Hungry Like the Wolf(9)

By: Paige Tyler

Who the hell was she kidding? She hadn’t noticed much of anything besides his big muscles and seriously mesmerizing eyes. He might have been naked for all she knew. Nah, she would have noticed that. She never missed a naked man.

But the four moving cameras meant Zak had been right—there were more than three SWAT officers in there. There were four. Not that four seemed like enough to her, either. She’d want like fifty or so to do the job.

The other two screens were stable, showing the inside of the building from two different angles. Mac took a step closer to get a better look and saw people lying facedown on the floor. At first she thought they were dead, but then she picked up movement.

She surveyed the inside of the operations vehicle and was disappointed to see it was nothing more than an RV without all the good stuff that came with it. That wasn’t to say it was empty. There were racks for equipment, racks for weapons, and racks for radios, computers, and cameras. There were even two whiteboards and a corkboard. A rather detailed drawing of the exterior of the building had been drawn on the whiteboard. Double red lines marked what looked like entry points.

Mac glanced at Dixon and the other men. They were all staring at the monitors. Figuring this was her chance to pick up some intel, she slid her hand into her back pocket for her camera.

“Please put your camera away, Ms. Stone,” Dixon said.

Mac froze. Damn. Everyone turned to look at her—well, everyone except Dixon. He was still glued to the monitors.

She pushed the camera back into her pocket. How the hell had he known what she was doing?

Dixon reached out and thumbed a switch on a box near the monitors. “We just got audio from the room where they’re holding the hostages.”

The sound of quiet sobs and pitiful moans—punctuated with a whole lot of shouting for the hostages to “Shut the eff up!”—filled the operations vehicle.

When the hostages were only silent, black-and-white video images, it had been possible for Mac to distance herself from the fact that the people lying on the floor—most of whom were women—were real, live human beings with mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, boyfriends and husbands, maybe even kids. And that they were scared to death. But now it was impossible to remain detached.

Mac edged closer, holding her breath without even meaning to. One of the gunmen weaved in and out of the hostages, kicking them in an attempt to get them to move…somewhere. Most of the women just curled up in the fetal position and cried harder, which only seemed to infuriate the guy kicking them even more.

Cursing, he grabbed one of the women by the hair and dragged her out of the camera’s view. The woman’s terrified screams echoed through the speakers, chilling Mac to the core. She’d seen a lot of violence in her line of work, but that didn’t mean she was used to it.

She covered her mouth with her hands to keep from shouting at Dixon to tell his damn SWAT team to do something to help. She was a journalist. She was supposed to stay neutral in every situation and just observe. But it was damn hard when she knew that thug in there was moments away from killing that poor woman—or worse.

“Shit, this is bad,” the hostage negotiator said. “Those animals are on the edge and ready to go over. If your team is going in there, they’d better be quick.”

Dixon didn’t answer but just spoke softly into the mic he was wearing. A moment later, he turned to the man from the power company. “Are your people ready?”

Hard Hat looked nervous, but he nodded. “When you say the word.”

Dixon turned his attention to the uniformed officer. “I know you were hoping we wouldn’t have to do this, but I need to get my people in there.”

The man didn’t look happy about it, but he nodded. “Do whatever you have to do. Just be careful. There’re a lot of hostages in there.”