Home > Twice Bitten (Cascadia Wolves #6)

Twice Bitten (Cascadia Wolves #6)
Author: Lauren Dane

Chapter One

    The sun hadn’t finished rising when Michelle’s phone rang and jolted her from sleep. One bleary eye opened to look at the clock. Six. She’d only been off shift for three hours after working a nasty domestic-violence case. It wasn’t just physical exhaustion, but emotional that burned behind her eyes.

    But that was the way of it when you were a cop.

    Still, it had better not be her mother or anything less than an emergency. Reaching out, she managed to grab the phone without knocking everything off the bedside table.

    “Slattery.”

    “Michelle? I’m sorry to wake you. It’s Kathy. Allie...”

    The sound in her best friend’s mother’s voice, the raw choke of Allie’s name, brought Michelle upright immediately, her heart pounding.

    “What? Is she all right?”

    “She’s missing.”

    This hit close to home, but she managed to get her work hat into place as she pulled out a pad and pen. “Where are you?”

    “I’m at her apartment. It’s been broken into. There’s...” Kathy lowered her voice, “...there’s mage energy here. It’s wrong. Like they said it would feel.”

    They being the visiting witches from Clan Owen in Seattle who’d taught them some defensive magicks against the mages who’d been attacking witches across the country.

    “I’m getting dressed right now. I’ll be there as soon as I can. We’ll need to call this in as well. But let me get the magickal stuff dealt with first. We’ll find her, Kathy. Sit tight. I’m on my way.”

    Michelle managed to brush her teeth while pulling her clothes on and brushing her hair up into a quick ponytail before rushing out the door.

    She still had her work vehicle so she rushed over to Allie’s place with the siren and lights on, the windows down to wake up.

    She had to think. She had to push aside her fear and worry and focus on the facts. Worry wouldn’t find Allie. Skill would.

    Allie’s place wasn’t too very far away, just about a mile, so she arrived within seven minutes of waking up. She jogged past the two main buildings and over to Allie’s and up the stairs.

    Allie wanted safety. So she’d spent the extra money and chosen well. The neighborhood was quiet and relatively crime-free. Her apartment was on the second floor, and when Michelle got to the top of the stairs, she found Allie’s mom Kathy there.

    “Thank God you’re here.”

    Michelle hugged her. “I’m going to need you to stay back, okay. I don’t want any of your energy to mix with hers.”

    Some witches from Clan Owen up in Seattle had offered a class on how to read different magickal energies, and Michelle had jumped at the chance. She was really glad for that as she entered the place and used her othersight. There was seeing things, and then there was opening up your senses and seeking to truly understand the energies and signatures all living beings gave off. Learning how to use it had been revelatory to Michelle. Both as a witch and as a cop.

    Allie’s energy was there—bright and vibrant—as was Michelle’s. And then she saw it, the cloudy smudge marking a mage. It was toxic, hanging in the air like oil.

    Where the mage energy hung, Allie’s vitality had muddied. Fear. Michelle’s shiver slid into nausea. Her best friend had been terrified of whatever the mage had done. She moved through the apartment, increasingly grateful for those classes. Just a few months before she might have missed all the clues hanging in the air.

    She took quick notes about the color and feel of everything. Once she finished up there with the police, she’d give the witches up in Seattle a call to see if they had any advice or information.

    That done, she needed to call in to report the crime. Magick could only help so much. Now it was time for good, old-fashioned cop work. Though she was wary, her boss was pretty anti-shifter. The witches hadn’t come out yet to humans, but if this looked like any sort of supernatural anything, he’d close his mind off, and she needed him so she could remain on the case until they brought Allie home.

    “Answer their questions and be as helpful as you can. I’ll handle the mage part, but the rest will be investigation.” She hugged Kathy once more and made the call.

    Michelle had to put her human mask on when her brethren came in. She got out of the way, assisted with canvassing neighbors and getting Kathy interviewed on the record.

    Allie had been missing for at least four hours. She’d left the hospital where she’d been on the night shift, and that was the last anyone saw of her. Given the dishes in her sink, it was likely Allie had arrived home and eaten and had a cup of tea. It was her after-work ritual. A quick look at the DVR and it appeared she’d caught up on a few of her favorite shows. Allie usually went to bed about two hours after she got home, once she’d eaten and relaxed a while.

    Given the folded sleep pants and shirt at the foot of the still-made bed, it looked like she’d been taken about an hour to two hours after she’d gotten home from work.

    They’d discovered she was missing so much more quickly than it could have been. Michelle tried to hold on to that. On a normal day, no one would have noticed anything until Allie wouldn’t have shown up for her shift later that night. A whole day would have passed, clues growing colder.

    This was a plus. Michelle needed to keep that in mind to hold back the fear.

    When she’d gone next door to speak with the neighbor who’d called Kathy, Michelle had learned the neighbor had heard a scuffle but thought it was the television. She hadn’t given it another thought until an hour or so later when the neighbor had left for work and saw Allie’s door had been left ajar.

    Allie was fastidious and hyperaware of her safety. She’d never have left her door open like that. She even locked up when she went downstairs to check her mail. Knowing it had been out of character, the neighbor called Kathy right away. Another plus. Though Michelle did urge the neighbor to call the police immediately if she came upon something like that again in the future.

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