#Chapter 32 House Arrest
“Enough” i cut through the rising voices: Selene swearing her innocence, the enforcers combatively contending that the evidence is against her, Aiden calling for calm. “This isn’t getting us anywhere. Our priority is finding Arabella.”
No one quells more than Selene under the force of my tone, and I wish I could comfort her. My anger is for the enforcers, not her.
“Our best trackers are on the trail, Alpha.” A resigned Danvers promises, “I’ve already received word that the men you sent rendezvoused with the team.”
“They’ve followed Bella’s scent to New Town.” Aiden confirms. Then, using our mental link he adds, If it were me, and I wanted to frame Selene, I would take Arabella to Garrick’s house.
He’s right. It’s the only property Selene owns independently, and the last place either of us would ever go. Let’s go.
Aiden marches out on my order, no doubt pulling the car around while I wrangle the enforcers back out of the room. “We have a lead.” I announce. “I want everyone ready to move out in five minutes.”
Danvers brow furrows, “What lead?”
T’ll explain on the way.” I deflect, calling mother and the sentries back into the secure room.
“You’re leaving?” Selene’s small voice surprises me. “Now?”
“Yes.” I answer simply.
“What if it’s a trap?” Selene halts me for the second time. “You should let the enforcers go and make sure it’s safe first.”
I don’t even consider the suggestion. I’ve never run from a fight before, I don’t intend to start now, I need to be there for Arabella.”
*Please don’t go, Bastien.” Selene whispers, her cerulean and violet eyes shining.
“I have to.” Once the guards are positioned at the door once more, I command, “Don’t let anyone in until I’m back.”
“Wait.” Tiny feet charge after me, near silent on the persian rug. “You’re locking us in here again?”
I turn back, facing the distress written clearly across my wife’s face. “I promise you’ll be safe.”
Selene blinks, her confusion and fear gradually eclipsed by outrage. “From what?” She hisses, sounding entirely unlike my mate.” thought I was the kidnapper. Why do I have to stay in lock down if I’m the one causing all this?”
Her anger is completely justified, but I don’t have time to put out this fire, not when another blazes out of control. I need to ensure my mate is safe, and the enforcers want to keep her under lock and key until she’s eliminated as a suspect.
Heaving a weary sigh, I close the distance to my wife and drop my lips to her ear. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be. Selene.”
“I’m not making this anything!” She croaks.
“It’s this or enforcer custody, sweetheart.” The endearment rings false in my clipped tone, “which would you prefer?”
It’s a lie, but we still have an audience. I have no intention of allowing the enforcers anywhere near Selene, no matter what other false evidence they find, but I can’t reveal this – not yet. It will be seen as corruption, and I need the investigators on my side until Arabella is safe and the immediate threat neutralized. I cannot risk alienating them by going against the law.
*Oh.” The threat hits home with devastating impact, and I wish I could take back the words. “So it isn’t lock down.” She summarizes. “It’s house arrest.”
“I don’t mind what you call it,” I said. “As long as you stay put.”
“This is ridiculous.” | vent. “Where the hell do they think I’m hiding her? My hands gesticulate wildly as I pace in front of Odette “Do they imagine I’m such a villain that I have a secret lair somewhere under the mountain?”
“I don’t think logic has anything to do with it, Darling.” Odette soothes, more alert than I’ve seen her in a long time. Providing comfort seems to have sidelined her sorrow, if only for a while. “Enforcers aren’t trained to question evidence, only collect it.”
“I know.” I grumble, “But I can’t believe Bastien is going along with it. Doesn’t he know me better than that?”
“I think he’s just afraid for Bella.” She asserts. “He’s always had a blind spot when it comes to her.”
“Truly though,” I harp on, unable to let the issue go. “Let’s assume I wanted to kidnap Arabella and actually found a way to accomplish it. Where could I possibly put her? What am I supposed to be doing with her? There’s no ransom and no body- and I ve been here basically 24/7 since before she was taken, so it’s not like I can be off torturing her!” The words pour out of me in a frenzy.” And they’d know if I hired someone to do it for me, because all of my money is Bastien’s!”
“You’re right.” She agrees, sitting up with a look of dawning light on her face. “The only things you have are Bastien’s.”
“Well thanks for putting it so gently.” I mutter.
Odette ignores my sarcasm, pulling me into the bathroom and out of the guard’s hearing. “The cabin.” She murmurs, “The pack house isn’t technically your property because it transfers to any Alpha, but the cabin is in Bastien’s and your name. It’s the only place they could tie directly to you, and no one has been up in ages.”
I fight the urge to jump up and down in excitement. “Odette, you’re a genius!”
“I have my moments.” A sly smile stretches across her face. “What do you say, we make a break for it?”
I‘ve wanted nothing more than to get out of this room since the first moment Bastien threw me into it. “How?* I agree immediately.
Odette begins combing her hands along the wall, her slender fingers searching for some unseen pressure point in the plaster. “One benefit of being Alphas,” she shares smugly, we get to know the escape routes even the guards don’t.”
As her lips close around the final word, the wall clicks loudly, and a hidden doorway slides open before us. Sweet relief fills me, accompanied by only a fraction of frustration. “Why didn’t you show me this five hours ago?”
Odette shrugs. “That was before. Now we know you aren’t in any danger – they can’t blame you for the kidnapping and attack you at the same time.”
I catch her arm as she lifts her foot over the threshold. “What about you?”
“Don’t worry about me sweetling.” She pats my cheek and flashes her fangs, “Gabriel wasn’t the only one who ruled this pack with an iron fist.”
“The lights are off.” I frown, peeking over a mossy boulder beyond the treeline of the cabin’s clearing.
“And I don’t hear anything inside – or smell Arabella.” Odette is hunkered down beside me, her wolf glowing through her eyes. All wolves seem to rise to the surface in the forest, and being near them when it happens makes me ache for Luna, no matter how long I’ve been without her.
I can almost imagine I feel a stirring in my own blood, a spark of fire in my empty heart. I don’t even feel nauseous here. For the first time since I found out about the baby, not even a sliver of discomfort assails my belly.
It’s odd to feel so suddenly light when we’ve found naught but disappointment.
“D**n.” | huff, “I was really hoping she’d be here. It seemed like the only explanation.”
“I know.” Odette frowns. “But at least it got us out of that room.”
Right. Our escape. I’d hoped finding Arabella would give us immunity for that little stunt, but that’s seeming less and less likely. “How mad do you think Bastien will be?”
Odette’s lip quirks. “He has to find us first.”
“Did you disable the tracking in the car?” I ask worriedly:
My mother in law rolls her eyes. “This isn’t my first rodeo, Darling.”
giggle, leaning back on the soft ground. “Should we go inside?”
“Let’s!” She chirps, bounding to her feet. Inside we find blanketed furniture, stripped beds and an empty pantry – but no kidnapped she-wolves.
Together we prepared the rooms, opening all the windows to air out the space and cleaning swiftly if not thoroughly. By the time the sun sets my stomach is growling like a wild beast, and Odette raises an eyebrow, “I don’t think ordering in is a good idea. So why don’t I run out to get some groceries?”
I nod, watching her retreating back in the mirror above the side table I’m dusting. “Odette.” I say, just as she reaches the door.
She turns back. “Yes, my love?”
“Arabella,” i begin, picking at my cuticles anxiously. “When I said we don’t really get along…She really hates me. Enough to…”
Odette freezes with her hand on the door k**b. “Are you saying she might be behind all this? That she might not have truly been kidnapped?”
“I don’t know what I’m saying.” i concede, “I just know nothing about this feels right.” I take a deep breath, “And she’s attempted worse.”
She’s in front of me now, taking my face between her soft hands and drawing my eyes up. “First, let’s get you fed. Then we’ll sit down, and you can tell me everything.”
I hiccup and nod, accepting a hug before watching her retreat to the door again, disappearing beyond and driving away with a flash of headlights. I’m only just realizing she’s left her phone on the kitchen counter, when I hear a knock at the door.
I don’t need to see the flash of blonde hair, or smell the cloying perfume to know who stands on the other side.