“What do you mean it’s risky?” Uncle Dimitri whispered.
Abram glanced at the elf king, who recently ascended the throne. He was also Aunt Giselle’s biological brother. “Lucian’s beast is out of control. He’s back, but barely there.”
Uncle Dimitri’s chest expanded as a solemn expression crossed his face. Lucian’s father stood staring out of the window. The food on the table sat untouched with the three of them mulled over the current situation.
“Apart from Alexa and Nate, you’re the only one connected to him through the bite.” Uncle Antonio tore his gaze away from the darkness outside and strode to the wooden chair before dropping on it. “You’re the only one he lets closer.”
Abram nodded his acknowledgment. Lucian wasn’t the same when he woke. His beast’s thirst for blood washed over him and it took his entire strength to stop him from killing Antonio, who had burst into the room then.
“We need him to find Nate,” he said, running a hand through his messy hair. How long had it been since he had a proper haircut? His hair now fell on his shoulders and covered his eyes. He pushed the unruly strands behind his ears. “I was able to sense him as soon as Lucian woke up. His beast is the bridge between us.”
The gentle breeze teased them. He tried to relish the comfort it offered.
“The human world isn’t the same.” Uncle Dimitri scratched his short beard. “The creatures destroyed almost everything. The city has no electricity or running water. People went into hiding and you barely see anyone on the streets. A mob ambushed us one time and ran away when they realized we aren’t humans.”
“What about the transport and food?” Abram’s brows creased.
“We do it the old way.” Dimitri’s gaze flicked across the room to Antonio. “For long distances, we teleport and then navigate majorly through the forests. We hunt when we can and sleep in trees.”
Abram’s shoulders slumped. “Once we reach the human realm, Lucian will lead the way. But is it okay to leave this way?” He looked at Antonio.
Lucian’s father straightened. The cold mask slid into place, replacing any signs of weariness he displayed a while ago. “Finding Nate is our priority. Because only he can lead us to that girl. Don’t worry about us.”
Abram stood with a curt nod. “Then assemble the troops. We leave at dawn.”
Uncle Dimitri gripped his sword tighter. “See you in the morning.”
Nate’s stomach dropped when the elevator door opened to a corridor. The sight unsettled in nerves and the beast began pacing inside his chest.
The thick, gloomy atmosphere weighed on him. His gaze swept around, sucking in the dangerous aura it radiated. Reinforced metal walls and security checks every ten feet further made his beast edgy. His grip tightened around the pillow he carried.
What are they planning?
The human armed guards spread out in a protective circle. Their guns aimed at him, ready to shoot if he tried something. Nate clenched his jaw and forced his body to relax. He hummed a song in a low tone as he followed them. The Spanish lyrics he memorized not so long ago slipped out of his tongue.
Their feet swallowed the distance and his stomach dropped when he realized how deep under the ground this new level stretched. Cameras stared at him from every corner. They were locking him in a place where he could never break free. He didn’t think his inhumane strength would work.
He swallowed a growl, keeping his demeanor calm. Isadora was his only hope now. They had already shifted her to level twenty-five. Which level was this? The elevator they took him through showed twenty. But they were walking for over fifteen minutes, dropping several feet.
The winding corridors that had no elevators or stairs continued to drop. There was only one way in or out.
“You sing well,” the doctor remarked, breathless from their walk.
“Thanks!” Nate shrugged. He wasn’t in a mood for a conversation, but decided to keep it up with the doc, who loved to talk. “Do you have some music here?” he asked already knowing the answer.
“Ah…we don’t have that here.”
“It’s been ages since I listened to some good music.” Nate sighed. “Do you at least happen to have a computer?”
The doctor didn’t respond immediately. They crossed another level. The number of guards had thinned when they reached this level. Advanced three-level security greeted them. It looked like the security gates in the airports but equipped with different systems.
Dr. Reynolds moved forward. “I’ll take it from here.” He turned to the security guards, dismissing them. Nate watched as he slid his ID card, verifying his identity. As they advanced to the next gate, a laser scanner swept over them, head to toe. “It’s just a normal procedure.” The doctor offered a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
Nate sensed his thrill. What are you planning this time doc? The human oozed with sudden excitement that further unsettled his beast. He contemplated his decision to play along. This was definitely a trap. What did he expect? He knew that already.
The third gate held a digital scanning booth. It scanned the doctor’s fingerprints, eyes, and finally his face. Nate lifted a brow when it prompted a voice test. Dr. Reynolds finished the process and led him through another metal corridor. Their heavy footsteps grew loud in contrast with the deadly silence.
“What exactly in the hell is this place?” Nate found himself muttering as he took in his surroundings.
The doctor grinned. “You’ll find out soon.”
His answer further puzzled the lycan. He knew this was some shady research unit run by the government. But he needed to know. They soon approached another security panel. Dr. Reynolds pressed his palm over the screen. Nate’s breath hitched when the metal door opened, revealing a high-tech room.
“Welcome to Area 51,” the doctor chimed.
“That shit is real?” He gasped. With wide eyes, he looked around. Digital screens, equipment, and several other things he didn’t recognize filled the huge room. The lab was unlike anything he has seen in the movies. At least he saw no bodies in glass tanks, yet.
“Very real.” The doctor took him further into the room. A few more doors later, they approached a room. “This is your new room.”
“You don’t plan to let me go anytime soon, do you?” Nate stepped inside the room. Fortunately, it looked much better than in his previous room.
A king-sized bed with a comfortable mattress lay in the middle. A worktable and a chair sat beside it. The stack of books caught his eyes. Nate strode to the bed, taking in the reinforced walls and security cameras perched at the top corner of the room. The toilet like the doctor said offered little privacy unlike before.
“Books?” He threw the pillow on the bed and went to the table. “Can I have a computer too?” He turned to the doctor. “It’s clear you want me as your guest for a long time. Why don’t you make me comfortable?” He tilted his head to the side. “And I promise I’ll be good.”
The doctor chuckled as he moved closer. “That’s a good bargain.” He wasn’t afraid in the least as he removed the cuffs.
Nate realized the place must be far more dangerous. Otherwise, the doctor wouldn’t be so confident to approach him without guards. What was he hiding? On the other hand, he didn’t wish to find out.
“Thanks, doc.” Nate moved to the bed, appearing as casual as possible. “You promised me steak for lunch.” He lay on the bed, letting out a loud sigh. “This bed is so good,” he groaned.
Dr. Reynolds stared at him awkwardly before exiting the door. “Oh, I forgot to tell you something.” He turned. “You’re not alone here.”
“I have a roommate?” Nate sat upright.
“More like a neighbor,” Dr. Reynolds corrected. “You see that remote on the table?”
Nate’s gaze followed the doctor’s finger now noticing the remote control.
“It controls the air conditioner, lights, and the wall curtains.”
“Curtains?” He saw no curtains. Nate reached for the remote without hesitation, testing the controls. “Whoa!” He jumped to his feet when one side of the wall started moving.
“Feel free to get acquainted.” The door closed behind the doctor.
Nate’s heart thumped as he moved closer to the glass that separated him from his neighbor. Was it Isadora? The curtain with metal texture faded, revealing the other room. Fog or smoke covered it, hindering his vision.
He walked to the glass in a daze and put a hand on it. Something or someone moved in the fog. Nate yelped in surprise and jumped back when the figure suddenly materialized in front of him.
A silent scream escaped his mouth and his hand rose to clutch his heart as a pair of piercing red eyes stared at him through the glass.