Lucien who’s this? A voice asked in my head.
Bailey, this is our new Luna- my mate.
Nice to meet you Luna-
Auden. I answered and I looked up at Lucien.
Nice to meet you, I’m Bailey - not really much in this pack but I’m a good cook! I laughed.
Nice to meet you.
“So I take it, you’ve joined us,” Lucien said with a smile as I lifted myself up, propping my body up on my elbows.
“It has been a long long time since I’ve linked with someone other than my family…” I said with a smile. I pressed a kiss on his cheek before I stood up.
“That’s it?” He asked as I took my seat back.
“Did you want more?” I asked and he shrugged before he wrapped his arms around me- I turned to retort and he placed his lips against mine- just grazing it briefly before pulling away. He chuckled in response as he made his way out the door.
“And where are you going?” I asked.
And what about me? He turned.
I smiled before I picked up the last bit of my waffle and followed him out.
I watched as Lucien took a seat in his chair. I sat across him on a leather armchair and he opened up his drawer before he fished out a few papers. He handed them to me.
“These are a list of businesses we run in the main city, the next folder has some stuff in the nearby village. Pick one you’re interested in and I’ll give you a workload.”
“…How many businesses does Umbra run?”
“To keep this place running and keep our pack fed - about four main ones - though we get some money for side-jobs and ‘affiliations’…”
“What do you mean by affiliations?” I asked.
“We work with two other packs in the U.S.,” he said, not clearing anything up for me.
“Well, I guess one pack and one… strange little organization, but that’s not something you should worry about just yet - so far we run back-end jobs and less… violent dealings.”
“Okay, my mind is going wild, are you guys like the mafia or something?” Lucien laughed.
“Not us, but the other guys we work with may be.”
“…Can you stop with the vague answers?”
“I don’t think I can,” he said with a smile and I glared at him.
“Do you guys run a veterinary clinic?” I asked and he thought for a moment.
“No, but I think Katherine can help you with that - speaking of Katherine… she’s asking if you needed help setting up your phone, says she can do it for you no problem,” Lucien said and I nodded.
“Also, your bag- Freya will bring it over tomorrow. You didn’t have to leave it.”
“Didn’t know where else to put it - I was kind of getting over the fact that I needed to ride my mate’s back to get to the secret pack house,” I said and Lucien smirked before he turned on his computer and began to, at least, look like he was working.
“Actually, Lucien, if you aren’t busy, I wanted to know more about what happened in New York… with Lana and that guy that I, um-“
“The guy you killed?” He completed for me and I nodded.
“Yeah, I’d actually like that cleared up before I do any kind of work… you know, just so that I know what exactly I’m getting into.”
“You’re already in,” Lucien tried to correct and I smiled.
“Right, that I’m already in.” I almost forgot. I added with the mind-link and he smiled.
“Lana and I, as with most of my family are early shifters, which makes us great warriors to train as children… There’s a kind of strength that stays with us from the moment we first shift - and it never really fades away. Lana’s twelve - but she shifted three years ago. I shifted when I turned ten- our bones constantly break and shift. We’re liable to deformation and we constantly face pain until the moment we mature, which is in four years for Lana. During these years - she’ll have a large bounty on her head.”
“And you thought bringing her out in New York was a good idea?” I asked and Lucien sighed.
“She hasn’t left our territory since she turned, everywhere she went, she was stuck by my side- or Xander’s- I left her in his care for whenever she would leave for school. I brought her into a stupidly expensive private school so that he could keep an eye on her. The rest of my pack do the same - she’s always always with someone. I let Xander close to her because he and I have the highest bond to her- losing her would make us both go crazy.”
“Smart move…” I commented and Lucien smiled.
“Xander was with her that night - she asked him for a cup of hot chocolate while she went ice skating… I’ve asked her what happened and she said her skates were still on when she was taken- before Xander went to your apartment, I asked him to check on the apartment you found her in - and the car she was probably moved in - one shoe in the car - the other at the edge of the parking lot. I asked your sister for any footage she had, come here,” he said and I did, getting up and sitting on his arm rest as he loaded up the footage on his computer.
He opened up his e-mail - which was fairly empty - save for about three new messages - on of which had my sister’s name - Zaina Breaux. Lucien opened it up and she had attached fairly small video files. He opened them revealing three videos, one of the parking lot, the elevator, and then the hallway. The videos rolled quickly, revealing the man coming through and it was only in the elevator that Lana began to shift. You could see her kicking and fighting to get out of his grasp as her legs began to shift, I watched as he made a run for the apartment. Like he knew that it was empty.
Knew? What the fuck? How could he possibly-
I replayed the videos again to make sure. The moment Lana would start shifting, the man stepped off the elevator and made his way past my room and immediately opened the door to the apartment.
It was left unlocked.
I replayed that moment again, watching if he had a keycard or anything- and despite the fact that I know there’s at least one camera facing those doors - my sister hadn’t sent any video files. But not once did I notice a single movement that would’ve indicated him picking his keycard from his pockets - and there was no way he was holding one with the way he was using his hands to secure his hold on Lana. I felt my heart pound in my chest. Keys to the apartments on my floor were only accessible to me and Zaina upon request - a lot of the apartments there weren’t ready yet - and I was always there to assist any agent that wanted to give a tour or check it out… But Zaina had the extra set of keys - and I needed to know if she had been there without telling me.
“Lucien, I’m gonna need your phone.”
I left Zaina a message with Lucien’s approval. But that was three days ago. With any luck, I’d be able to have Lucien speak with her - because I wasn’t about to. Not wanting to think anymore about that man - my apartment - and all that stuff - I mind-linked Katherine into meeting me about work. Hopefully I’d be working as a vet again.
“Okay, so most of the time Desmond works and manages over here, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind taking in a new experienced colleague,” she told me as she drove into a small village.
“Why don’t you guys live here?” I asked, admiring the snow topped houses and Katherine grinned.
“I like living in the pack house - it gives me a sense of calm and serenity not having any kind of sound that comes from some kind of machine - and not a single view of some kind of modern machine. Sure - the pack house itself is pretty updated - but if you decide to take a step into our apartment - not a single television screen - and our phones are mainly on silent… Sorry, I tend to ramble,” she said and I laughed.
“Well, I’m finally talking to someone other than Lucien after three days - meanwhile Lana asks me to play house with her and Lucien and Xander, can you imagine the amount of embarrassing moments I have to shame the two of those people with? I didn’t even think twelve year olds were still into dress-up.”
“Well, Lana thinks it’s cool to pretend- you know, that they’re just a normal family.”
“There’s a difference between normal and human,” I said before playing with my fingers.
“True, but we can all hope and in cases like Lana and Lucien’s, that kind of hope can only yield better people,” Katherine replied before she stopped and parked at what looked to be the outskirts of the big city. “I’m gonna go grab a coffee, you’ll find the clinic down this road to the right - literally just by the road - we make it so that people can spot us easily… Want anything?”
“An Americano?” Katherine grinned as she got out of her car and I sighed as I tugged the coat I had on a little harder. I shoved my hands into my pockets and sighed as I got out, closing the door behind me. I walked down the road as Katherine instructed, walked past a small home with a shop for a porch and then, behind a small set of trees, I found the clinic. I pushed the glass door open and stomped my feet on the ground to get rid of the snow.
As I took off my coat, I looked around. The place was brightly lit with pale blue walls and small plants in beautiful white pots. The front desk was simple, rounded and smooth with a glass cover on a white desk. The receptionist him/herself wasn’t present, the room smelled of peppermint potpourri oil and I spotted a bright orange boiler on the shelves.
“Too overbearing?” A man asked and I turned to find a young man with tanned skin, he smiled at me. He had short black hair that had been slicked back on top,
“Nice to finally meet the Luna everyone’s buzzed about.”
“Funny, I don’t see many others that buzz - but I hear them,” I said and he grinned as he opened his arms and I gave him a hug.
“My name is Desmond,” he said as he pulled away, “Although, I’m afraid Katherine might have already told you all about me.” I laughed.
“I think I know more about your apartment than you, though I’ve heard you’re the pack doctor.”
“Indeed I am, and I run a clinic for the fun of it, come, meet the little ones- oh and feel free to hang your coat by the door- no one should come steal it - and if that happens, Katherine’s willing to kill anyone that steals a gift.“
“Honey, once Katherine heard from Lucien about the new girl - she went on a spree for a whole two days, consider your outfits some well-thought out gifts from a girl that knows that knows her shit. Anyways, down to see some kittens, hamsters? Dogs?”
“Kittens, hamsters? Dogs?”
“I’d love to,” I said with a smile, following him into a hallway. I heard the sound of barking and the familiar scent of animals- funny how that smell could sometimes revolt you and sometimes just make you anticipate cute little faces.
We entered and I spotted a large - and might I add spacious - set of cages for pets that needed isolated care, a pen full excited little puppies, another pen nearby of kittens and cats, some larger cases for other animals - snakes and the like - and the amount of toys and food lying around was just incredible. I knelt down in front of the pen and placed my hand atop a little brown dog - probably a chow-chow mix, who licked my hand excitedly and nibbled on my sleeves.
“That one’s Gus-Gus, Katherine named him after the Cinderella character, apparently chubby like him,” Desmond said just as I heard a door open. Katherine walked in with a smile and a carrier box of coffee.
“I got Auden an Americano, myself a plain brewed coffee and you, my darling,” she said as she walked up to Desmond and kissed him briefly on the lips, “Your favorite cup of tea.”
“Always more British than you are,” he said, grinning as he picked up his cup.
“With tea, yes, I’m surprised you haven’t picked up the accent yet,” she said, winking at him before handing over my coffee. Katherine’s eyes widened upon seeing Gus-Gus. “Hello… Aw, how’ve you been baby boy?” I giggled as I stood and blew into my coffee before sipping it, savoring the bitterness.
“Do you have anything I can do for the day?” I asked Desmond and he nodded.
“Well, we have a small dog that’s got this massive hernia - couldn’t get surgery until she was much healthier. But she should be ready today. Think you can handle that for me?”
“Great, I’ll observe you, help you out with equipment where’s what, how some stuff you might not know works, and we’ll be right on.”
I was in the middle of completing the surgery when the door to the room open. Desmond chuckled and looked over at Lucien.
“Do we have a promising vet on the way?” Lucien asked and Desmond nodded.
“She’s quick, accurate, and efficient. I’d say we’ve got a great one coming - though most of our work consists of check-ups, vaccines, and so on. I would’ve loved to have worked on that, but considering I’m out of practice - she’d probably be better at handling this stuff.”
“Where’s Katherine?” Lucien asked and Desmond chuckled.
“You know she doesn’t like seeing surgery. She’s all for the fighting but not standard medical procedure.”
“Really?” I asked as I finished trimming excess skin and beginning to stitch the skin together.
“Finished most of your duties, Alpha?” Desmond asked and Lucien nudged him with his shoulder.
“Xander’s busy at school and my other Delta’s too busy making the rest of the pack do a run of the mountains before they train. Katherine won’t let me touch the other business deals and my mate is doing work - I’m feeling all sorts of useless these days.” I laughed as I finished, cutting the bit of the stitch and carefully wiping down the area to make sure the little dog was clean.
“Cone?” I asked and Desmond smiled.
“I can go get one and put it on the little guy. I’ll also take care of the rest, I wouldn’t want to keep an Alpha waiting.”
“Thanks,” I said with a smile before I went over to the sink, quickly washing off and sterilizing my tools before I slipped my gloves off, throwing them in a medical waste bin.
I took off my scrub and folded it neatly before putting it into the laundry basket that Desmond had told me about.
“Did you get an answer from my sister?” I asked and Lucien sighed.
“No, but I got a message from your dad,” he said and I raised an eyebrow.
“Really?” Lucien nodded and I shook my head as we headed out to reception. I pulled on my coat and took a breath. “What’d he say?”
“He said he’d be here by this afternoon.”
“What?” I fished out my phone and sighed in frustration.
“Lucien… it’s one in the afternoon.” I was met with silence and I stared into Lucien’s eyes.
Lucien… where is my dad? He folded his arms over his chest.
He’s in his hotel room.