The floor rumbled beneath my feet, the glass in the windows rattled, and my ears ring with the thunderous ‘BOOM’ that seemed to reverberate in my chest. Dropping my pen, I pushed my chair away from my desk and jumped to my feet, running to the window. Parting the blinds, I linked ‘What the hell happened?’ As I witness the rising plume of flames and smoke dance over the trees in the distance. Jeremy linked me back first ‘Huge explosion, on the western side of the property. Old maintenance building, running there now.’ Dropping my jacket on my desk I left my office and rushed outside where my nose crinkled at the pervasive scent of gas and burning wood. ‘I’m with a group of warriors at the scene. It looks like the old gas drums have exploded; the old maintenance building is completely lit up.’ Patrick answered, his voice slicing through my thoughts. ‘All able-bodied adults need to grab a class B fire extinguisher and shovels and meet at the old maintenance shed’ I stopped to mass link the pack.
We needed this fire out before people started reporting it to the fire department. My men in the local department had yet to notify me of any calls or trucks heading in our direction so I assumed that no one had noticed the smoke yet. Since the land was pretty remote, I doubted there would be a lot of passersby on the freeway to call the fire in but all it took was one call for a whole world of potential trouble and paperwork to come crashing down on my desk. Kicking open the supply shed that was down the hill from my office, I tucked a fire extinguisher under each arm, and then grabbed one in each hand before moving to one of the quads that was parked just outside the shed. Strapping the extinguishers down on the back rack I grabbed a couple of shovels and tucked them under the bungee cords that I had strapped over the extinguishers before mounting the vehicle. The machine rumbled to life beneath me, and steering it towards the access path I gave her some gas as I raced to the scene of the fire.
Faces glistening with sweat and blackened by soot, the soft ‘chink’ as shovels cut through dirt, and the light misting of ash that rained down on the hurried forms of my pack warriors greeted me once I reached the fire. The heat the raging fire was putting off had me pausing as I neared the flames. Tears ran down my face as the smoke and ash burned my eyes. Passing out the extinguishers I had brought, I joined the men who were rapidly shoveling dirt to smother the flames that danced closer to our ankles. Some of the pack members were building dirt barriers and sand bagging off areas to slow the advance of the flames as other members had spread across the now crumbling building and were working to extinguish the flames that hungrily licked at the charred remnants of its meal. The building hadn’t been large and once it had been consumed, the fire, contained by our barriers, was rapidly running out of fuel.
Wheelbarrows of dirt were now being dumped on the flames and the majority of the smoke that now rose in the air was the dying breaths of the once monstrous fire. Once all the flames had been smothered, the likelihood of receiving burns from the steam had diminished and water hoses were brought in to wet down the barriers we had created. The ashes were soaked down as more dirt was continuously dumped on areas that still expelled little black wisps, dark promises of the inferno it longed to become, to the now murky sky. The fire had taken almost two hours to reduce to a steaming mass of dirt, crumbling timber, and soot. Walking around my pack, I smiled and offered my thanks to those who had turned out to fight the fire.
Approaching Jeremy, my smile wilted as I thought of a face I had yet to see. “Where’s Adeline?” I asked as he squirted water over his head and neck. “I left her at the compound since the doors lock automatically. She should be locked in the upstairs office. I wasn’t sure how great the threat here was, or who could be on our land so I left her there since that location was already secure.” I nodded, rubbing my sooty hands on my pants. “We need to figure out how this happened. Obviously, the fire will have drowned out any scents of whoever may have been here. We can’t rule this out as being accidental, but something tells me this was arson.” I voiced. Patrick approached, a shovel in each hand. “I agree, this was no accident, but why start a fire way out here?” I stiffened. “To draw people away from the main pack buildings.” I answered with a growl. We all looked at each other before taking off towards the compound. “Establish a watch on the perimeter in case the wind picks up, all available warriors come with me!” I yelled over my shoulder as my thoughts flew ahead of me towards the compound that held Adeline and the rogue who claimed to be her mate.
The fire was probably a distraction to break Brenden out of our cells, and Adeline was locked in right at the center of the action. Would he take her? Would she go with him willingly? She had agreed to be with me, and although I know she made some of that decision based on her fear for Brenden’s safety, I couldn’t help but worry she had decided to leave with him. I wanted her to be happy, but I also wanted her to be safe and provided for and I knew that out of the two of us, that I could provide her with both once she let me. I understood why this was hard for her, but I knew once she was mated to me those feelings would disappear. The bond would fully work and the walls between us would be gone.
Besides, Brenden’s fear of revealing Adeline’s identity in front of me and his general mistrust and disgust for our normal way of life worried me. This kind of sentiment could be dangerous for a wolf in Adeline’s position, and I would hate to see her swept up in some fear mongering conspiracy theories that were perpetuated by the Rogue Rebellion. The rebellion was under the illusion that the council was on a mission to snuff out wolves that would stand between them and a totalitarian government. Having grown up watching the council at work I believed the theory to be ridiculous but scarily enough, the rebellion was gaining traction. The stringent laws the council was now pushing on the treatment of rogues wasn’t helping the situation, and I wasn’t sure if the laws were the cause for the growth of the rebellion or if the rebellion was the reason for all the new laws.
Regardless of what was causing the conflict, I knew the situation would only get worse and when it finally came to a head, I wanted to make sure Adeline was safely integrated into our pack and was far from the carnage that would befall the rebellion. Brenden was rank with insurgency, and I had this suspicion that he was not only in on the revolt, but also the wolf who had murdered the hunter who had attacked Ade. I had no real proof, but with how seriously he took his role to protect her I was sure it was him. If given the chance I would have loved to disembowel the hunter myself but I had laws to uphold. A wolf like Brenden had nothing to lose and that was terrifying. I had kept my suspicions about the hunter to myself as I know how it would look to Adeline. If Brenden had escaped, he would be a threat and I wouldn’t be able to keep it to myself any longer. I just hoped she would listen to me.
My legs ached in protest as, seeing the compound I sped up. Sliding to a stop at the front door, I slammed the key code into the system and muscled the door open the minute it unlocked. Stopping, I turned to the warriors that had followed me here. “Split up and search the grounds, half with Patrick, the other half with Jeremy.” Running into the empty facility I ran to Brenden’s cell. Growling, I turned and kicked the door. My stomach burned with both apprehension and rage, and running my hands through my already disheveled hair I linked Patrick ‘his cell is empty. The rogue is gone.’ Turning I anxiously ran towards the stairs that led to the offices upstairs. Ade’s scent lingered near them, along with his scent. I couldn’t tell if they had been together or if they had been there at separate times. Bolting up the stairs, I typed in the key code, opened the door and skid to a stop in front of the interrogation room.
My hands shook as I typed in the code and pushed the door open. The room had appeared empty and, almost running from the room, I paused when I noticed Adeline’s sleeping form on the desk. Entering the room, my smile froze and then slipped from my face when I realized that Adeline’s scent wasn’t the only one in the room. I could smell him on her and my wolf instantly began floundering in my skull, fighting for dominance. I wanted her pinned to the desk beneath me, writhing and moaning out her pleasure while I marked her. I wanted her breathless and calling my name while I wiped all memories of him from her body and mind.
She stayed, I whispered to myself and I stalked towards her. She chose me, I reasoned with my wolf as he began to take over. Placing one hand on the metal interrogation desk, I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the fact that I had promised to give her time, and that I just needed to wait until tomorrow night. She stirred in her sleep and the soft moan that graced my ears was nearly my undoing as I tried to calm myself. I had wanted her for so long that it was getting harder and harder to contain myself around her. I needed all of her, I needed her acceptance and companionship, and the bond just grew stronger every day.
‘The rogue has escaped pack lands.’ I stiffened as Patrick’s voice broke through my licentious thoughts. Straightening, I knew I had to handle this first. The pack may be in danger, Ade may be in danger and I needed to know how the rogue escaped. Knowing Ade had seen him meant that she knew or maybe, my fists tightened and I squeezed my eyes shut, maybe she had helped him. My wolf whined and my heart hurt. I prayed she hadn’t helped him. Knowing she had would hurt, even though I would understand why. Another thought entered my mind as I approached her. I couldn’t uphold my promise now. If Brenden had stayed put, I would have honored my promise and released him at the bus station. Now that he had escaped however, I had no choice but to bring him back if I could.
She wouldn’t understand that. Reason wouldn’t prevail where her old friend and the mate bond was concerned. It would hurt her, his incarceration. She would have to understand that packs needed to uphold the law, it was what kept us safe from discovery and the humans safe from us. For the hundredth time I wished her introduction to our world would have been better. I wished I would have met her at a restaurant or in the store or something. Or even that I had been there when she had first entered our land for her run. If there was a moon goddess, she sure wasn’t making this easy.
Grimacing, I approached her, knowing I couldn’t put this off any longer. I had to wake her up. I had to learn the truth no matter how much it hurts. Glancing up at the ceiling I said a silent prayer to whoever was listening that she hadn’t helped him. That she would be understanding and that when this was all said and done, I didn’t hurt the woman I loved.