Unavoidable Turbulence Preview
“I never getting any feelings,” I sang, knowing full well that wasn’t actually how the song went. But it was hard to get “Hooked On A Feeling” you’d never had—even if you so desperately wanted it. “I’ll die with never feeling anyone loves me!” I rubbed the heel of my hand against my chest, the very idea of what I was singing making a dull ache form.
“Oh, give that damn song a rest, Boston,” Seattle growled as he yanked the bottle of booze away. He slammed it down and looked ready to tear out his hair. Both Seattles did actually.
“They just met and they mated. That’s how intense it is for them. I want that.” I extended my hand out for the rum, even going so far as to stick out my lower lip.
Six-five or not, it worked sometimes with my eldest brother.
“As much as I love seeing the wittle pout lip and pity fest, you need to sober up now. Something’s happened,” he ordered. I didn’t even hesitated, taking off my clothes and shifting. The change kick-started all of our systems, and with a burst of adrenaline, I would be sober in minutes.
Seattle grabbed my clothes and immediately walked off, his strides long as his chin was high. I trotted after to him to the newly designated war room of the command center at Director Fabian’s stronghold. I saw the director when we got there and studied him for a moment.
Correction, Fabian’s the elder of the vamps now. That or he’s just trying the crystal on for size. I shook my head. What a strange, turbulent world we lived in now.
“This is going to take some getting used to,” Fabian grumbled as he stared at me, shaking his head. “I never thought a dog would just walk into a meeting of mine, ever. What a bizarre reality we’re now living.”
Glad to know I wasn’t the only one reacting like that.
“Were you drunk moping again?” Orlando asked me, suddenly shining a light in my eyes. “He’s good, eyes clear and responsive.” I snapped at him, but with no intention of hurting my brother. “Yeah, his reflexes are fine.”
“Good, he’s one of our best pilots,” Seattle murmured as I shifted back, sober as could be. I took my clothes from him as I studied his eyes. “Yeah, it’s that bad. Five different paranormal groups were bombed outside Moscow. It can’t be a coincidence that there were five targets and all were ours.”
“With the Olympics scheduled to be in Russia soon an increase of terrorist attacks would be explainable but for all five to be our people,” Milwaukee extrapolated as he bounced his head around as he crunched numbers or debated with himself about something like he always did. “You’d have a better chance of winning a few state lotteries the first time you played. Yeah, it’s about an equivalent percentage to that.”
“So not fucking likely at all,” I snickered as I messed up his hair. “I love how accurate you are.” I shared a look with Seattle. It was comforting that our brothers weren’t changing given the circumstances. They still were who they were.
They were adapting. Big difference and one that made us proud.
“I’ve got a plane and so do you. We need to get flights of people here immediately,” Fabian said to the feline King when he joined us moments later. “This amount of
exposure or press will make moving harder in the days ahead.”
“Agreed. We have three pilots in my Royal Guard. We need more. Steal or buy the damn planes,” the King replied. Then he put his fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly. “Who here can fly a jet, helicopter, or any other airborne transportation?” His mate raised his hand and King Torrance narrowed his eyes at the owl. “No more fieldwork, Hadley.”
“Right, yeah, just answering honestly.” He shrugged and lowered his hand.
Gods I want that. Someone to care enough about me to be pissed I could get hurt. I shook my head and focused back on what I was going to tell the class instead. “I have a contact that owns a charter service,” I informed them. “He prefers cash and not a lot of questions.”
“Samantha, get Boston a case or three of diamonds. I want all those planes out and picking up people immediately. Abram, get in the air and bring back everyone from court. That location will still probably be first on the hit list.”
“I already called my owls and the falcons we have coming here and told them to leave everything behind and fly,” Director Woodrow informed us. “The problem is, not all the children are strong enough to make the journey.” He studied the map closely as if that could shrink the distance between some of the groups as he twisted his hands together.
“Get them as far as you can and we can run with them on our damn backs if we need to,” Samantha suggested as she fisted her hair.
“Boston, your friend should know the best landing strips without eyes. We need to know where they are.” I already knew that answer and was planning on checking I
had the best information from my contact. Hey, things changed. But it was good that Hadley was all over this too. “Then we get all the people who can’t make it on their own there for pickup. How many vampires do we need on each plane so it mists?”
“My jet needs four,” Fabian answered. They could handle that part. Instead, I called my old friend, Mav.
“I don’t answer unknown numbers so fuck off or leave me a message that you changed your number, why, and our last dealing,” his prerecorded voice told me. I shook my head as I left the requested information—skipping about the tiny details of why we were on the run, paranormals, and everything the oblivious human didn’t need to know.
I didn’t really tune in to the conversations around me, knowing Seattle would handle that part. We all had our jobs and not everyone could be involved in every part.
“Can the mist lead in a plane like it does cars?” I asked Julus as he walked by me, halting us both so our full attention was on such an important question. “Think about it. We wouldn’t need to have a bunch of landing lights and maybe even get bigger planes. Sure, I can get it in the air, fly it here, but I’ve never landed a cargo plane.”
“Yeah, I think it can. Let me check with Dire—Elder Fabian to see if it’s been done.” He hurried off as my phone rang.
“Boston, how’s it hanging?” Mav asked as his way of greeting.
“It doesn’t hang when I get in a plane,” I answered, knowing his code question and answer all too well.
“Dude, where have you been? It’s been like forever. What can I do you for?”
“I need to confirm some airstrips with you, get more on the list, and rent every available plane you can get me.” I didn’t see any reason to beat around the bush.
“You airlifting Canada to Mexico?” he joked, even though worry leaked into his tone.
“Something like that. You heard about Moscow,” I hedged, realizing lots of people had stopped what they were doing to pay attention to me now. “You and I are smart enough to know that wasn’t really about terrorists or a terrorist attack.”
“No, way too organized for the government if it was a legit threat,” he agreed. “What are you saying, Boston? What’s coming?”
“For sure? I don’t know. But I’m getting the fuck off the grid and making sure all the people who have been good to me, or will be an asset in the days ahead, are coming with me. You feel me?” I thumbed my ear, waiting for what he was going to say and praying he didn’t ask for more specifics.
“Yeah, I hear you loud and clear. I’ll take the news and advice as a personal favor since I know you have other options when it comes to what you need now.”
Not actually since our other contact for getting in the air if we needed it secretly died because he was an old elder. I shrugged at Seattle. Mav didn’t need to know that.
“Shut it,” Seattle hissed when the room got too loud. “We need the map.”
“I made markers for you,” Phoenix offered, looking pale and sweaty.
Yeah, I felt the same. I took them with a nod of thanks and started marking the map with what Mav was telling me, relaying the planes we could have access to at each one for Seattle to take note.
“Boston, we’re friends but we’re not good enough friends I’m going to let this all go on credit,” Mav finished with.
“I’ve got that covered. I’m bringing the banker of the project,” I assured him, glancing at Samantha. She nodded and held up a note. Give me a dollar amount. I could do that.
“You’re a fan of rocks, right?”
“Always,” Mav answered and I could practically hear the smile in his voice. “I’ll start calling my people and get everything I have gassed up. You know where I stay.”
“Yeah, see you soon.” We hung up and Seattle put a few of the markers on the East Coast landing strip where Mav had his main base of operations. I stared at the map.
There was no way it would all work out this smoothly but we had to try… And hurry.
“Anyone else have this insane urge to start singing It’s The End Of The World As We Know It?” Hadley asked as all of us stared at each other and took a moment to let the new hit sink in.
“Yeah,” Seattle agreed as several other hands went up. “And I don’t feel fine.”
“No, not even close,” I admitted, my jaw clenching as I stared up at the ceiling a moment instead of the chaos. “All right, whatever plane can get in the air first, let’s do this.” I turned to Fabian, knowing him best and officially he was going to be our elder and leader since he invited us to live with his coven. Everyone else came in addition to that. “We need to know if more pilots will be at any of the locations. So as you get them to their airstrips, have the leaders let us know.”
“Done. Safe passage, Boston.” I nodded to the man though it felt like a lie.
I didn’t think any of us were going to have safe ever again.
Twenty minutes later, we were in their air on Fabian’s plane, taking as many vampires and pilots as we could carry to the East Coast. Abram and another group were heading to New Orleans. We pretty much were splitting the continent down the middle and would work ferrying people from the airstrips as we could.
Julus confirmed that if there were enough vampires on each flight, their mist would guide us in to the stronghold.
So we had a plan. A very thrown together at the last minute, hinging on too much going right, crackpot plan. Not my favorite kind.
“Wanna talk about it?” I asked Seattle an hour after we were in the air. It wasn’t a long flight, and if I was going to get answers, it had to be now. Plus, he was driving me nuts the way he kept glancing at the cockpit.
“No, there’s nothing to talk about,” he grumbled and tried to focus on the magazine he’d been flipping through since we took off. “And there’re too many ears.”
“We can fix that because the first is a lie and we both know it.” I yanked him out of his seat as I stood and dragged him into the back area for extra bags. It was loud but that meant less chance being overheard. “Spill before the tension vibrating from you makes half the plane shift.”
His face fell from one of outrage and winced. “That bad?”
“Yeah, and it’s all focused on Julus as he’s flying the plane without you, so I don’t need to know who you’re freaking out about just what’s going on.”
“Oh, he didn’t want me to be his co-pilot,” Seattle snarled as his eyes flashed his malamute. Damn. He was more on edge than I’d thought. “Apparently we need to take some time because I have commitment issues. Here I’m getting our room ready and he’s setting one up on the
floor below. I freaked. I thought we were going to be real now!”
“Did you ask him to stay in the same room?” I winced as the words passed my lips, regretting the decision.
Seattle bared his non-human teeth at me. “Why do I have to ask? He’s fucking ancient compared to me. He’s going to move up with the vampires now that Fabian’s an elder. We’re here with them. I can’t just make every decision. Fuck, I’m the one who declared how I still felt first, jumping through his hoops, and now I’m the ass for not asking him? Why didn’t he tell me that he didn’t want to? Why is it all on me always?”
“I’m not saying that. I’m just trying to get an idea of what’s going on,” I defended as I grabbed his shoulder. “I’m on your side, Seattle. I never thought your guys’ breakup was fair to dump on you. I saw how much you loved him. His issues kept him from seeing that.”
“You never said that before,” he whispered as he shook his head. “Why tell me this now?”
“Because you’re a stubborn ass, and I thought saying something before might keep you from ever going to find him. I knew you guys would end up together. You both just needed to figure it out. But you’re not just my brother, Seattle. You’re my best friend. I wasn’t going to tell you I think Julus was being a selfish ass when I knew how much you loved him. I worried it would hurt our relationship.”
“No, I’d never allow that.” He sighed as he squatted down and growled into his hands. “Maybe I wouldn’t have beat myself up for so long and gone after him if I thought it was more equal. I thought I screwed up so badly he’d never forgive me.”
Ouch. “Sorry. I didn’t know that. I thought opening my mouth would be like quicksand.”
Seattle glanced up at me and gave that smirk that let me know I was off the hook. “Yup, it’s all your fault. Julus and I were perfect and it’s all Boston’s fault we fucked up.”
“I’ll own that,” I chuckled as I knelt down in front of him. “Okay, so tell me what you’re not letting out. I know this is more than you guys having separate rooms.”
“He’s a contradiction always. He wants separate rooms but not on the same floor because he doesn’t want to witness if I bring back a conquest. I never said anything about not being exclusive. I want that. Then it’s that we’ve made such a mess of us before that we have to make sure not to fall into the same traps but now he wants time apart. Apart where? We’re at the same stronghold! And we’ve had years and years apart!
“What’s that going to help? And why? What changed?” My brother looked at me with tears in his eyes. “I don’t think I’m the man he remembered. So much has happened since we were together and he doesn’t have the heart to admit he doesn’t love me anymore. I think this is really about him moving on.”
“I don’t get that,” I hedged, rubbing his shoulder when he lowered his head again. “We were in the Hummers for days, and he got the up close insight as to who you are. You are the same man, Seattle, but better. You don’t let your temper fly off like when we were pups, you don’t chase any piece of ass and screw the consequences. You’re a good man. And you’ve put yourself out there for all to see what Julus means to you. This is his issue.”
“What do I do?” he whimpered. “It’s like everything I’ve ever wanted was held out to me and, in a few days, was snatched away again. I love him, Boston.”
“I know you do.” I thought the situation over, trying not to be exceedingly harsh because Julus was pissing me off. “Tell him you’ll give him the time he needs to get his
head on straight or sort out whatever feelings are twisting him up but you don’t need the time apart so don’t put it on you. And let him know when he does come return to you, no more of this back and forth. Either he loves you and is committed to you or let you go because your heart can’t take any more.”
Seattle rubbed his chest, and I saw just how true my words about his heart were. “And if he says forget it, and I’m not worth it?”
“Then he’s not worth you,” I growled as I hugged my brother tightly. “Then you grieve, you heal, and you stop living like a monk as punishment for something that wasn’t your fault. Gods, Seattle, you don’t see yourself the way others do! You walk into a room and every gay man, straight woman, and sometimes straight man are staring at you. You could have your pick of dozens at the stronghold already. Start believing you deserve more.”
“Do you think some people you just can’t fit with no matter how much you love them? I mean, Julus is so not my type and maybe there’s a reason for that. We’re both so Alpha that maybe it’s just not meant to be?”
“I don’t know, brother. There’re tones of relationships where both partners are strong. They just work together instead of against each other.”
“I can’t keep us safe if I never know which way is up,” he admitted and for Seattle that was a big one. “I want to be patient with him but this isn’t exactly the best time to work on ourselves or personal issues. I did that while we were apart, but Julus tried banging everyone he could get into his bed, it seems.”
“Maybe it really is best to move on then,” I suggested, hating to even say it. I did like Julus and he loved my brother.
But how long did Seattle have to suffer and hurt for someone who couldn’t do everything he could to keep such a catch like my brother?
Seattle let it out in his normal way, swallowing the need to break down sobbing, instead of just letting it out. Which was exhausting, so when we took our seats before landing, he looked like he could sleep for a week.
“You hang here,” I said after we touched down. “I got this, okay? I’ll get this plane loaded and get you a co-pilot who can take the first shift.”
“No, I’ve got your back,” he argued as he got up.
“Always,” I agreed immediately, meeting his eyes and rubbing his shoulder. “You’ll sense if I need you. We should get you right back in the air without any jam up, so you get situated with the cockpit and I’ll handle this.”
“Look at you all grown up,” he teased before giving me a huge hug. “Get your ass back to the stronghold as soon as you can and be safe. No one else dies.”
“No one else dies.” We knew it was just our family we were talking about because there were going to be lots and lots of deaths in the future.
I checked that the coast was clear and Julus was already off the plane before Seattle headed that way. Then I went outside to deal with the unavoidable chaos.
Sure enough, dozens of people were all yelling at each other and the feline Samantha looked ready to start taking heads. I stuck my fingers in my mouth and let out a shrill whistle that even my malamute winced from.
“Stuff it, people. We’re here to help, and if you’re going to be bitches about it, then you can figure this shit out for yourselves.” I stared down the troublemakers and let them know I wasn’t fucking around. “I don’t give a shit who’s in charge of what or whose ass normally gets kissed. We’re like FEMA, okay? Everyone’s the same and we’re
going to do this my way with the help of my contact and Samantha’s financing.
“So let me get a few answers and then we’re going to evacuate quickly, quietly, and get the fuck to safety before we draw attention to ourselves! Any questions?” I didn’t wait for an answer, ignoring the hands going up all around, instead making sure the humans were too far away to hear what I said next. “Too bad. We’re going to get you out and survive the night. Nothing else should matter. Parents with children group together and stand over there.” I pointed to one side of the hanger. “Singles, there. Pilots there. Vamps there.”
“What if we’re a vampire family?” One woman called out as she held two small children. “I’ll do whatever you want if it means our safety. I’m not being difficult, I swear.”
“No, you’re not,” I assured her. “I should have specified why the distinctions. We need more pilots. We need to split the vamps so their mist can cover the planes.” I saw Mav and his men approaching and realized I was out of time. “We’re going to keep the families together, and fill in the planes with single travelers. So that’s the priorities. Please get to the correct area accordingly so we can get a head count.”
“Thank you, sir,” she said quietly and hurried to the vampire area.
“I’m assuming you can do a head count without fucking anything up?” I asked Julus, shocked at how harsh I was being. It wasn’t in me normally to be cruel or pointed.
He did a double take, apparently realizing something was wrong as well. Then his eyes filled with understanding. “Seattle told you about our fights.”
“Not specifics,” I countered, not liking how that made my brother sound like a gossip. “I can sense when he’s hurting, Julus. That’s been a lot lately and growing.” I looked the man over and shook my head. “You need to get your shit together or leave him alone.”
“Is that what you told him?” Julus gasped, his eyes wide when I nodded. “You’re only getting his side, Boston. This isn’t—”
“This isn’t the time for the conversation or making Seattle hurt,” I hissed and then turned away. “Mav, my old friend.”
“And yet only one of us looks any older,” the human grumbled but hugged me still when I reached him. “You look just as you did over a decade ago. What’s your secret?”
“Lots of mud baths and good wine,” I answered, brushing off the subject.
“Unless you’re not human.” Mav moved away from me slowly, his eyes searching my face. “That’s what this is about, isn’t it? Humans found out about you guys? Fucking assholes. So let’s just start killing. Yeah, that always ends well.”
I swallowed loudly and nodded, seeing no reason to deny it. “How did you know? I mean, you didn’t before.”
“Nah, newly discovered,” he snickered, shaking his head. “About a year ago, I went around with a very adventurous sprite. She used to make shit appear in her sleep if she drank too much. Kinda hard to explain away.”
“I would think so.” Wow, full moons and needing to eat lots of meat didn’t seem like a bad side effect compared to that for all I gained with my malamute. Mav was still studying me so I answered the unasked question while letting my eyes flash the intense blue of my other half. “Malamute shifter. You’re really cool with this?”
“What do I care? You honor your commitments, don’t screw me in the end, and as long as no one here’s sucking my soul or shorting my life span like I hear succubi can do, you’re just another race to me.” Then he shook his head and chuckled. “And aliens. The idea of aliens freaks me out. I mean, they can be out there, great. But stay out there.”
“If I meet any, I’ll let them know that,” I joked, kind of feeling the same way. We had enough mystery and shit in our world. No need to add another world’s crap to it.
We spent the next ten minutes talking planes available, prices to rent a few, buy a few more, and other info Mav thought we could use. Then it was Samantha’s turn as the banker.
“Hello, gorgeous lady,” Mav complimented as she stepped up to join us.
“My, my, that’s one way to greet a woman,” she purred, holding out her hand. I almost fell over when Mav actually kissed it. “Mmm, nice. If we had more time and lives weren’t at stake, I’d entertain the idea.” She eyed him over slowly. “I think you could hold up nicely through some time with me.”
“Hold up?” He looked equal parts worried and curious, then add in some serious lust.
“Mr. Mav, I bite,” she purred as she let her eyes flash her cheetah. “But I hear it’s worth it since I can bend in any way you want me and I like to eat pussy while I get fucked.”
I was pretty sure every straight man around us got hard. Hell, I partially did and I was gay. She oozed sex like that.
“Let’s talk in my office,” Mav groaned. “One of my girls is there who might accommodate you nicely.”
“Disable the GPSs on the planes, and I’m sure I can take the time needed and catch the last flight out of here,” she offered as she stroked the large case she was holding while giving Mav come hither eyes. “I hear you like diamonds.”
“Yes, yes, I do.” He smiled widely at her before sliding his arm around her small waist. Then he barked out a few orders to take the trackers out of the planes and led her to his office. I was worried until she glanced at me over her shoulder.
“I’ve got the negotiations, Boston. Get everyone in the air. More are coming in.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I chuckled, turning away before I burst out laughing.
Hey, to each their own.