Home > Protecting Sylvie

Protecting Sylvie
Author: Olivia Michaels




Present Day


Alex Hoff’s day was already off to a bad start when he found the package.

The mysterious box appeared right where it would disturb his boss, Kyle McGuire of Watchdog Protectors the most—in the dog kennels. Alex was the first of the morning crew into work, having given up on trying to sleep. He was accompanied by three dogs—Mac, Champ, and Chewie. The third dog was his by proxy and part of the reason why he wasn’t able to sleep. As they rounded the corner to enter the kennels from the hall, the brightly wrapped package sitting in the middle of the floor in front of a row of kennels stopped them in their tracks.

Alex pulled on Champ’s leash and the little puppy immediately came to a halt, though he’d already received his cues from Mac and Chewie. The other two highly trained dogs, one former military and one in law enforcement training, stopped and craned their necks toward the package, noses twitching. They’d both been schooled in detection—Mac for munitions and Chewie for drugs—and Alex watched them closely as he tried to puzzle out what the hell was going on.

At first hope—and that’s what it was, a bright, sharp hope—he thought it might be a gift from…no, it wasn’t from Sylvie. Why would she do this instead of just answering the texts he’d sent her? Though it might explain the dogs not going crazy, there was no way she would just leave something for him sitting in the middle of the floor wrapped in…was that Christmas paper? It was summer.

Well, this is certainly fucked up.

Cold dread seeped into his spine and spread down his arms. The package wasn’t from Sylvie and it wasn’t meant for him. It was definitely aimed at Kyle—and that was bad news for everyone.

Alex quickly looked over the other dogs in their kennels. They stood waiting at the doors, tails wagging, whining, excited about the possibility of an early breakfast. None of them looked hurt or drugged. If a stranger had come in overnight, they should have gone crazy and alerted the night staff.

Not good. Not good at all.

Next, Alex watched Mac. The Malinois was curious, but he wasn’t showing any signs of detecting explosives. Alex looked around the room for anything else out of order and saw nothing. He gave Champ and Chewie hand signals to sit and stay, and the dogs obeyed. He dropped their leashes and took a step toward the package with Mac. At this point in their relationship, they’d practically developed telepathy and Mac knew exactly what Alex wanted. The dog strained against his leash as Alex neared the box. He stopped close enough for Mac to get a good snoutful of whatever might be inside without coming into direct contact with the package. Mac sniffed and snorted, then looked at Alex as if to say nothing here, partner as he’d been trained.

Alex let out a breath he didn’t remember taking. Still, trust but verify. They backed away from the package and Alex took out his phone to call his boss.

“Alex, it’s early. What’s wrong?” Kyle sounded alert for the early hour and Alex suspected that after everything they’d just been through, he was losing sleep, too.

“I need you and Flint at the kennels, now.”

Only the slightest of pauses at the name of their munitions expert. “See you in ten.”



Two hours later, Alex stood in Kyle’s office along with his boss and his teammates Flint, Brock, Mack, and Gina. Wolf was back at the ranch house up the hill with his wife Caroline, Kyle’s fiancée Arden, and Jake and Rachael Collins.

Alex studied everyone’s grim faces as he waited for their reports. For his part, he’d looked over the dogs carefully, searching for signs of drugging or violence. Each dog seemed fine. He’d collected samples from their water dispensers and swabbed the walls for any residual airborne toxin. They’d couriered the samples over to Brainwave, Flint’s fiancée’s company which was equipped with a lab that contracted out to them—though this job would be off the books.

The kennel security system had not triggered at any point during the night, and the cameras had been hacked. At first, they thought the footage was looped before realizing it was DeepFake footage complete with all the dogs in sight.

The same dogs who hadn’t barked or seemed to mind that a stranger had been among them.

Alex tried not to think about the possibility that it wasn’t a stranger who left the box in his kennel. He knew Kyle was trying not to think that, either, but his body language screamed it. The Pup had no choice—he had to consider the fact that the fortress he’d so carefully built may have been infiltrated by a mole.

A mole employed by a vast and mysterious organization known as The Capitoline Group. Capitoline had targeted Watchdog in the past for foiling their attempts to build a stronghold in Colorado.

Or, was it possible that the box was left as a warning for interfering with the encroaching gang tied to the Sinaloa cartel, shaking down local dispensaries? Watchdog had just tangled with them. Was this fallout? Payback? A warning? Alex glanced at Brock, who’d nearly lost his fiancée Brianna to their violence, and he received a dark look in return. The man was thinking the same thing.

Alex’s stomach clenched as his heart sped up, thinking of Sylvie and the unreturned texts.

The box done up like a Christmas present was an obvious jab at Kyle’s first visit to Colorado, when he came searching for his military dog Camo and met Arden last December. After Flint had determined that it wasn’t a bomb, they brought the ‘gift’ to Kyle’s office where he opened it.

Kyle looked inside, flinched, and went ghostly pale.

“No one, and I mean, no one, tells Arden about this,” he said.

Inside the box was a blue star-shaped Christmas tree topper and an old worn-out Kong. Under these lay two envelopes. One envelope was made of heavy paper with equally expensive stationery inside.

The letter writer had used a fountain pen and had immaculate, fussy handwriting bordering on calligraphy.

Kyle read the letter aloud:


Dear Mr. McGuire,


We have not formally met, though we do keep crossing paths. Usually when that happens it is under unfortunate circumstances. We think you misunderstand our goals and intentions and do not realize that we could ultimately be allies. We, too, want a safe and peaceful place to live and work as you surely must know. The increase in illicit drug trafficking had come to our attention and we were debating our next move when you and the good people of Watchdog took care of the matter for us. For that, we are grateful.

However, that placed us momentarily in your debt. We do not savor debt when it is our own, so allow us to rebalance the scales by showing you our reach and our accompanying mercy…

Kyle stopped reading and touched the blue star. “The last time I saw this, I was putting it away in a box of decorations that has been sitting in the attic at our ranch.” He picked up the Kong. “This is Camo’s favorite old dog toy from his military days. I thought he’d lost it in the woods, but Arden swore up and down she’d last seen it in our bedroom.”

He picked the letter back up and continued reading:

Inside please find photographic proof that we don’t have to work at cross purposes. You began the task of wiping out the vermin infesting our fine home and we have continued your work in what we hope is to your satisfaction. As fate would have it, this particular rat was a bit of a turncoat for us as well.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» Angry God (All Saints High #3)