Chapter 26: Getting Somewhere
I was more than shocked when Travis only walked us about fifteen minutes away from the pack house. Knox’s uncle either doesn’t care about his members’ safety, or he’s overly cocky about his security. The building didn’t look like anything special. Had I been forced to pick it out of a line-up amongst other typical pack prisons, I would’ve failed. I was, however, thanking my lucky stars that we’d just so happened to meet a guy who was probably the only easily-manipulated pack prison worker. If this truly was where Knox’s parents were being held, this was huge.
I committed the building to memory before closing my eyes and portraying the image to Knox through our bond. I wasn’t sure if he would see what I was trying to share clearly because of the distance, but I was praying he could.
“So, what is it you do here? It doesn’t look like much of anything!” I said dramatically, internally cringing from how awful of an actress I was. Travis just laughed before nodding in agreement.
“Isn’t it genius? Alpha Carmichael insisted the place be out in the open that way no one would ever really think to look here for important...things. The outside had to be camouflaged, in a way, to blend in with the rest of the pack buildings,” he rambled. “As you can tell, I’m not the strongest guy,” he continued but was cut off by Grace’s sarcastic snort. She quickly realized her mistake and covered it up with a faux intrigued look. Travis easily brushed over the minor hiccup and kept chugging along with his story. “I work in the technical department for the building. The entire place is bugged with tons of cameras and fingerprint ID software. There’s a lot of people that report to me, but I just so happen to be the only guy that has complete control over the entire system,” he boasted, trying to talk himself up to me.
I felt my heart flutter in my chest, but not from how smart and important Travis was making himself out to be. He had just unknowingly given me the best idea. Complete control over the entire system, aye?
I fakely gasped, “that’s amazing, Travis!” I gushed. He bought into my act before resting his hands on his hips with a satisfied smile, pleased with his ability to woo me. Yeah right.
“So what kind of things are kept here?” I pressed on, needing further confirmation of the assumption I’d already made seconds ago. His ego deflated a bit as the unease from earlier made a quick comeback.
“Well, that’s top secret information,” he stated solidly. I could hear the caution in his voice, but I had to keep on him - this would probably be my only shot.
“Oh, C’mon,” I playfully pouted, “you can tell me. It’ll be our little secret,” I whispered while leaning towards him, waving my hand behind my back in a gesture for Grace to move a little ways away so the moment between Travis and me felt more intimate for him. I knew she understood what I was doing when I saw her disappear from my periphery. Travis looked conflicted as his gaze ping-ponged back and forth between my best puppy dog eyes and the building.
“Alright, but this has to stay between us,” he insisted as a giddy smile broke out on his face. I nodded enthusiastically, placing my hand on his forearm for further reassurance.
“We’ve got two...criminals locked up here. They wronged Alpha Carmichael years ago and he’d been looking for them ever since. Turns out, they’d been hiding around the woods near our border for some time now. We ambushed them and brought them in - they never saw the attack coming!” he rushed out through a whisper, excitement oozing from his tone. I felt sick to my stomach at the words ambush and attack. I had to bite the inside of my lip so hard it bled to keep from vomiting. I mentally slapped myself out of the funk before Travis noticed.
“That’s so cool!” I whispered back, though it sounded half-hearted to my ears. “Well, why don’t you show us the way back to the pack house? This has been a lot of fun, but the walk really tired me out after all the running we did last night, so I could really use a nap,” I said, not lying for once. I was exhausted, but it wasn’t from running; more likely from exerting all my energy into keeping myself calm, collected, and in character this entire time.
“Of course!” he blurted before beginning to walk back the way we came. I let myself fall back a few steps from Travis’s brisk pace and fell in line with Grace. She gave me a look that said did you get the info? I glanced forward to make sure Travis wasn’t looking back before nodding with a hopeful smile. She released a breath through her mouth before I saw her shoulders visibly relax. I was so thankful in that moment that she was just as passionate as Knox, Kiara, and I were about finding their parents. I let my hand wrap around her own and squeezed gently before releasing it once again.
Grace and I thanked Travis profusely at the front doors of the pack house to keep up appearances before disappearing to our shared room. I shut and locked the door before ushering her to the bed. We sat across from each other with our legs crossed.
“Spill,” Grace demanded instantly.
“I have an idea. It’s risky, but I think it just might work. There’s no question that the building Travis took us to is where Knox’s parents are being kept,” I said. Grace nodded and added in a ’no doubt’ before I continued. “And Travis said that he’s the only person who has total control over the security system. What if I convinced Travis to sneak out and see me late tonight when most people will have settled in for the night. I could propose a late night walk and knock him out using the technique I was taught. I’ll channel my wolf’s strength to drag him to the building. I’ll then use his finger to get me into the building and shut the system down. If it’s anything like the system that my old pack used, then it will disable all the doors and alarms. That would allow me to locate the cell Knox’s parents are in, get them out, and sneak across the border once patrol has passed,” I finished, my levels of hope at an all-time high. It was almost euphoric just thinking about it.
“I don’t know, Poppy...it all just seems too easy,” she said. I sighed as she vocalized my only fear.
“I know, I know. I thought the same thing, but, I mean, we’ll never know unless we try. Worst case scenario, I could just drag him to a wooded area and claim that he fell and hit his head which caused him to pass out. He seems like the type to just take anything anyone tells him for face value.”
She nodded, a look of hard contemplation taking over her face. “I just think our best bet is to stick with the plan and leave tonight. We know where they’re being held, what it looks like, and how the entire building operates. I know I’m always the fuck it, let’s do it! type of person, but not this time. I think it’s in our best interest to let Knox and his men handle this,” she insisted. I sighed but nodded, knowing she was more than right.
“Okay,” I huffed, “you’re right. The adrenaline high from doing what we came here to do has affected my rational decision making,” I joked. She laughed softly before nodding in agreement. “Still, it will look really suspicious if someone sees us wandering around the territory tonight and I don’t want to risk anything. What if I asked Travis to meet us for a late night walk so we’re seen together. We’ll get to the treeline, knock him out, then make a run for it,” I proposed.
“That’s a good idea. I say fuck the stuff we brought with us - it’ll only slow us down and can just be replaced anyway. Let’s lay down now and get some rest. We’ll wake for dinner and make an appearance as to not raise any questions and so that you can ask Travis. Afterward, we’ll pass time until the sun goes down and everyone heads off to bed. When that time comes, we either meet Travis or we just take a chance and make a run for it alone,” she said. I agreed, yawning deeply as my body begged for the nap I’d been promising it.
“I’ll mind-link Jason and let him know what’s going on, that way they’ll be there waiting for us.” I sleepily agreed, lowering my body to the bed and resting my head upon the pillow. The second my eyes closed, I was out like a light.
I awoke by Grace shaking my shoulder and whispering my name.
“Jesus, Pops. You were asleep that entire time,” she revealed. I wiped the tiredness from my eyes and stared at her in shock.
“I can’t believe that. I’ve never slept that long in the middle of the day,” I pondered out loud before brushing the weird feeling off. “I guess that means it’s time for dinner. Thank the Lord because I’m starving,” I hissed while patting my stomach. She giggled before exiting the room.
Entering the dining room was less awkward than it was before, most people having already gotten used to our presence the first time around. I loaded my plate up like I had this morning and gobbled it all down, still slightly hungry when I was done. I picked off of Grace’s finished plate, raising my eyebrow at her quizzical gaze as I did so.
“What?” I asked self-consciously.
“Nothing, nothing,” she muttered, shaking her head and focusing back on our surroundings. We conversed with a few unmated males again, just doing our best to blend in. I’d managed to pull Travis off into an empty hallway and corner him on our way out. I put my best act on, hoping to God that my ’I can’t get enough of you’ attitude was being realistically portrayed. My prayers were answered when he agreed with a wide smile, though slightly miffed that Grace would be joining us. We set a time and meeting point before I swiftly left. Grace and I met up just around the corner, sharing a giddy look for a few seconds before wiping the emotion away. We couldn’t get too cocky or our guard could let down - that’s when people got hurt and mistakes were made.
I couldn’t stop pacing our room as the minutes and hours ticked by. My nerves wouldn’t let up, I felt like my stomach was in my throat the entire time. Grace had thrown a few pillows at me every now and then to tell me to ’knock it off!’ but it didn’t change anything. I ignored the various movies that came and went, going over our exit route over and over in my head.
“I thought you were going to wear a hole in the floor before we got a chance to leave,” she joked as we changed into dark, inconspicuous clothing that could still feasibly be normal outfits she or I would wear. The alarm clock on the side table read eleven o’clock exactly. The plan was seamless up until our getaway; the one thing I was worried about was timing border patrol correctly so we didn’t run into anyone.
“We’ve got this, Pops. We can do this,” she reassured me before giving me a tight hug and opening the door for me. I took a deep breath in and out before putting on my game face and walking out. My palms began to sweat the closer we got to our agreed spot. I could tell Grace was a little nervous as well. When he came into our line of sight, I felt light headed like I was going to pass out.
Not now, Poppy. Right now it’s time for you to buck up and do this damn thing!
I squared my shoulders and held my head high as I came face to face with Travis. He smiled at both of us before motioning with his head for all of us to start walking. We fell into a comfortable pace side by side as he rambled on about some project he’s doing on his house. I nodded and vocalized a few ’wow, that’s awesome’s and ’that’ll look nice’ at the appropriate times, Grace adding in a few comments here and there as well. My breathing began to pick up as we reached the treeline. I hardened my heart and stopped after we got a few feet in. Travis stopped and stared at me with a questioning look.
“I’m so sorry, Travis. You’re a great guy,” I said before shooting my hand up to the pressure point I’d been trained to trigger and bringing my hand down hard enough to knock him out, but not hard enough to really hurt him. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and Grace and I slowly eased his body down to the forest floor.
“You did so well, Poppy!” Grace whispered with a heartfelt pat on the back. I nodded before backing away from Travis’s passed-out-body.
“Let’s go, I wanna get the heck out of here,” I hissed before beginning a fast-paced jog. My training really helped my stamina as I was able to keep up with Grace the entire way. We slowed to a complete stop close enough to the border that we could scout for any passing men, but far away enough that if there were any we wouldn’t be detected.
“The coast looks clear. On the count of three, we run,” she ordered. “One, two, three,” she counted down. We both shot off, sprinting as if our lives depended on it because, well, they kind of did.
We were seconds away from crossing the border when a hand shot out in front of me. I ran full-force into it with my neck, knocking myself back on the ground and forcing all the air out of my lungs. I moved my hand to grasp my now-aching throat, but someone else beat me to the punch.
“Hello, Poppy,” a familiar voice growled as the hand dragged me up to my feet. I gasped involuntarily, the action inducing a coughing fit from my battered throat. I came face to face with my worst nightmare; Knox’s Uncle. “Surprised to see me?” he asked followed by a dark chuckle. My eyes bugged out of my head, trying to figure out how this could’ve happened. We were so careful. So careful.
“I’m sure you’re wondering how I caught onto this little plan of yours. Of course, I know that your mate - my nephew - was behind the whole thing because there’s no way two measly women could’ve concocted this whole thing on their own,” he sneered. When he said two measly women, my eyes snapped to Grace’s thrashing form as she tried her best to fight away from the men holding her down. “Well, allow me to enlighten you. Does the name Williams ring a bell?” he questioned with a malice-filled smile. My face must’ve given away my shock because he laughed once again.
“It appears that it does. Well, you see, he came to me with some rather helpful information just yesterday morning. Can you believe that? How convenient, isn’t it? I don’t think the timing could’ve been more perfect. He told me all about your mating with my nephew. To be quite frank, I don’t give a fuck about that. What I do give a fuck about, however, is how wonderfully you’re going to work in forcing my nephew to finally show his face to me after all this time I’ve wasted chasing after him,” he sneered. “Now, I think it’s time to make a few introductions, shall we? Boys, throw the other bitch across the border line. Let her run and tattle about what’s happened to her precious best friend,” he chuckled before dragging my body in what I thought was an unknown direction.
I cried out as his grip on me grew harsher with each step towards what I realized what the pack prison. I tried digging my feet into the dirt to slow his pace, but he was so much stronger than me. Tears welled up in my eyes as I got to witness first-hand just how dandy Travis’s little prison system was. I squirmed in Alpha Carmichael’s hold as he carried me through the maze of hallways and down the flight of stairs to the basement level as if I weighed nothing.
“Oh, brother dearest!” He shouted with amusement as we reached the end of the rows of cells. “I have a special delivery for you!”
I watched as one of his men stepped forward and pressed a few buttons on the electronic panel. Seconds later, the high-tech door slid open with a whir of air. Alpha Carmichael threw me into the small space before slapping his hand over the controls. I felt my last sliver of hope shrivel up and die as the door slid shut and locked with a loud clunk.
“This is just temporary, sweetheart. I’ll be back once I’ve dealt with things,” he taunted, clearly referring to Knox. “Then you and I can have lots of fun,” he suggested with a joyful laugh. The way he was carrying himself, even as he spoke about the most horrific things, had me convinced that he was totally, absolutely, completely batshit crazy. “For now, have fun with your in-laws,” he snarled. I examined the metal bars in front of me as he walked away, quickly determining that they weren’t made of silver to my surprise. I grasped them tightly and pressed my face against them as I watched his retreating back.
My tears came fast and furious as my heart ached for Knox. I knew for a fact he would be losing his mind right now, probably sick with worry. I should’ve already been across the border, in the getaway car, contacting him with reassurances that I was safe and enroute towards home. Even worse was the fact that something about this building made it impossible for me to try and mind-link him. I said a silent prayer that he would channel the anger I knew was imminent from my absence towards taking his screwed up uncle out once and for all, not the other way around.
I sagged against the cold metal, trying to get myself to stop crying but coming out utterly unsuccessful.
“Hello?” A scratchy voice echoed, bouncing off the bare walls. I shot up to my knees, staring into the cell across from my own. With the position of the lights, only the front half of all the cells were lit up so my heart leaped in my chest at having company.
“Who’s there?” I asked, my voice trembling from emotion. I heard the distinct sound of shuffling before a haggard man crawled up to his own metal bars. I gasped before a heart-wrenching sob tore through my entire body, leaving me fighting for air. It was only then that Alpha Carmichael’s words finally registered in my brain.
Oh my god.