Elizabeth drew a shaky breath. "It's why they went after expecting couples. They would get the baby's soul as a container, the ability of the shifter, and possibly a new recruit for their army."

The sound of snapping wood drew Kendrick's attention to Gavriel. He had broken off both chair arms and his eyes were glowing bright red. "No male would move on to the next world honorably and leave their mate and unborn child trapped in endless torture. They would start out wanting to destroy the ones that killed their family but become lost in the bloodshed until they became mindless drones."

Ryuu pushed a cart into the room and silently began serving the fragrant tea. Ryuu held a cup out to him, but he shook his head. Ryuu didn't move, he just kept his hand extended, holding the cup. Kendrick relented and accepted the offering from his friend. As everyone sipped their tea, their breathing slowly evened out and their muscles relaxed. The sadness was still there, but the mind-numbing terror was fading.

Elizabeth set her teacup down on its saucer. "Ryuu, where did you get this amazing blend. I'm still horrified of course, but I feel like I can breathe again."

Ryuu bowed. "Heika, thought that this tea would help everyone with the tragic news he had to share."

Meryn allowed herself to topple to one side and hugged the sofa pillow to her face. "I don't want to face this right now." She peeked out and looked at Anne. "Do you know of any happy anime shows we can watch? I wouldn't even mind a lot of pink and glitter right now."

Anne nodded. "I think that's a great idea. Let's just spend the afternoon relaxing; we can face reality in a little bit."

Lily looked at her mate and they both stood. "We'll go to the council and update them on what we've learned here today. You kids take it easy." Lily kissed her daughter's tear-streaked cheek before going to Meryn to kiss her temple, and hand-in-hand, she and Marshall left.

Aiden stood. "I'll be right back baby, I'm going to ask Lorcan to escort them into the city." He rubbed her back and jogged after the older couple.

Gavriel shook his head. "Kids? I wonder if they realize most of us are older than they are?"

Darian shrugged. "I don't think it matters. Adelaide treats us like her boys, and she's much younger than most of the warriors."

Colton tugged on Kendrick's sleeve and jerked his head toward the door. "We're running out for a bit, but we'll be right back." He announced to the women.

Kendrick set his tea down and reluctantly followed the wolf shifter out into the foyer along with Gavriel and Darian. He noticed that most of the women were so out of it that they didn't even wave goodbye.

Aiden shut the front door, and when he turned around and saw them standing there, he frowned. "What do you all want?"

Colton brought a finger to his lips. "Shush, the women will hear."

"Hear what?" Aiden asked.

Colton pulled them into a huddle. "I have discovered something that is guaranteed to make the women happy, but we have to go to town."

The men were smiling as they looked at each other and then turned to stare at Kendrick. Aiden's smile was more like a smirk. "Well Kendrick, do you think you're ready to take on the Duck In?"

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Kendrick glared at Colton. "You're lying, there's no such thing."

Colton shook his finger at him. "Oh, ye of little faith. I am mated to a human so I have been reading up on them. Rheia herself told me about these tiny warriors; she said that they also bake and sell cookies that are--and I quote--'better than sex'."

"Maybe better than sex with you," Darian muttered.

Colton kicked the back of the seat, pushing Darian forward into the dash. Colton continued as Darian cussed. "As I was saying...They train these girls to be like tiny ninjas. They have to earn special badges for the survival skills that they learn, kinda like how we teach the cadets. Now to balance out all the weapons training and harshness of wilderness survival, they also teach them to bake cookies."

Aiden nodded. "Humans are impressive creatures. Do you think we should enroll Penny in one of their programs?"

Colton shook his head. "Rheia says that Penny would have to leave the city for meetings and she doesn't want to risk them getting attacked."

Darian frowned. "That's too bad; this ninja program sounds promising, especially for young females. Maybe we could talk to your mother about it, Aiden."

Aiden snapped his fingers. "She would love getting involved in a program like this."

Kendrick frowned. "How are we supposed to find these elusive ninjas?"

Colton beamed at them. "Evidently, this time of year they don't even practice subterfuge, they are out in the open so that civilians can see them. Rheia said that they set up stands outside of supermarkets and practice their interrogation techniques on those going into the store, to try and get them to buy their cookies."

Gavriel looked over at Colton. "Are we sure they are human?"

Colton nodded. "Yes, this is a human program. It's extremely popular; in fact, it's a nationwide program."

Aiden pulled into the parking lot of the Duck In and parked far away from the building so they could scope it out.

Colton pulled out a pair of binoculars. "I have a visual. They are kinda cute, though there's one with metal attached to all of her teeth that looks frightening. I think she may be the leader."

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