I kept her secret and she kept mine. Only two people besides me knew my ancestry and Andrea was one of them. If I had a choice, I would’ve kept it from her, but she had figured it out on her own.

“Thank you for the warning.” Andrea handed me the manila envelope. “My turn.”

Unsealing the tape took a moment, and then a stack of papers slid into my hand. A photograph occupied half of the first sheet. It showed a tall, powerfully built man, standing next to a roan horse, one hand on the mane.

He had handsome, very masculine features, roughly cut, with a heavy jaw and slightly dimpled chin. His nose was broad and straight; his mouth wide; his long hair almost blue black. His was an attractive face, honest and strong, the kind that would inspire confidence and convince you to follow him into the breach. The few times I’d seen him, he wore a pleasant, affable expression that made him appear approachable.

He must’ve sensed the photographer and turned toward him just as the shot was taken, because the camera caught him with his mask down. He stared directly into the lens. His eyes, shockingly blue under the straight slashes of black eyebrows, radiated arrogant power. It was a look that snarled a warning. The glare of a predator whose rest had been disturbed. Indignant, he demanded to know who dared and he looked as if he was committing your face to memory, so if you met again by chance, he would remember to kill you.

I sat into my chair. The blue eyes stared at me.

Hugh d’Ambray. Preceptor of the Order of the Iron Dogs, head of Roland’s personal guard. Warlord of Roland’s armies. My stepfather’s greatest pupil.

The paper bore a copy of the Order’s classified stamp—a mace crossed with the polearm on a shield. These papers were well above Andrea’s clearance, let alone mine. I leafed through the rest of the sheets. They were filled with facts of Hugh’s life. A condensed summary of everything the Order knew about Roland’s Warlord.

“How did you get this?”

Andrea gave me a smug smile.

If Ted found out she’d accessed the Order’s database to get this information, he would boil her alive. “You shouldn’t have done this on my account.”

She crossed her arms. “Oh, thank you, Andrea! You’re the best! What would I do without you? I know how much you worked to obtain these papers, vital to my survival.”

“You’re already on Ted’s shit list. If he gets a whiff of this—”

“He won’t,” she said. “I was very careful. The administrators at the Midnight Games kept very detailed records. The name of every patron was recorded. I was doing my write-up and came across Hugh. Hugh’s name was mentioned very frequently during my advanced security briefing. Things made total sense: the rakshasas had to have gotten Roland’s sword from somewhere, and who better to give it to them than Roland’s Warlord, Hugh? I put two and two together and started digging and I took the long way around, which is why it took me so long to get this stuff. Did you know who Hugh was before we went into that pit?”

The sandy arena of the Midnight Games flashed before me. Hugh had been in the audience during the final fight.

“Yes. I knew.”

“You shattered an unbreakable sword made of Roland’s blood. Hugh is Roland’s Warlord. He isn’t just going to let it go, Kate.”

“I realize that.” I drank my tea. “I didn’t have a choice.”

“Of course you did. You could’ve taken off before the fight started. You didn’t have to try to kill yourself to break the sword.”

“I wasn’t planning on killing myself,” I growled.

Andrea waved at me. “Details. The point is, you sacrificed yourself to save us. For me, that’s twice.”

“You were in the pit, because of me. I asked you to come.” And dragged around a load of guilt because of it.

Andrea shook her head. “I came, because for the Pack to survive, the rakshasas had to be killed and I’m good at killing. I may not be just like the rest of the shapeshifters, and some of them may despise me, but I still grow big teeth and go furry. I came for our common good. But you don’t sprout fur, Kate. You came because you wanted to help your friends. You’re my friend and now I’m going to help you. And I will keep helping you. You have no choice about it.”

I hit her with the best version of a hard stare I could manage. “Stay out of this. I don’t need your help.”

She snorted. “Well, too bad. You don’t always get to pick what your friends do for you.”

I put my tea down and rubbed my face. In Savannah, Voron was rolling in his grave. What was I supposed to do with her?

Kill her, Voron’s voice said from the depths of my memory. Kill her now before she exposes you.

I crushed the thought and threw away the pieces.

“If I were Hugh, I would be waiting for an opportunity to subdue you and take you someplace where you can be quietly questioned,” Andrea said.

“No. He won’t do that. He’ll gather as much information as he can about me and then, when he’s confident he knows what he has, he’ll approach me. Kidnapping isn’t his style.”

“How can you be sure?”

I got up, shutting down Voron’s ghostly voice barking warnings at me, went into the spare bedroom Greg had turned into a library and storage room, and brought out an old photo album and a leather-bound notebook. If I could convince her to keep her distance, it would be worth it. “I can be sure, because I know how Hugh thinks.”

I put the album on the table, opened to the right page, got a knife, and carefully split the invisible seam holding the two pages together. Two thin pages slid into the light. I handed Andrea the first one with a picture on it.

She stared at it. Her eyebrows crept together. “Is that Hugh d’Ambray as a teenager?”

I nodded.

She studied the photo. “Well, he grew up into a handsome bastard. Who’s that next to him?”


“Voron the Raven? Roland’s ex-Warlord?” Andrea’s eyes widened. “I thought he died.”

“He did, eventually.” I looked at her. “He raised me. He was my stepfather.”

“Holy shit!” She blinked at me. “Well, that explains all the . . .” She waved her teaspoon around in a wild fashion, as if trying to shake stuff off it.

I raised my eyebrow. “All the what?”


I slid the second picture to her. On it, Voron stood with his arm around a petite blond woman next to Greg and Anna, my guardian’s ex-wife.

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
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