A WOLF ON A MISSION Part 6
Logan checked the clock, counting the minutes since he'd left the discussion in the basement. After pasting a smile on his face, he'd shaken the wolf's hand and walked away. It had been the right thing to do, but even now he was fighting the urge to challenge Declan for the right to claim Vivian.
From the moment she had first walked into his bar looking for a job Logan had known there was something special about her. Maybe it was as simple as one wounded soul recognizing another. He knew what it was like to not have a single person in your life who could be trusted. She was skittish, secretive, and so damn beautiful. She clearly was on the run from something or someone, which meant there was no telling how long she would stay. Even so, he'd taken his time getting closer to her, hoping she would come to trust him enough to tell him what kind of trouble was on her trail.
Heck, he would've been happy if she'd found it easier to confess everything to Maggy. The barmaid had been with Logan from the beginning and had a definite knack for gently bulldozing her way into people's lives but in a good way. Even Vivian had been unable to resist the woman's persistent efforts. While he never pressured Maggy for information, he trusted that she would have shared the details of Vivian's past with him the minute she thought Viv was in any danger.
He leaned back to put his feet up on the desk, the springs in the old chair squeaking in protest. Staring up at a stain on the ceiling, he wished like hell things had gone according to plan. For sure, he'd like to think eventually Vivian would've told him. Instead, the wolf had shown up with no warning, leaving her no choice but to share her painful past with a total stranger.
He hated that he actually liked the wolf. Maybe under other circumstances, he and Declan Lyell might have become friends, the kind who had each other's backs in both good times and bad. Like Vivian, there weren't many people Logan instinctively trusted, but his gut feeling said that the wolf's personal honor was pure steel, unbendable and fierce.
A knock at the door jerked him out of his little pity party. "It's not locked."
Maggy poked her head in. "You wanted to see me, boss?"
He dropped his feet back down to the floor and leaned his elbows on the desk. "Yeah, come on in and have a seat."
She nodded, but moved the chair on the other side of his desk a little farther away before sitting down. Although Maggy had never been afraid of him, his fangs still made her a bit twitchy whenever they were on full display. She knew he'd never use them against her, but alpha predators were never easy to be around.
He was too wired right now to maintain a more human façade, but Maggy would understand once he explained what was going on. "We both know Vivian was hiding from someone. Well, earlier tonight a guy showed up looking for her. She was about to bolt out the back door when I stopped her. Regardless, she wouldn't have gotten far. The guy had already circled around and was waiting for her."
Maggy was looking pretty bloodthirsty herself by that point. "I assume you took care of him. That doesn't mean he was working alone or that others won't be coming, too."
"Actually, Jocko was manning the front door and realized something was up. He followed him around to the back door and cracked his skull for him. We tossed the guy in the cell downstairs until we got a handle on what was happening."
Learning the threat was contained for the moment, Maggy relaxed just a little. "That poor girl, is she all right? Does Vivian need a place to hide for the night? She can stay at my place."
"She's doing as well as can be expected. Better than I thought she would, anyway." Again, there was nothing he could do about the fact that the wolf was better suited to help Vivian fix her problems than he was. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about."
Vivian's story was still hers to tell, so he wasn't sure how much he should share with Maggy or how much she already knew. He settled for a bare bones summary. "When Viv left an abusive relationship, the bastard lied about what happened and sicced the Coalition on her. The wolf believes her story, and so do I. The two of us are going to help her set the record straight. I'll need you to cover things here for me."
Maggy sat up taller with her fists curled into fists. "Will do. I hope you make the guy bleed."
Her reaction came as no surprise. She had her own rocky past, but that particular problem had been laid to rest—after being drained of blood and buried in an unmarked grave a few miles from town. Maggy had wisely never asked Logan what had actually happened to her brutal ex-husband. When he'd told her that the guy would never bother her again, she'd simply thanked him and never spoken of the matter again. She'd repaid him by becoming the best employee he'd ever had, loyal and hardworking.
With that in mind, he pulled a file out of the drawer and set it on the desk. "I'm not sure how long I'll be gone. You know how to order supplies and set up the work schedule. Offer overtime to some of the others if you need to while you're doing my job."
She'd covered for him before, but never for more a day or two. He opened the file and flipped through the pages, explaining what everything was. "And these are notes on a few things that might pop up as well as the phone numbers for the repair people I prefer to use."
Finally, he pointed to a sealed envelope. "I have every intention of coming back, Mags, but I'm not sure what kind of shit show we'll be walking into. If it all goes to hell, this is a copy my will. My attorney will help you with everything, but I wanted you to know that the bar is yours if I don't make it back."
Maggy immediately shook her head from side to side in denial. "But, Logan—"
He held up his hand to ward off whatever she was about to say. "Like I said, I'm planning on coming back, so don't get too excited. It's just that the people who work here are the closest to family that I have, and that goes double with you. I want to make sure everyone is taken care of, and I trust you will make sure that happens."
By that point, her eyes were shiny with tears. He couldn't bear to see her cry but didn't know what to say. Finally, he stood up and walked around the desk to gather her up in his arms to see if that was what she needed. It must have been because she immediately burrowed in closer and wrapped her arms around him in a surprisingly strong grip.
He stroked her back gently, letting his touch say what he couldn't put into words. Finally, she sniffed a couple of times and then stepped back. "Sorry about that, Logan. I didn't mean to soak your shirt with tears."
"No problem." He retreated back behind his desk. "I'm not sure when we'll be leaving, but I'll let you know. For now, I'm going to finish up a couple of things and then get packed."
She nodded and reached to open the door, but then hesitated. "Will Vivian be coming back with you?"
It was tempting to say yes, but he made it a policy to never lie, especially to himself. No matter how things played out when they confronted Vivian's pack, he knew she wouldn't be returning to her job tending bar for him. Instead, she'd stay with her mate. Only time would tell which wolf that would be. No matter how much he wished he was in running for the position, he would do everything he could to make sure Declan Lyell would win the day.
He realized Maggy was still waiting for an answer. Mustering up a brief smile was harder than it should have been. "No, I don't think so, Maggy. It's time she got her life back."
"I'm sorry, Logan."
The sympathy in Maggy's eyes made it clear that she at least suspected he had some feelings for Vivian, but at least she didn't say so. "I'd better get back to work."
When she pulled the door closed, he listened until the sound of her footsteps faded away. Then he cursed and punched the wall. It hurt like hell, but it was worth it. Shaking off the pain, he sat down and got to work.
In a show of trust, Declan left Vivian with Logan while he returned to his motel room to pack up his gear. With that done, he was on his way back to the bar to pick her up. From there, they would head for her place where he planned to crash on her couch for the day. She wasn't exactly happy about that idea, and neither was Logan. Too bad. Declan was reasonably sure the pair wouldn't pull a disappearing act, but trust had to be earned. Besides, dawn was only a couple of hours away, and all three of them needed some rest before setting off, especially Vivian. Logan was supposed to pick them up in his SUV at her house just after sunset.
Declan would have to leave his motorcycle locked in Vivian's garage. Looking back, bringing the bike instead of his truck probably wasn't the smartest thing he'd ever done. After all, he was supposed to be bringing a prisoner back to face justice. As things turned out, which vehicle he had brought wouldn't have mattered when it came to the three of them traveling together. Logan's SUV was modified with several features that made it safer for a vampire to travel long distances. The windows would darken in the daytime enough to protect him from the worst of the sun's damage to his kind. He could also stretch out in a sunproof sleeping bag in the back end if it became necessary. There was also a built-in cooler under the backseat where he could pack enough blood to sustain him for a few days.
After that, Logan would need to look for a fresh source of sustenance. Vivian probably wouldn't hesitate to offer up a vein to help her friend, not that Declan would like that one damn bit. She seemed blissfully unaware the vampire had some pretty strong feelings for her, but Declan could see it plain as day. That said, he wouldn't hesitate to offer Logan his own vein if it became necessary.
He pulled around to the rear of the bar and parked his bike by the back door. He'd mostly recovered from getting knocked out, but he found himself rubbing the back of his head as he studied his surroundings. How had that enormous bouncer managed to sneak up behind him without either Declan or his wolf noticing? The guy had to weigh in at close to three hundred pounds. His wolf growled softly, taking the man's sneak attack as a personal insult.
At least this time he didn't miss the vampire stepping out of the shadows. Turning to face Logan head-on, he couldn't resist glancing back over his shoulder to make sure this wasn't going to be a repeat of the last time he'd stood in that exact spot.
Logan's smile flashed brightly. "Worried Jocko is going to give you another thumping?"
No use in denying it. "A little. Mostly I'm curious how a guy that size could move so quietly. My wolf is seriously pissed about it."
"To be honest, I've wondered about that myself, but the man likes his privacy. As long as he does his job, I don't feel the need to ask a lot of questions."
"Just like you didn't ask Vivian about her past."
Logan shrugged. "Most people who end up living out here on the fringes in places like Darby do so for a reason. What that reason might be is their own private business. Nobody appreciates anyone poking their nose in where it doesn't belong, and accepting people for who they are now makes for a more peaceful town. Besides, some things are better left in the past where they belong."
He stepped closer to Declan, his fangs showing just enough to remind Declan that he was facing another apex predator. "You don't hear me asking you a bunch of uncomfortable questions about why a high-ranking Alpha wolf like you is out here on the edge of nowhere chasing down a woman who doesn't want to be found instead of jockeying for position in his own pack."
It was Declan's turn to offer the vampire the kind of smile that normally had its target retreating a step or two. "Point taken. In return, I won't mention that I've heard tell of a missing heir from one of the vampire clans in New Eire. Last I heard, there was still a reward being offered for any news about where he is or what happened to him."
The vampire gave no sign that Declan's comment hit close to home. Instead, he jerked his head in the direction of the door. "Vivian is waiting in the bar. You'd better get moving. I don't think the lady doesn't like to be kept waiting."
He closed even more of the distance between them. "She also doesn't like strays who invite themselves to a sleepover at her house. I convinced her that it was better than you insisting that she spend the night in the cell downstairs. Make sure you keep your ass planted on that couch, or you'll answer to me."
Only the fact that Declan knew the vampire was fighting some pretty strong feelings for Vivian kept him from going on the attack. He'd given his word that the woman was in no danger from him, and he wasn't in the habit of letting anyone get by with questioning his honor. "I'm there to protect her. Period."
Logan looked as if he had more to say on the subject, but the door opened and the woman in question stepped outside. "Are you two done? Because I'm dead on my feet and want to go home."
When neither man answered, Vivian gave each man a hard look. "Okay, I'll repeat the question more slowly since apparently you didn't understand me. Are…you…two…done? I want to go home, and I don't want to wait while you duke it out."
At least Logan smiled, his stance a little more relaxed. "We were just reviewing our plans."
She rolled her eyes. "And that required you to flash your fangs at him?"
When Declan snickered, she rounded on him. "What are you laughing about? Your own teeth aren't looking particularly human right now, not to mention your eyes are more gold than blue."
At that point, both men held up their hands in surrender. Declan pointed toward his bike. "I'm ready if you are."
She studied the huge motorcycle, admiring its sleek lines. It had been a long time since she'd had a chance to enjoy a ride on the back of someone's bike. This one looked as if it would eat up the miles; too bad she lived only a few blocks from the bar. It made her wish they could take it instead of Logan's SUV when they headed out to confront Rolf.
While Declan climbed on the bike, she stepped closer to Logan. "I locked up everything except this door. I restocked the bar, so that should make things simpler for Maggy."
"Thanks, Viv. I know she'll appreciate it."
"You told her I probably wouldn't be coming back." She didn't mean that to sound like an accusation, but she wasn't ready to accept that she was about to close the door on this part of her life.
"She figured that out on her own, but you both deserved a chance to say your good-byes."
Before she could choke out any kind of response past the lump in her throat, he tugged her into his arms for a long hug, something she badly needed. "We'll get through this, Viv, and then you'll be free to come visit whenever you want to. Your job will be waiting for you anytime you need it. You're family. Nothing will change that."
She blinked like crazy, trying to ward off the tears, as she stepped back. "See you at sundown."
He gave Declan a hard look. "You've got my number. Call if he gives you any trouble. I'll bring a shovel."
That startled a laugh out of her, and even Declan smiled—sort of, anyway.
Rather than drag this out any longer, she climbed on the back of the bike and settled her hands on Declan's back. He immediately reached back to pull her hands around to settle on the front of his rib cage, forcing her to sit closer than she was comfortable with. Before she could protest, he revved the engine and tore off across the parking lot, leaving Logan and the safety of the bar behind.