– Sinclair Stages a Rescue
After waking from my dream with Ella, I immediately get to work trying to find a way into the Royal
Palace. I’m hopeful that Ella might be able to find a way out on her own, but I’m leaving nothing to
chance. I call Adolpho and my father for insights on secret passages while Hugo and Roger assemble
a small army of our best fighters. None of us have slept much since the battle, and I know this is
another of Lydia’s tactics. The
Prince and his men will be well rested and fully energized, while mine will be running on fumes. Still,
Ella and the baby are all the motivation I need to push through my exhaustion.
Adolpho tells me about a tunnel near the river which can help us breach the Palace without a loud,
violent assault bound to draw attention from the public and the media alike. This is good – it was going
to be hard to explain why the Moon Valley Alpha was sending forces to attack the Royal Residence, but
I’d been willing to do it if there were no other options. When I share this logic with my father, he frowns
thoughtfully, and I pause. “What is it?”
“Are you sure you want to keep this quiet?” He questions, rubbing his jaw.” Maybe this is the
opportunity we’ve been waiting for, to show the world Damon’s true colors. No one would blame you for
attacking if they knew the Prince kidnapped your mate, and after you defended the territory against the
rogues so valiantly – no one would accuse you of being weak for calling him out.”
I consider his words carefully. We’ve always kept our shadow war with the royal family secret because
accusations without proof or action are more likely to backfire than make progress. However this time
there’s been plenty of action, and the early “all clear” along with Ella’s testimony and injuries could be
the proof we need. I don’t know what happened to her guards’ bodies and we checked the CCTV
cameras in the area of the accident only to find all the footage erased, but we might not need a
smoking gun if we can get Ella back safely.
We will get her back safely. My wolf corrects me fiercely. And then we should kill
Damon and Lydia both. Just think of the possibilities, he suggests slyly, gearing up for a bloodthirsty
rant. We can tear off all his fingers and shove them up…
I tune out the violent images suddenly filling my mind. Not for the first time, I’m surprised at my wolf’s
willingness to harm our fated mate, but I can’t help sharing his desire to exterminate the Prince.
Granted, this is another idea which has historically been very tempting, but I’ve held back for much of
the same reasons. Shaking my head, I groan, “I fucking hate politics.”
Dad’s lip quirks, “Care to share your train of thought?”
“If I accuse him without doing anything about it. I’m weak. But if I kill him without authorization from the
Alpha Council, then I’m an anti-government rogue – a usurper.” I explain gruffly. “Sometimes I think the
old ways were better. No diplomacy, no voting – just taking the power which is rightly yours.”
My father clears his throat and arches his brows, patiently waiting for me to work through my frustration
and reach the right conclusion on my own.” I know, I know!” I gripe. “That’s what they did. That’s the
kind of ruler from which we’re trying to protect the united packs. But it still makes me want to rip my hair
out. I hate that we have to play by the rules just to prove ourselves worthy of the position they stole
through flouting them at every turn.”
“But we do, because at the end of the day our responsibility is to do right by the people, and we can’t
do that if we get exiled or deposed.” Dad reasons calmly.
This reminder, more than any of the possible implications for my campaign, makes the decision for me.
“And I have to do right by Ella, which I can’t do if I get distracted with the politics. The most important
thing is bringing her safely home, and that means I have to go with the plan which gives us the best
chance of doing that. It’s riskier to stage a full on incursion. The surest bet we have is to sneak in
through the evacuation tunnels and keep a low profile.”
“Alright then,” Dad agrees with a proud twinkle in his eye, “And afterwards we can consider how to
handle the Prince moving forward.”
I nod, feeling a little calmer now that we’ve rationalized our plan. I spend the rest of the day strategizing
and waiting with baited breath for Ella’s call. Every time the phone rings or I get a notification my heart
leaps in my chest, and every time it falls when I see that it’s just one of my men or a news blurb. We’ve
been getting non-stop requests from the media ever since the rogue attack, and even though I’m
worried about the optics, so far I’ve refused to hold a press conference or make a statement. I sent
Hugo to issue a press release while I focus on the rescue mission, hoping that will be enough to calm
the clamoring public.
I wait until an hour before the Prince’s deadline to finally call him to set our meeting. At this point it’s
been eight hours since I woke up, and I figure that if Ella hasn’t found a way out by now, she’s not
going to. I use the same protocol from our first rendezvous, promising to send the location just prior.
Meanwhile I mobilize my team to the site of the tunnel entrance, and send backup squadrons to
surround the palace. Nearly every enforcer I possess is ready and waiting to infiltrate the palace if the
plan backfires, and I can only hope that the Prince empties the palace of guards in order to take them
to the meeting.
We see the second they move out, truckloads of shifters rolling out of the main gates and heading off in
the direction of our meeting point. I don’t waste any time guiding my forces into the passage, traversing
the narrow space at a steady trot. It’s only about a thousand meters to the tunnel entry, which lets us
out into the opulent palace library through a bookcase. I’ve been in this library before, and I know it’s in
the east wing of the estate. Luckily it’s unguarded, so I move to the windows as quietly as I can, trying
to gauge our exact location. I’m not going to be able to pick up Ella’s scent until we’re closer, the
sprawling palace is simply too large.
“Okay, we’ve got some ground to cover, boys.” I state determinedly. “Keep your eyes and ears open.”
I open the door and peer outside, clearing my corners before emerging into the corridor. We stealthily
sneak through the halls, peeking around corners and sneaking up on unsuspecting guards posted
along the way. For every wolf we dispatch, we try to drag their unconscious bodies out of sight to avoid
detection, but the fact is that our scents are going to give us away just as quickly. When we cross the
second floor atrium I finally catch Ella’s scent, and then it’s merely a matter of following my nose. I keep
one eye on the world outside the windows as we go to ensure our path matches up with the location of
the room Ella described to me.
When we finally reach the third floor corridor in question, I know we’re in the right place by the guards
posted at Ella’s door. I deal with them quickly letting my enforcers drag their bodies into hiding while I
storm inside. The room is exactly as Ella described, and her scent is everywhere. I scan the area for
her, noticing the drawn curtains and unmade bed. Worry pulses to life in the pit of my stomach… if she
found a way out then why haven’t I heard from her?
I catch sight of a piece of paper on the desk, covered in Ella’s scrawling script. I can’t help but chuckle
when I read her sassy note, even though it gives me no comfort to know that she found a passage
when she hasn’t yet made contact. Either she ended up getting lost somehow, or she’s been caught. I
pick up the note and fold it, placing it in my pocket. Ideally when the prince returns, he’ll catch the scent
of my team in the room and see the disabled guards in the corridors, then assume we took Ella out the
same way we got in. In reality we’ll be somewhere else entirely.
“All right, let’s move.” I order. It takes a minute for us to figure out how to open the passage, but once
we do my team storms into the fireplace, forced to duck our heads below the low ceiling. The last man
inside shuts the passage behind us, and darkness closes in. Ella’s sweet scent fills the air, in fact, she’s
all I can smell for miles ahead.
Miles… I realize with a fresh stab of fear. My little troublemaker is only supposed to be on her feet for
twenty minutes at a time… what if she isn’t lost or recaptured, but somewhere further down this tunnel
experiencing a medical crisis… or worse?
‘We’re taking this at a run.” I announce, my voice echoing in the dim space. ‘Try to keep up.”
With that I take off into the darkness, hoping against all hope that we aren’t too late.
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