Curran’s eyes widened.

“If we get out of here, I’d like to keep her,” I told him.

“If you finish eating this food, I’ll get you a whole herd of giant donkeys.”

“That’s the strangest bribe I’ve ever heard of,” Robert said.

“I don’t want a herd. I just want one.” I ate more of Doolittle’s paste. “What are you going to do with Hugh’s Friesian?”

“I don’t know. Hell, I might keep it. I’ll walk it around like a dog on a leash.”

I laughed. “You hate horses.”

“No,” Curran said. “I don’t trust them. There’s a difference.”

“So what else happened after I went poof?”

“Then I had a problem,” he said. “You were gone, Hugh had disappeared, and Ghastek vanished, too. The People were screaming bloody murder and running back and forth. Jim told me about Brandon and his water trick. I needed more information and I wanted to know what inside Brandon made him so stupid that he would do this, so I opened Brandon’s stomach and pulled his guts out while Jennifer watched. I told her that if she moved an inch, I would do things to her that would make what I was doing to Brandon seem civilized and kind.”

He lost control. I could count on the fingers of one hand the times Curran had let himself go, and they were branded in my memory. He prided himself on always being in control. I finally did it. I had driven the Beast Lord crazy. He must’ve been either really scared for me or angry, or both. I knew exactly how he felt. I couldn’t roar, but if he’d been teleported off that field, I’d make the entire Pack cringe and wet themselves.

“Did Jennifer move?” I asked.

“No. Stood there quietly as he screamed. Brandon didn’t give me anything constructive. It was Barabas who remembered that Jennifer had walked into your meeting with that bottle.”

“She couldn’t do it,” I told him. “I think she went into the meeting planning on it, but she backed out at the last minute.”

“Since Brandon wasn’t helping, I gave what was left of him to Mahon and told Jennifer it was her turn. She said I wouldn’t dare. I assured her I would. I grabbed her by her throat and shook her a little. I may have roared.”

Robert sighed. “He was in half-form. He’d grown claws the size of walrus tusks and they were wet with Brandon’s blood. His fur stood on end, his mouth was this big”—Robert held his hands about two feet apart—“he’d sprouted an extra set of fangs, and his eyes looked on fire. He was roaring so loud the windows in the Keep vibrated, and when he spoke, he sounded like a demon from hell. I would’ve told him anything.”

I brushed my fingers along his stubbled cheek gently. “Did you have a failure of control, Your Furriness?”

“No,” Curran said. “I was perfectly in control.”

Across the room, Robert shook his head. “He was holding Jennifer up a foot off the ground the whole time he questioned her.”

“Did you strangle the wolf alpha?” Not that she didn’t deserve it.

Curran grimaced. “Of course not. I needed information. After I put her face in my mouth, we agreed that it was in her best interests to tell me what I wanted to know. Then the floodgates opened and all sorts of interesting things fell out. She had been approached five months ago, just after Daniel died. A man met her in a restaurant and told her that he was from Ice Fury, and that they wanted inside information. At first she told them to take a hike, but then paranoia set in. When we left for Europe, they offered her panacea. She took it.”

She was pregnant, alone, and afraid. Her baby was also Daniel’s baby, and she would do anything to keep her child from going loup. But to betray everyone in the Pack . . .

“She started feeding them intel about us,” Curran continued. “In return, they supplied her with panacea and other favors. Do you remember when Foster and Kara’s business burned down?”

Foster and Kara Hudson served as Jennifer’s betas for a while. She’d inherited them from Daniel. They had owned a small textile mill and clothes shop until it burned to the ground while we were gone on our “let’s get panacea” trip. “Arson? Against her own betas?”

Curran nodded. “For a while it looked like Foster might challenge Jennifer, but after the fire, he took a loan from the Pack and both he and Kara stepped down from the beta spot to focus on rebuilding. Jim had thought it smelled bad so he checked it out, but neither Jennifer nor anybody else from Clan Wolf was anywhere near the fire at the time.”

Wow. I didn’t think she’d sink that low. Kate Daniels, brilliant judge of character. Not.

“Then we came back with Desandra, she took the beta spot, and things got worse and worse, until Jennifer demanded they make her go away. Before the Conclave, Jennifer was given the bottle and told that either she dumped it on you in the morning and Desandra would be taken care of, or evidence of her betrayal would be presented to the Pack.”

“You can have everything you want if you do what we say, or we’ll take away everything you have?”

“Yes. According to her, she couldn’t do it, so Brandon did it for her. She didn’t ask him. He volunteered.” Curran grimaced.

Robert shrugged. “I can’t decide if her failure to completely betray us was to her credit, because she still had some scruples, or if it was the ultimate sign of her cowardice, because she’d manipulated someone else into doing it.”

“I don’t care,” Curran said.

“What happened next?” I asked.

“Next I dropped Jennifer down and told Desandra that if she wanted to lead the wolves, now was a good time. To her credit, she didn’t drag it out. Jennifer put up a good fight, but in the end it was a quick kill.”

I should’ve hated Jennifer. If she had somehow escaped discovery, I would’ve killed her when I returned, not because I disliked her, but because she was a traitor and a liability. I should’ve been angry, but Hugh had a monopoly on all of my anger lately. All I felt for Jennifer was sadness. Two years ago everything was great for her. She had a husband who loved her and a job that fulfilled her. They were planning on having children. Her life held so much promise. Instead it all went sideways and ended in a tragedy.

“What happens to the baby?” I asked.

“Winona took her,” Curran said.

One of Jennifer’s sisters. She had five. “Are they going to cause a problem?”

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
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