The driver turned the radio up. “You have to hear this, guys,” the driver said. I tried to follow, but I couldn’t keep up, so I got out my phone and pulled up the English version of the Moscow paper. I read the header, they didn’t have much, but the two never had a chance.
“He was only five years old,” Konstantin said as he banged his fist on the door. “Yuri was a bad man, but killing a woman and her child, that’s not right.”
“Who did it? The story doesn’t say, but Yuri had no shortage of enemies.”
Konstantin thought about it for a minute. “The leadership of that Pack was a mess. Yuri is dead, his strongest Beta, Shura, is dead, and his mate is missing. Most of the senior leaders were killed in gunfights with police or are in jail. Natasha couldn’t defend the position, not alone. That is why the Council was going to step in and run things until Anatoly was old enough. It’s as big a mess as this Pack was a month ago.”
“You think someone did this to take over the Pack?”
He tapped on the door. “It doesn’t feel right. The Council could void it. They wouldn’t push Natasha aside, even if she had to find a pseudo-Alpha. The Pack wouldn’t allow it. They would reject anyone who tried to come to power that way.”
“The Sicilians,” I said. He nodded. “It’s not enough to kill him, so they have to kill his family?”
“They lost a lot of money, and they are a vicious group,” Konstantin said as he looked out the window.
A sudden pain tore through me as I thought of something. “Would they go after Jessie because she has their money?”
“I don’t know. I wouldn’t think so, but you never know.”
Dammit. “DRIVE FASTER,” I ordered.
Elizaveta Klimova’s POV
As a ranked Pack member, I had to attend the reception and dinner. I sat near the back so I could make a discreet exit. My shift down in the security center started at eight; it would take me minutes to change out of my dress and into uniform, so I could wolf down my dinner (so to speak) and make it in time.
The reception filled up with Pack members and dignitaries. I walked around, my wolf uninterested in the affair since she didn’t sense her mate. My stomach was queasy, and I hadn’t slept well since Beta Polina had come to my apartment to call in her marker. My wolf was furious with me; I was betraying my Pack, and hundreds were going to die. I was going to help make it happen.
I had made a blood oath, promising Polina any service she asked, in exchange for her saving my brother. He was alive now, and I have to go through with my part if it kills me.
“It’s going to kill more than you,” my wolf said. I pushed her back in my mind; I needed to focus. I had met Jessie Donato, and I didn’t see what it was about her that had Polina so desperate to kill her. It wasn’t going to bring her mate or her Alpha back, and she had children.
I finished my food and left quietly. I slipped my heels off and ran back to my room, pulling off the dress and jewelry, and pulling on the black pants and red shirts that marked the duty Security Force members. I tucked the shirt in, pulling on my duty belt and putting on my rubber-soled shoes. The belt had all the things a human police officer would carry, except we didn’t need radios, and our handcuffs were silver-plated. Our pepper spray had Wolfsbane to tame wolves and inhibit shifting. The holster was empty. I would get it and the ammunition magazines when I took the duty from the off-going officer. Checking myself in the mirror, I swiped my card and took the elevator to the security floor. “Elizaveta Klimova, reporting for duty,” I said as I stepped into the vestibule. The cameras used facial-recognition to verify my identity, then I heard the bars move. “Access granted,” Keith said, and I walked through to another door that I used fingerprint access to open.
“How was the party,” Keith asked as I walked up to him.
“Nice as parties go, but I’m not missing anything.” He gave me a brief on what was happening, which wasn’t much. Most of the Pack members were involved in the party on the main floor. “The children are having a sleepover and movie night on the classroom floor,” he said as he stood. “The Luna decided it would be better for the parents if they didn’t have to worry about child care. I’ve got two officers posted there, three around the reception, one patrolling the outside, and one at the main desk. Quiet otherwise.” He handed over his sidearm and two extra magazines. “All right, I had it, you got it.”
“Are you heading to the party?”
“I may as well, maybe some she-wolf will get drunk and need a place to sleep,” he said with a smile. He loved receptions as the Pack she-wolves knew him too well. He left the room, and I sat down between Sashenka and Fyodor, the other two officers that staffed the control center.
It was twenty minutes later when a delivery truck approached the loading dock. “Are we expecting anything,” Sashenka asked.
I pretended to look at my turnover log. “Air purification repair parts for the safe room,” I said.
“We don’t have cameras down there,” Fyodor said. “The server failed earlier today and won’t be repaired until tomorrow.”
“I’ll take it,” I said. “Someone has to search and escort, and I don’t want to pull anyone off a duty post. You guys can handle it here?”
They nodded, things were pretty quiet. I exited the room, going up to the main floor I went to the back loading dock area and opened the door. Polina was in a set of overalls and fake glasses, and she was wearing makeup and prosthetics to fool the facial recognition software. She had two big boxes on a rolling cart. I made a show of inspecting them. One was full of explosives, the other a second woman in a set of overalls that resembled Polina. “Search is good, heading downstairs,” I sent to Fyodor. She pushed the cart behind me as we went to the freight elevator; I looked into the camera, and the door opened. We went down to the safe room, and I turned on the lights as the door opened and we stepped out. “We have five minutes to return before we raise suspicions,” I told her.
“That is enough.” The girl got out of the box; she was frightened and probably had no idea what was going on. I didn’t care. I wanted to do my part and get out before the whole place blew. Polina pushed the cart to the center of the room, moving the box as the girl took the delivery cart back towards the elevator. “Take her back to the truck and watch her drive away. You have about an hour to get out, or you don’t.”
If the girl left, there was no way I could come back and sneak her out. “You’re not leaving, are you.”
“No, Elizaveta, I will die here tonight and take my enemies with me,” she said. “You have done your part. You need to get out of here before the place goes up. Your debt is paid. Take the money and build a new life far from here.”
I nodded and turned away, walking to the elevator as every instinct in my body fought what I was doing. I looked into the camera, and the door closed and opened again in the loading dock area. The woman pushed the cart and ramp in the back before closing the door and drove away. I closed the door and walked back to the security center.
My wolf was fighting me, and I felt like I was going to throw up. If I did nothing, all these people would die. If I said anything, I would be tried and executed for treason. I tried to sit but couldn’t stay still. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. “I’m not feeling good, I’m going outside to get some air,” I said.
“Hardly, Fyodor, I’m not one of your little sluts. It must have been something in the food tonight. I’m going to do a long patrol outside and let things settle down.”
“No problem, check on the other posts while you’re out.” I stepped out of the door and almost ran to the bathroom, where I threw up everything in my stomach. I rinsed my mouth out and splashed cold water on my face before looking at the clock. I needed to get moving.
I entered the vestibule and looked up at the camera, the door locked behind me, and the elevator opened. I went to the main floor, waving at the guard at the desk. “Going on long outside patrol,” I told him, even though Fyodor should already have linked the others with this. My stomach was still doing flips, and my wolf was yelling at me to go back, that she would leave me if I let people die. I pushed her back. If I had to kill my wolf to survive, I would. I would find a way to live with myself somehow.
Then the most amazing scent came across my nose. I turned around, looking back towards the doors, a vehicle had just stopped, and three men stepped out. I recognized Konstantin, but when my eyes locked with one of the others, my wolf surged forward. “MATE!”
He stared at me, sniffing the wind. I pushed my wolf back and ran away.
We made it to the Pack House with driving that would make a Russian taxi driver nervous. John was out of the car before it stopped, and Konstantin was with him as he was responsible for his safety. I got out on the street side, stretching and thanking Luna for protecting me from harm on the drive.
I took a breath and inhaled a delicious scent. I turned towards the wind, seeking its source, my wolf surging forward in my mind. ”MATE! Mate is here!” I looked and locked eyes with a beautiful woman, dressed in pants and a red shirt, with a duty belt. My mate was a warrior, a protector like me. I drank in her beauty, but something was wrong. Instead of moving towards me, she was fighting the attraction, and the next moment she had turned and run away. “MINE! COME BACK!” I ran after her, pushing my wolf down who wanted to shift in public to use his speed. I ran across the road and into the park across the street, hearing footfalls behind me as John and Konstantin backed me up. She led me on a chase, but I was faster. After eight blocks, I tackled her to the ground, rolling under her so I would take the impact with her safe in my arms.
John and Konstantin ran up as she struggled to get away from me. “NO! Let me go! I can’t, I can’t.” She was crying and trying to get free, but I was never going to let her go.
“Shhh, love, it’s all right. Whatever it is, we can work it out.”
“NO! Let me go, I beg you. You don’t want me for a mate. I can’t do that to you. I, Elizaveta Klimova, reject you… wait, what is your name? I can’t reject you without a name?”
“Then I won’t tell you my name, my love. Come, let us return to the Pack House, where we can work this out like adults.”
“NO!” She struggled against me, her body rubbing against my erection, making it even more painful.
“Just give me one reason why,” I said as I wrapped my legs around her, holding her hips tight. I pushed her chin upwards until she was looking at me. “Why would you turn away the greatest gift you can ever get? Why would I turn away what I’ve waited my whole life to find?” I moved my head down, my lips capturing hers. Her wolf growled in agreement with mine, and she stopped struggling and relaxed into me. When I broke the kiss, she was sobbing in my arms.
“I’m a traitor, a killer. Beta Polina is in the safe room of the Pack House with a load of explosives. She’s going to bring it all down. I’m the one who let her in.” I looked at her in shock, then looked at John and Konstantin. “Kill me now, before the bond strengthens, and you can’t do it without killing yourself.”
“I’m warning them now,” John said.
“Kill me, PLEASE. Let my last moments be in your arms.”