Kaci. Couldn’t have been. We’d have seen blood on them. Smelled it. We were only a few yards away when they landed.”
    “The driver, then?” Marc asked.
    “That’s my guess. I didn’t get very close to him, and he was dressed. So it’s certainly possible.” I hesitated, unsure I really wanted the answer. Then I pressed on, because I needed to know. “Have you ever seen damage like this?”
    “Never.” And that was saying a lot, coming from my father’s most experienced enforcer. “Cats don’t do this. Not even the crazy ones.”
    Footsteps crunched toward us from behind, and we turned to see my father headed across the field, Bert Di Carlo on his heels, both frowning in grim certainty.
    My dad came to a stop at my side and his jaw tightened when his gaze found Jake Taylor. Di Carlo’s face went completely blank. Without a word, my father pulled his phone from the pocket of his one casual jacket and pressed and held a single button.
    “Hello?” Jace said.
    “Take Brian back to the office and pour him a drink.”
    For a moment, there was only silence. Then, “I’m on it.”
    My dad hung up, then scrolled through his contacts list as Di Carlo reached out for the feather I still held from the puffy, bloodless end. I gave it to him gladly, and he whistled, morbidly impressed with the size.
    “Rick?” My father said into his phone when a muffled, scratchy voice answered.
    “Yeah?” My uncle came in loud and clear that time.
    “We found Jake, and we’re taking him to the barn. Take Ed back to the house, please.”
    “Will do.”
    The last call my dad made, while Marc rubbed my upper arms to warm me, went to Vic. His order was simple. “Grab a roll of plastic and come to the east field, near the tree line. You’ll see us.” He hung up without a word from Vic.
    “Well, Greg,” Di Carlo said, as my father slid his phone into his pocket. “I don’t know what they want, but it looks like they’ve got our number.”
    “Kaci…” I whispered, horrified by the possibility of what might have been. But then merciful logic interceded. “But if they’d wanted to hurt her, they could have. They wouldn’t even have bothered with the car. Right?” I needed to hear that she hadn’t come close to a horrible death. A horrible kidnapping was quite enough.
    The Alphas nodded, and Marc took my good hand in his. “So why kill Jake, then?”
    My father sighed and finally looked up from the dead tom. “My guess is that he saw them coming. Didn’t you say they flew out in that direction?” He pointed toward the trees to the east.
    “Yeah. So they killed him to keep him from warning us?” I glanced from face to face in disbelief, but the question was largely rhetorical. We all knew the answer. “Why didn’t he call?”
    “Reception’s spotty in the woods, but it looks like he tried.” My father gestured to something in the grass behind me and I turned to see a cell phone lying on the ground, smeared with blood, already flipped open and ready for use.
    “They couldn’t have gotten to him in the woods. Their wingspan has to be twelve feet or better. They’d have broken both arms trying to flap in there.”
    Marc’s frown deepened. “They waited until he came into the open, then attacked.”
    “And they must’ve done it fast to keep us from hearing.” Di Carlo shook his head. “This was planned. They want something.”
    “What could thunderbirds want with us?” I wondered aloud, as Vic and Parker appeared from around the barn, one carrying a large black bundle.
    “We’ll find out when Big Bird wakes up,” Marc said.
    My father shook his head. “We’ll find out now. Wake him up and make him sing.”


    M arc and I headed for the house while Vic and Parker took Jake to the barn. On the way to the basement, we passed the silent office, where Ed and Brian Taylor were seated on the couch with their backs to us. Jace met my gaze briefly from the love seat, and I shook my head, confirming

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