#Chapter 76 Prisoner
“Mommy.” Lila whines, “it’s too tight!”
don’t relax my arms one bit. As long as my baby is still breathing, I’m going to hold her as tightly as I possibly can, for as long as I possibly can.
Martin brought us to a ramshackle hut in the woods just outside the city. We had to drive for about twenty minutes after docking the boat, and once we arrived the big bully forced us into the odd little shack. Sophie is locked in the basement with Lila and I, both prisoner and accomplice to our predicament.
When Martin appeared and announced his intentions, I hoped he would take me back to his house. Drake will recognize his scent and go straight there, but apparently the foul wolf is smarter than I credited him. We traveled over the lagoon, and unless Bastien and Drake find the boat they won’t have any idea we left the city.
My only hope is that Martin is the caller who reported Lila and I to the tip-line. If he is then he’ll be in for quite the surprise when he tries to deliver us to my mate. If, on the other hand, he wants us for some other reason or knows about Blaise Denisons real bounty… well, we’re in very big trouble.
There’s no way to know which possibility is correct, so once I’ve sufficiently snuggled my pup, my first task is to try to plan an escape. I’m strangely proud of how well I’m keeping it together. If it weren’t for Lila | would probably be having a full blown PTSD episode, but my daughter is keeping my head on my shoul ders.
Maternal instincts really are the most powerful forces I’ve ever encountered – far more magical than those of mere shifters. For all the similarities of Martin and Garrick’s prisons, l’ve managed to shut off my memory and emotions, focusing only on the here and now.
“Have you ever been here before?” I ask Sophie, adjusting Lila on my lap. She’s been very calm ever since I arrived, and I don’t know whether she’s in shock or simply too young to realize the gravity of our sit uation.
“No,” the other woman frowns apologetically, “I’ve hardly ever been out of the marsh. I didn’t know Mar tin had property anywhere else.”
“Did he tell you what he’s planning?” I press, “Do you know why he took us?”
Sophie looks like she’s about to burst into a fresh wave of tears, “No.” She says again, “He kept saying it was for me. I don’t know why I believed him.” She swipes at a rogue tear sliding down her cheek. “He’s never done anything for me, but his mind is so twisted I didn’t put it past him to think he was doing me some big favor.” Shaking her head forlornly, she drops it into her small hands. “I’m so stupid.”
“You’re not stupid, Sophie.” I answer sternly. Letting go of Lila only long enough to squeeze her shoul der, “Martin only says you are so that you won’t fight back. It’s how his kind control their victims,” I grum ble, “they say whatever they have to in order to break your spirit and make you believe you’re powerless. But you’re not.”
“I’m so sorry.” She says for the thousandth time, “I just lost it when I saw you with Drake, 1-”
“I know, Sophie.” I interject, “I can’t say I forgive you. But I understand.” | press my lips to Lila’s hair, breathing in her pure, perfect scent. “We have to move past that, we have to focus on getting out of here.”
Lila snuggles deeper into my arms, content to let me smother her with affection now that she can breathe again. “Let’s dig tunnel!” She suggests.
I don’t know how I find the will to laugh, but I do. I suppose my extraordinary relief at finding my baby safe and unharmed has made me a bit delirious. “That might take a bit too long, Lila bean.”
Sophie’s shaking her head, and I can see my little pep talk didn’t land. “There’s no use.” She says de spondent, “He’s bigger and stronger than all three of us combined.” Her next words are so quiet, I almost miss them, “We’re never getting out of here.”
It doesn’t make any sense.
I’ve known Sophie my whole life. I can’t believe she was involved in this.
We’re in the apartment she shares with her brother, Martin. He’s been her guardian ever since their par ents died ten years ago, and while I can’t imagine Sophie harming a fly, I’m not so certain about Martin. There’s always been something about the wolf I don’t like. On the surface he’s as personable as anyone, but I’ve always sensed a cold cunning underneath, a shifty demeanor I can’t bring myself to trust.
“They aren’t here.” Hugo announces unhelpfully.
“Obviously not.” Bastien grouses derisively, “but Lila was.
We all smelled the pup the moment we entered the house. It was a comfort not to find any cages or rooms that resembled a prison cell, but then again, they probably didn’t need them. Lila knows Sophie, and she hasn’t been separated from her parents for more than a day. It probably seems no different than an un conventional babysitting adventure.
I can only pray that Selene and Lila are back together, because Goddess help us, I don’t know where to even begin looking.
When I express this to Bastien, he veritably explodes. “This is your city!” He roars, “If you don’t know where to find its underbelly, then you aren’t worth anything as an Alpha.” For a moment I fear he’ll throw something. “And you know them. Use your f*****g head and think – what do you know about them? How/ do they think? Where would they go?”
“Don’t speak to me that way.” I snap, I’m just as worried as you are. Your temper isn’t helping any thing.”
Before I know what’s happened, the Nova Alpha has one massive hand around my throat, and my feet leave the ground, I’m choking and gasping for air, clawing at the hand wrapped around my windpipe. “You could never be as worried as I am.” Bastien claims ferociously, his claws digging into my skin. “Selene is my mate.”
“And Lila is my pup.” | force the lie out through clenched teeth. It’s the only thing I can hold over this overbearing Alpha’s head, and I don’t care that it isn’t true. It’s enough to see the rage on Bastien’s face.
The other man looks ready to snap my neck, and for a moment real fear stabs through my conscious ness. Luckily cooler heads remain with us. “Stop it!” Donovan orders, grasping Bastien’s shoulder, “This isn’ thelping anyone – especially not Selene and Lila.”
My feet return to the ground, and I rub my throat with agitation, massaging the sore tissues as I gaze around the apartment once more. “Alright. We know they left in a boat, and we know they didn’t come here.” I croak, “But I don’t think they own property anywhere else.”
“If they had any brains at all, they’ll have left the city.” Aiden contributes, shuffling through a stack of documents on Martin’s desk.
“I think we’re going about this the wrong way.” Donavon chimes in, “We’re focused on the what, not the why. Why did they take them, what’s the motive?”
“I still can’t believe Sophie had anything to do with this.” | insist. The little wolf is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She likes Selene, and my wolf is fervently rebelling against the idea that she could be responsible for such a terrible crime.
#Chapter 76 Prisoner
“There are only two possible motives.” Bastien replies, ‘The Volana bounty, or to blackmail one of us.” He explains, gesturing between our bodies.
“Given we’re dealing with locals, it seems unlikely it would be about you, Bastien.” Donavon replies, “My money’s on the bounty. Otherwise they would have contacted Drake by now.”
As the words leave his mouth, Aiden’s cell phone rings, and he raises the device to his ear. He begins turning as if he means to stride away to take the call in private, but then he stops, holding up one long fin ger to give us pause.
“Give me a minute,” he instructs to the person on the other end of the line. When he turns to us, tri umph blazes in his eyes. “Martin just called the tip line.” Aiden announces, “apparently he has the Volanas in his possession and is ready to cash in the reward.”
“Set a meet.” Bastien rumbles, “And tell him that if even one hair is out of place on their heads, I will rip him limb from limb.”
Aiden purses his lips, suggesting, “How about I say the payment is void unless they’re in perfect condi tion.” An edge of dark humor enters his voice, “Same sentiment but way less suspicious.”
Bastien is unamused. “I don’t care what you have to say, Just arrange the meet.” He turns to me, a predatory glint in his eye. “And if you want them to walk away from this, you better give me a d**n good reason to let them live.”