Rose

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Chapter 23: Mole

“How do we find the phone? It could be anywhere, hiding in a desk drawer, in a purse, what do I do, search the place?” My mind was spinning, and I was getting pissed off. Whoever did this set me up to be killed, and made sure the killer could get away.

“That’s one way,” Craig said, “but as soon as the place is locked down the person could ditch it. You’d have to catch it in their possession.”

Linda looked back at us. “We could sweep the building at night, when we don’t have people around.”

“No, that only works if the person leaves it behind. They are being careless; if they thought they were being watched, they’d do this differently,” Josh said. “They would take out the battery in the phone so it wasn’t transmitting and couldn’t be detected, they would only call or message at specified times.”

“He’s right on that,” Jacob said as he drove us out of town towards home. “The fact that he or she leaves it on means that they have to be instantly available to the killer, in order to provide real time help. They are actively cooperating, and until we know who it is, we don’t know how much information has been funneled to the killer.”

I was shaking with anger now, I had trusted, and I was burned. “Anyone in the team has real time access to the information on the database, plus the updates. We have to assume the shooter knows everything we do, and is being actively aided. Josh, any more text messages?”

“No, but we pulled the call history. There are thirteen different calls, all over the last three days. Locations of the second phone vary, but are consistent with the attacks so I’m confident it is the shooter.”

“Josh, can you figure out a way to search for the phone without appearing to search?”

“That’s easy. There are pocket detectors that can read the numbers of cellphones in the immediate vicinity. I can rig up a few to connect to your smartphones; as you walk around, I can set it to send you an alert if it detects the number we’re looking for.”

“How long will that take,” Craig said.

“I have one, I’ll have to order two more. I can have the first by morning and the other two by the end of the week.” He pulled out his laptop and started to work.

“What do you do when you find him,” Charlotte asked. “Arrest him?”

“Kill him,” Craig said. “He’s endangered Pack, he’s resulted in additional werewolf deaths.”

“No,” I said, “We can’t kill him, not without bringing down the wrath of the government. Right now, we have a fragile state between the Packs and the government, based on a common goal to find this person. If we take things into our own hands and dispense our own justice, that breaks down. Don’t you see, that’s what she wants, she wants us fighting again because she can’t kill us all on her own.”

We were quiet for a while, I was looking through the darkened windows at the passing desert landscape. Finally, Jacob spoke up again. “We’re missing the big picture here. We know there is a mole, but the mole doesn’t know we know he exists. So, we figure out who it is, and we use that information.”

“How?”

“By feeding that person false information, using him to draw the shooter out of hiding and get them both. Look, right now we’re defensive, and there are too many packs and too much land to be safe against a shooter like this. We need to flip the odds, bring her to a place of our choosing, where we can be ready for her.”

“I like the way you think, Jacob. Let’s do it. First things first, we need to figure out who the mole is.” I turned around and looked at Charlotte, reaching my hand back to hold hers. “How is your schoolwork coming?”

“It’s all right, I guess. Alpha Ella contacted the school and told them we would all be working from home until the killer is caught. We all have our books, and the teachers are emailing us our assignments. Ella is having us use the library, we have to be down there every morning after breakfast until the day’s work is done. She’s also tasked the Peters with monitoring our progress.”

I nodded, Jerry and Mary still ran the Pack school. “What about tests?”

“The school agreed to send a teacher to our house to proctor exams for us when needed. It’s not bad, Mom. We get our work done by ten or so usually, since there are no distractions, then we head out to the pool. I miss seeing all the people, though. My new-found celebrity status is useless in the Pack House.” She showed me her phone, her YouTube channel had over fifty thousand followers and the video of her punting his nuts into next week had two million views and counting. I looked up the video on my phone, scrolling through the comments. She had struck a nerve, the women of this country were sick of harassment like this. Charlotte had made a difference.

I was still laughing at the comments when we pulled into the estate. As soon as the car stopped, the door was ripped open and Gunny pulled me out of the car into his chest, my feet never touching the ground. I wrapped my legs around him, grabbing his neck and kissing him deeply. He started to run off with me, his arousal pressing against me as I held on. Al held the door open, he didn’t bother to talk, he took me straight to our room and tossed me on the bed. He locked the door, then turned to me, his eyes showed his cat was forward. I started to scoot back, and movement away from him was enough to push his cat over the edge.

He shifted, his clothing tearing into shreds. His forelegs dropped to the ground, his razor-sharp claws digging furrows into the hardwood flooring. He was a huge panther, glossy black with a hint of lighter tan rosettes underneath. His body was well muscled, just like his human body, and he moved with the grace the big cats were known for. He kept his eyes on mine, daring me to move as a low growl rumbled out of my chest. He climbed onto the bed, his paws sinking into the mattress as his claws shredded the sheets and blankets like tissue paper. I stayed perfectly still; I had seen his panther before, but this was different. This wasn’t playful or loving, this was something different, more primal, more basic.

He moved forward until he was straddling me, his big chest and legs blocking any escape. He moved his big head down, the long whiskers tickling my face as he checked me over. I knew he was just reassuring himself that I was all right. He took a deep sniff of my right cheek, then moved over to my left and froze. He lifted his head and roared his outrage through the walls.

He reached out with his jaws, grabbing on to my jacket and pulling. I was being shaken like a rag doll, he was using his claws to shred it and my arms were still in it! The fabric tore free just after I got one arm out. He held it in his teeth while his claws cut it and the bed into little strips.

I tried to scoot away, but his teeth grabbed the collar of my blouse and ripped the sheer material away. He shook it in the air, reaching a paw up to shred it as it danced around the air. I was on my back in the corner of the bed, wearing only a bra from the waist up, and wondering how the hell he didn’t scratch or bite me just then.

I quickly figured out what set him off. I had fallen asleep on Craig’s shoulder, and his scent was on me. I reached up, moving my fingers through his thick fur until I could grab his ears. Pulling his face down until he was looking at me, I figured I’d stomp this behavior out quick. “GODDAMN IT GUNNY, GROW THE FUCK UP AND TALK TO ME LIKE A MAN,” I yelled in his face. He snarled in anger, so I twisted his ear until he whined in pain. “Yes, I smell like Craig, he’s our Alpha, he’s mated, AND he was the one by my side the whole time protecting me! Cut this possessive shit and shift back so we can talk!”

He shook his head, and his eyes glazed over, so I knew he was communicating with Craig. It took about fifteen seconds before his shoulders slumped down, his ears went back, and he lost his aggressive posture. He leaned down, licking me from my chest all the way to my temple with his wide, rough tongue. “Jesus, Gunny…” He moved down, licking at my breasts, causing me to laugh and try to push him off as his whiskers tickled my belly. Finally, he shuddered and went back to human form. He collapsed on the bed next to me as he rolled off onto his back.

He was breathing hard, we both were. He looked over at me, checking my body for scratches. “Did I get you,” he said as he pulled me into his chest.

“I’m fine, Rico.”

He kissed my hair as we snuggled together. “I’m sorry. When Craig told me what was happening, my cat got a little scared for you. I’ve got him under control now.” He hugged me a little tighter. “I can’t lose you, Rose, and not marking you is causing my panther stress. We can’t link, we can’t feel your emotions, and my mark is not warning others away. I felt helpless today, Rose.”

“You know you can’t mark me until this is over,” I said into his chest. I moved up a little, my eyes looking at the wound where the bullet had struck only three days ago. The scar was angry, red and bruised, and my fingers could feel the heat under it. “Is this infected? Jesus, Gunny, you were supposed to rest and heal!” My fingers trace around his wound, feeling the back where his shoulder blade had been shattered by the bullet.

“I did, my love. I’m fine. The color and heat is my body repairing the damaged tissue. The major healing is done, another day and I’ll be full strength. Panthers heal quickly, faster than wolves.” I was so relieved, I bent down and kissed the raised scar before resting my head back on his chest again.

I relaxed into him as he stroked my back. When we were both breathing normally again, he pulled me up for a deep kiss, then pushed me up onto my knees. “Come on,” he said, “We need to meet with the others.”

“Really?” I had expected to be naked and writhing under him in pleasure by now.

“Yes, they’re waiting.” I got up and pulled a shirt over my head, then took the slacks and dress shoes off and replaced them with lounge pants and slippers. Gunny pulled on a pair of basketball shorts and a T-shirt, then walked to the door and unlocked it and held it open. I walked through, grabbing his muscled ass with my hand as I brushed by. I smirked, then yelped as he smacked my ass hard. He pulled me into his side as we walked towards the stairs. “Equality in all things,” he said. “So tonight, that ass is MINE.”

I couldn’t wait.

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