic, this is Charlie Westcomb. President and Alpha of The Grizzly Brotherhood Motorcycle Club in Rose City, Michigan.”
He watched as the other man lifted his grease stained fingers, giving the scruff underneath his neck a scratch before extending his hand.
“He’s also a bear shifter,” Doug explained. “And eight other members of his clan have agreed to join us--”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, bub.” The man’s voice was every bit as gruff as Dominic imagined. “I was under the impression that we were here to meet some great Alpha,” the man scoffed. “But all I see here is what looks to be the set up to some sad Willie Nelson song. You sure he can even shift?”
Out of the corner of his eye, Dominic saw Doug take a step back at the other man’s challenge. He could feel his clothes already beginning to tatter as he slowly and angrily stood from his chair. His head rolled against his massive shoulders as his ligaments popped and his muscles flexed. He always relished in the feeling of power, right before his transformation started getting underway.
As Dominic stalked closer, he could feel the saliva dripping from his jowls. A devilish smirk spread across his features as a growing shadow fell over the room. Michigan gulped as he joined Doug in taking a step back.
“Damn,” Dominic could hear the alpha mutter. He was trying to hide it, but there was no mistaking the fear in his eyes. “He’s just as big as a bear.”
“Or slightly bigger.” The other man with the long raven hair pointed out. He had wisely kept his mouth shut until now, while keeping his gaze lowered towards the ground.
Dominic continued to take a step forward as he backed Charlie into the wall. With a dramatic snarl, he let his left claw drag down the front of the man’s loose fitting shirt. His wolf wanted to make sure that the man never disrespected him in his own house again.
“Alright man,” Doug let out a nervous chuckle as he placed his hand on Dominic’s shoulder. “I think Charlie here get’s the point.”
Dominic growled as his head snapped towards Doug, but a moment later he began shrinking down. It was Ava who made her way towards the bedroom first, while neither Charlie nor the other man seemed concerned by the large weremale’s nudity.
“I am Running Fox,” the man with the russet skin tone jutted his hand out for Dominic to embrace. “My father, Loved by the Buffalo, has sent me in his place as he is too old to travel this far.”
Dominic nodded as he took the man’s hand. “If they are bears--” he nodded towards Charlie, “then you are?”
“We are shifters of all types,” Running Fox explained. “While many moons ago, my father could shift into the most majestic buffalo, Mother Earth has gifted me with the quick abilities and cunningness of a fox.”
“And how many of you are there?” Dominic questioned. He was attempting some quick mathematics in his head, but his brain was still a little foggy.
“My father has sent ten of his best warriors to accompany me,” Running Fox replied.
“So there’s twenty-six of us total,” Dominic began. He paused for a moment as Ava returned from the bedroom, gratefully pulling on the basketball shorts that she brought for him.
“Don’t forget the leprechauns,” Ava added before handing him Calum’s calling card.
There was a subtle snort from Charlie at the mention of the mythical creatures, but he could see with his own eyes soon enough that they did in fact exist.
“So then twenty-nine,” Dominic’s voice boomed with authority as he returned to his seat. “Twenty-nine of us against god knows how many. It’s not going to be easy,” he warned. “And we might lose a few on the way.”
“We’re prepared.” Both Charlie and Running Fox nodded.
“If anyone wants to back out, speak up now,” Dominic looked up expectantly at the rest of the wolves. He didn’t know why, but he felt his chest swell with pride when nobody withdrew.
“So I guess the only thing left to do now, is find them.”
“About that,” Ava exhaled slowly as she tilted her head thoughtfully to the side. “You’re not gonna like this--”