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Boone took a couple of steps over so he wasn’t too close to the butler, because guess what? The sight of that fucking male in his father’s clothes made him want to empty a clip into Marquist’s frontal lobe.

“My Lord,” Marquist said to Wrath in the Old Language, “it is my supreme honor to be in your presence. Allow me to pledge my fealty unto—”

As the butler took a couple steps forward, Wrath shot a look at Rhage, and the Brother was on it, jumping over and clapping a hold on Marquist’s shoulder.

“You’re good,” Rhage gritted out. “You stay back here.”

Marquist seemed honestly affronted. “As a civilian, I am entitled to pay respect unto my King.”

Rhage took the male by the upper arms, picked him up like he was a toaster, and carried him back to where he’d been standing, setting him down on a pair of loafers that Boone remembered his father buying about six months ago.

In a bored voice, Rhage said, “Consider your respects paid. Moving on.”

Marquist blinked, his brain clearly having to recalibrate the way he had expected all of this to go. And Boone was not surprised. The male was behaving as if he had social station. In reality, he had a borrowed suit and an attitude, at best.

Well . . . probably also had an inheritance.

Saxton cleared his throat. “We are here to settle the estate of Altamere, son of Himish. As you will recall”—the solicitor glanced at Boone and bowed his head—“the gentlemale passed unto the Fade two nights before last, and this previous night, as per standard custom, a Fade Ceremony was properly performed with witnesses. With that formality having been met, it is now appropriate for the last will and testament to be read and certified. A copy of what is purported to be said document was provided unto me by Marquist, son of Merihew, and I am holding it in mine hands at this time.”

Boone stared at the solicitor, aware that his breathing was shallow. “What does it say,” the King demanded.

There was an awkward pause, and Saxton looked down at the inchthick bundle of pages that were held together on the left side by a binding cord. Down the front of the book-worthy construction, satin ribbons in orange and brilliant blue denoted Boone’s bloodline.

Boone spoke up. “My sire cut me out of the will. Didn’t he.”

Saxton’s eyes were sad as he cleared his throat. “Yes, it appears as if that is the case. The codicil was added approximately a year ago.”

“And he left everything to Marquist.”


The butler did a double take. “I’m sorry . . . forgive me, but what exactly was I left?”

“Everything,” Saxton replied. “If this document is indeed the final version of the will, it provides that you are to receive all of Altamere’s property, tangible and intangible. Further, all trusts are updated to reflect you as beneficiary as well.”

Marquist’s shock was slowly superseded by a satisfied smile. “My master was more generous than I thought.”

“Was it forged,” Wrath demanded. As the butler opened his mouth and started to reply, the King snapped, “Do yourself a favor and shut the hell up. I’m not in a good mood right now, and if for some reason you didn’t pull a fast one, you are going to want me to rule in your favor rather than order someone to turn you into an organ donor.”

Marquist followed that order so quick, his molars clapped together. Saxton made a slight cough into his hand. “Boone, whether or not you are in the will, you are legally Altamere’s next of kin, given that his second shellan is also deceased. As such, I would like you to come over and verify your father’s signature.”

As the solicitor started flipping through to get to the end of things, Boone spoke up. “When was the codicil signed?”

Saxton finished turning the pages and flattened the last couple against the binding. “It appears . . . the signature here is dated February the seventeenth of last year.”

Boone shook his head. “Marquist didn’t fake it. The signature is legitimate.”

“It’s true,” the butler said in a rush. “I did no such thing. Altamere alluded to the fact that he had made certain changes, and I suspected that some were to my benefit, but I wasn’t sure. And I most certainly did not think it was . . . everything.”

“What’s up with that date?” Wrath asked Boone. “Why is it relevant?”

Boone crossed his arms over his chest, and as he felt the blades that were strapped, handles down, across his sternum, he started to get antsy.

“That’s twenty-four hours after my arrangement was broken,” he said without emotion. “That’s how I know. My father was furious that the female had found me unworthy, so the timing makes sense.”

Okay, so that wasn’t entirely false. But it wasn’t entirely the truth, either. Dollars to donuts—and it looked like Boone had neither at the moment, har, har—the threat about his paternity had been more of a motivator than the arrangement having failed with Rochelle.

But at this point, water under the bridge, right?

As Wrath’s black brows lifted up over his wraparounds, Saxton cleared his throat. “Well . . . be that as it may, perhaps you will come over here and look at the ink nonetheless?”

Boone stalked across the carpet and approached the desk. As Saxton spun the will around, he leaned down. His sire’s familiar series of slashes and flourishes was spot-on—and not something that was easy to duplicate.

“That is legitimate.”

Saxton looked like he wanted to offer his condolences. “Will you be willing to sign an affidavit to this effect?”

“Yup. Just get me the papers and I’ll do it—”

Wrath’s voice cut right through. “Just so you’re clear on it, you sign a document like that and you’re letting it all go. You say you know the John Hancock is real and not falsified because of a broken arranged mating, but even if that is your belief, you could still bring a cause of action as the next of kin. You have standing. During fact-finding, something may come out that you’re not aware of at this moment. Undue influence, for example.”

Read: The King didn’t trust Marquist’s intentions much. Boone shook his head. “I’m not going to challenge it.”

Wrath’s voice dropped low. “That’s your bloodline’s heritage, son. If your family’s like any other in the glymera, we’re talking centuries and centuries of art and antiques. And then there’s the money, the stocks. Don’t be foolish just because you’re mad.”

“I’m not mad.” He glanced at Tohr and Rhage because they knew him and could read him well. “I don’t feel anything at all. Marquist can have the whole lot of it. Do what he wants with it. Spend it all, save it all, sell the shit, give it away. I really don’t care. After all this time . . . I’d rather be free than financially secure.”

There was a long silence at that announcement, and he was willing to bet at least one of the Brothers, and probably Wrath, too, was thinking he needed a psych eval.

Marquist, on the other hand, was starting to look like he’d won the lottery.

Which, hello, he had.

Wrath stroked his dog’s boxy head. “I’m going to give you two weeks to think about it.”

“I don’t need them—”

“You’re getting them anyway.” The King glared in Marquist’s direction—and what do you know, getting hit by that hard stare, even though it recorded no details from an ocular point of view, slapped the happy right off the butler’s face. “And listen up, you’re going to allow him to stay in that house for the next fourteen nights. If I hear of any bullshit, from anyone, I’m going to rip up that will and give everything to the charity of Boone’s choice.”

“Y-you can’t do that,” Marquist stammered.

Wrath smiled, revealing enormous fangs. “This ain’t the human world, motherfucker. I’m the King and I can do anything the fuck I want, including send someone to visit you in your sleep and make it so you don’t come down for First Meal. You do what I say and you’re probably going to walk away with tens of millions of dollars and a nice crib. Sit tight and shut the fuck up or I’ll put you under the ground.”

Well. There was that, Boone thought.

Except he just shook his head again at his King. “It’s all good. But if you want us to wait two weeks, that’s fine.” He looked at Marquist. “You can have the money and the stuff, but if you think you’re stepping into my father’s shoes just because you fit into his clothes, you’re in for one hell of a rude awakening. The glymera doesn’t even accept their own. You will never have anything but a vacant house to walk around in and shit that isn’t yours to stare at. Rich only looks good from the outside, trust me.”

With that, he walked toward the double doors to go out.

As he came up to Tohr and Rhage, he expected some kind of conversation about how he shouldn’t go into the field tonight. That he was still off rotation. That he needed more time, especially in light of this fresh piece of just wonderful news.

But the Brothers simply opened the way out for him and stepped aside.

Whether it was because they knew they couldn’t stop him or on account of them not knowing where he was headed, he wasn’t sure.

And it didn’t matter.

Just like so much in his life.

As Boone crunched through the frozen slush of an alley off God-only-knew-what street downtown, the cold wind burned his face and his ears. Also his hands. In his rush to leave the house for the showdown with Marquist, he’d forgotten his gloves, but he didn’t care about frostbite. Or what had been revealed about the will. Or the fact that he was essentially homeless.

Or that his father had seen fit to all but erase him from the bloodline. In favor of a civilian stranger who had come into their lives on a whim and changed the path of the family’s history. Likely in more ways than one.