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Authors: Kerrelyn Sparks

Wild About You (5 page)

BOOK: Wild About You
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“Whoa, dude.” Jimmy clambered out of the SUV, followed by his brother. “What happened to your skirt?”

“Yeah, you went like all Matrix on us,” Jesse added.

Dougal waved his mechanical hand in front of his face, grimacing at the strong scent of their wolf-skin coats. “This is a covert operation,” he whispered. “We should keep the talking to a minimum.”

“Really?” Jesse peered around the vampire. “Hey. Did you bring your humongous sword?”

Jimmy nodded. “That sword is freakin’ awesome.”

Jesse grinned. “I know, right?”

Howard arched a brow at them. “What part of minimum talking did you not get?”

“Huh?” Jesse gave them a blank look.

“Bro.” Jimmy nudged him. “They’re telling us to shut up.”

“Oh. Right. Covert.” Jesse nodded, then whispered with a grin, “This is so cool!”

“Give us three minutes, then meet us at the gatehouse,” Howard said quietly. “Got it?”

“Aye, Captain.” Jesse studied his wristwatch. “Three minutes on my mark. Five, four, three—”

“Why are you counting?” Jimmy whispered.

“That’s what they do in the movies,” Jesse replied. “Shoot, now I have to start over.”

Phil groaned. “You’re leaving me alone with these two?”

Howard grinned, then motioned for Dougal to follow him. “Let’s go.” They moved quickly through the woods, staying close to the road, till the gatehouse came into view.

“I’ll draw the guard out,” Howard whispered. “You know what to do?”

“Aye.” Dougal slipped a black leather glove onto his left hand.

Howard eased into the road, and a few seconds later, the guard stepped out. A big mortal in a khaki uniform.

“Hold it right there.” The guard rested a hand on his sidearm.

Dougal teleported behind him, and his eyes glowed as he turned his Vamp power on high. The guard’s face went blank, his eyelids closed, and then he slumped onto the road. Dougal picked him up and carried him into the gatehouse, while Howard jogged toward them.

Inside, Howard studied the two monitors. There appeared to be only two security cameras, one showing the front of the house, and the other, the back. Rhett probably wasn’t too concerned about security. His family had amassed a lot of power over the past fifty years, and they were known to be ruthless. Who was going to mess with Rhett when he had five hundred minions at his beck and call?

The monitor displaying the huge backyard showed Rhett and some companions in the process of stripping and shifting. In the front, two guards stood by double doors of leaded glass.

Dougal settled the guard in a chair. “He’ll have no memory of this, and he’ll sleep for about ten minutes. Is that long enough?”

“Yes.” Howard snapped on some latex gloves and eyed Dougal’s mechanical hand. “No fingerprints?”

“Nay.” Dougal gave his right hand a wry look. “No feeling, either, but it’s better than wearing a bloody hook like a pirate.”

Howard smiled and went to work. He recorded thirty seconds of the guards standing by the front door, then programmed the recording to loop for the next ten minutes. That way, if anyone checked the surveillance tape, they’d never see him and his team invading the house. Meanwhile, all the werewolves in the backyard completed their shifting and slipped into the woods.

When he and Dougal left the gatehouse, Phil and the boys slipped out of the woods and joined them.

“Let’s go.” Howard motioned for them to follow him down the long winding driveway. “Stay away from the back of the house. There’s a surveillance camera there still working and a bunch of werewolves in the woods.”

As soon as the front of the house became visible, Dougal teleported to the guards, and they slumped onto the ground.

“Whoa,” Jimmy whispered. “What was that?”

“Some kind of vampire voodoo?” Jesse asked.

“Mind control,” Howard answered. “The guards will have no memory of this. You guys watch the front. I’ll be back soon.”

He jogged toward the double front doors and entered the sprawling stone-and-log house. A quick glance back reassured him that Phil had the situation under control. Thank God he and Dougal had come. His cousins were enthusiastic and well-intentioned, but they were totally inexperienced in this kind of work.

It took less than a minute for him and Dougal to locate Rhett’s home office. Howard retrieved a sixty-four-gig flash drive from his pocket and plugged it into the USB port on Rhett’s computer.

Dougal stood guard at the office door. “I doona hear any other heartbeats. The house is empty.” He approached slowly. “What are ye doing?”

“Downloading. Bank accounts, passwords, you name it. I designed this program to be super quick. It should take less than four minutes.”

“Impressive.”

Howard nodded, watching the monitor. “I didn’t just play football in college. I majored in computer science.”

“Och, I dinna know that.”

Howard slanted an amused look at the vampire. “How do you think all the computers at MacKay S and I and Romatech manage to stay secure? That’s what I do during the day while you guys are sleeping.” He grinned. “And you thought I was just eating donuts.”

Dougal chuckled. “Aye.” He looked around the room, then, with a wince, he motioned toward the stone fireplace. “No’ someone ye know, I hope.”

Howard’s eyes narrowed on the white bearskin rug resting on top of the polished hardwood floor. A polar bear. He gritted his teeth.

“ ’Tis no’ a were-bear, right?” Dougal asked. “I thought shifters turn back to human form when they die.”

“That’s right.” Howard sighed. “I wish we could take the bear with us, but we have to leave everything exactly as it is.”

“Ye doona want to rob this house and destroy it like ye did the others? We could set it on fire.”

“An old friend of mine named Smoky told me to never start a forest fire.”

Dougal snorted. “This is all fun and games to you.”

Howard shook his head. “When it comes to strategy, I’m dead serious. We have to get in and out of here without anyone knowing. We would be vastly outnumbered if they caught us. And we have to keep everything the same, because if Rhett suspected we were here, he would change his passwords and secure his accounts.” He leaned over to check the progress of his software. Almost done.

“Is it worth it?” Dougal asked. “Playing yer game of revenge when ye canna let him know ye’re the one toying with him?”

Howard straightened slowly. “I don’t have a choice. I have to protect my family and friends.”

Dougal stepped closer. “But if ye had a choice—”

“I don’t.” Howard removed the flash drive. “We’re done here. Let’s go.”

Dougal followed him. “If ye had a choice, would ye play the game differently?”

“There would be no game.” Howard glanced back. “I’d kill him.”

Chapter Four

T
he following afternoon, Howard and his team arrived at his grandfather’s house on Paw Island. His cousins were sent home, two houses down the street, so their parents would know the boys were all right. A quick check in the basement assured him that Dougal had safely teleported back the night before and was now in his death-sleep.

Phil settled in the small family room with Howard’s grandfather, Walter, and they found a baseball game to watch on TV. Howard greeted his mother, who was busy in the kitchen, then hurried down the narrow hallway to his old bedroom.

While his laptop booted up, he looked around. The twin bed still sported an NFL comforter in red, white, and blue, and the small window had matching curtains, although faded to the point that the names of football teams were barely legible. His old trophies were still lined up on the dresser.

He sighed, remembering how much his mother had cried when he’d left for college. He’d kept in touch with her over the years, and she’d always pretended like he was coming home to visit soon. He hadn’t reminded her that he could never return. He knew if he mentioned his banishment, she would burst into tears.

He dragged a hand through his hair. His mother had suffered too much because of him. She acted like everything was rosy now that he was home, but when he gazed around his old room, he cringed at the thought of his mother keeping it exactly the same for twenty years. The poor woman had lost her husband, and then years later, when Howard was eighteen, she’d lost him, too.

After he’d tossed Rhett Bleddyn off the cliff, Rhett’s father had threatened to annihilate the were-bear community if Howard wasn’t punished, so the Council of Elders, which included his grandfather, had banished him for life. But Howard no longer felt obligated to honor the old decree, not when he obviously hadn’t managed to kill Rhett. Rhett’s father had passed away a year ago, and Rhett had emerged from hiding to become the new Pack Master. As far as Howard was concerned, he could now go home whenever he wanted. And he’d make sure that Rhett finally paid for his crimes.

He sat at his small desk where he used to do homework and downloaded the flash drive onto his laptop. He’d managed to steal a ton of information. Bank accounts, financial records, files on all of Rhett’s minions. Just as Howard suspected, Rhett wielded a huge amount of political power. One Alaskan senator and several congressmen were actually werewolves who had sworn allegiance to the Bleddyn family. Rhett also controlled numerous Lycan politicians at the state and local levels.

Rhett’s financial records revealed a tangled web of businesses and organizations from all over the world. His net worth was easily over two hundred million, with bank accounts not just in Alaska but in Canada, New York, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, and Singapore, as well. The tangled design appeared purposeful, so that money could be shifted around, even hidden, and it would be difficult for Rhett’s business partners and shareholders to know what he was up to.

No doubt, if Howard had broken into one of Rhett’s numerous business offices in Alaska, the records for that business would appear clean. But he’d hacked into Rhett’s personal computer, hoping it would pay off. And it did. After an hour of digging around, he discovered Rhett’s dirty little secret.

Rhett had a hidden bank account in the Cayman Islands under the name of a bogus business. And there, he had been paying himself a salary of five million a year. The account now had fifty million in it, so he’d been embezzling from his other businesses for ten years.

Fifty million. Howard smiled. If he spent some money from the secret account, what could Rhett do? A police investigation would reveal the company as bogus, and he’d be in big trouble. Hoisted by his own petard.

“Thanks for the play money, Rhett.”

Howard compiled a list of all candidates who were running against Rhett’s political puppets, and then, using an untraceable Internet card, he made hefty donations to their campaigns. He chuckled, imagining how Rhett’s puppets would react when they discovered their master was suddenly supporting their opponents.

His friend Harry had been investigating Rhett’s activities, and he’d learned that the bastard had been harassing small towns that were in debt, trying to buy them out so he could turn them into exclusive werewolf communities. The mortals would be given a cruel choice: leave their land or be forced to become werewolves. Howard donated ten million to the towns so they could fight back.

“What else?” he murmured to himself as he tapped his fingers on the desk. A vision of the polar bear rug drifted into his mind and he smiled.

“That’s going to be one expensive rug, Rhett.” He donated five million dollars to a polar bear conservation program.

When he was done, he’d spent over half the money in the secret account. Howard sat back, staring at the computer screen. He needed to muddy the water, make it difficult to trace his movements.

“How about a shell game, Rhett?” For the next thirty minutes, he transferred chunks of money from one account to another, from one country to another. Before it had been a tangled web, but now it was a multiple train wreck. It would take Rhett months to figure out what the hell had happened.

To finish up, Howard e-mailed some incriminating evidence to Harry so the reporter could leak the news to the
Northern Lights Sound Bites
over the next few days. Harry was a talented enough journalist that he could write for a more prestigious paper, but he enjoyed writing for a tabloid, where he had the freedom to poke fun at Rhett and his minions without fear of being sued or reported for violation of journalistic ethics. No one questioned his claim that werewolves were real, not when his articles were in the same paper with stories about Bigfoot and alien abductions.

Smiling to himself, Howard sauntered into the family room. His grandfather, Walter, was resting in his worn-out recliner, half asleep but with the remote control still clutched in his hand, while Phil sprawled on the nearby couch. An ice chest filled with bottles of beer rested on the floor beside them.

Phil sat up. “Are you done?”

Howard nodded. “I just spent thirty-five million dollars.”

“What?
” Walter blinked awake and yanked his recliner into a sitting position. “Where the hell did you get that much money?”

“It was a gift from Rhett Bleddyn.”

Walter snorted and turned off the television. “The only gift he’d give you is a bullet between the eyes.”

Howard’s smile widened. “The feeling is mutual.”

“You spent thirty-five million of Rhett’s money?” Phil asked.

Howard nodded and explained the details.

Phil laughed. “I’d like to see how his political puppets react. It’s going to be a bloody dog fight.”

Walter’s mouth twitched, but he aimed a glare at Howard. “You shouldn’t be stealing, boy. I taught you better than that.”

Boy?
Howard groaned inwardly. His grandfather and mom acted like he was still eighteen and had been away only twenty days instead of twenty years. But since a were-bear could easily live for five hundred years, twenty years might not seem that long to his elders. “I only used the money that Rhett had stolen. He started it. Besides, I want to make him suffer.”

Walter nodded with a resigned look. “I can’t blame you for that. The bastard deserves to suffer.”

BOOK: Wild About You
5.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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