Detective Bear (Bear Shifter Paranormal Romance) (Bear Patrol Book 2)

Detective Bear
Bear Patrol
Scarlett Grove

Copyright © 2016 by Scarlett Grove

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1

D
etective Bear Gauge Stockwell and Tech Bear Damien Fellows
sat in front of Damien’s computer, going through a list of deep web sub-forums. Gauge had been investigating the increase in the drug “crystal” on Fate Mountain for months.

He knew from his investigation that the crystal was coming from a single source. Try as he might, Gauge had not been able to pinpoint the location of the lab.

“This deep web forum has some interesting information,” Damien said, pointing at several posts an anonymous member. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “This user, Stonewall666, seems to be referencing Fate Mountain here. The geographical references match up.”

Gauge read the post in detail. Stonewall666 gave details on both the gang and the drug lab, suggesting that the group was looking for additional members.

“Can you find their location using this data?”

“Their lab is extremely remote. The random probability software I got from Corey Bright isn’t able to pinpoint their location.”

“They seem to want to take on new recruits,” Gauge said thoughtfully. “I could get close to these guys so that they take me into their gang.” He crossed his muscular arms over his chest, and rubbed his square jaw with his big hand.

“You have a perfect opportunity to infiltrate them through the deep web forum.”

“These guys want to wipe shifters off the face of the Earth. They don’t want to be told what they can and cannot do. Violence against shifters is one of the things they want.”

“These men are despicable,” Damien growled. “I understand why you’ve been so distracted with this case.”

Gauge had been following any trail he could find that would give him insight into the crystal dealers of Fate Mountain. He was determined to put a stop to it and return the town to its former state of health and security.

So many humans had been turning up in emergency rooms and jail cells in relation to crystal use. It was destroying lives and entire families. Children were being separated from their parents. It had become almost epidemic.

“It is the biggest issue facing Fate Mountain today,” Gauge said. “I appreciate your help in the investigation. As soon as we went online, we gathered more information in two weeks than I was able to gather on the street in six months.”

“I’m happy to help,” Damien said. “As long as Commander Bear signs off on it.”

“I’m going to ask Rollo if I can go undercover,” Gauge said. “If I infiltrate these men and get them to trust me, I can find their lab. I’m sure of it.”

2

L
ola Lockheart pulled
off her gas mask in the cool air outside the cave. With every fiber of her being, she wanted to quit this job. But she couldn’t. Justin would never let her go.

She strolled down the hillside, along the rugged trails, looking up at the lookouts built into the treetops above the compound. Her stepbrother, Justin Lockheart, the leader of this gang, had planned out the encampment well.

They’d been up here since her stepfather died of a crystal overdose a year ago. That’s when Justin had taken over his father’s position as leader of the anti-shifter group.

Justin and his gang believed that they had the right to do whatever they wanted. They believed that giving shifters the same rights as humans proved that crime was perfectly justifiable.

Lola didn’t believe any of that. She had grown up in the Fate Mountain community. Before her mother had married her stepfather, when Lola was ten, she had a lot of shifter friends. She had been the only black girl on the playground back then, and the shifters had always played with her. She would never hate them.

She and her mom had always been poor until Raymond Lockheart came along and promised Lola’s mother everything. After they got married, her stepfather took Lola out of school. He was so concerned about the influence of shifters that he wouldn't even allow her to leave his property.

Life on the ranch became all she knew. Her stepbrother Justin was already twenty when Lola was ten. He was already a man when she was still a child.

As she continued down the trail, her thoughts drifted to what life might have been like if she'd been allowed to live like a normal girl. Maybe she would have found a boyfriend or even a husband by now. Maybe they would have settled down in her hometown to start a family.

Instead, Lola had barely finished high school. She hadn't talked to a normal boy her own age since she was fifteen. At her mother’s funeral.

Her mother was shot, her body found face down in the woods. The murder had never been solved. But deep in her heart, Lola knew that her stepfather and stepbrother were responsible.

She sat on a log after brushing away the deteriorating bark and shivered in her thin camo jacket, regretting that she hadn't grabbed something warmer.

Living this high on Fate Mountain was cold, even in the summer. She looked down at the view of the valley below, the deep green pine trees spreading out before her. A hot tear collected in the corner of her eye. She would give anything to escape and have a real life again.

But her private thoughts were short lived when a dark shadow fell over her from farther up the trail. She turned to look in its direction. Justin stood above her, glaring down at her where she sat on the log. His slicked back black hair looked greasy as he glared at her with his dark hooded eyes and clenched his yellowed teeth.

"Where is your gun?" he snapped. His thin, wiry frame bristling with agitation.

"I left it in the lab. I just needed to take a break and get some air." Lola brushed her dark, wavy hair away from her face as a strong breeze blew it into her eyes.

"Do you have any idea how hard I have to work to keep these men off you?"

"You've told me," she muttered, shivering in the chill air.

"Don't take this lightly, Lola," he said through clenched, rotting teeth. "We're at war. And the only way to protect yourself from our enemies, and from our friends, is through the power of steel and lead,” he said. He then went on to rant about shifters.

Lola looked up at him, already used to his insane rhetoric. Lola couldn’t even listen to him anymore. Her stepbrother was an insane drug addict. He was the absolute last person in the world who should have any power at all, let alone a stockpile of weapons.

Lola had heard him rant more a few times, and frankly she had stopped listening. It was all the same violent, paranoid, angry ideas regurgitated over and over again until none of it made any sense anymore.

So maybe shifters now had the same rights as humans. Ever since the Shifter Equality Act had been passed, not a single shifter had been convicted of a violent crime against a human.

One would think with their superior strength, physique, and other physical abilities, that shifters would be more dangerous than humans. But Lola was beginning to think that maybe it was the other way around.

Shifters had helped bring an end to the world war that had been waged six years ago by the governments of the world. The shifters who had been forcefully recruited into the armies of every nation had come together to diplomatically resolve the differences of each nation.

The world had become a more peaceful place due to shifter involvement in the war. That was why the government had rewarded them with equality. Many nations of the world had even granted them diplomatic immunity. Lola didn't think shifters were perfect, but she knew they were nothing like Justin believed.

Justin grabbed Lola’s arm, lifting her to her feet. "Are you listening to me?" he demanded, his face only inches from hers. She could smell his crystal laced breath and recoiled.

Her heart leapt up into her chest, but she was already so used to this kind of treatment that she barely flinched anymore when he did it.

"Of course I'm listening," she said in a calm voice. "Shifters are evil and we have to protect ourselves from them."

Justin slowly unfurled his fingers from around her bicep and let her go. He squared his shoulders and looked down at her with pursed, dry lips.

"You're lucky I'm protecting you, Lola. You have no idea what it's like out in the real world. Did you know that shifters have taken over the Fate Mountain police department?"

"That's absolutely fucking terrible," Lola said with mock astonishment.

“I’m glad you agree. Sometimes I wonder about you.”

“Why? I love living in a cave where I cut crystal twelve hours a day. Who wouldn’t love that?”

“Shut your smart mouth, little sister. This is about the future. We are at war against the shifters. Our highest calling is to protect our own kind from the blight they’ve caused. And to do that, we need funding.”

“What about the people whose lives we destroy?” she blurted out.

She knew what happened to people who got hooked on crystal. It was an ugly decline. It had happened to her stepfather, and it was happening to Justin as well.

“The humans of Fate Mountain allowed those beasts into their community. They deserve to suffer.”

“Who are you trying to protect, Justin?”

“People like us, Lola,” he said, sweeping his hand across the horizon, dotted with tarp-covered lookouts the group’s sentries used to watch over the land from the treetops. “People who know the truth.”

“That shifters are scum?” she said with as little sarcasm as possible.

All she had left were her subtle, passive-aggressive jabs. Even if she was the only one who knew she was doing it.

“Of course, Lola,” he said, sliding his arm around her shoulder.

He leaned into her ear, his reeking breath blowing through the strands of her thick black hair. “They want our women. Women like you, Lola. But they can’t have you, little sister, because you belong to me.”

He ran his rough hand down her back, over the slick surface of her thin jacket. He grasped her round ass and squeezed, still breathing into her ear. She pressed her eyes closed. This was always the worst. When he did this to her.

Justin had never taken her purity, and he wouldn’t allow anyone else to either. But he touched her far too often. He’d been doing it since Lola was thirteen.

“I’m grateful for your protection, Justin,” she said, trying to keep her voice steady. She’d finally learned the right words to say to make him back off.

“Good. I needed the reminder,” he said, slapping her ass in the cold air. “And you need to get back into the lab. There are a few hundred pounds of fresh crystal that need to be cut.”

“And I’m the best one for the job,” she said, knowing what was coming next.

Justin had some kind of crazy notion that cutting the drugs with other ingredients was somehow “women’s work”. That meant that with all of the dozens of men in the group, Lola was the only one who added the mixture of other ingredients that they used to dilute the crystal.

She was also the only one on the mountain who didn’t use the product.

She had only ever taken crystal once. It was the summer she’d turned eighteen. Justin was twenty-eight at the time and had taken her out to a lake party. Lola never got to go to parties. There had been a bonfire and a lot of beer. He’d convinced her to take some crystal in the backseat of his old pickup.

He’d taken way more than her already, and they’d stayed up all night, driving around the mountain. She’d never spent so much time alone with Justin, and she was spun out of her mind. He took her out into the woods. She was wearing cowboy boots and cut off shorts.

That’s when he held her down and masturbated on her chest. Then he slapped her for crying. She’d never taken crystal again. Justin had apologized for what he’d done later, begging her not to tell his father. Raymond had made Justin swear to never touch her.

Justin swore he’d never hurt her again, and he didn’t for a few years. Not until after his father died and the whole operation was passed on to him.

Justin wouldn't give Lola a position in the gang. He said it was because women were not fit to lead, but Lola knew the truth. It was really because she didn't actually support anything that Justin stood for.

She might be able to fake it enough to survive, but everyone knew that if Lola got the chance, she would be out of there as quickly as her feet could take her.

Unfortunately, no one in the camp was allowed to help her. Lola was not allowed to leave by horseback or ATV. She was effectively a prisoner to her brother and his gang.

Lola believed that everyone deserved to live in peace, humans and shifters alike. What she wanted more than anything was a normal family who could have a normal, happy life.

"I was just getting back to the lab now," she said, hefting her gas mask up in front of Justin's face. "I've got a lot of work to do."

"Yes you do, little sister," he said, his eyes sweeping up and down her curvy body. "Better get back to it."

He turned to go and started walking back up the trail toward the cave. Lola sighed behind him as soon as he was out of earshot. All she could hope was that her inner strength would protect her until she finally had the opportunity to escape.

She followed Justin up the trail and pulled the gas mask down over her mouth and nose. Walking into the cave was like walking into some kind of Mad Max nightmare.

There was random chemistry equipment pilfered from pharmacies and created with spare parts. The lab itself was at least two thousand square feet, taking up most of the area of the large cave. Huge tanks of formaldehyde and other chemicals used in the process of creating crystal were stacked along the rocky walls of the cavern.

Huge ventilation hoses poured the toxic fumes further into the massive cave that continued for miles into the mountain.

Justin had chosen this location because it allowed him cover from the prying eyes of the government. He was able to hide his operation under the stony foundation of the side of Fate Mountain.

It took two days by horseback to arrive at the camp. No one would ever know where they were. It also meant no one would ever come and find her to save her.

Lola continued to the back of the cavern where her workstation was located. There were pounds of processed crystal waiting for her to cut. Part of her believed Justin had her do this job as a punishment. Cutting the drugs only made them more dangerous. It made her feel terrible about herself every day. And that was exactly what Justin wanted.

When she was done with her work for the day, she left the cave and walked to the camp built up in the snowy recesses of the mountain. She had a little tent of her own that actually had a wood floor and wooden walls on three sides. The entrance was covered by a tarp that she pushed back when she entered.

Lola had her own electric heater and single electric cooking eye. She filled her tea kettle with water and turned on the portable little stove. Justin didn't allow any fire at the camp because it would give away their location when the smoke plumed into the air. Everything was on generator power and solar power. All to keep their location a secret.

After she had made herself some tea, she sat on her cot and pulled the heavy wool blankets up over her legs.

Lola had one little secret that she'd been able to keep from Justin since he'd dragged her up to his camp a year ago.

She still had a cell phone. Unfortunately, there was very little cell reception in the camp. She pulled the cell phone out from a secret compartment in her cot and flicked open the screen. Just looking at the modern technology made her feel more connected to other people somehow. She hid it under her blanket and finished drinking her tea. There was no way that she could go to her secret spot and get on the Internet now. There were too many eyes this time of day.

Lola had a hack on her phone that allowed her to get on the Internet without paying for a cell provider. It was something that Justin had actually showed her a long time ago. But when he had ordered her to leave all of her electronics behind, she hadn't listened.

She laid down on her pillow and curled up in the fetal position, feeling too numb to cry. She rested for several hours but couldn't sleep.

When she knew that it was time for the sentries to change guard, she grabbed her phone and crept out of her tent. Most of the men were off somewhere snorting crystal or drinking their bathtub gin. Others kept watch from the lookout towers up in the trees.

Lola scurried around the back of her tent and skirted around the cliff face where the mountain fell off into a sharp drop. There was a thin trail that wrapped around the mountain and up to a higher elevation.

Most of the men never took this trail, but Lola was small and could make it, even in the darkness. She carefully side stepped along the cliff face, terrified in the darkness. If it had been daylight, the sight of the drop probably would have scared her too much.

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