Home > Alpha's Command (Shifter Ops #6)

Alpha's Command (Shifter Ops #6)
Author: Renee Rose

 

Chapter One

 

 

Channing

I prowl on four paws through the pine trees, closing in on the house. It’s a small split-level, set back from the road and surrounded by trees. The lot’s on the end of a cul-de-sac, and the backyard abuts the Coconino National Forest. Plenty of wilderness, plenty of cover to run. My wolf approves.

So did my brother when he bought it fourteen years ago and settled with his newly pregnant mate. When life was good and the future was bright.

Then he died, and everything changed.

Almost everything. The house still looks the same. She’s taken good care of it. The paint has faded, and the roof will need replacing, but otherwise, it’s frozen in time.

The scents are the same—juniper and boxelder, pine.

The wind picks up, and I catch another scent, one I’m trying not to notice. It curls into my senses, a delicious perfume that makes my fangs sharpen, and my mouth waters.

Lilac and lavender.

My Kryptonite.

My wolf wants to cross the fifty feet separating us from the house, to find the source of the perfume and bask in it.

Instead, I turn and trot on silent paws past the house, up the hill where a Ponderosa pine stretches to the sky. I still remember the day we climbed the hill. I admired the view of Mount Elden, but my brother only had eyes for his house. For his human wife and young son playing on the patio.

Promise me, my brother demanded all those years ago. He had an army training position at Camp Navajo, but he’d been sought out for active duty by someone who knew what he was. Someone who needed his kind in the field. Just for a short-term mission.

I rub against the pine bark, searching for any lingering scent of him.

And then I catch it–a rich male wolf musk. It smells like my brother, but he’s dead. Which means it must belong to Geo, his son.

My nephew’s been running through these woods.

That means he’s shifted. We weren’t sure whether he would. Mixing shifter blood with a human’s can wipe out the shifting ability in offspring, but puberty hormones must’ve kicked Geo’s wolf-shifter genes to life.

Which means I can no longer stay away. Julia won’t know how to guide her son through this.

Geo needs me.

Looking closer, I catch sight of claw marks on the tree, like Geo was tormented by his new shape. Frustrated and alone.

Fuck.

Deke expects me at the job site, and if I’m late, he’ll be pissed. More pissed than usual. I’ll have to come back in the morning, as soon as this mission is complete.

I lope down the hill and head the long way around the house. A light turns on in the upstairs bedroom, and for a moment, a woman’s silhouette appears. Everything in me longs to change plans and head back to the house. Make sure the door is locked. Make sure she’s safe.

Instead, I turn and run away from temptation.

Away from the only woman I’ve ever wanted.

The only woman I can’t have.

 

 

I zoom up to the row of abandoned warehouses at midnight. Right on time.

Deke waits in an old van painted matte black. The sort of van that workmen use… or kidnappers. We got the van after a mission that involved a hostage situation if I remember correctly.

I park my bike and rap on the van’s side door. “Hey, man, got any free candy?”

Deke rolls down the window but doesn’t answer–just frowns at me. He’s got “resting murder face” as Lana, Teddy’s new mate, likes to call it.

“You look like a serial killer,” I tell him. He glowers harder. “What? It’s a compliment.”

“Why were you late?” he growls. “You left Taos before I did.”

“Pit stop.” I waggle my brows, so he’ll look away, disgusted. Let him think I was at a bar, hitting on the ladies, making any lingering lavender and lilac scent unimportant. No way I’m telling him where I really was.

“This the place?” I nod to the farthest warehouse, built right up against the forest. This whole commercial strip is quiet at night, but there’s a light on above that warehouse door. Every once in a while, a shadowy figure glides from the forest and slips inside.

Deke drums his fingers on the steering wheel. “GPS says so.”

“Let me go in first, do some reconnaissance. I got a hookup.” I hold up my phone, where I’ve been texting with the fight club organizers.

“What if the targets make you?”

“They’re not targets. They’re kids.”

“Teenagers,” Deke grumbles, his eyes penetrating the darkness. “Why am I on babysitting duty?”

“Hey, this is good practice. You know your mate Sadie is going to want a full house.”

The name of his mate softens his expression, as I knew it would.

“Picture it,” I say as I reach up, hands framing the pretend screen, to distract myself from the bite of longing in my own chest and to keep him from picking up on my feelings. “You, Sadie, seven pups–”

“Seven?” His black brows fly up as if picturing this scene I’m painting.

“Yeah, and they’re rolling around on the floor, biting your boots.” I grin at the alarm spreading from Deke’s eyes through his facial expression. “Has Sadie not told you how many kids she wants?”

“Two to four,” he says slowly.

“There you go,” I grin. “You have four kids. Throw in a set of twins or triplets, a few surprises. Happy accidents. It’ll be great.”

Deke’s Adam’s apple bobs, and his hands squeeze the steering wheel. He looks ready to throw the van in reverse and race out of here.

“Daddy Deke.” I smile to fan the fire, and he looks at me like he wants to run me over as he flees the scene.

My work done, I slap the side of the van like a big exclamation point and saunter towards the warehouse as if I’ve got nothing on my mind but this little rescue mission.

More people stream into the side door. A quiet commercial strip with an abandoned building right near the forest is the perfect place to host a pop-up shifter fight club. The organizers, Trey and Jared, have a regular place in Tucson, Arizona. But tonight’s fight is special.

A pack of acid-green Kawasaki ninjas zooms past me. They go from sixty to zero, sending up a spray of gravel as they park. The gangly bikers dismount and huddle together. Werecheetahs. I can spot them a mile away. They like fast bikes and tight leather.

A few glance at me as I pass, their eyes flashing green. I pretend to ignore them, avoiding eye contact. My wolf is riled up after stopping by Julia’s. He wants to go back and claim what he thinks is his. I won’t let him, so he’s itching for a fight.

More shifters have flocked to the warehouse and are hanging around the door. I walk through a cloud of smoke and musky scents.

A familiar wolf shifter steps outside and surveys the crowd. He’s wearing jeans, scuffed motorcycle boots, and a white t-shirt under a leather jacket. The only difference between his outfit and mine is the insignia on the jacket–a snarling wolf with the words ‘Tucson Pack’ emblazoned underneath. “Fight starting in twenty,” he announces and stands aside to let his customers hurry inside.

I step out of the shadows, and he clocks my scent. We both grin and step forward to slap each other on the back.

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