"You destroyed five million dollars' worth of luxury cars."

"Yes, but none of them are wearing human heads as hood ornaments."

I dropped back onto the pillow. "So you want credit for not repainting the place with blood?"

"The guards walked away. Saiman walked away. Tell me that's not superhuman." Curran pulled me close to him and kissed my neck where it joined my shoulder. Mmm.

"Where did you get this?" His voice was entirely too casual for comfort.

"That source Jim keeps referring to is Saiman. He is knee-deep in this whole thing. He left some evidence at Kamen's place, and I tracked him down."

"Did you go to see him?" Curran asked.

Warning: danger ahead. Rocks fall, everyone dies.

"Yes."

"At his apartment?"

"Yes."

"Where is Saiman now?"

"I'm not sure. Under the bed? Maybe you should try the closet."

"Kate!" I laughed. "You should see your face. Don't you trust me?"

"I trust you," he said. "I just need to talk to him."

Aha. Talk. His Majesty, Master of Negotiation. "I took Derek with me when I went to see him. Saiman is so scared of you, he didn't even want to let us in. And the Keepers sent a team into the place to finish all of us off. How can you be jealous of him? It's like me being jealous of Myong." Not that his latest ex-girlfriend didn't inspire jealousy. She was a stunning woman, elegant, beautiful in an exotic way. She was also fragile like a delicate glass ornament.

"Nothing ever happened between me and Myong," he said.

I rolled my eyes. "Right."

"I'm serious. Not that I didn't want to at the time, but I tried to kiss her once, and she got a deer-in-the-headlights look. I got a feeling that if I went any further, she'd shut her eyes and pray for it to be over, so I backed off."

"Maybe I should check the closet to see if the beautiful Myong is hiding in there, since you are so hot for her ..."

He blinked. How does that foot taste?

"Blah-blah-blah."

"You're so eloquent, Your Majesty. So kind and generous to your subjects. So full of snappy comebacks."

"Don't forget brutally honest. To my own detriment even."

"Oh, yes. Honest to a fault."

"You never told me where Saiman's hiding."

I took my plate into the kitchen.

He followed me. "You like to screw with me, is that it? Saiman, that Russian mage, that merc ..."

"What merc?"

"Bob."

I racked my brain. I'd barely said two words to Bob. "He stopped by our table to ask me which way I'd vote in the Guild elections. They still haven't figured out who is in charge, and I'm technically on the roster."

"Yeah. Did he have to lean over you while he was talking?" "He was trying to let Mark think that he and I were buddies."

"And you are not."

I threw a bread roll at him. Curran snapped it out of the air.

"Would you like me to carry a foot-long stick? I can just poke people with it when they get too close."

"That's a good idea." He held his arm out. "If you can extend your arm and touch them with the stick, they are too close."

"You're insane."

"If I'm insane, what does it make you?"

"A terrible judge of character."

I went back to the couch. I could've fallen for someone steady. Dependable. Well-grounded. But nooo, I had to lose my head over this idiot.

Curran pounced. It was an excellent pounce, executed with preternatural speed. He pinned me to the couch. "Tell me where Saiman is."

"Or what?"

"Or I will be displeased."

I rolled my eyes. "He's worried himself into paranoia, Curran. When Jim and I were dealing with the rakshasas during the Midnight Games, Saiman went into the Pit to plant a tracker into a rakshasa opponent. He was so terrified, he could barely move. The rakshasa cut him, and Saiman snapped. He bashed the rakshasa to death and kept beating his body for about five minutes. When he finally calmed down, there was only mush left. I know you can take him. I can take him, too. The question is why. Why make an enemy of him? You have to either kill him now or stop screwing with him, and if you're going to kill him, I really am a terrible judge of character."

Curran growled and moved to sit next to me.

"He wants the pressure to go away. He's prepared to soothe your ego. He gave us everything he knew about Kamen and the device for this precise reason, and he fully expects you to ask for more."

"My ego doesn't need soothing," Curran said. "I don't want him soothing anything of mine, including you."

"Jim has him stashed away at one of the safe houses. Do as you will."

I stared at him.

"What?" he growled. "Waiting to see if you're going to run out on me on the night before the Apocalypse to go beat his ass."

Curran reached for me. "He'll keep. There is no rush."

"Keep your hands to yourself. You said you didn't need any more soothing."

"I changed my mind. Besides, I'm the hot male lead. Actors get all the chicks." He kissed me. "You're still going through with this?"

"Yes," I told him honestly.

"Don't," he said.

I slumped forward. "I have to at least try. Are you going to try to stop me?"

"No. You made a decision, and you're following through with it. I don't like it, but I'll help you with it, because you're my mate and I would expect the same from you." Curran grimaced. "It would be worse if you sat on your hands and moaned about not knowing what to do. I couldn't deal with that."

The Beast Lord way: often wrong but never in doubt.

"As long as we're on the subject," Curran said. " `The man thrust it back into the wound and spoke the words that bound the wolf to obey him forever.' If you do this, Julie will never be able to disobey a direct order from you. You will be making a slave."

I glanced at him. "I thought about that. I don't know if it's even necessary for the ritual, but I can't take that chance. I'll have to do it exactly the way Roland did."

"She can never know," Curran said. "Look, I've been in charge of people for a long time. Trust me on this, you can't take Julie's free will away from her. If you do this, that's your secret and you have to live with that. You have to be strong enough to keep that from her, and that means you'll have to think twice before any instructions to her come out of your mouth."

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