Read The Coming Storm Online

Authors: Flynn Eire

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #paranormal romance

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BOOK: The Coming Storm
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Those who couldn’t defend themselves tended to bow to whomever could and while the supernatural beings were held to human laws, whatever they wouldn’t get caught in otherwise was fair game. But that all changed when technology came into play. No longer would an elder receiving word if there had been a change in leader because of something as natural as death take weeks. A pack under the threat of invasion or takeover now had the hope of aid coming in time instead of facing slaughter or complete surrender.

The question then became how to handle the chaos? The way my parents used to tell it when we were kids, the oldest and the wisest of all the species met where they felt the most power coming from the earth. They faced each other as equals for the first time, every one of them having a voice to be heard, and if that idea, that very value, was blessed by the gods themselves, a meteor fell from the heavens right amidst them.

The rock splintered into exactly the amount of species there, glowing when one touched it… And
only
that one person touched it along with giving their natural gifts a boost of energy. It was said the gods gave these crystals to our new leaders to help them rule fairly and justly, also allowing them the powers of detecting who had a stout heart or was being dishonest.

In that instant the Paranormal Parliament was born. One leader for each species with one voice deciding the fate for all to make sure we survived, thrived, and had future generations. Now granted,
species
didn’t mean each type of shifter had their own elder on the PP and there wasn’t one for
all
shifters. It was a little more intricate than that. There was one for wolf and hound shifters. One for all breeds of cat shifters, and so on.

And since that day, there has been peace, everyone playing nicely with each other because no one ever dared go up against a united front of
all
the other races and a ruling body blessed by the gods. Especially one that could tell if you were lying or full of shit when you stood before them. At least that was what we were told.

Whether that was how it all really happened or a bedtime story adults told their kids, I didn’t really know. But my parents believed in the PP and followed them to their deaths.

“I just don’t get it,” Seattle mumbled as we trudged into the living room attached to the entryway, snapping me back into the present. Well, mostly. Every time I came into the living room, I could almost smell the candle my mom used to burn in there, though no one had in a while. We’d packed them all up months ago. “Why did the PP make that guy Alpha?”


That’s
what you’re focused on?” Orlando did a double take as he openly balked at our brother before flinging himself over the back of our leather sectional, landing with a thump as he huffed. “He won a challenge or something. Who the fuck cares? We need to figure out what to do, Seattle. Not talk politics.”

“No, Seattle’s right,” Boston agreed as he leaned his shoulder against the wall opposite the sectional, facing towards us. His brows were drawn in deep thought. “He didn’t win a challenge. The San Jose pack is newer, only about ten years since they deemed there were enough wolves in the area to have one. The old Alpha was awesome though. He and Dad were friends. So why replace him?”

“Wait, the PP
replaced
him?” I asked, my jaw dropping open as my skin started tingling.
When the Alpha had shown up, my stomach had gone sour, but now big knots grew instead.
That was extremely rare. Someone had to fuck up royally to have that happen. Normally someone got old and stepped down to retire or there was a leadership challenge. Another option was like when the San Jose pack started, when a new leadership opportunity presented itself. But for the PP to go in and assign a new Alpha, something big went down.

“Yeah, right before Mom and Dad died,” Milwaukee mumbled as he sat on the sectional in the corner and pulled his knees to his chest. “I heard Dad talking about it. Representatives from the PP came in and the Alpha was just gone. The pack was told that he had a family tragedy on the East Coast and had to leave immediately, relinquishing his role as Alpha. Dad thought something was shady because no one ever heard from him again.”

At just the mention of our parents, I couldn’t help but look at the matching overstuffed chair they always sat in during family meetings. Dad would plop down, much like Orlando had on the couch, with Mom gracefully perched on the arm as if ready to jump up to cuff any of us that misbehaved… Or more likely hug us if we needed it.

No one ever sat in that chair now. We never talked about it, but I knew it felt wrong to even consider using it.

Boston and Seattle exchanged a meaningful look that said they knew something more than the rest of us. “And why could no one hear from the guy just because something was up with his family?” Seattle nodded in agreement.

“And then put dipshit in a leadership role? The PP isn’t stupid. Either he’s someone important’s son or he was put there for another reason.” Seattle started pacing as I dropped onto the ottoman, resting my elbows on my knees as I scrubbed my hands over my head. “But why? To tank the pack? What would be the goal of that?”

“I want to know what’s up with combining everyone into groups,” Phoenix said as he walked into the room. Wow. I’d been so lost in the conversation or my earlier thoughts I hadn’t even noticed he hadn’t been with us. He tossed us each a bottle of water before taking a seat between Orlando and Milwaukee. “There’s never been this push to get everyone into packs, covens, colonies, and whatever else.”

I lost the air in my lungs when I saw where everyone was in the room. We were all in the exact same spots as when Seattle had told us Mom and Dad had died. The significance of it wasn’t lost on me, and I felt the pain I always did when something threw me back into that day.

“I wonder if that’s what Dad was working on,” Seattle hedged, shooting Boston a worried glance.

We didn’t know much about the death of our parents around six months ago. While they didn’t work directly for the PP, my dad was their elected liaison for the area. Meaning, if there was a problem he’d fill them in or they got a report of something going on they’d let Dad know. Dad would go check it out on their behalf or the group of paranormals would ask for his assistance and he’d mediate. Sometimes he’d call in for help though and PP guards would show up.

Mom had a job of her own, something with the Department of Motor Vehicles. A management role that she said was boring but would never get into any more specifics than that really. But she would still help Dad like a governor’s spouse would, smoothing issues over or explaining any changing rules, kissing hands, shaking babies, that sort of thing.

Normally that was all they did and they never kept anything from us… Up to about seven months before they died. Then something came up with the PP that they were sent to look into and not only found concerning but they were downright scared with whatever they’d discovered. They started keeping things from us, talking in Dad’s study privately, and seriously becoming what we thought was paranoid.

Until they died mysteriously. Failed brakes was the official ruling for the accident. Something that could happen and did occasionally.
However,
none of us bought it. There were too many unanswered questions and red flags. For example, if the brakes didn’t just have issue but completely failed… How come they didn’t go out until my parents were cruising down the expressway twenty miles from home? No issues before then?

Odd, right?

And the accident just
happened
to take place in a remote area where if the brakes had failed anywhere else they would have simply ended on the side of the road, not off a twenty foot drop. Then the car just
happened
to blow, burning the bodies beyond recognition?

Add to that, Seattle was a gearhead, and when the car was towed back to the police impound for evidence, he broke in and checked the car. He said the break line hadn’t shredded like wear and tear… It was a clean break like a cut. That was just the tip of the issues we had.

I sighed, knowing I had to tell them what I’d been up to on the side from my day job. “Okay, confession time.”

“What did you do?” Boston growled as he narrowed the same cobalt blue eyes I had at me, but I couldn’t get mine to glare like he could. He had scary down.

“We didn’t have any answers, Boston,” I whispered, suddenly feeling like I was five and caught stealing a cookie before dinner. “And things had been so weird before they died. Then the PP says just to drop it all? I mean, what did they find out?”

“And why did Mom and Dad start syphoning money into secret accounts like they were planning to run with all of us?” Milwaukee added. I whipped my head and stared with him wide eyes. Good to know I wasn’t the only one investigating, and we’d taken different paths. At least we weren’t overlapping.

“Time to switch to something fucking stronger,” Seattle bitched and stormed into the kitchen. We didn’t need to be told to follow as those of us sitting quickly got to our feet and hustled after him. I walked into the room just as he handed Boston a beer before passing us all our own.

The cap of mine dug into my hand and the carbonation hissed as I opened it. I turned slightly to toss it in the garbage, noticing the wallpaper strip that accented the kitchen had torn some more. Right before they had died Mom and Dad had decided to remodel the room and had started sanding, scraping off paint, and got about half that strip down. We should have finished and painted the kitchen.

But it had been one of the last things they had touched before they had died. Remodeling the kitchen was the same as finally admitting they were never coming back to do it themselves. We just weren’t there yet. Maybe we never would be.

“What part of
we drop this because Mom and Dad would have wanted us safe more than us to have answers
was un-fucking-clear?”

“Oh stuff it, Seattle,” Phoenix snapped before twisting off the top of his beer. “Like you haven’t been making inquiries through all of Dad’s contacts about what he was working on. We all have been doing something. Apparently just on our own instead of being smart and working together like brothers should.” Then he turned to me and gestured with his beer. “Go head, baby bro. What have you found or what’s the theory?”

“I swear they hit fifty and start thinking they’re not pups anymore,” Boston bitched, biting back a smile. Phoenix was third oldest and while he was fine with the other two taking charge most times, he wasn’t a kid even by shifter or paranormal standards, so he had no problem stepping in and speaking up.

“Blow me.”

“I don’t care how long my dry spell’s been, that’s
never
on the table as an option.” Boston eyed our brother and gagged like he was choking on his own vomit.

Seattle cuffed Boston upside the head first then Phoenix. “Focus, assholes.” He gave me a nod and I knew I was up.

“Mom didn’t just work for the DMV. She did something for Homeland Security.” I gave them a moment to let that sink in. “I think the PP asked her to look into something and it has to do with why our phones make that noise when we call each other.”

“Like we’re going through a tunnel or in bad reception area? The feedback thing?” Orlando hedged, finally saying something. Then he flung out his arm and grabbed onto the counter as if worried he was going to fall over or faint. “You think we’re being bugged.”

I nodded as I took a sip of my beer. It was flat. Probably not actually. They all kind of tasted flat to me now but again I was pretty sure that was a stress/grief thing. I’d had my first one with my dad. I was fairly certain anyone could fill in the blanks why beer tasted flat or off to me after his death.

“I think either Mom and Dad found something and someone started checking on us or people were already checking on some of us and Mom and Dad found out why and they got killed for it. I’ve picked up where their notes left off—well, those I could find. Amazingly most of them were wiped off their computers. Just those files and
only
those files. And most importantly, it wasn’t done from inside this house.”

“You can tell all that?” When I nodded again, Seattle looked equal parts impressed and worried. “My hacker genius little brother. Okay, do you know what the original assignment was?”

“No, but I have a good idea. Do you know a few years ago every elder on the PP was audited by the IRS? I mean
all
of them. Don’t you think that’s odd?” When they all agreed, I chuckled. “Yeah, they did too. From what I’ve pieced together, they think the US government suspects they’re a cult of some type. I mean to them why would these people from different walks of life all have communication and interaction as they do? They might think we’re all in come cult.”

“So since they had an inside woman with Mom, they asked Dad to investigate as their liaison knowing he’d have Mom get him stuff. Dragging them both in,” Boston surmised with a groan. “Okay, how do we go from
that
to whatever they found and getting killed?”

“I’m not sure, but I figured out the next step to see how much they know or who they suspect officially,” I hedged. “And it was just an idea until now because I think it could kill two birds with one stone—or thumb drive actually.”

BOOK: The Coming Storm
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