Wolf Trouble

By: Paige Tyler


Prologue


Khaki Blake slowly steered her patrol car along the dark service road behind the Grace Park apartment complex. She angled her cruiser’s spotlight toward the collection of Dumpsters and trash heaps, trying to find the source of the reported screams on the 911 call that had come in thirty minutes ago. It was dark as hell behind the apartments, and she couldn’t imagine why anyone would be messing around back here, but the person who’d called said there was something “bad going on” so the police had to check it out. And since she was in the area, that meant she was the one to check.

Just because she hadn’t seen anything yet didn’t mean there wasn’t something “bad going on.” Lakefront, along with several other cities along the I-5 corridor in Washington State, had been dealing with a growing gang problem, and the Grace Park complex was a hot spot of crime activity, with four different gangs claiming some part of it. If trouble was going to happen during the late-night shift, it would be here. Which was why dispatch was sending another cruiser for backup. That was standard procedure for this part of town. You didn’t want to be a cop left on your own around here if something went wrong. Unfortunately, her backup hadn’t showed yet, so until then, she was going to keep looking for what had prompted the call. Although if it was gang related—a beat down, an initiation, or any other crime—everyone involved was probably long gone by now.

She was just about to turn around and make another pass when she caught a flash of movement near one of the Dumpsters. She stomped on the brakes, angling her spotlight toward the area. It was tough to see around the piles of garbage around the Dumpster, but she swore she’d seen a woman’s high-heeled shoe poking out from behind it. Khaki inched the cruiser forward, hoping to get a better view, but didn’t see anyone. That didn’t mean there wasn’t a person to go with that shoe.

Khaki grabbed the radio and thumbed the button. “Dispatch, this is 3C-04. I’m 10-23 at Grace Park. Exiting the vehicle to check the scene. Possible assault victim. Stand by for ambulance request. What’s the ETA on that backup?”

There was silence on the other end for so long that Khaki thought her radio was down. Then dispatch finally answered. “3C-04, backup delayed by traffic. Recommend you remain in your vehicle until they arrive.”

Khaki frowned. Traffic—at three o’clock in the morning? She’d just reported a possible assault victim and dispatch wanted her to wait?

She swung the spotlight around again but still didn’t see anyone. Crap. If someone was behind that Dumpster, that person wasn’t moving very much, and that couldn’t be good.

“Negative, dispatch. I have a visual on a possible victim. I’m exiting the vehicle at this time.”

Flipping on her mobile radio, she stepped out of the car. She was just pulling out her flashlight when she saw the shoe move—this time for sure. The edge of the high heel drummed against the ground a few times, as if the person was trying to attract her attention. Khaki pulled out her Glock, checking every dark corner as she worked her way toward the Dumpster and the person behind it as fast as she could without losing awareness of her surroundings.

She rounded the Dumpster and grimaced. There was a woman lying there all right, and she looked bad. She had olive skin and dark hair, but it was hard tell anything beyond that because she had been beaten. There was no mistaking the blood on the torn red dress she wore. It looked like whoever had used her as a punching bag had tried to kill her.

Khaki quickly looked around, then crouched down and put two fingers to the woman’s neck, checking for a pulse. It was weak, but it was there.

The woman groaned, trying to push Khaki’s hand away.

“Ma’am, I’m with the Lakefront Police Department. I’m here to help, but you have to hang on.”

The woman dropped her hand. It was a wonder she was even still alive.

Khaki reached up and thumbed the mic attached to her shoulder. “Dispatch, this is 3C-04. I need an ambulance on the north side service road of the Grace Park apartments.”

“Roger, 3C-04. Status of victim?”

The woman was still breathing, but Khaki wasn’t sure for how much longer. “Victim is critical.”

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