Gwen sat quietly, deep in thought as the room emptied. Slade sat beside her and leaned down to get on her level. He knew how she felt. It was a big step and a difficult task to deceive someone who is a friend and superior. Her face held the look of concern and fear.
"Don't concern yourself with Raven. She is a smart lawyer and knows how to protect herself. She knows that giving information about police activity before it happens is a crime. It is her problem to solve not yours." Slade spoke softly.
Gwen smiled weakly and shook her head, "I know, but she has a lot of power over my life in the pack. That's what worries me most."
"I noticed that you and Quinn were very friendly. Have you met him before today?"
Hesitantly, "Uh, yes, we met in the forest in our shifted forms. We ran together. For me, it was the most wonderful run I have ever had. He is an awesome wolf and loving man. We have run a few times together now. In our last run, we met Anna as a wood nymph with a unicorn. I was very happy with that."
Slade smiled and touched Gwen's arm to comfort her. "We have not decided when to set up the raid, so you have some time before telling Raven. I suggest you spend time with Quinn. He is an independent shifter not a member of any pack here or in the Ukraine. He will be a good mate for you."
Gwen blushed with a sheepish smile on her face. She shook her head, "I plan to spend time running with him and we may stay together. I like him, and he is the right age man for me."
Slade nodded and thought, "This is working very well for Gwen and us. Quinn would help ground Gwen and keep her focused on the investigation rather than her ties to the pack. Quinn can help her stay independent of the pack and may take her back to Russia to assist them."
Gwen nodded smiling, "Quinn will help me. I think I have found my future mate as a human and a shifter. Being with him has strengthened me in many ways. I get to work beside him on this case and get closer to Anna as well. At least, I do not have to tell Raven about the raid yet. It will take a few days to set up and execute. Quinn and I can discuss the best approach, and we can work together to build a strong plan for Raven." After these thoughts, Gwen calmed and relaxed visibly enough that Slade noticed.
Gwen sat up, excused herself and left the conference room. She stopped by Eran's desk and chatted a bit about school and police investigative practices. Eran surprised her by telling her what courses need attending to become an investigator. Gwen showed interest but faded out as Eran droned on about instructors. Gwen left and got on her motorcycle for the ride home. She thought that later after lunch, she would drive to the university to meet Quinn for a short run before he went to Molly's Tavern.
Gwen called Quinn, "Hello Quinn? Can you meet me around one o'clock today in the far university parking lot? After this morning, I need to run, and I wanted to talk to you about something."
"Sure, why don't I come by your place and pick you up? Maybe we can find a different place to run and explore together. I will be at your place around the time you said. Be ready for a real workout and time spent chatting and learning more about each other."
Elated by Quinn's exuberance and desire to be with her, Gwen blushed. She softly answered, "I will be ready, waiting for you."
Quinn closed his phone smiling, something he had not done when talking with a woman, since before his girlfriend died. He thought back to those earlier times and smiled at his future. Quinn found Gwen exciting and refreshing. She was young, pretty, vulnerable, but a strong woman. He looked forward to being with her working closely on the case. Gwen, being a shifter, added to the attraction of the two young people. He whistled softly, as he walked to his SUV in the VJS parking lot.
Molly sat up in her bed casually looking down at the young man sleeping beside her. He was her first young man to grace her bed since before Carlo fell into the arms of the Vampire Justice System. She smiled, as she stepped out of bed and dressed. The night had refreshed and replenished her much needed sexual pleasure. Her only regret was that this young man would not be hers for very long. Carlo would want a taste of him too. She smiled again, knowing that Carlo will only have this young man after she has finished with him.
Anna busied herself cleaning and wiping down tables in the tavern. Opening time was an hour away, but Diana wanted everything ready for the lunch crowd. The tavern served a limited fare of food, mostly pre-cooked and reheated. There was a cook, but he mostly shuffled food in and out of microwave ovens and kept the trash collected and put outside. Diana watched Anna wipe down the tables and marveled at her efficiency. Diana thought, "Molly will appreciate this new staff addition. She will attract a few more men to become regular drinkers."
Molly quietly dressed and left her bedroom. She descended the stairs to the tavern. She wondered if Carlo was awake or playing with his new toy. Noises from the tavern attracted her, and she entered to see Diana explaining serving techniques to a new barmaid. The woman learning from Diana had a strange aura surrounding her. Molly pondered the oddity but let it go. She did not need another problem. She would look into it after Carlo had his day in court.
Molly walked behind the bar, poured a tall mug of hot water for tea and watched Diana. The new barmaid was quick on her feet and fast to learn all the proper moves to tease and entice the customers. The young woman attracted Molly. Something about her was intriguing and mysterious, almost supernatural. Molly thought she knew of all the preternatural types in the area. Anna seemed a different being but very pleasant to be close. Molly sat in her private booth and continued to watch.
When Diana finished her impromptu training, Molly called her over to the booth. "Who is the new girl?" Molly asked as Diana approached.
"Her name is Anna. She and her boyfriend moved to the area because of the new construction jobs. She is from Russia and has had some experience working in a small tavern in the Ukraine. I like her. She moves well and will attract a few eyes to buy more drink and food." Diana hastily replied.
"Ah, that is what I wondered. Anna looked too skilled to be a novice barmaid. You have an eye for the right people to work here. Thank you."
Diana smiled, turned and went to the bar. It was an hour before opening, and she wanted to set the bar for a rush of initial customers trying to beat the lunch rush. The noon crowd was a hungry and thirsty bunch. She set a line of empty pitchers within easy reach of the taps of ale and beer. She went behind the bar in the back of the tavern and checked the barrels of beer and ale. The last thing she wanted was to run out of draft during lunch.
As Anna finished wiping down all the tables, she walked toward the bar. Molly waved to her and drew her to the private booth. Anna cautiously approached not wanting to appear threatening or too eager.
Molly stood gesturing for Anna to sit with her. "Hello, welcome, I am Molly, the owner of this tavern. I understand you are new to the area but experienced in being a barmaid in Russia? What brought you to this city?"
Anna cautiously answered with a little hesitancy in her voice, "I came here with my boyfriend from Russia because there was more opportunity for construction work here. We wanted to live here, and this turned out to be good for us right now. I was tired of sitting home alone during the day. I want to be among people and serve men in their needs." Molly perked up at the last statement.
Molly thought, "Here is a girl I can use not only as a barmaid but maybe a hostess for the back rooms. She is pretty and new to the area and foreign as well, a great combination." Molly smiled at Anna, "Glad to meet you and we will have a good time working together here. I feel a good vibration emanating from you. Have fun; your day is about to start."
Anna moved away from Molly backing out of the VIP box. Her suspicions were high that Molly knew what she was. The nymph qualities of Anna might prove to draw more men to her than Molly. That would make Molly suspicious, but not to the point of trying to kill Anna. Ana thought, "I better be careful and suppress my nymph qualities while I work. I do not want to make things difficult for Quinn or the VJS."
The lunch crowd swelled into the tavern when Diana opened the doors. Within minutes, patrons fully occupied the tavern and pitchers of beer flew from the bar to the tables. Anna worked hard but managed to keep ahead of the demand. Molly watched her new barmaid handle the task and keep the men in line. The other two barmaids appeared harassed and behind in their orders, but Anna kept ahead and anticipated her patron's needs.
As the lunch rush quieted, the tables emptied. Anna's tables stayed occupied until Diana declared that the tavern needed to close to prepare for the late afternoon crowd. Reluctantly the tables emptied and Anna took a break. Diana looked at Molly and winked. Molly smiled at Diana and called her to the table.
"Anna handled her day very well. I like her. The patrons seemed to gravitate to her as well. I think you picked a good worker in her. Did you feel anything strange about her when you interviewed her?" Molly happily chatted with Diana.
"I did not feel anything strange, but she seemed to be very easy to talk with and had a pleasant aura about her. Do you sense that she may have some abilities?" Diana added.
"There is something there, and the behavior of the lunch crowd showed that she had something. We had better watch her carefully over the next few days. I don't think there is anything wrong, but we shall see."
Diana walked away from Molly with a curious air of suspicion but felt good about hiring Anna. Diana joined the barmaids at the table near the bar where they had lunch and talked about their day. Anna sat quietly listening to the others and felt an air of curiosity about her. Her new workmates and friends felt comfortable around her and wanted to stay nearby.
Quinn met Gwen at her home and drove to a new area for a quick run. This new site was close to Molly's estate and the farm where the local pack met. As they exited the car, they switched out of their clothes and shifted to their wolf form. They ran into the foothills and toward the farm. Gwen stopped and forced Quinn to follow her. They went further away from the farm to hide their scent and to be alone.
As they shifted back to human form, Gwen spoke softly, "I am familiar with this area. It is where the local pack runs and hunts. I killed my first deer near here not long ago. We had better take care with being in the area. About a mile away, there is a grassy area, where we can relax and talk. I need to understand what Connie's plan is and how to best set it up, to protect me from any fallout." Quinn nodded and shifted to wolf form again. Gwen followed and led the way to the grassy area.