**Episode 6! Prepare for action, because hoo boy. Enjoy!**
Before the mages could fill me in, the wolves turned as a unit toward the door. Human growls weren’t as chest rattling as in wolf-shape, but were terrifying enough. Especially in unison. Marco moved like a flash, putting himself between Aeron and the door. Owen took up a defensive posture as well and stalked toward the door. I raced to keep up.
“What is it?”
“Fox,” Owen growled.
I almost asked whether it was a shifter or an animal, but I caught myself before it escaped. No one would be reacting this way if it was simply an animal. I quickly put a hand on his shoulder, trying to temper his reaction. I knew everyone was on high alert and with good reason, but I was pretty sure the person on the other side of the door was the agent we were waiting for.
Owen, it seemed, trusted me enough to curb some of the obvious aggression, though he was still tense with it under my hand. He took another deep breath through his nose, shot me a look, and then opened the door. Owen made sure to keep himself between the door and everyone else in the house.
The agent was at least smart enough to have his badge on prominent display. We technically didn’t have to wear it out, as long as we had it on us, but O’Neil had it on a chain around his neck. His nostrils flared, taking things in, but otherwise didn’t move. He rather looked like prey caught in a predator’s gaze. Which wasn’t inaccurate.
“Agent Willis?” O’Neil kept his tone low, and though he spared me a glance, he kept most of his attention on the pissed off wolf standing between us. “AIC Wright sent me.”
“Agent O’Neil,” I greeted. “You’ll have to cut the wolves some slack. As you can imagine, everyone is on edge.”
“Understandable.” His voice was deep, and he had that no nonsense tone many field agents possessed. Being on Sharon’s team, it wasn’t a surprise. “Read me in.”
“Owen, let the agent in,” Gareth called.
Owen grumbled, a rumble of noise in his chest, but then he stepped back. Agent O’Neil entered but kept his guard up. He only went as far as the entrance to the living room, not encroaching too far into the territory. I wasn’t sure if it was his training or his instinct as a shifter, but either way, it was a good call.
I took point, because emotions were running high. As quickly and as concisely as possible, I filled O’Neil in on all we knew. Gareth chimed in with what he and Aeron had seen in the scrying glass, and Aeron made a pained noised when O’Neil turned his attention to him. Silence reigned for a moment, and I cleared my throat.
“Agent O’Neil, I believe our problem is even worse than first suspected. Archer had a sigil on his chest.” I glanced at Walker, hating that I was dropping this on him. I turned my attention back to O’Neil, giving him a meaningful look, so he’d know it wasn’t just drawn there. “While I didn’t recognize in its entirety, it was similar to ones I’ve seen in worship to Crom Cruach.”
O’Neil let out a curse, vehement and with feeling. He whipped out his phone, pressed the screen, and lifted it to his ear. Within a second, he spoke. “Collins, we have confirmation. Yes, credible. Move in. Now!”
“What’s happening?” Walker’s voice was high and panicked.
“Stay here,” O’Neil barked, racing for the door. “We will get your son back.”
The wolves moved, but O’Neil was faster, out the door and gone. The car peeled away from the curb a second later. Marco yanked off his shirt, then dropped, and I knew he was prepared to shift and follow.
“Hold!” My blood raced, and I knew I had seconds, maybe less, to get this situation under control. “Please, just wait.”
No one wanted to, I knew that. But we didn’t have enough information to go tearing after O’Neil.
“Explain,” Marco growled, fangs pressing against his lips.
“If the agent was prepared to move this fast, they already knew more than they’ve given us. Sharon hinted something more was going on, and if O’Neil didn’t have time to explain, time is of the essence.” I blew out a breath. “I’m not privy to details, and I’m sorry about that. But what I do know is that the MBI had a team in place, ready to move in as soon as they got the go ahead. That means they’ve had the situation under surveillance and were getting everything in order. This is the piece they needed to take the perpetrator down.”
“You trust this woman?” Gareth asked, not unkindly.
Owen snarled. “But the MBI fucked you over.”
That was true.
“But she didn’t. She wouldn’t. Especially not with a kid involved. I know you all want to race in.” Hell, I did too. I looked straight at Walker, wanting nothing more than to be the one to rescue his child and give him back. I shook that thought off. Now was not the time. “But in this situation, it’s better to wait.”
Walker took a shaky breath, then walked over to me. He wasn’t entirely steady, stumbling the last step, and I caught him. He clutched my shirt. “Please, tell me what’s…. I need to know what’s going on.”
I cupped his cheek, not caring that it was completely inappropriate. His big brown eyes were wet and fearful. And as much as I didn’t want to scare him anymore, he deserved the truth.
“Archer has been marked for sacrifice.” I kept my voice low and soft. “My guess is he’s not the only one, which is why agents were ready to move.”
“My kid is—”
I cut him off before he could complete the sentence. “Don’t think about that.”
“How can I not?” The growl was fierce
I didn’t have a good answer, and I held Walker tighter because the way he sagged made me think his knees were about to give out. I caressed his cheek with my thumb.
“I know. I’m sorry.” I had no words to make this better. I wasn’t even going to try. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what he was feeling.
Then my phone rang, and I only let go of Walker enough so that I could pull it from my pocket. Sharon’s name flashed across the screen. I nearly fumbled it in the haste to answer it.
“We’ve got him.” Sharon said quickly, before I could even get a word out. “He’s doing okay, as are the others. Bring the father to HQ.”
I didn’t need to relay the message to Walker. With his ability, he had no trouble hearing. He sagged against me, and I nearly stumbled under his weight. The he buried his face against my neck and sobbed his relief.