The creature didn't stir.

"You must will her to live," the presence told me gently. "She needs your help."

"Mine," I told the blood. "Obey me. Live. Survive. Obey, obey, obey ..."

The creature drew a hoarse breath, jerking. The wound on her neck bled. Her body whipped, gripped by spasms. The others lunged to her.

The world careened on its side, went dark, and all was still. I OPENED MY EYES. CURRAN SAT NEXT TO ME, HIS gray eyes watching me.


"She survived," he said. His quiet voice gained a rough growl. "If you think that I will ever let you pull that fucked-up shit again, then this thing between you and me is done. We are fucking done."

We made it. We made it through in one piece. He didn't die, Julie didn't die, I didn't die ... It was some kind of bloody miracle.

"I thought you loved me and would never leave me."

"That was not you. That was fucked up."

I put my arms around him and kissed him. Curran clenched me to him. My bones groaned. "Never again."

"Never again," I promised. "I give you my word. Never again."

"I'm so glad you woke up."

"Aha! The shoe is on the other foot."

"Shut up." He kissed me, and I pulled my personal psycho into bed with me.

TWENTY MINUTES LATER I WAS EATING CHICKEN soup. It was the best soup I ever tasted. "How long was I out?"

"Three days."

"That's nothing. You were out eleven."

Curran shrugged. "Three was enough."

"How's Julie?"

"Freaked out and under house arrest, but okay."

"Why under house arrest?"

Curran shook his head. " `Oh no, I killed Kate. Kate is dead because of me. If she dies, I'll kill myself.' And other stupidity along those lines. I ordered her locked up so she doesn't do something idiotic. Doolittle says she's healing well. No trace of Lyc-V. No vampirism." Curran focused on me. "I thought I lost you both back there." "I think you might have. I was really confused at some point. I think I hallucinated. I can almost swear I heard somebody."


"I don't know. I promise, never again. I don't think I can survive another one like that."

Curran sighed. "I suppose you'll want to see the kid now."


Curran roared. "Barabas!"

The door opened and my nanny stuck his spiky head inside. He saw me and his face split in a sharp grin. "My lord, my lady, may I say that I am delighted that my favorite alpha is feeling better. Why, you'll be running recklessly into danger against overwhelming odds anytime now."

Curran growled. "Shut up. Bring Julie."

Three minutes later Julie stepped into the room. She stopped at the entrance, a pale, skinny wraith. I waited, but she didn't come any closer.

"Hey," I said.

"Hey," she answered.

"Are you okay?"

"I don't know." Julie swallowed.

Oh boy. "What's the problem?"

"You did something to me." Julie hesitated. "My magic looks like yours."

I glanced at Curran. "You didn't tell her?"

"Oh no, that's your mess. You can have that job. You go right ahead."

I sat up straighter. "When Leslie bit you, she infected you with Lyc-V. I used an old ritual and cleaned your blood with mine to save you."

Julie blinked a few times. "So what does it mean?"

"It means that you are now immune to Lyc-V and vampirism. You might develop some new powers. It might be strange for a while, but I will help you through it."

Julie swallowed. "So I am like really your niece now?"

"Something like that. I almost died saving you. Am I going to get some sort of hug or what?" She took a step, broke into a run, and hugged me.

Curran shook his head.

I stuck my tongue out at him. Whatever. She was alive. I would deal with everything else as it came.

"You can never tell anyone," Curran said. "What Kate has done for you can't be done to anyone else, do you understand? The Pack is full of desperate parents whose kids might go loup. You can't go around telling people that Kate cured you of it. If anybody asks, you pulled through on your own. Your magic was so strong, your body rejected Lyc-V. Julie, answer me."

"Yes, sir," Julie said in my arms. "I pulled through on my own."

A knock sounded and Barabas stepped back into the room, carrying a narrow blue vase filled with flowers. "Happy reunion. Also, these came for you, Kate. I put them in a vase. Not quite sure what these flowers are, but they smell pine."

The vase held a dozen small flowers, their petals pristine white, like small stars solid black at the center. I froze with Julie still hugging me.

Morgan's Bells. I knew these flowers; I had made them. They'd sprouted during the flare on the spot where I'd cried my eyes out, holding Bran's lifeless body.

Next to me Curran was very still.

I willed my mouth to move. "Is there a card?"

Barabas nodded and passed me a small white rectangle folded in half. I flipped it open.

Congratulations on your victory, Your Highness. Looking forward to our next meeting. Hugh COMING DECEMBER 2011



Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
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