Seeking happiness

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Chris joined Leo in his car. Nick and Danny took the other truck, and they are following behind them. Leo drives slowly by a little one floor house. The shutters are all closed, but in front of it there are men sitting in folding chairs and wobbly garden chairs. A fire is lighted to keep the men warm. “Rogues.” Chris notices.

“Yep,” Leo answers and parks the car a little further down the road.

“So,” Chris turns to look at his brother, “what’s the plan?”

“We quietly surround them, then head in via the backdoor and the front door. I’ll divide the men in three groups, one for upstairs, one on the ground floor and one for the basement. Then no one escapes and we have all the men at the same time.”

“Basement? How do you know there’s a basement?”

“There’s a porch that has steps, just like our Packhouse has. I noticed the small windows just above the ground. I suppose those give access to the basement.” Leo shrugs.

“Well done, you seem to do well in your new position.” Chris gives him a smile.

“I finally have a purpose, I feel good.” Leo smiles.

“Alright, now, let’s go.” Chris opens his door and gets out. The other guys do the same and a large group of muscled men gathers close to the cars.

Leo quickly divides the group into three and then they’re ready to go in.

The rogues in the yard are quietly and quickly taken out. The warriors crouch quietly behind them and at the right moment leap up, put an arm around their neck and slit their throat with a silver knife. Without a sound all the rogues outside are taken out. The cracking of the burning wood in the fire the only sound heard. Chris looks at Leo, waiting for his sign to enter the house.

Leo puts a finger up, swirls it around and then points at the door. All the warriors take their positions. Leo’s hand is back in the air, he counts from three to one with his fingers and at one, the front door. Chris is right behind Leo and has joined the group that heads for the basement.

Inside it’s dimly lit, only a few lights are on, making big shadows on the wall with their yellow glow. Chris follows two warriors on the stairs to the basement, they open a big steel door. Soon the sound of fighting men is heard coming from the levels above him.

When the steel door opens, he sees a worn-out table with four chairs around it. At the table four rogues are playing a card game, but they quickly stand up when they hear the warriors come in. The fight begins. The warriors quickly take on the rogues.

Chris sneaks away into the shadows. He oversees the space. To his left, there’s a row of cages. To the right, there’s a door to another space. He sniffles, he notices a familiar scent, thought very faint. He walks over to the spot where the cages are and quickly looks who’s inside. No one is, they’re empty. He suddenly holds still; his ears pick up a faint sound of someone crying out in pain.

The sound comes from the door he saw a bit earlier. He quietly sneaks over to it. The door is closed, it’s thick, but the familiar scent is stronger. Chris tries to open the door quietly, but fails, the hinges squeak and make a lot of noise. He looks inside through the small opening.

“Hello, Mr. Anderson, how nice of you to come and join me.” He recognises the slick voice of Verona.

Chris opens the door fully and appears in the doorway. When he looks over to see what Verona is doing, he rages with anger.

A man lays on the floor, bound to a chair. It looks like the man was bound to the chair and then was toppled over. The man is bleeding from multiple wounds, his face is bruised. Thick and swollen, the man can’t even look through his eyes. Little winces escape the man’s throat, the man is still alive.

He looks at Verona, who has a gun in his hands. “What is it Anderson, don’t you recognise this man?”

Chris growls loudly, fighting the urge to shift.

“Ooh, is the big dog getting angry?” Verona smiles devilishly and takes a step closer to the man on the floor.

Still Chris remains quiet. He needs to be able to take Verona’s gun away before he starts shooting with it.

“I think the bad dog lost his tongue.”

Chris steps closer.

“Oh no, I don’t think so. Stay away.” Verona threatens. He points the gun on the man.

“No!” Chris roars. He can’t hold back anymore and instantly shifts into his wolf form.

“I said, stay away!” Verona shouts, he is getting nervous.

Chris wolf crouches down, lowering himself to leap up.

“No, don’t come closer!” A loud bang is heard.

Chris feels a piercing pain in his right shoulder. He roars. His wolf leaps up, not afraid of the little human in front of him. Verona doesn’t see it coming and by the time he can respond to the leaping wolf in front of him, he is crushed by the black monster.

Verona falls on his back, the big wolf growling on top of him. Verona looks around to see where he left his gun and finds it within reach of his left arm. But before he can shoot with the thing, Chris’ wolf puts Verona’s neck in mouth and growls menacingly.

“I am going to shoot your head off!” Verona shouts and he aims his gun at the head of the monster above him. But before he can even put his finger on the trigger, the wolf bites down and slits his throat. The man goes limp immediately; he is gone.

Chris wolf lowers his head for a moment, then steps away from the lifeless body of Verona. He quickly shifts back and walks over to the man on the floor.

Chris crouches down in front of him and examines his wounds before he wipes away some dried blood from the man’s face. The man is unrecognisable, he recognizes his scent, it is unmistakable. “Dad?”

The beeps of the machine beside the bed get Christopher on his nerves. His father lays in the bed but is not awake. He lost consciousness on the way back home. He wants to talk to his dad so badly. It’s taking too long; he gets up from his chair and starts pacing back and forth.

“Would you stop that?” Nick looks up annoyed.

Chris growls, but keeps going.

“Just stop already!” Now it’s Leo who’s annoyed. “What’s up with you?”

Chris sighs and lets himself fall into the chair again. “Nothing.”

“Please, lie to someone else,” Nick looks at him, “we’re your brothers, you can’t just fob us off.”

Chris grumbles again. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Seriously, Chris, take a walk and then come back and tell us what’s the deal.” Leo looks at him, “don’t tell us there’s nothing bothering you and don’t tell us that’s not our business. We’re your brothers, damnit.”

“I just want father to awake, that’s all.” Chris looks at the man in the bed. He looks nothing like the tall, bad man Chris remembers him to be. Now he’s skinny, his muscles gone, pale, and bruised all over.

Nick lays a hand on his arm. “We understand, we want that too, but you can’t do anything about it, you just have to wait. Getting impatient won’t help.”

“I wish Jolena was here,” Christopher says bitterly. “She would be able to calm me down.”

“What do you mean?” Nick gives Chris a frown.

Chris leans forward, with his elbows on his knees, and while shaking his head he lowers it between his hands.

“He means that Jolena is leaving him.” Leo says for his brother. He looks at him with compassion in his eyes.

“What? Why?” Nick looks surprised.

“She fears us, me.” Chris seems to lower his head even more. “She saw us fight the rogues in wolf form. It must have scared here to death. And although I have told her multiple times how much I love her and protect her, the fright dominates her feelings for me. Deep down she knows she loves me, but she’s too scared to admit it.”

“Wow, that is terrible, I’m sorry brother. Do you want me to talk to her?” The look in Nick’s eyes is half worried, half compassionate.

“No! Don’t interfere, you’ll only push her away even more.” Chris shakes his head and gets up from his seat. “I am going for a run, want to come along?”

“No, we’ll stay here,” Nick says, “if anything changes, we’ll link you.”

“Okay thanks.” Chris walks out and shuts the door softly. Once outside and in his wolf form, he’ll be able to calm down, if only a little bit.

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