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After the explosion

Several shots rang out before I had even the chance to duck. My priority was to stay alive first, and then not get kidnapped. Using my wolf speed and senses, I noticed another elevator door opening opposite he one we had used, and was in there before the passengers had got out. Shouting “There’s been an explosion,” I pushed them back in while pressing the close door button. The fact that they had no doubt heard it must have made the middle aged couple hesitate, as they froze while I thumbed a button for the mezzanine level. I didn’t want to get too far away from my protection, but neither did I want to risk a stray bullet, even if they didn’t want to kill me.

I couldn’t see much as I waited for the door to close, but I did hear lots more gunfire. This was a disaster, not only would it be all over the news, but the policemen weren’t blessed with a wolf’s recuperative powers, and what questions would be asked if any of them stopped a silver bullet?  By the time I alighted, the shooting had stopped, so I tiptoed down the stairwell and eased the lobby door ajar. Through the dissipating dust, I saw several people on the floor, and heard a shout of “Call another two ambulances.” Since I knew Gerard would sniff me out, I decided to stay where I was until it was safe.

At least that was my plan until I heard someone say, “The Super’s bleeding badly, help me make a tourniquet.”

Shit, I couldn’t let the man bleed to death, so I scooted out towards the voice. Grabbing one of the ‘bodyguards’ on the way, I knelt down beside Superintendent Hawkins. His trousers were red with blood, and a man was pressing a hand into his thigh to try and reduce the bleeding. I told the man, “I’ll help.” Keeping a hand on the bodyguard, I told him, “I need a little of your energy, why don’t you sit down?” I ripped away the cloth beside the bullet hole, and placed my hand by the wound. Crap, the bullet was still in there, and quite deep. Damn, I would have loved to have an easy way to get it out, and wished like crazy that it would just pop out. Suddenly it did, accompanied by a nice spurt of blood, which got me in the face. Shit, I hoped nobody had seen that. What a time to discover that my shifting had gifted me with another talent. At least I didn’t need my eyes to see what had to be done. All I wanted to do was to stop the bleeding, which only took me a few seconds. Doing anything more would have been too dangerous.

Then Gerard was there, pulling me into a rather intimate embrace, letting blood from my face mess up his formerly immaculate suit. “Moon, are you alright?” he breathed. When I nodded, pretty much all I was capable of doing, he whispered, “Thank God. You’re awesome, and so much more than I had dreamed. If I hadn’t been…”

I had to cut him off. “Give me a report,” I insisted.

This shook him up, and he reverted to being Alpha. “The Superintendent was the worst casualty, so nobody was killed, but we managed to capture two of the unknown wolves after they were shot. The rest escaped.” By then the Superintendent was already being stretchered out by paramedics, as it seemed one ambulance came with the response team as a matter of course. How Gerard would deal with the injured wolves was his problem.   “Who is the next senior policeman?” I asked.

Gerard walked me over to a man with a Kevlar vest. “Inspector Allen?” He turned towards me, and Gerard said, “This is Moon.”

“Inspector, I imagine you will want me to come with you to make a statement.”

He looked at me as if I was a nasty insect that he wanted to squash before he managed to reassert his professional demeanor, saying, “Yes, I’m glad you are alright. We need a few minutes to get things straightened out, and then we will be happy to escort you.”

The wait gave me the chance to check up on Gerard’s team. All they had was a couple of bullet holes that they could ignore. It also gave me the opportunity to ask him, “Can the police keep the two they arrested?”

“No, of course not, especially as they think they are wounded and will be going to the hospital in an ambulance. My team will follow them and hopefully intercept at least one of them as they try to get away.”

Half an hour later we were at police HQ. The OPP had lost both of their prisoners, but somehow Gerard had reacquired one of them. Of course that was something they didn’t know. Meanwhile, I was in an interview room waiting for the Inspector to have enough people turn up before he could interview me. Hamish had arranged for a very high-powered and expensive lawyer to be present, and as a minor, he would need a friendly adult present, as well as a female officer because of my sex.

When everyone was present, Inspector Allen came in accompanied by the Lawyer, Greg Hawthorne, who introduced himself, and gave his condolences saying that he had also worked for my father. He was followed by Grace Cross, who rushed towards me, and gave me a bear hug, while saying, “Oh Moon, I’m so glad you are alright, what a terrible experience.” She took in the metal chairs, and immediately rounded on Inspector Allen. “Can’t you make things more comfortable in here? Don’t you know what a traumatic experience this has been for such a young girl, and for the second time in a week?”

I could see Inspector Allen’s face begin to go red as he was definitely not having a good day, and I expected it would get worse.  That was when the lawyer decided he had better take charge. “I take it you just have a few formal questions, Inspector. My client has had a very disturbing time and needs to go home with Mrs. Cross and relax. I already have authorization from her mother for her to act In Loco Parentis, as they are good friends. Now, shall we get this over with?”

The Inspector clearly didn’t like being railroaded, and came back with what he imagined would be his strongest way of reasserting control. “You do realize, Mr. Hawthorne that we may have to consider the possibility of taking Ms Hammersmith into protective custody?”      “That,” my lawyer said in an icy tone, “is a complete non-starter. You have seen exactly the lengths those people are prepared to go to, and their disregard for collateral damage in their attempt to either capture, or even kill my client. Now you propose to give them a head start by letting them know exactly where she will be. I don’t think that those who might have to guard her would appreciate having a target painted on their chests.” When the Inspector couldn’t raise a counter argument, he added, “Shall we?”

Fifteen minutes later, we all left a rather puzzled Inspector Allen brooding. He clearly knew he was missing something, but also obviously had no idea what it was. That wasn’t now his biggest concern, as several reporters had turned up, no doubt wanting a statement about what had gone down in the Fairmont’s lobby. I made a mental note to find out what he said later. Fortunately none of the reporters recognized us, and we left quietly. ……………………….

“I have to move on, and I have to do it soon.” Though everybody in the Cross’ living room must have expected my statement, hearing it still shook them. “The fewer people who know where I am, the safer I will be.”

Grace was the first one to speak, “I understand, dear. You know we will help you however we can.”

“Thank you,” I answered. “Gerard, did you find anything useful?”

“Still working on it,” he told us. That meant that the captured wolf was resisting. I knew they were hard nuts to crack, and whoever employed him had to be seriously scary, and what passed as scary to a wolf was frightening in the extreme.

“Do your best anyway,” I advised. Whatever we could learn would be a plus, but I couldn’t wait around. I turned and caught Hamish’s eye. He must be wondering what we were talking about. Should I tell him the truth about us? Would it help me, or would it be a disaster? I knew I needed to exert my dominance over my dad’s packs soon, but doing it in person would not be a very good idea until I had a clearler idea about whom I could trust. It was time to make a decision. “I will be leaving in an hour.” I announced, “But before that I will need to speak to all of you privately.”

I met with Hamish first, and Robert lent me his study, which was surprisingly tidy. I let Hamish take the comfortable chair, as I didn’t want to sit, seeing as how I was very nervous, and was about to take a big risk. “As my lawyer, you are obliged to keep my private information confidential, aren’t you?” I asked, as a way of leading in to what I wanted to say.

Half an hour later, he had somewhat settled. It didn’t seem as he was about to blurt everything about us out to the world. It might have been the possibility of losing me as his new biggest client that swung his decision, though I doubted it. I suspected that it was more a combination of him being in on a big secret, and wanting to have a front row seat as events unfolded. Of course, as I later realized, he might have been afraid for his life. After all, the recent display had emphasided that we weren’t eaxctly pacifists by nature.

I knew he had to go and read my father’s will to all my dad’s former pack Alphas, and I needed him to send them a message when he did. It was to be pretty simple. My dad wanted his packs to stay together under the collective umbrella he had forged over the years. To get them to do that, they would have to acknowledge me as leader. If they didn’t, well I had the power to make life very difficult for them. He also had to be well enough informed to answer their inevitable questions properly. That was the first time I had an inkling that dad might have been preparing to have our existence publicly known. Leaving the study, I was suddenly struck that all this, fraught as it was, might be lot more involved that I or even my father had foreseen.   Gerard must have picked up on something, because the moment Hamish left, he asked me, “It seemed like you made some significant decisions, and I think I need to know what they were.”

I pulled his arm through mine, and led him into the study. This time I grabbed the good chair, and let out a long sigh. “I had to take a chance, and tell him about us,” I said, as soon as the door was closed. “He’s very smart, and would probably work it out for himself what with all the crap going on around me.” He didn’t seem very happy, so I continued, “I need him. He has to go and read my will to all my Alphas, and I need him to send the right message when he does.”

“What sort of message?”

“That I’m the boss, and they had better knuckle under. Of course it will be put to them a little bit more politely, but I know they won’t like it, hell I don’t like it. I want to have a few carefree teenage years, and now I know my chance of having those experiences is vanishingly small. If I don’t take responsibility, the packs could all end up going their different ways and it would be a huge step backwards.” When I could see disbelief working its way across his face, I clarified my purpose. “My dad and I talked about all sorts of possibilities. He always knew something like this could happen, as the peace we enjoyed under his rule is fundamentally against our nature. It’s most likely been building towards this for ages. Fights to the death over females and position could become common again, as well as said females, like me, becoming hardly more than property.”

“You are too strong to become property,” he ventured.

“Then I would be considered too dangerous an example to have around. Anyway,” I said, before he could interrupt, “Hamish, being human, is one of the very few people I can trust. Having him stir the pot will give me an idea of who is on my side, and who might have been part of this conspiracy. It’s not as if it would be safe for me to face them myself.” I could see by his reaction that he hadn’t thought things through as thoroughly as I had, but again, he didn’t have my motivation.

“You think one of your dad’s Alphas was involved?”

“Of course I do. How else would they have been able to even find an opportunity to kill him? Had to be inside knowledge. The more pertinent question isn’t ‘who?’ but ‘how many’?”

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