I could hear the men grumbling outside the room, trying to figure out what to do next. We were among humans, they couldn’t just bust in and drag us out of there and I knew that. I went to the window, I could see they had parked a car next to mine. I heard one man moving around in the hallway, the others were likely covering the exits. I was pretty sure they would be sending reinforcements.
“Who was at the door?” Jessie came out of the bathroom, dressed in faded jeans, a T-shirt and a long-sleeved flannel shirt buttoned halfway up, and ankle boots. I looked her up and down. “What?”
“I can’t decide whether you are more beautiful in those clothes or naked,” I said. She blushed and walked past me, tingles exploding along my arm as her fingers dragged along it. “I wish we had more time, but that was the welcoming committee from the local Pack. It seems this is claimed territory, and I drove past the markers without noticing. We’ve been summoned before the Alpha.”
“Is that a problem?”
“It can be, depending on the Alpha and the circumstances. Since I’m no rogue wolf and I’m passing through, it should be fairly straightforward. I get a lecture on boundaries, he calls my Alpha to verify my identity, then we get escorted to the border after I apologize. You’re human, so it doesn’t apply to you.”
“Oh. We better get packed, then.” It didn’t take long, neither of us had pulled much out. I collected the dirty clothes in a plastic bag and set our luggage by the door. “Are you taking those to our car?”
“No, I’m not going out there until we’re ready to leave. They may not let us back in.” I sat down on the couch, and she sat next to me, relaxing into my side. “I could get used to waking up with you in my arms every morning.”
“I do sleep better with my Cuddles,” she said as she threw her leg over, sitting in my lap. I raised my right hand to her face as my left curved around her waist; she melted into it. “I’ve never felt like this about anyone before. It’s like coming home when I am in your arms.”
“With you in my arms, I need nothing else. You are my love, my mate, my future,” I told her as I drew her towards me. Her eyes closed as our lips touched, and she moaned as my hand moved around the back of her head. The kiss deepened, and she leaned forward until her chest was resting on mine. Her hands started to move down my chest, feeling the hard planes of muscles. I moved my left hand up, caressing her side before my thumb caught under her breast, releasing another moan. I pulled back, reluctantly, knowing that if we continued she’d be naked under me before she was ready.
“John…” Her whispered plea and her body grinding itself on mine was pushing me to the edge. I was relieved when I heard the knock on the door for room service.
“Breakfast, then we have to go,” I said. “I’ve pissed off the Alpha enough by not coming right away.” She got off my lap and sat at the table as I paid the guy and brought the dishes in, my guard staying just out of sight down the hall. I set her plate down, it was a Northwoods Platter with pancakes, thick cut maple smoked bacon, three sunny-side-up eggs and hash browns, along with butter and real maple syrup. I set mine down and filled her in on the protocol of visiting a Pack as we ate; basically, keep your eyes down, only talk when directly asked something, and do not lie. I would handle the rest.
We washed up and I set the room service cart by the door, then grabbed the suitcases as she opened the door. We walked down the hall and out to the parking lot, the Beta following behind me. The warrior in the lobby got up and followed us out, and the two in the parking lot were waiting as I opened the back hatch and put the luggage in. “How are we doing this,” I said to the waiting Beta.
“Follow their car. If you turn off or do anything else, you’ll be attacked and killed,” he said. I looked around, using my senses I could pick up two more vehicles and another six wolves in the area. No Alpha, but ten on one would be a struggle, even with Jessie’s powers. I opened the door for her, then went around and got in.
“Everything all right?”
“Yes, I must have scared them with my little power play more than I thought. They sent six more escorts for us.” I held her hand as we pulled behind the lead vehicle, the other three falling behind us. “Just relax, we’ll be fine.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” she said.
“It’s all right to be nervous.” She was starting to shake a little. “I’m curious as to your powers now. You were still discovering what Father Kempechny gave you, but what did you gain from Miriam and Gwyneth?”
She thought for a while. “I can only talk about what I saw, or they told me. Gwyneth rarely worked with me, as you know. Miriam said she was good at illusions, she could touch another and make herself look and act like them, or them look like her, but only while she maintained the illusion through her concentration. She couldn’t do fireballs or work with water like me, her powers were in controlling lightning and casting shields. She had some skill in fortune telling, palm reading, the old reliable crystal ball. She made a good income with that; like most powers, it only worked for others, though.”
“What do you mean?”
“Magic like that, especially white magic, doesn’t work on the witch who uses it. She could tell me my fortune, but not her own. The magic doesn’t allow for that.”
“Huh.” I thought for a moment. “Why doesn’t she just find out stuff like who wins the football game, or what company is going to succeed, then bet on that?”
“The magic is about individuals, rarely is it that specific. At least that is what Miriam taught me. She doesn’t have it, it came up on the trip over here when I was asking what witches were capable of.”
“What about Miriam?”
“Her powers were more elemental, like mine. She could control fire, water, air, and had an affinity for living things. She could cause plants to grow rapidly, even use them to bind or capture. She could call animals to her and direct them.”
“That will be interesting since I am a werewolf. Kind of takes the whole fun of the hunt away?”
She smacked my arm and laughed. “I am NOT calling Bambi in so you can kill it,” she said as she looked out the window. We were on a logging road, heading deep into the woods and lakes.
“Have you tried any of their powers?”
“No, I don’t know how, and I haven’t exactly had time to practice anything. Maybe someday we can find another witch, one we can trust, and she can continue teaching me.”
I squeezed her hand. “Tell me my future,” I said.
“I can’t do that!”
“You have no idea right now if you can or cannot, all you know is that the POWER to do so is inside you. Take my hand, clear your mind and try to see my future.”
She looked back to me, then sat with a huff and took my hand in both of mine while she closed her eyes. I kept driving, stealing glances as she tried to focus. “I can’t do it,” she said as she let me go.
“Try one more time. Better yet, don’t try. Just relax and let the magic flow.” I had picked up a thing or two in the training sessions I had watched, and it couldn’t hurt.
She took my offered hand, and this time she froze as her hand gripped tightly to mine. She let go a moment later, eyes wide in fear, and started crying uncontrollably. I wanted to pull over, but I couldn’t; she was turned away from me, her arms wrapped around her chest as her wails of pain echoed through the car. “Baby, relax… please, Jessie, you’re scaring me here.”
I ran my hand over her back, trying to comfort her. It was breaking my heart to watch her fall apart like this. It took ten minutes before she sat up, her face tracked with tears. “What did you see, honey?”
“Pain. You were in pain, on your knees, I could feel it cutting me like a knife, John.” She looked ahead at the car. “We have to get out of here, John. Something bad is going to happen.”
“It’s too late, baby. If we do anything now, they’ll kill us both.” We pulled through into a clearing, the grass extended from the treeline down to the lakeshore, and up to a large, three-story building that looked like a hotel. The Pack House had a sign on it, the “Windy Point Timeshare Resort.” It was a clever way to hide the existence of an entire Pack in plain view. Smaller cabins and homes were spread around the clearing and the lakeshore, while a large pole barn sat in back.
We circled around the entryway and stopped in front of the wide stairway leading to the main entrance. I was not happy to see the number of warriors waiting for us, nor the presence of both rifles and dart guns. I could see tasers on the belts of a few near the driveway. The Alpha and Luna were at the top of the stairs, guarded by large men.
“Quite a welcoming party, isn’t it?” Jessie was a little wide-eyed at all the scary-looking guys, and I wasn’t happy either.
“Yeah.” I put the car in park, and a guard was at both doors immediately. “Play it cool, Jessie.”
“We’ll both be little Fonzie’s out here,” she said with a smile as her door was opened. I stepped out, and two men flanked me as I walked around to take her hand in mine.
We walked over to the base of the stair where the Alpha gestured for us to stop. I looked up at him, he was older, clearly past his prime physically, but his eyes were bright his Pack’s loyalty was obvious. “You have trespassed on Vermillion Pack lands, and I am Alpha Sven Hirkkel. Who are you, Beta? The name you gave at the hotel gave no hits, and your car is registered to a human in St. Paul.”
“My apologies, Alpha Hirkkel. I was traveling under an assumed name for security reasons, and I did not see your markers in the woods. These lands are not familiar to me,” I said in my thick Scottish brogue. “I am Beta John Pearson of the Highlands Pack in Scotland. This is my mate, Jessie.”
“A human?” The Luna shook her head. “No werewolf can be mates with a human, silly.”
“She is my mate, Luna. There is no doubt of that in my mind.”
I felt the guards closing in behind me, this wasn’t going well. “She’s a witch,” the Alpha said. “You dare to trespass onto MY lands and bring a witch? Are you MAD? Seize them.”
The guards worked quickly; I was tackled from behind, and quickly swarmed. Silver cuffs were placed on my wrists as my arms were wrenched behind my back, and my ankles were shackled with more silver. I struggled, but the silver was already sapping my strength.
“PLEASE!” Her cry caused me to look over at her, and I struggled to break the cuffs as I saw what was happening. Jessie was on the ground, her arms bound, and a gag was forced between her teeth and tied behind her head. Four men hauled her up, each holding a limb as she struggled.
“Take her to the dungeon, she will be put to death at moonrise,” the Alpha said.
“NO! YOU CAN’T! SHE’S MY MATE, SHE’S NOT A THREAT!”
“Toss him in the dungeon as well, make sure they can’t touch each other. After she’s dead, this spell she cast to make him think she’s his mate will break and then we can talk.”
“I’ll fucking kill every last one of you if you hurt her,” I said as I looked around. “There is nowhere you can hide from my vengeance.”
The Alpha just walked down the stairs as his men held me back. He took his phone out; grabbing Jessie’s hair, he took a picture of her face as tears ran down it. He then walked over to me, and I’m sure the photo he took showed the hatred I carried for him right now.
“Sedate him and get him out of here.” I felt a needle jab my shoulder, and a few seconds later everything went dark.
Alpha Sven’s POV
I spent some time in the dungeon talking to the woman, getting her story, then I returned to my office just before lunch.
I emailed the photograph of the woman, along with her fingerprints and my message, to a friend in Canada. He copied the content into a new message and sent it along to Alpha Yuri Zubkov in St. Petersberg. I only waited an hour for the answer. I made sure the only light in the office was behind me, and I cast my face in deep shadows, placing a fake beard over my face. He could never know who really was talking to him. When I was ready, I logged into the web-meeting software; Alpha Yuri was already there, his Betas in the background. “Yuri, I have something you want. Have you confirmed her identify?”
“We have, facial recognition is a match as well as the prints. You will eliminate her?”
“For the right price. I’ve been doing my own research, it’s amazing what some time chained in a basement will do for her motivation. Your reward of twenty-five million dollars pales in comparison to what she is offering to let her live. I rather like her deal, but since you asked first, I figured I’d give you the right to match it.”
Yuri was turning red. “What was her offer?”
“Her lawyer estimates the estate will be worth over seven hundred and eighty-seven million dollars once fully in her control. Of course, this amount varies daily with company values and investment results. Her offer to me was half of all she would inherit. Since I will have to wait months to get all this from her, I expect by then it will be worth four hundred million dollars, American.”
“I don’t have four hundred million sitting around, you fool!”
“Yuri… We can still do business. Time is money. Three hundred million dollars, transferred to the account in the email I sent you within eight hours, and she dies tonight. I’ll stream it live for you, hell, you can jack off to it later for all I care. Your problem goes away, you get a nice snuff film, and all that money goes to you. Just like it was always intended.”
“I need a week to get that kind of money together.” He was panicking.
“If I have to wait, I’d be better off taking her offer, Yuri. I’m not a patient man. You have eight hours to get the money together. If it is in my Swiss account by then, we log back on here and you get to watch her be killed, live and in color. If not, I’ll keep her here, safe in my cells, until she is declared heir. I marry her, we get a divorce with the prenup, and I walk away with half of your brother’s estate, tax-free. I’ll be watching my account, Yuri. You do whatever you have to do to get the money and I’ll do the rest.” I closed the connection and sat back in my chair, smiling as I poured myself a drink. This had turned out to be a hell of a day for me.