Order of Protection

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Thou Shall Not Covet

John’s POV

I woke up to the most amazing feeling, my mate scratching my back as her eyes opened. During the night, she’d almost crawled on top of me; only a thin T-shirt and my fur between us as she laid across my chest. I opened my eyes and turned to look at her as she balanced her chin on my shoulder. “Uh! Puppy breath!” She scooted off the bed, running into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

I chuffed, then got down from the bed and took a long drink from the bowl. I couldn’t brush my teeth, but maybe I could rinse out some of the stuff from overnight. I heard Miriam get up and pad over towards me. “You’re her mate, aren’t you?” I looked at her, of course she could sense a werewolf, she was a powerful witch. I just nodded. “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. I could sense the connection between the two of you, and that’s the best night of sleep she’s had since I’ve known her. A normal night she’ll wake up with nightmares three or four times.” She scratched my ears. “Her wolf is in there, buried deep. I don’t know how to reach it. I hope your bond strengthens her wolf enough to break out of the chains holding her down.”

She went into the bathroom as Jessie came out. I laid by the door, patiently waiting as she pulled off her nightshirt and underwear, walking around to the dresser where she decided what to wear today. “Miriam, what are we training on this morning?”

“Fire and ice,” she said from behind the door. Jessie grabbed a pair of jeans, wool socks, a flannel shirt and lace underwear. I was glad I was sitting as I was, because the sight of her naked was giving me a little problem with John Junior she didn’t need to know about. I couldn’t breathe as she faced away from me, bending over to step into her underwear and pulling it over her perfectly formed ass. I thought her getting dressed would help, but those jeans she had were positively indecent. She turned to face the mirror as she put her bra on, giving me a good view of them as well. I was so hard a woodpecker couldn’t dent it by the time she finally finished dressing. “Luna, how am I going to survive watching her like this?”

You have to be strong,” Brian sent into my mind. “She’s still trying to wrap her head around witchcraft, and she is still afraid of the man who hurt her that day. Let the bond work.”

“I don’t have a choice,” I said. “I hope the place they practice this morning has a cold stream nearby I can lay down in. I’m going to have the biggest case of blue balls ever, especially since I’m stuck in wolf form.”

“Hey, in wolf form you can lick your own balls,” Larry added with a mental smirk. “Just watch the teeth.”

Voice of experience, Larry?”

Fuck you, John. I bet you learned a lot about pleasuring yourself without being noticed in prison.” More than he knew.

A couple more nights of Jessie hugging him and he’ll be losing control without even touching himself. Cuddles will be making puddles.” Brian was more than happy to join in the teasing.

Fuck you all,” I said. “One of these days you’ll find your mates and I hope they are like Patrick’s- underage and untouchable just so you get to suffer as well.”

“I’ll try to remember not to dislocate her shoulder as I pull her into my arms,” Brian said. I growled, causing Jessie to look my way. I pretended to be chewing on my right paw, and she went back to brushing her hair back and securing it in a ponytail.

And I’ll remember not to get arrested for beating a human half to death because he pinched her ass,” Larry said. “Are you going to be all right if I’m gone until tonight?”

“What’s going on?”

“We got a text from Charles. Apparently, Yuri figured out Jessie’s real name and address, and knows we are back in Minnesota. Alpha’s concerned that our hiding place may not be safe long or short term and wants to discuss options. We can’t do it over the phone, so I’m going to drive close enough to the Cities that I can link with them.”

That didn’t sound like a bad option, I was ready for pretty much anywhere but here. Miriam seemed all right, the others I wasn’t so sure. “Be careful, don’t get caught and don’t get followed. If you have any doubt, don’t come back.”

“If I’m not back by midnight, you two need to leave and go somewhere, anywhere away from here,” he said. “Just drive and don’t stop until you are a couple states away.”

“We won’t hesitate to move if she is in danger,” Brian promised.

“Come on, Cuddles, time for breakfast.” She opened the door and I followed her to the dining room, where she joined the other members of the Coven at the table. My food and water was set in the corner, and I ate quickly before sitting to watch them again. The conversation at the table was forced; the younger acolytes were afraid of Jessie’s powers, the older ones jealous. I could sense it in their eyes and their smells. A few sent glares my direction, they didn’t like werewolves. I didn’t like witches, they lacked the honor and family values that I was used to. Still, they were outwardly pleasant. Their High Priestess must have laid down the law, we were paying well for our room and board, and that was it.

I got up and followed Miriam and Jessie as they walked out the door. We went outside, then took a path through the woods until we came to a clearing at the edge of a small pond. I sat at the edge as Jessie started her lesson. Fire she was pretty good at; she was launching multiple fireballs at multiple targets within an hour. Ice was a whole other story. She could raise water up, shape it, spin it and throw it, but she couldn’t get it to freeze.

My tail thumped against the ground when she finally succeeded in making an ice ball, just before we broke for lunch. Larry was on the road and Brian was sleeping since he had to patrol at night. At least things were quiet.

Gwyneth’s POV

The acolyte held out the phone for me. “He didn’t say what he wanted, just that he wanted to talk to the coven leader,” she said.

“Leave me.” She walked out of my office and I sat down, kicking my heels off. “This is Gwyneth, who am I talking to?”

“My name is Arthur Andersen,” he said. “I am in need of a location spell to find a woman I’m looking for.”

Petty stuff. “And why would I help you with that? What is she to you?” Most times, location spells were requested by parents or jilted lovers. It was a messy business, most times the person who they couldn’t find was hiding from them on purpose. I rarely did them unless I thought the person should be found.

“I’ve got ten thousand reasons for you to help me find her, in cash.”

Hmm. He had my attention. “The name of the person you are looking for?”

“Jessie Ellen Donato. She is important to my employer, and I know she is in the area.”

I held back my emotions, tapping on the desk until I could talk. “I will need something of hers. Hair, clothing, jewelry- the closer the tie to her, the better.”

“I can have that for you in an hour,” he said. We arranged to meet at Sven and Ole’s, a famous pizza place in Grand Marais. Now that we were past the fall color season, the place wouldn’t be packed and there were plenty of quiet places to talk. I told him I needed two hours, mainly because I wanted to do my own searching.

I hadn’t looked into Jessie beyond the amazing raw powers that she held; opening up an internet search, I quickly found out why she was in hiding. If she survived, she was heir to a billion dollar fortune; if not, it went to her uncle. Ten grand in cash was peanuts for her life.

I made another call, this time to a man I know has ties to organized crime, specifically the Irish Mafia in St. Paul. I told him to call me back on a computer link that had high-quality encryption on both sides. I got right down to business. “Sean, I know where Jessie Donato is and I can guide your men to her. Interested?”

“Fuck yeah,” he said. “We’ve been looking for her, the contract is worth a lot.”

“I figured that. A local offered me ten thousand dollars to help find her. I want more. Add three zeros to that for me, add in the same for you for coming up here and killing her, and we have a deal.”

“I can’t just take her?”

“No, it has to be here, and I have to be present when you kill her. My business, not yours.”

It was silent for a minute. “The reward for killing her is just over a million dollars, Gwyneth. Why do you think we’ll split twenty million?”

“Because that’s just a rounding error to Yuri Zubkov compared to the billion dollars he’ll lose if he doesn’t kill her. Call Yuri, I know you have the contacts. This can be done tonight, no issues, both of us make a lot of money.”

“And if he refuses?”

“Then I go to Jessie and see how much she’ll pay me to hide her until she can be declared Yuri’s heir, and he gets nothing. I still get paid. You know I can cast a spell on a hiding place so she’ll never be found.” Actually, I’d just put her into stasis, where she couldn’t move and couldn’t talk, then stash her in a crypt, spelling the whole thing to prevent detection. It was much simpler to do that than someone who was moving around, eating and living.

“I’ll make a phone call. Anything else I should know?”

“Yeah, she’s got one guard and a guard dog protecting her, plus you’ll have to help me take out a witch.”

“You can block her magic?”

“I can, but you have to kill her.” As a white witch, I couldn’t kill, the stain on my soul would change my magic. Letting someone else kill them while I was there to accept the magical powers that would be released? That was different.

“I’ll call you back in twenty minutes.” I hung up, and he called back in fifteen. He was pretty excited, which told me he negotiated for more than the ten million I was getting. I didn’t care, either way I was going to get paid, and I’d absorb the magic from two powerful witches in the process. The Christians thought it a sin to covet; to us, accumulating power was its own reward.

My time in this cold, backwater town was over after today. My time as leader of a minor Coven was over as well. I was going to have money and power, and with that I’d change my entire life.

I got up and grabbed my keys. I had to eat lunch anyway, and pizza sounded good. I’d listen to this guy, take his money and send him to International Falls or something. It wasn’t like I’d still be here when he figured out I’d swindled him.

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