Chapter 12: Keep it pg
I spent the rest of the afternoon making phone calls. The building wasn’t big enough for all the people I would need, so Alpha Robert arranged for a whole floor of office space in a nearby building to be leased. A company had just gone out of business, and he promised that it would be up and running overnight, phones and computers, everything we would need. The GSA wasn’t thrilled, but they weren’t picking up the checks and I didn’t have time for the paperwork. I needed people working, and Robert could get it done.
The Deputy Director also delivered. After I explained to him what we had and what we needed, he promised to provide it. I started getting text messages, this person was coming from here, another from there, until I had thirty FBI and other agency people arriving in the next two days. I thought this was amazingly fast for government, but the Alphas were better. Their people would be here tonight.
Alpha Craig was going to put them all up in hotels nearby or host them at his Pack. By seven that night, I was exhausted, and I let Gunny lead me down to our car. We drove home, discussing the events of the day, and I fell asleep before we arrived.
I managed to eat a late dinner, while we briefed our Alphas on the progress of the investigation. Linda had been busy, in the morning a tip line would be operational. We would have a dozen Pack and Federal agents available to answer the phones. She also had two press conferences set up; the first in Albuquerque early in the morning, to introduce the task force and our mission. This one was mostly for the Federal agencies, all of whom had high-level political appointees who needed to be seen being tough on crime. Even my boss, the Deputy Director, was flying in for this. The second would be in the late afternoon, just before the evening news out east, from the Cascade Pack. Gunny and I would be at both, and we would be using Robert’s plane to get there.
All too soon it was morning, and I was getting dressed for work again. Charlotte had gone shopping for both of us since we didn’t have time to go back and pack up our place back east. I put on the dress slacks and white blouse, along with the black jacket. My belt was Kevlar reinforced leather, carrying my sidearm and extra magazines, plus my badge and a pair of handcuffs. Gunny was dressed in a dark blue suit, white shirt and a red striped tie. He looked good, it was clearly tailored to fit his wide shoulders, big arms and narrow waist.
We ate breakfast with everyone, and Gunny and I sat on each side of Charlotte and Josh as they tried not to be awkward around us. Gunny made an exaggerated display of sniffing Josh’s shoulder. “Care to explain why you smell like an underage human, Josh?”
“Uh.. we were sparring, sir. Practicing getting out of chokeholds.”
“Hmmm…. That doesn’t explain the hickey.” I laughed to myself as his face turned white, he looked down at his shoulder in a panic. Gunny let him squirm as Charlotte stared at her pancakes like they were the most interesting thing in the world. “Just remember, Josh. There’s plenty of places to hide the bodies out there.”
“Yes sir. I would never hurt her.”
I laughed. “Just keep it PG, kids. The year will be over before you know it.” We let them eat for a bit. “So how is school going?”
“It’s all right,” Charlotte said. “The classes are ok, and I’m making a few friends. Jane and Larissa are introducing me to some people. They have a swim team, the coach told me I could practice with the team and that could count as my tryout.”
I looked at Josh. “And how is your job coming?”
“Boring,” he said. “Running antivirus programs on old PC’s and trying to keep the kids from accessing porn sites at school. Plus, there’s a strict no-fraternization policy. I can’t even hug her or I could be fired.”
“And you can’t be fired, you need to be there for you. Did you figure out communications?”
“Sort of. I put a tracker on her backpack, and I’ve tied that in to the school’s surveillance system. I made a few upgrades to that system already, including audio. I keep it running in the corner of my screen, wherever she goes except bathrooms and the women’s locker room I can see her. It helps keep my wolf calm.”
“We have to get going soon,” Craig said. “I’ll drive with you, Gunny and Linda, then when we drop you at the airfield I can bring the car back here. Nadine can drive on her own since she is staying at the office.”
“That sounds good, we’re planning to leave as soon as the morning press conference is over,” I said. “You don’t know how much I appreciate the plane, the offices- you’re saving me weeks of headaches just getting logistics done.”
“Don’t worry about money, Rose, that is something we have a lot of. Time, we don’t have. If you need anything, just let us know and we’ll get it for you. It’s cheaper than war.” He was right about that. The Alphas and the politicians wanted this guy got now, it would get ugly if it dragged on. In the back of our minds was the idea that someone was doing this to destroy the hard-fought peace, the peace that cost Renee her first mate.
“Believe me, Alphas, I want this over as quickly as possible. I’ve got a mate to claim.” I leaned over and kissed Gunny, he quickly pulled me into his lap and deepened the kiss. I felt his hand slip around my ass and moaned into his mouth.
“Geez, Mom, can’t you give it a rest? It’s not like you never see each other.”
I put my hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, I know it sucks watching me be able to have my mate while you have to wait, but it is for the best. You’ll have your mate soon enough.”
“And a soundproof room, I hope. You two have WAY too much fun at night.” She blushed a little as she said that.
“Well, just wait until I make the change, I hear that really ramps it up.” She rolled her eyes. “I think we need to sit down and have a talk soon.”
“God, Mom, I’m the only kid in school who can’t have sex because of Alpha command. I have to hide my boyfriend from others at school, and I just found him! Is it wrong that I want him so badly? Is that just the mating pull?”
Craig picked it up. “A lot of it is the mating pull, that is why you feel so uncomfortable apart, and so safe and content together. Love takes more time, though, but it will come. Luna doesn’t make mistakes, you are the one made for him and he for you. You are lucky compared to humans.” She looked at him quizzically. “You don’t have to doubt you are meant to be together, you don’t have to worry about him breaking up with you or cheating on you. You have a chance to get to know him, really build that part of the relationship before it gets physical.”
I looked at both of them. “Don’t look at me, I still don’t know Gunny’s favorite movie.”
“The Godfather.” He smiled at me as he squeezed my hand. “Now come on, let’s hit the road.” I gave Charlotte and Josh hugs, and reminded them we would be spending the night in the Cascade Pack after the press conference.
We walked out to the SUV and Craig took shotgun while Gunny drove, leaving me with Linda to go over the morning press conference. I spent most of the drive going over my parts of the speech. In addition to covering the five incidents that were part of the investigation, I had to make sure to thank a long list of people by name. Alpha Craig was representing the Werewolf Alphas, and the Deputy Director the FBI. In addition, the US Attorney for New Mexico was going to be in attendance, along with our local Sheriff and the New Mexico State Police. She spent some time on protocol, because the people behind the lectern we were using were on camera, and the bosses liked to be there. The less important people had to stand farther out. “Please tell me there are going to be more reporters there than politicians,” I begged her.
“I’ve used my contacts plus those of the FBI. We have all three networks plus the big cable news outlets, and local television in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. You tell them there is a serial killer and they show up,” she said. “How are you going to handle the public?”
“Well, I’ve got two shootings in this state, I’ll focus on them for now. I’m going with Gunny’s idea, someone might have seen something, either when that vehicle approached the Gila land, or when someone was staking out our land. We also know this person is a skilled shooter with a hatred for werewolves. Then I’ll ask them to call the tip line.”
“Make sure you mention the tip line number a few times during your talk, it’s important we repeat that. You never know, we might get lucky.”
We pulled in to the office and had a little time to check things before we started. Another thirty people had been added to our task force when the day started, another thirty or so were coming. Everyone was picking up and moving to the new floor we were going to use after the press conference was over. I had it easy, I hadn’t been here long enough to do more than write my name on a Styrofoam coffee cup. Everything I needed was on my phone or laptop.
I had a quick meeting, making sure everyone was up to speed on the schedule for today and the goals. I had good people running the office, so I wasn’t worried about that. They said they were setting up the database and would be getting raw data for a day or two before they start actively processing. We had a dozen pairs of investigators ready to start looking into any good leads that we had. I had placed a map on the wall showing the territories of every Pack in the country, along with their leadership and contact information. Push pins showed the locations of known attacks.
We were ready on time, meeting in the SAIC’s office for last minute instructions.
Linda had set up the press conference outside, the imposing Federal building serving as a backdrop. The entryway had been cordoned off, and cameras ringed the area along with TV trucks, producers and reporters. I took a deep breath, I hated speaking in public. Gunny squeezed my hand, whispering that everything would be fine, just talk directly to the camera and block everything else out.
Linda went to the podium, kicking off the press conference by introducing each of the people standing behind her. She had an assistant handing out press releases so no one would get missed, or more importantly have their name misspelled. It was a beautiful morning, I thought, the early hour helping to keep the baking heat down. I waited my turn patiently, not really listening as the Deputy Director started to talk. I was too busy running through my part in my head.
When he stepped back and Linda started to introduce me, I walked forward to stand by her. Gunny stayed just a step behind and to my left, he was nervous out in public like this and his eyes were constantly searching the crowd for threats. I had learned to ignore it, it was just how he was, he couldn’t help himself.
Linda gave a little of my background, including a quick bio and why I was picked to head this task force along with Beta Rodriguez. I smiled and thanked her, setting my notes on the lecturn as I stepped to the center. I saw a flash in the distance, Gunny yelled “GUN!” and he shoved me out of the way.
I landed heavily on my right side. As I was falling, I heard the loud ‘crack’ of a rifle bullet followed by the a liquid ‘thwak’ sound. People started screaming, and someone yelled to take cover. I tried to roll forward to draw my Glock, but my legs were trapped. I reached down to push Gunny off, but he wasn’t moving, and when I pulled my hand back my fingers were full of blood.