“You have a lot of nerve showing your face here,” Orpheus said finally.
“Believe me, I know I’m not welcome,” I said. “But in about ten minutes, this compound is going to be under attack.”
Orpheus’s eyes scanned my bloody clothes, left over from my fight with Damara earlier. “By you and what army?”
Realizing he’d misunderstood my warning, I regrouped. “Not by me. I came to warn you that the Caste of Nod got tired of waiting for you to declare war. They’ve convinced the Dominae to bring it to you instead.”
Orpheus tossed back his head and laughed. “You almost had me going. The Caste of Nod? That’s ridiculous.”
I looked him in the eye. “Ask Damara how ridiculous it is.”
Orpheus paused and looked at the girl. “Damara? What’s she talking about?”
Damara opened her trembling mouth to speak, but at that moment, the front door burst open. Maisie ran out with Rhea on her heels.
Maisie stumbled to a stop when she saw the guns trained on me. “Sabina? What’s going on?”
Orpheus stopped her when she moved to approach me. “I’ll tell you what’s going on. Your sister kidnapped Damara.”
Maisie’s eyebrows slammed down. “What? Why?”
Rhea glared at me. “You little bitch!”
“I only claimed she was a hostage to get inside the gates. The truth is, she’s the one who’s been trying to kill me. Tell them, Damara.”
All eyes turned on the girl. Her mouth worked as tears spilled down her cheeks. “I-I didn’t know it would come to this.”
Rhea’s anger fell and betrayal took its place. “Damara?” her voice broke. “How could you?”
Damara’s head bowed in shame. “They told me she killed my mom.”
Orpheus’s eyes widened. He hadn’t recovered by the time Maisie’s voice cut through the silence. “I think we need to go inside and sort all this out.”
I shook my head. “There’s no time.”
“Someone better start explaining what in the hell is going on!” Orpheus bellowed.
“Damara,” I said with a command clear in my tone.
“It’s true. The Caste of Nod has been manipulating everyone to force a war. They wanted me to kill Sabina so she couldn’t fulfill Maisie’s prophecy, and when I failed, they decided the Dominae should ambush. The Alpha Dominae is in their pocket.”
Maisie rubbed her forehead. “I’m lost. Why would the Caste want to force a war, and what does all this have to do with Sabina?”
“Sabina,” Slade said in a low tone. “Two minutes till midnight.”
My heart leapt. “Look, we don’t have time to explain. We need to get your people out of here now!”
Orpheus crossed his arms. “Even if the Caste tries to attack, they won’t make it inside the gates. We’ve doubled our wards and our security. The only beings getting inside are mages.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Then how did I just get in with a pack of werewolves and a vampire?”
He paused, the first hint of doubt showing in his eyes.
Maisie opened her mouth, but whatever she was going to say was cut short by an explosion behind the building that left my ears ringing. Everyone jumped, turning toward the sound. Behind the house, a plume of smoke rose and screams ripped through the night.
“Godsdammit!” Orpheus shouted. “What the hell was that?”
A low snarl made the hair on the back of my neck raise. I turned slowly. My eyes widened when I saw Michael, Rex, and the three other werewolves in midchange. Their faces contorted, their noses elongating and their mouths filling with razor teeth. Their clothes shredded and dropped to the ground as their muscles bulked and their skin sprouted coarse fur. As the Alpha, Michael’s fur was silver, while the others had varying shades from black to brown. As I watched with wide eyes, Michael threw his massive head toward the sky and howled. The rest of his pack followed suit. Then, without warning, the group took off running with the massive silver werewolf in the lead.
The Guards who’d been holding the weres stumbled back and raised their guns.
“No,” I yelled. “They’re with us.”
“Leave them!” Adam shouted.
I shot him a grateful look.
I turned to Slade. “Get the weapons.” Before we headed to the Crossroads, Michael had the weres turn the van into a mobile arsenal. For a race that usually kept out of politics, Michael and his pack had an impressive stash of vampire extermination supplies. Now Slade jumped toward the van and started distributing guns. Orpheus was shouting instructions to the Pythian Guards, who ran in the same direction the weres went.
I ran to Maisie. Adam was yelling at her to get inside, but she was resisting. “Maisie, he’s right. You need to hide.”
“No! I need to help.”
I shook my head. Maisie wasn’t a warrior. She’d never survive whatever waited for us behind the house, and I couldn’t afford to be distracted by protecting her. I turned to Adam. “Is there a safe room in the house? Someplace she can hide?”
“Yeah. There’s a hidden room on the second floor.”
Maisie ripped her hands from mine. “I’m not hiding.”
Rhea stepped in and shot me an apologetic look. With that one glance, all was forgiven. “Sabina’s right, Maisie. You’re too important. Especially now that your visions have returned.”
I looked up quickly. “Really?”
Maisie nodded solemnly. “Yes, but not soon enough to foresee this, apparently.”
That made up my mind. I grabbed her hand and started running toward the house.
“I said no!”
“Come on,” I said. “I want to show you something.”
We ran into the house and up the stairs. Adam, Slade, and Rhea followed.
As we ran, I did hasty introductions. “Adam, this is Slade.” I paused. “He’s an old friend,” I said after a moment’s hesitation. Next to me, I saw Adam’s eyes shoot to Slade. “Slade, this is Adam. He my—”
“I’m her new friend,” Adam cut in. “And we’ve already met. Although I thought everyone called you ‘The Shade’.”
Slade grunted. “Everyone but Sabina.”
I almost stumbled on the stairs but, given the situation, I figured now wasn’t the time to freak out about either the awkwardness of seeing the mage I sort of loved next to the vampire I’d recently had sex with. Not to mention the fact these two males apparently already knew each other.