Buried Treasure

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Latent Scents

Chase Nygaard’s POV
Temporary Orlando Chapter Clubhouse

I couldn’t have heard that right. The Detectives were reading him his rights as Three Tequila was being held back from attacking the cops, yelling about how he was innocent and he’d been here “all fucking DAY with me!” She might have been arrested for assault if Tripod and a few others hadn’t dragged her away from them.

“I’ll handle this,” I told her as I pulled my phone out. I called my lawyer. I stepped outside and away from the noise as it rang.

“Juanita Lopez,” her tired voice said.

“Juanita, it’s Chase Nygaard. We need your help again.”

“I suspected that when I saw the news report. I’m heading over there now.”

“Over where?”

“You didn’t hear? There are cops all over Mongo’s house right now. No official statements, but the cameras have shown them pulling people out of there for a half hour now. Word is there were eleven dead Sons of Tezcatlipoca in his garage, all executed at close range.”

Fuck. Me. This was bad. “They just showed up at our temporary clubhouse and arrested Mongo on eleven counts of first-degree murder. That didn’t take long. He can’t have done it; he’s been tied up in funeral service preparations all day!”

“They just arrested him?”

“Yeah, he’s being put into the car now.”

There was a pause. “There’s nothing I can do until the morning; he will be booked and processed in tonight. You say he was with you?”

“Yeah, and a whole bunch of other people. He hasn’t been home since breakfast. The whole Club was here with him. Three Tequila is not happy right now; if they didn’t hold her back, she might have decked one of the cops.”

She laughed a little. “You guys aren’t boring.” There was a pause. “I’m going to send a paralegal over to you; she is a notary, so she can take statements from everyone she can. I’ll need your Club’s support in getting people to say when they saw Mongo and Three Tequila there. If there were so many there, we could flood them with statements showing he didn’t leave.”

“The cops don’t trust the Club.”

“Write down the names of anyone who wasn’t Club that was there. Caterers, delivery people, anything. I’m going to go to the scene and see what I can do.”

“I’ll take care of it. Thanks, counselor. I’ll text you Three Tequila’s cell number so you can keep her updated.”

“Don’t expect much until at least noon, things move slowly at County Lockup. You and the others stay out of trouble, I have enough work for now.”

“Goodnight, Juanita.” I hung up and looked at the time; I needed to get going. I went back in and updated Tripod and Three T on what Juanita said, then walked out to where my rental SUV was parked. Vic didn’t say anything, he just got in the driver’s seat and drove towards the airport.

“Alpha, is there any danger for you or the Luna out of this?”

“Not that I know of. I’ve only been at Mongo’s house once, and that was before we got the motorcycles. I need to make another call.” I looked up the number for Director Frank Grimes and hit the call button. “Frank, it’s Chase Nygaard.”

“Hang on.” I heard talk and movement. Twenty seconds later, a door closed, and it was quiet. “This is a complete clusterfuck, Chase. You promised to keep the Club out of trouble for me.”

“Mongo and the Club didn’t do anything. I was with him at the new Clubhouse getting ready for the services tomorrow. Three Tequila didn’t let him sit down, much less go home. Hell, the whole Club was there. If they do even a cursory investigation, they’ll figure that out.”

“I hope you’re right, but I don’t think it will matter. That Police Chief has a real hard-on for you. The crime scene guys hadn’t even arrived yet when he was sending the Detectives to arrest Michael Lane. I wouldn’t put it past him to arrest Lisa if they find anything incriminating on her.”

Michael and Lisa Lane? I’d never heard their real names, they sounded safe and boring. Mongo was much better for him. “He doesn’t like the Club, never has. We’ve already heard grumblings about him working with the Council to change zoning so we can’t have our Clubhouse in the city.”

“He was talking on his cellphone, telling the Fraternal Order not to participate in the service because cops couldn’t be seen standing with violent killers like the Brotherhood. He was almost giddy about it. Now that Mongo is cuffed and stuffed, he’s out there holding a press conference.”

“Well, eleven dead is a big fucking story. Chiefs and politicians are all the same, and they’ll be patting each other on the backs about the quick arrest until it comes back to bite them.” The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. They didn’t wait for the evidence because they had the bodies in his garage, and locking Mongo up was what they had wanted for days. I’m sure the Chief was busy painting the Steel Brotherhood as a violent gang, exacting retribution for the attack on their clubhouse. “Have you identified the bodies?”

“It’s the missing ones from the house in Ocala, all except Jose Correria. We haven’t confirmed him yet.” I pinched my nose, this was bad. We didn’t do it, so either the Cartel or the Sons did, and they decided to dump it back into our lap. “Our deal just got a lot harder to implement, Chase. You’re going to need to get me something soon, or we take down both clubs, and hard. You get me?”

“I do. I’ll be in touch.” I did a lot of thinking on the drive to the airport, and when Rori rushed into my arms, all the tension dropped out of me. I picked her up, her legs wrapping around me as we kissed. “How’s my love?”

“Better with you, but I already miss the babies,” she said. “Coral is watching them.” Beta Ron brought the bags and put them in the back as we got into the back seat. “It’s all over the news, Chase. They’ve already announced Mongo’s arrest in the eleven deaths.”

“I know. He’s innocent. We know the Sons work with the Cartel, and they like dumping bodies where they make a point.” I had an idea. “Ron, set the navigation to this address.” I gave him Mongo’s home address.

“Why there? Cops will be everywhere.”

“True, so I can’t get out because they’ll recognize me. They won’t recognize Vic. He’ll just be a curious guy out walking his dog.” I looked at Rori.

“You want ME with a collar and leash?”

“It makes sense, we’re all way too big, and your red coat look the least wolf of any of us. I want you guys to get where you can and sniff for cats. If this were the Sons, it would have been one of the leaders, and that means a Jaguar shifter.”

We had to stop at a Wal-Mart to get the leash and collar, Vic picking out a studded pink leather set in her size. We couldn’t get onto the block with the police tape, so we parked down the street. Rori shifted before I put the collar on her. “I hate leashes,” she said.

You look good in a collar,” I teased. She nipped my hand, then jumped out. While they were gone, I checked the latest news on my phone. The Orlando Police Chief’s press conference was exactly what Frank had predicted; he tarred the club as killers and vowed to rid the city of them. He lauded the skills of his people for arresting the perpetrator so quickly.

It was nauseating.

Rori and Vic had been out walking for about thirty minutes before I heard anything. “Alpha, a jaguar shifter was here.”

“Where?”

“Parking lot in the park on the other side,” he said. “Rori is getting a good sniff of it. It’s a few hours old, single male. The trail goes towards the house, along with a few humans. Two males and a female.”

“All right, finish the circuit and come back here. We need to rethink security if the Sons have one of their leaders around.”

“It’s worse than that, love,” Rori sent.

What do you mean?”

“If we can smell him, you can bet he could smell you from the time you spent in Mongo’s house. You know that scents stick around a lot longer indoors.”

Well, suck me dry and call me Dusty. “Shit! If he has my scent, he knows werewolves are involved with the Steel Brotherhood!”

“And Nate’s from northern Minnesota and ran one of the dog teams. It’s going to take them about a minute to put it all together and figure out it’s either Arrowhead or Oxbow Lake… and with how open we are about being friends of the Brotherhood, it gets narrowed down fast.”

If they figure out where we are and send jaguars in, they might scent Harleigh. “We can’t let them find Harleigh, and our Pack might be in danger.”

“We’ll be back in a few minutes, and we can talk about it. Nothing can happen before morning, even if they already figured it out.”

As soon as the doors closed and the collar was off, Rori shifted, and I pulled her into my lap. “What are we going to do with Harleigh?”

She settled into my arms as we drove off. “We could send her to another Pack? Or another Chapter?”

I thought about it; the more people who knew of her, the more likely it would get out. We needed the cops and the Club to keep thinking she’d been kidnapped, then killed and dumped in the lake by Ocala. I couldn’t even trust Director Grimes with her location.

Vic was first to speak. “If we want her safe, there’s only one way I can think of that works. You won’t like it.”

“What is that?”

“You’ve got Greg Barks watching over her already. They are close enough in age to pass for a newlywed couple. Send the two of them, alone, to find a resort or hotel or something where they can hole up until things settle down. Not many people even know Greg is in the States, much less working for us.”

“I don’t like having only one person protecting her,” I said.

“You can’t disappear with an eight-person security detail. A young couple will blend into any city or resort they end up at. Limit communications, let him be the only one to decide where to go and when to move on. No matter how closely they watch us, or how connected the Cartel intelligence network is, they won’t find a Canadian on his honeymoon.”

“Greg doesn’t have a foot,” Ron said.

“Even better,” Vic added. “Give him some military shirts or a camo jacket. People will remember him, not his wife.”

I looked over at Rori. “What do you think?”

“She’s got her new identity papers prepared; they could even go into Canada with her passport. I’d prefer they didn’t leave a record of a border crossing.” She put her hand on my chest. “I trust Greg to keep her safe, and I don’t have a better idea right now. We were counting on our involvement in this staying a secret.”

I let out a breath. “I agree, love. Make the call.”

She got on her phone and called Coral, telling her that our ‘newlywed’ guests should get an ‘all-expense-paid trip to the resort of their choice’ as our wedding gift. “We’d do it in person, but we’ve got cat problems now. I’m worried I’ll come home to find out something bad has happened,” she finished.

“We’ll take care of everything. I’m sure she will be thrilled,” Coral said. “Anywhere they want to go?”

“Yes, wherever he feels is best. They can have an adventure and call us in a few weeks. I don’t even want to know about it until they send the pictures.”

“I’ll take care of it.” She hung up just before we got back to the hotel. I led her up to the room, hoping we were doing the right thing.

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