Full Blooded

Page 29

“You can’t possibly take all the blame,” I said, not knowing if I should jump in, but doing so anyway. “I don’t accept that. I insisted on a life outside the Compound. I fought for my life for it. Literally. And I’d do it again if given the chance, whatever the cost.”

“That’s where we differ, Jessica.” My father turned toward me. “If I’d known the cost we’re facing now, I would’ve restrained you and kept you under my watchful eye all this time. There is nothing on this earth worth the possible risks we face now.” There was a softness in his eyes that I hadn’t seen since I was young. “Jessica, you are the only female werewolf in existence. We have no known record of such a thing ever happening before. You are priceless among us, and something we cannot even begin to understand. I’ve been remiss in how I’ve dealt with you, and I will compensate by making a vow on my life that you will survive at all costs.”

Tyler added, “Jess, we’re going to find these assholes and eliminate them quickly and efficiently. Even if the threat is coming from overseas. We have enough power in our Pack to crush the opposition.”

The U.S. Northern Territories were known around the world as the powerhouse Pack not to mess with. Unlike Russia with its brutal wolves, our Pack took cunning and paired it with strength to become an undefeatable force for the past three hundred years.

Grady’s voice came slow and steady from across the table. “It is my belief we must first determine if there is a traitor among our own Pack.” Unease fluttered around the table, each wolf looking warily at the other. “My humble suggestion is we keep every detail of this Council meeting private until that point has been determined. Letting this information out may risk the only edge we may have.”

“Agreed,” my father said. His tone brooked no further discussion on the matter.

“Agreed,” a chorus of voices chimed in around the table. No one was going to risk being the one to disagree now.

I rested my arms on the table, the wound on my palm finally sealed. “If I understand all this correctly, my mind was wide open during my change for a few moments. Correct? If that’s the case, any wolf in this Pack could’ve figured out what was happening last Saturday morning. That leaves hundreds of possibilities.”

“The message I received from your wolf came in the wee hours of the night,” Danny said, speaking for the first time, “and it was very short and muddled. I was unsure it was really you—and I know you.” He continued, “The wolf who decided to take that very scant knowledge acted quickly on an unfounded assumption that you’d made a full change. There was no physical proof you’d actually become a wolf.” He leaned forward, his accent deepening. “Until today, none of us knew you were the real deal. Whoever sold you out is no friend of ours. We must act immediately, and strike high on the vertebrae—Pack brother or not.”

Danny was proving to me why he’d been entrusted to run the protection of this city. He carried no fear and was boldly sure of himself.

Keeping the news of a possible traitor to ourselves would enable us to sniff them out. Literally. If the wolves in this room played their cards right, the traitor in question would grow nervous.

I thought about it for a moment. “If we keep this private for now, it may be the best way for us to find him. If we act like nothing’s happened, like the rogue was an isolated incident, we may be able to sniff him out sooner. If we put pressure on the Pack right away, he may run and we’ll lose our chance to nab him and find out what’s going on. If I leave here and go back to my life as usual—with bodyguards,” I added before anyone could object—“we can downplay this meeting as my official ‘coming out’ party and pretend it’s business as usual. He may not be able to resist his good luck and keep gunning for me.”

“That has possibilities,” James murmured in agreement.

Nick cleared his throat and spoke for the first time. “None of the Pack has any knowledge of how we conduct business here. Things run differently here. If we tread carefully, we may be able to monitor Jessica’s movements without detection. We focus our assumption that the Russian-based rogue was an outside interference, not an internal search. Jessica goes back to her life, and we tail her quietly to find him. He won’t be able to sit still. If the traitor wants her gone badly enough to hire a rogue, he will strike again. Likely sooner than later.”

“I don’t like it,” my father grumbled. “We should be able to find him without a bunch of charades. If I have a traitor in my Pack, he will not be able to hide from me for long. If I apply pressure, it will only be a matter of days before he is forced to betray himself. The only uncertainty is whether he has already aligned himself with another Sect altogether. That unknown makes it risky. I feel strongly that until we have more information, Jessica should go underground, kept safe where we can watch over her.”

“I understand your caution,” I said, addressing my father directly. “But if I go underground we are essentially telling Pack, and whoever’s on my tail, that we know something is wrong and we’re investigating. It may force an ugly situation before we’re ready. Or the traitor will run, taking away our only chance to find out any information about a possible connection to another Sect—one that may or may not be after me. If I spend a few more days acting like nothing’s happened, we may be able to gain a jump on who’s after me quickly, and without risk.”

My father wasn’t nearly convinced.

“Just give me two days, Dad. That’s all I ask. Nick will be with me during the days, Tyler, Danny, or James during the nights. There’s enough power in this room to do backup surveillance on all our movements. I have no doubt whoever sent that rogue will continue to come after me. If we’re inconspicuous enough, we can turn the tables on him and come away with information we need in less time than it will take you to pressure him out. He has my scent and he isn’t going to stop now.”

I looked at Nick for help. “What do the next two days look like for you, Jessica?” he asked me, and I loved him for it. “I’m fairly free and can manage all your details with you.”

“Actually, I have a meeting tonight with a potential new client,” I said. “Drinks at a public place to discuss a future case.” I looked to my father, who still wore a grim expression. “It would be a perfect location for someone to follow me in unseen.”

“Which case?” Nick asked. “I haven’t heard of any new client.”

“His name is Colin Rourke. I spoke with him yesterday for the first time.”

The uproar was instantaneous.

Everyone in the room began talking at once, a few of the wolves jumped from the table and started pacing, including my brother. Devon let out a small gasp as his hands furiously clacked away on the computer keys.

“What? What did I say?” I shouted over the din, startled by what had just happened. I raised my voice a few notches. “What’s going on? He told me he ran an accounting firm. He suspects his partner of embezzlement, or something equally uneventful. What’s the big deal?” I ended lamely with nobody paying any attention to me.

“This really is bad,” Devon said, more to his computer screen than anyone else. He shook his head slowly. “If Rourke knows, then Jessica’s already on the open market. We have more to worry about than just one traitor in the Pack.”

James loomed behind me, his knuckles stark as he gripped the back of my chair. The wood bowed and cracked beneath his fingers, and he was muttering a colorful string of nasty words under his breath—words I hadn’t heard him utter since I lit my father’s toolshed on fire by accident when I was thirteen. I turned from him to my brother.

“How in the hell did he get here so fast?” Tyler shouted. “And he told Jessica his real name! He knew she would find out who he was, and he still gave it to her. What’s his fucking angle?”

“Who is this guy?” I yelled, making sure I was heard this time. “Why are you all freaking out? Somebody better fill me in before I lose it.” Then I immediately felt foolish for not researching my own client myself. At the very least, I’d been off my game yesterday, but if I let the truth be known, I hadn’t really planned on researching his legitimacy until after I’d accepted the job. Dammit.

These rookie mistakes were going to cost me. There was no way my father was going to have any faith in me now, and by the looks of it, he was gearing up to tell me just that. I’d just showed myself as an incompetent and foolish private investigator. I was the only female werewolf on the goddamn planet, and I hadn’t thought for two seconds about changing the way I did my business moving forward. I should’ve been on high alert, not dillydallying around eating cheeseburgers.

This guy must be incredibly talented if he could cause a roomful of lethal werewolves to go crazy.

Well, shit.

Nothing about this looked good.

My father answered me first, scowling. “Colin Rourke is the most notorious supernatural mercenary in the entire country, possibly even on the planet. He only gets hired when people want the job done, meaning they want it finished, tied up tight with no loose ends. The fact that he’s already here escalates this issue to a new level. Your secret, it seems, has not been much of a secret at all. Other Sects, not just wolves, must have been waiting on your change, with plans put in place. It’s the only possible way he could be in my territory so quickly.”

“What is he?” I asked. “If we’re this up in arms, he has to be something big, right?”

“He’s a werecat of some kind,” my father said. “But his exact species is unknown. No one has seen him in his true form and ever lived to talk about it. It’s speculated he’s the last of his kind, which is why we’re unfamiliar with his scent. The cat population has decreased to the point of extinction over the last few hundred years, and he is much, much older than that. He’s ruthless and extremely dangerous. His common aliases are David West, Dean Raith, and Connor Dade. And those are only a few.” My father eyed me. “He rarely uses his given name, and most don’t even know it.”

Copyright © novelfull thefreeonlinenovel.com All Rights Reserved.