Chapter 34: Hunting
We arrived at the airport in the late evening, having stopped to eat first. Nadine bought take-out meals from a local steakhouse. When we arrived, the jet was fueled and waiting for us. Nadine brought the truck into the hangar, parking it near the back. A Pack member would retrieve it later.
The stairs were down, so we moved quickly into the private jet and found seats. I sat next to Charlotte, with Josh on her other side. Melanie was across from us, along with Nadine who would be flown home on the next leg. “Are you ready to do this, Josh?”
He looked at me as he set up the laptop. “Of course, Mom. The call will appear to be coming from a cell tower in Annapolis. They’ll never track it back here.” Gunny had a plan, it was a desperate plan, but it might work. I had one too. We were going to go at this from both ends.
“I’m making my call, then,” I said. I took the burner phone and opened it up. Dialing a number I knew by heart, I just hoped she would listen to me. I waited nervously as the phone rang.
“Lisa Giovanni,” she replied as she picked up.
“Hi boss, it’s been a while. Don’t say my name.” I was hoping she wouldn’t blow this.
“Well, what a pleasure. You’re creating quite a stir, you must be feeling better. You look good, that’s for sure.”
“It’s been a busy time for me. You’ve heard a lot of things, none of them are true. I need to know If you trust me enough to learn the truth, Lisa.”
There was a pause. “Nothing is ever easy with you guys, is it.”
“Easy is boring, boss, you know that. Can you come to me? Bring someone you trust, someone high up in Justice with an open mind?”
“I can. What’s the timing?”
“Tomorrow morning, I’ll send a plane for you. I’ll text you the details when I have them. Pack for an overnight,” I told her.
“I will. Are you all right? Safe?”
I smiled as I looked at my family and friends around me. “I’ll be fine, boss. This will all clear up soon and I’ll be back in retirement.”
She snorted. “Somehow, I can’t see you just sitting around on the porch in your rocking chair.” I felt Charlotte twitch, and I smiled as I thought about doing just that.
“Well, we will see. I’ll see you tomorrow, and thank you.”
“Stay out of trouble,” she said before she hung up.
I closed the phone and removed the battery before breaking it in half. We went through a lot of these prepaid phones, but we couldn’t risk them using the phone to track us. I closed my eyes and let out a little prayer; we were taking a big risk by going to the White House Counsel. I trusted her, I’d worked with her long enough to know how she was. She had been very helpful in the past, most recently with the Belden Pack. It was when they came to visit her at her home in the middle of the night that I had first met Gunny and Ella.
I smiled as I thought back to that night. Gunny’s first look at me made my knees go weak, and I had to avoid looking at him that night or I wouldn’t have been able to think straight. He still looked at me that way, like he wanted to grab me and never let go. I still reacted to him, I couldn’t help it. The man was my world, one look and I was ready for him.
“He’s going to be fine, Mom,” Josh said to me.
“How did you know I was thinking about him?”
“Well, you get this goofy smile on your face. Oh, and your arousal is easy to smell.” I tested the air, he was right. The confines of the plane were going to make it easy to smell.
I looked over at Melanie, who was snickering to herself. “Wait… all those other flights…”
She nodded. “I had to breathe through my mouth at times because you were putting off such a scent. I had to fake sleeping just so Gunny could take care of you,” she said with a giggle. My face started turning scarlet red. “Don’t worry about it, new mates are like that. I was the same way, hell, if Jacob was here I would be the same way. Wolves are sexual creatures, there is nothing wrong with being aroused by the thought of your mate. From what I’ve seen, you cats are even worse.”
“Really, if Gunny was yours, tell me you wouldn’t feel the same way.” I loved his look, his bulging muscles, the way they moved under his skin or fur. He got me hot and bothered so quickly. The engines were winding up now and we were moving out towards the runway.
“Meh, all those muscles just get in the way. My Jacob, now THERE is a hot man. Strong, lean, and can go FOREVER if you know what I mean.”
Josh buried his nose in Charlotte’s shoulder, letting her scent drown out the musk starting to surround him. “Josh, what’s the problem?”
“It’s getting thick in here, Mom. There’s only one scent I want in my head right now.” I took a breath, it was working because now Charlotte’s scent was getting stronger.
“All right, people, let’s settle down. We’ve got work to do.” Everyone started cracking up, just in time for the pilot to announce we were cleared for takeoff. I was getting a crash course in Werecat senses, I had never understood before just how much they could smell and hear. It was no wonder no one said anything, you can’t ignore it. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing, but like Melanie said- it was all right because they were mates. “Josh, send the text.”
“On it,” he said as he opened his laptop back up. I watched as he typed the message in. “GUNNY HOLED UP 27275 HWY 177 EL MALPAIS NM.” He hit the ENTER key, then cleared his screen. “It’s sent,” he said. “Do you think she will fall for it?”
“They don’t know we know their cell numbers,” I said. “They don’t talk or text hardly at all. If this doesn’t draw Maitea Jennings out, I don’t know what will. Gunny says that a sniper’s greatest test is another sniper. She’ll show up,” I said.
“And Gunny? Will he be all right?”
“Gunny is the best at what he does, Josh. He’s smart enough, plus he’s getting help.” I smiled as I thought about it. Marine Snipers worked in pairs, and his spotter was his best friend. He relayed a message to another wolf, who used his cellphone to get a message to him. In ten minutes, it was confirmed he was on his way, with his gear.
She would never know what hit her.
It hurt like hell to watch her leave, but it had to be done. I needed her and the rest of my family safe, and only a Pack could do that. She had her own plan, one that was just as important. I was a Marine, I wasn’t good at this political shit. I didn’t have the patience or the contacts to do what she was doing.
I was still pissed at myself for proposing the mission to Luis’ house. I fell for it, thinking he just had rudimentary security, not considering he might have layers of defense. We had been stupid, and stupid hurt. Not only were we wanted now, but we had pulled Charlotte into the mess.
I got dressed, having washed my clothes in the sink and dried them with a hairdryer. I didn’t have any luggage, or anything else to my name. I watched television, clicking through the cable channels. There wasn’t any real news, so the talking heads were out in force. The big topic was the messy divorce between the FBI and the Packs over the investigation. The government apologists focused on the supposed treachery of our break-in, pushing the idea that werewolves never really wanted to integrate again. The defenders were focusing in on the stupidity of thinking we Rose and I were the killers when we and our Pack had been targeted twice by them.
A soft triple knock came on the door, and I moved closer. I didn’t look through the peephole, I took a deep breath. It smelled like gunpowder and oil. Pulling the door open, I smiled as I stepped aside to let Lars Thorssen into my room. “LARS!” I pulled him into a bro-hug.
“Gunny, you fuckup,” he said as he pounded my back, “once again I have to pull your ass out of trouble.”
“Another half dozen times and we’ll be even,” I said. “Come on, we need to talk.” I brought him over to the table and sat down to explain things. I started with the attack on our Pack, going through everything that had happened since.
“Fucking FBI,” he said. “You can’t trust any agency with three letters.” That was true; both of us had done work for the CIA, and it was pretty clear they wanted us to be the puppets, and they wanted to hold the strings. More than once we had to get out on our own when their grand plans went to shit.
“That’s one thing I love about my new life, a Pack is family. It’s much like our units, we’d do anything for each other.” There was another knock at the door. “Hang on, this should be my guy from Gila.” I moved over to the door and took a sniff. It was him.
I opened the door to reveal the short, heavily muscled cowboy in jeans and a plaid shirt. His white Stetson covered the bald spot on top of his head, his hair was shaved close on the side under it. “Beta Alex, thank you for coming,” I said. “This is my buddy from the Marines, Lars.” The two shook hands, sizing each other up. “Ready to have some fun?”
“I wouldn’t miss it, Gunny. There hasn’t been much since we shot up that column that tried to attack.” Lars didn’t understand, so as I pulled a few beers out from the fridge, he told the story of the druglord and his mercenaries tried to attack them. As a sniper, Lars appreciated the finer parts of the story; the explosion, and the fifty cals taking out the helicopter.
“So, what’s the plan, Gunny?” I had spread out the satellite photos on the table as Lars watched. “I figure you didn’t need me here to help you avoid capture, you’re pretty damn good at it on your own.”
Lars laughed. “No, Gunny wouldn’t bring me here unless we get to kill someone. But, I’m curious too… what’s the plan?”
“It’s a countersniper operation,” I told them. “We figured out who the Scrabble Killer is. Her name is Maitea Jennings. She’s a widow, her husband was pilot of a rescue helicopter that was shot down by Alpha Renee Hasting’s squad during the war. That’s why she has such a hardon for her.”
“Why don’t we know this,” Lars asked. “If you know the killer, it should be all over the news.”
“Except that she is also the sister of Luis Hernandez, the FBI agent in charge of the entire fucking investigation. He’s keeping her name out of the investigation, covering for her and her attacks. We found out how the two are communicating, and sent a fake text to her saying I was holed up at this location,” I said as I pointed to the map. “We’re going to set up three positions around it, and when she shows up, we capture her.”