Heartglow

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CHAPTER 21

Kaden, Slayde, and Riordan were holed up in Slayde’s office desperately trying to come up with ideas to track down Valaria or Sonya. The phone records for Sonya’s phone were a dead end. Obviously, she had tossed it and had been using another phone when she contacted the pilot to inform him of her change of plans.

The only good thing that happened was information from the lab with the results from Valaria’s pre-shift blood. They were able to isolate the strands of DNA that indicated she was in fact a double shifter. With that knowledge, they tested the blood from the current bodies in the morgue, two more having arrived early this morning. They were hoping to have the answers by the next day.

Riordan spoke after Slayde gave them the good news, “Well, that’s really good news. Now you can find out if Tye is going to be a wolf or double shifter.”

Slayde looked out the window of his office as he answered, “Yes, that’s great news, but it doesn’t help with our current situation.”

Kaden spoke up, “Did Valaria talk to Cassidy about leaving? Maybe there was something she said that might help us find her. I mean, even though it’s all quite a coincidence, we still don’t know if they’re together.”

Slayde turned around, “Cassidy still hasn’t forgiven me for keeping the truth from her.”

Riordan jumped in, “But she has to know that you made that decision as the pack’s Alpha, not her husband.”

“Yeah, but try to explain that to a woman who wasn’t raised by a pack and is only thinking as a wife and mother,” Slayde answered.

Kaden stood up, “I’ll ask her.”

Slayde quirked his eyebrow, “We’re all on her shit list right now, so I don’t know whether she will even talk to us.”

Kaden reasoned, “But she doesn’t know that her sister might be in trouble. We left her out of the last loop, maybe we should bring her in this time.”

Slayde nodded, “It’s worth a try.”

~*~

Valaria moaned as she felt the million little pricks echoing throughout her body. Her arms felt like they were coming out of their sockets. Her legs were strings of jello.

Then she felt liquid being poured down over her tortured body and she couldn’t stop the scream that emitted from her dry throat.

“Wake up, it’s time for a drink! You know, I thought about letting you have a drink of this whiskey to dull the pain a little, but then I thought what a waste, how about I just pour it over you instead,” Sonya’s voice echoed through her skull before her face came closer to whisper, “Burns a little, doesn’t it?”

Vee’s eyes opened. She knew she couldn’t stop the agony from showing, and since she wasn’t going to be able to stop her torture, she might as well get in a few jabs.

“Sonya, what burns is your ass since you found out that Kaden preferred me over you.” She figured the words were probably not wise, but she supposed since she was going to die anyway, she might as well get it over with. Her dreams of Kaden riding in on a white horse and saving her died hours ago.

This time she was rewarded with the handle of the whip striking her across bleeding breasts and stomach as Sonya screamed, “You little bitch! Kaden doesn’t want you! Do you see him here? He doesn’t care that you’re gone! And when he comes back home, we are going to bond and I will be his queen!”

Valaria didn’t know where she got the strength to chuckle, but she did and she loved the rage that encompassed Sonya’s face. It was almost comical how red it had become, how she shook with anger.

The chuckle turned to screams as she began to receive strike after strike of the hard leather. She didn’t think there was much skin left on her body that hadn’t been touched.

After five minutes, Sonya stood, her breath heaving, her anger seemingly spent. Valaria found herself floating in a haze and wondered if this was what it was like to die. She was so glad that her animals were asleep and wouldn’t know when they all went into their final slumber. Would her mother and father be waiting on the other side? She prayed that Slayde would look after her sister and their son. She hoped that Josh, whoever he was, would be Veronica’s Mr. Right…

Then a familiar jab in her side sent her into the darkness again.

~*~

Cassidy was standing, tapping her foot as she listened to the three men telling her about the disappearance of her sister and the strange actions of the cat woman, Sonya. What they were talking about seemed so familiar. She couldn’t believe her sister would leave without someone making her leave…and that bitch Sonya left at the same time?? Too much coincidence there…

And even though Riordan had told her that it was Valaria who dosed him with the drug they found in the kitchen, she was still convinced that Sonya had something to do with it. Maybe she threatened to outright kill Riordan if Vee didn’t cooperate…yeah, that sounded more likely…

“So we wanted to ask you if Valaria said anything about leaving,” Kaden finished after they all clamored to give her all the details they knew.

Cassidy shook her head, “No, in fact, she said she would see me today. I think that bitch told Vee to cooperate or someone was going to die.”

Slayde turned to Riordan, “When you were following her yesterday, did you see Sonya hanging around?”

Riordan answered, “No, but I wasn’t looking for her either, she could have been.”

Then Cassie spoke, “Okay, so right now we know that they may or may not be together,” and she turned to Kaden, “and you said your pilot didn’t see Sonya, she just called to say she was going shopping, right?”

Kaden nodded.

“Okay, so did you contact the car rental place and see if they can use their GPS to find her? They all have them on their cars now,” Cassidy threw out the idea.

Kaden responded as he hung his head and wiped his hand over his face, “I had someone drive the rental back. She took my car and she disabled the GPS.”

“Your black one?” Cassie asked.

Kaden nodded, “Yeah, the black one.”

“Did she disable both GPS?” Cassidy asked the room.

They all looked at her like she grew two heads before Kaden spoke, “The red one is still parked so I really don’t see what the difference it would make…”

“I’m talking about the two GPS on your black car,” Cassidy broke in, “I’m not talking about your red one.”

They all sighed before Slayde answered, “Honey, the car only comes with one GPS…”

Cassidy held up her finger, “So help me God, Slayde, if you start to mansplain anything about cars or GPS or anything else, I am not going to talk to you again. Now, you know I told you a couple of months ago that I was having the garage install a second GPS on all the cars we or our guests use just in case one stopped working, it would be a good backup.”

Slayde hesitated, “What?”

Cassidy sighed, “Don’t tell me you weren’t listening to me.” She threw up her hands, “Men!” Then she explained to Riordan and Kaden about what she did, “I told Slayde that it would be a good idea not to have all our eggs in one basket and we should have a backup GPS installed in every car. He told me to look after it, he was confident in me,” she rolled her eyes, “And obviously he wasn’t listening…”

It was like the information suddenly hit Kaden, “Are you saying there is a second GPS on my black car?”

Cassidy looked at him, “Yes, that’s what I’m saying. I have the app installed on my tablet…” she turned and left the office, “Just give me a minute.”

Kaden whispered under his breath, “We may not have a minute…” then he looked to Slayde, “I can’t believe you weren’t listening when she told you.”

Slayde held up his hands, “Sorry, sometimes she just keeps talking and all I hear is babble. I just figured I was safe by telling her to go with it.”

Cassidy returned to Slayde’s office, “Here, I just booted it up, it takes a minute for it to locate the satellites…”

Kaden grabbed it from her hands, “Sorry, I just need to know.”

Then all four crowded around the small screen waiting for a magical blip to appear.

And it did, blinking in the middle of nothing.

Cassidy grabbed it back, “Here,” and she used her fingers to zoom out from the blip until roads started to appear. It took more than a few movements until it took on a legible map.

Cassie spoke, “Congratulations, it’s sitting in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. But the good news is we can get to it from a minor roadway.”

Slayde spoke up, “Can you print that off, Honey?”

Cassidy smiled at him, almost forgetting to be angry. She didn’t know whether to hope that when they found the car, they found her sister or hope it was just a big mistake and her sister got back to her home on her own, “Coming right up.”

As the printer began to hum, the men began making plans.

“We’ll take the truck just in case the terrain is bad,” Slayde offered as he looked at Riordan, “You get some protection over here for Cassidy and Tye…”

“Slayde, you don’t know…” Cassie began and found the Alpha staring back at her.

“You will be protected while we are gone, this is not a negotiation,” he calmly but firmly dictated his wishes, “We don’t know whether we are dealing with just a pissed of woman or something larger, so I am not taking any chances.”

Cassidy sighed, “I’ll put the coffee on because I am not getting to sleep until you find my sister.” She pulled the map off the printer and handed it to Kaden.

Kaden stared at the lines until he recognized something familiar, “Damn, they are at least a couple of hours away.”

Cassie had to sound optimistic, “Maybe she isn’t there, Kaden.”

Slayde replied, “What else would Sonya being doing so far off the road?”

They all shuddered at his words.

~*~

Vee awoke again, her body on fire, her feet slipping in her own blood. She stood weakly as she regained consciousness. She wished she had remained in the blessed darkness. She looked out the nearest window and realized it was night again. No help was coming…

She looked around the small one-room hut and tried to find something to give her hope that she might get out of this yet, but truth was, even if she was set free right now, she would not have the strength to make it to freedom.

She had to accept the fact that she was indeed going to die here…

Her eyes found the paper sitting on the small table and she hoped that her people would have better sense than her not to get caught. She hoped that maybe some of them found each other and were now happy and knew enough to hide themselves on some ranch in the backwoods, safe…she hoped her sister was safe…if she could give her life to ensure her sister’s safety, she would in a heartbeat…a very heavy heartbeat…

Wow…she loved her sister…in such a little amount of time…

Tears welled up in Valaria’s eyes and slid down her face…the one place Sonya hadn’t marked. She wondered why…or was that the last thing on her list? She wasn’t in the cabin with her and Valaria dared hope that maybe she had finally left her, assuming she would die hanging here.

The door rattled and Vee felt her hope dashed again, it just wasn’t her life.

“So, all awake now?” that sickening voice traveled to her ears again.

Then Sonya was standing in front of her again, “Good, because that was your last reprieve. All the needles are gone so I don’t have to tell you what comes next.”

Valaria felt the silent tears roll down her cheeks, this was it…the end of everything…she had wanted to do so much with her life and now…she had been so stupid…not grasping the happiness that was offered…always thinking she didn’t deserve it for some reason…she didn’t deserve to meet someone…fall in love…have children of her own…

“Wow, finally some tears? Good, I still have time to whip them off your face, can’t have you going to shifter heaven looking too pretty now, shall we?” Sonya backed up and began shaking out the coiled leather.

Vee closed her eyes, “Please…Sonya…”

Sonya came closer, “What was that, shifter?”

Valaria called out again, “Please…”

Sonya placed the handle of the whip under Valaria’s chin and forced her face up as she spoke, “What was that? Are you finally pleading for your life? Hah! That took you long enough!”

Valaria opened her eyes, her voice a mere whisper, “I’m not… pleading… for my life,” she drew another breath as she faced the oblivion to come, “I’m…pleading…for…my…death.” Her last word on this Earth was death…

Sonya pursed her lips in anger, not believing that she could not get this woman to plead for her life, no matter that almost every inch of her skin bore cuts, her blood covering the floor.

She smiled and swung back her arm, “So be it.” The leather flew through the air and caught the side of Valaria’s face. It snapped her head back and Sonya stepped around her to get a better angle to snap her head back around with the weight of the whip.

Vee slipped down into a deep dark pool…she found her animals at last and wrapped her arms around them as she sang a lullaby that she remembered from a time long ago…

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