Ours To Keep by Willow Hayes
Grabbing my leather jacket from the passenger seat of my old Ford Bronco, I slip it on and tuck a few latex gloves into the pocket. After flashing my badge to the officer standing by the barricade, he waves for me to pass and greets, “Detective Mitchell.”
“O’Connell,” I reply, ducking under the yellow tape denoting the darkened alley as a crime scene. My nose wrinkles in distaste as the scent of death and decay hits me. Spotting my partner crouched by the ravaged body of a teenage girl, I head in his direction. “What do we have?”
Looking up from his examination, Logan says, “Not much, unfortunately. White female. Late teens, early twenties. No ID. She’s been dead a few days. There’s no blood on the scene, so she was likely killed elsewhere then dumped here.” He lifts his head and shoots me a meaningful look. “It appears to be an animal attack.”
What the fuck?
Squatting down, I lean in and sniff, my nostrils flaring. Wolves. Wolves, I don’t recognize. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and I exchange a look with Logan. I study the long, jagged gashes that cover most of her small frame. Gesturing to the deep cuts that run the length of her arms and hands and the caked and dried blood under her fingernails, I say, “She put up one hell of a good fight by the looks of it,” I say,
He nods and pulls out a small envelope from the field kit next to him, carefully scraping the evidence from under her nails into it. “With any luck, it’ll be her killers’, and we’ll be able to bag these sons of bitches.”
“I have to call Grayson; he needs to see this.”
“I’ll tell O’Connell to grab us some coffee.”
“Thanks,” I say, pulling out my phone.
The pack alpha picks up after two rings and groggily says, “It’s two in the morning, Finn.”
“I’m aware, sir,” I reply dryly. “There’s been a murder. A human girl was killed by wolves, and as far as I can tell, they weren’t Brennans.”
“Fuck,” he mutters, sounding more alert. “Where are you?”
I rattle off the address and hang up. Ten minutes later, I hear Logan say, “Alpha.”
Grayson returns the shifter’s greeting.
I meet the pair at the barricade and lead Grayson into the alley. “I don’t recognize the scents, but maybe you’ll pick up something I missed.”
Crouching down, he examines the girl, inhaling deeply. “You’re right, they’re definitely not Brennan wolves; there’s no trace of the pack scent.” He shakes his head, anger and grief hardening his expression. “Any idea who she is?”
“No, but we’ll pull the missing persons’ reports for the area and release a sketch to the media. We’ll find her, sir.”
His jaw ticks, and his eyes fall to the girl once more. “I have to inform the council. Figure out who she is and who killed her, and fast, because I sure as hell don’t want to call without having something to tell them.”
“Yes, sir.” My gaze drops to the girl’s unseeing icy blue eyes staring up at the star-filled sky and her dark hair matted with blood that surrounds her terror-filled face like a halo. “I will,” I reassure him—and myself.