A Call for Help
I sent Daniel’s older brother to the scene with another Pack member to support him. The Sheriff said it was suspected murder, and I had to know why. Daniel could identify the men if needed, and he wanted to search for scents of those who did this.
As I gave out the assignments and people left to do them, I sat alone in my office. I leaned back, closing my eyes as I tried to figure out what was going on. I was over my head in more ways than one.
My mate was missing, held by Russian mobsters. I could not give them what they wanted; I could not trade my mate’s life for another. If these men knew Jessie was alive, they’d kill her immediately. I had a little over half of the money needed, and no way to get more. Even if I turned over Jessie and all the money I had, they would kill Linnea and then kill me, maybe some other members of my Pack.
I needed another plan, and I needed help.
I had to get this all out on the table and get ideas for what to do. It was bigger than my Pack, and so I spent the next fifteen minutes contacting people to get on a videoconference. When the time came, I was on my laptop with the business software running. I looked at the people on the line with me and hoped they would understand what I was going to do.
Alpha Michael Pine, whose Iron Range Pack bordered mine and who had continued the alliance I started with his father years ago.
Alpha Stan and Luna Larissa Larsen of the St. Croix Pack. My close friend and former Alpha David was sitting with them, along with their Beta, Peter Clarke.
Alpha Viktor Kirolinko, Luna Marina and daughter Mischa of the Kstovo Pack.
Alpha Esca Milne of the Highlands Pack.
European Council Chair Francois Wolfe.
American Council Chair Robert Steele.
European Council member and interim Moscow Pack Alpha Javier and his Beta, Patrick Clarke.
I unmuted my microphone and leaned forward, looking at all the people who I had to explain myself to. David had convinced me it was time to bring in the Councils for the two continents, as this might spill over into bigger things. I reluctantly agreed. “Gentlemen,” I started, “Thank you for joining the call. I apologize to those of you who have been out of the loop on this.”
“What exactly does this concern, Alpha Sven?” Chair Francois was clearly irritated, probably because Councilman Javier had roped him into this.
“Alpha Yuri Zubkov has kidnapped my mate Linnea after killing three of my men. He is demanding I produce the body of Jessie Donato and return two hundred and seventy-five million dollars to him by six tomorrow, or he will kill her and destroy my Pack.” The conference exploded into people talking over each other as the news came out.
Finally, Chair Francois got everyone to quiet down. “I think you better explain, Alpha.”
Alpha Stan started instead. “When we hosted the Alpha Conference this summer in Minnesota, Alpha Esca attended along with his protector, Beta John Pearson. While my Beta’s son Patrick was entertaining some of the younger crowd at the Mall of America, Beta John scented his mate. She was a waitress at a restaurant, and she smelled completely human.”
“Wait, how can that be? You can’t have a mate without a wolf.” Chair Robert was looking confused, no more than Esca must have been.
“We did not know at the time. Some college kid touched her inappropriately, Beta John beat him up, and ended up in jail while Jessie Donato was injured. As the host, Patrick took her to the hospital. There was no doubt from his side about them being mates, so we agreed to help and protect Jessie until he could claim her. We moved her into a cabin on our Pack grounds, and she and Patrick grew to be good friends. Jessie’s mother had just died, and she found out she had been adopted. Her birth certificate listed the father as unknown, and her mother as Ekatarina Klishnina of Sergiyev Posad. Included with the documents was a letter from Father Kempechny, a priest in her town. Jessie, or Natalya in her birth name, booked a ticket and flew to Moscow to find out more about her parents before we could stop her.”
“Jessie is a little headstrong, and in Moscow she found out about her mom, who was raped by her father- Yevgheny Zubkov. She found a lawyer and filed a claim, and that was the start of the troubles,” Stan said.
“Yuri tried to kill them both, severely injuring Jessie and killing the Father. It turns out the good Father was also a powerful witch, and he had bound her wolf with a spell before having her adopted by an American couple, thinking it would keep her safe. Before he died, he used his magic to partially heal her, then he passed his powers to her.”
“She’s a witch,” Robert asked.
“Yes,” Patrick said. “We took her to the Kstovo Pack, then when Yuri found out she was there, we snuck her back to the States. Yuri offered a large reward for her death.”
“The Coven leader they were staying with tried to have her killed to take her power, and her guardian witch was killed as well. Jessie and John survived, and fled to my territory,” I said. “Things were getting too hot, the reward was so high she could never be safe. After verifying who they were, Jessie and I came up with a plan. She can cast an illusion where she can take on another’s form, or can cause someone to take on her form. There was a rogue in my cells, sentenced to death. Jessie spelled him to look like her, and we executed ‘her’ on Yuri’s orders for three hundred million dollars, American.”
“Holy shit,” Robert said. “He paid that much to get rid of her?”
“He did,” Patrick said. “It was less than half of what he stood to inherit from his brother’s estate if he had no heir, plus it eliminated the major threat to him taking over the Moscow Pack. He borrowed heavily to raise the money, something we’re taking advantage of.”
“The illusion worked perfectly, I put the two of them into a remote cabin and we split the money. Jessie and John are now mated, and that broke the spell and her wolf is out now. She’s powerful, a true Alpha Female, plus she is a powerful witch. We planned to keep them in hiding while we bled Yuri dry, but he found out who we were and grabbed my mate. That’s when I got this.” I played the video call I had recorded, and when I was done I sat back.
“That was Beta Shura,” Alpha Viktor said. “Yuri sent his top Beta to the states for this. The man will not give up.”
“I cannot give in to his demands,” I said. “I also cannot survive losing my mate. I need help.”
We talked for twenty minutes about various options, then Patrick asked the obvious question. “What do Jessie and John think we should do?”
I looked at him, embarrassed that I didn’t think of it first. “I haven’t seen them in a while. The lakes are starting to freeze over so I can’t get a boat to them.”
“Find a way,” Robert said. “They need to be protected, and they may have ideas. Maybe she can do another spell or something.”
I had no idea what she was truly capable of. “I will figure it out. We have to find where they are holding Linnea, that is the key.”
“Start sending those who aren’t fighters in your pack my way, in small groups so you don’t arouse suspicion,” Alpha Michael said. “I’ll protect them in case they try and attack you. I’ll also put my men on extra patrols, we’ll see if we can find these Russian wolves.”
“And we will send men as well,” Alpha Stan said. “My men know the smell of your mate, we can search the areas beyond your border for her.”
“If you find them, they are hostile and are to be captured to face trial, killed if necessary,” Robert said. “The American Council will back you on this. It has been decades since a European Pack tried something like this, and we need to make an example of them.”
“I agree,” Councilman Javier said. “I have additional evidence that proves Yuri took out a contract on Alpha Jessie. Murder of an Alpha is a capital crime, and I intend to file charges with the Council.”
“She’s not an Alpha,” Francois said.
“She is certainly one now,” Javier said. “She has a wolf, which Alpha Sven has verified is an Alpha. She has the blood right to inherit the Moscow Pack, and is mated to a strong Beta. If we had known these things a month ago, there would have been no argument as to the rightful Alpha of this Pack. If they come to Moscow, I will hand it over to them in a heartbeat,” he said.
“And I will stay on as their Beta,” Patrick said. “She is strong, just, she will be a great Alpha in time.”
“File the charges, then,” Francois said. “I will contact the others and set up a conference. If the Council agrees, we will arrest Yuri and hold him for trial.”
Someone came from offscreen and whispered in Javier’s ear. He turned back to us, his expression grim. “It appears someone beat us to it. Federal Police forces raided Yuri’s offices in St. Petersburg today, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest on charges of slave trafficking, smuggling and bribery of Federal officials. Someone tipped him off and he and his top men were able to escape capture.”
“He’s going to be more desperate for money than ever,” Patrick said. “The Sicilians are charging him ten million dollars a week in interest, and with the police seizing his offices and properties he has no legal means to get it. They’ll be going after his assets and his bank accounts too.”
“A cornered, injured wolf is the most dangerous,” Francois said. “We will work our end, you guys find the Luna and keep Jessie and John alive.” He closed his window, followed quickly by the others.
“We’ll be there in six hours,” Stan said.
For the first time since the phone call, I had hope. Now I had to figure out how to get to the island on a lake with thin ice.
I called my Pack together, quickly explaining what was going on. The biggest question I had was how to safely get out there, since the lake ice was too thin to walk on. One of my young warriors came up with the solution. “Alpha, I’ll ice boat out to them. No problem.”
“Nick, you think you can get out there?”
“Sure, the weather is good. The snow didn’t stick, and the below zero has left the lakes with an inch or two of ice. The runners are widely spaced and I go pretty fast, and even if I break through I can float. I’m wearing a wetsuit anyway. Just tell me what you want me to pass along or be close enough to link when I get out there.” I had watched him sail last year, in a good wind his ice boat could hit close to a hundred miles an hour. “Go get it ready, I’ll go with you.”
“Not alone,” my warriors said.
“I’ll take one with me, the rest of you I need out there patrolling the territory and covering the escape of the non-combatants. I want the vulnerable members of my Pack safe as soon as possible.” With that, I sent them about their business. Ten minutes later, I was in the passenger seat of Nick’s pickup truck, the ice boat on the trailer behind us, as we headed to the boat ramp at Eagle’s Nest Lake Number One.