Page 15

Kat filled them in on everything, including her lie about walking home by herself. Jayce and Connor were both pissed that she’d lied because someone might have seen Jayce, but she hadn’t been thinking about that. She’d only been thinking about protecting Jayce. She wanted to ask him if he’d been involved with Scott’s death, but she decided to wait until Connor was gone. She might be angry with Jayce for a lot of things, but she wouldn’t throw him under the bus. Since there was so much she still didn’t understand about shifter rules and regulations, she figured keeping her mouth shut was the best thing at the moment.

After Connor dropped them off at December’s house, Kat couldn’t wait until they were inside to start questioning Jayce. “Did you get rid of all those clothes?”

He nodded as he shut the front door behind them. “And the weapons. Why did you go with the cops this morning?”

Starving after being cooped up all day, she shrugged and headed for the kitchen. “They had questions for me.”

As she started to open the refrigerator door, his big hand landed right by her head, keeping it shut. With her back to him, she couldn’t see his expression, but there was an odd scent coming from him. It wasn’t lust, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. It was dark and rich but she’d never smelled it before. And it put her on edge in a way she couldn’t explain, making her tense.

“I know your father taught you better than that. You didn’t have to go with them. Or answer the door, for that matter.” His voice was a low purr next to her ear.

She tried to fight the shiver that twined through her, but it was useless. And considering that Jayce’s chest was pressed up against her back, she knew he had to feel it too. “My Jeep wasn’t here and you were gone. I didn’t know when you were coming back and I didn’t want them to see you.”

“You also lied to them about my presence at that guy’s house. If I didn’t know any better I’d think you were trying to protect me,” he murmured so close to her ear that she wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d sucked her earlobe between his teeth.

Even thinking about him doing that made her knees turn to jelly. But she couldn’t let him know. If he sensed any weakness, he’d pounce. After that kiss yesterday she couldn’t afford to let her guard down around him. She might not want him in trouble with the police, but that didn’t mean she planned to let him back into her life. Steeling herself, she snorted, dismissing his statement. “Don’t flatter yourself. I was looking out for myself.”

That rich scent intensified and wrapped around her, flooding all her senses as if he were actually embracing her. Her eyes drifted shut as he pushed closer for an instant. The feel of all that strength behind her made her want to turn around and wrap her arms around his neck. Press her lips to his. Feel his chest pressing against her own. Give in to her cravings. It would be so easy. He’d already made it clear she could come to him anytime she wanted sexual release. Her lower abdomen tightened as she envisioned them tangled together, sweaty and out of breath while he gave her the kind of pleasure she’d only ever known with him.

Then he pulled away and she jerked back to reality. Jayce left the kitchen. She wasn’t sure how much time passed, but she eventually opened the fridge door. She stared at the contents without really seeing anything. She’d almost given in to him. What was the matter with her? She needed Jayce to help her train. Nothing more. As long as she remembered that, she’d be able to hold on to her self-control.

Chapter 6

Brianna steered her car into the parking lot of Gwen’s Bakery. According to December, they had the best pastries in town. Not that Brianna cared one way or another. She was here for one purpose: to make contact with the wife of an APL member.

As a member of the Fianna, or fae warriors, Brianna had certain mental capabilities. Her strongest skill was influencing some humans’ thoughts for brief periods of time, but nothing on the scale that vampires could. She certainly couldn’t erase memories and replace them with new ones, though she wished she could. Still, she could hold her own in battle.

But that wasn’t why she’d been sent undercover by her leaders. She’d been chosen because of her gender and appearance. Unlike other fae warriors, who were unusually tall and graceful, she was petite and nonthreatening in appearance. She might hate that she stood out so blatantly among her own people, but it was much easier for her to blend in among the humans.

Her two older brothers were angry that she’d decided to come back to Fontana, but luckily their rulers dismissed their concerns. Only one hundred years old, she was centuries younger than her brothers, but tired of being coddled. She’d gone undercover on her own and even though that monster Adler had been a constant drain on her mental capabilities, she had her strength back now. More importantly, she’d learned how humans thought. Unlike the black-and-white world of the fae, the world of humans was colored in shades of gray. So many were easily fueled by hatred, ignorance, love, passion, and a million other emotions. It made them unpredictable at times, but to her they were absolutely fascinating.

As she opened the glass door, a little bell jingled above her, but Brianna ignored it. Her focus was solely on the brunette in the frumpy clothes pouring creamer into her medium-sized cup of coffee. The same as she’d done yesterday.

As soon as Connor had given her that list of names and addresses, she’d gone hunting, and what she’d found was a possible way in again. Most of the male APL members she’d checked out weren’t married, so her pool of targets was very limited. Of the few who were married, she’d found only one easy target. But first she had to befriend this woman. Jackie Anderson.

Brianna headed for the counter where extra napkins, creamers, straws, and sugars were. Then she stumbled in her boots and collided with the woman, effectively knocking her coffee over.

“I’m so sorry,” the woman said.

The fact that she apologized when the fault had been completely Brianna’s reinforced her decision to target this woman. After watching her yesterday Brianna had noticed an inherent loneliness about her. She’d come to the bakery in the morning, gotten coffee and a bagel and stared out the window, simply watching people pass for hours. The loose jeans and oversized sweater did nothing for the woman’s small frame and almost seemed to be a shield from the outside world.

“The fault is completely mine. Let me get you another drink.” When Brianna smiled, the other woman gave her a tentative smile in return and Brianna found herself experiencing a totally human emotion. Guilt.

She didn’t like using people, especially someone who seemed almost broken, but she had no choice. This group had to be stopped before their influence spread. So far Ireland was untouched, but the fae hadn’t remained strong for centuries by ignoring problems. Eliminating the APL was a priority. If she had to pretend to be friends with someone, well, she’d certainly done a lot worse in the past.

* * *

Kat stepped out of December’s house, battling the continuous guilt that flowed through her. She and Jayce had come to the ranch well over an hour ago. She’d assumed he’d be having dinner with her, December, and Liam, but he’d walked her to the door of their home and then left after telling her that he had something to do. Of course he hadn’t given her any details, so she’d stayed and had dinner with her friends. Neither of them knew she’d taken photos of that list of APL members with her phone and e-mailed them to herself. And she hated that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach—the one that told her she was a liar. But the animal inside her ruthlessly shoved her feelings aside. She was going to bring down the APL any way she knew how. There was no room for guilt right now.

As she trekked toward the barn she waved at a few of the pack members out walking. Some of the males were coming in from the fields and woods, no doubt from patrolling, and a few females were sitting on their porches talking with each other. Deep inside, Kat craved fitting in with this group of shifters, but she was too afraid to put herself out there. Growing up she’d never had a lot of friends—who in their right mind wanted to let their kids be friends with an arms dealer’s daughter? Forget about having relationships. Most men had been afraid to approach her and the ones who hadn’t been afraid had just wanted an in to her father’s business.

Until Jayce.

He hadn’t been afraid of her father in the least and he hadn’t needed her as a contact to get to know her father. Jayce had simply approached him on his own. And then he’d approached her. It had taken months, but she’d finally agreed to go out with him.

He’d been so arrogant and infuriating, but he’d intrigued her like no other man ever had. She’d only agreed to go out with him in an effort to prove to herself that she could handle it, that she wouldn’t get tangled up with him. How wrong she had been. Some days it felt like going out with him had been the biggest mistake of her life. If she hadn’t done that, she would never have known the pain of leaving him. That had been worse than the torture she’d endured, because it just wouldn’t heal. Even though it had been her decision to break up, she felt as if someone had ripped her heart out of her chest with their bare hands. Unfortunately the damn thing had just kept on beating. Moving to Fontana and starting fresh hadn’t made a difference either. She couldn’t outrun her feelings.

Gritting her teeth, she shook her head. Thinking about the past served no purpose. She just wanted to go home, take a hot bath, and sleep. Even though part of her hated the thought of sharing a roof with Jayce, another part of her reveled in it. Last night she’d actually slept soundly. She couldn’t help but wonder if her animal side had felt safe for the first time since her attack. She didn’t want to give him that much credit, but she wasn’t stupid. It couldn’t be a coincidence that she hadn’t had any nightmares last night when she’d suffered them every night for a month before that.

As she entered the barn, she froze. Jayce was on top of Erin, straddling the she-wolf’s petite body. Something sharp pierced Kat’s heart. The burning sensation spread through her chest like acid. She fought to breathe. When he turned those gray eyes on her, she was locked in position. Even though she ordered her feet to move, they wouldn’t. Trapped by that penetrating stare, it was like she wore concrete boots that forced her to stay in place, to endure the torture of seeing him with another woman. Her inner wolf screamed at her to attack the other female. The impact of the emotion slammed through her body. She needed to get away before she lost control. But she couldn’t move.