As soon as we ended our call with Fabienne and Michel, we decided it was best that we be ready to fly to New Orleans as soon as Michel's flight lands. Cutting our time with the pack warriors short, I quickly packed while Ethan grabbed his go-bag and left Tony in charge with all of the necessary details. Lena offered to tag along as well, just to even out the numbers and possibly be a buffer if anything awkward happens between Ethan and Michel.
Since we had a couple of hours before heading to the airstrip, I figured that I'd be proactive and do an internet search for Misye Ipolit ahead of time just so that we aren't going in completely blind. I was honestly quite shocked to hear that he is a former member of the pack. Usually if someone left for the States they would choose one of the settlements to join, but he left for a place where we have absolutely no ties.
"Bingo!" I exclaim to Lena who was currently adding a fresh layer of electric blue polish to her toenails. "I think I've found our guy. I have a home and business address registered under his name. The business is called: Ipolit & Ipolit: Private Investigation Firm and Mystical Emporium."
Lena paused what she was doing and gave me a quizzical look. "So you mean to tell me that we're going to find a wolf that is not only a private investigator but runs a voodoo shop as well?!"
"It says it's a Mystical store, but yes I suppose."
"Eva, New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras, Bourdon Street, the Saints, flashing tits for beads—which I might want to try while we're there—and VOODOO! There is no 'I suppose' about it." She let loose an exaggerated sigh, as if I didn't hear what she said about the beads. "Seriously though, if I never hear that word again after this is all over, I won't be mad.
I couldn't help but laugh as I screenshot as much information as I could from the internet search. "I wonder what he's going to be able to help us with and why we just can't call him to find out what he knows?"
"That's a good question," Ethan says as he walks into the room and grabs our bags. "That would be easy, but what I'm coming to understand about this whole ordeal is nothing is going to be easy." He placed gentle kisses on my forehead between words. "Now let's go! We have a plane to catch."
We waited on the tarmac whilst our plane was being fueled and prepped for the short flight to Louisiana. Tony called to let us know that the alpha of the New Orleans pack knew that we were coming and granted us access to their territory on the promise that we join them for dinner, which we happily agreed.
As we began to load our luggage onto the plane, I took a pause to watch as the sleek, black Lalune Embraer Legacy 500 touched down. I couldn't help but smile at the memory of helping my father and the the other elders narrow down a plane for important pack trips and business. They would have settled for a crop duster, but Michel and I were able to convince them that our fleet of vehicles, no matter how large or small, should be a reflection of our achievements and our pride—I must admit, we did pretty good.
I couldn't help the snort that accompanied the laugh I released when I saw Michel walk down the steps. Dressed in a Hawaiian button down shirt, above the knee shorts, tube socks and Jesus sandals, he looked as if he shopped in our fathers' closets. In the most sarcastic voice he could muster in an overly exaggerated accent he says, "Mesye ohh, mwen resi ozeta zini, man I've finally made it to the States!"
"Is that so?" I retort knowing he's full of crap.
"Eh, no," he scrunched his face. "It's already overrated, overpopulated and the air stinks." We embrace each other in a tight hug even though it's only been a few days since we've last seen each other. "I know we spoke earlier, but it's nice to finally meet the champion that's going to tame our wild princess," he smiled at Ethan and extended his hand.
I raised an eyebrow as they pulled each other into a friendly embrace. "Good to meet you too." Ethan spoke firmly. "Seriously man. You've known her a lot longer than I have and with you being her beta I already know you love her just as much as I do. Plus, I know you also have nothing but her best interest at heart." He looked at me with a soft smile on his face. "So any friend of my Luna is a friend of mine." My heart just about melted, that is until Lena snapped us out of our moment.
"Four minutes and thirty-six seconds," she stood there tapping her foot.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked just as puzzled as the guys, glancing between one another.
"That's how long I've had to endure this sappy, lovey bro-fest. We get it! Ethan loves Eva. Michel loves Eva. Everybody loves Eva. But what about me? Hmm?! Who's gonna love Lena?" She feigned hurt feelings. And in true dramatic form, Michel burst out into a slow motion run, equipped with his own sound effects, before swooping her in his arms and spinning her around.
This time it was Ethan who couldn't contain his laughter. "As serious as this trip may be, it's going to be hilarious." He placed his arm around my shoulders as I shook my head at the scene playing out before us. "It's going to be quite fun learning all I can about our 'wild' princess from her best friend's point of view." I cut him a quick side eye before walking up the stairs and boarding the plane.
The flight to New Orleans was eventful to say the least. We shared laughs and tears as Michel and Lena reminisced on how we grew up in the kingdom, all of the mischief we caused, and how sad and broken up we were when Uncle James decided to move his family to Miami, ultimately disrupting our little trio. If even just for a moment, it felt like old times and I couldn't hide my happiness.
As soon as the plane landed we hopped in our waiting car and headed over to the shop in hopes of finding Misye Ipolit. After a twenty minute ride from the private airfield, we pulled up to a quaint little shop just outside of the French Quarters. A frosted glass door trimmed in crisp black paint and gold foil letters greeted us as we exited the car.
"Ok, here's the plan. We go in, find Impolit, let him know that Fabienne sent us, find out what he knows and leave. The quicker we get the information, the quicker we get to defeating the rogue." Ethan looked each one of us in the eye for agreement. "Cool?"
I pushed open the door which signaled our presence with the ringing of a bell right above us as we walked in. Books and figurines lined the walls, encasing the rows of shelves that were filled with potions, powders, candles and trinkets. The scent of incense was thick in the air. Everything about the space screamed ‘mystic’. The only thing that seemed to be missing was a psychic wielding a crystal ball, begging to read our palms and tell us our futures. A walkway along the wall led to the back of the shop where there was an open door labeled 'PI Firm’.
When no one stepped out to great us, we turned back towards the door to find a very large, very stealthy older man looming over the entrance.
“I would have expected a much grander entrance for the princess of the Lalune pack,” he stated as he crossed his bulky arms over his chest. “I suppose ripped jeans and a tank top will do if you’re trying not to be made.” A smile cracked his seemingly hard exterior. “I guess if you’re here that means that Fabienne sent you and it’s finally time and that dumb son of bitch Fabio must have shown his ugly face.”
“Misye Ipolit, excuse me if we bypass all of the formalities or the fact that you were able to know who I am without an introduction. Is Fabio the name of the rogue wolf?”
He lifted an eyebrow, “Oh no cherie, it is not. Come on into my office and I will explain everything.” He stepped to the main door and put up the closed sign before locking it. “Fabio is not the rogue wolf. He’s the bokor that kidnapped my pregnant mate. And he also happens to be Fabienne’s twin brother.”