We waited in the terminal at the small airport outside town as the Learjet carrying my family made its final approach. I’d been linking with my mother since they came within range, so hopefully she’d let someone else say something when they finally got here. I looked over at Alpha Viktor, he was putting his phone back in his pocket with a smile on his face. “She’s awake and doing well,” he said.
I relaxed, this was good. She’d been in a medically-induced coma for a week and needed to be awake to go through Customs. Sending her out in an air ambulance would be too visible for someone looking for an injured woman leaving the country. Viktor and I had discussed with the other Alphas the best way to sneak her out without raising suspicions. What we had settled on wasn’t ideal for her, but it was the best we could come up with. The first part was getting us all here with Yuri, who was arriving a few hours after my parents.
We didn’t say much as the jet landed and taxied towards the hangar we were waiting in with the cars. They waited as a Customs agent boarded. Five minutes later he was gone, and they pulled in and shut the engines down. As soon as the door opened again, my mother was rushing down the stairs. “PATRICKKKKK!” She almost knocked me over, and I held her up as she kissed my face. “I’m so happy for you!”
“Thanks Mom,” I said as I finally got her back on her own feet. “Mom, you remember Alpha Viktor?”
The Alpha took her hands, lifting them to kiss the back, as more was inappropriate for a mated woman. “You look wonderful, Beta Abigail. Welcome to the Kstovo Pack, Beta Peter. Thank you for coming, and for raising such a good son for my daughter.”
“It is an honor to be here, and to be joined to such a prestigious bloodline,” Peter said formally.
Alpha Stan and Luna Larissa Larsen had waited on the plane for a minute before joining us. “Alpha, Luna,” I said as I bowed my head respectfully.
“Welcome to Russia, Alpha Stan and Luna Larissa. Larissa, Luna Marina sends her regrets, but she’s swamped with the preparations for the ceremony and says she will catch up later.”
“That’s quite all right, Viktor, I can only imagine how busy she is. Not just a claiming ceremony but a European Alpha Summit? She must be exhausted already.” She moved over to me. “Congratulations on finding your mate, Patrick. May your lives be full of joy and pups.” She hugged me, and I lightly patted her shoulders before she stepped back.
Viktor gestured to the two big vehicles waiting, drivers standing by the doors. “Alphas, you are with me, we have some things to discuss on the way back. Patrick, you and your parents are in the second vehicle.”
We walked away to the second car, and soon we were headed back. My Dad turned towards me. “I understand your charge is awake?”
“Yes, she awoke and is doing well, there appears to be no memory loss or loss of function.”
“That is good news. Viktor is keeping her away?”
“He is. Your plane will leave late tonight to go pick up Alpha Esca and Luna Eleanor. Larry and Brian will get her on the plane; once they get to London, a charter jet will return them to Minnesota. They will take her back to her home, and a doctor there will take over her care.” I didn’t like it, I was still responsible for her, but my own claiming ceremony was the distraction we needed to pull this off without Yuri noticing. “We’ve paid off the Customs agent, he will misspell her name and the report will be slow to get filed, if ever.”
“It’s a good plan,” Mom said, “And she deserves to have a better life. I can’t believe she’s heir to an Alpha. Good for John.”
“Maybe,” I said. “I think part of why Viktor is pushing for this Alpha summit is that he wants to put Mischa and I forward as potential Alphas for the Moscow Pack. Right now, there is nobody to lead, the senior leadership is all jailed or dead. It’s not good, and although some have found other packs, the majority are still in Moscow and leaderless. Mischa has Alpha blood, and I am from outside. It builds relations with the North American Packs and keeps the greedy Alphas back. It solves a lot of problems for the Council, and leaves Viktor with an heir plus a blood ally on his western border.”
“I’d rather have that than Yuri,” Dad said. “But what if Beta John wants to be Alpha?”
“Right now, John doesn’t even know if he can get the girl to talk to him, much less mate with him. She may be his legal heir, but in Pack terms she’s a null. They won’t accept a weak human as Luna. I think the Council will put a temporary Alpha in place, probably one of the retired Alphas on the Council, until Mischa is of age and we can take her place.”
My mom was starting to cry. “I don’t like you being so far away, Patrick, but being an Alpha, that’s a big thing. You were always destined to be more than your father’s replacement, I’m so proud of you!” She engulfed me in a hug.
“Mom, nothing is decided yet except this. I am returning home after the ceremony until Mischa is of age, I promised her father that already. I will let Mischa finish high school before we leave here. After that, Selene only knows what will happen.”
“Alpha Stan told us he will help you prepare for Alpha duties in the interim, and you need to learn Russian quickly,” Dad said. “Plus, the Council will no doubt test you. You may have to fight for the spot, and it won’t be easy.”
“Already started that,” I smiled, thinking back to my spars with Viktor’s men. No man in this Pack would challenge me after the display I’d put on.
We pulled to a stop, we’d reached the Pack House. As we stepped out, dozens of Alphas and Betas and their mates gathered round us to congratulate me. I smiled and pressed the flesh, playing the role of a future Alpha, but all I really wanted was to have my Mischa in my arms. I could see her, she was surrounded by women and girls her age. Our eyes caught, and I smiled.
Soon we would be tied together, and my wolf and I couldn't wait.
Alpha Yuri’s POV
The driver was waiting as my jet arrived in front of the terminal. “Alpha Viktor sends his regards and welcomes you and your men to the Kstovo Pack. He apologizes for not being here personally, but with all the Alphas arriving for the conference he was needed at the Pack House.”
I didn’t say anything, I just got in the SUV they had provided. Viktor wasn’t an ally, and he wasn’t an enemy. As an Alpha, he ran a Pack well and didn’t cause trouble with his neighbors. However, he had refused requests to assist my Pack in taking over Moscow, and that was not acceptable. I needed at least grudging acceptance from the surrounding Packs to convince the Council to let me take over.
I really didn’t see how they had a choice; the Moscow and St. Petersburg Packs were the only ones that were part of the Russian Mafia. That fact alone made me the logical person to absorb what was left of the Pack. The fact that my brother was the former Alpha, that gave me the rest of what I needed.
I had to show them all that it was inevitable, that they should get out front before they get in the way.
I called my Beta, who I’d left in charge back home. “Have you found her yet?”
“No sir. We’ve canvassed the area, no one saw her after the two men put her in the car. I’ve had men at every hospital and clinic within two hundred miles, bribed every clerk and nurse I could think of, and nobody saw a thing. She just disappeared.”
NOBODY fucking disappears unless I make them. Idiot. “We know they took off to the east, what is out there that they could use to hide her from us?”
“You, the Kstovo group and the mountains,” he said.
“You think Viktor has anything to do with this? Why would he risk war over a human?” If he had her, I’d kill every member of his Pack to kill her. She was worth far more than any backwater Alpha and his people.
“I don’t know that he did, I’m just saying he’s that direction. He denied it when we asked.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.” If he couldn’t do better than this, he wasn’t going to last long working for me. I wanted her DEAD and I wanted it last week. My sources in the courts said the DNA tests had come back as a paternal match. Natalya Klishnina was Yevgheny’s daughter and was about to be declared the heir to his estate. My lawyers were fighting it, but they couldn’t stop it. It could be settled in a few weeks to a month, cutting me completely out of his estate. Billions of rubles taken from my family and given to the daughter of a stripper.
I would not allow that to happen.
“We did find a photo of the two men on a surveillance camera, sir. We’ve been running them through our government sources, so far, no hits. If we can’t find her, maybe we can find these two.”
“Send me their pictures. And find the girl or find another job.” I closed the call and waited for the text. The photos weren’t great, but I memorized their faces anyway. We didn’t have a scent of the men involved. By the time my men arrived to fix the mess my assassin had made, the Father was in the morgue, it had rained, and hundreds of people had walked through the scene. Scent tracking was impossible.
I looked over at my Beta Shura, and his mate Polina. Looking at the two always made me chuckle, because Shura was a former heavyweight boxer while Polina had been a ballerina with the Moscow Ballet. She came up to his ribs, if he slouched. I don’t know how they had three pups without killing her during the conception or the birth. In wolf form it was more pronounced, she looked like a little pup hiding under his chest. I sent them both the photos on my phone. “It’s possible Viktor is hiding her from me. These men are involved, I need you both to mingle with the Pack as much as they’ll let you. I need their names. We find them, and they will lead us to her.”
“We’ll do what we can, Alpha,” he said.
“Polina, I need something from you. If she was here, the Pack Clinic staff would know. I need you to have something that requires attention tomorrow. Talk to the staff, see if you can get them relaxed enough to say if they’ve seen her.”
She smiled; she was such a tiny woman, people tended to relax around her as she was not a threat. Little did they know she was a deadly knife fighter and had killed a dozen men in my service. “I’ll be drinking vodka with them in no time,” she said.
The car slowed, and we entered the road leading to the Pack House. As we pulled up, Alpha Viktor came forward with his mate Marina to greet us. I got out first, my Betas behind me. “Alpha Yuri, welcome to the Kstovo Pack,” he said as he reached out his hand.
“Thank you, Alpha Viktor. Natasha sends her regrets, our Anatoly came down with the measles and she had to stay home. You know my Betas, Shura and Polina?”
“Of course,” he said as he greeted them. “Come, meet my future son-in-law.” We walked over to the group of men, and Viktor grabbed one by the shoulder. “Alpha Yuri Zubkov, this is my Mischa’s mate, Beta Heir Patrick Clarke of the St. Croix Pack in the United States.”
I reached out my hand to the young man, hoping my eyes didn’t give me away.
It was the man in the photo.
Patrick Clarke knew where Natalya Klishnina was.