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Chapter 21: Kansas city

“I’ll be at the airport in sixty minutes. Call the pilots and have them get ready.” I was already jumping out of bed, any good mood I had from last night was long gone now.

“They are being called now.”

“Good, text or email me updates as they come in.” I ran into the bathroom, quickly doing my business. I called Linda and Craig while I was brushing my bed head and trying to make myself a little more presentable. They were already up, the office had called them as well.

Gunny was standing by the small closet, looking for clothes. “What are you doing,” I said as I came out of the bathroom.

“I’m going with you,” he said.

“Oh HELL no.” I grabbed his good arm and turned him so he was facing me. “You are still on bedrest, the doctor hasn’t cleared you for normal activities, much less working or flying.”

“I’m fine, Rose.”

“No. You’re going to follow the Doctor’s orders. Plus, you are needed back home, and I need you back home. When Doc clears you, Josh and Charlotte need to get home. There’s still a killer out there, our Pack is in danger, and our Pack needs you home.” I got up on my toes and kissed him. “Do this for me, baby? I need to know the ones I love are safe.”

He sighed, turning his head towards the door he saw Craig coming in. “And Gunny,” Craig said, “If you don’t listen I’ll have Ella put alpha command on you AGAIN. You’re starting to piss them off, and that’s not a good idea.”

I hugged him. “Go home and look over what they are doing for surveillance and protection. You’re a damn sniper, you will know where someone would hide and what they should be looking for.”

“Fine.” He gave me a deep kiss. “Hurry back to me, and keep yourself safe, Rose. I’m not there to save you now.”

“I’ll be fine.” I smacked him on the ass and walked out the door, grabbing my bag along the way. I was so glad I was flying the private jet, as I wasn’t going to explain why THOSE things were in there. Gunny would be released soon, I didn’t see me coming back here once he got home.

Craig and I got into the back of a Suburban, with Linda in the third seat behind us and two of the Gila warriors in front. As we pulled out, I saw another Suburban following us. “More security?”

The driver looked back at us. “Yes, ma’am. After the attempt on you, we don’t go anywhere outside our borders without at least one warrior for each person we are escorting. You guys get more since you are a high value target. There are another six in the tail vehicle.”

I looked over at Craig, suddenly nervous about Gunny driving back. He read my face. “I already talked to Robert about that. They’ll be escorted back, similar to what we are doing.”

I immediately felt better. “Craig, before we join the humans again, what are your thoughts on the investigation?”

He thought about how to say it. “I still don’t trust the humans, Rose. No offense.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s all just too much to believe. The number of women in the world with the skill and training to do what this woman has done and get away with it has to be so few I could count it on one hand. The fact that we are no closer to figuring out the shooter makes me wonder if there aren’t people working against us.”

My jaw fell open. “You think she has help on the inside?”

“Yes. Think about what was involved in just the attack on you, Rose. We didn’t decide to have the press conference until late the day before, and normally it would be inside, in an enclosed space with security. There wasn’t much time to do a lot of scouting, to find a good shooting position, to plan an escape route.”

“There was time, though…”

“The cameras, Rose. There are cameras everywhere downtown. How exactly did this shooter not just get away moments after firing the shot, but avoid being caught by them?”

Linda spoke first. “You think someone helped her avoid the cameras, maybe even deactivated some so she wouldn’t be seen.”

He nodded. “Or when they were reviewing the tapes, they knew which one to look at and either erased a portion or just didn’t enter the data into the database.”

My mind was spinning, I couldn’t believe it. “Why would someone help her?”

“Not everyone likes werewolves, and not everyone wanted the war to end. Alpha Renee was the catalyst for peace, she was the one the country rallied to when her mate was killed. She was the one who the President went to, who the Alphas rallied to. Without her, the entire peace process wouldn’t have happened, and we would still be fighting- and losing- a war with the humans.”

“Wait, it all began with her,” Linda said. “The tape said, ‘These deaths are all on her, she started it. She is the only one who can stop it.’”

“It can’t be that simple, can it? They want the war to restart?”

Craig nodded. “It could be. Now that we are out, the Government knows where we are, who we are. Keep killing Pack members, set werewolves against humans, maybe some retaliate, or maybe humans decide to join in.”

“So what do we do?” I looked at Craig. “We set up this whole task force so we could have wolves working side by side with humans, just to avoid the lack of trust.”

“We use Josh and his hacker buddies, for one. I’m going to send him a list of people involved in the investigation, people at the FBI office and local law enforcement. They can do some searches and see if anything seems off.”

“And we can send them the raw traffic camera video,” Linda said. “Put the Packs on to watching it and writing down plate numbers, and compare it against the list the FBI compiled. If we find something missing, that might tell us not just who the killer is, but who they are working with.”

“Do it,” I said as I leaned my head back, pinching my nose. I didn’t want to believe it, but I couldn’t argue with it. We had a huge manhunt, all these people, all this technology, yet we couldn’t figure out who the shooter was. We didn’t even have a list of subjects.

The cars arrived at the hangar while I was still trying to figure out what to do next. Linda and Craig had been on their phones constantly, working with werewolves in the investigation and talking to Josh. We agreed to never speak about our suspicions around humans.

It didn’t even seem weird to me that I was already seeing myself as Pack and not human, even though I hadn’t changed yet. I think Charlotte felt the same way, in fact I knew she did, and she had only known her mate for a few days.

The FBI team met us at the plane; Rob, Melody, Luis, and Luke Thompson, the FBI profiler who had been assigned to the case. We were wheels up shortly after we arrived, drinking the coffee and eating the breakfast they had brought onto the plane for us. “What do we know about the new shooting,” I asked.

Rob plugged his laptop into the projector and pulled up the most recent information. “The victim was Kirsten Ann Dunn, age 17, oldest daughter of a family of five. Killed in the kitchen of their house as she cooked pancakes. She lived in a rural area outside Wisdom with her parents and extended family on their farm.”

“Wisdom? Is there a Pack there?”

“No,” Melody answered, “It’s a human territory. The nearest Alpha is in the Ozarks. I called him on the way here, he verified they are werewolves, lone wolves actually. No issues with them.”

“Lone wolves? How?”

“It can happen,” Craig said, “Especially if it is a large family with a somewhat dominant wolf. They have enough to give their wolves security, but not enough dominance to establish a territory. Sometimes they have had bad experiences in a Pack and just decide to stay on their own.”

“So how did someone find out they were werewolves?”

“Social media,” Melody said. “The victim was a 17-year-old girl, her Facebook page shows her in wolf form. Her stepfather is the werewolf; he met his mate after the war, she was a widowed mother. He changed his wife and older children right before Wolfstock.”

“How did she do it?”

“Parked on a road about three hundred yards away, waited for her to wake up and go downstairs, and shot her through her kitchen window. The family heard the car driving away, but didn’t see it. The area was rural enough that law enforcement didn’t arrive for ten minutes. They found the Scrabble piece on the road.” Rob pulled up the crime scene photos that had been sent; there wasn’t much. The road showing where the piece was found, the piece itself (both sides), a view of the farmhouse from the road. He kept clicking through to the scenes in the house. The girl was very pretty, dressed in Capris and a T-shirt. The bullet had entered the center of her back and blew clean through her chest, killing her instantly.

“Did they recover the bullet?”

“Yes, it’s consistent with our shooter.” Melody was just as pissed as I was. “No leads, no cameras, no witnesses so far.”

“Fuck, we’re going to get killed on this one,” I said. “Anything else we can do?”

There wasn’t anything for a while, just tapping on phones. Finally, Craig showed me his screen. My eyes went wide, this would certainly help.

We landed in a nearby airport and were picked up by the Sheriff’s Department. They took us straight to the crime scene, where the media circus was already gathering. We spent an hour going through the crime scene and talking to the investigators. There wasn’t much we could add. Linda pulled me aside, it was time.

We went through the police tape to the area where the Sheriff was about to start his press conference. We waited as he confirmed the victim, the major details of the scene, and the connection to what was being called the “Scrabble Killer.” He then turned it over to me. “Ladies and gentlemen, this killing spree cannot continue. There is someone out there who knows the killer. Someone who trained her, sold her equipment, saw her at the gun range, or talked to her on social media. That person hasn’t come forward yet, and people are dying because of it.”

I paused for a moment, then looked right into the camera. “I am announcing that the Packs are now offering a TEN MILLION DOLLAR reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer. Make no mistake, the FBI and the Packs will not rest until you are behind bars, and God help anyone who assists or hides her. Ten million dollars. Call your tips in to 1-800-FBI TIPS. Thank you for your time.”

Author’s Note: Please don’t call the real FBI.

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