logan's choice (dark hollow wolf pack #3) Page 24
Keeping the fire going at night was a full time job, so they usually slept a little late in the mornings. On the morning of the day they were to go meet Rory, they got up earlier than usual and ate some cold,leftover rabbit they’d cooked the night before. Banking the fire, they packed up their gear in case something unforeseen required them to spend the night on the trail and left the small cave, heading south toward Mountainwood. They hadn’t gone far when they heard someone on the trail ahead of them. Darting off into the bushes, they moved as quietly as possible into the deep underbrush to hide. Gradually the voices coming toward them got louder. Two men, both wearing the camo uniforms of the Hunters came into view. Logan recognized one of the men as Dawson, the sadistic bastardwho’d whipped him and Ian. He glanced at Nicky who nodded back at him. Logan held a finger to his lips.
When the men passed their hiding place and got further down the trail, Logan whispered to him. “That’s Dawson. He’s a high ranking aide to my father. Why is he out here in the woods? He rarely leaves the compound.”
“Let’s spy on them and see what they’re up to.”
Nicky wore a look of mischief that was becoming familiar to Logan, but he grinned and
nodded. They were just about to step out from their hiding place when they heard someone else coming on the trail and drew back. As they came into view, Logan’s heart beat faster. More Hunters! Three more of them, wearing camo and moving fast down the trail with rifles slung on their backs. Logan gripped Nicky’s arm tightly to keep him still. When he was sure they were out of earshot, he whispered to Nicky.
“Something’s going on. We need to find out why they’re out here.” Nicky stood up and tried to see farther down the trail. “They could be meeting with them at the stream. You said it was an old Hunters’ site. You think we could sneak up on them and seewhat they’re saying?”
“No, the falls make too much noise . Let’s see if they plan on staying at least. I can circle us around and get us close. C’mon.”
They made a wide circle through the brush, not daring to get near the trail. Finally, they came out downstream, looking up toward the waterfall. The Hunters were there, on the stream bank.
Keeping silent, they watched the small group set up a campsite. Nicky followed Logan as he moved further away from the camp. He sat down on a rock near the small trail and regarded Nicky solemnly.
“Nicky, do you trust me?”
Nicky shrugged. “Sure, I guess so. Of course.”
“I want to ask them for asylum.”
Nicky stared down at him like he’d lost his mind. “No! I can’t leave Marco. It would kill him and kill me too. I only said that to hurt him if it got back to him.”
Logan looked impatient. “I know all that. Look, it wouldn’t be for real. We’ll say that to negotiate a talk. I’ve got to find out how they knew we’d be in the Hunters’ compound that night and,what’s more important, Ian has to know, and he won’t believe me if you don’t hear it too.He’ll never trust me again if he doesn’t.”
“But what if we can’t get back out of there? They could force us to go with them. They have a lot of guns with them,and we don’t.”
“That’s why I’m asking you to trust me to get you out of there. I know I can do this, but if you’re scared…”
“Hell no, I’m not scared.” Nicky bristled visibly. “Okay, let’s do this. What do I say?”
“That you were kidnapped and treated badly. We’ll stand at the top of the falls and call down to them.”
“What if they shoot us?”
Logan snorted. “They’re not going to shoot us, Nicky. We’re human. They’ll see us as victims they’re rescuing from a fate worse than death.” He hoped.
Nicky grinned. “Marco as a fate worse than death? I don’t know if I can pull that off with a straight face, but I’ll try.”
Logan grinned back at him. “Okay, let’s do this!”
Crawling up the mountain behind the top of the falls, Logan looked back over his shoulder to make sure Nicky was still behind him. Nicky gave him a thumbs up. Logan took a deep breath, stood up, and waved his arms to the men gathered below on the bank. Instantly, the men raised their weapons, but lowered them when Dawson saw who it was.
Dawson yelled up to him. “Come down, Logan. We’ve been looking for you! We’ll help you!Your father’s been worried sick about you!”
Logan motioned for Nicky to stand up beside him and looked back down. “I want to talk first,” he yelled back down to him. “We want asylum.”
“Of course! Come down and we’ll talk.”
“First I want your word we can go free if we decide we want to leave. You won’t try to hold us against our will.”
“Of course! Who is that with you?”
“Another one of the humans they kidnapped. Can I trust you, Dawson? Do you give me your word?”
“Yes, Logan. I swear!”
Logan nodded and signaled to Nicky to climb back down. On the way down the side, he spoke to Nicky in a low voice. “I don’t trust him. Like I said, he’s my father’s closest aide, and my father will lie about anything to get what he wants.”
“Then why are we going in? They might not let us back out.”
“I wanted him to believe we really want asylum. Just trust me. If I say run, get in the cave. They’ll think they have you trapped and not be in a hurry to go in after you. Straight back, two feet to the right, there’s an overlap in the rock. You can’t see it unless you slide your hand in. Follow it out if I don’t get in with you.”
“What do you mean if you don’t get in there?”
“I mean if we get separated and I run the other way.”
“Okay, if you say so. I’m just glad Marco doesn’t know about any of this. He’d have a cow if he could see me now.”
Ian had been at first surprised, then excited, and finally horrified to see Logan climbing slowly up to the top of the falls. Hunters were right below them—all they had to do was look up.
Just as Ian was about to break cover to draw their attention away from Logan, Logan stood up and waved his arms, then yelled something down at them. They jumped to their feet and yelled back up. Ian’s blood froze in his veins. He’d actually begun to hope Logan had been telling him the truth, and he hadn’t betrayed him, but there was the proof staring him in the face. Beside him, Marco put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Suddenly Marco froze too. Nicky stood up beside Logan, smiling and looking quietly at ease. “Oh my God!” Marco said, his voice registering too many emotions to catalog.
They watched and listened in horror as the two young men had a friendly talk with the Hunters below and then climbed down to them. Almost in shock, they watched as they came down into the camp and shook hands with the leader, who motioned for them to sit beside him at the campfire.
Unable to watch any longer, Ian fell down on his backside. Marco watched for a few more seconds before falling down beside him.
“Now what?” Ian asked bitterly.
Marco got a hard expression on his face. “We wait until the time is right and move in.”
“What are you going to do?”
Marco took a deep breath. “I’m going to get my mate back. Whatever it takes, Nicky’s coming home with me.”
Ian nodded. “I agree. The same for Logan. Let’s do it.”
Logan stepped forward to shake Dawson’s hand . “This is a friend of mine—Nicky uh…” “Anderson,” Nicky supplied. “Nice to meet you.”
“You too, Nicky. Well, Logan, your father will be thrilled I’ve found you. I’m sure your
family will be happy too, son. Please sit down for a minute. We were about to go hunting for some game, but now we need to break camp right away and take you two back home to civilization. We’ll get moving.”
“Thanks, but we do need a little rest first.” Logan smiled at Dawson. “When I spotted you out here, I couldn’t believe it. What are you doing here, Dawson?Don’t you usually stay close to the general?”
“Yes, but since you disappeared, along w ith that wolf, he’s been frantic about you. When we saw you were tied and gagged on the monitor tapes, we feared the worst. We saw some young men dressed as guards taking you down the halls.” He slanted a hard look at Nicky. “We’ve been in the woods around the wolf compound, hoping for a sighting of you. I hope you weren’t hurt in any way, Logan.”
“No , not at all, this time. They kept me in a basement cell, about all they can do now that I’m Werekin. Nicky was in another one. Together we escaped. We’ve been hiding out in the woods, trying to make our way back down to Brevard so I could contact the general.”
“I’m so glad we decided to check out this part of the woods. And you’re sure you haven’t been abused?” “No, not this time, though they were pretty brutal the first time before that bastard bit me, thinking they’d turn me into their slave. You can see it didn’t work.” He laughed. Something occurred to him that hadn’t before. “I don’t understand why my father didn’t move the facilityafter he learned I’d been captured.He had to know they’d torture me for information. It’s not like him to take a chance I wouldn’t break. I mean I was sure after that long a time, he’d have moved everything out of the compound and fed them a bunch of crap. I figured if I could get out of their compound, I had a chance to escape. I was really surprised when I found the warehouse still packed.”
“Oh yes, empty crates. That was a stroke of genius on your father’s part. He knew since they didn’t kill you when they took you, they would torture information out of you. We moved everything to the Cummings basecamp.”
The way a smirk teased the corner of Dawson’s lips, Logan knew Dawson was dying to say since you didn’t get killed when they attacked and didn’t have balls enough to kill yourself,he knew they’d torture it out of you. He set his own features not to take the bait, and swallowed down the disgusting idea his father deliberately left him, certain he’d be tortured and break, to set a trap for the wolves.