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Chapter One


Tripp reached in and grabbed his pack. Shepard Addison asking him to do this personally wasn’t unheard of, but he had to wonder if this missing female was more important than he was told. Not that all females weren’t important—they were, but why have the King ask and not his team leader? Could be he was the closest, but his gut said otherwise, and it was never wrong. Pulling out the map, he opened it on the seat and then checked his phone to see the last location she’d been at. 


He stabbed his finger into the map at the location and then dragged it along the map for a few inches. Mountains were close to where she was last tracked. If she’d gone in that direction to head to the meet-up with the teams, it wasn’t going to be a good time. If she wasn’t just lost and someone did get to her, there were a hundred different ways they could move undetected and vanish, especially with the help of the snow heading that way. 


“Shit.”  Folding the map, he stuffed it back in the pack. It was a long drive from where he currently was. So much for his being the closest theory. He’d wanted to be in on the ops to get more of Konner Flores people out. He smirked, remembering how much spunk Terah had when he’d found them. Curiosity had him wondering if they were all that fast and strong. Now he would never know. 


He was going to need enough supplies for a long trek. He looked down at his bare feet, and his boots, those would be a good start. He’d only stopped to go for a quick run and grab a bite to eat before driving to the rendezvous location for the ops. 


Walking to the back of his SUV, he opened it up and grabbed his boots. Before he could get the first one done up his phone rang. No number came up. “Carson.” 


“It’s Zain Sanders, I’m the office director for Jesse’s team.”


Director? aka office guy. Pulling the sock out of his boot, he sat on the bumper and pulled it on. 


“I checked your location and have arranged a flight for you to get to Amari’s last known location.”


He paused for a second and then jammed his foot into his boot. “A flight?” Only one thing in this world turned his stomach, or rather his animal’s, and that was flying. Tripp had been in planes, and helicopters, and even tried cliff gliding and all of them were a big nope. His feet needed to be able to always reach the ground—like a nervous ass noob learning to swim.  He clicked his teeth together, it would get him there faster, then he might be able to get in on the second wave of the ops. “All right.”


“I’ll send you the location.” This guy’s voice told him he was one step from freaking out.


“Can you give me more details on this Amari?” If he could get a sense of what she was like, he might better understand what he was walking into. If she had been taken, would she fight her abductors or just shut down and accept her fate? He’d dealt with both before. He honestly wasn’t sure which was the hardest to deal with.


“Like what?” He heard a door close and then boots on tiles. “Sorry, just mad at myself, I’m the one that told her to start heading to the meet and not wait for one of the incursion team,” he snorted, “not that she would have waited.”


That explained his next question as to why she was alone. “How long since her trackers went offline?”


“She hasn’t checked in for four hours and the trail stops three hours ago.”


Shit. Three hours in that area could have her anywhere. He opened his mouth to ask if it was possible she was offline on purpose, but Zain hissed out a deep breath.


“I don’t want to have to call her family. It’s not going to go well if I do.”


Tripp was glad that task was never part of his job. He liked doing his job and someone else dealing with emotional people. “Hopefully you won’t have to.”


“It will be a shit show if I do.” A door slammed and he could hear the echo of traffic now. “The last thing I need right now, that Jesse needs is an angry Alpha all up in his face, not to mention Amari...”


It was like fireworks went off in his head, “Alpha?”


“You weren’t told? She’s an Alpha’s daughter.”


Tripp straightened and squeezed the bridge of his nose. “No.” She was an Alpha’s daughter, which shed some light on the urgency in everyone’s tone—light brighter than a thousand-watt lightbulb.  He opened his eyes and then stood up, “Okay,” he nodded and then shut the hatch. “Any chance she’s just lost?”  He went back to the front and climbed in, “there’s a lot of mountains in that area, the signal could be...”


“No. She’s not lost.”


Closing the door, he realized he didn’t have a direction to go yet. “Can you send me a pic, so I know who I’m looking for?” The chances of seeing a crowd of people in that area were slim, but he still needed a confirmed target. He cringed at his own thought, she wasn’t the target…


“Uh, yeah, but she’s easy to notice, blond, attitude.”


Tripp shrugged; attitude could describe ten different personality types. “Okay, send me the location. I’ll head there now.”


“Right. Okay.” He could hear him running now. “Update me as soon as you get there, so I can let the team know.” He swore, “the last thing we need is them distracted.”


Tripp nodded. “Will do.” It was an automated response and the only one he had right now. When the line went quiet, he looked at the phone and then opened his team leaders’ number and typed 123, and hit send. That was their way of saying, call me if you’re able. 


An Alpha’s daughter. Fucking A, just what he needed.


His phone lit up and he looked down at the information on it. He didn’t need to look at the map to figure out where he was meeting his lift in, he’d driven by it a half-hour ago. Jamming his phone into the holder, he started the SUV and turned around. 


He didn’t get fifty feet before his phone lit up again. That Zain was fast. He liked that. Tapping the screen, he opened the picture and then slammed on the brakes. In the photo was a man and his daughter, all dressed up. He barely looked at her, but the man, he knew all too well.


It was Alpha Vesper Hughes, the leader of one of the two cougar clans in Ontario. Tripp stomped on the gas and would have given himself whiplash if his muscles hadn’t already been rock-hard with tension.


Alpha Hughes was an asshole. How did he know this was one hundred percent correct? He’d met the man eight years earlier. It had been a dark and trying time in his life. His father had been killed, for the Alliance and for the protection of another clan. Staying with the clan just brought it all up for his mother over and over again. So, she and his younger sister wanted to leave. Tripp had traveled with them for three weeks, staying off the radar to get them to Ontario only to hit a brick wall at the end of it. That brick wall was Vesper Hughes. He didn’t want any outsiders added to his clan unless they were mated in. If it had been up to Tripp, he would have taken his family to Mae’s clan instead, but his mother wanted to be with a cousin—he still wasn’t sure of the connection, just knew that sometime since the dawn of time their bloodlines had crossed.


When Hughes had called for assistance against the rouge shifter, he met Kenzo Dean. Rouge shifter, he sneered. Kenzo was the first man in Tripp’s life he’d feared. He smirked, now he worked with him on the same team. He wondered if Kenzo remembered that first meeting too.


Shortly after that, he’d met Shepard Addison and the second man he feared, Calum Dante. He didn’t know Calum that well, but since then had worked with him a few times and he respected the hell out of that man, he truly did. He scowled at the picture again, then tapped the screen so it wouldn’t go to sleep. The result of that turbulent time was his mother and sister were allowed to be part of that clan and Tripp—was never allowed to step a foot on the clan’s land again.


Now—he had to go rescue that man’s daughter. He blew out a breath and grabbed the phone. Balancing his wrist over the steering wheel, he enlarged the picture so Alpha Asshole wasn’t on the screen. The daughter was wearing some off-the-shoulder dress and smiling like the princess she undoubtedly was. He squinted at it, okay, she was cute as hell with her big, beautiful eyes and pouty lips, but still, she was Alpha Asshole’s daughter. “Fuck.” He jammed the phone back in the holder and glared at the road. If it weren’t for all the ops happening right now, he’d beg one of the others to take over and do this instead of him. Rescuing those held by one-forms was much more rewarding than going in to get some pampered, precious Alpha’s daughter. Seriously, what the hell was she doing on one of the Alliance teams? He rolled his eyes, probably whining to daddy, who arranged it and got her the position—and he was going to have to go in a plane to go get her. His knuckles were white as he gripped the wheel and growled at the road in front of him.

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