Hunting: Chapter 21

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“Why didn’t you stop his escape?”  Wren glared at Adam.

“That wasn’t the mission I was given.”  Adam shook his head.

She fought the urge to take control of his mind, to make him crawl toward her and beg forgiveness.  “Sima’s pissed.”

“She was already on the phone to Giroux, telling him her version of what happened.”  Adam shrugged.

Wren froze.  “What do you mean?”

“Sima hasn’t been paid yet, Wren.  Giroux finds out Sima diverted resources over a pet, he’s going to be annoyed.  She’s got to downplay it, or spread the blame or something.”  Adam sighed.  “She’s probably going to say it was my fault or something.  I just hope Giroux doesn’t decide that makes it your fault.

“She wouldn’t…”  Wren narrowed her eyes.

“I hope so.”  Adam shook his head.  “I really don’t want to end up her pet.  Especially now that she knows about the talisman.”

Her fingers clutched the ring around her neck.  That’s right.  Sima knew.  And Sima had expressed an interest in Adam and…  She frowned.  And Sima had blown the mission by not letting Adam go into the field.  Adam could have killed the alpha and…  Giroux had known Sima a long time.  Surely he’d know…  Except he didn’t know Wren herself.  “There has to be a way to salvage this.”

“He lost a lot of people, and stands to lose the rest if they don’t get moving soon.”

“You can still kill Matthias.”  She nodded.

“I could.”  Adam folded his arms.  “Be a waste of time though.”

“You should keep a civil tongue when addressing —”

“My mistress?”  He had the nerve to smirk at her.  “Or what, Wren?”

“You know ‘or what’.”  She clenched her fists.

“You could break me.”  He met her eyes.  “Turn me into your pet.  You see how well that game worked for Sima.  But ask yourself something, Wren…”  He straightened.  “What good to anyone is a broken weapon?”  He shook his head.  “You’re a witch.  You’ve got me.  Nobody can do what I can do.  Giroux isn’t an idiot, Wren.  If you can manage not to be one as well, you can still come out on top of this.”

For a moment she just stood there, staring at him.  “I could…”  His gaze didn’t waver.  “You’re still mine.  Don’t forget that.”

“I’m well aware.”  He shrugged.  “Suggest you get to the airport, and use your magic to get the retreat going.  Giroux is going to be annoyed if he loses anymore guys.”

“Fine.”  She jabbed a finger into his chest.  “But when I’m done, you, me, and Sima’s little truth ability are going to have a long talk.”

“Looking forward to it.”  He sat down as she headed for the door.  And to her irritation, he just turned on the TV like he hadn’t a care in the world.

#

Stephan held Ash tightly in his lap as they both sat in the wheelchair.  Magda’s arms encircled them both, and he could feel her shaking a little.  Ash has been excited to see them, and hadn’t yet been able to calm down enough to talk.  He’d even licked Stephan’s face after Stephan had assured him that he was just tired, not hurt.  Ash was safe.  And he looked unharmed.

According to Sister Margaret, Ash had been rather frantic to get the collar he’d been wearing off.  She’d had to cut the small padlock that had secured it.  Apparently, Ash had been so happy about it he’d licked her face as well.  That has been all it had taken for Sister Margaret to go into full grandma mode and they’d arrived to find her baking him chocolate chip cookies.  She was currently forcing said cookies on everyone.

Magda fastened Ash’s real collar around his neck, and Ash let out a happy sigh.  Somehow, their crazy little Ash had come through unhurt.  Now they just need him to figure out words again so he could tell them what had happened.  He’d love to know how Ash had escaped.

Michaels’ phone rang.  “Detective Michaels.”  He saw Michaels leap to his feet.  “Little relieved to hear your voice.”  Michaels nodded as he listened.  “White Bluff Resort?”  Michaels started to smile.  “Yeah, I think they would.  Look, if…”  Michaels blinked, then shrugged and lowered his phone.  “Okay.  Our mole just hung up, but he said if anyone wanted to have a chat with Sima she’s at the White Bluff Resort, and they should probably hurry.”

Immediately, Magda stood.  Ash caught her hand.  “Ash?”  She looked down at him.

“Save Adam.”  Ash smiled up at her.  “Please save Adam.”

“I will.”  She kissed him.  Then she glanced at Stephan.  He frowned.  He had no idea who ‘Adam’ was either.  She nodded before turning to the others.  “Where is this hotel?”

“I’ll drive.”  Michaels nodded before heading for the car.  Matthias and Magda went with him.  Gabriel stayed behind, and caught Laura’s hand when she tried to follow.

#

“They stole my pet again.”  Sima paced the room.  Adam didn’t bother to hide his smirk.  He leaned where he had a good view of the street below.  Sima was in full rant mode now.  It was rather entertaining.  She must have notice his amused expression because she turned her eyes on him.  “What?”

“Anyone ever told you that you’re kinda ugly when you’ve royally fucked up?”  He chuckled.  “Just wondering how pissed Wren is going to be when you try throwing her under a bus.”

“If I find out you had anything to do with…”  She took a step toward him.

“She’s not actually stupid, you know.  You’ll misstep.  You’re not half as clever as you think you are.  This one’s going to be on you.”  She could tell if he lied, but fortunately, that wouldn’t be necessary.  “She’s already taking care of that.  And when you play your little games, she’s going to be pissed…”  He smiled.  “And then, bitch, maybe you and I will get to have some real fun.”  He met her eyes.  “I’m not a pet, Sima.  I’m a weapon.  Best you remember that.”

“You —”

“Oh I can’t wait to see you talk yourself out of this one.  See, Giroux knows you blew the mission to recover your pet.”  He shrugged.  “Got four agents killed and the guy ran out on you anyway.”

“How dare —”  She slapped him.

He laughed, then wiped the blood off his nose.  Then he shrugged and licked it off his hand nonchalantly.  Down in the street below, he saw what he was waiting for.  The glamour was limited to this room alone.  “Better talk fast, bitch.  There are folks heading in that are going to want answers and I just don’t think you’re that good.”

“I think…”  Sima’s smile was vicious.  “I’m going to tell her it would be fun to see you at the bottom of a gang bang.”

“Let’s see how things work out for you, bitch.  Could be you’re the one that gets fucked.”

She snarled before striding out of the room.  He shrugged, then shifted into a fly and followed.

#

That arrogant little bastard.  Sima hit the button for the ground floor.  She was going to enjoy breaking him, seeing him crawl at her feet.  She already had Wren eating out of her hand.  The girl was easily manipulated.  And Adam had clearly forgotten that Sima too, was a witch.  Once she had her hands on that talisman, she was going to make him beg.  Hell, after that little show, she was going to use him as a toilet.

Wren would make an excellent patsy, the more she thought about it.  Perhaps she could spin it to retain the girl’s usefulness though.  It would require deft handling, but that she could do.  Giroux was the same as all the others she’d overcome throughout the years.  She’d let him keep thinking he was running things, but it was time she moved up a few rungs.

The elevator door opened, and she stared at the man standing on the other side.  He started to smile.  “Sima…”  Matthias put his hand on the door, preventing it from closing again.  “Long time no see.”

“Matthias.”  She returned the smile.  She could work with this.  “Just the man I was looking —”

He stepped to the side and looked at someone behind him.  “Mom?”

Her eyes widened when none other than Magda Gunnarson stepped into view.  Matthias was…  Sima started shaking her head.  ‘Someone in the lobby’, Adam had said.  He’d set her up.  That little bastard had set her up.  “I have information.”

“Bitch…”  Magda’s form shifted.  “I really don’t care.”  She stepped into the elevator.

#

He’d expected Matthias to take out Sima.  To rip her head off.  This way might actually be a little better.  Magda was…  If flies on the wall could smile, he would have.  Magda was definitely working out some issues, and apparently being nearly four hundred years old had given her a lot of rather unpleasant little tricks.  Sima…

Well, she was definitely not going to be his problem anymore.  He flew through the elevator door, and headed out of the building.  Someday, he really was going to have to figure out how to do the clothing trick.  He shifted into a bird when he got out of view, and headed upward to enjoy a taste of freedom before Wren summoned him again.

#

Ash met her at Ted’s patio door.  She smiled.  “Sima’s dead.”  His face lit up and then he was in her arms, kissing her.

“And good riddance.”  Anna nodded from where she was sitting.  Daniel was sitting next to her, holding little Jehanne.  Laura sat next to him, clearly fighting the urge to snatch up the infant and start cooing.

“For the record…”  Michaels walked over to Gabriel, then jerked his head in Matthias’s direction.  “The big bad wolf inherited the scary from his mother.”

Next to her, Ash started looking around.  His smile slowly faded.  “Where is Adam?”

“There was no one else there, sweetheart.”  She put an arm around him.

“Who is Adam?”  Matthias raised an eyebrow.  “I mean, guessing he’s our mole, but uh…”

“He gave us good intel so far.”  Michaels frowned.  “But I’ve got no way to —”

“Giroux.  Paris, France.”  Ash started listing off names and locations.  Magda’s eyes widened as she realized he was rattling off a list of the top members of the Cabal.  Names and locations.  He got to the end and met her eyes.  “Wren Tierney.  The witch.  Sima’s friend.”

“She hurt you.”  Magda knew her eyes were gold at the moment.  Sima was dead, but this other one had hurt Ash as well.  And had targeted their new friends.  Granted, Gabriel could definitely take care of himself, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to come to their aid.  They owed them far too much to do otherwise.  And if this Wren was the witch, then there was still the task Ryuu had given them.

“No.”  Ash swallowed.  “She hurt Adam.  Is hurting Adam.  She would have hurt me, but Adam…”  He made a whimpering sound, then took a deep breath.  “He took me because he had to.  Hurt Stephan because he had to.  He didn’t want to.”

“They guy from the dock?  With the Russian woman?”  Stephan looked up.  “That was Adam?”

“He didn’t let them hurt me.  When they wanted us to play, he let me hurt him instead of hurting me.”  Ash shook his head.  Magda wasn’t sure what that meant, but a quick glance at Stephan showed the words were enough that Stephan had already completely forgiven this Adam.  “He told me to keep it together, helped me keep it together.  Then he killed the guards so I could run.”

“He’s how you escaped.”  Magda nodded.  “The information, the names…”  She looked around at the others, saw them all reaching the same conclusion.

“We have to save Adam.”  Ash clutched Magda’s hand.  “We have to…”  He too a deep breath.  “Magda, Adam is my friend.”

“Ash…”  She had no idea how or where to even start, but…  “We’ll save Adam.”

#

Wren gestured for Adam to take the seat next to her, and was pleased when he didn’t argue or resist.  Everyone was watching.  Fortunately, with Sima having gotten herself killed, laying the blame for the fiasco at her feet was easy enough.  Giroux had already come to a similar conclusion.  The fact that Sima had technically been hired by his predecessor and it was Giroux own protege’s that had salvaged what they could out of the mess worked to his advantage.

The fact remained that Adam had killed an alpha, and he answered to her.  And she was a witch, a true witch.  She leaned back in her seat as the plane took off, carrying them away from Myralis.  She fiddled a little with the talisman, then smiled at Adam before laying her hand atop his.  “When we get back to Paris, want to go to Disneyland?”

“Sure, Wren.”  He smiled back at her.  “That sounds fun.”

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