I rub my temples as we walk out of the meeting. So useless. I don’t understand why we need to keep meeting if they aren’t going to tell us anything. Zander nearly lost his s**t again, as usual. It was probably a good thing that Ash stayed to calm him down. It was amusing seeing them all squirm in their seats as he radiated power.
“Why don’t we take up the offer of the witches?” Ash whispers. Although it probably wasn’t worth whispering, everyone around us would have been able to hear us talking while walking past.
The three of us were huddled around at the top of the stairs of the building. One of our scouts finally found the witches' recent hideout last week; they won’t stay there long, so we need to make a decision quickly if we are to contact them.
I grow uneasy at the mention of them. Something just doesn't sit right with me. I have dealt with them before, and what we are asking, could cost us greatly. We have to be careful about what we agree on, and I worry about what they will ask for in return because they always come back to collect.
“What are you willing to risk? Doing a deal for magic? You and I both know things can get ugly quickly,” I whisper.
We have always been told to be cautious of who to trust and who to have dealings with. Our lessons from Ma and Kylie taught us our bloodline is old and unusual. Usually, hybrids are a mix between humans and wolves, but our bloodline is an odd mix. It is rare because witches are always cautious with who they mate.
There isn’t much to be told about witches. No one knows much of what they do unless taught by them. Even their locations have been hard to track over the years. I only know of three other hybrid bloodlines that have magic, and we are one of the three … unless more has happened over the last fifteen years. There aren’t many around.
“Why don’t we look more into the names Jones gave us a few weeks ago?” Zander asks.
“We have been trying to find out who they are, but so far, we have only found one of the three names, James Lucas. He is a forensic scientist. I'm not exactly sure how he will help us, but Jones gave us his name.”
I nod in agreement. I would rather look into that first before going to the witches.
Ashleigh sighs, looking at both of us. “Fine, I’ll head home with Danni. I have to get things ready for uni next week. I don’t want to be too far behind when we have this little guy,” she smiles as she rubs her belly softly.
Zander smiles softly at her before giving her a quick kiss as Danni appears. I see him and Zander have glazed eyes as they have a private conversation about what we just discussed. Danni nods and moves to help Ashleigh down the stairs. She just rolls her eyes and gives Zander a frustrated look.
After she left with Danni, Zander and I are left at the top of the building.
“Should we head off then? Do you have the address?” I ask, flicking my thumb over my shoulder toward where my car is parked.
Zander stands there looking lost in the direction his mate and beta have disappeared to.
“Huh, yeah, I’ll navigate if you drive,” he mumbles, scrubbing a hand over his face, now looking much more exhausted than he did only a few minutes ago.
I don’t push too hard on the subject, because, honestly, while he may be my cousin-in-law, we don’t exactly have that type of relationship. As much as I would love to know why he is that exhausted, I can only imagine I look the same way, if not worse. Maybe we both have the same reasons for not getting enough sleep at night.
Silence surrounds us as we sit in the car, stuck in traffic, as we head toward the direction of this ‘James Lucas’. I’m curious why Jones gave us his name. I hope he can help with these disappearances if he knows much about tracking and police work.
“She doesn’t want to take any time off,” Zander mumbles after a while.
“Huh?” I frown in confusion, my mind so busy with everything else I have no clue what he’s talking about.
“Ashleigh,” he sighs. “She won’t postpone uni or her Luna duties for the baby, and it’s stressing everyone out. That’s why they are all worried about her.”
I chuckle, and he turns and gives me a frustrated glare.
“You do realise that’s only going to piss her off even more. She is used to working all the time. It’s what comforts her, especially when things are stressful. Personally, I always liked the gym or running patrol, but we all cope in different ways. She has been doing half the beta duties since she was sixteen and training as much as everyone else, plus doing school work on top of that. You guys shouldn’t worry about her. She’ll let people know when she can’t manage.” I shrug, trying to let him know his pack members are probably smothering her if it was anything like this morning.
“Can you talk to her?” he asks, looking a bit desperate. “Eric found his mate last week, so he and Amber are moving into the packhouse. She can help out a lot, and she and Ashleigh are already becoming friendly with each other. I just don’t want anything to happen to the baby. It’s stressful for everyone, and she’s just not listening to me and keeps escaping her guards.”
“Have you tried talking to her?” I groan, not really wanting to get involved in another pack's business, even if it is my cousin.
“Yeah, well, that was this morning’s fight, and you saw how that turned out,” he mumbles.
‘You have arrived at your destination,’ the GPS calls out through the car.
Thank f**k! I did not want to put Ashleigh and Zander’s problems on top of everything else going on. I park the car into the next available parking spot and scramble out as quickly as possible.
The area around us looks like a hospital with a few work buildings linked to it.
“The address says it's building C, floor 10, room 8,” Zander confirms, reading it from his phone.
We start to look around, trying to find the building. There are four buildings, A-D, all identical and surrounding the hospital, which is the only one in a different colour, white and light grey with a red stripe that has the emergency hightailed.
“Here,” I point to the direction of building C and start moving toward it.
Tension rises as we walk. Is it because of everything that has happened or is it simply because we are walking into the unknown?
Being Alphas means nothing on human lands. Our rank has little value to humans, which means we both have to be cautious. We don’t want to make things worse and we don’t want the council to catch us investigating.
I can feel Zander’s aura radiating around us as we get closer to the building. I glance over and see his wolf is somewhat in control. Ace starts to push forward himself, my own aura radiating as well as we enter the building.
A few humans lingering around the entrance are startled at our arrival, as we move towards the elevator that is linked to the rooms we need to go to.
*LAB ROOM 8* is sprawled across the door as we approach, the weary humans that walk past give us uncertain glances, I have no doubt they can feel both of our auras. At this point, Zander’s wolf is nearly completely in control which is bringing Ace to the surface and making him difficult to control.
I knock on the door and wait impatiently. Neither of us want to be here, but we have to, we need to find out what the hell is going on with our packs.
The door opens slightly and a small scrawny looking man appears, shaggy blonde hair shuffled around while wearing jeans and a colored polo shirt with a white lab coat.
He pushes his black-framed glasses up from his face and says in a shaky voice, “Can, can I help you?”
“James Lucas?” Zander asks him.
“Yes,” he lets out nothing more than a squeak this time.
“We were wondering if we could have a moment of your time to discuss some things privately,”
“I’m sorry Mr. Blackwood, Mr Steward, but now’s not a great time,” he mutters trying to close the door on us.
I raise an eyebrow, looking at Zander and back to James Lucas. Amusing. Even the human knows who we are. I know Zander’s thinking the same thing as a small smirk pulls on his lips.
His hand falls on the door knob stopping it from going any further, “It’s actually Alpha, and Jones mentioned you may be of some help with recent events?”
His eyes widened and looked between the two of us before pulling the door open. “Of course, my apologies,” he nodded frantically and stood back, allowing us to enter.
His lab was as one would expect. On one side of the wall, there were three glass cabinets with vials and containers all lined up on the shelves, some had labels and others didn't. Next to the cabinets were two massive glass fridges, that had led lights flickering through, one had a few herbs in it and the other again had plastic and glass containers filled with objects.
In the middle of the room was some sort of laser or saw or something, with a workbench that had a microscope and other bits and bobs, against the back wall with the big open windows were three large computer screens and monitors. On the other wall was a workbench with papers scattered across it and three filing cabinets.
“What would you like to know?” Lucas asks as he closes the door behind him.
Good, he’s getting straight to the point. I don’t need any more of this bullshit dance that we have been getting lately.
“Anything and everything you have,” Zander demands. I watch silently as Lucas moves around his lab, collecting different things. I don’t know if he’s cleaning up or if it’s related to the events.
Lucas brings a small vial filled with an amber-coloured liquid. He takes the little cork stopper out and holds it in front of us with a clipboard under his arm.
“Do you know what this is?” he asks, holding out the vile.
The foul stench of wolfsbane rose in the air around us, making me jerk back automatically. Zander let out a growl as his wolf pushed through, nearly taking over completely.
“Wolfsbane” I grunt, holding my breath until he puts the cork back in the vial.
Lucas nods. “I’ve been tasked to recreate the wolfsbane poison that was used on your mate. So far I was able to identify the variant of wolfsbane but the poison will take some time to identify and accurately recreate. What’s interesting about this modified wolfsbane is that it not only binds well with the poison, it also seems to not have any effect on the wolf carrying it before it is administered on the victim.”
“How is that even possible?” Zander grunts, his eyes flickering between him and his wolf. I just hoped he wouldn’t lose control here.
Lucas shrugs, “Magic is possible, but honestly, they would need a very experienced chemist to understand both sides of magic and herbs, which isn’t hard given a lot of the witches use herbs, amongst many other things, for their potions. But the hard part would be to have the funding and the lab to be able to create the mix. I’d doubt anyone with a correct license will risk such a deadly thing, yet who knows these days.”
“Do you mind putting that thing away so our wolves don’t take over,” I mumbled, struggling to keep Ace at bay, I can feel him clawing at the bit to be let free of the threat. Even though it is a small threat that is contained, it’s still a treat in his eyes.
Lucas looks up at us both with wide eyes. I assume he saw our eyes flicker as we both struggle to regain control. He quickly shuffles back to the fridge, where he puts it under lock and key.
“My apologies,” he staggers, moving back toward his workbench, putting some distance between him and us.
“These were the files I was given on the rogues. You can go through them and see if you notice anything I missed.”
He passes two manilla folders to us, one named *Rogue one, s*x: male, Age: 32* and the second *Rogue two, s*x: male, Age: 26*.
“There are more, but these are the recent ones and with the most information.”
“You were able to determine their age?” I ask curiously as I flick through the paperwork that was mostly filled with mumbo jumbo in my eyes.
“We were able to determine a few things. You can do a lot with just a blood test and a few other exams. We can narrow down many different things even when they are deceased,” he nods.
“The samples we gathered from their skin tell us where they have been recent. The stomach content, which I was provided by the police and council members, tells us what they ate and the last type of medication they had that made them go s**t crazy and do what they did.”
A low growl escaped me. Ace has had enough of everyone trying to defend these assholes. We wanted justice for the kids that died, and the council wasn’t giving that to our packs. If it was any of the humans, the government will have to step in, but the fact it was all supernatural beings that were killed it is up to the council to continue investigations.
“Are you telling me what they did is justified because they were under the influence?” I snarled. “Innocent kids died, ones who had no hope against a full-grown adult wolf, and others were put in the hospital for days.”
“No, no I’m not saying that,” he says, shaking his head and quickly deflecting. “What I mean is even with the amount of medication they ingested they still would have been aware of what was going on. With the wolfsbane and poison, they were able to carry as well as the medication, it just seems a lot for one wolf to be able to handle. Even a wolf with ranked blood shouldn’t have been able to shift or have any sort of function with their wolf, from my understanding of how it all works. That's why I believe that powerful magic is at play here, to help mask the wolfsbane and poison in their system.”
“Yes, I agree, it has to be someone powerful enough and willing to do a lot of deals for using magic,” I murmur as Ace tries to settle down. I glanced over at Zander because he had been awfully quiet. I was surprised that he didn’t say anything since Ash landed in the hospital because of these bastards.
He was staring at one of the photos at the back of the folder. It had the rouge's leg on it with a small teardrop-like symbol on the ankle. I frowned at the image and flicked through the back to find the photos on my file, I couldn't see anything similar, but there was a photo with the same symbol, only with this one it was on the shoulder and had three dots in the middle like the start of a pyramid.
I nudged Zander and showed him the image. He nodded, visibly stiffened, and quickly shut the folder.
“Thank you for your time. Please contact me or my Beta if you find anything else,” Zander says, passing the folders back to Lucas before abruptly heading out.
I quickly do the same and jog to catch up to him.
“Care to explain?” I ask as we push the glass doors open.
“Not here,” he snaps, shaking his head before pulling out his phone and calling Danni.
“Send me her last location,” he snaps on the phone.
“Umm, you mean?” I hear Danni cautiously ask.
“Yes, you know exactly who I mean. I asked for two people to be keeping an eye on her at all times to make sure she doesn’t get up to any more s**t. I also asked for her to be out of the city, but that hasn’t happened, has it,” he snarled.
“Ahh, about that, we lost her a few weeks ago. Nothing happened so we just thought it would be fine,’ Danni mumbles softly.
“Find her now!” he yells, hanging up and slamming the car door closed.
He starts shaking violently. He and his wolf struggle for control. I sit quietly, just waiting. Anywhere else, we would just shift and allow our wolf to run, but we are on human lands so we have to practice restraint.
After a few minutes, Zander finally calms down. I start the car and head in the direction of his pack.
“She was a part of it,” he snarls as we reach the border of his pack.
I frown, confused about who he’s talking about.
“Grace, she has the same symbol, only it has one dot in the middle. I should have f*****g known something was up,” he snarled as he grabbed at his hair in frustration.
Surprise flows through me. Sure she was obsessed with him, but I thought it was just one of those normal fan-girl things.
“And you've been keeping tabs on her?” I ask, slightly pissed off. He hurt Ash in the worst way possible with that girl, and yes, they worked it out, but I was still pissed off she chose to be with him after everything. Much as I hate to admit it, I missed her being my Beta.
“Only for security reasons, which should have been tightened now I know she has been a part of this f*****g thing,” he growls, knowing exactly what I was getting at.
“You know Ash is going to be pissed off right?” I mumble, pulling up to his pack house.
“I know,” He sighs, scrubbing a hand over his face. “I’ll talk to her about it, and you will have to come with me, so she will trust that everything will be okay. With baby hormones and everything going on, I don't want her stressing out.”
“Are you staying here tonight or heading back to your own pack?” he asks before opening the door.
Lately, when things get too rough at home I’ve just been crashing here, which is somewhat surprising in itself but I’m thankful Ash offered, much to Zander's annoyance. I didn’t particularly want to hang around my own place half the time these days, and I know it pisses off dad even more when I stay in Charwood. Part of me enjoys it a little bit more than I probably should when I stay in the one place he despises so much.
“I might head home again tonight, I’ll let you or Ash know if anything changes,” I mumble.
He nods in understanding before heading into his own home.
It's funny how things have flipped in the last few months. He used to be the one in my position … strained his family relationships, and was frustrated with pack issues. Lately, it’s all been me. I can’t help but feel a little jealous that it’s all worked out, I just hope it will one day for me, too.