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Chapter One


If they knew he watched the ops and listened in on the communications between the teams, he’d probably be a janitor for the rest of his life. He suspected Illias knew, but he wasn’t going to out any of his secrets. That was one thing Zain knew without a doubt. He could have been on one of these teams, he thought. He was good with a gun and could walk so quietly that no one would hear him. His heart felt like it stopped altogether as he looked at the screen. That was him.

“Hold it so Journee can study him, York,” Illias said over the comms.

Zain’s heart started again and was beating so fast he couldn’t breathe.

“Asher.” Journee sounded scared. “It’s him. It’s the wolf.”

Holy hell. His worst nightmare was coming true right before his eyes. They’d gotten him.

“Did I hear that right?” York asked. “You know this one?”

“He’s a wolf.” Asher’s voice was strained.

“He was there the day our families were killed,” Journee whispered.

Zain jumped to his feet, put his hands on top of his head, and stared at the screen.

“All right, boys,” Amari’s tone told him she was done playing. “No one touches this one. He’s all for my pal, Asher.” Her face was on the screen now as she shoved him back against the counter. “Turn around, or I’ll make you suffer in ways you can’t even imagine.”

Zain reached over and shut off the monitor, then pulled the earbud out of his ear and dropped it on the desk. This was bad. So, so bad. “No, no, no.” He turned around and looked at the door and then remembered that this was the only place he was safe. Should he go talk to Shepard Addison? He shook his head. Couldn’t do that. He’s not here at Headquarters. Hell, even Zain didn’t know where he was right now.

“Okay.” He spun back around and looked at his desk. “It’s fine. They found him.” They got one of the two. Neither of them even gave Zain a thought in all these years…

The door to his office opened, and he almost dove under the desk.

Barack stood there. “Did you hear?”

“Hear what?”

The large man grinned at him. “I know you listen in. Most of us do when we’re not out there.”

“The-the op? Yeah. I did for a bit—” He motioned to the papers all over his desk. “I have so much to do right now, I couldn’t stay on long.”

“They got some good ones today.” Barack grinned. “I’m looking forward to meeting them.”

Zain blinked. “They’re coming here?” That was beyond bad. “I thought they weren’t bringing any back here…”

“One of them is very special.” Barack smiled, and it wasn’t in a friendly sort of way.

“Well, good.” Zain nodded and resisted the urge to look at the clock on the wall to see how long it would take them to transport him here.

“Talk later. I have to go make sure the four walls he’ll be looking at for the rest of his life are nice and clean.” Barack left and closed the door.

Zain looked at the door for several seconds, waiting to see if it opened again, and then turned around and rushed over to the filing cabinet in the corner. He dug the key out of his pocket and opened the bottom drawer. Inside it was a large waterproof shipping package. He grabbed it, shut the drawer, and then went over and stuffed it into his backpack. He wasn’t going anywhere without it until he knew it was going to be all right.

Setting the backpack right beside his chair, he sat down. He needed to get things in order, just in case. They wanted a fake ID for Deva and supplies ready to send to wherever she was going. If Journee Snow found the island, they were going to send a large team, maybe two, there to shut it down. He pulled his notepad out from under the pile of folders and looked at it. It was a list of what would be required. He had a list for everything. Even some of his lists had lists. Being prepared was his thing. He’d learned that at a young age and had only honed the skill as he got older.

“It’s going to be fine.” He nodded and opened the top drawer of his desk. There was nothing special about the contents of this drawer—everyone kept a handgun with their pens and paperclips, right? “I’ve got this.”

He glanced at his phone and debated on calling Illias but changed his mind. He was up to his neck in team members and communication between the teams and team leaders right now. He didn’t want to freak him out. Except, he probably already was because he’d seen what Zain had on the screen. He knew.

“Okay, my King, it’s time to come back to the office. I can’t call you about this, and I really, really need to talk to you now about—” He looked around the room. He didn’t trust that no one was listening. “You know who that did, you know what.”

His phone rang, and he was ready to bolt for the door. Forcing air out of his lungs, he grabbed it and answered it. “Yeah?”

“Really, since when do you answer the phone that way.”

It was his team leader on the other end. He needed to be normal. “Brain was occupied.” He forced a small laugh.

“That’s not a bad thing.”

Zain cleared his throat. “What can I do for you, boss?”

“I’m just checking that you have everything set up for Deva…”

“I’ll have the paperwork for her to travel by tomorrow.” He frowned. “Asher can’t get there that fast, right?”

“No. We’re hopeful that it doesn’t take too long to find it, but with only knowing an approximate area to look in…”

“Yeah. There’s a lot of water that way; could take them a while.”

“Just as long as they find it. That will be a big win.” Someone was talking in the background. “Shepard said there was going to be a big call to all team leaders. Do you know when that’s going to be?”

A call to all team leaders? About what, he wondered. “He’s away with his Queen, not to be disturbed for four more days, I believe.”

“Ah, okay. If you hear anything about it, give me a shout.”

Zain nodded and looked down at his backpack. “Of course.” He held his breath until Jesse said goodbye and hung up.

Looking at the time, he decided that was enough time in the office today. He needed to get home and figure out what he was going to do. Any calls came through his cell, so he could pretend he was here and everything was fine if anyone called. Everything was not fine, and he doubted it was ever going to be again.

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