Authors: Erin R Flynn
Tags: #Paranormal Mystery
Seraphine Thomas, division chief of the FBI and newly made rare siren wolf lycanthrope, makes it through her very first lunar cycle, but that isn’t the only thing on her agenda. To get the agents at MNSTR up and running to her standards, Sera encounters an uphill battle against FBI protocols and personnel she used to respect.
Even as everything starts to work out in her favor, Sera discovers she has way more to learn about being a wolf, embracing her siren, and dealing with her men than she ever thought possible. Add in trying to find a murderer before more bodies show up in downtown Chicago, and she’s got an overflowing plate.
But apparently life wanted to add extras and when she finds out more hideous traditions in the pack, Sera can’t ignore her moral code, no matter who or what she is now. Fighting for the people who need it leaves one clear path everyone sees for Sera but her. Oh, she’s Alpha enough to take over… But will she still be the Sera Thomas she knows if she does?
“While in training, the standard FBI issue is the Glock 23, .40mm handgun,” Ralph, our certified shooting instructor explained as he held one up. He carefully turned it by the handle, and I could see there wasn’t a clip loaded, which made it almost as safe as a toy gun for the demonstration of what that model Glock looked like.
It was the first day of the new training protocol I was trying to put into place, and I was there with my team, standing at the back of the group, observing. While I had trained at Quantico, it never hurt to have a refresher course. I also wanted to know that he was going to teach my people the right way since I didn’t know him personally and not blow it off because of what we were.
The rest of the week the office would be split up for classes. I wanted my immediate team—the five special agents in charge I’d recently promoted—to go first because they’d be in the field with me until they were proficient enough to lead their own teams. While everyone in the office were my agents and team really, they were my go to people and the ones I’d call on when I needed support.
Friday was going to be an open day to pick Ralph’s brain for any extra help needed. I thought that the best way to do it, giving everyone a chance to get some one-on-one time for extra questions.
“Once you qualify there are a variety of weapons that you can choose from.” Ralph gestured over to me, and I pulled out my gun of choice, laying it on the range table so everyone could see it. “Chief Thomas has a Beretta PX4 Storm, 9mm, full-size semi-automatic.” He ejected the clip and made sure there wasn’t one in the chamber before pulling the slide back and locking it into place. “It packs a bigger kick with its recoil and isn’t for everyone.”
“It looks big compared to her hands,” Harris commented, glancing between the gun and my hands.
I met his eyes to let him know I appreciated him being the first to ask an intelligent question and get the ball rolling so others felt this was a safe environment to learn. Training didn’t work otherwise. “I changed out the grip to the smallest one and it fits just fine.” I picked up the gun, unlocked the slide, and demonstrated my normal grip of the gun and how I held it.
“Still too big for my hands,” Davis chuckled, holding up hers to show me. Sure enough, it wouldn’t have fit. Then again she was shorter than me, and it made sense she would have smaller hands.
Ralph taught them how to field strip their new guns and clean them. I more than approved. Maintenance and familiarizing themselves with the Glocks would help them relax and get used to the feel of the weapons. Then he went over how to load the magazines, arm the gun, and get into a comfortable stance.
After two hours, I was
. Ralph covered everything I would have and then some. He was thorough, patient, and adapted his lesson plan to what anyone needed. Harris and Cooper were on one side of the range with me, having already gone through qualifiers. Harris had trained at the Indianapolis police academy and Cooper was a former Army Ranger.
I didn’t need to worry about them with shooting training. And I did appreciate them gracefully accepting the refresher course this was for them, so the three of us were trading guns and seeing who could score highest.
I got the phone call I’d been dreading since I found out Vlad and Noah where plotting the expo fight. I’d agreed to a sparring match with Noah when he had been helping me move into my new house. I guess everyone had been discussing the way I’d kicked some wolf ass at my first full-moon gathering with the Chicago pack. Noah had taken the position that if I ever fought someone who had paranormal strength
hand-to-hand combat training, I wouldn’t win. My team had disagreed.
And opened a can of
I had agreed to the fight if Noah would train my office in fighting tactics like I learned at Quantico. Paranormals weren’t allowed in with the human FBI trainees because we had an unfair advantage and the potential for creating severe injuries. When sparring with people who could have claws and fangs, there were more risks involved.
So, in the interest of getting all the people in my office certified as field agents, I’d made a bargain with the devil—in a manner of speaking. Noah and I had a side bet as well. If I won, he’d do any follow-up training I’d need. If he won, then he’d be my moon mate the next full moon. It seemed like a win/win idea, even if the terms were overly personal and made me uncomfortable. It was a risk and sacrifice I was willing to make for my people.
Why was he the devil then?
He went to
, the Chicago vampire Master, to set it up. Here I figured we were going to have a friendly sparring match at a gym where all our friends could watch. No extra chance for major mortification when I went up against a vampire who fought in the
and got my ass handed to me.
Wow, was I wrong. I
had to make sure that I made the details clear going forward. I now understood that old saying
the devil was in the details
. I’d never quite comprehended that one before. Honestly, I’d thought it was a shot at attorneys and contracts.
“What do you
the fight is going to be at a casino?” I growled into the phone.
“Well Vlad figured you wouldn’t allow betting unless it was legal and in a gambling-zoned area,” Noah explained, seeming completely oblivious as to how pissed I was. “It’s set for eight on Friday night.”
“You said you’d give me a week’s notice.” Now I was freaked and looking for any way out of this. My legs suddenly felt weak, and I found myself sitting on the nearest bench outside the shooting range as one thought echoed in my mind.
They seriously thought I’d be okay with fighting in a casino’s boxing ring?
I couldn’t seem to get past that one idea.
“Really? That’s what you’re focused on?” He gave a dramatic sigh. “We gave you a workweek’s worth of notice. Close enough. Unless you just want to chicken out and be my moon mate this month?”
“No, I gave my word,” I answered tightly, barely keeping my rage under control. I heard the phone creak in my hand and I loosened my hold. “But you
this wasn’t what I was talking about when I agreed to this. I’m not a fan of being taken advantage of Noah, and I won’t forget this.” I hung up before he could reply.
Childish? Probably, but I figured that was better than saying what else I had on my mind. Or vomiting while we were on the phone. Yeah, that was always really bad too.
“Chief?” Harris asked as I pinched the bridge of my nose and tried to calm down. I’d been so preoccupied I hadn’t noticed him or Cooper step outside as well. “Why don’t you go for a run during lunch? We’ve got this.”
“I can’t just leave work to go for a run anytime I get upset.” I wanted to roll my eyes at the idea, but he was just trying to help.
,” he countered, squeezing my shoulder gently. “There are perks that come with being part of MNSTR. What we are is taken into account, and we’re given certain allowances for it. Take lunch at the pack lands and go for a run.”
“You need it, Chief,” Cooper encouraged gently. “Your eyes have already shifted.”
That snapped me back from the conversation long enough to take stock of myself. They were right. “Okay.” I nodded and focused on letting my eyes change back. I grabbed my gear from inside, slipped my gun into my holster, and made a mental note to clean it later.
As I headed out, I was grateful for the suggestion because, honestly, a run sounded great.
I let the news about the fight sink in on the drive over. A smaller part of me wished I could get called out of state on a case now that I was assigned to a different division and there were so few MNSTR offices. Okay, fine, a
part of me, but that really wouldn’t solve much besides maybe getting the fight out of the casino.
Then again, knowing Vlad and all of his connections, he’d still be able to swing a big event. So really, I’d just be delaying the inevitable.
Didn’t that leave a sour taste in my mouth?
Twenty minutes later I was parking in the small lot with fifty or so spaces attached to the private forest preserves that held the pack lands. Hopping out of my car, I opened the trunk and put all my stuff inside, taking off my clothes and folding them neatly. The only thing I kept was the fob for my car. That I put on my necklace and locked the car before shifting into my wolf.
It was a little annoying to have a necklace on in wolf form, but I wasn’t going to leave my car unlocked with my guns and personal belongings in there. I wiggled my paws in the soft grass—ignoring some of the weeds because it wasn’t a backyard to be tended to, but
—feeling better already. Then I started off at a jog before letting my wolf run at full pace.
Hell, I was so excited to allow myself this time I ignored all the bees everywhere… Even when I swallowed one. That would teach me to run with my mouth open and my tongue hanging out. I heard
of squirrels chattering, wondering what was up that had them so worried.
Until I realized it was
. Hello, predator in their midst. I smiled mentally and took off after a few that were on the ground, chasing them up their trees. No, I didn’t chomp on any furry rodents, but I did half expected an
moment where some of them pegged me with acorns for being mean.
Hey, they needed some exercise too, right?
We’d had a good amount of rain so far this spring and it showed. Everything was green, lush, and just beautiful—
. No brown grass, or bare trees, flowers blooming and…