Chapter 33: On the lam
I rushed to the window of the hotel, looking down I could see Charlotte moving down the sidewalk towards the park. “JOSH,” I yelled as I watched. He ran into our room. “Josh, call Charlotte and tell her to get out of sight. She’s on the wanted list,” I said.
“Do you want her back here?”
“No, she could lead them right to us if she’s recognized.” He ran back into his room. “Melanie, where are you?”
“Just riding the elevator down to parking,” she responded.
“I just saw on the news, Charlotte is named as a suspect in the bombing of Luis’ house. She’s wanted now.”
“Damn it, they didn’t say anything about her earlier! Do you still have her?”
“No, she’s on the way to the park. We told her to get out of sight. It will have to be a hot pickup. Get out of there and drive towards her, I’ll guide you in.”
I had been watching Charlotte, she had ducked into a shop a few blocks away. Josh came back in the room, he was on a burner phone and was talking to her. He looked up from the phone. “She’s ducked into a clothing store called ‘Vintage Fashion’, she’s trying to stay out of sight,” he said.
I looked across the street, watching the exit of the parking area. “Melanie, you’ll exit west and go two and a half blocks, the store is on the left. I’ll have her run out to you as soon as you stop, make sure the door is open and don’t stop for anyone or anything.”
“I’m almost at the exit now,” she said. A few moments later and I could see her Honda Pilot as she paid the attendant.
“I have you in sight. When you get her, have her hide in the back seat.” I yelled for Gunny to get out here while Josh was trying to calm Charlotte down on the phone. “Josh, she can’t keep her phone. They will track it.”
I listened to him tell her what car Melanie was driving. Then he told her to destroy her phone. He explained what to do, he had her put it on the ground and crush it with her heel. When the phone cut out, he broke the flip phone in half, then removed the battery and tossed it all in a bin. My stomach fell, now I had no way to talk to her directly. Gunny came out wrapped in a towel and I quickly filled him in on what was going on. We watched as Melanie turned onto the street, now four cars back from the stoplight and two blocks away.
The light turned green and we all watched as she pulled forward to the next light. It was still red, and then I saw the lights flashing. A police car was coming from the other direction.
The light changed, and Melanie moved forward, slowing to a halt near the cars parked on the right. Charlotte opened the door of the shop and rushed out, waiting for the cars to clear so she could cross to her. She looked at the police car and froze on the sidewalk as it stopped in front of her. She turned and ran back into the shop as the police officer jumped out of his car, his pistol drawn. Two more patrol cars were on their way now. “Melanie, circle around to the next block and wait,” I told her.
She moved forward, changing lanes so she could make the turn at the next street. “Josh, pull up the street cameras,” I said. He raced back into his room, grabbing his laptop as Gunny and I kept watch. The second police car arrived, and an officer jumped out and ran into the store. The third police car made a turn, he was maybe a minute behind Melanie’s car.
“Melanie, the police are behind you, have you seen Charlotte?”
“Nothing yet, I’ve stopped by the back door and have my door open.” I didn’t hear anything for a minute. “I’ve got her.”
“Go, but don’t drive in a way that attracts attention,” I told her. “Josh, bring up the cameras.” Melanie was smart enough to stay away from the main roads, but Josh had the traffic cams up and soon spotted her. “OK, set a grid five blocks around and track,” I told him.
His screen split into twenty images, and while he was looking at them I went back to his room and grabbed the police scanner. Turning it on, the airwaves were filled with reports and orders. All available units were being diverted to the area. “Melanie, they’ve got your description. Hide the car and evade on foot,” I told her.
There had to be another way out. “Nadine, where are you?”
“I’m still at the office, Rose. What’s going on? Is everyone hiding?”
“Not yet. They spotted Charlotte as Melanie was picking her up, her license plate has been picked up and they know she is helping her escape. I need you to extract them.”
“I’m leaving now,” she said. “Where do you want me to take them?”
I looked at Gunny, leaving the link open. “Where should she go? She can’t go to Gila.”
“El Paso is the closest ally,” Gunny said.
“Too risky,” Josh countered. “Immigration stops along the way, they’ll have her description and can search the vehicle.”
“Johnson Pack, then,” Gunny said. “Renee’s brother will protect them, and no one will expect them to be heading north.”
I liked the idea, it would be safe. I hadn’t met Derek and Amanda, but they were family and were well respected in the werewolf community.
“I hate to say it, guys, but that’s about a full day’s drive. I’m not thrilled with being on the road that long with wanted fugitives.”
“The jet we have from the Packs, we control that, right?”
“Call them and tell them to get it ready to take Pack members back to the Johnson pack. They won’t suspect anything since the task force has been shut down, even if they pick up your call.”
“All right. I’m going to text the people here from that area, I’ll tell them I’m giving them a ride to the airport. Gotta go.”
I looked over at Gunny. “Is this going to work?”
“It can if they can stay hidden until pickup,” he said. “Nadine has one of the Excursions, it’s big enough for a bunch of people. Melanie how are you guys doing?”
“Car is hidden in an apartment parking lot. We’re on foot, two blocks away. We’re going to go a few more blocks then find a place to hide. How is extraction coming?”
“Nadine is going to pick you up in her silver Excursion. It may be a while before she is there.”
I listened to the police radio, they had lost Melanie’s car almost immediately and were setting up roadblocks on a 10-block radius. “Josh, we need to do something so they can’t figure out where they are now,” I said.
“Already done. I took the last hour’s data from all the traffic cams and overwrote it with the previous hour’s data. They can search but they won’t find anything. They will try and use facial recognition, but that won’t work either, the software has a virus in it now.” He smiled a little. “Don’t worry Mom, I won’t let them take my mate from me.”
We waited nervously for the next updates; Charlotte and Melanie had found a good spot to hide out, while Nadine was coming to the hotel to pick up team members from the northern Packs. Gunny turned to me and his face was grim. “Rose… I want you to go with them,” he said. “Josh, you too.”
“What?” We both looked at him like he was crazy. “No, we’re staying here.”
He shook his head. “No, it doesn’t make sense now. The reason we came here was to be able to link with wolves in the investigation. Now, there are none. The investigation is human only, and the longer we stay here the greater chance someone sees or remembers us. We can’t go back to Gila, and we can’t get caught on the road. This is the best chance for you two to get to safety.”
I hated that he was right. I hated that I was leaving him. I hated that I was hidden under a blanket in the back of Nadine’s SUV, holding Charlotte in my arms with Josh and Melanie on the other side. I hated that we were away from our Pack. I hated the glee in his eyes with the last thing he told me before we snuck out of the room.
“What about you? What are you going to do?”
He just smirked at me. “I’m going hunting, baby.”