Unfortunately wild shapeshifters still carried Lyc-V. If they bit a human and the human became a loup, the Pack would bear responsibility for it. That was the greatest burden of the alphas. Sometimes they had to kill their own people.

“Did you . . . ?”

“It wasn’t me, but it was done. The bodies are being brought to the Keep today.”

“What would cause them to go wild?” I stirred my coffee.

Curran reached over and brushed my hand with his fingers. “Sometimes fear does it. When little kids get startled, they often go furry to run away.”

“So she terrified them to the point they forgot they were human?”

Curran stopped. “She?”

Thin ice. Proceed with extreme caution. If I mentioned Saiman, it might set him off. “I think it might be a woman. She pilots the undead mages the way navigators pilot vampires.”

He chewed on that. “One of Roland’s?”

“I don’t know yet. You’ll know the second I do.”

Curran cut two pieces of pie and put one in front of me. “How long will you need to pack?”

And the happy morning screeched to a halt. “Why would I need to pack?” I asked casually.

“Because you’re coming to the Keep with me.” He delivered it as a fact. His face wore the familiar blank expression I’d come to define as the Beast Lord’s “my way or the highway” look. He was actually serious about this.

“Why?”

“She saw you at the Guild. She could track you down here. It’s not safe here.”

“Nice try. She’s targeting you, not me.” If I gave him any hint Roland was after me, he would carry me to the damn Keep and hide me in an armored room.

“I want you with me,” he said. “It’s not a request.”

“Too bad. You must’ve forgotten, Your Fuzziness, that I don’t do well with orders.”

We locked stares over the table.

“You have no sense of self-preservation.”

“And you expect me to commute two hours each way from the Keep to the Order.” I kept my voice mild. “I suppose I won’t be needing my job, my house, or my clothes anymore.”

“I didn’t say that. Although let me get back to you on the clothes. It’s still under consideration.”

“Look, you don’t get to run my life. We slept together once—”

He held up seven fingers.

“Fine,” I squeezed through my teeth. “We had sex seven times in a twenty-four-hour period. Just because I’m your lover—”

“Mate.”

Words died in my mouth. In shapeshifter terms, mate meant monogamy, family, children—a union, civil, physical, and spiritual. It meant marriage. Apparently he hadn’t given up on that idea.

“Mate,” I said finally, tasting the word.

He winked at me. Dear God.

I gave him my hard stare. “You’re a control freak and I fight all authority. And you want us to mate?”

A wicked spark lit his eyes. “Many, many times.”

“What’s wrong with you? Did I hit you too hard on the head?”

“My mate lives with me,” he said. “In the Keep.”

“Have you had many mates before?”

He gave me a look reserved for the mentally challenged. “I had lovers.”

“So this is a new rule you made up on the spot?”

“That’s a perk of being the Beast Lord. You get to make up rules.”

Going to the Keep was out of the question. They were already in danger, but it would be nothing compared to what would happen if I moved in. Curran protected his people, and I endangered them. I forced my voice to sound normal. “Any other Curran rules I need to know about? Might as well get them out now, so I can veto all of them.”

“You don’t get to veto my rules,” he said.

I laughed. “This will never work.”

We looked at each other.

“Let’s trade,” he said. “You tell me what you have to have and I’ll tell you what I want.”

He was trying to negotiate. I must’ve won a victory somewhere. Either that or last night was as good for him as it was for me. “Okay.”

He invited me with a wave of his fork. “You start.”

“The Order is off the table,” I said. “I’m not quitting.”

“I didn’t say you had to.” He leveled a heavy stare on me.

“But since you insist, I agree. The Order is off the table. My turn.”

Danger, danger . . . “Okay.”

“Monogamy,” he stated flatly. “While you’re with me, I’m the only one. Anybody else touches you and I’ll kill them.”

“What if I accidentally bump into someone?”

Gold flashed in his eyes. “Don’t.”

Apparently he refused to feel humorous about this situation. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“You said yourself, I’m a control freak. I’m a jealous, possessive bastard and I’m not as human as some. You have no idea what last night cost me. Betray me and I’ll kill him. If you don’t want to be with me, tell me. Don’t go behind my back. I’m trying to be as honest as I can. So there are no surprises.”

“You do realize that killing the other male makes no sense. If I cheat on you, I’m at fault, not him. He didn’t promise you anything.”

“It’s not about logic. That’s the way Pack works. I would be within my rights to kill anyone trying to take my mate. I would be expected to do it, I’d want to do it, and I would do it.”

I pointed the fork at him. “Fine. But the parade stops now.”

“What parade?”

“Your girlfriend parade.”

His eyebrows crept up. “Girlfriend parade?”

“Curran, you cheat on me and we’re done. That’s fair.”

“Kate, it goes both ways. If anyone tries to make a pass at me, you’re welcome to their throat.”

“I don’t care about people making passes at you. I only care if you act on it.”

“Agreed. The girlfriend parade stops.” He bared his teeth in a happy feral grin. My own personal psycho. “I kind of figured that out when you melted the lock on my guestroom in a fit of jealousy.”

“You don’t say.” I picked at my omelet.

“My turn. The not-talking thing—we’ll never do that again.”

“Boy, that really bugged you, did it?”


Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
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