The teachers and security personnel were already organizing the children when Mischa and I reached the floor. The same Pack broadcast that warned of the attack had gone to all members, not just adults, and the older ones had some understanding there was danger.
“Подходите к двери и держитесь за ту, что перед вами, (Line up by the door and hold on to the one in front of you),” Katya said as she and the other teachers woke and organized the students. The children were tired and confused, but they had practiced evacuation drills before and quickly lined up. They exited the door, led by a security officer and a teacher, with the others falling in along the way. It was well in hand, so I went next door to the nursery.
The workers had moved some of the babies into slings or baskets so each person could carry at least two. We each took one sling, one basket, and one burrito (a smaller baby wrapped in a blanket), the most we could hold and have one hand free for a handrail. Other mothers joined Mischa and me. With one last check of the area, we headed out into the hall. The children were in two lines going down the stairway, and no one was panicking. We got in the back, making sure everyone would get out before us, and the last security officer followed us, gun at the ready. “Why aren’t more mothers up here?”
“We’ve been updating the Pack on the evacuation status. They are waiting outside for their children. Right now, having more people coming up the stairs would slow things down.” It was very smooth, well thought out. “You practice this?”
Katya nodded as she watched the line continue down the stairs. “Every month, we have a timed drill, either a fire evacuation or down to the safe room. Everyone has to be in place within five minutes, or we repeat it until we can. As you can see, the practice helps keep them calm, even at night, after being woken up.” The children weren’t panicking and kept one hand on the child ahead and the other on the handrail. It wasn’t long before they were heading out the front doors and across the street to the park, where parents scooped them up. I handed over my charges to grateful parents and looked around.
I looked out at the number of people close to the building and remembered what happened on 9/11. I went over to the security guys, finding one who spoke English. “They are still too close to the building. We need to move everyone to the far side of the Park.” He nodded and sent out something on the Pack Link that got people moving away. I could hear sirens rapidly approaching. Security must have called the bomb threat in.
I started walking down the stairs when I felt the ground shake from two explosions, only a fraction of a second apart. I turned, seeing that the building still stood. I reached through the bond for John to make sure he was all right.
The bond was silent, but it was still there. Barely.
I looked at my mate, who was sobbing uncontrollably in my arms. “What did you do?”
“I betrayed them all,” I said. “I made a blood oath to Polina when I asked her to save my brother. She came to collect. She needed help getting into the Pack House. I let her in.” She looked up at me, her eyes full of tears. “Either let me go or kill me. If they get ahold of me, I’m dead.”
“I can’t let you go.” I’d been waiting for her forever, and I couldn’t watch her walk away. “We can find a way through this. You gave a warning, and we can stop her. They will consider that.”
“It won’t be enough,” she said as I sat up, pulling her into my lap.
“Come on, let’s get off the street.” There was a park a block away that we had passed it on our run. I helped her to her feet, then stood by her, my right handcuffed to her left. I held her hand, relaxing into the tingles that passed between us. She was scared, crying and shaking, but she was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen in my life. MY Elizaveta. “Elizaveta is a beautiful name, do you go by it or do you shorten it?”
“Liz, most of the time. You?”
“Lawrence, but I go by Larry,” I said as we entered the park. “Your English is excellent.”
“The Alpha insisted those going to college learned English, Spanish or Italian,” she said. “I liked American television, so that’s what I chose.” We found a bench in a quiet, dark corner and sat down. I pulled her onto me, her legs straddling mine, and pulled her down into a kiss. The mate bond exploded between us as she relaxed into it, our tongues and fingers exploring each other despite the handcuffs and the situation. “We don’t have much time,” she said. “They will come for me.”
I looked at her. Our wolves knew what we wanted even if our human sides saw nothing but pain again. “I want you, Liz. If this is my only chance to know my mate, I want to take it. I love you. I could never abandon or reject you.”
Tears were in her eyes as she looked at me. “You’ll go through more pain when I die, Larry. They are going to kill me,” she said. “I love you, but at least think about what you are doing to yourself.”
I moved a hand under her red shirt, cupping her breast as I pulled her close to my hips. I was hard and ready, and I could feel the heat as her body sought mine in the same way. “I have to know what it is like to be mated, Liz. I need you like air, and tomorrow will have to take care of itself. Mate with me, here and now, before it’s too late.”
She stood up, dropping her belt to the ground before her uniform pants and underwear followed. I lifted my butt off the bench, pushing my dress pants to my ankles along with my boxers. She saw my erection, pointing towards her, and shyly reached her hands towards it. “I’ve never…”
“Me either,” I said. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out, my love.” She straddled me again, this time lining it up until she dropped down suddenly, her barrier breached. She let out a cry of pain, and I held her until it passed. “I love you, Liz. Make love to me.”
She raised up and back down, pleasure now replacing pain as we rode the surge of the feelings and the bond. Over and over, we repeated the motions. Soon I was driving up into her, and she was moaning her approach to orgasm. I pulled her shirt aside as she tore my dress shirt open, and together we bit down as we exploded in pleasure together. The bond snapped in place with our bites, allowing me to feel her love, her passion, and her fears.
Then I heard two explosions as the ground shook.
I coughed twice, and the pain woke me up. I opened my eyes slowly. The elevator shaft was full of dust and smelled of explosives, concrete, and blood. When my eyes finally focused, they took in the carnage around me.
Patrick was next to me in the elevator shaft, face down and not moving. The three guys who had gone through the door, they were in pieces.
The door had been booby-trapped and exploded as soon as we went in.
I rolled onto my hands and knees, crawling forward towards the room. I didn’t stop to help the men as I had to get to Polina. I reached for my rifle on the blood-covered floor. I screamed in pain as a knife went through the back of my hand.
Polina was standing about twenty feet away, grinning like a maniac. “Oh, this is perfect. Beta John Pearson, mate of that bastard child Jessie Donato, gets to die at my hand before I bring the whole place down.”
“You’re a sick bitch, Polina,” I said as I pushed myself to my knees.
She laughed and threw another knife. I moved just enough that it missed my neck, slicing through my shoulder near the strap for my Kevlar vest. She went to throw another, and I raised my hand towards her as I felt something push forward from my gut, something I’d never felt before.
A fireball formed in front of my hand, then shot towards her as it expanded in size. She screamed as it hit, the knife clattering to the ground. I sent two more fireballs her way, setting her entire body on fire before she screamed her last breath.
I looked past her smoldering body. The detonator was on a box, and she hadn’t connected the wiring to it yet. “Anyone alive in here,” I asked.
No one answered. “Jessie, Polina is dead, and the detonator is not connected. Send help. They’re dead. They’re all dead.”
“We’re coming, my mate, you hold on for me.”
“I love you, Jessie. Take care of our baby.” I could feel my energy fading fast. The blackness was coming quickly.
“YOU DON’T GET TO DIE ON ME, JOHN! YOU HANG ON, I’M COMING.”
I rolled onto my back, the pain throughout my body fading to nothing. “I’m sorry, baby.”
I was breaking down as I listened to my mate dying. When he didn’t respond, I found the Alpha. “Javier, Polina is dead! The security teams are down! We need rescue and medical personnel immediately!”
Javier and the Pack Doctor lead the way in, and I followed them down the stairs. The stench of blood was strong as we got to the bottom, and they started triage. Only Konstantin was still alive, and he was severely injured. I let the medics tend to him as I pushed forward into the room.
The smell of burnt flesh was almost unbearable in the area, and one of the sprinklers had gone off from the flames. I looked away from Polina’s death glare, her burnt flesh open in a final scream, and ran towards the elevator door. “Oh God, John,” I said as I dropped to my knees next to him. I checked his chest, unzipping the vest. He had a weak heartbeat, so there was still a chance.
I sent power into him, letting the healing force find its way, but I didn’t stay long. The Doctor had reached Patrick, and he was in far worse shape. His right arm was almost severed at the shoulder, and he had lost a lot of blood. “I need help here,” Doc said.
I put my hands on either side of the ripped flesh and concentrated, my hands starting to glow as the power came forward. My fingers tingled as it went to work, and I watched as the tissue began to reconnect, and the bone knit back together. When the shoulder was whole again, I focused on the piece of steel that Doc had pulled out of his right thigh. We worked as a team; he would remove the shrapnel and rinse the wound clean, and I would follow behind with my power. “The others,” I asked without losing focus.
“They’re gone.” I could feel my strength fading as the healing energy was draining me. I thought back to the warning about using magic, about how it could endanger the baby, and wondered if I should stop.
These were my friends. If I lost my child, I would feel the loss, but I couldn’t lose my friends. Doc put a bloody glove-covered hand on my shoulder. “Go back to Konstantin. He’s stable enough to move now.”
I pulled my hands back, trying to stand up but needing to be steadied by Javier. “That’s quite the power,” he said as he helped me walk back to the other entrance. The safe room was filling with rescue and bomb squad personnel. All stayed clear of the blood-covered woman who could barely stand.
Konstantin had an IV and a bag of blood attached, and medics were frantically trying to stop the bleeding from the deep gashes on his arms and legs. Pushing one aside, I went to the one bleeding the most on his right leg. I let the power flow again, watching it knit together as my energy kept dropping and dropping. Javier held me as my energy dropped. “You have to stop, Jessie, you’re killing yourself.”
“Not… yet…” I focused my remaining power on his leg until my vision turned black, and I collapsed into Javier’s waiting arms.