Authors: V M Black
|Alpha's Captive 04 - Haven|
|V M Black|
The Alpha’s Captive
by V. M. Black
Swift River Media Group
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or
dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 V. M. Black
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be distributed, posted, or reproduced in any form by digital or mechanical means without prior written permission of the publisher.
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Stand-Alone Short Stories
hat do we do now?”
Levi could hear the strain in Harper’s voice, her words precise and a little too high.
“We follow my backup plan,” he said firmly, sealing the SD card inside its tiny plastic bag and putting it back into the coin purse. “We go to Beane’s lair.”
this Beane, anyway, and why does he have a lair?” she asked. “And where the hell is it?”
“West Virginia,” he said, answering her questions backward.
“So turn around as soon as you get a chance. And Beane is…” Levi tried to find a phrase that could describe everything that Beane was. “My tech guy,” he finished lamely.
“Your tech guy,” she
repeated, the words sharp. “I don’t even know what that means. Why do you have a tech guy, and what kind of tech does he do? Fixes your computers?”
Think more like Q from James Bond and less like Geek Squad,” Levi said calmly, even though a part of him wanted to drive his fist through the stupid cloth roof of the stupid Mini Cooper they’d just stolen.
It was supposed to be over.
Done. They’d gotten the reader, they’d gotten a tablet. And it was all for nothing, because the damned thing couldn’t read the data on the SD card.
“Okay,” she said after a deep breath.
“So who is he, then? Is he a shifter, too?”
“Yeah,” Levi said.
“He came about it in a roundabout kind of way, though.”
Her hands tightened briefly on the steering wheel.
“Look, our best chance just went up in smoke, and you’re talking in riddles. Just tell me what the hell is going on in plain English right now, before I throw you out of the car.”
grabbed his underwear. Beane had a long and complicated life story, almost none of which had anything to do with their current circumstances. He decided on the thirty-second summary. “Chay Beane’s a shifter with a spook shop out in West Virginia. He’s a freelancer now with a small team, mostly remote, and I contract with him whenever I need to trace stuff electronically or break into somebody’s network or tap someone’s communications. If anyone can get the files off the card, he can.”
“You told me you were into art,” Harper said.
There was a gravel turnaround
ahead across the divided median meant for emergency services. Harper slowed to take it, ignoring the sign that warned of no turns.
“I trace the exchange of rare objects for large amounts of money,” Levi said
, tugging his pants on over his hips. “These days, the proof is often electronic.”
So you have a hacker friend. Who’s a werewolf,” she said as the Mini Cooper’s wheels churned through the gravel. She swung the car around, back the other way.
“A shifter,” he corrected as he fastened his pants.
Right. And he can fix this somehow. Get the files off the SD card. How do you even know they’re there? Maybe you stole a decoy. Maybe it’s broken. Maybe—”
Levi cut through her increasingly shrill speculation as he grabbed his shirt. “I promise you, Harper, it’s there. I can see it on the tablet. The SD card is practically full. But the data’s got some kind of lock on it to tell regular readers to ignore it. Beane warned me this could happen.”
“Great planning, there.”
Levi paused with his foot half-way into his stolen loafer. “Look, I thought I’d only be putting myself in danger.”
“And what if you had?” she demanded.
“There’s a very good chance that you’d be dead!”
Levi shoved his foot the rest of the way in.
The note in her voice caused a pain in his chest that he didn’t care to examine. It mattered to her that he might be dead, even though in the scenario she presented they never would have met.
And it mattered to him that it mattered to her even though it shouldn’t.
“Yeah,” he admitted for the first time. “You’re probably right. But I had to do something.”
“Getting yourself killed is something, all right.”
Her sarcasm was biting. Trust Harper not to pull any punches.
“Look, I tried to do it the right way—make plans, get a team, all that stuff,” Levi said.
“I went through all the proper channels, you know. Stood in front of the damned clan council. And they just shot me down. Too risky, they said. I didn’t have proof, they said. I’d just make it worse for them, they said.”
Harper’s eyes found his in the rearview mirror.
“Were they wrong?”
“They’re going to be wrong, dammit,”
he snapped, stomping his foot into the bottom of his other shoe. The stolen shoes were slightly tight around the toes and loose at the heels, but they’d do. “I understand their decision, okay? I didn’t know what form the data would take. I didn’t even have proof that there was data—I just thought there had to be, or else all the ridiculous crap that Mortensen was doing didn’t make any sense. So, yeah, it was a big risk without knowing that stuff and an even bigger risk without approval or backup or, or anything.”
He glared at Harper in the rearview mirror.
“But it was either go for it myself or stand by as we were all pushed farther and farther into the boondocks, hiding out in the mountains because we didn’t dare stick our noses out. Some of the culls haven’t left their families’ property for years because they’re too damned scared. That’s not life. That’s a prison.”
“So you decided to jump on your motorcycle and steal it yourself without even knowing for sure what it was,” she said.
“For the family that you don’t even see anymore. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea to me.”
“Someone on the council leaked,” Levi said, every word dripping with bitterness.
“That’s the only thing I can think of. They were ready for me when I got there, and they knew who I was.”
he edged, angry light in Harper’s eyes faded. “You can’t really trust anyone, can you? And you did it anyway. For them.”
“That’s the whole of the thing, isn’t it? There’s always a vampire hanging around, looking for an angle, looking for leverage. The SOB on the council probably didn’t think he had a choice. But if this works….”
“If it works, you’
ll all have choices,” she finished. “You’ll be free. I get it. You went off on some damned suicidal mission out of a messed up sense of loyalty—”
“They’re my family, Harper.”
He cut her off. “What would you have done?”
Her eyes flickered back to his again, and there was the tiniest hint of a smile at the corner of her mouth.
“Probably the same stupid thing. But I’m not exactly known for my good life choices.”
Levi angled in the seat so that he could stretch his legs.
“I’m sure you’ll be amazed to hear that neither am I. Give me your phone, and I’ll figure out a route from here, okay? It’s probably not smart to stay on this road.”
turned on her phone, unlocked it, and handed it back to him. It buzzed with new message notifications just as Levi took it.
“There’s a charger in here, so we should
plug it in as soon as we get a chance,” she said.
glanced at her screen. Her messenger and her text apps had angry red dots with several dozen notifications between them, and her call history showed another nine.
He cleared his throat.
“You usually get a lot of texts?”
Harper peered at him through the rearview mirror.
“A few every day. Why?”
“I think you may have made the news.”
He tapped over to her texts and scrolled through them quickly, getting the gist of the messages. “Yeah. You’ve definitely made the news.”
She reached back.
“I’ve got to tell them I’m okay—”
“No,” Levi said, tapping over quickly to the map app.
“If you do that, they’ll tell the cops, and then Mortensen’s goons might know that you turned on the phone sooner than they would otherwise and they’ll triangulate where we are and send half the state after us. Let me figure out a route, and we’ll turn it off and keep it off, okay?”
“It’s important, Harper.”
said, reluctance in her voice.
“And we need to pick up another burner as soon as we get a chance.”
“Okay,” she repeated.
studied the map. He zoomed in and out along the route for a moment, committing it to memory. He turned off the phone before returning it to her. “Six miles to your first exit.”
“Sure thing,” Harper said, plugging in the charger.
“Keep a lookout for a place to hide until dark,” he added.
“Because that worked so well the first time?”
she asked, but the usual bite of her retorts was somewhat dampened.
“We’re driving a stolen red and whi
te Mini Cooper in the middle of rural Pennsylvania,” Levi said. “We don’t really have much of a choice.”
“Whatever you say,” she said.
“But the guys who are after you have seemed to have had an unnatural amount of luck on their side. It’s like they know exactly where to look.”
They’d found them in the barn, found them at the Walmart, found them on the river….
Levi spat a curse and grabbed her purse, digging through it quickly
“What is it?”
Her eyes flicked up to the rearview mirror.
“The dagger,” he said.
“It has to be the dagger.”
He’d been so busy running that he hadn’t stopped to think.
Stupid, stupid, stupid….
found the dagger, then with a little more digging in the depths of her purse, he found her tweezers and his lock pick set, too. He examined the sheath and hilt first, trying to find a loose jewel or a tiny hidden chamber. He pulled the blade out and looked closely it, then poked inside the sheath with the lock picks. Nothing.
Finally, he unscrewed the pommel again and pulled the cotton
wadding all the way out with the tweezers. But it was just ordinary white cotton, the same kind that was in a pill bottle, kept dry by a narrow rubber gasket. He peered into the hollow space behind it and didn’t see anything, but when he prodded with a lock pick, something moved. He dug harder, trying to dislodge it, and all at once it came, sliding into his hand.
A black plastic cylinder with a seam along one side, i
t was barrel-shaped and only slightly larger than a round for his luger. It looked so innocuous. But Levi knew it was anything but. He pushed an edge of a lock pick into the seam and twisted. It came open, revealing a tangle of wires, a tiny battery, and a small chip inside.
“Damned paranoid bastard,” he said.
“That’s what I’d do, right? You’ve got data you don’t want to lose, and you hide it away. Wouldn’t you track the thing you hid it in, just in case?”
“What is it?” Harper repeated.
“We’ve been carrying around a GPS locator,” he said, snapping the device closed again.
What? Throw it out!”
Levi put it carefully into his pocket.
“I don’t think so. Let’s find a gas station. Plant it on somebody else. That should buy us a little time.”
Harper’s forehead creased.
“What if we get them shot?”
“Mortensen’s too careful for that,” he said.
Then he remembered the barn doors. “Well, maybe.”
here had to be some way….
Out of the window,
the road was long and straight with nothing but trees alternating with fields on either side. Except, far ahead, his werewolf sight made out something on the shoulder.
With sudden inspiration, he said,
“We’ll stick it on a semi, okay? They won’t try to go after a semi with guns blazing. They’ll at least do a bit of investigating first, right?”
“All right,” Harper said
steadily. “Where are we going to find a semi?”
“Dead ahead. Time for some more fast talking, Harper.”