Authors: K. S. Martin
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Werewolves & Shifters
“Where the hell is
Lauren?” Jake asked the head of security. He’d been through three managers
before this guy. No one knew where she was, she hadn’t been seen since
Friday. Okay this is bad. He thought. I was the last person to be seen with
her and I am a murder suspect. Maxwell dropped her off in front of her
apartment on Saturday and no one had seen or heard from her since. He should
have kept her with him. She was his mate. His family should’ve dealt with it,
with her. “Damn it. Where the hell is she?”
“We are checking
into it. Her cell has been turned off and her apartment is empty.”
“What do you mean
empty?” Jake paled. “Empty as in, she isn’t there or empty as in the
furniture is gone?”
“The second one
sir, but she could’ve moved and not given us an address yet. This guy didn’t
know what Jake knew. Lauren saw him and his family shift from human to wolf.
More than likely, she was scared out of her wits. We are canvassing the
building for information on her.” Jake sat down hard. She’d left him. She’d
run. She found out that he was a werewolf and she’d run. He only hoped that
she would keep his secret.” His jaw clenched. “That will be all, call off the
search. We will assume that she has resigned unless we hear from her.” The
head of security pursed his lips. The change in his boss’s attitude was sudden
“Yes sir.” He
turned on a heel and went back to his regular duties as commanded.
picked up his phone and dialed the estate. He’d discussed the situation with
his mother earlier when he called to ask about Maxwell dropping Lauren off on
Victoria asked. No hello or how’s it going? His mother had always been very
direct and very blunt. Lauren was like that and he appreciated it. It was too
bad he wouldn’t be able to show her that.
gone. Her apartment is empty. I guess it was more than she could handle.” He
clenched his teeth.
“Son, are you
jumping to conclusions?” She asked quietly.
“No mother.” Jake
stood and paced.
“So her apartment
is empty. Where is her cell phone, have you tracked it?” Victoria was putting
her detective hat on. She loved crime shows and was obsessed with them. She
always tried to figure it out before the characters on the program did. Quite
often, she was successful.
“It’s off.” He
sighed sitting down. He rested his head on his hand.
“Odd. How about
her car, can you track her that way? These cars have computers now and
tracking systems. I saw that on TV. If someone steals your car, they can turn
it off and trap the thief inside Jake. Besides, I just did not get the feeling
that she was lying when she said that she loved you?”
“She said that?”
He brightened at the possibility of hope.
“Not in so many
words but it was the same thing son.”
“The car.” Jake
squinted and looked at the report on his computer. No one mentioned the car.
“I’ll call you back Mom.” Jake called the security office and barked orders at
the young man that answered the phone. The head of security was back in his
office within seconds and confirmed with a team member onsite that her car was
in fact in the apartment building’s parking lot. Lauren had not fled. Who
moved and left their car? Something was not right about this and somehow it
all tied to the murders. The security team would be going through her desk,
going through the apartment again and going over the car.
looked up at one of the new accounting technicians he knew only as May. “I
heard that you were looking for Lauren?” Jake stood. “You should know sir
that someone is accessing her accounts.”
“What do you
mean?” Jake started to walk toward her.
Peterson assigned me Lauren’s Ohio accounts and I can’t open them. I keep
getting an error message that says ‘locked by Lauren Edwards.’ Is it a mistake
sir or can she access her accounts remotely?” Jake walked over and turned her
computer off, it was in sleep mode so he held the button down until the
computer drained all of its power. “It’s still locked sir.” May said from her
cubicle nearby. Jake pulled his cell out and texted someone. He got a text
“Can I have your
attention!” All heads in the room turned toward their usually silent boss.
“Is anyone else having a problem opening anything at all because of an error
message that says ‘locked by Lauren Edwards’?” Eleven hands went up. “Son of
a bitch.” He texted again. “We are being hacked. I want all computers off
and everyone to go home for the day. If someone isn’t here, please turn their
computers off as well, also, unplug them.” There were groans. “My gift to you
for outstanding work, you will be paid for the day. Enjoy your day off.”
Cheers filled the office. “Make sure everything is unplugged.” He was texting
again. This was Devlin. It had to be, because they were the only company with
enough talent to pull this off. He was on his cell with the head of security
now. “Find Zoe Bell. Now!” He didn’t wait for an answer. Jake stormed
toward the onsite server room.
worked in the room. Jake saw three that he didn’t know and one that he’d met
on several occasions. A tall slim black man was carrying a tray of wires down
one of the rows away from him. They all wore white lab coats, goggles, gloves,
head, and shoe covers. The room was large and sparse containing only a bank of
monitors on a stainless steel counter and tall black boxes blinking red, green,
and yellow lights. Florescent lights stretched far overhead. Cooled filtered
air blew quietly from the vents over head while fans from the servers
circulated warmer air.
“You can’t be in
here, this room is clean.” A young serious looking Asian man said approaching
Bryant.” A blonde assistant hissed at him as he passed. He jerked to a stop.
“How’s it going
Shari?” Jake said to the tech that he’d met before.
“Fine sir. What
can we do for you? What’s wrong? You never come down here.” Jake took Shari
by the elbow and led her away from the group.
hacked. Is your team secure?” She nodded. “All of the computers on the main
floor are getting an error message.” Shari walked to her terminal and logged
in. The screen filled with computer code. The young Asian rolled his chair
over next to her.
everyone? All of the computers are off.” He said looking at the code on her
Bryant thinks that we are being hacked.” He was shaking his head vigorously
while he rolled back to his monitor.
anything out of the ordinary!” Ken’s fingers flew across the keys and Jake
made a mental note to put him on the salary review list.
“I only have one
user logged in that isn’t in security. I’m Charlene, Mister Bryant, the
employee is Lauren Edwards. She is accessing remotely.”
Jake walked around to stand behind Charlene.
“I back traced her
to Sixth Avenue. It looks like Devlin Enterprises, sir.”
“Those sons of
bitches.” Ken slapped the counter with his hand. “On it boss!” Ken had
several windows open on his desktop now and was furiously typing computer code,
a mishmash of letters and numbers on sequential lines. Jake followed along, he
knew most of it, but it was a lot of years since he’d read code.
pointed at the screen. “There end it.”
“Oh yes sir, good
call, exactly.” Ken kept typing.
“She isn’t trying
to hide this sir. Oh shit, that’s not Lauren.” Shari said.
users all logged in remotely using her passwords. They have her remote
password, her document and folder passwords. Also, none of them is keying as
fast as Lauren. I have her usual average around ten thousand key strokes per
hour sir, none of these users are that fast. The closest is five, definitely
not Miss Edwards, but they are trying to make it look that way.” Jake smiled.
“Can you prove all
of this? We will need it for court.” He was headed for the door already
“Yes sir.” Was
echoed around the room.
“Do it. Give me
proof. Proof of the hack, the tampering, and that it is not Lauren Edwards. I
want it by the end of the day.”
“We’ll have it in
an hour sir.” Ken said without looking up. Jake shut the door behind him.
Out in the hall
his cell rang. “Jennings, what do you have?” The head of IT was speaking to
someone else. “Jennings!” Jake shouted into the phone.
the old lady next door saw a big gorilla, her words not mine, carry Lauren off
yesterday evening. She says Lauren was out cold. It took us awhile to get her
to open her door. She also gave a perfect description of Zoe Bell and we can’t
find her either. Grams said that she was about to take Lauren her Sunday
cookies, oatmeal raisin and very good too, when she heard voices. She watched
out them out of the peep hole. The guy was bigger than the other guy that
Lauren brought home on Friday. Uh, she described you sir.”
“Yeah, I was with
Lauren on Friday. What else did Grams say?”
“That this guy was
bald but had ink all over his head and neck. He was wearing a grey wife beater
and did not seem to be in charge. Zoe did.”
“I see. How close
are we to finding them?”
“The guy sounds
like Tubby. He’s an enforcer for Devlin, not a bright guy but plenty of
brawn. I’m calling in favors now sir to locate Tubby and Zoe. Uh hang on a
sec boss.” Jake could hear him murmuring to someone. “She was spotted
shopping on the east side but I don’t have a confirmation yet.”
“Bring her to me.”
Jake said quietly.
“Yes sir.” Jake
pushed end and called in his legal team.
Jake ran his hands
through his hair for the hundredth time. He was hungry, exhausted and needed a
shower. Jennings interrogated Zoe Bell for hours in his office. They got
nothing out of her. It was like there was a block on any information about
Lauren or Devlin Enterprises. She was polite and courteous but knew nothing.
It was weird. She couldn’t even acknowledge that she’d ever met Lauren let
alone kidnapped her. Her pulse rate stayed steady, her respirations did not
change, and she never averted her eyes. There were no signs of lying. It was
the damnedest thing, Jennings was equally baffled. They decided to release her
and Jennings’ team was going to follow her around the clock. This had to be
the longest day of his life. Jake drove to Devlin and parked on the street.
He watched the windows. All of the lights were still on. Strange. The
parking lot still full and it was after ten. Jake could see people moving
around but did not see Lauren. His eyes flashed dangerously. He was losing
control for the first time in years. She was here. He could feel her, his
mate. If he’d claimed her over the weekend the way that he wanted, his wolf
would’ve already crashed through the front windows. Jake sighed, heavily
pushing out a controlled calming breath.
. He wanted her, needed
her. Controlling the wolf would only get harder and he didn’t have his father
or grandfather to help him maintain that control anymore.
Jake sped toward
home before he lost it completely.
“He’s going to
kill you.” Lauren grinned maliciously. “He’s going to tear you to pieces then
he’s going to eat the pieces.”
fresh meat. I’m hardly fresh. I have leverage that he has not anticipated. I
“Big deal. We
went out on one date. I’d hardly call that leverage.” Lauren crossed her arms
and sat back on the couch. She couldn’t stand up unless he wanted her neck but
he was letting her speak, at least so far. “You’re going to die for messing
with his business not because of me.”
“I think you
underestimate your worth.” He looked up at her now. “You are a very valuable
employee and his mate.”
“Did you kill his
father and grandfather?” Lauren asked.
“I admire a direct
woman. No. I did not kill them. If anything I would’ve protected them.” He
clasped his hands under his chin. “The oracle said that the unmated alpha of
the Bryant clan would kill me. By killing Louis, it made Jacob alpha and he’s
unmated. Those events set the prophecy in motion. If Jake had left his mark
on you, I would be safe for another hundred years.” Lauren pulled a face.
“You mean that my
being here has nothing to do with the murders?”
“You are not as
smart as I thought my dear. No nothing. You are here purely on a professional
mission, to let me hack his servers and files. The rest is coincidental and
the fact that you’re his mate is actually an inconvenience. He will want you
back of course but since he will, it can only save me later.
“You kidnapped me
to hack Bryant IT?” She rolled her eyes. “You’re ridiculous.” She scoffed.
He seemed to enjoy talking to her and obviously wanted her close by. She knew
the Bryant files and system thoroughly. But whenever he let her speak, she
always tried to goad him into hopefully releasing her. If he got tired of her,
it would free her one way or another. So far, every day was the same. Sleep,
shower, dress, and eat bran and grapefruit for breakfast, salmon, and
vegetables for lunch, salad for dinner. Lauren would kill for a burger right
now. How many days had it been so far? “What is today?”
does it matter?” He glanced up from the monitor.
“I’m just counting
the days to the full moon. You know on the full moon what happens right?”
Lauren chuckled. Actually she had no idea what happened on the full moon, not
really, but in the movies it was always scary. “What do you do all night on
that computer anyway? Are you playing solitaire? You know if I had all of eternity
to do stuff, I wouldn’t sit at a computer every night. I would go see the
world, do things, meet people.” Lauren lay down on the couch and stretched
“I’ve traveled the
world and people are overrated generally except the vegans of course. Such
tasty blood, those vegans.” Lauren cringed. Now, shut your yap until I say so
otherwise. I’ve heard enough out of you for today.” Her mouth no longer
worked. She rolled her eyes and shrugged. Zoe came in a few hours later.
“Hey boss.” She
sat in his visitor chair not seeing Lauren. Lauren sat up and listened. “I
was questioned today by Mister Bryant and Mister Jennings. I was unable to
help them.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder.
questioned today?” She nodded. “Today?” She nodded again. He came around
the desk and slapped her hard. “And you’re here in my office on the same day?
Did it ever occur to you that you would be followed? You stupid little twat?”
The back of his hand connected with her cheek again and she fell sideways onto
the floor. Lauren could see that Zoe’s cheekbone was shattered. “Get out and
don’t come back here. In fact,” his voice lowered threateningly. “Why don’t
you go down to the subway station and wait on the platform. When the number
five train comes through, step out in front of it.” Lauren’s eyes widened and
filled with tears. She was unable to speak but not unable to feel. Zoe
stumbled to her feet. “Better yet Zoe,” he looked over at Lauren’s panic
stricken face. “Just go home and go to bed. Tomorrow you will become a health
nut and will not eat, drink or take anything that is bad for you.” Lauren let
out a nervous breath wondering what it would cost her for saving a girl that
she didn’t even like.
boss.” Zoe called in her irritating singsong voice as if he’d told her to go
have dinner on him. Lauren sighed.
“Don’t judge me or
I will drain you dry.” Lauren’s eyes widened. He went back to his desk and
sat at the computer.
what to do right?” The family gathered around the dining table in a pack
meeting. Geoff, his wife Catherine and his six sons made the trip to help
Jake. They lived in another state and belonged to a pack there. Geoff’s alpha
did not come but he did send three betas, and twelve volunteers. All told,
there were forty five werewolves about to descend on Devlin Enterprises. Donna
and Dora would be staying at home with the maid watching movies and eating
popcorn. Geoff’s kids had gotten so big since he saw them last and he was
impressed with each one of them, two would be betas someday Jake thought
recognizing the traits but two more would be alphas and would have their own
packs. He gave approving nods to each of them. “We have all doors covered.
The roof is covered by my security team and the rest of us will go in through
the front door. We think that Lauren is being held on the top floor where
Devlin spends most of his time. Are we ready?” Several grunted and many
stood, ready to kill for him. “Let’s move.” Jake stood pushing his chair
back. They filed out of the house and into the vans from Bryant IT.
was well lit as always at this time of night. They parked a block away, all
shifting as they left the vans. The largest pack of wolves in the cities’ history
was about to descend on Devlin Enterprises. Groups broke off and flanked the
building. Their orders were simple. Find Lauren. Try to leave the humans
alive, everyone except Devlin himself. Screams sounded almost immediately as
soon as the fully morphed wolves entered the building. There were three ladies
at the receptionist’s desk as the largest of the group entered the building’s
front door. The receptionists dove under the desk for cover. The largest of
the wolves entering the front turned to look over his shoulder at the twenty
behind him. They split into four smaller groups of five. There were two
elevators and two sets of stairs off of the lobby, wolves now controlled all of
“Sir, we’ve been
breached.” The voice said over speaker of the telephone on Devlin’s desk.
“Kill him.” His
answer was short and to the point. He smiled at Lauren who cringed. Her eyes
filled with tears and he laughed. “Really. Did you think that I would give
him quarter?” He shook his head and went back to the computer.
offices, humans screamed but none of those humans were Lauren. The pack moved
meticulously from one room to the next. Browns, reds, whites, blacks, and
silver wolves crowded the halls, crashed through doors and moved through
stairwells. An armed security guard found his way into their path but Geoff
subdued him easily. The guard curled into a ball and urinated with fear.
Geoff snorted because it was the closest a wolf could get to laughter and moved
on down the hallway behind his pack mates. Jake took the lead as they climbed
the fire stairs to the top floor to Devlin’s offices. There were empty locker
rooms, empty offices, and a kitchen on this floor. No humans in sight. He
must keep this floor empty while he works. Jake scented death, living death.
A scent his grandfather taught him as a pup when he’d killed a vampire that
lurked around the estate. Louis said that they had to be detached from their
heads. The stake through the heart would only work if the stake was carved
from a particular tree. Detached was a sure thing and because vampires were
crafty not to take any chances. Jake never forgot a lesson or a scent. Now he
scented his mate, and the vampire. There was a vampire in this building and
that would explain why they were working all night. Was it possible that this
vampire had enthralled all of the Bryant IT employees that left? Was Lauren
stuck here, not only kidnapped but unable to escape. He scented her strongly now
and growled low in his throat. She smelled weak and desperate. Devlin’s
office was at the end of the hall. By now, his security team would have
disabled the cameras, overtaken the building and was destroying the server room
if all was on schedule. They were also not leaving any evidence.
Seven minutes from
the time the wolves entered the building the door slammed open. A huge dark
brown wolf with blue eyes was the first through the door flanked by eighteen
other huge wolves. Devlin stood and backed up against the wall behind his
desk. A large red wolf quickly sank its teeth into Devlin’s thigh rendering
There aren’t this many of you left.” Jake shifted and stood across the desk
from Devlin bracing powerful arms on its now diminutive top. “I’ve tracked and
counted endlessly. The werewolf population is limited. There are less than five
hundred left. Did you bring them all?” He asked looking around the room. Jake
pulled his phone out and texted Jennings. The monitor blinked and showed
wolves all over the building staring up at the security cameras.
“Wrong. There are
hundreds of thousands of us. We’ve learned how to hide better over the
centuries.” Jake turned to look at Lauren who sat quietly on the edge of the couch.
“Whatever you’ve done to her, undo it now. My mate seems incapable of
moving.” The red wolf sank its teeth deeper. Devlin tried unsuccessfully to
stifle his whimper. “You know that a well placed werewolf bite can kill you
and it will be a long painful death. Jake’s eyes flashed as his hands morphed,
black nails sprouting from his fingertips, his fangs lengthened and hair began
to sprout on his face. He did not shift completely but he was frightening.
Lauren watched fascinated trying her hardest to go to him but unable to move a
single locked muscle. “Now!” Jake roared snarling. The other wolves crowding
the room edged closer. Devlin swallowed hard.
“Lauren my dear,
you are released. You may move, speak, and regain your free will. I no longer
hold any power over you. Now call your mutt off.” Lauren sprang from the
couch and launched herself at Jake. He shifted back to human before she got
there. He caught her easily and buried his face in her neck.
His mouth moved against her skin and she melted into him. “I’ve missed you.”
Jake set her down and pushed her behind him. Lauren hung onto him and peaked
around his middle at Devlin.
A large bald man
covered in tattoos sprang into the room grabbing and tossing wolves. Caught by
surprise several were thrown and dazed. Tubby, Jake assumed had one of Geoff’s
beta friends by the throat. “Let the boss go or I’ll kill it like I did the
two at your house.” He shook the beta who was struggling to get free and
snarling. The beta was large but Tubby was a giant of a man, easily nearing
“You shot the two
wolves at my estate?” Jake asked him calmly.
school finally came in handy for something.” He breathed hard through his
Devlin screeched at him. “You caused all of this. Drop the wolf. Take out
the gun you keep in the ankle holster.” Tubby dropped the beta and retrieved
the small thirty eight caliber weapon from the holster. “Now put the barrel
under your chin and pull the trigger.” Tubby did exactly as he was told.
Blood and brains splattered the ceiling and wall. Lauren screamed and buried
her face in Jake’s side. Devlin snatched the red wolf and flung it across the
room then traced to Lauren. One Moment he was behind the desk and the next
second he was behind her. Jake spun and grabbed him around the throat before
he could move a muscle. Jakes long fangs sunk into Devlin’s throat, long
canines ripped and tore until his head was separated from his body. Lauren
sank to her knees and crumpled to the floor.