Cad wandered out to the hall, closing the door behind him, and padded along until he’d reached the door to the main room. When he’d slipped through the throngs of half-drunken men who ignored him completely, he ventured towards the hall that he knew led to Barton’s office.
The door, surprisingly, was ajar.
He rapped gently on its surface, half expecting to find one of the boss’s henchmen inside.
“Hello?” he said quietly. “Anyone in there?”
When no one replied, he pushed the door open only to find the room unoccupied. Barton’s computer sat on the desk at its far end, its screen reflecting in a mirror on the far wall.
Cad closed the door, holding his breath as he raced over to the desk. “Well, that was way too easy,” he muttered as he pulled up the office chair.
The computer screen, as though inviting him in, was prompting him to enter a Username.
Barton, he typed.
“Password…” he said. “Now, what’s the fucking password?”
But none of them worked.
Okay, so the bloody password wasn’t something Barton despised. Perhaps it was something he liked. Very much, in fact.
Slowly, he typed:
Once again he was rejected.
“One more, then I start getting properly creative,” he said under his breath.
“Bingo,” he murmured as the screen flashed to life. “And also, fuck you for that, Barton, you absolute cockwomble.”
As he worked his eyes over the desktop’s display, his Dire Wolf set itself on high alert inside him. This really had been too easy—the open door, the computer that was lit up and ready to go. It felt like a trap, somehow.
On a whim Cad looked up at the ceiling, half expecting to see that someone had set up a net that might come crashing down on top of him, ensnaring him where he sat. He chuckled to himself when the only thing that met his gaze was a plaster ceiling.
“Idiot,” he muttered, his eyes fixing on the screen in front of him. “Just find the damned files.”
A series of alphabetically-ordered folders greeted his eyes. Everything from Receipts to Office Décor. But he couldn’t see anything that looked like a list of possible criminals or their victims.
Well, the man wouldn’t have marked them anything so obvious as “list of people to kill.” Still, there had to be some clue, didn’t there?
After a few minutes of rifling around in Barton’s files, Cad clicked the Office Décor folder.
In a sub-folder he saw two letters:
He clicked open the file only to see a list of more than fifty names, addresses, mobile numbers staring him in the face. Quickly he reached into his pocket, pulled out his mobile and snapped a series of photos encompassing the entire list, which he sent immediately to Bertie.
Then he clicked backwards until he found a folder titled “F&F.”
F for Family, he thought. Second F for friends.
As he scrolled through, he reminded himself that Mir’s last name was Williams, so if he had this right, her surname would be in the database. When he saw her parents listed, he knew he was in the right place.
So, this was a list of people Barton intended to hurt if one of his women tried to escape. The thought of it sent a jolt of pure rage shooting through Cad.
The moment he finished with this, the moment he stepped back into the Red Room, he’d unleash his Dire Wolf. He’d show Barton the firsthand consequences of angering a shifter of the Trekilling Pack.
But first, he told himself, he needed to finish the job. Again, he snapped a series of shots and attached them to a note addressed to Bert.
These are Barton’s human victims, he wrote. They need protection from the men on the first list, who are probably also the shifter hunters we’re looking for.
Tell Roth and Lumen to send out Dragons ASAP to protect these people.
Tell them …
He stopped himself and took a deep breath before finishing:
Tell them they’re worth saving.
The last sentence was directed at Roth. The Alpha might be pissed at humans at the moment, but he was no monster. He wouldn’t let Barton’s people hurt innocent civilians. After all, the Trekilling Pack had, for generations, protected the human inhabitants of Cornwall. There was no way they’d forsake defenceless humans now, simply because of a minor grudge.
Cad rose to his feet. His work here was done, and he needed to get back before anyone became suspicious. Then he and Phair would figure out how to deal with Barton, and how to get Mir and Bry out of this place. He waited a few seconds for the screen saver to come on, then circumvented the desk to walk towards the exit.
But before he could get there, the door flew open and Gunner came storming in, a look of determined rage in his eyes. In his hand he held something—a weapon of some sort, perhaps.
“Look, mate,” Cad said, issuing his most charming grin, “I know I’m not supposed to be in here. I got lost. Thought this was the loo.”
“Shut it,” Gunner growled.
“Phair’s going to beat the living hell out of you,” Cad said. “He’s going to be angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. For that matter, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry, either. I sort of turn into a giant dog who rips people’s faces off.”
He could have—should have—shifted in that moment. Should have taken the bastard out.
But there was too much at risk just now. Phair was still stuck with Barton in the Red Room, and Mir and Bry were unaccounted for. If word got out that a Dire Wolf had torn one of Barton’s men to shreds, the consequences would probably be horrific. Best to lure Gunner away from the door and find a way to tie him up quietly, then make his way to the others.
But a slow, awful smile spread itself over the henchman’s lips, as though he knew something Cad didn’t. “You think your friend will save you, do you?” Gunner asked. “Your mate Phair’s in no shape to walk, much less hurt me, and by the way, I thought I told you to shut it.”
Wait—what? Cad had only been out of the Red Room for a few minutes. What the hell could have happened to Phair? He wasn’t exactly the vulnerable sort that Barton and his beyond-middle-aged friend could hurt easily. All Phair would have to do is unleash the massive bear inside him, and…
Gunner raised the weapon at his side and pointed it.
The last thing Cad remembered was his head hitting the hardwood floor.