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Undercover Wolf
Author: Paige Tyler

 

Chapter 1


   Paris

   Harley Grant ran her hands down her little black dress as she climbed the steps in her surprisingly comfortable platform heels and walked into the crowded nightclub. The throbbing techno beat immediately made her sensitive ears ring and she winced. She’d have a splitting headache in five minutes. Loud noises always did that to her, which was one of the many reasons she hadn’t been to places like this since turning into a werewolf eight years ago, when she was a junior in college.

   Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her STAT teammate and fellow werewolf Caleb Lynch glance at her with concern on his face. Tall and muscular with brown eyes, his dark blond hair always looked like he was running his hands through it. “You okay?”

   “Yeah, I’m good,” she said, raising her voice a little to be heard. “I hate loud music, that’s all.”

   Caleb nodded, clearly not as bothered by it as she was. Then again, Caleb was an omega werewolf. While he might be as big as a house and as strong as a bull, his senses weren’t anywhere as sensitive as an alpha’s, like she was.

   “It’s not the music I’m worried about,” he said, taking in all the people around them with a frown. “I’m not a fan of big crowds. Being packed into a place like this when the shit might hit the fan at any second makes me twitchy.”

   Control and temperament were another thing that differentiated alpha werewolves from omegas. Harley had dealt with some anger management issues right after her change, but Caleb would have to deal with them for the rest of his life. When he lost it, he really lost it. As in people ended up bruised and bloody—or dead. It was something everyone on the Special Threat Assessment Team was helping him work on, but it wasn’t easy. The list of things that could set him off seemed to grow by the day. Apparently, crowded nightclubs were the newest trigger.

   “I think you can relax,” Harley said as they moved deeper into the club, the music getting louder with every step until she could practically feel her body vibrating. “You’re menacing enough that most people will be more than happy to give you space. And if the vague intel we got is any indication, I doubt we’re going to run into any trouble tonight. More likely we’ll walk around for a few hours, then head back to the hotel in time for the jet lag to catch up to us.”

   Caleb looked skeptical at that. She supposed they’d know soon enough.

   “Okay, Jake,” she said, hoping the support techs had been right about the tiny microphone concealed in her necklace working in the loud club. “We’re in.”

   “Roger that,” Jake Huang, their pack alpha/team leader murmured over the radio. “Jes and I are heading toward the private rooms upstairs. Misty and Forrest are near the band, trying to work their way backstage. That leaves the dance floors for you and Caleb, as well as the lower levels, if you can figure out how to get to them.”

   “Copy that,” Caleb said, then looked at Harley. “I gotta admit, wandering around looking for something suspicious that’ll lead us to the kidnappers or their captives, both of which might or might not be supernatural, isn’t much of a plan.”

   Harley would like to say he was wrong, but Caleb had hit the nail on the head. Twelve hours ago, she and the rest of the team had been back home in Washington, DC, hanging out at Jake’s place, enjoying some downtime after their first mission together, when their boss had called about a possible human-trafficking ring operating out of Paris that might involve supernaturals. With little more than that to go on, they’d immediately caught the next flight to France, where a support team met them with weapons and other equipment.

   But going into unknown—not to mention possibly dangerous—situations was what being part of STAT was all about. She and her teammates ran around the world sniffing out threats to see if they were common everyday bad guys or scary things that went bump in the night.

   “I’m with you there.” Harley scanned the people around them, who were gyrating under the colorful strobes on the nearby dance floor while strategically placed black lights found the fluorescent paint on the exposed parts of their bodies. She wondered what constituted suspicious in a place like this. “Let’s hope we get lucky.”

   Caleb only grunted in reply.

   As they made their way through the club, Harley realized it was one thing to memorize a floor plan on a piece of paper, but a completely different thing to figure out where you were in that same building when it was filled with people. Within minutes, she had no idea where she was in relation to the entrance and even less idea how much more area they needed to explore. The place was much bigger than it looked in the drawing.

   “We’ll cover more ground if we split up,” she said to Caleb.

   From the scowl on his face, Harley knew his first instinct was to say no. Not because he thought she was wrong about being able to cover more ground on their own, but because he was worried about letting her search alone. Even though they’d only been working together for a few weeks, he’d already become like a big brother to her. It was sweet in a bittersweet kind of way, since she’d long ago given up on her real family.

   “The sooner we find these people, the sooner we can get out of here,” she added before he protested. “We’re in Paris. Don’t you want to look around a little before McKay puts us right back on a plane home? Besides, we’ll be in constant radio communication. If I run into trouble, you can be there in seconds.”

   He still seemed resistant to the idea, but after a few seconds, he relented. “Okay, but don’t do anything crazy, all right? At the first hint of danger, I want you on the radio. Not once something happens, but the second you get a funny feeling, okay?”

   Harley nodded. “You, too.”

   Another grunt.

   Giving him a smile, she slipped into the crowd before Caleb could change his mind. It wasn’t that she didn’t like being part of STAT or working with Caleb. On the contrary, she loved hanging out with her teammates. But she’d been on her own for a long time. Depending on other people was something she would have to get used to again.

   She wandered through several smaller rooms, each filled with mobs of dancing people, pulsing music, and flashing lights. Harley tried to ignore the extraneous and focus on the details, looking for anything that suggested there was a human—or supernatural—trafficking ring working out of the club.

   As she moved from room to room, she depended on her eyes to lead the way. As a werewolf, she should have been putting as much trust in her nose and ears, but she wasn’t a big fan of that. While her boss, Nathan McKay, had hired her because of what she was, she wasn’t keen on using her werewolf abilities. Besides, they were kind of unreliable anyway. Sometimes, she could smell a pizza delivery vehicle from half a mile away. Other times, she could barely smell her own perfume. Then again, maybe they were so inconsistent because she didn’t make use of them. But since she refused to hone them, at the end of the day, her ears and nose were going to do what they wanted.

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