Order of Protection

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Fatal Error in Victim Selection

John’s POV

I shoved Alpha Stan into a group of warriors. “Hold him back until he’s gone,” I said as I waited for Jessie to come back through the doors.

She came in a minute later, holding back her anger. She took off the wedding ring and engagement band before handing off the finger to a visiting Pack Doctor. “GET ME ICE AND A BAGGIE,” he yelled when he saw what it was. “If we can get her back in the next hour or two, there’s still a chance to reattach this,” he said.

Jessie walked straight up to a struggling Stan, placing her hand on his chest. “Calm down, shifting won’t get your mate back,” she said. “I NEED BETAS AND ABOVE IN THE BAR, NOW.” There wasn’t any noise, everyone from the lowest Omega to the Council members present followed her direction.

I looked over at Stan, he needed to take control here. “Where is safer for the ones not fighting, here or the Pack House?”

Stan straightened up and called men over. “Get the buses, take them back to the Pack House. Gentlemen, I need warriors to protect them. I want at least six warriors on the bus each load and two dozen at the house.” The visiting Alphas offered up men immediately; normally the host Pack was responsible for security, but this wasn’t a normal situation. We pushed tables together as mates said goodbye and were escorted to the buses.

I stepped to the front, getting her back would depend on Jessie and I. “I need four teams put together now, at least one Alpha in each, and one member of the St. Croix Pack for communications,” I said. “Form them up and send them out now, at least two vehicles, twenty miles in each direction. They can’t have gotten too far in this time.” They got busy, leaving the Council members, Stan, Viktor and Esca with me. “Stan, when was the last time you linked with Larissa?”

“About an hour ago,” he said. “She was handling late deliveries for the ceremony, then she was going to change and come here.” His eyes glazed, and a hurt look came over his face. “They found Larry and Elizaveta; both were out, both hit with dart guns.”

“Elizaveta again? Did she betray you too?” Alpha Javier was about to lose it.

Stan held his hand out to the visiting Alpha. “My men said they must have come in a delivery van, posing as catering staff. Larissa had dozens of deliveries she was managing tonight. Nobody saw them take her, we’re checking cameras now. Larry and his mate were doing perimeter patrols, they weren’t the ones who let them in.”

Jessie smacked the table. “It doesn’t matter how it happened, focus on the problem in front of us first. We have to find her quickly, and this is how we are going to do it.” Everyone listened to her as she laid out the plan; it was simple and direct.

Ten minutes later we were about five miles north of the club. I was being driven in an SUV with Alpha Esca and five warriors, half of which were armed. I was holding Larissa’s engagement ring in my hand, relaxing and falling into the trance Jessie had taught me as she talked me through it over the mind link. Her car had driven south, the wedding band in her hand. Back at the Pack House, the Lunas were in the conference room, looking at a huge map of the Twin Cities area.

We reached an intersection and stopped, the driver relaying our position to everyone. I fell into the trance, focusing my magic on Larissa’s residual essence on her ring, and was rewarded by a green glow around it with a line shooting out from it. We were pointed north, and it went left and behind me. The driver used his phone compass to get a bearing line, 255 degrees. Jessie’s line was at 276. The Lunas plotted our locations and used the lines on the map to locate her. “She’s on Highway 36 near Indian Hills Golf Course,” Beta Abigail linked.

All teams head west. Southern team, get on 94 and head for the 694 exit. Northern team, head west on Stillwater Road towards 694. Western team, get going but make sure you don’t pass them. We’re on our way on 36.”

“We’ll get on 94, love,” Jessie sent me. “Every time you cross a major road, send back a bearing line. We need to know if they turn off 36 anywhere.”

It wasn’t rocket science, but it worked. The lines kept crossing as they stayed on Highway 36 heading for St. Paul, and soon our Western team caught up. The cameras back at the Pack House were checked, and the Stone Creek Catering van was the one used. “Got them in sight,” Beta Peter sent through the link. “Driving at 62 miles an hour in the right-hand lane, coming up on Hilton Trail.”

“Stay back, don’t spook them,” I said. “Southern team, where are you?”

“Passing Radio Drive, a few minutes from 694.”

Southern team, head north and stop at Highway Ten. Northern team, catch up when you can. We can’t run them off the road, we need to follow them. Box them in; Peter, if you can get one vehicle ahead of them without raising suspicions, do it.” I looked at the exit signs and the map, we still had eight miles to go to catch up.

They are exiting at Hilton, heading north.” He followed them at a distance until they pulled into a large home, it was on a small island surrounded by wetlands and shallow ponds. He bailed out as the car kept going, shifting in the dark street to his wolf. The SUV continued before stopping a few blocks away in the quiet residential neighborhood.

I’ve got eyes on them,” Peter said. “Four men, all armed, they were wearing chef coats and black pants. They have Luna Larissa, she’s bound and unconscious, a bloody bandage on her left hand. They are carrying her into the garage through the side door.”

He sent the address over the link, and Abigail forwarded satellite photos and blueprints of the house to everyone’s phones. Three teams, including mine, had made it to the area and were unloading men and gear. “Peter, what do you see?”

“They went down to the basement. I don’t see any external patrol, no signs they spotted our tail. One man is upstairs getting beer out of the fridge.” This was good, but we didn’t have time to wait until they were drunk. “We’re across the pond on the west side. How thick is the ice?”

A couple inches after that last cold snap, but I wouldn’t walk on it in human form. Four paw drive is safer, and stay spread out,” Peter said. “I’m just behind the trash cans by the garage. South team, can you get to the treeline on the south side from the next road over? I saw lights there.”

“Roger that, we’re already moving that way, four wolves, four armed,” Stan said.

Northern team is with me,” Alpha Esca said. “We’re taking the land bridge to the back of the property and will wait in the trees behind the deck.” I relayed our moves to the others, then told them all to attack the back of the house when I took off. We picked windows to go through; luckily it was a walkout basement, so our team could go straight for our Luna. The other three sides of the house weren’t so lucky, they would have to go in upstairs and come down the stairs. Wolves would go through the windows and take out any opposition, while the humans went for Larissa. We had to be fast or they might kill her. I shifted along with three others, leaving my clothes in a pile by the tree.

A few minutes later, the house was surrounded by wolves and armed humans, all ready to do violence. “Peter, we need you to drive straight up the driveway to the house, and follow us in. Prep the back for Larissa,” I said. “As soon as we see you make the turn, we go.”

“Two minutes out,” he said on the link.

Luna Larissa’s POV

I woke slowly, the pain from my hand making me want to get away. When I couldn’t move, my mind cleared quickly and I remembered the men and the dart. I cracked an eye open; I was on a bed, in a room with no windows, and a man was sitting in a chair looking at his phone. He had a gun on the table next to him, while I could feel the handcuffs on my wrists. “Stan? Stan where are you?”

“I’m coming for you, love. Where are you?” I passed along what I could see and smell; in addition to the guy in the room, I could hear another next door. “Sit tight, we’ll be there in a minute.”

I started counting in my head, letting the seconds build. He hadn’t noticed I was awake yet, and that was in my favor. I heard the Pack link come alive, it sounded like John. “Five, four, three, two, one, GO GO GO!”

I heard windows smashing and men yelling, soon followed by growls and gunshots. The guard in my room jumped to his feet at the noise, reaching for his gun. “Come cazzo ci hanno trovato? (How the fuck did they find us?)”

He picked up his gun and swung it towards me, but I was already making my move. Shifting into my wolf form, my narrow paws quickly shook off the cuffs and I rolled to my feet. His eyes got wide and he hesitated, just enough for me to leap for his gun arm. He screamed as I bit down on his forearm, cracking his bones easily as I shook the gun free. A moment later, the door broke down and I heard a shot. He fell to the ground, his body laying partly on mine as I was squashed beneath him.

“Shit!” The wolf shifted, pulling the dead weight off of me, while the warrior who shot him kicked the gun away. Beta John knelt next to me. “Are you all right, Larissa? Can you shift?”

Ribs are broken,” I sent back. I coughed, and tasted blood on my tongue.

”I’ve got you.” He carefully picked me up in his arms, holding me under my stomach and in front of my legs. I leaned my head against his shoulder as he walked me out of the room and up the stairs. I saw two other men, their throats ripped out, and a warrior was getting his arm wrapped with a shirt after taking a shot. “Your mate is waiting for you,” he said as we reached the top of the stairs.

He handed me over, my skin tingling with his touch. “Thank Luna you’re alive,” he told me as he turned for the waiting SUV. I was laid on a blanket in back and he crawled in next to me, and immediately the car was moving. “How did you find me?”

“The same way we found Luna Linnea… magic. This time Beta John could help, so we were able to get a fix on your location and follow you to the house.” He laid by my side, stroking my fur as I felt us turning onto the freeway again.

I snuggled back into his chest. “I never could have predicted this in a million years, my love.”

“What do you mean?”

I laughed, but it turned into more of a cough and it took a minute to get the blood out of my throat. “That little Jessie girl that Peter and Patrick brought home last summer, the one who was supposedly John’s ‘mate.’ She didn’t seem like much back then, did she? But look at her, look at THEM now. They could end up being the most powerful Alpha pair in the world.”

“I think I’d be all right with that, Larissa. Her instincts are good, and we couldn’t ask for a better ally.”

I let out a sigh. “I’m just sorry her wedding got ruined.”

I could see him linking someone, then he started to laugh. “What’s going on?”

Jessie.” He wiped a tear away. “She said she’s getting married at moonrise tonight no matter what, so if she has to lay out a dog bed in the front row for you, you’re going to be there.”

I fought back the urge to laugh, it hurt too much. “My finger? Did they take it?”

He nodded. “We’re going straight to the clinic, Doc is waiting to reattach it. We will have to see how much function you regain, though.” He looked out the window, I could feel his anger building. “The Sicilian mafia is behind this, they took you to convince Jessie to repay them the money Yuri borrowed from them. They killed Yuri’s mate and child when they could only come up with twenty million.”

Bastards. What are we going to do?”

“We aren’t going to do anything. The European Council and Packs, they are pissed off and now have proof the Mafia is targeting Alphas and their families. There is an exception in the laws regarding human interactions when a person or group is targeting us.”

They will kill them?” He nodded. “Good. I don’t want our baby to be in danger again.”

I made a wolfy grin as his eyes got wide and he stared at me. “You’re…”

Pregnant. I talked to Jessie before she went to Europe, she did something with her magic, we did something on that Pack run last month, and ga-doooosh! Preggers!” I licked his hand as his mouth hung open; in fifteen years of mated life, I had been pregnant three times and had lost each one in the first month. After five years, I couldn’t even get pregnant any more.

“You shifted, love.”

“I didn’t want to shift, but staying alive was the most important thing, and it was still early enough our pup should be fine. Doc knows but I had the gag order on him, I was going to tell you after everyone left. You know if you found out, you’d practically have me on bedrest and I’d never get everything ready for the wedding.”

He just laid behind me, running his hand over my fur as he snuggled close to me. “I love you, Larissa Larsen,” he said. Moving his hand down to my belly, he rested it there. “And I love you too, little one.”
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