“The Tuatha told our Council all this?” Connor sounded surprised.

Liam didn’t blame his brother. The Tuatha were the royal branch of the fae, and their headquarters were located in Ireland. Unlike his kind, which had a semidemocratic set of rules, the fae were completely draconian. And they weren’t exactly known for their diplomacy. Most supernatural beings stuck to their own kind, but the fae were positively brutal in their rulings and in their separation from all others. Everyone knew that their laws were black-and-white, and if someone did something they perceived as wrong, they struck hard and fast and asked questions later. Death seemed to be the usual punishment. And as far as Liam knew, there weren’t many fae living in the United States. They tended to stay in Ireland and Scotland.

Jayce nodded. “We’re not the only ones who have been targeted by radical groups. Apparently the APL is trying to branch out overseas and the fae aren’t taking any chances. They want to stop this group before they have a chance to spread. And they’re the ones who reached out to us. Maybe to see what we had planned. I’m not totally sure. Even though I’d rather keep this in-house, if they have knowledge we don’t, I want to capitalize on it.”

“Agreed,” Connor said, then glanced at Ana. His mate had been unusually quiet, but Liam knew they were likely communicating telepathically. Another perk between bondmates. When Connor turned back to Jayce and spoke, Liam knew he’d been right. “You haven’t said where you’re staying, but we have an extra guesthouse. You’d have plenty of privacy if you want to use it.”

Yeah, that definitely came from Ana, not his brother.

Jayce nodded. “Thanks. My bags are in my truck.” He looked at Liam, then back at Connor. “I’m heading to town to talk to December McIntyre after this. I didn’t realize the extent of her involvement and attacks. I’m going to question her to see if she remembers anything important. I’d like to take Liam—unless you object?”

The question surprised Liam, but he figured Jayce was just being respectful of Connor’s territory. And Liam would have gone anyway. December had been scared of Jayce last night and he wouldn’t let the other shifter meet with her alone.

Connor nodded without pause. “Of course.”

Once the meeting dispersed, Jayce spoke to Connor for a few minutes in private, then excused himself and went to find Erin. It was a little rude not talking to Connor longer, but he’d make up for it later. So far he actually liked this pack. They didn’t reek of fear around him and they were honest. At least what he could scent.

As he strode across the yard, he spotted the redhead and the other male who’d been glued to her side at the table—Noah—entering the barn. He trailed after their voices and scent. The male was angry at something and she was pissed at having the same argument again. He found them by one of the stables. It appeared as if the redhead planned to take one of the horses out, but the male had pinned her up against one of the open doors with his body.

For a moment Jayce’s instinct to fight flared to life. He calmed when he realized the redhead wasn’t pushing him away. Her hand was on the male’s chest, but she was grasping his shirt. Her other one wrapped around the back of his neck in a tight grip. Jayce knew she could defend herself, because he understood what she was.

He wanted to talk to her about that but decided to wait. The lust emanating from both of them was overpowering and if he was honest, he was fucking jealous. Jealous of two virtual strangers. Christ, he needed to get laid. No, he needed to get some more time with Kat. But that wasn’t happening anytime soon. Now that she knew the truth about him—or a version of it anyway—she likely wouldn’t stay in the same room as him. Too bad for her he had to talk to her about that kidnapping. Even thinking about her at the mercy of two monsters made his canines throb. He preferred to fight in his human form—all enforcers did—but his inner wolf wanted blood at the thought of Kat in danger.

If it wasn’t for his job, he’d steer clear of her for the rest of this trip, but he couldn’t. Unfortunately the longer he was around her, the more he felt his resolve stripping away. If she pushed him hard enough, he might be driven to claim her, to mark her. And if that happened, she’d eventually hate him. Hate living with the knowledge that she was marked for death every single day.

Chapter 8

“You want to grab breakfast? December’s store won’t be open for another hour and I don’t think ambushing her as soon as she opens is a good idea,” Liam said to Jayce as he steered down the long driveway. Judging her reaction to Jayce yesterday, he wanted to tread lightly. Keeping his intended mate happy was the most important thing to him.

“That’s fine.” As he settled against the seat, Jayce unzipped his coat, revealing two blades strapped across his chest in a crisscross fashion.

“The humans ever give you grief about your weapons?” Liam asked.

Jayce shrugged. “They’re usually concealed, but yeah, sometimes I get hassled. I’ve got a permit, though, so fuck ’em.”

“What are those things made of, silver?” The intricate carvings along the blade were unique and had obviously taken time.

“It’s a mix of what humans today would consider titanium and pure silver, but they’re…different.”

“You gonna expand on that?”

“They were blessed by the fae about a thousand years ago.”

“Holy shit.” Liam knew his brother’s mate had a dagger blessed by the fae passed on from her father, but they were very rare. The magic made them damn near indestructible. How a blade was blessed made a difference in what the exact purpose of it would be. Ana’s dagger could put feral shifters into comalike states, making them easily disposable, but Jayce’s could have completely different powers. It just depended on who had blessed it and why.

Liam started to ask another question when Jayce slammed his fist against the center console. “I can’t believe Kat was kidnapped and didn’t call me.” The small outburst surprised Liam. Jayce’s words were laced with anger and something else Liam recognized.


“She’s a strong female.” Liam knew he’d feel differently if it were his female, but Kat was unique compared with women—and humans in general—that he knew. She had a fuck-all attitude when she needed to and seemed to bounce back easily.

“I know. I…” He looked sharply at Liam as if he was surprised he was even talking to him about her. Jayce shook his head, the action almost imperceptible. Then he changed the subject. “You ever worry about mating with your human?” The question was asked cautiously.

Hell yeah, he did. Every second he was awake. Not mating with her wasn’t an option, though. “December is mine.” Liam said the only thing that made sense to him.

“She’ll become a target.”

He ignored the thread of fear that curled through him at the statement. “She’s already a target.” Liam hated that, but he also knew that if she was bonded to him, she’d be stronger and they’d be linked telepathically. He’d be able to communicate with her anywhere in the world. Be better able to protect her.

Jayce grunted and Liam figured the conversation was over. It surprised him that Jayce had even opened up as much as he had. The man had a reputation for kicking ass and asking questions later. As the enforcer he had little room for diplomacy. But he was still a male and at the moment, he was seriously messed up over a female. That put them on even footing.

Even though he was the enforcer, a female could still wreak havoc on him. The knowledge made Liam perversely happy.

As they continued down the two-lane highway, a strange euphoric sensation rolled over him. His hands went numb as he gripped the steering wheel.

“Shit,” Jayce muttered.

“What?” Liam blinked a couple times.

“You feel that?”

He nodded because he couldn’t talk. It was as if he were floating on a cloud. Everything around him was light and airy, like he was in a giant bubble. Then his truck started to sputter. It gurgled and made deathly choking sounds. What the hell?

“Pull over,” Jayce ordered.

They were on a deserted stretch of highway, surrounded by trees on either side. With numb hands, Liam did as Jayce ordered.

“Fight it,” Jayce said as Liam put the truck in park. Then he punched him. Hard, across the face.

The sharp, abrupt action across his jaw jerked him back to reality. His jaw stung but it was better than that woozy shit. He glared at Jayce. “What the fuck is going on?”

“You feel that energy? It’s the Fianna.”

“Fianna?” Liam’s head snapped back against the seat. The Fianna were legendary fae soldiers descended from the warriors of Ireland hundreds—maybe thousands—of years ago. “I thought they were just a myth.”

Jayce snorted. “No myth. They’re real and those fuckers are here. Get out.”

Liam might not know exactly what was going on, but he did as Jayce said. As soon as his feet hit the ground, that strange energy intensified.

“Fight that feeling. They don’t want you lucid. It’s easier for them to kill you that way.”

It felt as if his heart started to slow as he stood there. He shook his head but it was no use. The sluggishness was starting to take over.

“Fight it!” Jayce snarled.

Before he could respond, Liam’s inner wolf took over. It was so fast, so unexpected, he didn’t have time to think about it. It rarely happened that he couldn’t control his beast, but something deep in his core knew there was danger nearby and made the decision for him.

He bit back a cry as his bones broke and realigned. His clothes and shoes shredded to ribbons as he shifted to his animal form. The pain hit with the intensity of a sledgehammer throughout his entire body. The intensification of the agony was because the change was not his choice. His animal was taking over.

Fast and hard.

And his inner wolf wanted blood for taking away that control of power. As always, the pain was fleeting. Once his bones slid into place, he growled deep in his throat.


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