A knock sounded on my door.

“Come in.”

Andrea strode in, her face hard. “You okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“I came back twice earlier and your goons wouldn’t let me in.” Andrea landed in a chair. “I haven’t heard from Raphael.”

She had known I’d ask.

“Anything from Curran?”

I shook my head. “I have something to tell you and you won’t like it.”

I explained about Nick and the massacre at the chapterhouse.

Andrea’s face turned white. She locked her hands together into a fist and bent her head toward it. Her fingers went pale from the pressure. “All of them died?”

I nodded.

“And Mauro?”


“Are you okay?” Andrea asked.

“I’m peachy.” My voice sounded brittle and bitter.

“I thought something might happen with the Order, but not this,” she said. “Not this bad.”

“You thought something bad would happen?”

She grimaced as if she’d bitten into a rotten lemon. “After Erra almost took out the Atlanta chapter, Ted fell out of favor.”

“Been keeping tabs?”

“Oh yes. I always keep tabs on people I may need to kill.”

She sounded just like Aunt B.

“Moynohan was never one of the best knight-protectors, but he’d been with the Order since the beginning.”

“A knight-founder, I know. Mauro told me.”

Andrea leaned back. “I started to guess which way the wind was blowing when I found out that he had repeatedly refused efforts to increase the chapter’s size.”

“Why?” I’d never understood why a city the size of Atlanta had only seven knights assigned to it.

“Because a chapter of ten members or more requires a knight-diviner,” Andrea said.

A knight-diviner functioned like a chaplain in regular Army units. Greg Feldman, my now-deceased guardian, had been one. He handled whatever personal issues the other knights could throw at him, and they threw quite a few.

“I spoke to a couple of the new knights who’d transferred in,” Andrea continued. “Ted wasn’t shy about bending the rules to get where he was going, and he wanted a group of knights loyal enough to bend the rules with him. A knight-diviner would’ve diluted his authority. That’s one of the reasons why he let you in, by the way. He saw you as a nobody with a talent and a chip on your shoulder after your guardian died. He thought that if he gave you your big chance, you’d spend the rest of your life thanking him for it.”

Well, wasn’t he in for a surprise. “I bet he opened a bottle when Greg died.”

“Probably.” Andrea sighed. “I never thought he would retire. His ego was too big. He’d want to go out in a blaze of glory. Well, he did it, the asshole. He got his last hurrah. People died for it. God, poor Nick. He must’ve been through hell and Ted just burned him. That’s years thrown away. I would’ve killed him.”

“He was kicking his corpse the last I saw him.”

Andrea grimaced.

“The Order isn’t going to help us, is it?” I asked.

She faced me squarely. “No.”

Shit. “That’s what I thought.” The Order didn’t like the Pack or the People. It had no reason to get between them. They would come down, they would investigate, and they would hunt Hugh like a rabid dog, but counting on them to intervene for our benefit now was futile. Even if they were willing to help, they wouldn’t get here in time or in large enough numbers to make a difference.

“What are you going to do?” Andrea asked.

“I don’t know. Ask me after we recover Double D.”

She raised her head. “Whatever it is, Clan Bouda will back you up.”

“Thank you.” At least my best friend was still in my corner.

“Thank you for saving Ascanio,” she said.

“I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.” Andrea looked at me. “I should’ve gone to the Conclave with you.”

“You went last time.”

“You needed me to watch your back.” She sighed. “Sarah got herself arrested up in South Carolina, and I went there personally to get her out. I should’ve just sent a Pack lawyer, but I went myself because I feel like Aunt B’s looking over my shoulder. I feel like I have to be everywhere and do everything. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss her. I so wish she were here.”

“I know the feeling.”

Andrea hesitated, opened her mouth, and closed it without saying a word.

“What is it?”

“I’m pregnant.”

I closed my mouth with a click. “Congratulations!”

She stared at me and spread her arms as if to say, There it is.

“How are you? How far along?”

“Four weeks. I’m not sick yet. I just had a feeling, so I checked.”

“Are you okay?”

She leaned forward, her voice barely above a whisper. “I’m so scared.”

I had no idea what to say. I’d be scared, too. “Did you tell Doolittle?”

“Not yet.”

“You need to tell Doolittle. You need to take panacea.” And I was pretty sure neither she nor I knew how much to take. “Does Raphael know?”

She shook her head. “I took the test yesterday.”

Oh crap. We still didn’t know if Curran and Raphael were even alive.

“I know exactly how Jennifer felt when Daniel died,” Andrea said. “Raphael didn’t even want to go. He was trying to win a bid on some building for the business, and I told him, ‘Go, honey. We’re brand-new alphas and this will make us look good.’”

“They’ll be fine,” I said.

“Of course they’ll be fine.”

We looked at each other and made a silent effort to believe our own bullshit.

• • •

ANDREA LEFT AND I took myself down to the medward. Desandra and Derek had been treated, given a dinner, and both were asleep.

One of Doolittle’s nurses told me that Ascanio’s mother was with him. They probably needed some private time, so I went into the observation hallway instead. Dim and narrow, it ran along the individual patient rooms, offering a one-way window into each. Sean, a nurse in training, nodded to me from his perch on a pillow in the corner. An intensive care unit for shapeshifters meant patients who could go loup at any minute. The rooms were reinforced and someone was keeping an eye on them 24/7 until the danger passed.

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
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