Authors: Chrissie Buhr
“If they ask for information about the pack, I won't be able
to lie, will I?” she asked.
“Not if I ask for it. But it shouldn't matter. We have to
stop them either way. They can't know I'm Kratos. Cassandra thinks I'm an
average Mage with no training. She thinks I'm weak.”
“That gives us an advantage,” Billie nodded. “Will Nathan be
“I don't know. If we can help him, we will,” I promised.
Kato listened to our exchange with satisfaction. Billie
turned to him. “Do you have any advice for us, Eldest?”
“Trust your mate. Instinct will guide her.”
“Is this going to work?” I asked my Muso.
“Your plan is sound. Trust yourself and you will succeed.”
I sighed in relief. “I'll contact Cassandra now and find out
when the meeting is. If Wolves can sense when we mindspeak, they probably can
too.” I warned Billie, and Kato affirmed my assumption.
“Go for it. I'll be quiet.” Billie encouraged me. Now that
we had a plan, she was determined to accomplish our goal.
I reached across the mountains to the mind of the one person
I didn't want to touch.
You sound very far away, child.
I'm on the road, and I can speak freely right now.
I suppose you've heard I had to call my pet back to me.
I heard. What went wrong?
She gave a mental shrug.
He gave me away to that dog he
was living with, so I rectified his mistake.
She believed I couldn't sense
her lie, so I didn't call her on it.
Is there anything I can do?
I was fishing. She might
not know I'd been evicted from the pack since Nathan wasn't around to spy for
There's nothing to be done about my pet. Just watch out
for yours. We're meeting tomorrow to finalize our plans. With you and your
redhead, we can't fail. Are you ready to join us?
Yes. Others like us will be there too?
I asked with
Yes, child. You'll meet more of your people. You'll never
have to live as a human again.
She gave me the details.
Is your redhead claimed?
I will. I'll see you tomorrow.
I ended the connection
before relaying the conversation to Billie and Kato. “They're meeting tomorrow
at 3:00 pm near Sun Valley. She gave me directions.”
“Now that's a stroke of good luck,” Billie exclaimed with
delight. “That's not far from here.”
“She thinks we're still with the pack. She doesn't know we
fled. If Nathan hadn't killed John, he would still be spying for Cassandra. I
don't like calling his murder good luck, but it kind of is.”
Kato spoke. “Our packmate's death is given meaning and
purpose. This will bring comfort to his loved ones.”
Billie nodded. “Kato's right.” She found little comfort in
it herself but knew some of the other Wolves would find more. “What do we need
to do to prepare for tomorrow?”
“We're ready, for the most part.” I thought through the
situation. “We'll need to clean up and buy some fresh clothes. I don't see any
reason why we can't do that tomorrow morning.”
Billie agreed. “We can go into Sun Valley early. We're going
to have to rent a hotel if we want to be presentable. I don't see any way
“If we do, the trackers will find us, won't they?” I asked.
“If we can avoid using our own names, they won’t. Otherwise
we’ll have only a day or two before they arrive. A little more if we’re lucky.”
An illusion involving my driver’s license came to mind. “I
can probably arrange that. Once we figure out what Cassandra is up to, we still
have to figure out how to stop them.” I deliberated.
“We don’t know enough to plan that yet. One thing at a time,”
Billie advised. “Kato? Do you want to add anything?”
Kato looked deep into the dying embers. I felt something
about him that I'd never sensed before. It went beyond what I’d sensed as he
stared into the coals. He seemed bigger. Or maybe he joined something bigger. I
didn't understand, and it troubled me. When he spoke, he continued looking at
the fire. My skin prickled in fear. “Inheritor of your mother's power, claim
your father's spirit.”
“What?” I asked, completely confused. His words made no
sense and yet they hit me like a fist gripping my heart. He continued to stare
into the fire in silence. I begged him to explain.
He turned to me and said simply, “You are ready.”
The day passed simply, and we let ourselves rest and
recharge before we had to enter the viper's nest. Kato's words never strayed
far from my thoughts, though. They troubled me, and I didn't understand why.
I don't understand what he meant either. But dwelling on
it isn't going to help.
You're right, I know. But I can't get it out of my head.
It was more than the words. I sensed something.
Run with me, love,
I joined with her mind as she ran through the trees,
scenting and hearing everything from a wolf's perspective. She was right. I did
At first light we packed up camp, returning the
area to the state in which we found it. After a full day of nudity, my clothes
felt tight and constricting. Billie wanted me fresh and rested for the day, so
she dressed and donned the pack herself. Kato trotted beside us in wolf form.
With deep breaths of mountain air, I gathered courage for
the task ahead. We had to succeed. No other option existed in me. Billie
prepared in her own way, relishing the exercise and the nearness of her
packmates. We didn't speak much on the hike out.
When will we see you again?
I asked Kato as the Jeep
came into view.
Soon, Muzi. I will be nearby and will rejoin you as soon
as I may.
I wish you could come with us.
I cannot join you in this venture. If the future comes as
I believe it will, I will join you in the next.
That is comforting
, I admitted to him with a smile.
“I'll miss you too, my friend,” Billie said to the old Wolf.
She couldn't hear the shared mindspeech between Kato and me, but she understood
the context through his body language and our mental connection.
We came upon the Jeep. Billie pulled some cash out of the
pack before stowing it away. She handed a few of the bills to me. “Keep some
money on you just in case.”
“In case of what?” I wanted to know in sudden alarm.
“In case you need it. I don't plan on leaving your side.”
Kato shifted into human form and laid a hand on Billie's
cheek, a paternal and affectionate gesture. “You have never lacked courage,
Beta. What is asked of you today is much more difficult.” She understood his
meaning and nodded.
“You call me Beta as if I still am. I want to believe you.” Her
eyes held immense sorrow, and I grieved for her.
He embraced her. “Even with your pack hunting you, you are
our protector. You place Pack above all else. You are Beta. Have faith that
they will come to understand.” Addressing both of us, he said, “Good fortune.” He
transformed into his red leggy wolf form and disappeared into the trees
I faced Billie as she watched him disappear, longing to go
with him. “Ready?”
“Let's do this,” she stated, her voice unwavering once
Before reaching Sun Valley, we found a bed and breakfast.
Billie paid for a room and ordered food. The meal arrived before we’d finished
showering, and we dug into it with gusto.
“Richard's PIs will find out we were here. It won't take
them long,” Billie informed me. “Are you sure about not covering our tracks?”
I nodded slowly. “Someone's watching us. Or rather someone's
watching someone who's watching us. I don't want to give myself away yet.” I
shook my head at her confusion and clarified. “Cassandra has a pet nearby, and
I need to keep up the pretense that I'm untrained and weak. I can't even find
out who's watching us without giving myself away.”
Billie was troubled. “I don't sense anything.”
“I noticed it almost as soon as we got here. The human she's
controlling probably doesn't even know she's using him. Maybe that's why you
don't sense him. Or her.”
“What do we do?” She couldn’t sense the threat in her
environment, without which she couldn’t maintain control of the situation. She
didn’t like being out of her element, and she hated giving up control. Courage
“We pretend we don't know they're watching and act normal.
For the most part, they're not expecting you to be any different from who you
really are. They're expecting you to trust your Mage girlfriend beyond what's
natural for any Wolf and obey a direct request or command from me that no Beta
would obey.” I took another bite and explained the culture further. “To them,
you’re a pet and my property. You only obey me, and they can’t even enter your
mind without insulting me. You’re my trump card and the only reason I’ve been
invited. Having you as a pet makes me useful and interesting. I don't know any
other way to do this,” I apologized as she pondered.
“I trust you,” she said. “That part is real. This is your
territory, so you're calling the shots. I don't have to like it to do it. It's
the best plan we have, and it may be the only way to keep everyone else alive
I smiled in gratitude, taking her hand across the table.
“I'm glad you're here. I'm so relieved I don't have to do this alone anymore.
We have about two hours to buy clothes and anything else we need.”
“Shopping. You really know how to make a dismal day worse.” She
curled her lip. “Do you have something specific in mind?”
I nodded and met her eyes. “Do you remember the outfit you
wore at the bar when I met you?” Her eyes widened in surprise. “Yep. Something
like that. Like Cassandra said, a Beta is quite the prize, so let’s show you
off like one.”
“I can handle that. How about for you?”
“I don't think it'll matter. Everyone will be watching you
anyway,” I grinned wickedly. “I want them to be impressed by you but
underestimate me.” I grew more serious. “Stay near me. I'll keep my mind with
yours, but don't reach out to me. Starting now. I'll know how you are at all
times, and I'll know if someone tries to get into your mind or coerce you. I
won't let that happen.”
“Can you do that without risking the mission?”
“Yes.” I showed her my confidence. “Going into someone's
pet's mind is like peeking into someone's bedroom. I can make a stink without
compromising our goal. I've already shown that I'm possessive of you.”
“Does she really expect you to pimp me out?” Billie asked,
“Yes, she does.” My stomach tightened at the memory,
disgusted at the idea. “She thinks it's cute that I don't want anyone else to
have sex with you. Like a child not wanting to share her toy.”
“Damn,” Billie huffed angrily. “I don't need more reason to
want to kill them than I already have. Cassandra killed John and collared
Nathan. I'd like to rip her to shreds.” She'd assumed this was a no-violence
mission, and I was honest about the possibility.
“I don't want to kill anyone. But I know it may come to that
to protect the pack. You might get your wish.”
“Gods, Sadie. I'm sorry. I keep forgetting they're you're
“I keep wondering if I'm related to these Mages, and the
thought makes me sick. I don't feel any connection to her or anyone who would
treat other people the way they do. And I refuse to believe all Mages are like
“So the plan is to get in and out with what we need to
protect the pack. No bloodshed. If it doesn't go according to plan, what do you
expect will happen?”
“I honestly don't know. I'm in new territory myself. Just
don’t hit anyone unless I give the okay.” She raised a hand to stop me from
continuing, her head cocking towards the closed door. People had been walking
up and down the hall without raising any red flags for me. Billie noticed
something about this person that I didn't. Raising a finger to her ear, she
signaled that someone was listening. I nodded. “Trust me, sweetheart. I only
want to visit some of my kin and show off my beautiful girlfriend. Nothing is
going to happen.”
She nodded, understanding the ruse. “I trust you. I'm just
“There's nothing to be nervous about. I promise.”
“If Jason finds out I'm here, he's going to flip,” she
“He doesn't have to find out. You told him we were going for
a drive in the mountains; right?”
“Yes. Just like you said.”
“Then he'll never know.”
“She's gone.” Billie gave up the pretense.
“Who was it?” I wanted to know but didn't dare touch the
“It was the woman at the front desk who checked us in. I
suppose that means she's the pet?”
I nodded in agreement. “That would be my guess. It makes
sense. If you want to know who's coming into your area, you post sentries;
Billie nodded. “Turning the hotel staff into advance scouts
does make sense. It's twisted and fucked up, but it's smart. If you're done
eating, I think we should get going.”
“Agreed. Do you know where to buy clothes around here?”
She nodded as she picked up our bag. I placed one hand on
her arm and the other behind her neck. Looking her square in the eyes, I kissed
her gently. “From here on out, we have to assume they're watching everything we
do or say. I love you.”
“I love you too.” She pressed her forehead against mine and
took my head between both hands. “We have to succeed, Sadie. We have to.”
“We will.” She closed her eyes, warring with her instinct to
be in control. I quoted Kato. “You have never lacked courage. What is asked of
you today is much more difficult.”
She nodded and opened her eyes again, facing me squarely.
“Let's do it.” We kissed and walked out the door.
* * *
Finding the right clothes in a tourist town was
easy, and we had a half hour to kill before we needed to head out. We walked
the streets and window shopping like any regular couple enjoying the day. Three
different people watched us during that time, Humans and unaware of Cassandra's
influence in their minds. I ignored them. True to my promise, I maintained
contact with Billie's mind at all times. She never sensed them.
The directions Cassandra gave me took us outside the city
limits and through a modern gate marked “Private Property. Dead End.” A half
mile beyond the gate we came upon a large ranch-style house set on a beautifully
manicured lawn. Cassandra liked feeling and looking important, so I'd expected
a pretentious home. Nestled away from the main roads and surrounded by fences,
she had no need to worry about Humans noticing what they shouldn’t.
Billie parked in the circular drive, and a well-dressed man
with a large muscular frame opened the door for me. Billie leapt out of the
Jeep without opening the door, showing off more than usual. Red faux leather
pants hugged her ass and legs perfectly. The matching skin-tight shirt sported
tears reminiscent of claw marks that showed off her cleavage and back.
She took my arm from the Human, nearly growling at the pet
with vacant eyes. I felt sorry for him, wondering if enough of him remained to
feel the torment or if he was too far gone. Carefully shielding my thoughts, I
gave the appearance of curiosity instead of pity.
Cassandra opened the front door as we approached. “Welcome
to my home, child.” Billie's stiffened, and Cassandra noticed the reaction. I
patted Billie on the arm and she calmed.
Is she ready for this?
Cassandra asked me, eyeing Billie warily.
Billie sensed the mental contact, and I replied aloud.
“Don't worry about Billie. She won't be a problem. Thank you for inviting me.
Your home is beautiful.”
“Well, it's just a temporary home until I move to Boise,” She
declared. “Come in. Come in.”
“Thank you.” Billie walked in silence by my side. She scoped
out her surroundings, even more acutely aware than usual. She gave no
indication of it, and her ready awareness eased my nervousness. “When do you
plan on moving to Boise?”
“As soon as we have the Wolf problem under control, of
course.” Her eyes darted to Billie to check for a reaction. Billie gave her an
icy look and leaned into me almost imperceptibly. Cassandra considered the
response normal and continued. “Now that everyone is here, it won't be long.”
“Where is everyone?” I asked, looking around.
“They're out back by the pool. It's such a beautiful day we
thought we'd meet out there.”
“Sounds great.” Billie and I followed her through the
massive home. A young man asked what I wanted to drink, ignoring Billie
entirely. Another pet, she obviously chose him for muscles and looks. “Juice,
“We have the best wine Sun Valley has to offer, child. Or
champagne if you prefer. Enjoy yourself while you're here.” Her mind dripped
with condescension. Billie’s presence at my side impressed her, and in every
other way she looked at me with disdain. She underestimated me. Good.
“Juice is fine. Thank you.” Even one drink would dull my
senses more than I thought wise.
She threw open the stained glass patio doors with flare.
“Gentlemen, may I introduce Sadie, our long lost cousin.”
Two men in business suits stood and greeted me with a nod.
Neither offered to shake my hand, and I found that fortunate. Come to think of
it, Cassandra hadn't touched me either. Perhaps this was part of Mage custom, I
thought, since touch amplified the connection between minds.
“Welcome.” The younger man spoke first, severe eyes
appraising first me then Billie. “Cass tells us you were raised among Humans
and live with Wolves. You'll have to tell us all about it, assuming she's
telling us the truth.”
“Marque! How rude. Of course I'm not lying. And I've asked
you not to call me Cass.”
Marque’s deliberate jab at Cassandra amused me. Charismatic
and personable, he might have been charming if not for his calculating gaze and
selfish air. He hid his superficial thoughts well.
“It's nice to meet you, Marque,” I nodded, mimicking the
“My name is Alexander.” The older of the two had greying
hair and appeared to be around 50. I hadn't yet determined the lifespan of my
people, so I couldn't be sure of his age.
“Nice to meet you,” I nodded politely. The man gave me
chills. He reminded me of the boys who’d attacked me but more accomplished at
hiding his nature.
“Is this your Beta?” Marque asked, looking Billie top to
bottom like a fancy suit he wanted to try on. Billie's hackles rose only
slightly as she appraised him in turn. She did an impressive job of not reacting
to the Mages. He eyed my mate like a coveted toy, and I forced myself not to
react. “How did you come by such a rare prize?”
I began to play up my success with Billie. “I found her at a
bar and took her home,” I replied as if finding a beautiful Wolf in a bar
happened every day in my life.