“Shit,” I muttered. Live and learn, I guess. I seriously hoped I didn’t regret letting her walk out of here free and clear. “I’m done.”

Everyone was left blinking, except for King Kincaid. He had seen me use my powers before, since he felt I needed to learn to control them, making me practice on any boarders who volunteered to help with my training. None of my friends had seen me use it, much less felt it, like they had today.

They probably didn’t even expect me to know what the hell I was doing, since they never saw the meetings in the study that King Kincaid would drag me into when I wasn’t studying. I knew the Law; it was a reading I actually didn’t mind. Hell, King Kincaid had even tasked me with deciding a few of the Shifters’ fates before. This wasn’t new to me, but it was new to them, seeing this side of me.

King Kincaid said, “I agree with the punishment.” He wasn’t going to rebuke me in front of everyone. Or even later. I could tell by his eyes he did agree, even if I hadn’t scented his truth.

King Venclaire recovered the fastest from his only slightly stunned expression, turning to face Mrs. Jonas. “Get the cuffs off him now.”

Mrs. Jonas nodded, but she still stood motionless, her eyes darting from me to the bleeding Shifter who was still sniveling at my feet.

I figured she would get moving faster if I moved, so I stepped over the bloody mess on the floor, and went to stand by Jack and Pearl, both of them not glancing in my direction, but were fairly bouncing where they stood.

We watched Mrs. Jonas release Ezra, and he sucked in a sharp breath as the cuffs came off. I had never been silvered before, but I had heard the horror stories. It was like the cuffs sapped your strength and burned you all at once. He flexed and rotated his wrists and squatted once, working out his ankles, then stalked over to Viper, completely ignoring Mrs. Jonas who had been in the process of apologizing.

He bent over her where she sat, his hands on the arms of the plush chair, and his eyes flashed so deeply they were like lasers aimed straight into hers. She stilled instantly, and he asked, “Were you incoherent after the drinking or did you lie to Mrs. Jonas?”

“I lied,” she murmured, her voice monotone, sounding like a robot.


“You’ve ignored me since our last time together, and when you wanted to drink from me again, you brought a Shifter in with us,” she replied, tone the same. “It pissed me off.”

“Hmm,” Ezra hummed low as his eyes stopped glowing. “I believe you need an introduction to just how pissed off I am you lied, an illegal action.” He paused, watching her come back to herself, her expression instantly of fright. “I can make it pleasant, as you know, but I can also make it,” a quiet, deadly purr, “not so pleasant.”

He struck, his sentence on a Vampire charged with lying. Their rules were the same with sending her to prison if he wanted, but he chose an old form of Vampire justice.

Her feet didn’t touch the ground as she was held in Ezra’s arms, his fangs in her throat, screaming.

God, I had never heard anyone screech quite like that before. Not even the Com men who died on the beach shrieked in such terror. He wasn’t pulling hard, more like gently suckling to make it last longer, not trying to drain her, and honestly, I didn’t know how he did it with her mouth so close to his ear.

Temptation called, inviting me to cover my ears, but I didn’t. I held out, like Jack and Pearl did. Christ, did we hold out. This went on for at least ten minutes.

When he finally released her, dumping her on top of the shivering and crying Shifter, he grabbed the handcuffs from Mrs. Jonas and bent over her, slapping them on her wrists and ankles.

Oh yes, he was most definitely pissed.

She started shaking as soon as they were on, and her eyes flew open, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Ezra jerked her chin toward him, stating harshly, “I’ll drain you next time you’re so senseless.” He stood, and faced the visibly shaken Mrs. Jonas. “Keep her in those for as long as you had me in them.”

She looked at King Venclaire, her question silent.

He murmured calmly, “Agreed.”

She nodded, staring down at the two liars, then back to Ezra, apologizing again.

Ezra muttered, “I’m out of here.” He slung his backpack over his shoulder, stepping over the guilty, and headed our way.

“You won’t leave school property, Ezra,” King Venclaire stated steadily.

Ezra nodded, waving a hand above his head, but to us, he muttered, “How fast can we make it to the Hummer from here?”

After going through the drive-thru of Ezra’s favorite pick, we sat in the park in Choep at a picnic table under the shade of trees while monsters — AKA toddlers — played on the playground watched over by a parent, our guards all around us, but far enough away to give us privacy and not scare the Coms too bad.

Jack bit into his chicken sandwich, saying around the mouthful, “Lily, that was freaking impressive power.”

I shrugged, fiddling with the lid of my milkshake. “We’ve all got our Ruler’s power. You just hadn’t seen me use mine yet.” I was still mad as hell, and had barely refrained so far from throwing my shake in Ezra’s face. Instead, I finally settled on picking up a fry and leaning over the table, pointing it at Ezra, hissing, “Why?” I didn’t say anything else. He had hurt my feelings. I didn’t know why he hadn’t asked, and it offended me.

Pearl and Jack paused in their munching, glancing back and forth between us.

“Caught that, did you?” Ezra lowered his half-eaten burger, his eyes on mine.

“Caught what?” Pearl asked, quickly swallowing her mouthful of onion rings.

I jabbed my fry at Ezra. “He was drinking off them that way because he wants…” I pointed at myself with the fry, scowling into spring green eyes. “You didn’t answer my question.”

Unhurriedly, he wiped his mouth with his napkin, and then placed his arms on the table, leaning over to be nose-to-nose with me. “Because you taste good.”

“And?” I asked, exasperated, my hurt feelings overpowering my anger. “Why the hell didn’t you just ask me instead of drinking off idiots like Rebecca and Viper?”

He took a deep breath. Blinked for a few ticks. “I hurt your feelings?”

I pinched his nose. Stupid thing. Keeping a good grip on it, I said, “Well, yes. Why wouldn’t you ask your best friend if that’s what you wanted in the first place, instead of trying to find a replacement?”

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