Magda gave a frustrated growl and banged her hand on the steering wheel. She’d left the paperwork on her desk at him. Dammit, and Stephan’s girl was bringing him dinner. She really didn’t want to interrupt her partner’s date. He’d accepted the restrictions she’d put on him readily enough. He’d accepted all of it readily enough. It was nice, having a person she could rely on. She spun the wheel and started heading to her house. Maybe she could sneak in and grab it without him even noticing.
Lisa finished writing on his cast, then set the marker back down. He looked amused. “For a good time call…” He rolled his eyes. “Funny. You know I’m going to have to cover that if I go to the station, or every cop in town is going to call you.”
“Any of them as cute as you?” She leaned forward, kissing him hungrily. It was tempting to haul him upstairs, fuck him right on the bitch’s bed. If he’d been dating the wolf, she wouldn’t have been able to resist. She couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with the other wolf, if she could keep her hands off such a prime morsel. Her hand began undoing the buttons of his shirt.
“Not a one.” He started to shift toward her, and then winced. “Dammit.”
“What’s wrong?” She gave him a concerned look.
“I’ve got about fifty stitches in my leg.” Stephan shook his head. “Another ten in my shoulder. And fourteen in my arm.”
“Oh, you poor dear.” Lisa put her arms around his neck. “Want me to kiss it and make it better?” She smiled and put her leg over his uninjured one as she heard a car pull into the driveway. Well, this should be fun.
She caught the scent as soon as she opened her car door. No. Magda ran for the house, her hand on her gun. She opened the door to see Stephan sitting on the couch, with a lovely brunette woman draped around him. He gave her a startled look, and then went still as he took in the look on her face. He glanced at the woman next to him, who was smiling at Magda, and she saw realization come to his face. Stephan met her eyes and gave her an apologetic look.
“Hey, bitch.” The woman grinned. She patted Stephan’s shoulder, then shrugged. “Sit. Let’s talk.”
There was no way she could close the distance or shoot without the other wolf using Stephan as a shield. With his injuries he’d have been hard pressed to defend himself against a human in this situation, let alone a wolf. Magda moved to the chair. “Lisa, I presume?”
“You’re older than I was expecting.” Lisa tilted her head. “I figured you for some young thing. Fresh blood. She chuckled. “Cards on the table. My pack suffered some recent attrition. I’m looking for new blood. Interested?”
Keep her talking, find an opening. “How’s the health plan?”
“Pretty good, actually. We’ve even got dental.” Lisa showed her teeth, revealing fangs. “We’re thinking of going south for the winter. Maybe stake out some territory. Could use an experienced fighter.” Lisa tightened her hand on Stephan’s shoulder, making him wince.
“You’re the alpha, then?” Magda raised an eyebrow. If she was the alpha, then even though she looked young it wouldn’t be wise to underestimate her. Alphas were almost a breed apart.
“Yes.” Lisa showed her fangs again, then glanced at Stephan. “He’s scared but not confused. He knows the score, then?”
“Useful having a partner in the loop. He can cover for me.” If she could play along, convince her Stephan was too useful to harm, maybe they could get to where they were holding Ash.
Lisa chuckled. “And he’s not exactly hard on the eyes.” She frowned, then shifted a little until she was no longer actually sitting atop Stephan. “Unfortunately for him, I need some kind of proof of your sincerity.” She rose smoothly, hauling Stephan up with her. Then she shoved him down to his knees, one hand still on the back of his neck. “So, kill him, and we’ll be on our way.”
“He’s far to useful alive for me to agree to that.” Magda shook her head. “It would take time to find someone suitable to replace them, let alone get them trained.”
“God, what is it with you people and your pets?” Lisa rolled her eyes.
Stephan looked up at Magda. Then he winked. She noted he was holding his cane. It was a long shot. Even if his arm wasn’t broken she doubted he’d be able to hit the Alpha hard enough from that angle to do any damage. But maybe enough to make for a momentary distraction. She rose. “They have their uses.” She winked back at Stephan.
He didn’t swing the cane. He just pushed it a little so it was touching Lisa’s foot. The alpha wolf suddenly let out a shriek of pain and jerked away from him. Magda leapt, tackling her to the ground and driving her fist into the woman’s face. She felt bone break. The woman growled and flung Magda away. Magda rolled back to her feet, gun in hand. Behind her Stephan had his own gun, also aimed at the alpha. Lisa snarled. “You know that won’t kill me.”
“Maybe not.” Magda shook her head. “But it’ll slow you the fuck down, and then I will.”
Lisa came up. Instead of going for Magda, she crashed through the back window. She glanced over her shoulder. “Stephan?”
“I’m fine, go.”
Magda leapt out the window after her.
Ash worried the blue bone with his teeth. Mistress was pacing. He tilted his head at her a little. The Alpha had gone somewhere, and Mistress was concerned. Ash picked up the bone and went over to her. He whined up at her. Mistress bent slightly to pet him. He pushed his head up into her hand, rubbing himself against her, and she smiled. “That’s a good boy.”
He was a good boy. Ash smiled up at her. He squeaked the toy, and Mistress grabbed it. He tugged it back, and she laughed delightedly.
The alpha was growling when she returned. Sima raised an eyebrow. “Lisa?”
“That bitch…” Lisa shook her head. “Will not be joining the pack.” Lisa flexed her fingers, letting her claws slide in and out. “I’m going to enjoy hunting her.” She took a deep breath. “That asshole fucking tazed me.”
Sima blinked. “She tazed you?”
“Not her. Her little pet.” Lisa snarled. “I was just going to kill him, but now I think I’ll let you work on him.” Lisa showed fangs. “He can be my little pet.”
“I lost her. She went into the mall, mingled, then got into another car.” Magda sighed. “Couldn’t isolate the scent to track it.”
“So, she planned ahead.” Stephan sighed. Then he shrugged. “I called my cousin to come fix your window. Told him I stumbled and knocked your lamp through it. He’ll be out in the morning.”
Magda gave him a concerned look. “Are you alright?”
“My partner is a werewolf. My now very much ex-girlfriend is a werewolf.” He shook his head. “I’ve been dating a werewolf for three months. I’ve been partners with a werewolf for six years. I slept with a damn werewolf. More than once. I regularly go out for a beer with a werewolf.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I fucking suck as a detective.”
She laughed. She couldn’t quite help herself. “You may have a point there. But I meant are you damaged?”
“Just my pride and masculinity. And a couple stitches, not enough to be worth going back to the hospital for.” Stephan sighed. “I never figured myself for playing the damsel in distress role.”
“Well, you did good. You didn’t swoon or any…” She frowned. “Okay, I’m not entirely sure what happened there. Your cane is a tazer?”
“Yep.” He tossed it in the air, twirled it, and set it back down. “Bought it at that sci-fi convention last year that you gave me shit for attending.” He shrugged. “I think it may now qualify as the best hundred bucks I ever spent.”
“You are such a nerd.” She smiled as she headed into the kitchen. “You know those are illegal, right?”
“You want me to get you one?” He raised an eyebrow.
“I…” She sighed, then rubbed her forehead before shrugging. “Yes.” She took a couple deep breaths. Then she turned, walked back to the living room, and threw her arms around him.
“Shut up.” She hugged him tightly.
“Yes, ma’am.” He hugged her back.
“What does her being an alpha mean?” Stephan raised an eyebrow at her.
“For one, it means she’s going to be stronger and faster than I am.” Magda took a sip from her tea. “Since when a pack forms the alpha almost always leads, the terms get kind of mingled. We’re all werewolves, but there are some variations. My last husband and my son were both alphas. I’m…” She shrugged. “Guess you’d call me a beta. An ordinary, for want of a better term, werewolf. Most are like me. You can only get an alpha when both parents are wolves.”
“And the third kind?” He poured himself another cup of the tea.
“Rare. They call themselves witch-wolves. They are weaker on the physical side, but they have what…” She shook her head. “What used to be called ‘the gift’. Additional powers of some sort. The last one I knew could make plants grow.” She smiled a little. “Siri. She was a member of my husband’s pack, and had raised him.” Her smile became sad. “A good friend. If she hadn’t…” She sighed.
“Talk to me, Mags.” Stephan smiled at her.
“Jarl lead the pack, but Siri held us together. She was old, and not like I am.” Magda sat back in her chair. “She couldn’t tell me how old she was, exactly, because she predated the calendar system.” She looked up at Stephan. “Not Gregorian. Julian.”
“Witch-wolves do, baring attrition, live longer than other wolves. Just like humans with the gift lived longer than ordinary humans. But just as there are fewer humans with the gift, witch-wolves have become rarer as well.” Magda stirred her tea. “It was World War One. We were often soldiers and…” She took a deep breath. “Siri tried to help some wounded men, and ordinance exploded almost on top of her. Jarl was furious and threw himself into the battle. He got himself killed less than a year later, and the pack fell apart. I took my son and we left Europe for the US.” She sipped the tea. “I didn’t realize how much anger he still had. World War Two rolled around, and he put on a uniform. War after war, and…” She set her cup back down. “Somewhere along the way I lost him too.”
“I wish I knew what to say.” Stephan shook his head. “I mean, all you’ve seen, all the…” He looked down at his tea. “And you’re a cop. Four hundred years of being around humans, and you’re still protecting us.” He met her eyes, and smiled. “Thank you.”
Magda blinked back tears, then took a deep breath. “Alright. If we’re going to defeat these bitches, we’re going to need a plan.”
“Well, I know how we can get their attention.” Stephan shrugged, then held up his cast. “Pretty sure she was going to kill me and this was intended to be a taunt to you.”
She narrowed her eyes. “For a good time call…” She growled. “That bitch cannot be serious.”
Lisa glanced down as her phone rang. She smirked at the number that popped up. “Stephan, sweetie, how are you doing?”
“You asked my partner to kill me.” His voice came over the other end. “I feel like I’m getting some mixed signals here.”
She laughed. “It was nothing personal.”
“No, no, I got that much. I just want you to know, the payback wasn’t personal either.”
“What payback?” Lisa frowned.
“I froze all your accounts.”
“Stephan, baby…” Lisa narrowed her eyes. “You have no idea the things I am going to do to you.”
“Bring it, bitch.” Stephan’s voice sounded amused. “I enjoyed listening to you scream.”
“You…” She blinked, and stared down at the phone before looking up at where Sima was staring at her. “He hung up on me.” She looked down at the phone again and then smiled. “I like that boy.”
Ash lay curled under Mistress’s bed, listening. The other wolf was Magda Gunnarson. Magda was a werewolf. He frowned, then yelped as the Alpha grabbed his collar and hauled him out. He whimpered when the Alpha looked down at him. The Alpha smiled, then let him go. He went back to all fours, kneeling at her feet. “How’d you like another puppy to play with, Ash?”
His eyes widened. He nodded and whined up at her. It would be nice to have someone to play with. The Alpha patted his head, and he wiggled with happiness. The Alpha was pleased with him.
“You do know…”
“That if this doesn’t work she’s going to kill me?” Stephan nodded. “Mags, at this point, I’m pretty sure she’s going to kill me anyway, so the only chance I have is to help you get her first.”
“Actually…” Magda took a deep breath. “I meant if anyone finds out about the account freeze you’re going to be in a lot of trouble at work.”
“If we get Ash back, it won’t be a problem.” Stephan shrugged. “Well, it will be, but it’s the kind of problem they’ll sweep under a rug and just give me the shaming finger for.”
“Here.” She slid a piece of paper to him.
“What’s this?” He picked it up.
“Swiss bank account codes. If I don’t make it, you need to run. Leave the country.”
“Mags…” He started shaking his head.
“Stephan…” She caught his hand. “You’re my best friend. If this goes bad, you take the fucking money and run.”
“Promise, or I swear I will knock you out and put you on a damn plane right now.”
“You’re my best friend too, Mags.” His smile trembled a little as he tightened his fingers around her hand. “Please don’t make me have to keep that promise.”