Buried Treasure

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Scent of a Jaguar

Chase’s POV
Orlando Chapter Clubhouse

We needed to get the scents of the people involved in the attack, and that meant we needed to get into Harleigh’s house without anyone else around so we could shift. It took almost an hour until I could get Mongo alone in his office. I quickly explained what I needed.

“Harleigh already told me she can’t go back to her house, not with what is going on. She’s going to need her clothes and her stuff out of her room, and the rest has to go into storage. If I can get you access, do you think you can take care of that?”

“Absolutely. I’ll go, and I’ll take two of the dog and handler teams with me. I’ll send the first two back with boxes of her stuff, then they can relieve the two here so they can get a sniff too.” Werejaguars weren’t something you often ran into, and it was important that everyone recognize Jose’s scent immediately.

He made a quick phone call to the police and verified they were done. He had to be there to take possession of the keys to the house while the detective took down the crime scene tape. “I guess we can go now,” he said.

“I’ll gather them up.” We had rented a Suburban with tinted windows, and the girls had spare clothes under the seats. As soon as we were on the road, they shifted and dressed. One of the pairs was a mated couple from the Adirondack Pack that had volunteered to join us. The second had been an Omega who had found her mate in a Banff Pack warrior. Her wolf’s dominance had been suppressed, and she was working with her mate and other Pack members to bring her up to full Warrior training. Both pairs had volunteered immediately when they found out Rori and I were going.

I would have liked to have Coral here, but she had her own baby and I needed to leave her and Keith in charge while we were gone. Honestly, I didn’t like leaving our twins behind, but we had to do something. Rori got the call from Three Tequila about what had happened and that the Sons of Tezcatlipoca were involved. When she told us about it at breakfast, Beta Ron had spit out his coffee. “The Sons? Are you sure,” he asked her.

“That’s what she said. They killed three of them when they chased Harleigh to the clubhouse, they saw the cuts and tattoos.”

“You need to get down there,” Ron said. “You’re Club members, and there’s an element to this they don’t know about. The Sons are a Central American pack, and they function as muscle for a powerful family of Were-Jaguars.”

“How do you know this?” I wasn’t aware of any cat shifter prides in the United States.

“The leaders believe themselves to be descended from Aztec Warriors that were given the ability to shift into jaguars by the Aztec God of the Night Sky. The Sons are ruthless, like a cartel but with subjects that are more loyal than most. There’s never been a Son of Tezcatlipoca who has turned State’s Evidence or cut a deal. The Sicilians just wish they had loyalty like that anymore.”

“Are they all weres?”

“No, just the top leadership. Cat shifters aren’t like wolves, they don’t like other male cats around who aren’t family. When the son comes of age, he is pushed off to form his own pride. In this case, they form new chapters. We think every chapter is led by a Werejaguar, but there is no way to tell for sure. If they are involved, you need to protect them. They have no idea what those men are capable of.”

That was enough for us. After making arrangements with Rori’s mom Possum to watch the twins, we were off.

I looked in the mirror at my Pack members. “Find and memorize the scent of the jaguar. Once you have it, change back. We’re going to pack up Harleigh’s stuff and get out again.” We didn’t say anything as Mongo directed me to the house of his dead friends.

The Winter Park detective was waiting, and it only took a couple minutes for us to get the keys and for the cop to leave. I looked over at Mongo and he was shaking. “You don’t need to go in there, brother. We can take care of it.”

He just nodded. “Get the keys to their motorcycle, I’ll take it back to the garage. There’s a safe in the office, in the closet, bring that too.” He handed me the keys, and I opened the door and stepped in.

The five of us stripped and shifted, staying in the front entry area and hallway. The scent of the jaguar was easy to pick up despite the amount of time, and I soon had it memorized. Dressing quickly, I walked into the house.

The scent of blood and death was slightly less overwhelming in human form. There were signs of a fight; the hall table smashed, dents in the wallboard that was smeared with blood. The keys were hanging by the door; I grabbed all of them and put them in my pocket.

I walked past the living room and kitchen, there wasn’t much to see. Turning down the hallway, one door was open at the end of the hall. The master bedroom was soaked in blood. I stood at the doorway; the sheets had been taken as evidence and the mattress cut, but there was no doubt what had happened in here. A wooden chair was at the bottom of the bed, and from the bloodstains on the rug I could tell that was where Sean had been killed. Blood spray covered the dresser behind him, still surrounded in crime scene marks and tagged with numbers.

“You guys start packing up Harleigh’s room, I’m going to get what I can from here. There’s no way she’s going to go through the house like this.” The four moved into her room, while I took out the bag I’d brought with me. I focused on things she might want; photos, jewelry, keepsakes, whatever I could carry. They hadn’t taken anything, and I was able to put her entire jewelry chest into a box I found in their closet. I checked his bedside table, removing the pistol that he hadn’t been able to access. On her side, the lower drawer contained dozens of sex toys. I closed that drawer and moved on.

Taking the stuff I had packed out to the front door, I handed it to Mongo to put in the back of the SUV. “It’s bad,” I told him. “Hire some people to clean it up, and have the carpets and mattress taken to the dump. Don’t let Harleigh anywhere near here,” I said.

He nodded. “I figured as much. There is a company that does crime scene cleanup, I’ll call them. When it’s clean enough, maybe Harleigh will be able to do a walkthrough.”

“I’d do that by Skype.” He looked at me, wondering if it was that bad, and I nodded. “Just keep packing the truck, I’m going for the safe.” I passed my Pack members as they carried out boxes of stuff and bundles of clothes. In the office, I found the safe where they said. It was bolted to the floor with lag bolts, but Werewolf strength was greater than that and I soon had it broken free. I carried it out, setting it on the floor in the back. “Hopefully, Harleigh knows the combination, otherwise I’ve got a guy who can walk us through getting it open.” People who bought safes with electronic locks were fooling themselves. Anyone could go on Youtube and figure out how to get it open in less than five minutes.

The Suburban was full. “Why don’t you take Sean’s Harley and lead these guys back. I’ll stay. I want my other two here to learn the scent, and I can keep looking for anything Harleigh might want,” I said.

“You sure? It’s past midnight.”

“I’ve got this for you, brother. Go back and get some sleep, you need to give Three Tequila a break in the hospital in the morning.” He would take over watching her each morning so she could come home, shower and change.

I watched them drive away, then went inside. There was a lot to do yet.

Unknown POV
Orlando General Hospital

I walked out of the elevator onto the floor, the lights were dimmed and the night shift nurses were at their stations. I had already checked my wig, and my identification was close enough to the real thing to pass a cursory inspection. I was holding a tray with two cups of Starbucks coffee with sugar and creamer. I walked to the end of the hall, where the uniformed Orlando officer was sitting in his chair looking bored. I was lucky, no ring. “Hello officer,” I said as he looked up. “I thought you might be able to use this.” I extended the tray towards him.

He smiled, he was young and cute and thrilled a hot nurse was paying attention to him. “Why thank you, Miss… Jane?” He read my badge.

“Jane Ritter. Thank you for what you do. My uncle was a cop, he hated stakeout duty so I figured you could use a break.” I smiled and put my hand on his. “I was hoping you’d still be here. My phone number is written on the bottom of the cup. I get off at six, maybe we could have breakfast?”

“I’d love that,” he said as he took a taste. The drug I’d mixed in was impossible to detect, and if he drank even a quarter of the coffee he’d be out for hours.

“Me too. I have to get back to work, umm…” I looked at his badge.

“Ron. Ron Gant,” he said with a smile.

“Have a quiet night, Ron.” I walked away, swinging my hips a little in the scrubs I was wearing. I went back into the elevator, going to the basement and coming back up with a wheelchair. I pulled the syringe out of my pocket, hiding it in my hand as I pushed the chair past the sleeping cop and pushed the door open to the room.

The patient was sleeping, and the woman at her bedside was reading a book. She looked at the wheelchair, then at me. “What’s going on,” she asked.

“It’s for another patient,” I said as I walked over to the bed and injected the syringe into her IV drip, then took the other out of my pocket. I turned and covered her mouth, injecting the contents of the syringe into her neck. Her eyes got wide and she tried to push me off, but the sedative was fast acting. Both would be out for hours.

I turned off the machines and disconnected the IV, then moved the young girl into the wheelchair and fastened her chest with a Velcro strap. I picked up the woman, placing her in the bed facing the window. I put the blood pressure cuff back on and turned the machine on, the beeps telling me she was resting comfortably. Satisfied, I pulled the covers up so her hair could barely be seen. I grabbed her book and keys and put them under the pillow.

I covered the girl in the wheelchair with a blanket, then checked the hall before pushing her out and moving to the elevator. Taking it to the basement, I made my way to the loading dock where the van was waiting. “Any problems,” he asked.

“No, and nobody stopped me,” I said as we loaded the girl into the back seat. We were on the move seconds later, and I tossed the wig and glasses into the plastic bag, along with the fake identification, the syringes and the scrubs following. I pulled on my jeans and shirt as we were hitting the main road. “Anything on the police scanner?”

“We’re clear. Good job.” I sat back, pleased that I had performed my job so well. We drove north, dropping him at a street corner. Thirty minutes later, we were loading her into a private jet, her seat reclined and straps holding her in place. His instructions were clear, no phones and no communications. Secure her in the house, and keep her isolated.

I smiled as the pilot pulled up the stairs and closed the door. Holding my man’s hand, we celebrated with champagne as we reached cruising altitude.

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