☾ h a p t e r 1
“Tell me again, why do I have to go there?”
Nate Sanders, police detective of the Sivil PD, asked his boss and chief of the department. Curiosity lingered in his eyes and leaked into his voice. The two were currently stashed in his boss’s office.
Luke, the Alpha male who sat in front of Nate, grunted as he pulled out a file from his desk drawer. “Because you’re one of the best we have and they need you down there to help solve a case.”
Grabbing hold of the file being presented to him, Nate flipped the folder open, a deep frown etched on his face.
An open suitcase containing the torso and hands of a woman stared back at him.
He went to the next photograph which showed her head covered in sand. Leaning in closer, he saw that it had been crudely cut off, bone fragments from the spine still partially attached to the hack job that was done to her neck.
The jaw looked broken, bones jutting out from the sides of her hollow cheeks. Her left ear was completely missing, leaving behind a hole in its place.
“We have a killer on the loose.” Luke pulled out five more case files from the drawer, handing them to the Alpha sitting in front of him. “Bastard has been leaving bodies everywhere in the city of Allura.”
“What makes you think it’s just one? It could just be the work of multiple.”
Reaching for the rest of them, Nate saw a series of more dismembered bodies of other females in the files. Each case had a date printed on top, a sequence of three months separated each of them and below it were the classification of each individual female: four Betas and two Omegas.
Luke leaned back in his chair, the piece of furniture squeaking under his weight. “Possible,” he agreed, eyes following the movements of Nate as the Alpha scanned each and every photo. “But I doubt each supposed killer left the same thing behind after every murder.”
“Yeah? And what is that?” asked Nate, eyes still glued to the pictures.
His boss moved to rest his hands on the veneer of his desk, fingers gripping the silkiness of the wood. Glancing up quickly, Nate saw the male trying to restrain the anger that had suddenly flooded the air around them.
“A tiger swallowtail placed inside of her mouth.”
Surprise flashed across Nate’s face. “A butterfly?”
Nodding, his boss picked up the newspaper lying on the side of the desk and threw it over for him to see. “Someone leaked it to the press and now the rest of the world is in a panic. The Prime Minister and his council are trying to keep the hysteria from escalating, but we don’t have much time left.”
Running his fingers through his blond locks, a tired expression painted the older male’s face. “We need this bastard found, caught, and tried for his crimes. And soon.”
Nate mirrored his boss’s actions, running a hand through his own chestnut colored hair. He pierced his hazel eyes on Luke.
“Any luck in figuring out who it is that’s doing this?”
“No. Hell, Nate, not even a damn print!” exclaimed his boss.
“What about scent? Any leftover odor?”
“Not even that. Everything else has been dusted as well. No witnesses, no cameras. Each murder happened in remote areas of that city. The Prime Minister has tasked us to compile a team that can take over these cases. They only want the best, and you were specifically chosen.”
Gritting his teeth, Nate sat the files down on the desk. Resolution burned inside of his body and spilled from his mouth.
“So tell me, when’s my flight?”
Stretching his back, Nate picked up his luggage and made his way through the airport. Waving a cab down and telling him the address, he sat back as the driver worked his way in and out of traffic.
Sitting there in silence, he pulled out his phone and reviewed the documents. His chief had sent him information of the people he’s supposed to work with in these next few months.
There were seven people in total — six males and one female. Each folder contained their credentials: a picture, basic information and their rank among other things.
All except one.
No image showed on the lone female’s file, just the rest of the information. The female, Zara Crones, was an Omega. One, he noted in astonishment when he read the dynamic written below the image, that was of diminutive size — two inches above five feet.
Hair color: black, eye color: blue, and weight: one-fifteen described her overall physical appearance. Nothing else was written out other than that.
Curious as to the secrecy behind the Omega, he reminded himself to ask Luke about her when he had the chance to speak to him.
The ride gave him much to contemplate – more specifically, about the team he would be joining. Each member in his team, except for Zara, had also been brought in from around the world. They were the best of the best, having solved over fifty cases each.
He, in turn, had also solved as many.
And done more, he silently lamented.
The cab stopped at a large building that came close in size to the one he worked at back home in Sivil.
Having paid for the ride, he took his suitcase from the driver and marched through the double set doors. The reception desk in the center greeted his view.
A redheaded Omega smiled as she laid eyes on him, fluttering her lashes as she waited for him to speak.
“Hi, I’m Nate Sanders. I came for the Aces team meeting.”
The light dimmed from her eyes at the mention of that name. A small grimace appearing on her face. “Sure. Fifth floor.”
With a nod of his head and a spike of curiosity forming in the back of his mind, he moved towards the elevators at the far side of the large lobby. The doors dinged and opened before him. The ride up was short and fast, the steel cage depositing him on his desired floor in a span of seconds.
About to step out, he came to a sudden halt as a rich scent filled the air. His body locked while his muscles — and lower body — hardened.
What is that smell?
Nose up in the air, he sniffed, eyes closing as he inhaled a deep breath of the arousing aroma. The scent was sweet, almost like honey but with a hint of citrus thrown into the mix.
It traveled down his nasal cavity, his mouth watering as it hit the back of his throat and flooded his taste buds. He could almost imagine how the syrupy nectar would coat his tongue and slide down his throat to fill his belly and satisfy his growing hunger.
Honeysuckle. It smells like honeysuckle.
Nate’s eyes snapped open, jerking his head down to stare at the male in front of him.
Clearing his throat, Nate saw the male officer, a Beta by the smell of him, fidget under his intense stare.
“Do you need any help?” asked the male, hands gripping the stack of paper pressed up against his chest.
“Yes, I’m here for the team meeting.”
“Oh,” the smaller male replied, “are you the detective from up north? Nate Sanders?”
“Yes,” he answered, his senses still partially being tempted by the delicious scent.
“I’m officer Jim Morris, I’ll take you to the rest of the team that is waiting for you.”
They exited the elevator to a floor covered with both Alphas and Betas shuffling between desks that lined the entirety of it. Some, he noted as he followed behind the Beta, were taking calls or writing up reports on their computers.
The place looked like mayhem. People were talking loudly to each other, the sounds of a printer coming from somewhere at the back of the floor were almost drowned out by the loud clicks of the keyboards. The smell of stale coffee was so pungent and strong that it had almost overridden the honeysuckle.
Moving further down the hallway, he began to notice that not only were they heading towards a door located at the far end of the strip. And also directly towards the smell.
“Here we are.”
Jim waited for Nate to go in first. Unconsciously, Nate made his way inside, too preoccupied by the scent overtaking all of his senses to notice or feel a dozen pairs of eyes flashing towards him all at once.
With a mental shake of his head he discarded the smell, albeit with difficulty, and opened his mouth to present himself. His gaze roamed across the room, his words getting caught in his throat when a pair of sky blue eyes met his own.
The honeysuckle came back with a vengeance and grew stronger as those bewitching eyes traveled down his body, snapping back to his face when he caught her staring too long at him. A small blush tainted her high cheekbones, making Nate’s chest puff out slightly in satisfaction.
“I see our last member is finally here,” announced the commander, bringing everyone’s attention back to him. “We can start now that our team is complete.”
Signaling to the vacated chair, one located next to the enticing female, the Alpha waited until Nate took his spot before turning on the projector and starting the slides.
Nate felt rather than saw how the female next to him shifted her body away from his, and a swift sense of irritation overtook him.
Shocked, he pushed the feeling down lest someone caught a whiff of it. It was bad enough if everyone smelt it and caused the Alpha to pause the meeting but it would get worse if the three Alphas presently in the room responded in an aggressive way.
Nate waited until the commander finished speaking before he took the opportunity to talk to her.
“Hey,” he called.
She turned to regard him.
“Everyone, please review the files presented in the folder sitting in front of you,” the commander continued.
Instead of complying, the woman waited for Nate to speak again.
“I’m Nate, nice to meet –”
“I know,” the Omega cut in, curt and direct.
She said nothing more. The silence between them stretched to a point before he figured out she wasn’t going to give him anything else. He kept his gaze on her, waiting for the moment until she submitted and shifted her gaze away from his like any other Omega.
Time stood still, blue versus hazel dueling, neither wanting to back out.
Respect, and a little bit of confusion, took hold inside as her eyes kept locked on his.
“You’re Zara, correct?”
“Yes,” her voice softened a bit, coming out silkier than the first time. Goosebumps rose along his arms, up his shoulders and to the nape of his neck.
“Crones,” her boss called out to her, making her tear her gaze away from Nate’s. Their boss motioned for her to get up and take her place in front of the monitor.
“Coming.” She pushed her chair back. As she grabbed the thick blue folder beside her right arm, she leaned in and whispered to Nate.
“Welcome to the team.”