The train ride was slow as my mind sorted through the reasons why Dominic would be freaking out. The Dragon was using wolves to do the run around. I was still waiting on Liam to call.
I got off the train and headed for the Apex Unlimited building. It was still hot but I would be back inside the air conditioning soon. And the stress and anxiety of the latest hunt. As I walked into the building my phone rang. “Liam, what you got for me?” I asked.
“Liam’s not here right now. Meet me at the usual place in ten minutes.” The alpha quickly hung up so I didn’t get a chance to tell him about Walker. But that was just going to have to be a surprise.
I stood in the lobby just in front of the Atlas statue and I called Walker.
He answered, “Nox? Where you at?”
“I’m downstairs. We got a meet and greet, let’s go.”
“Wait, what? Come up stairs we can make the plan.” Walker instructed.
“We have ten minutes to get where we are going or we lose our chance. Dominick won’t wait long for us. So if you are coming get down here. I”m leaving in three. I hung up the phone and headed for the food court and got coffee for the alpha. It was always good to come bearing presents. And I knew Dominick favored a half soy latte grande from Starbucks. I grabbed a black coffee for Walker if he showed.
I didn’t have to wait long for Walker to come down the elevator. “Let’s go.” I handed him the black coffee and started for the door.
“So were we going?” Walker asked as he nodded his thanks and then took a sip.
“Not far.” We walked to an old apartment building and around into the alley behind it. There was a door in the alley that I knocked on three times. A rusted creeking slide opened and a pair of amber eyes stared back. I smiled and held up the coffee. “Delivery.”
The man on the other side snorted and shut the rusted slide and the sound of latches on the other side being unlocked before the heavy door opened up. “He’s back this way.” I felt the hum of wolf energy all around me. They knew I was armed. They probably knew Walker was armed.
Walker was looking around warily. “They are all wolves.”
I nodded. “They are.”
“Why didn’t they search us?” Walker asked.
“Fernando, why didn’t you search us?” I grinned at the wolf leading us to Dominick.
“What good does it do to disarm you when you will just throw a fireball or wrap us up in air at a thought.” He smiled. “We won’t attack you, you don’t attack us, that’s the rule. This is neutral territory.”
“How is it neutral?” Walker asked.
“It’s owned by vampires. If we kill anyone here it’s a declaration of war. There are several meeting houses around city that do for these type negotiations. The vampires and the wolves use the Apex Unlimited Starbuck’s as a place to negotiate when they have a need.”
“So if I kill a wolf the Venatori declare war on the wolves?” Walker asked with a grin.
“No. You declare war on the vampires. You violated their treaty. And they will send Il Cane after you.”
“Il Cane is just a myth.” Walker declared.
Everyone within hearing distance laughed. “I’m sure she’d love to prove it otherwise to you when she rips your heart out,” Fernando said.
Fernando lead us into a small room with only a table and four chairs with a small lamp. A large burly man with slicked back hair and a scar down the left side of his face sat facing us. The smile reached his good eye, the other was cast over with a light blue shading of blindness. The wolf who had attacked Dominic had also taken an eye from him. But the deficiency hadn’t slowed down the one time gang banger from taking over the pack when he was just 23.
I smiled and took a sip of the coffee before sliding it across the table to Dominick. “I know you like a half soy latte.”
“You are always so thoughtful when you come to visit.” He smiled. “Who’s the new boy toy?”
“Walker Moore. Walker this is Dominick Olmos, Pack leader of the Manhattan Werewolf Pack.” Walker sat down. I frowned.
“He’s presumptuous Venatori.” Dominick said.
“He’s new. He doesn’t know how things work when we actually don’t try to kill each other.”
“You might as well sit down too Nox. I will let it go for now.” Dominick said as he offered me to sit.
I nodded and sat down. “Thank you, Dominick. I was assigned to help Walker with a dragon hunt. We tracked the dragon down and she claimed The Dragon is going after some pretty big things against the humans. I got a name from her that was her contact. A name you might find familiar.”
Walker started to say something and I put my hand on his arm. “You can yell at me later.”
Dominick nodded. “What name?”
“Valentino Rodrígez.” I smirked. “She said The Dragon gave her the information through Val. He’s always been a problem child. Did you know he was working with the Dragon?”
Dominick frowned. “No. He won’t come when I summon him.”
I laughed. “Then you didn’t really try did you?”
“I hate that you know so much about pack politics.” Dominick smiled.
“I had good teachers, what can I say.”
“You had the same teachers as I do and I don’t know what the hell you are talking about.” Walker interrupted.
“I wasn’t talking about Venatori teachers, Walker. I’ve been out here doing this for five years, I’ve had many teachers.” I smiled at Dominick. “Try again for real. If he doesn’t come for you I will find him, and my friend won’t be so nice.”
“You know what you are asking me to do?”
I nodded. “Yeah I do. I’m sorry. But you said it yourself he’s not coming of his own free will. He made his choice. If it makes you feel better, call him now. Ask again. Tell him I’ll come for him. Better yet, I’ll tell the vampires that he killed one of your men here and I’ll let Il Cane come for him.” I smiled. “I could by pass it all and just ask a favor of Ant.”
“Jesus, Nox, you don’t need to get the vampires involved. I’ll bring him here.” Dominick pulled out his phone and dialed a number without speed dial.
“Valentino. You need to come to me now. The Venatori are here. They have questions and I really don’t want to send this one after you.”
Dominick listened and then he laughed. “You can only wish that I only sent the boy after you. He’s not alone. You can pray he magics you away from the trigger happy pup he has with him.”
I could listen in if I really wanted to but there was no need. Val either came or he didn’t. Dominick frowned. “Val, don’t make me do this.”
There was a pause again. And then Dominick closed his eyes and I could feel the power move through him and the rest of the pack. A few bowed their backs, other’s fell to their knees. He recited in a quiet voice, “Valentino, come to me.” The power pulsed and made it hard to breathe. Dominick sipped at his coffee. “You always bring the best gifts Nox. The boys could learn a thing from you.”
I grinned. I looked over at Walker who was drowning in the power. “You okay, Walker?”
“It’s hard to breathe.” He eeked out.
I nodded. I put my hand on his shoulder and fed him a little of my power. “This helps.” He stared at me.
“It doesn’t affect you?”
I shrugged. “Wolf powers don’t affect me. Too human I guess.” Which wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the fact that I was half human that I was not affected by Dominick.
Dominick laughed. “He’s an alpha in his own right, kid. Don’t let him fool you. He’s pack just doesn’t change. He just gave you pack protection. Not my pack.”
“Who’s pack then?” Walker asked.
Dominick smiled, “His own. Sheridan has essentially kicked him from the pack for being too powerful. But since that would make him rogue, Sheridan extends his protection making him pack and confined to Hell’s Kitchen.”
“How is he a wolf, Venatori die from bites?” Walker was as confused as I was at one point in my life.
“I’m not a wolf. I was taken in by Adrian when I was young. I just grew more powerful as I got older. I didn’t do anything more than give your body the resistance to fight the power. Which is Cesari not a wolf power.” I smiled as I heard the door open. I stood up and turned around to see the weasel Valentino sulking through the doorway. He was almost on all fours as he came in. He stopped just short of my feet.
“I come my Alpha.” Valentino whimpered.
“Sadly. You didn’t come the first twenty times I called. Why shouldn’t I just give you to the pup here?” Dominick growled.
“I’m sorry. My King. I’ll do better next time.” Valentino sounded even more pathetic than before.
I squatted down in front of the cowering man. The power in the room had dropped significantly Dominick was focusing just on the wolf in front of us. But he remained seated making Val stay low to the ground.
“Is it because you’ve been working with The Dragon, Val?” I asked.
Val looked up with his dark black eyes that were starting to bleed amber from the power Dom was pulling through him. There was fear in his eyes. “He pays well. I’m not switching sides. I swear.”
“Other than the female dragon, who else have you been taking messages back and forth to. I need names, contacts and any information you’ve passed on verbally.”
“He’ll kill me.” Val cowered.
I looked back at walker. “You want to take that one?” I asked.
Walker pulled a gun and pointed it at Valentino’s head. “I’ll kill you now. I suspect Nox will protect you from this Dragon, as he does every other ally he seems to meet.”
“You won’t die here Val. We won’t start a war over you, but I’ll let him kill you. And your Alpha won’t stop me. You are implicated in a war on the humans. You will talk and we will forget you aided The Dragon.” I sighed. “I hate doing this Val. But you give me no choice.”
Walker took a step closer to enhance his position on the matter but he said nothing. “I just talked to the three people here in the City. They were his go to people they handled the rest. I will give you the addresses where I met them.”
“I want times and days you met them too.”
Dominick smiled as he knelt down beside me. “You are getting off easy, Valentino. You will be paying for this for a while though. You will not work against us again.”
Valentino bowed his head. I stood up and frowned, “Don’t kill him, please.”
Dominick stood up and puffed his chest out. “Do you intend to interfere with pack business?”
“No, Dominick I don’t. I ask as a favor, punish him. But please don’t kill him. I would owe you.”
Dom’s eyes grew wide and his teeth became a great smile. “You would owe me?”
“Yes. He may come in handy later. I want him alive in case of that. I will owe you a favor in return. A deal you can’t pass up.”
“What’s the condition, Nox?” Dominick asked.
“I won’t participate in acts of war.” I said as I offered my hand.
Dominick nodded. “That’s a fair trade.” Dominic patted the top of Valentino’s head, “You have a guardian angel today. Maybe he’ll put you under his protection permanently if you play nice.” He grabbed him by the top of his hair and tossed him towards the table. “Give him what he wants. I need a smoke. Nox?”
“I could use some fresh air.” Walker said as I nodded.
Dominick nodded, “Fernando will bring out the information once it’s been written down.”
I nodded. “Thank you, Dominick I greatly appreciate your help.”
Outside the building Dominick leaned against the wall and pulled out a smoke and started puffing away at it. We stood there for a while, while Walker walked to the end of the alley way and back. Dominick spoke softly. “Liam has already been paid for helping you.”
“Why did you pay him for me? I can manage.” I smiled.
“I paid him for me. He won’t remember that you didn’t pay up. I needed your help Venatori. But I didn’t want to call you. I hate getting you involved, but I know you won’t kill us, any of us without due cause.”
“What’s up Dominick?” I ran my fingers through my hair. Liam had said Dom was going off his rocker about the dragons.
“It’s dragons. You probably already got it under your plate, but they keep trying to overpower the wolves. It’s been slow. The banks they are robbing, are in our territory, the vamps are getting antsy and think we need to stop it. But they are having power outages and their human servants are having issues. The dragons are the culprits.”
“You are saying that these things are isolated to your territories. Not across the island completely?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But that’s what the vampires think too. And we don’t want to start a war. Desmond and Marshall don’t want to get you involved. But we have to to prevent war. They think you’ll side with the Venatori, not the law.”
I smiled, “You know better?”
“Marshall trusts you Nox. I trust you. Il Cane trusts you. But the CCB they don’t. They don’t know you like we do and Desmond and Marshall can’t do much about it other than advise. They are going to take matters into their own hands if the dragons aren’t stopped.”
I sighed. “I’ll do what I can. Hopefully The Dragon is behind the dragon attacks you speak of. He’s trying to disrupt humanity for crimes they didn’t commit.”
Dominick laughed, “Who’s crimes are they?”
“If I had to guess they are Venatori crimes. Dragon slayers he believes were human. We look human.”
Walker joined us then, “You are human.”
Dominick laughed. “That’s why we trust him over you. He understands. He’ll clean up this mess without starting a war.”
“You say I would start a war?” Walker took a step closer I stepped between him.
“You don’t know when to submit, and you don’t know when to be a tough guy. New York City isn’t like other cities Walker. We have less supernatural activity here because they work together. Even the Venatori do.”
Dominick sighed, “The Venatori don’t keep the peace here, they are corrupted police. But you don’t hunt us like animals because we exist like you do elsewhere.” Dominick laughed, “And that’s because Il Cane has a home here. Even the Venatori fear her ire.”
“I don’t.” I claimed with a smile. “Cari Giovanni doesn’t scare me.”
“Because she likes you.” Dominick laughed. “Those big brown eyes, the hair and the finger nails painted to match. There is a story of a boy hunter who found Il Cane. He was relentless. But he never wanted to kill her, so she sent her son to stall him and tell him he was close.” Dominick looked to Walker as he told the story. “And the following year in June when the rest of the Venatori was celebrating all the new adults, he hunted her again. And again he found her. For four years he hunted her in June. And for four years he found her.” He looked to me, “Did you find her this year?”
I smiled, “Two days before their Ad Aetatem Ant came to me and took me out for a drink. He said, mother sends her regards. She was Italy and I’d not find her this year.”
“So you are telling me that you have successfully hunted Il Cane down without knowing where she is?”
“I always know where she is.” I smiled. “I track her movements since I first found her.”
“How the fuck do you do that she doesn’t travel like a human?” Walker asked.
“Why would I give you my secret?” I asked him in return.
He rolled his eyes, “Fine. Be that way.”
I grinned and looked at Dominick. “I will see what I can do.”
A few moments later Fernando walked out with a piece of paper and some pretty illegible handwriting on it. He handed me the paper and nodded. “He says this is all the information he could think of to give you. He prays that you will allow him to live a while longer.”
I smiled. “He might be useful. Until then Dominick just don’t kill him.”
“I won’t. You have my word.” He offered me his hand and I took it firmly with a smile.
“See you round.” I gave Dominick a half bow. “May the hunt be fruitful.”
I heard Dominick chuckling as we left the alleyway. We had some leads to follow.