“So we’re not safe here after all.”
Cali’s temper flared but he tried to remain calm despite Tally’s statement. “We’re safer here than elsewhere. We know what these men are capable of. We have the equipment to monitor the entire area and we’ll know if they come back.”
“When.” Tally glared at him. “When they come back. People who will slaughter an entire pack then send out sucker bait won’t give up.”
Jacob flinched. Cali stood, slowly, fighting the impulse to tear into Tally, quite literally. “You will notdisrespect Jacob like that. You have no idea what he’s been through, and he is in no way at fault for those men showing up here.”
Tally opened his mouth but Anya elbowed him, hard.
“Shut up,” she snapped, glaring daggers at him. “I didn’t realize you were stupid. Jacob was used, and he lost his entire pack. Do you understand that?”
Tally was blushing from his forehead down to his chest. “I do. I didn’t—I wasn’t blaming him. I chose my words…poorly.”
“No shit,” Wick muttered.
Finn snorted and rolled his eyes. “Stating the obvious.”
Dion glowered but didn’t speak.
Ashton growled and bared his teeth.
Tally held up his hands. “I’m sorry! I am. I’m—I’m scared, and I fucked up. I’m really sorry, Jacob. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, and…I’m just sorry.” He shrugged and folded his arms across his chest. “That’s not enough, but it’s all I have. No excuse for me being an asshole.”
“True that,” Dion said.
Jacob cleared his throat. He reached for Cali’s left hand, grabbed it, and tugged.
Cali sat down beside him again.
“Here’s the thing,” Jacob began, having to clear his throat again. “I did lead those men here, so it is my fault.”
“It is not!” Cali protested, and he wasn’t the only one.
Jacob shook his head. “Wait, listen. I didn’t do it on purpose. I would never do that, bring those…those death stalkers to this refuge. But I didn’t remember sooner, and now they know where we are. I probably have some sort of tracking device in me, and we need to find it and get it out. Maybe it’s too late now, though.” He ducked his head.
Cali squeezed his hand gently. “It isn’t your fault. I suspect they injected you with something that caused the seizures and inhibited your ability to heal, as well as tracked you. We’ll have a full body scan done tomorrow. I should have thought of it sooner. I couldn’t understand why you weren’t healing and why you were seizing. I didn’t look hard enough. The only thing to do now is to rectify that mistake.”
Jacob looked at him with nothing but trust and affection. “It’s not your fault. Who would have known they would have such capabilities? Just like how they hid every whiff of their scents.”
“These are people who know shifters and hate them. Hate us.” Cali hoped they were the only group out to kill shifters.
Finn cocked his head. “Can I ask, where will Jacob get this scan? What is a scan? I’m not one for the human world. I’ve lived in the wild as much as I could.”
“There’s a clinic that has an open-sided MRI about an hour from here,” Cali explained. “It’s an imaging machine that will show everything inside of Jacob.” It seemed best to stick to a simpler explanation. He didn’t want to get technical and spend hours explaining how MRI equipment worked.
Anya nodded. “So if there’s anything in him that shouldn’t be, it’ll show up, and you’ll be able to dig it out.”
Cali winced. “Well—”
“Yes, he will,” Jacob interrupted. “If there’s something in me, it needs to be removed.”
“But if they can track you, then they’ll know you went to that place, and that you found the thing and what’s the point?” Dion asked. “They still know about us.”
“The point is to get it out, stop their tracking capability if it exists, so that once we put an end to these murderers, no one can track Jacob again,” Cali explained. “To that end, I’ve hired a group of highly skilled…we’ll call them body guards. That’s what they are, too, except they are all ex-special forces and will do whatever they must to protect us. In fact, they’ll be arriving to patrol the perimeter in the next hour or so.”
He could only hope he’d hired good men and women who would do what was necessary to keep their clients safe. Cali had explained to James Morris, the owner of Morris and Company Security, that he and some of his family lived on a secluded patch of land and had been honest about what he’d seen.
Cali continued. “I’ll be letting Mr. Morris and his tech security expert in to go over our alarms and systems. I know they’re top of the line, but Mr. Morris informed me that top of the line to everyday people isn’t necessarily the best available options.” He looked at Ashton. “You’re going to have to stay hidden, or shift. We can’t risk you being seen or heard.”
Ashton rumbled and gave a clear shake of his head.
Cali didn’t push. Whatever had kept Ashton in his shifted form had to be powerful. “Well, relieving yourself might be difficult.”
“You could explain him as a rescue,” Jacob suggested.
“He’s much bigger than his natural cat would be,” Anya countered. “That would be suspicious in itself.”
Finn held up a hand. “Dion and I can prepare a cat-friendly room for Ashton. We’ll bring in dirt and—”
Ashton roared as he leaped to his paws. He darted out of the room, his claws clacking against the tile.
“I’ll talk to him.” Wick stood.
Finn scowled at him. “Like hell you will. You don’t even know him.” He pushed past Wick and jogged out of the room.
Wick shrugged and sat down, but Cali caught him glancing at the doorway repeatedly as Dion began discussing a room-plan for Ashton with Anya.
It was the best Cali could do for Ashton for the time being. He’d have to consider having some sort of indoor animal area built on the grounds.
He really should have thought about that when he’d been having everything else built.
And he needed more medical equipment. He was already risking exposure and danger by taking Jacob out of the refuge tomorrow and into a human facility. Cali wasn’t certain how he’d even get an MRI done on Jacob tomorrow, what excuse he’d use or how he’d bypass what was very likely a waiting list of patients.
What if some of those patients’ lives depend on their appointment being kept?Cali started to curse.
“What’s wrong?” Jacob asked.
Cali sighed. “I might not be able to get you examined tomorrow. I’m sure there are people who have appointments that need to be seen, and I can’t just waltz in there with you and ask them to check you for a tracking device.”
Jacob frowned. “But you could ask the security people you hired. If they know about alarms and better equipment, maybe they’d know how to check me for some kind of…of thing in me?”
“That’s a great idea,” Tally said. “You could tell the security people that…well, that something. You’d need an excuse for why he’d be tracked. Hm.”
“Or you could simply tell them to check him. You have hired them and don’t owe an explanation for your request, right?” Anya leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands. “They should do as you tell them to do.”
“They did sign privacy waivers,” Cali murmured. “Let me call James Morris. I don’t even know if they’d have something that could do what we need, but it won’t hurt to ask.”