The Lethe bridge is suspended over the turquoise waters of the lagoon, its silver cables and solid deck reflected in the crystalline surface. A few meandering shifters and workers on late lunch breaks are scat tered along the length of the bridge, none of whom look anything like the rogues I imagined.
Unease seethes in my belly. This feels wrong. Granted, I’ve experienced nothing but pure anguish since Lila was taken, but this is different. Something about this meeting seems off, though I can’t put my finger on any one thing in particular. It’s partly the lack of visible suspects, but I also can’t believe the kidnappe asked for a meeting in such a public place, and in broad daylight too.
And why wasn’t there a ransom? Why did they only ask for a meeting?
I’m still standing at the mouth of the bridge, scanning the long structure for likely suspects, but finding none. Suddenly a soft voice sounds behind me, and a familiar scent ripples through the air. “Selene?”
I whip around, my heart skipping a beat as I lay eyes on the speaker. My brow furrows, this isn’t what expected. I’d recognize the lovely hazel eyes and strawberry blonde hair anywhere, but they are terribly out of place in this moment. “Sophie?”
Her eyes are red-rimmed and a dark bruise is blooming over her high cheekbone. My first instinct is worry, but then I smell Lila. Sophie smells like my pup – and that can only mean one thing. My disquiet flourishes into fresh anger, and my eyes narrow to slits, “You?”
She immediately begins shaking her head. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Tears well in her eyes, “I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“Where is my daughter?” I hiss.
“She’s safe.” Sophie promises with a hiccup. “I only wanted to talk to you… to convince you to leave Drake.”
Fire explodes from deep within, and Luna begins clawing to get out. The instinct to shift – to attack – is almost undeniable. “You kidnapped my daughter because of a silly crush!?” I thunder.
“I didn’t… I don’t…” She s**s helplessly, unable to conjure an explanation for her insane plan. I’ve known how Sophie feels about Drake for a long time, and until now she’s had my sympathy. If anyone understands unrequited love, it’s me. However this is too far, much too far,
“Splitting us up won’t make him love you, Sophie.” I snap harshly. “We’re not even together.”
“I saw you kissing!” She bursts out, looking as if she wants the ground to open up and swallow her whole.
I breathe in a heavy sigh, trying to find patience. I’m no longer terrified for my pup’s life, but I won’t re lax until I have her back. “No. I ducked his kiss, and it will never happen.” I share, brushing my hair back to expose Bastien’s mark. “I already have a mate, I don’t need another.”
Sophie’s eyes widen in horror, “But… Lila… it’s all over the pack that she’s his.”
Suddenly I realize my blunder. I can’t keep up the lie about Lila’s paternity and also maintain that Drake and I have never been together, but my daughter’s safety comes first. “She isn’t.” I announce coolly.
The other woman’s lip is trembling fiercely, and she’s slowly folding in on herself, “I’ve been so stupid.” She shudders as if invoking the name of a demon, “Martin… He said…”
The fine hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. “Sophie, how did you get that bruise on your cheek?” I interrupt, a sickening feeling in my stomach. I’ve only met Martin twice, but I’ve never liked him.
*Chapter 75 The Meeting
As I look at Sophie now, the clues begin to fall into place. A suspicious number of injuries over the years, her skittishness, and discomfort around any men but Drake.
Sophie averts her eyes and shakes her head, looking so utterly deleated that my heart opens for her – just a crack. I’ve been a man’s prisoner, I know exactly how horrifically they can twist your thoughts and feelings. My fury ebbs slightly, followed instantly by a great resurgence of terror, I take Sophie by the shoul ders, giving her a little jerk and pulling her eyes up to mine. “I need you to tell me where my daughter is.” || insist. “Right now.”
My heart stops beating as the other woman begins to reply, the very last words I wanted to hear al ready on her lips, “Martin-”
“I should have known you’d bungle this.” A snide voice interrupts her. We both turn to find her brother leaning against the railing, malice glittering in his eyes.
“Martin, what are you doing here?” Sophie squeaks.
He rolls his eyes, “You stupid girl,” Martin jeers, “haven’t you figured it out by now?”
Sophie hasn’t, but I have. “You didn’t bring me here for any promise,” | assert hoarsely, “You left that note to get me away from the Alphas.”
A cruel laugh leaves his lips as he strides forward. “Very good.” He taunts, the humor vanishing from his features so quickly I have whiplash. “And now, you’re coming with me, both of you.”.
I know something is wrong the moment we return to the packhouse. Now that I’ve marked Selene, I can feel when she’s close by – and she isn’t. I cannot smell her or sense her presence, and Axel immediately goes into protector mode.
They’ve taken her too. He growls in my head, We shouldn’t ever have let her out of my sight!
We don’t know that for sure. I try to reason, but my heart is pounding frantically in my chest. I run up to Selene’s suite, blood rushing in my ears. I can hear Aiden and Donovan calling out after me, their footsteps pounding up the stairs at my back, but I ignore them. I don’t have time to explain.
Crashing in so violently that the door comes off its hinges, I scour the set of familiar rooms, scenting the air for traces of shifters who do not belong. I catch only the tiniest hint of an unfamiliar wolf. The aro ma is completely separate from my mate’s, and I don’t think they were actually near each other.
There are no signs of a struggle, no knocked over furniture or broken vases. Everything is as it should be, appearing exactly as we left it. Everything except for a single piece of parchment on the coffee table.
I lunge for the page, trying to block out Axel’s bloodthirsty tirade against the people responsible for stealing our females. I’ll rip out their throats one by one. I’ll skin them alive and use their bones as tooth picks. I’ll…
My eyes fly across the page: once, twice, three times, just to be sure I understand. Surely Selene didn’t go to meet the kidnappers alone. She wouldn’t ever do anything so foolish, would she? Goddess it’s proba bly a trap, otherwise they would have demanded money or some other sort of ransom., .
Immediately pulling out my phone to check the time, I let off a volley of curses. It’s 2 o’clock already.
I turn on my heel and storm out of the room as swiftly as I came, shoving the note into Drake’s chest when we nearly collide on the landing. Behind me I can hear the crinkling of paper as he unfurls it, then the shouted commands and charging feet of at least a dozen guards.
Drake falls into sync with Aiden, Donovan and I, catching up more quickly than I expected. “Why would she go alone?” He asks, voice thick with worry.
#Chapter 75 The Meeting
“Her pup’s life is on the line.” Donavon grumbles on my left, “Do you really believe she wouldn’t risk her own neck to save her?”
“But now they’re going to get both of them!” Aiden exclaims.
“Not if we get there first.” I growl, finally exiting the oversized mansion and shifting midstep. With Axel in control, I race to the lagoon as fast as I can, only deferring to Drake for navigation assistance.
The inhabitants of Asphodel scatter as we come barreling along the docks, jumping out of the way when we pass and hiding in their doorways. It’s a rare thing to see so many powerful shifters in wolf form within city limits, especially two Alphas side by side.
By the time we reach the lagoon, news has spread through town that a hunting party is out for blood. I don’t know how word beat us there, but the bridge is empty and the surrounding area positively deserted.
No Selene. And no Lila.
The remnants of her presence remain, and I follow her scent to the edge of the water, where a boat was recently tied. She’s not alone. Two other wolves were with her, a male and a female. I snarl and dig my claws into the ground, they left on the water, which means they can’t be tracked.
I’m seconds away from throwing my head back and howling into the air, when Drake appears at my side, a very odd expression on his furry face.
What? I demand sharply.
His glowing green eyes bore into my own, I know who has her.