It was a Friday night and instead of being in my favorite bar throwing down shots of whiskey, I was on a rooftop looking through a rifle scope and watching my target across the street. I sighed as I adjusted the rifle slightly to compensate for the slight breeze that had begun to blow. I’d been hired by the Commander of the Old Towne Garrison to help bring in a bail jumper, who happened to be a werebear that murdered four Garrison members in an armed robbery attempt. The Garrison had lost him during transport and then had disappeared from their radar. That was why I was here, on a Friday night, sitting on a rooftop, and feeling completely bored.
I picked up the radio and said, “Target in sight. No sign of others. Orders?”
The radio crackled and then the Commanding Officer’s voice broke through, “It’s a go for takedown.”
“Are we positive on the weight?”
“348 pounds was recorded at the time of arrest. Can you handle it?”
“If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Just do your damn job, Enforcer.”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” I said sarcastically.
With a groan of frustration, I sighted along the scope and as I was about to pull the trigger, my earpiece came to life.
“Hey boss,” my partner, Ben, spoke.
“Hold,” I replied and looking once more, pulled the trigger.
I watched the heavily dosed tranq go through the window and pierce the neck of the werebear. He slapped his hand over the spot and pulling the tranq from his neck, looked at it and then through the window. There was a snarl and he took a few steps and crumbled. Unconscious. My job was done.
Picking up the radio again, “Target is down. Go for extraction.”
“About time,” the man said. “Payment will be done as usual.”
“Nice doing business with y’all.”
I turned off the radio and began packing up.
“Alright, Ben,” I said, “what’s so damn important that you felt the need to break radio silence?”
“You need to come back to the office immediately,” he replied. I picked up a touch of fear in his voice and frowned. Not much scared the man.
“Job’s done. I’ll be there in fifteen.”
A tinge of worry crept up in my chest as I finished packing up and headed down from the roof. Reaching the ground, I swung the rifle pack over my shoulder, and walked quickly to my bike. The bike was my baby, a dirt bike that had survived the nuclear blast that had wiped through the earth over 83 years ago. I had customized it with every piece of bike scrap I had come across. It had a modified 449cc motor, with armor plating and casings for my weapons, and its top speed on open road was 130 mph. It was a breathtaking, beautiful beast of a machine. I smiled as I got on it and turned on the ignition.
I zipped through and around the streets and crumbling buildings on my way to my office that was situated on the outskirts of town. My office was a derelict brownstone in a neighborhood where there were only five remaining buildings. Mine was the furthest away from the other buildings. I pulled around back and unlocked the warded garage. Besides my bike, the garage contained Ben’s customized, big wheeled, buggy, my everyday rally that sat two, and an armored 4x4 transport that served as our mobile base.
I parked my bike and left the garage, locking the ward down. It was necessary in these times. There were too many thieves and rogues running around that the Garrison couldn’t maintain control over.
I walked in through the back door and headed straight to the kitchen. I took off the rifle pack and placed it on the table. Grabbing a beer out of the fridge, I opened the door that led to the basement, our office. I walked a quarter of the way when I was greeted with the scent of a werewolf. I stopped and inhaled deeply and growled low in my throat when I recognized the scent.
What the hell was he doing here?
I took a deep breath to calm myself down and continued down the steps. Turning a corner, I saw Ben sitting in front of a line of monitors trying not to draw attention to himself.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit, Gustus,” I said, making Ben jump.
“Nice to know you haven’t forgotten your friends,” Gustus spoke as he moved out of the shadows.
“I wouldn’t exactly call us friends. You tried to fucking kill me against her wishes,” I answered looking at him coldly. “Why are you here, Gustus?”
He chuckled low in his throat and I bristled in anger, “Ah, Nyx, never the one for small talk. Since you’ve asked all nicely, Lexa wants you home.”
“I have no home remember,” I said bitterly. “I was banished eight years ago. I’ve followed the rules. I haven’t stepped near the border in all this time. Why would she want me back in Clifton?”
“I was only sent to locate and bring you in.”
I scoffed, “Bring me in? Who the hell do you think you are, Gustus? You come here acting all bad ass and menacing, expecting me to just comply. To submit.”
He walked up close to me and tried to show me he was the more dominate of the two of us, but it didn’t work. There was no one more dominate than me and he knew it.
“You were her Second, Nyx. You got greedy and wanted her power. You killed everyone there,” he said.
I growled low, “Get it through your head, Gustus. I never wanted to take over the pack. I was quite happy being Second.”
“The facts don’t lie.”
“Those facts did.”
“Hmph,” he said turning and walking away from me. “The past is irrelevant, Nyx. There is a much more pressing matter than you.”
“And that is what, exactly?”
He looked at Ben, who shrank into his chair, and replied, “It’s best if we discuss this in private.”
“Whatever you have to say, you can say in front of my partner. There’s no one for him to tell.”
Gustus snapped his gaze to me, eyes flaring bright green for a moment, and then nodded.
“Very well,” he said as if he was doing me a favor. “There has been some unauthorized activity in the Manassas region recently.”
“We’ve sent teams to investigate, but none have returned.”
This news peaked my interest and I asked, “How many?”
I blanched. Twenty pack members just disappeared. That couldn’t be right.
“Disappeared or killed?”
“We don’t know. That’s why Lexa wants you home. You’ve built a solid reputation here and in the surrounding areas. You’re considered the best among the best. You’ve been able to track, locate, apprehend or kill your targets without causing a disruption in the everyday lives of the population.”
“So, Lexa just wants my skills. Even if I do agree to this, I have a kill order on me. If I take one foot past the border, I’m dead.”
“The kill order has been temporarily lifted on Lexa’s orders.”
“I’m sure Titus just loved that,” I said sarcastically.
“It does not matter what Titus likes or dislikes. Like all pack members, he follows her without question.”
“What’s in this for me,” I asked as I leaned against my desk. “I don’t do pro bono work.”
“Lexa is willing to pay you based on the difficulty of your task. She has made available any and every resource that is available to the pack. She is giving you free reign over the entirety of our lands.”
“That’s not enough, Gustus. If whatever is out in Manassas has already made 20 members disappear from the face of the Earth, we are talking extreme danger. I’d be putting my very life on the line.”
He looked down at his hands that had become fisted when I refused the terms. When he looked back up at me, there was a flash of rage in his eyes, but he quickly schooled his features to one of indifference.
“I had hoped that your greed would be enough to compel you, but I can see that is not enough. Lexa informed me that may not be enough, but I did not believe her,” he said through gritted teeth. “She is willing to lift your banishment and the kill order permanently and bring you back into the pack. Past forgotten, slate wiped clean.”
“I know that you wouldn’t willing give me back my position, so what would I get to do?”
“That is up to her and the rest of the Council to decide where you would be placed if you succeed.”
I looked at him and inhaled deeply. Whatever was happening, I could smell the fear and worry coming from him in small waves.
“Why me? There are other freelance Enforcers out there that would die to take on this job and would’ve agreed at the mention of a large sum of money.”
“Because, she only trusts you to be able to find the answers and give it to her truthfully, regardless of what Titus and I think.”
“And what is it that you think?”
“That I didn’t make sure you were dead when I threw you over the border,” he said with deadliness coating his voice. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what I think. Your unique skills and powers far outshine those of your competitors. She wants that.”
I looked over at Ben who was subtly shaking his head, telling me not to take the offer. I stood there thinking hard. Was it worth it? Was I willing to go back to the pack and follow her rules? Was it worth seeing her again? Was it worth facing the memories and the heartbreak? Could I stand by knowing that twenty pack members had disappeared without a trace?
Coming to a decision, I asked Ben, “How many cases do I currently have on the docket?”
He looked resigned and pulled up the case files on the computer.
Looking at the list he said, “You have 20 open cases. 15 of them you can easily give over to the other freelancers. The other 5 will only deal with you, personally. Of those five, you have two that must be done immediately and one of them is with the Coalition.”
“Thank you,” I replied and turned to Gustus. “I need two weeks to coordinate and get the two jobs done.”
“Lexa will be displeased.”
“I don’t care if she is ‘displeased.’ I have a job, I have bills to pay, and I have a responsibility to my clients. I’m not just going to stop and let these people down, Gustus. If she wants me that bad, she will have to wait two weeks. As long as you don’t send any more teams to Manassas, the pack will be safe. My only recommendation is to set up long range reconnaissance to keep an eye on the situation. I don’t know why you didn’t do that in the first place before sending in teams. It’s sloppy, Gustus.”
He bristled at my comments and growled, “You would be wise not to push this, Nyx.”
I got up in his face, nearly nose to nose, and with a deadly calm, “Go ahead and try, Gustus, but Lexa will lose her Second and there would be nobody to help her.”
“Nyx, hand,” Ben said, calling my attention.
I looked down and my hand was covered in blue fire, the hottest flame I could produce. Gustus looked down as well and backed down quickly. Sometimes it paid to be a werewolf and a fire mage.
With a loud deep breath, Gustus said, “I will tell her you will be arriving in two weeks.”
The flame extinguished, and I nodded, “Two weeks. If I finish early, I will come early.”
“If that is the case,” he said, producing a card, “Call this number and arrangements will be made.”
I took the card and mocked saluted him, “Then I suggest you leave my home. Quickly.”
He took the hint and without a backwards glance, left. When I heard the door click and could no longer smell him, the tension released, and I sat behind my desk, exhausted.
“I really don’t think it’s a good idea to get involved with your old pack, Nyx,” Ben said as he took a chair across from me.
“I don’t think it’s a good one either,” I replied, looking at him.
“Then why do it? They threw you out with a freaking kill order. You have no responsibility to them.”
I leaned back in my chair and replied, “I can’t just ignore the fact that 20 pack members have up and disappeared. That never happens. If there’s death, the other teams would have reported it and Lexa would have attacked the area in full force to take down the threat. But because of who and what I am, I’m the only one that has the highest chance of ending her situation with minimal bloodshed or any.”
He nodded and replied, “It’s a good thing that the Coalition doesn’t know how powerful you really are. You’d either be in a lab or dead.”
“Exactly why I only use my Fire. It keeps me off their radar.”
“Alright. I’ll start compiling a list of Enforcers that would be able to complete the 15 jobs, concentrating on who would be best for which case.”
“Thank you. I’ll handle speaking with the three who will only work with me. Then knock the two jobs out.”
“Speaking of the Coalition. It’s a bit of a doozie.”
He handed me the file and I opened it to look. It was an intelligence gathering mission. Once that was completed, I was ordered to then take the entire group out.
“You’re right,” I said, looking at Ben. “I’m going to have to use more than my Fire to take down this organization, unfortunately. There’s no other way, so I’ve got to make it look like I looked used more mundane methods.”
“The other job is a straight assassination. I’d knock that out first while you’re information gathering.”
“Good idea. But before I do anything else, I am going to the bar,” I said standing up.
He smiled, “I’d change first. There’s no way you’ll be able to pick up a girl in that outfit.”
I looked down at what I was wearing and grinned, “You’re right. I look like I’m going to kill somebody instead of flirting. Good night, Ben.”
“Good night and happy hunting,” he said with a laugh and returned to his beloved computers.
I shook my head as I walked up the stairs. That boy was a mad hacker and could hack into everything, but he was the most socially awkward person I had ever come across. That’s what made him a good partner. He could do his work and I never had to worry about information leaking out.
I took a shower and got dressed into something more agreeable to my goal for the night. Getting drunk and laid. Three weeks was too long for me and I was feeling the itch. The Forest Pack was very prone to randiness and it wasn’t uncommon to have full blown orgies. Even though I’d been banished, I still had that sex drive. Hard to ignore sometimes.
I headed back out to the garage and then off to my favorite haunt. Inside, I handed the bartender my leather jacket and revealed a full sleeve of Celtic art tattoos. A remembrance of where my lineage.
The bartender handed over my usual and leaned over the counter to whisper in my ear, “Nyx, there’s a new girl in town. Blonde in the corner booth. Kinda shy, you should introduce yourself.”
I nodded, “In a bit. I’ve got to make my rounds first.”
He grinned and went to help other customers. I moved easily through the crowd, occasionally coming across a caress or a kiss depending on the woman. I was lucky that the women I had slept with held no ill will towards me. They knew what pack I came from and knew that it was in my nature to sleep around. It was something I always made clear.
I took my usual place and leaned against the bar counter facing outwards, scanning the crowd and listening to the live band. Taking a sip of my whiskey neat, my eyes found the girl that I was told about. Blonde hair, slightly round face, the most electric blue eyes I’d ever seen, and from what I could see of her body, curves that demanded to be caressed. She was alone and sipping from a champagne flute, looking over the crowd. People watching. As her eyes swept the crowd, I caught her eyes and I knew I had to have her. I smiled slightly and inclined my head. She smiled nervously and looked down at her drink before taking a sip. I purposely turned my attention from her and out of the corner of my eye, I could see her looking up at me. Drinking my whiskey, I would occasionally look over at her and catch her watching me. When she noticed me looking, she would immediately glance away. I turned back around and leaned on my elbows, giving her a chance to see my ass. There was a mirror running the length of the bar and I could see her reflection.
She couldn’t seem to stop staring at my backside and I smiled as I saw her tongue dart out, wetting her lips. I was getting to her. I finished my drink as she had finished hers and was playing with the flute.
I turned to face the crowd again, as the bartender refilled my drink. The crowd parted as the lead singer walked over to me.
“Chloe,” I said, standing up straighter and giving her a tight hug. “Your voice is impeccable as always.”
She blushed and ducked her head, “Nyx, it’s good to see you. Buy me a drink?”
“Always,” I replied and signaled the bartender.
He slid a bottle of beer over and Chloe stopped it deftly. She sighed as the cold liquid slid down her throat.
“So, what brings you over here,” I asked. “You’re usually canoodling with Jake between sets.”
“Well,” she said, placing a hand on my arm and turning her amethyst eyes on me, “me and the guys were wondering if you’d sing with us? Just a couple of songs. You know for old times sake.”
“And what would I get out of this?”
“Maybe that blonde that you’ve been staring at all night. You know how chicks dig band members.”
I chuckled, “Very true. It’s a shame I could never get you into my bed. We would’ve made beautiful music together.”
She jabbed me in my side and replied, “You know better than to flirt with me, Nyx Allistar. I could freeze you with a thought.”
“Oh, I know, darling,” I said and finished my drink. “Alright, I sing a couple of songs with you.”
She beamed up at me and I couldn’t help but smile back as she tugged me to the stage. A cheer went up as everyone noticed where I was going. My singing was a rare treat and they all looked forward to it.
“Family Tree,” I asked them and they all nodded.
As soon as they started playing, the crowd quieted.
“Well, it seems to be some people think I am just a dreamer
Well listen close and you will find I am a believer
The stubborn word is thick as mud and this I can guarantee, yeah
And my soul’s deep, deep as that blue sea, I wish somebody’d free it
Once I lost my way
All that I would say
Please take home
To the place I belong
I wanna die where I was born
Bury me beneath the family tree
Yeah, no one ever really wanna leave
I’m home, baby, don’t you know?
I’m finally home…”
As I started the second verse, my eyes gazed over the crowd, swaying to the song, and settled on the blonde. Her eyes were riveted on me and I couldn’t help but smile. I put everything into the song, finding it appropriate to what I was about to embark on. I was going home.
When the song ended, they started playing New Kinda Feelin’. This time I sang to her, keeping her eyes trained on mine. She began blushing and I smiled and winked at her, making her eyes widen. When we finished, a cheer went up and I bowed and hopped off of the stage. As I walked back over to the bar, I noticed that she seemed intent on staring at the flute she was playing with in her hands. I grinned, realizing that I had hooked her. Now all I had to do was reel her in.
“Damn, boss,” the bartender said as he handed me another drink and champagne. “I swear you could melt the clothes off of any woman here.”
I laughed and downed the whiskey and said, as he poured me another, “Liam, you’re making me blush. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a woman that needs my personal touch.”
“I don’t think you’ll have a problem with that one,” he laughed.
I saluted him and headed over to the blonde’s booth.
“May I join you,” I asked startling her. “I come bearing gifts,” and held out the champagne.
She nodded and accepted the drink, our fingers touching briefly sending a small jolt of electricity up my arm. A lightening mage, a rare power among mages. I smiled at her as I slid into the booth opposite her.
“I haven’t seen you around here before,” I said as I nonchalantly took a drink.
She took her own sip before she answered, “I’m new. Here on a business trip.”
I quirked an eyebrow at her and said, “A business trip? This side of town doesn’t usually have much business that would require a personal visit from an out of towner such as yourself.”
“This one does,” she said nervously.
“Then I shall pry no more. Your business is your own.”
She nodded and took another drink.
She looked at me with a wrinkled brow, and said, “I’m Clarke.”
“Nyx,” I answered and held out my hand.
She took it, another shock traveled up my arm, and shook it. I let go and surreptitiously wiped my hand on my jeans. She didn’t seem to notice the slight exchange of energy, which was odd. Most mages had control of their magic to prevent such things from happening.
“You have an interesting name,” she said.
I smiled and said, “I’m named after the Primordial Goddess of the night.”
“Why would your parents name you that, if you don’t mind me asking?”
I shrugged, “Easy enough, I was born during the darkest part of the night. My hair and eyes matched the night and that’s why my name.”
“And the tattoos,” she asked curiously.
“My people are descended from the Gaelic Celts.”
“Do you have more?”
I smiled mischievously and answered, “Yes, I do, but very few people are allowed to find them.”
She blushed and took a swallow of her champagne.
“Do you,” I asked, startling her, “have any yourself.”
She shook her head, “No. I’ve never had the desire to.”
“It’s not for everyone,” I said nodding my head in understanding. “I happen to find it therapeutic.”
“Yes. Just a way to deal with some things,” I replied, shrugging.
“And I probably won’t know what those things are if I ask?”
“You’re right, you won’t,” I said grinning. “We’d have to get to know one another better before I divulge my inner workings.”
That got her blushing and then she lapsed into silence as I waited patiently for the inevitable.
“I’ve never heard someone sing like that before,” she said, looking at me with wonder.
I chuckled, “I’ll take that as a compliment, Clarke. It’s not often that I get to sing. My line of work doesn’t always give me time to and before you ask, I’m not going to tell you what I do. Just as I won’t ask what you do.”
From there, I eased her into agreeing into removing ourselves from the bar and moving to someplace more private to continue our conversation. When I took her to my penthouse suite, she was immediately drawn to the view of Olde Town. I smiled to myself as I poured us a couple of drinks. With them in my hands, I approached her from behind. I noticed her eyes flicker to my reflection, but she didn’t turn around.
Standing directly behind her, I curved my arm around her waist and offered the drink. She took it and I rested my hand across her stomach. She stiffened slightly, but allowed it to stay.
“Beautiful view, isn’t it,” I asked softly.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she replied with awe in her voice.
“Hmm, neither have I.”
She glanced up at me in our reflection and noticed that I was looking at hers. She sipped the drink nervously and I smiled slightly. My eyes never leaving hers, I pushed her back into me and felt her body tremble. I leaned down and kissed the side of her neck. She closed her eyes at the contact, her body relaxing into mine. I nuzzled her neck, taking in her scent, and grazing the spot behind her ear with my teeth. She let out a small gasp and turned herself slightly until I captured her mouth. As we kissed, I turned her around slowly and moved until her back was pressed against the window. She wrapped her arms around my neck, her fingers entwining in my hair. She leaned her head back as I made a trail down her neck and nipped her on the exposed part of her shoulder. She moaned softly as her thoughts leaked and I found out that this was the first time with a woman. I gentled my usual ways, teaching her what it meant to be with a woman. When she climaxed, it was with a most delicious sound making my wolf happy. I then taught her the ways to reciprocate and with her lightning, she made me want more as we fell asleep.
When I woke up later that night, she was still sleeping beside me, curled up against me. I smiled and got up. I dressed quietly, watching her curiously. The wolf and I felt that this had been more than a one-night stand, but we couldn’t place the feeling. I shook off the confusion and left quietly.