“I would like to make a statement,” Sintia said stepping out from the office with her two new bodyguards. She hadn’t even had a moment to gather her thoughts or their names in the abandoned room, her instinct was just to get her story out immediately to avoid further damage.
Stepping out of the office had activated a mass rushing towards her with phones, lights, and mics all before she could see their faces. The guards had stepped in front and around her without any instruction making sure she had enough breathing room circling her, making her feel safe.
Back home she had been used to the media following her, interviews on TV about her success, dating an odd here and their celeb and of course being voted one of the most, if not the most eligible bachelorette of Manhattan of the year had kept the heat steadily on her, right down to a weekly recap of her outfits and ‘how to get this look’ articles. She had tried to dial back on social events that involved celebrities she didn’t want to be associated with. Drugs, sex, and reckless parties were not her scene, if anything it just annoyed the hell out of her. What happened to a good old dinner party or barbeque, or anything along the lines of normal? Perhaps this was the new norm, and she hated it.
She had managed though, to avoid negative light, something her lawyer had insisted on if she was to get her foot in Tokyo next, keeping a clean front was important especially when the Japanese were so traditional. But Jarred, oh that man had all but dragged her right back into the drugged-up scum of the world. Sintia had never done drugs and never would, but the media loved to twist the smallest thing to gain more reactions, what would sell more copies, a young girl falls down one step due to miss stepping, or a young girl falls down a flight of steps drunk from all night out on the town?
Being in advertising and knowing what sold was always a dangerous walk on a tight rope, your honor lay on which side you jumped off of.
Sintia had mostly just ignored the paparazzi around her, walking through them to her car or work never feeling threatened, she knew that them recording her, snapping her shots paid their bills, so why would they hurt her? They just wanted to get a good juicy story. Yet now things felt different, perhaps it was the thought of Jarred finding out where she was before she had her defense built up, these two bodyguards were the right step forward.
“I know you all have a lot of questions, and somehow with me being treated for the past hour,” She looked down at her wrapped up arm along with every eye and camera in the room. “Things went viral on social media; I’d like to explain what happened so everyone can understand.”
“Who attacked you?”
“Are you suing?”
“When is your court date?”
“Who are you here with?”
“Where is your boyfriend?”
Sintia sighed raising her working hand for silence. “I have the answers, I just need you to give me a chance to speak.” She smiled sweetly; it was the complete opposite of how she currently felt.
Thankfully the smaller crowd quieted down waiting in anticipation for her to continue. “I joined this morning’s hiking tour that this lodge offers up one of the mountains,” She watched them eating up her words and replayed what her lawyer had said carefully trying to keep a neutral expression, she felt exhausted just wanting her bed. “Along the hike I miss stepped on what I thought was a snow-covered rock and slipped when the snow gave way,” The images of what really happened flooded her mind, trying to keep a calm face she swallowed carrying on, “I slipped down the embankment and in my panic stretched my arm out to grab onto something, that something just happened to be a very sharp bit of rocks. The tour guide was by my side in an instant to help me up, and back here giving me the best medical assistance they can, I am very thankful for their fast reaction in assisting me and preventing me from going into shock. I am fine now and just need to get a checkup at the hospital later. Thank you all for your concern.”
Before she had said the last words the crowd broke out in questions.
“So, no one attacked you?”
“What about the mental guy who bit you?”
Most of the questions she had managed to block out till one caught her off guard.
“There is your boyfriend Jarred!”
She was trying to weave through the crowd when the last statement reached her ears causing her to whip around at the person who said it, then all around looking for him, but there were too many faces, panic gripped her.
“Is he here with you or back home?” Another voiced watching her reaction, she closed her eyes a brief moment releasing her breath, realizing the question had been WHERE is and not THERE is Jarred. She raised her hand again to silence them, she was suddenly dangerously dizzy, and all the feeling in her arm was returning with an overwhelming vengeance.
“I’m sure you have many more questions, but as you can see, I am in pain and you are preventing me from getting medication and rest. Please let me do so, I will release more details when I am able.” She said looking sternly into the news crew camera, it was a silent threat that she could hold against them if they kept her there against her will, they knew it and reluctantly let her pass.
After what felt like an eternity, she was finally back at her cabin where Delacourte was waiting with two others carrying steel suitcases, she groaned looking up at him.
“Not that I don’t appreciate all your help, but I really just want to,”
“Miss, this here is Dr. Orlov and his assistant,” Delacourte announced cutting her off. “He is our personal house doctor and here to assist you.” He looked from her eyes to her arm then back.
Relief filled her and she almost wanted to cry from it, she was so tired, so very, very tired. Swallowing the emotions building up she smiled weakly walking with them into the cabin near the main lounge, but the dizziness had her miss judging the steps, had she said hello? Had she greeted the Doctor? The room began to spin.
Delacourte had been watching her since her walk up to the cabin, her skin was pale and she had a tremble running through her he recognized as exhaustion, the woman had lost a lot of blood and the pain on her face had him standing nearer. He would have offered her his arm to lead her in, but from what he so far knew, she would not accept.
Thankfully he had seen the signs of her knees giving in and swooped down to catch her as she fell. He grabbed her by the waist pulling her back into his frame, twisting his body to the side to minimize impact, her head flung back but his left hand caught it buried deep in her thick dark hair while his right held her waist against him. Her eyes opened in alarm staring up at him, he wanted to ask if she was alright, or at least speak a word, but he was momentarily paralyzed by her eyes, seas of green with hazel flakes.
“Your eyes are so intoxicating.” She whispered, he stiffened at the comment.
“I got you.” He whispered reassuring her hooking his right arm under her legs to lift her, carrying her to the lounge where the oblivious doctor and assistant were setting up their equipment.
“What,” She cleared her throat trying again, was she really in a random man’s arms? He felt like a solid rock and hadn’t even strained in picking her up, not that she was a heavy girl, well which girl didn’t think she was heavy, but he was so very warm, “What happened with that couple that was with me on the, umm, tour?”
“Don’t stress yourself over the fine details I got it sorted.” He didn’t though, the couple had magically disappeared, another bloody inconvenience.
“I bet you do.” She sighed as he placed her on the couch and stepped back confused by her behavior, he could have sworn she had been petting his shoulder like he had been her pet cat.
“Yeah?” Delacourte turned then to the Dr, “I’m not sure what the paramedics gave her but,” He stopped looking back at her falling asleep, “But I think it putting her on a trip.”
“Yes, morphine can do that.”
Thankfully his phone rang he stepped back to answer, “Yeah?”
“D get here now, you going to want to see this.” His brother’s voice answered.
“I’ll be there in a few.” He hung up looking back at the doctor, “If you need anything speak to my men stationed outside her door, I’ll be checking in tomorrow.”
“I’m sure we will be fine.” The doctor dismissed him putting on a pair of surgical gloves. Delacourte glanced back one last time at the sleeping women on the couch before leaving.
* * * * *
Delacourte arrived at the warehouse faster than he could recall, most of the drive there had been a blur, his thoughts having him elsewhere. The couple from the tour had taken the commotion at the lodge as their chance to sneak out when he and the manager had rushed out the office to the reception pulling up their details on the screen, their room key had been nearby and a staff member had informed them that they had left in a hurry. They had called the numbers listed under their booking information, but as expected they didn’t answer. The brothers had to assume the worst; this couple had some evidence as to what had happened and were going to blow it up. Delacourte had not given up though, he would track the couple, he had enough eyes at his disposal to pin them down.
Stepping inside the warehouse he saw his brother leaning against one of the Jeeps, going off at someone on the phone, it didn’t take long to pick up that it was another perimeter breach. There had been more and more of late and they couldn’t pinpoint the cause. Why would so many willingly go hiking in such isolated wildlands when it clearly stated private property do not enter? Other labels were on the warning signs too threatening lives or server punishment for those caught, and yet, he could understand an odd handful of people, naughty kids, daredevils looking for a rush or just plain curious, but there were hundreds of late. After thorough perimeter checks were done weekly by their men there was no doubt in his mind something was causing them to willingly cut the fence and enter their land, they just couldn’t understand what.
“Leave it, we got bigger fish.” Vinchenzo tilted his head to the back of the warehouse where a few offices stood, but tucked behind it were soundproof, reinforced iron holding cells made to hold the big, solid, rouge or newly turned wolves. Walking past their staff the brothers headed for one of the cells passing a few of their men near the medic table attending to their wounds, Delacourte rose an eyebrow looking at his brother.
“The new wolf likes to play games.” He smiled, they nodded at the men who returned the gesture in respect before turning back to fixing themselves up. Through the doors, past a few offices, they stopped in front of the first cell to find a man seated resting his head against the back wall.
“Ah, so this is your brother then?” The man asked an amused look in his eyes, Delacourte ignored him facing his brother in question.
“Am I supposed to know him?”
“No, but he had something rather interesting in his pocket.” Vinchenzo pulled out the folded flyer handing it to his brother.
Sick of your life?
Seeking an escape? Tired of the rules?
We are offering YOU a life-changing event!
Stop being governed by those who wish to control you!
First 1000 men to join will be given a test, pass the test and receive 100,000 tax-free, and become one of us!
Join the revolution TODAY!
First meeting to be held at…
He stopped reading crumpling the flyer up in his fist, he knew the location, it was a run-down bar a mile out from one of the main cities, a bar that served more problems than alcohol close to one of their perimeters.
“What the hell is this?” He looked at his brother, “A revolution by who?”
They both turned to the man still seated waiting for an explanation.
“I don’t know, someone must have slipped it into my pocket, could have been anyone.” He said defensively raising his hands in innocence.
“Right, right, because denial solves everything,” Delacourte said flatly stepping nearer to the cell. “Were you at this bar?”
“No, I wasn’t.” The man answered an elevation in his heartrate was picked up and Vinchenzo’s lips pulled into a small smirk.
“Odd you didn’t ask which bar, clearly you know what we talking about.” Delacourte chucked the crumpled-up flyer at him watching it bounce off his chest. “What happened, who did you meet with?”
“Look, I don’t have to answer shit, you wankers have me locked up here against my will for nothing! I could sue you for holding me like this!”
“Wanker?” Vinchenzo snorted looking at his brother “Really? A wanker?” turning back to the man his face now hard, “You can’t even recall how you got into the cell, or who that bloody jacket belongs to.” He pointed to the blood-stained jacket ripped in two on the cell corner floor, Sintia’s jacket.
The man followed his point to the jacket looking at it with confusion.
“Still want to sue us?” Delacourte taunted a spark of amusement in his eyes.
“Why can’t I remember what happened? Was I drugged?”
“Let’s take a few steps back, who did you meet with at the bar?”
“Did you guys drug me?!” Slight hysteria in the man’s voice.
Delacourte sighed pinching the bridge of his nose, “I can’t do this today.” He whispered turning around gritting his teeth.
“Patience,” Vinchenzo whispered back pulling keys out his pocket to unlock the cell door. “No good cop bad cop, just bad on bad, might just help us blow off a bit of steam.” He winked as the lock clicked open. They stepped inside invading the man’s personal space causing him to back up till he was flattening himself up against the wall, looking up at them with terror.
“What you going to do with me?”
“If you answer us, nothing,” Vinchenzo smirked folding his arms legs slightly apart.
“If you don’t, well then it’s a good thing this cell doesn’t have camera footage you can use in court,” Delacourte whispered watching the man scan the room for any sign of technology.
“I know people!”
“You don’t know us.”
“You hurt me you will pay!”
“Yet you tried to hurt someone just recently.”
The man’s eyes darted to the jacket then back at the brothers, “You can’t prove shit!”
“All we need is one swob inside your mouth and it will match the blood on that coat.”
“What?! I didn’t bite nobody!”
“Were you at this bar last night?” Delacourte growled his fists impact shaking the wall slightly near the man’s head.
There was a hesitation in the man’s face then but it was dissolved replaced with an idiot’s bravery or bluff, Delacourte couldn’t decide which when the tattooed, oily-haired, lip ring pieced, beer, and piss smelling slob spat towards Sintia’s jacket.
He knew keeping his cool was needed, this new turn had answers he needed, but sometimes, just sometimes, seeing red was not a gradual rise of rage, sometimes seeing red was as quick as flipping a switch.
A deep growl rumbled from his chest as Delacourte arm snatched the man by his neck slamming up into the wall. Vinchenzo stepped back letting his brother rage, he was sure if the roles were switched, he would have done the same, none spit at the Alexeyev brothers.
“Most days we wouldn’t waste our time picking the brain of a washout like you,” He hissed feeling his canines begin to extend, “But for some reason you look like the missing puzzle piece linked to a world you have no idea existed,” He looked into the mans widened eyes seeing his own grey predatory ones unnaturally illuminated, darkening around the edges, a bit of his wolf coming out. “You either answer me,” His grip tightened around the man’s neck, and he pulled and kicked at Delacourte’s hold for release gasping, but his grip was unyielding. “Or I can end you here and resolve this my way.”
“Ok,” Came the croaking from crushed windpipes, “Ok, I’ll tell you.” He tapped rapidity at Delacourte’s arm till finally released. Delacourte stepped back clicking his neck withdrawing his need to shift looking at his brother, Vinchenzo shrugged slightly amused looking back at the man sitting back down trying to catch his breath.
“I don’t know what the hell you are, but I’ll talk, just don’t, don’t kill me.” He said looking up then away as if slightly frightened.
“Do I need to repeat my question?”
“No, I was at the bar, you would have been there two if you had nothing left!”
“Who did you meet there?”
“I didn’t get their names?”
He shook his head, “No they wore black coats with hoods to hide their faces.”
“Then how did you know it was them?”
“When we arrived, we asked the bartender about the flyer and he told us to take a seat they would be with us soon, we ordered some drinks and true enough they found us, perhaps the bartender told them we were waiting I’m not sure.”
“Yeah, a group of men I work with wanted out as well, driving trucks for a living isn’t all that grand, and the pay is really shitty.”
The brothers looked at each other the possibility of more disorientated werewolves was left unasked for now.
“How many of you?”
“Just five.” The man rubbed at his neck taking in a deep breath before starting his story again. “They pulled us to a quiet booth at the back, and didn’t say much only pointed to a few random spots on the map they wanted us at for the test, I didn’t want us to be split up, they were pointing to secluded parts of the wild up north, you know where the wild is, like where bears are?”
“No, I don’t,” Delacourte said dryly, the man looked at him in confusion unsure how to answer.
“Ignore him, carry on.” Vinchenzo chuckled nudging his brother, the man looked between them then back around the room as if expecting to catch a camera the second time around.
“Anyways, the test was madness, they wanted us to go into the thick miles of endless forest with no weapons, and use nature to track down and capture a wolf, a live freaking wolf! Once we had proof, we were to message the number given to us, our location, and once they came to us, we would be given our cash and be a part of their cult or whatever.”
“Where is your phone?” Vincenzo asked, it hadn’t been handed to him once his men had searched this man, an unease settled in his stomach, something was off about all of this.
“I, I honestly don’t remember.” He replied searching himself turning up nothing.
“I think we found the reason for our perimeter breaches, now we know why the animals keep escaping and people keep disappearing! but why?” Vinchenzo spoke to Delacourte his brows furrowed, “Why our land? who would?” He stooped denying the conclusion he was coming to.
“It can’t be the Balakin,” Delacourte answered seeming to have reached the same.
“It makes sense though if you put it together.”
“it would explain their sudden increase in clan, but no they can’t, this would mean they had met with us as a distraction to... shit.” Delacourte blinked stepping back from the man to his brother, they stared at each other putting all the pieces together bit by horrid bit.
“A, who the Balakin?”
They turned to face the new wolf worried that they had only just found the very tip of the iceberg.
“Did you capture a wolf?” Delacourte tensed fearing the answer.
“look I think I have been more than willing to help but I also have questions,” The man said pointing to the still bloody and torn jacket in the corner, “I mean who’s it is and why is there blood on it?”
“We will fill in all the blanks once you tell us where your story starts hitting them.”
“Are you guys cops? Because I didn’t get the money if that’s what this is about.”
“No we're not cops.”
“Do we look FBI?!”
The man scanned them head to toe then shook his head, “No I suppose you look more like the mafia, with freaky eyes.”
Vinchenzo ginned swallowing his laugh, “Did you capture a wolf?”
“No, I,” He paused frowning as he tried to recall the events. “Wait yes, I saw one, a brown wolf larger than most between the trees, I pulled out my phone to confirm its location and, and,” The man’s face went from confusion to horror in a matter of seconds as he pulled his shirt up grabbing his side touching and feeling his smooth skin.
Realizing that had been where he had been bitten the brothers sighed turning to leave the cell, “So someone is building their army and breaking almost every f*cking rule.”
“Wait where you going?!” The man called out walking up behind them. Delacourte turned to push him back into the cell.
“NO! let me out!” The man said slapping his arm away.
“Stay or ill chain you to the seat!”
The man shoved Delacourte, but he didn’t move back, he grabbed the man’s arms twisting them up threatening to pop them out of the sockets, backing him up to the bench making him sit down.
“Listen to me carefully, you nearly killed someone last night, the blood on that jacket is from a woman you attacked, not from being drugged but from being turned, you don’t remember this yet but it will all come back to you soon so I will not waste my breath trying to explain. If you will not give us any information as to who did this to you then you are useless to me.” With that, he released the pained hold on the man letting him fall back holding his arms close to him.
“I’m, Travis by the way.” He said slowly, submissively.
“Travis, have them call us once you remember what happened to you.”
“What did you mean by turned?”
Sighing Delacourte turned to leave joining his brother waiting at the cell door.
“You can’t leave me like this!”
“Travis!” Delacourte barked halting, “I have had a long, and fucking disappointing day, I would advise you to stop testing my patience, there is none left.” He growled looking over his shoulder at the man.
Travis opened and shut his mouth a few times then looked at the blood-stained jacket then back to them again.
“I, I just want answers.”
“So do we, but they will come to you soon.” With that, the brothers locked the cell door exiting the rooms back to the main warehouse. “Call us when he remembers.”
“Yes sir!” Three guards answered
Climbing back into one Jeep they pulled out finally heading home.
“That didn’t blow off any steam!”
“If we bring home another stag da will have to open a butchery.”
Delacourte laughed as they neared home, despite him feeling more tightly strung than this morning, there was nothing he could do. Everything lately felt like a ticking time bomb and he didn’t have the code to defuse it, he had to just sit and watch the seconds count down.