Adam walked through the fair, occasionally stopping to play one of the games so as not to draw attention to himself. Stasya was doing the same thing, while Patrick waited in the car playing mission control. Patrick almost couldn’t help but look threatening, and the last thing they needed was some hysterical parent wondering what he was doing there by himself.
The blue haired girl finished dunking the younger cop, and walked away giggling. He debated approaching her directly, maybe flirting and seeing if he could get her number. Might help with the information gathering. Or better yet, maybe she’d see through him and tip off the others. Shit, the last thing he wanted to deal with right now is Wren deciding she needed to be jealous. Fewer people got hurt, the better, and there was still a chance he could keep her and the old man out of things entirely.
Kidnapping a pregnant thirteen-year-old was risky in many ways. Fortunately, it had been fairly simple to convince Wren they’d be better off just wait until the kid had been born and snatch it. It wasn’t like they could actually keep him out of a room, and worst case scenario he could always shape shift into a stork or something.
That just left Stephan and Ash, both of whom Sima wanted. The fact that Sima’s motives were clearly vengeful didn’t bode well for their intended fate. He stopped at the center’s booth, smiling as he let Magda tell him about the center before dropping a hundred dollar bill into the donation case. Sima didn’t care about Stephan beyond the fact killing him would hurt Magda, and she was too much of a coward to go after Magda herself.
He joined Stasya near the entrance to the church’s garden. “Baby Bear. Thoughts?”
“The guy Sima wants…” He jerked his head up at the church. “Is in there, but he isn’t alone.”
“Near as I can tell, he is never alone. They are very protective of him.” She nodded. “Girl is never alone either. The ex-cop might limp, but he carries two guns and probably can use them.”
“His cane is a weapon as well. Tazer. Strong one.” Adam frowned. “But he’s often one of the people looking after Ash. Could take the two of them together.”
“Put gun to Ash, Stephan puts his gun down.” Stasya frowned. “Then what? Tip off other werewolf and let her deal with Sima?”
“That’s not a bad plan.” Adam nodded. It was possible without Sima’s influence, Wren would… He needed to stop thinking like that. “She took out an alpha, and her son is an alpha. We could sit back, make some popcorn, let nature take it’s course.”
“Would prevent her death from being traced to us. We were obeying her orders. Not our fault she was blinded by lust.” Stasya smirked, then shrugged. “Leaves baby matter.”
“That’s an issue.” Adam exhaled. “We’ve ruled out a lot of things William’s isn’t, but we still have no idea what he is. And you ruled out a honey-pot idea.”
“Old man is very lucky man.” Stasya nodded. “I stopped by his booth. Shook his hand. You know he —”
“Nope.” Adam shook his head. “Still don’t want to hear details.”
“Williams is very flexible.” Stasya smiled dreamily.
“You are such a pervert.”
Wren smiled when Adam entered the hotel room. “Hey love.” She greeted him with a kiss. “Tricky with our current setup, but I got the bullets you asked for.” She handed him a bag.
“You’re wonderful.” He tucked them into his pocket, then leaned forward to kiss her again.
She began unbuttoning his shirt, then shrugged and simply ripped it open before tackling him onto the bed. She pinned his wrists, then smiled down at him. “Just the two of us for a couple hours. However will we fill the time?”
“Cards?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Strip poker?” She giggled before kissing him again.
“You always get angry when you lose.” He smiled before nuzzling her neck.
“Better not take the chance then.” She let go of his wrists, then made a purring sound as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her down beside him. His clever hands certainly did know where to find her sensitive places. He had her panting in only a few moments. “My sweet Adam.”
“Wren…” He kissed her neck, his lips brushing against her ear. “Je préférerais ne pas t’aimer.”
“Mmmm…” She purred. “I love it when you speak French.” She reached a hand into the waistband of his pants and fondled him. “Say it again.”
“Je préférerais ne pas t’aimer.”
“Oh Adam…” She kissed him. “I love you too.”
Almost three days passed before the first real opportunity presented itself. From what they’d picked up, the doctor was starting to be concerned about Anna being overdue and her body not actually being capable of natural labor. The group split up, with the two cops heading into work, Ted and Laura heading to the center, and Daniel accompanying the two werewolves to Anna’s medical appointment. Leaving Stephan and Ash alone at the house.
Patrick slung the sniper rifle over his shoulder. “I found a good vantage point. I can cover the house and the road.”
“Good chance we can do this without any actual need for violence.” Adam took a deep breath. “Rather minimize pissing off two werewolves and whatever the hell Williams is.”
“You are indestructible.” Stasya ruffled his hair.
“You’re not.” He smiled at her.
“You two get going.” Patrick nodded to them before heading up to take his position. “Keep the channel open.”
They walked down to the edge of the lake, pretending to be simple hikers. Their guns were concealed, though loaded with silver bullets just in case. “Don’t forget about the cane, Mama Bear.” Adam smiled at Stasya, keeping his face friendly.
“Is not as though I haven’t been doing this before you were born, Baby Bear.” Stasya chuckled.
“Just remember I can’t shift when this guy is around, so…” He shrugged. Sima might want to kill the guy, but he was pretty sure the Cabal learning about that trick would be enough to keep the man alive until the werewolves could kill the shit out of Sima.
“I hate giving up advantage.” She shook her head. “Sima claimed Ash would not fight?”
“Sima’s an idiot.” Adam rolled his eyes. “A dangerous idiot, but an idiot.” He shrugged. They were coming within earshot. “You know they found a little hole in the wall of the girl’s locker room.”
“Did they?” She gave him a confused look.
“Police are looking into it now.” He kept walking.
“I will throw you into lake.”
“What do snowmen do in their free time.”
“If you say just chill, I will punch you.”
“What lies on the ocean floor and twitches uncontrollably?”
Stasya threw up her hands in frustration, then grinned up at the two men on the dock. “You hear this? Three miles now. If I kill him, will you help me hide body?”
“Sure that isn’t an —” The black man, Stephan, started to smile.
“A nervous wreck,” Adam proclaimed.
“On second thought, I think you’ve got a pretty good case for justifiable homicide.” He looked down at the younger man sitting next to him on the dock. Ash looked nervous, but smiled.
“Do you know how they make holy water?” Adam raised an eyebrow. Stasya groaned and Stephan winced. “They boil the hell out of it.”
“You have shovel?” Stasya sighed. “Maybe chain —” She tilted her head, then went up on her toes as if shading her eyes to look at something. The moment Stephan turned around to see, they both drew their weapons. Ash’s eyes went wide, and he made a whimpering sound. Immediately Stephan turned back around and froze in place. “Don’t move.” Stasya narrowed her eyes. “Put hands out where we can see them. You know the drill.”
“I’m not sure…” Stephan spread his hands.
“They must have forgotten something.” Patrick’s voice came over the radio. “They’re on their way back.”
“You two probably want to clear out before that car gets here.” Stephan nodded.
“Shoot whoever is riding shotgun.” Adam ordered. Silver wasn’t the best metal for sniper rounds, but a shot to the midsection would keep a werewolf down long enough for them to get clear.
Stephan flinched and Ash put his hands over his ears at the sound of the rifle crack. Ash started whimpering. “You people…” Stephan narrowed his eyes.
“Hands behind back.” Stasya shrugged, motioning a little with the tip of her gun. Adam moved in to secure Stephan’s hands.
“Get moving, that’s not clearly not going to slow them long.” Patrick’s voice came over the radio.
Immediately Stephan moved, driving the back of his head into the bridge of Adam’s nose before shifting to try to put Adam between himself and Stasya. “Ash, the lake.”
Compared to the pain of shape shifting, a broken nose barely registered. Adam twisted and caught Stephan’s throat before dropping the man to the ground. Rather than dive into the lake, Ash jumped onto Adam’s back and tried putting an arm around his throat. Stephan started to get up only for Stasya to catch him in the head with a kick. The man dropped. Ash let out a pained cry as Adam twisted himself free and wrenched Ash’s arm up behind his back, holding him in place despite the other man trying to get to his friend.
Stasya aimed her gun dead center on Stephan’s head. “You want me shoot?”
Ash stopped moving and just made a small whimpering sound.
“Guys…” Patrick’s voice sounded early. “Big guy is moving and I do not have line of sight.”
“You come quietly…” Adam caught a handful of Ash’s hair and pulled his head back. “We’ll leave your friend here. Alive.” They couldn’t carry an unconscious man out fast enough to avoid incoming werewolves anyway. “Fuss, and we’ll kill him and drag you along anyway. You understand me?” Ash made a whining sound before nodding. “Move.”
The guy started fighting again as soon as they were some distance from his wounded friend. He tried sinking his teeth into Adam’s hand and pulling free. But then again, they were out of range of the witch so… Adam shifted. Ash hit the ground as the massive snake coiled around him, holding him tightly. Stasya grabbed his hands and cuffed them behind his back, then grabbed Adam’s clothes. Adam shifted form again, going from snake to massive dog. He snarled Ash, who went wide eyed and silent. “Get moving.” Stasya yanked Ash’s arm, and the young man followed.
Patrick pulled the car up, and Stasya shoved Ash into the back seat. Adam did a quick shift into an insect, the returned to human form in the passenger seat. He grabbed his pants from Stasya as Patrick started driving. “Healer got the wolf back up way faster than anticipated. Knocked himself out doing it though, as near as I could tell, but the woman was smart enough to get the car under cover. Didn’t want to risk hitting the girl.”
“Right call.” Adam nodded. “Other one was always a risk, considering his power.” He glanced over his shoulder. Ash has curled himself into a little ball, clearly terrified. He couldn’t help but feel just a little sorry for the guy. Couldn’t exactly reassure him though, not without risking tipping Sima off and there was no guarantee the guy wasn’t going to get hurt.
A short way into town, Patrick pulled over and let Stasya out. She immediately hailed a taxi to go back the hotel. They’d been there a while now, left their scent all over the place. With two werewolves now pissed off and after them, it was time to find a new hideout. Preferably one with fewer angles of approach.
Getting their captive through Wren’s hotel was easy enough. They just tied the guy’s ankles together, shoved a gag into his mouth, and tucked him into a suitcase with a warning that if he made any noise they’d leave him in there. Then, as Sima had instructed, Adam narrowed his eyes and stared directly into Ash’s. “You need to be quiet, Ash. Talking is against the rules.” The effect of the words on Ash were almost chilling. He went pale, still, and silent. For a moment, Adam was worried the guy had actually stopped breathing. He zipped up the case, and started moving.
Wren couldn’t help but smile. Sima was all but cooing over the return of her pet. She couldn’t blame the woman. He was a very attractive young man. Sima had stripped him out of his clothes within moments of getting him out of the case, and fastened a dog collar around his neck. She left his hands cuffed behind his back though. It took a few moments of Sima petting him for the young man to start smiling up at her. The sight was almost enough to improve her own mood. Adam had been keeping secrets from her.
Adam and his teammate, Patrick, were waiting in the other room of the suite. “What happened to the other one?” Wren raised an eyebrow.
“He put up a fight, got knocked out.” Adam shook his head. “We got unlucky and the werewolves were on their way back. Bringing him would have slowed us too much.” He shrugged. “Figured getting out clear with one was the better option.”
“Isn’t that why you got silver bullets?” Wren narrowed her eyes.
“You wanted us not to draw attention, Wren.” Adam frowned. “Bodies start piling up with silver bullets in them, especially when some of them turn out to be cops, attention is going to be paid.”
“Not like we won’t get a second shot.” Patrick nodded. “They’re going to be scrambling, looking for that one.”
“We were planning on switching locations today anyway.” Wren tilted her head. “Wasn’t there a woman with you?”
“She’s covering our trail.” Adam shrugged.
“Wise.” Sima stepped out of the other room and closed the door behind her, then made a clucking sound. “They have clearly been teaching him bad habits. One does have to be careful about whom they allow to influence their pets.”
“On that we agree.” Wren frowned. It was in part her own fault. She’d neglected him back in France, left him on his own too much. After being isolated for so long with Renee, he’d needed a firm hand and she hadn’t provided it. There was still hope though. His behavior when it was just the two of them had proved that. Adam was still hers. She just had to ensure it stayed that way. “Adam, is there a reason you didn’t tell me that our cops were actively involved with our primary targets?”
Adam blinked. “You saw the pictures from the morgue.”
“A meeting you apparently didn’t know about.” Wren folded her arms. “Patrick, how long have you worked with the Cabal?”
Patrick shrugged. “Nineteen years, ma’am.”
“And in nineteen years, you never learned how to properly tail a man?”
“It’s a small team, ma’am, with multiple people to be followed. We had to…”
“Are you saying you didn’t know they were working together at the point you learned of the meeting at the morgue?”
“Yes, ma’am, I…”
“He’s lying.” Sima’s voice was quiet.
She saw Adam’s eyes widen as he turned toward the wolf. Then he immediately turned back toward Wren. “Wren, we’ve got what we came here for. They are scheduling the girl for a c-section. We can grab the kid and get out. All this cloak and dagger bullshit is distracting us from our primary —” He cut off as she reached through the talisman and took hold of him.
“Patrick…” Wren’s voice went cold. “Your record shows that you are a world-class sniper, and you are equipped with a fine rifle heavily modified to suit your exact specifications. You are capable of hitting a target the size of an apple at a thousand meters, are you not?”
“When you fired on Matthias, were you shooting to kill?”
“Yes, Ma’am, I was…”
“He’s lying.” Sima nodded to her.
The link she’d activated between them was in play. She could feel that as readily as Sima could. “You are, Patrick. You’re lying to us.”
Her magic kept him firmly in place, unable to so much as speak. He could see Sima, her expression smug as she looked back at him. A cold sense of dread was rising. Wren, Wren you don’t understand. Let me talk, I can explain. Wren, it’s me. It’s Adam. I need you to listen to me. Wren, please.
“Nineteen years, Patrick.” Wren shook her head. “Are you really intending to betray us?”
He felt sick. If Patrick lied, they’d know, and if he told the truth… He wasn’t betraying the Cabal. Just Wren. For him. Patrick was betraying Wren, for him.
Patrick raised his head then, and looked Wren dead in the eye. And he knew Patrick knew what was happening here. “Yeah, you psycho bitch.” Patrick nodded. “I am.”
The order came. He felt it, felt his body start to shift. He wanted to say he was sorry, that he didn’t have any choice. As he turned, he saw Patrick nod to him. Patrick knew that part too, that it wasn’t really him, that he’d never…
Then he was moving. Patrick closed his eyes. He snarled with rage as the tiger started to tear apart the best friend he’d ever had.