Order of Protection

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Can't be Trusted

Alpha Yuri’s POV

My man in the Federal Police gave me just enough warning to flee before the armored vehicles and SWAT teams arrived at my office. I set my lower level people to work on the evacuation plan, and they started to destroy computers and files before the men arrived. The building went into lockdown, with all doors locked, gates and barriers dropping into place. It wouldn’t stop them, not with explosives and breaching equipment, but it would slow them down.

My senior people followed me into a closet in the back of my office, which led to a private staircase that exited in the subbasement. The door on one side went to my private garage, which had a tunnel underground for three blocks before it came up into another building I owned. I sent all but two of my Betas out this way, with instructions to secure the safe houses we had all over the city and in the countryside then report back.

I kept Beta Polina with me as my personal bodyguard. She excelled at this, since as a female who was about five feet tall, no one would ever think she was the most lethal being around. Throwing and other knives were hidden within her clothes along with a high-capacity pistol. When the other men left, I pressed a code into the security panel as it closed, and a rumble sounded behind us. The entire back wall of the alcove rotated backwards, exposing a dark passageway. We entered, then I set the reinforcing bars after it closed again. The door had a cinderblock veneer to match the other walls, but was backed by six inches of vault steel. It would take a big charge to break it, if they ever found it.

“Think they’ll notice?”

“They will find the stairway, then assume we left with the others in the cars. They won’t ever find this place.” The room we entered was a Cold War-era bunker, long forgotten by the State but not by me. Built fifty feet below ground, it was concrete and steel and impregnable. I had spent a lot of time and money years ago to bring it up to modern standards; heating and air systems, sleeping areas, and the control room we were in now. I looked at the technician who was working on the computers, one of three who lived down here permanently for security reasons. “Evacuation procedure completed?”

“Almost, Alpha. All files have been confirmed to be backed up to my local servers, and the main servers have been destroyed. I have not gotten confirmation from the main office area that they are complete.”

“You won’t,” Polina said as she watched the security feed from the building above. Police had burst into the office floor and were subduing the Pack members that had been left behind.

I watched as they burst into my office and laughed a little at their expressions. “I’ll not be taken, not like my brother. I’ll always be a step ahead of you,” I laughed.

“Sir, if you’ll move aside, I have responsibilities with the evacuation plan.” I nodded and Polina sat at the communications terminal. The main screen showed a map of the city, with all of my properties and safe rooms. They were color coded; green was secure, yellow hadn’t reported, and red were breached.

There was way too much red for comfort.

I went to a spare terminal and started punching through the remote video feeds for the facilities that had been breached. Police had raided twenty-plus places at once, a massive operation to pull off without my sources in the local police knowing. “They had inside help,” I said as my fists clenched. “No way they find this many without a guide dog.”

“Recriminations later, Alpha, we need to save what we can,” Polina replied. They were busy ensuring codes had been sent to all facilities implementing the evacuation protocols. We couldn’t let the police get more. I went back to the feeds from my office; the captured men and women had been taken away, and the place was swarming with cops.

By nightfall, it was clear how big a blow this had been. The over four hundred members of my Mafia operations had been divided into four categories: Killed, Arrested, Unknown and Available. The first two categories had well over a hundred people. Entire areas of my operations were decimated, especially in the smuggling and slave trading areas. Every one of those facilities had been raided.

I gave the order for the rest to lay low in the safe rooms. It might be weeks until things cooled off, and I could find and eliminate the leak in my organization behind this. I sent messages to my legal team, who would be busy trying to get my men out of prison, and to my finance people. With the illegal streams of income drying up, I had to accelerate the sales of my legal properties to meet the interest payments. I was thinking of how this would occur when Polina interrupted. “It’s Shura,” she said.

“Put it on the main screen.” A moment later, his face appeared. He was in what looked to be a cabin, sitting at a small table. Behind him on the bed was a woman, chained and gagged. “Beta, how goes your search?”

“The source was very productive,” he said. “Her information was accurate, and my men recovered the million-dollar reward and made her disappear.” I smiled at this, amateurs always lost when they played a professional’s game. We wanted it all, and we wouldn’t hesitate to kill to get it. “It was Alpha Sven Hirkkel of the Vermillion Pack, a small Pack in north central Minnesota. We’ve captured his mate and I’ve given him the terms,” he said.

“He’ll produce Jessie’s body?”

“He better, that and two hundred and seventy-five million,” Shura said as he looked back at the woman, who was struggling to get free.

“Why not all the money?”

“I thought he’d be more cooperative if he thought he could keep the original reward. Don’t worry, I’ll get that too before I leave.”

“Just get her body and leave it for the authorities. The sooner they issue a death certificate, the better for me. The police can’t seize assets I legally obtain, like my brother’s estate, and if he returns that money I can get the Sicilians off my back.” Things were starting to fall into place, at least here. “The Alpha and his Pack need to die. Make it look like rogues or hunters, whichever you think is best, but we can’t leave anyone alive who can link back to us.”

“It will be done, Alpha. My love, I will see you soon. Stay safe.”

She blew him a kiss. “We’re not going anywhere for a while, love. Finish the job and come back to me.”

Jessie’s POV

“Кто-то идет (someone is coming),” John warned as he turned towards the cabin. I was in the back, working on levitation by moving the wood he split onto the pile with my mind while in wolf form. Trotting over to the back door, I shifted just before going inside and getting dressed.

кто это (who is it?)”

Я не знаю (I don’t know.)” I looked out the window, John was down by where the boat dock. I saw a sail moving through the trees, not understanding since the lake was frozen over, and then I saw it turn and the sail was dropped just before the boat ran into the shore. It was like a catamaran, small and light, with long ice skate-like blades. A man got out and his feet broke through the thin ice, his booted feet reaching the gravel bottom until he came ashore. He talked to John for a minute, then they turned towards me and John smiled. It was then I knew it was all right.

I opened the door just as they got to the stairs. “Jessie, this is Nick, he’s with Alpha Sven’s pack. The Alpha needs us to join him at the boat ramp across the lake.”

“For what? Are we in danger?”

“I’m afraid so,” Nick said. “Yuri sent men here, they know our Pack was the one to kill you, and they want the money and your body back or they’ll kill my Luna.”

John’s eyes turned black, his fists clenched as he fought a turn. I put my hand on his arm as we walked inside. “John, he wouldn’t have sent him here if he was going to turn me over,” I said. “Let’s sit down and talk.”

“NO ONE WILL TAKE YOU,” he growled out.

“Alpha Sven feels the same way, but his mate is the one in danger, not me. We need to calm down and help. Kick your wolf back and sit down,” I said. His wolf obeyed my wolf and receded. My level of dominance being higher was something not often seen in an Alpha pair. In our relationship, this was a good thing, as he tended to react first and think later.

When he would let his anger rule him, it would get him in trouble. As we talked about when we first met, he confessed that he couldn’t control his wolf when I was in danger. Jail time had helped him to learn control, so he didn’t get mad when I pointed it out.

I was impulsive, not thinking through what might happen next. Why else would I run off to Russia without telling anyone or getting backup? I made decisions based on emotions, and I wasn't steady in a fight like he was.

He needed me to keep him on an even keel, and I needed him to take over in a crisis.

I looked over at Nick. “How can we help?”

“The Alpha needs you to help find his mate. If we get her back, it turns everything around,” he said. “He’s waiting across the lake.”

“Put the fire out, Nick. We’ve got to pack.” We didn’t bring much, and we would leave behind all the food; he could send someone to close the cabin down for the winter later. If Yuri’s men had identified the Vermillion Pack, we weren’t safe here anyway. The cabin was off Pack lands but would eventually be found.

“I don’t know if we can trust them, Jessie.” John’s face was grim as he put his clothes into his bag.

“They haven’t done us wrong yet,” I said. “I know you’re still pissed about watching me be killed, but that was my idea. It had to be convincing.” I zipped my bag closed. “He can’t do anything to me, John. My wolf is stronger, and he can’t counter my witch powers. We’ll be fine.”

He just pulled me into his arms, his pupils black. “I cannot lose you, Jessie. I would not want to live without you in my life.” I pulled his head down to mine, our kiss quickly deepening as our emotions drove us.

“I can’t lose you either, John. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” I kissed him again. “Now come on, we’re wasting time.” We walked back out and Nick was waiting at the door.

“Alpha wants me to stay and drain the water tanks so nothing breaks when the house freezes,” he said. “The boat dock is straight across the lake.” He looked at us quizzically. “How are you getting across the lake? Most of the ice is less than an inch thick.”

“We’ll be fine, Nick. Take your time.” We closed the door behind us, locking it. I took his hand as we got to the shoreline. “Take my hand and don’t let go.” I focused my power, using my levitation until we were barely touching the snow.

“Wow, it’s like being on the moon,” he said as we walked out onto the thin ice.

“It’s easier to control our weight than to freeze ice under us the whole way, but I could do that too. I’d just fly us over there, but someone might see.” We walked for about twenty minutes until Nick passed us, his ice boat flying across the thin ice. We reached the boat dock ten minutes later, just as they were tying the boat to its trailer. Alpha Sven held his arms open in greeting, and I gave him a hug. “We’ll get her back,” I said.

“I hope so,” he said. As we got into the warm truck for the drive back, he filled us in on what had happened and the conference call he’d had. “Alpha Stan and his men should be arriving in the next couple hours. We have twenty-six hours until the deadline, and we have to find Linnea before then.”

“No luck narrowing down where he is?”

“Nothing. She was taken just outside of Duluth, so he could be holding her anywhere. He’s got at least a half dozen men with him, and he could have many more wolves and humans available. I’ve evacuated the vulnerable members of my Pack to a neighboring Pack just in case.” He looked out the window, suddenly looking old and tired, not the vigorous older Alpha I had first met. “I need you two to promise me something.”

I looked at him, whatever it was he was asking was difficult for him. “What do you need?”

“If we don’t find my mate, I’m going to tell him I have what he wants,” he said. “He’s not going to give my mate back, even if I give him everything. They don’t work like that, you can’t trust them as far as you can throw them.” He opened up his coat and pulled out a grenade. My eyes got big as he put it back in his jacket. “I won’t live without her, and I’ll take as many with me as I can. Promise me you’ll help my Pack survive without me. Take over as Alpha pair or find someone good who can.”

“You aren’t going to need to do that, Sven. We’ll get her back.”

“We will try,” he said. “I have no heir, and I’m old. My Pack deserves to have good leadership when I am gone.”

I reached over and patted his hand. “Your Pack will be in good hands, Sven. Yours and Linnea. Now, let’s get back to your house because we need to make a phone call.”

“To who?”

“The Highlands Pack. I need some help from some people who will be anxious to avenge the loss of one of their own.”

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