Vic Knightly’s POV
Arrowhead Pack House, Alpha Offices
“The last van shuttle to the Minneapolis airport just left,” I said as I poked my head into the Alpha offices. “All of the Brotherhood members are now gone, except Mongo and Three Tequila who are still in Roadkill’s house. I’ve notified the Pack that they can go back to normal now.” It was all right to start shifting and speaking openly again since those two were Trusted Agents who already knew of our dual nature.
It had been two days since the Council left Oxbow Lake, and sixteen hours, fourteen minutes since Spider Monkey had left me behind. It was pushing ten at night, and I was exhausted.
Chase and a security escort had taken her to the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis early this morning. She had brought along the bag of money she’d received for her part in the Los Angeles raid, while Chase was bringing the nine bags he’d brought home to Arrowhead. His brothers had already cashed their two bags each in at the Federal Reserve Banks in San Francisco and Seattle.
Spider Monkey had sent me a text after leaving the bank; she had another $2,215,000 in the bank, all courtesy of the Sons and their drug trade. Thanks to the agreement Colletta had brokered with the Feds, it was legally hers, and completely free of taxes. “I can ALMOST afford a 3-bedroom condo in San Jose now,” she teased.
“Only three bedrooms? Does it have a four-car garage? We need room for our kids and our motorcycles,” I replied.
“I think we can do a lot better up your way.” She loved Northern Minnesota in the summer and wanted us to live there. She even asked me to look for a house on Arrowhead Lake so she could be near her friends. Little did she know that if things went well, I might be taking over Coral’s old house. Of course, she also wanted a winter home in the Caribbean. I was fine with that if I could work it out with my Alphas. I didn’t know how I could be a part-time Beta just yet.
I had talked and texted with Spider until she got on the plane, and again after she landed. She was done at Google, cashing in her stock options, and was putting her condo on the market immediately. I told her she could take time, that she didn’t have to drop everything to be with me, but it didn’t work. “Yes I do,” she said. “I love you, and I never want to wake up apart from you again.”
By Luna, I loved this woman.
Chase and Rori had talked to me about what was going on with the Council, and I knew I couldn’t tell her my secret. I had faked how injured I was until she left, staying in bed and pretending my wounds still hurt. The reality was that I had healed enough to get around without a limp. I was up and working within minutes of her driving off. Another two days and I would be working out again.
Chase waved me into the chair across from the desk, where I sat down next to Beta Ron and Teri. I had been shocked when they asked me to fill in as the Security Beta. I had no idea where my life would be going, but someone needed to step in and help. I told them I would fill in for a few weeks and see what happened with Spider Monkey.
Rori pulled a juice out of the fridge and went to sit on Chase’s lap. With her being pregnant, Chase was extra clingy, rarely having her more than a few steps away. It was typical mate behavior, exacerbated by Chase being an Alpha and all the threats lately. She took a drink of it, then got down to business. “We have a job for you tomorrow, Vic. We thought you might want to get out a bit after being locked down all these days.”
“It would be nice,” I said. “How may I serve you?”
“Mongo has to get back to Orlando, his Club and his business need him,” Chase said. “Three Tequila plans to stay for a few more days, but she wants to see Heather Rhodes.”
“Fuck,” I said.
Chase nodded. “Yeah. The reasons for her exile are no longer valid, Vic. The Sons are no longer a threat to her, and Colletta disclosed to the Feds that she was still alive and protected by us.”
Rori looked over at me. “I’m not comfortable with keeping Heather away from us and our protection any longer,” she said. “At the time, anonymity and a low profile were important. Now? She needs stability, and she needs to get on with her life.”
“I thought someone recognized her, and that’s why she had to hide,” I said.
“Someone did, and when you bring her back, you need to make sure no one sees her. I want you to take one of the cargo vans, put a bed in the back so she can rest. No one can see her.” She told me where in general Heather was staying; I would have to drive to Alexandria, link up with Greg, and drive to the home they were renting. “Leave Greg behind, tell him to stay another week and remove all evidence of Heather at the house. Tell him to sell or trash what isn’t worth bringing back, and text us if he needs a van. We can always send someone down to help him move.”
“You think he has that much?” It had only been a few weeks.
“I told him to hide for months, and they had money to get what they needed,” Rori said. “Whatever they bought, we can find a home for.”
“OK, so I drive Three T and Mongo to Minneapolis, drop him at the airport, drive to Alexandria and pick up Heather and bring her home, leaving Greg to pack up.”
“That’s it. Mongo’s flight leaves at eleven-fifty, so you’ll need to leave here by six-thirty.”
“Does Greg know I’m coming?”
“No, we have no way of contacting him without getting close enough to link. We only have a general idea of where he is hiding her,” Chase said.
“I better get some sleep then,” I said. “Thank you, Alphas.” I got up and closed the door behind me. I smiled as I walked back to my room; being trusted with those the Alphas cared about was an honor for any warrior.
FBI Commander Irene Lindstrom’s POV
The secure command center, located four levels below the surface at the Federal Building, was empty except the four people who had clearance to watch the CIA broadcast. I was sitting at the head of the table; to my left was my CIA liaison, Al Perkins, who was working on his computer to bring up the feed. To my right was my Deputy Commander, Linda Royce, and the Drug Enforcement Agency Director in Los Angeles, Terry Jimenez.
“Did you hear about Virgil Solozzo,” Terry asked as we waited.
“No,” I said. Solozzo was the Deputy Commander who was on suspension for obtaining medical records on Rori King and failing to warn her of the impending attack.
“Marshals went to his home to arrest him an hour ago; he was one of the Cartel agents discovered through the information Chase gave us,” he said. “He killed himself as they were breaking down the door. Bullet into his forehead.”
“Damn.” Solozzo wasn’t my man or my choice. He was part of the Los Angeles FBI office and was Commander of the office until I arrived from Orlando. I put him in charge of nights, which was a mistake. His cowboy investigatory methods could have been a real embarrassment and could have jeopardized prosecutions of Rori and Chase if we had found anything. I’d survive his betrayal, mainly because the rest of my team was so good at finding and arresting the remaining Sons.
I hadn’t been happy when I was told to stop investigating the pair in Minnesota, but I was a believer now. The information they had given us was far better than the intelligence we had, and the CIA finally had actionable intelligence on the Mexican leadership. Tonight was the result of that. “Here we go,” Agent Perkins said as the big monitor lit up.
The screen filled with camera footage, live from a Reaper drone operated by a CIA team inside Mexico. The drone was high over the central mountains, its high-powered camera and laser designator focused on the courtyard of a home, surrounded by high walls and jungle. A dozen or so vehicles were parked under the trees, the canopy so thick that you had to be almost on top of it to see the home. “How did you find out about this meeting,” I asked.
“The phone numbers Chase supplied were the start. We ran them through Echelon and found a phone number in Mexico that Manilo Correria called once from Florida. The transcript looked like a code, and we discovered a satellite phone call was made seconds after the first call ended. We tracked one phone to the next, and a day later we had identified the Presidents of the Mexican chapters and the President of the whole club. This meeting is to discuss the destruction of the United States chapters. They are panicked, and suspect the Cartel is behind it all.”
We could see guards outside with rifles, while in the courtyard, a long table was set up with food and drink. Twenty or so men moved around the table and sat down. “The President authorized the strike?”
“The President must authorize firing, and he’s on the phone with the Mexican President right now,” Al said. “Mexico saw what happened here and is eager to rid their country of the Sons, provided they have deniability. The lawyers want to limit collateral damage, so the operation isn’t questioned. There are women and children in the home, but we’ll never get them all in one place again.” The drone operator had the laser designator centered on the table, and the picture shuddered as two Hellfire missiles launched.
The drone continued to circle while we waited for the missiles to streak into view. The explosions filled the screen, and the dust took a minute to clear.
The courtyard was gone, the walls knocked down, and the home had collapsed. The drone flew off, and Al stopped the feed. “And with that, the Sons of Tezcatlipoca are no more,” he said.
“We took the leaders out, not the men,” I said. “They could still come back.”
“Mexican police and military units are moving into their clubhouses now. It’s over, Commander Perkins. All that is left is preparing for trial.” He put his laptop into his bag and stood. “Congratulations, Ma’am. It’s been a pleasure.”
“Thank you, Agent Perkins. You’ve been very helpful.” He left, and I looked over at the other two. “Linda, take the Task Force to dayshift only. Have the night crew take off a day, then we’ll let days have a day off too. It’s mop-up duty now.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” she said.
I walked out with Director Jimenez. “Is it really over?”
“The Cartels used the Sons, and we haven’t hurt the Cartel yet,” he said. “If they eliminated the Sons, they have another crew who can take over. The prices don’t show any significant disruption in the drug supply.”
I sighed. “It’s like whack-a-mole,” I said.
“Welcome to my world, Commander.” He held the door for me as we entered the elevator. I would close out a few things, then get some sleep myself.
There would always be bad guys out there for me to catch.
Arrowhead Pack Clinic
Frank’s fever was spiking again, but this time, something was different.
His fever spiked up just after midnight, and this time the ice bath wasn’t working. In previous cycles, his temperature would drop below a hundred and two degrees within thirty minutes. This time, the fever hadn’t gone back down. I looked up to see it was at 105.2 now, the highest I’d seen since his arrival. Frank was in and out of consciousness, speaking gibberish in his delirium. Colletta held his hand and talked to him, but it didn’t help. I heard a bone snap, and he screamed in agony. “What’s going on,” I asked her.
“Call Doc at Oxbow Lake,” she said. “He’s shifting.”
I went to the phone, calling the number and waking him up. “Doc, he’s shifting.”
“I’ll be there in thirty minutes,” he said as he hung up.
Chase came in as I was turning around, his Mom must have linked him. “We need to get him outside,” he said as another bone snapped.
“I’ll get the door,” Colletta said. Chase picked Frank up, letting me dry him as best I could. He carried Frank through the hall and out the front door, hearing him scream as another bone broke.
“Put a blanket down here,” he said before he set him down. Frank was beyond rational thought as the change slowly broke his body and rearranged it.
Two hours later, Frank was stuck in between his human and wolf forms. Doc and Chase were watching, but there wasn’t anything they could do. Werewolf teens would make their first change in a matter of minutes, and this was dragging on forever. I checked his vitals and shook my head. “His blood pressure is dropping, and his heart rate is one eighty-six,” I said. “He can’t take much more of this.”
“What do you mean,” Colletta said nervously.
“His body is tearing itself apart,” Doc said. “The change isn’t pushing to completion as we would expect. It gets partway, then he runs out of energy, and it regresses towards human form before pushing forward again. Every time the change fails, his body gets weaker.”
“Can you stop the change?”
“I don’t know how to do that,” Doc said. “Maybe the blood isn’t enough.”
“Or maybe it’s not enough?” I looked over at the two as the thought went through my head. “I mean, he got the transfusions, but that blood gets replaced, right? Maybe we give him more?”
“It couldn’t hurt,” Doc said.
I ran back inside and pulled out some type-matched werewolf blood, putting two pints on the warmer. When they were ready, I brought them back out, and Chase inserted the needles. The blood seemed to help, but the boost it provided wasn’t enough to push him over to his wolf.
By four in the morning, his body was giving out. He remained stuck between forms, a horror-movie mix of fur and skin. “He’s fading,” Doc said as he listened to his heart. “You should say your goodbyes,” he told Colletta.
“NO!” She knelt at his side, sobbing uncontrollably over his unconscious form. “There has to be something you can do!”
“No one can survive this, Luna. His body has nothing left,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”
“Wait,” Chase said. “A mate can help speed healing, even lend strength to her mate,” he said.
“True, but he’s not mated,” Doc replied.
“Mom.” Chase knelt next to her, turning her face to look at him. “He’s going to die if we don’t try this. If you love him, if you want him to be your choice mate, then bite him now before it’s too late.”
“I…I can’t do that! Biting a human will kill him, and if the bite works, I force him into a choice mating!”
Chase put his hand on her shoulder. “Mom, he won’t make it to sunrise if you don’t take him as yours. Either bite him or say goodbye and let him die in peace.” Chase stood up, giving her room to think about it.
She didn’t take long to decide. Standing up, she pulled off her clothes, shifted into her wolf, and bit him deeply on the neck.