Authors: Samantha Horne
“Jasmine, what happened?!” I cried out, dreading what she was going to tell me. She looked at me and the desolation in her gaze caused tears to build in my own.
“They’ve taken her,” she said, her voice hoarse from crying.
“The Grove Pack. They’ve taken Annabelle.” She moved her head back in to the crook of Noah’s neck, wailing so loudly I felt my heart shatter in response. Noah remained silent, but his emotions played out clearly on his face; heartbreak, fear and rage.
“How did this happen?!” I jumped up, and turned to Jackson who was looking at me with the same emotions in his gaze that were in Noah’s.
“Jasmine took Annabelle out to grab some food shopping, and head to the soft play area. Two enforcers followed behind in a car, but the Grove Pack turned up unexpectedly. Four SUV’s surrounded them, and ran them off the road. Jasmine was knocked unconscious and the precious minutes it took for my men to get out of their trapped, overturned car were enough for them to grab Annabelle and take her with them. We don’t know at this point if she was unconscious when they took her.” I heard a tremor in his voice and I knew he was about to lose it. Walking over to him, I wrapped my arms around his waist and hugged him, breathing a sigh of relief when his arms came up and embraced me back.
“We’ll get her back,” I said, with more conviction in my voice than I felt.
Jasmine started to cry harder from the sofa, and Noah tried to comfort her by running his hand across her hair and kissing her forehead.
“We’ll get her back, baby,” he said, but it caused her to wail louder.
“We don’t even know if she’s alive! I couldn’t protect her! The car rolled over and I was completely useless, I couldn’t do anything!”
“Shhh, look at me Jasmine.” Noah placed his hands on her cheeks and stayed silent until she looked him right in the eyes.
“I promise you, that I will get our daughter back. She’s going to need her Mum when we bring her home so I need you to stay strong for me, okay?”
Jasmine stiffened, and I saw her gathering every ounce of strength she had to be strong for her family. I’d always admired her, but my respect had just grown tenfold.
“I know you’ll get her back. Just promise me one more thing?”
“Make them suffer.”
It had been four hours. Four hours of no news. Jasmine and I were currently sitting at the dining table, trying to eat the take-away that the boys had brought home. Jackson and Noah had left a while ago, running out with a few of their men to hunt for clues and figure out where the pack had taken Annabelle. My chest hurt when I thought about what they could be doing to her, so I tried to push it out of my mind. I needed to stay positive for Jasmine, who looked about five minutes away from having a mental breakdown. We both agreed that we needed to eat to keep our strength up, and were now sitting quietly reflecting on the nights events. Jasmine’s face was still red from crying, but she was resolute in that she must stay strong, and was holding herself together admirably. I didn’t think I would be as strong in the same situation. None of us knew why the Grove Pack would be so cruel as to snatch a child away from her mother, but I was praying that the boys would find out, and bring her home back to her family. I was already planning on the huge ice cream I was going to buy her for when she returns.
If she returns.
Don’t think like that! She has to return. After spending only five minutes with Annabelle on that first day, she’d wormed her way in to my heart and we needed her back with us. I trusted Jackson with my life, and I knew that he would not sleep until he found her. The house was full of Jackson’s men, but everyone was silent; lost in their own thoughts and fears for Annabelle.
Twelve hours. Twelve hours and still no word. Our optimism was waning, and dread was settling in my chest as we all feared the worst. Jackson and Noah had returned, and now the house was full of men trying to figure out their next move. Jasmine had been beside herself, but with the injuries and the stress of the evening had managed to eventually fall asleep. I tried to sleep, but images kept bombarding me of what could be happening to Annabelle, to the point where I was scared to close my eyes. I was currently curled up on the sofa, trying to focus on reading my book while waiting for the guys to come back with any useful information. Jackson and Noah were in the kitchen, alongside Isaac, Ethan and Blake, plus about six more enforcers, coming up with a plan to figure out where the Grove Pack would take her. There were more enforcers guarding the house, and some of them were outside searching for any scent of a trail that would lead us to Annabelle. Shifters carried no scent to other shifters, but shifter children had a distinctive smell to wolves who concentrated hard enough. The pack wouldn’t be able to scent the Grove Pack, but our fingers were crossed that they could catch a hint of Annabelle.
I finally managed to finish reading a page, when Tyler walked in, a solemn look on his face. I threw the book on the coffee table next to me, and sat up properly.
“Is there any news?” I quickly asked.
“None. The whole town is out searching though; I know we will find her.”
“God, I hope so.”
“We have the best men working on this, and none of us will sleep until we find her. This pack messed with the wrong wolves.”
“I know, but a lot can happen in twelve hours.” I cursed myself for my negativity.
“They have forgotten to take one thing in to consideration, though.”
“How intelligent she is. That girl has managed to evade me even when I’ve been looking right at her. She’s super smart and she will know that we will be coming for her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d left us clues somewhere, or manages to escape from them herself.”
I smiled in gratitude at his attempt to cheer me up. His words resonated within me though, and I felt slightly more positive as memories of a clever Annabelle having us all fooled for hours during a game of hide-and-seek flood my brain.
Just then, my phone chimed with a text, and I pulled it out slowly, not really caring who was texting me right now. My heart started to pound when I saw the unknown number, and a picture of Annabelle filled my screen. She had a cut on her head, and a bruise on her face but she looked to be sitting and talking with someone. The room around her is dark, so all I can see on the screen is her but I let out a sob to see that she is alive. My tears of joy soon turned to cries of fear when I read the message that has been sent underneath the picture. Tyler lunged forward to take the phone from my hand, reading the message as his eyes filled with rage. I couldn’t seem to focus as all I could see in front of me were the cold words sent to my mobile phone.
We want to trade. You for the little girl. Follow the GPS coordinates below deep in to the woods to where we are located. Come alone, and within the next hour, or she dies. Painfully. You have until midnight.
I checked my watch, and looked in horror to find that the time was already ten past eleven. I had 50 minutes to get to this location and save Annabelle! But what would happen to her when I got there? I didn’t care about what happened to me, but how could I let them just release Annabelle in the middle of the forest and hope that she found her way home? I didn’t know what to do!
Tyler called to the guys to come in to the room, and Jackson rushed in, a panic stricken look on his face. He took one look at the text message, and it was like the careful control he had managed to keep just shattered everywhere. With a hoarse yell, he spun around, overturning the coffee table and everything on it. He punched the wall ferociously twice before regaining his senses, and turned back around to face me. The fury in his eyes was warring with the desolation, and I could physically see the hopelessness of the situation in his gaze.
“I have to do this,” I whispered, my heart breaking when Jackson let out a devastated moan as he walked towards me.
“We can come up with a plan. I won’t send you to them like a fucking gift, I’m coming with you and we are going to end this.”
“No! Jackson, you can’t. We have no idea where they are holding Annabelle, they could kill her as soon as they see you! We can’t argue about this, there’s no time!” I forced myself to leave the safety of his arms, and rushed towards the door, no plan in my mind other than getting Annabelle back.
Pandemonium broke out behind me as everyone threw ideas in at once, and I felt Jackson right behind me as I hurtled towards the front door. He grabbed my arm before I could leave, and Tyler stepped up in front of us, a smile on his face.
“I’ve got a plan.”
“Make it quick,” snapped Jackson; the stress of the situation clearly getting to him.
“I’ll go with her -“he started, holding up a hand when the guys started to protest. “Look, they’re not stupid. They know that Laura would be an idiot to go walking in all alone, so will be bringing someone with her. If I go with her, they’ll presume I’m the only back up and write us off as a threat completely. I’ll tell them I’m just there to bring Annabelle home, and I’ll leave Laura with them. You guys follow behind us but stay out of sight, then come storming in to the rescue.”
“Surely they must know that these guys will have seen the location on my phone? They have to know they are inciting the wrath of the whole pack?”
“These guys aren’t that smart. Seriously, this plan will work. All they are focusing on is having Laura, they won’t be thinking about anything else. We’ll take them by surprise.”
“It’s not the best plan but it’s the only one we’ve got,” Jackson agreed half-heartedly. Turning towards me, he grabbed me and pulled me in to a hug, squeezing the breath out of me.
“Stay safe, I’m right behind you,” he whispered, before opening the door. I rushed through with Tyler on my heels, and I just prayed that we made it there in time.
“Max! Liam! Follow right behind them, don’t let them out of your sight. Message me the location too.”
Watching Laura get in to that car and drive away, had been the hardest thing I had ever had to do. Laura and I may have had a whirlwind romance; but I knew in my heart that she was the one for me. There would never be anyone else that I would love as much as I loved her; I just prayed I got a chance to tell her that. There were so many emotions waiting to burst out, I could barely think straight; rage, despair and ice-cold terror. I could barely see through the red haze that had descended after finding out about Annabelle. The thought of sweet Annabelle in the clutches of that disgusting pack, made me want to find every member and kill them in the most hideous ways. However, I needed to get my emotions in check. As alpha, everyone looked toward me for support and guidance, and I needed a level head if this plan had any chance of succeeding. Trying to put thoughts of Laura out of my head, I focused on the next part of the plan. I had sent two of my best men to follow Tyler and Laura, because something felt off. I always taught my men to trust their instincts, so that’s what I did. Tyler had sent the text message through with the location for where to find them, but at the same time I received a message from Max, advising they were heading in a completely different location. Shit, we were being sent in the wrong direction deliberately.
After gathering my men, I told them about the most recent developments, and everyone started to shout at the same time.
“Why the fuck is he sending us the wrong way?”
“It doesn’t make sense.”
“Do we all split up? Half of us go there and the other half to the other location?”
“It’s a trap.”
I used my loudest alpha voice to call the room back to order. It fucking broke my heart to say what I was about to say, but this was a prime time when the duty to my pack needed to come before my personal feelings.
“We are going to the location Tyler is sending us to.”
“What about Laura?” Ethan asked, already halfway out of the door.
“Max and Liam are there, and will hopefully bide us enough time. My gut feeling is telling me there will be an ambush awaiting us at the location Tyler has sent us too. I’m hoping that means less wolves wherever he is taking Laura. I need all of you to come with me, if we have any chance of beating these bastards.”
“If you’re so sure it’s an ambush, why don’t we just go the location Laura is at?”
“The pack have been after Laura since she arrived. They took Annabelle to use as a bargaining chip, but she is not who they really want. It makes sense for them to separate the two. I’m not taking any chances with Annabelle’s life. If she’s with the bulk of the pack at this location, we need to go and get her back. Annabelle is the priority.”
Fuck, I’m sorry Laura. Just hang on until I can get there.
“We don’t have time to argue about this. Let’s go.”
Yep, it was a fucking trap. Thanking god for the intuition which made me bring all of my men to the fight, I watched as our men heavily outnumbered theirs. The location Tyler had sent us too, was in fact on the outskirts of Grove Pack territory. Clearly, they thought being on their home turf would give them the advantage. They had forgotten about the skill of my men though, and from the minute we arrived there had been wolves flying at us from all directions.