THE LONE WOLF'S LADY Part 11
Rand wasn't the most trusting of souls at the best of times. And with everything that had happened in the past forty-eight hours, right now was the polar opposite of best times. He positioned Tamara behind him to make sure he was the first one through the door into the conference room. She started to protest but backed off when he growled softly and she got a good look at his face. No doubt his wolf's fiercely protective nature was reflected in the gold sheen in his eyes.
Ambrose might trust the people in that room, but Rand didn't. Not with Tamara's and Ian's lives in the balance. He didn't bother trying to be subtle about his feelings on the subject, either. Instead, he walked into the room with his weapon drawn and ready to fire.
A dozen men and women looked up from their laptops, but not a single one reached for their own weapons. Rand lowered his gun, but not by much. He hadn't been sure how Tamara would feel about his aggressive stance and thought maybe she'd demand he apologize. But as she stepped into the room, he realized she was holding her own gun down at her side just in case things went south on them.
As soon as they cleared the doorway, Steve and Ambrose joined them. The chief chancellor gave Rand's gun a pointed look and shook his head before walking on past them. He stopped at the head of the large table that dominated the room.
"Everyone, you know Agent Tamara Fagan and her supervisor, Steve Ware. These other two gentlemen are Ian and Rand Lyell of Lyell Security. It was their fancy driving that got Ms. Fagan here safely."
To Rand's surprise, the group erupted in a round of applause. One man seated in the far corner gave him a big grin along with a thumb's up. "That was some driving out there!"
Not knowing what else to say, Rand holstered his gun and mumbled, "Thanks."
Meanwhile, Ambrose cleared his throat to draw everyone's attention back in his direction. "All right, people, you have ten minutes before I'll want to hear what you've learned so far."
Then he nodded to a burly man in the far corner. "Kyle, you'll start."
After taking the chair at the head of the table, he pointed toward the two empty spots on each side of his. "Those are for our guests."
Tamara and Rand claimed the chairs on Ambrose's right while Ian and Steve settled into the ones on the left. Once they were seated, Ambrose gestured toward the back corner. "There's coffee, tea, and snacks over there. Everyone help yourselves. Then we'll get started."
There was a mild rush for the refreshments, especially the large boxes marked with the logo from a local chain of doughnut shops. Rand made sure that Tamara hung back and let Ambrose's people dig in first. It was doubtful anyone would've had a chance to mess with the food and drink, but there was no use in taking chances.
Ian evidently had no such misgivings. He pushed through the crowd to reach the table. When Rand started to get up, intent on joining the fray, Tamara motioned for him to stay right where he was. "Unless your brother is going to eat that much on his own, I'm guessing he's picking up enough for all three of us."
Sure enough, Ian had stacked six doughnuts on one plate and balanced three cups of coffee on another. After stuffing a handful of napkins into his pocket, he headed back to where they were sitting.
He tossed the napkins on the table after he set the plates down. "Tamara, take your pick of the doughnuts."
After she'd made her choice, he jerked the rest back out of Rand's reach. "You get last pick since I'm the one who risked my life to get this stuff." He dropped his voice down to a stage whisper. "A couple of those lady agents have pointy elbows and weren't afraid to use them."
One of the women in question gave him an amused look. "You should never get between a woman and chocolate covered pastries."
Ian offered her an exaggerated salute. "Yes, ma'am. I'll remember that in the future."
While he and Rand concentrated on their coffee and doughnuts, Tamara chatted with a couple of the other agents. She seemed relaxed and clearly happy to be among Ambrose's people, at least the ones he'd vetted and deemed safe for this operation. Rand was feeling a little better about the situation, but he still had reservations about giving these people his wholehearted trust.
Someone on the inside of the organization had leaked enough information to help the enemy. At this point, they didn't know if that person had been careless or if they were dealing with a double agent. For now, he'd listen to what they had to say and then compare it to what Ian's people had been able to uncover.
Silence slowly settled in around the room as Ambrose's people hustled to get their reports ready. It was entertaining to watch as they methodically shoved food into their mouths with one hand while scrolling through the data on their laptops with the other.
By that point, the growing tension in the room was almost palpable. Finally, Kyle, the man Ambrose had designated to go first, set his coffee cup down with a loud thump. Then he typed something on his keyboard that brought the large display screen on the wall to life. Everyone immediately angled their chairs in that direction, their game faces on now.
Kyle pointed toward the screen. "To start with, we pieced together all the traffic camera film that shows what happened out there today."
He glanced toward Tamara and then at Steve. "We've also been checking the traffic feeds for the area around where your cars went boom the other night."
At that, Rand and Ian both leaned forward. It would be interesting if they'd managed to pick up on anything Ian's people might have missed. Personally, Rand doubted it. Ian paid top dollar to make sure he attracted the best people, wolves or not, to work for his company. Lives depended on their talent. They'd always taken that fact seriously, but especially so after the near-disaster that had almost cost both Tamara and Rand their lives.
Kyle was still talking. "Once we learned the attackers were on motorcycles, we did a citywide scan, especially on all the roads leading into town. While we can't assume that everyone on a bike was an enemy, we did find what seemed like a suspiciously high number of them circling the area today. I've been taking screen shots of license plates and forwarding them to Megan to trace."
He accompanied his report with pictures of the riders in question. Most were wearing identical black jackets, boots, slacks, and helmets that hid their faces. Rand would be surprised if Ambrose's people would learn much from the license plates. The enemy had to know that would be the first thing the authorities would look at. On the other hand, they had to follow every possible lead.
For the next few minutes, they all watched a patchwork film of the gauntlet the three of them had run to reach headquarters. Tamara had a death grip on his hand, especially when the film reached the part where they'd gone airborne. While it was obvious they'd survived, that didn't stop several of the people in the room from sighing in relief when it was clear that Rand had regained control of the vehicle.
One of the men turned toward him. "Just so you know, we were all really impressed by the way you handled that bit of fancy driving. In fact, a couple of us plan to mimic that sequence the next time we update the cops-and-robbers game we have on the market."
Rand suspected he should be honored, but all he really felt was relief they'd survived at all. Meanwhile, he raised his hand to catch Kyle's attention. "Have you checked to see if there's been a recent rash of stolen bike plates recently?"
The big man grinned. "Yep, I was just getting to that. The short answer is yes, but here's where it gets interesting. Most of the thefts didn't happen here in New Eire. I'm guessing they didn't want to draw unwanted attention from local law enforcement right now, so they brought them in from outside areas."
He started typing again. "But now that we've noticed, we're pulling the camera feeds from those thefts to see if anything pops. It'll take some time to track them all. But as it happens, we got lucky. Sort of, anyway."
The screen blanked out for a couple of seconds. The new picture was a bit grainy but still clear enough to pick out details. Kyle zeroed in on a man standing beside a motorcycle as another guy fiddled with the license plate. It wasn't until a passing vehicle hit them with its headlights that they both turned toward the camera, probably to make sure the driver couldn't get a good look at them. As soon as they did, Tamara gasped. "Kyle, are you sure about this? Is there any way that film has could have been altered or faked?"
The big man's express turned as serious as death. "Nope, it's as real as it gets. We pulled other film in the area to confirm the identification. There's also no sign he was there under duress. After they switched plates on three more bikes, he smiled and shook hands with the other guy. Then they went their separate ways. I'm really sorry, Tamara."
Rand put his arm around her shoulders, wishing like crazy he could save her the pain of betrayal. No one had explained who the guy was, but it was clear that almost everyone in the room had recognized him. He definitely meant something to Tamara.
Ian glanced at Tamara and then turned his attention to Ambrose. "Who is that guy?"
Ambrose's fangs were on full display again. Before he could answer, Tamara spoke up. "Ambrose told us two of my fellow agents had gone missing. Ambrose found one. He'd been executed."
Her dark eyes glittered with tears and anger. "That's the other missing man. He's Riley Niell, my old partner."
She blinked several times before facing Rand directly. "And my ex-fiancé."