Hungry Like the Wolf

By: Paige Tyler

Gage Dixon strained against the heavy barbell, relishing the resistance as the stacked metal plates on either end of the solid steel bar made the whole thing flex. The bar quivered slightly as it reached that sweet spot of the lift where his pecs stopped doing all the work and his triceps and shoulders kicked in. But he’d already been punishing his body for over an hour, and this time the bar momentarily stopped moving upward, gravity insisting that down would be a much better—and easier—direction to go.

He grit his teeth, let out a growl, and forced his muscles to keep pushing until his arms locked out straight. He racked the load with a clatter of metal on metal. Even then, the bar still bowed and flexed—loading 525 pounds on a barbell would do that.

Gage sat up and looked around the small weight room he and the other members of the Dallas Police SWAT Team had set up. It wouldn’t measure up to any of the fancy gyms in the area, but considering they’d paid out of their own pockets for the mirrors, heavy-duty lifting equipment, and free weights, it wasn’t too shabby. It would have been nice if it were bigger, though. The presence of the four other men reminded him just how small the room was.

Then again, his men made most rooms seem small—special weapons and tactics teams tended to attract big, muscular men, and his particular team happened to be bigger than most. No surprise there either—alpha werewolves were always big as hell.

Gage wiped the sweat off his face with the back of his arm and took a moment to appreciate the relative peace and quiet. Regardless of the room’s size, it was rare for there to be only a handful of men in it. But with half the team out helping run weapon qualifications at the police academy and most of the others out conducting joint training with the ATF, the compound was practically empty.

Across the room, Diego Martinez spotted for his best friend and teammate, Hale Delaney, as the man tried to go for a personal record on the other bench press. At the same time, Gage’s two assistant squad leaders, Mike Taylor and Xander Riggs, were hanging upside down from the ceiling-mounted chin-up bars, seeing who could do the most crunches. Alphas didn’t need much of an excuse to turn everything they did into a competition.

They hadn’t gotten around to cutting an opening for the air-conditioning units they’d bought for the room yet, so it was pretty warm. Which meant that all of them were sweating like crazy even though they weren’t wearing shirts.

Gage was wondering if he should spring for some gym towels when he heard the sound of fast-moving boots coming down the hallway.

The other werewolves’ keen hearing had also picked up the sound, and everyone was looking toward the doorway expectantly by the time McCall poked his head around the corner.

“Got a bad one, Sergeant,” he said to Gage. “Hostage situation over on Belmont. Multiple injuries, at least two dozen hostages. Five shooters being reported.”

“Well, there goes the workout,” Delaney muttered, getting up from the bench.

Gage stood. “Five shooters, huh?”

At McCall’s nod, Gage glanced at his two assistant squad leaders. “You two mind doing some entry work for a change while I run the show?”

“Hell, no,” they said in unison, excitement clear on their faces, even though they were still hanging upside down. Kids—they’re so easily excitable. Mike and Xander jumped down, joining Martinez and Delaney. Sweat was still running down their bodies, but they were eagerly awaiting his next order.

“Then gear up,” Gage ordered. “I want us out of here in less than five minutes.”

The four men cleared the room in seconds, leaving Gage with his weapon’s expert. “Sorry,” he told McCall, “but you’re stuck here on the phones until we get some people back.”

McCall grumbled—none of them liked to pull desk duty when there was a mission to do instead. But McCall knew it had to be done. “I’ll get Martinez’s and Delaney’s assault weapons out for them” was all he said as he left.

Gage was only thirty seconds behind the rest of the team, but by the time he got to the second floor of the admin building, the other four men were already gearing up. He joined them as they yanked on navy blue T-shirts, matching military-style uniforms, and black boots. Then came the heavy black Kevlar vests, with tactical web pouches attached. The sounds of Velcro being yanked open filled the room as they adjusted their vests, ammo pouches, and holsters to a snug fit. The gear wasn’t the most comfortable stuff to wear, especially during the hot Texas summers, but it came with being in SWAT.