Page 42

He had a lot of faults, that was clear, but I believed in my soul that he was a legitimately good person. He tried to do his best, even if he sometimes fell short.

So maybe I should cry?

Anger rose up out of nowhere.

Silly rabbit. Crying in these situations isn’t your speed. Ignoring manipulative buttheads and doing as you please is more your style. Do you, girl.

I clutched the note in a fist, ripped the covers away, and swung my feet over the side of the bed.

I would do me. I would catch the sonuvabitch who’d been trapping souls, I’d learn how to wield my magic as a weapon, and then I would wreak havoc in the magical world to protect the guy who was trying to protect me.

I strutted to the door, almost forgetting I was butt-naked. I quickly shrugged into some ill-fitting sweats and resumed my strut. When I opened the door, I caught Daisy coming out of her room, wiping the sleep from her eyes. The square of white on her door caught our attention at the same time.

I stepped closer, my skin crawling. “What in the holy fuck?”

Daisy read the note, not signed. Thank God it wasn’t written in Kieran’s scrawl, or someone else would need to do the protecting while I rained hell on him.

“He’s full of shit,” she said, clearly knowing who’d left the creeptastic note.

“If you keep swearing, I’m going to punch you in the face for each infraction.”

Her sleepy eyes blinked at me. “Okay.”

I pointed aggressively at the note. “Who wrote that, and do I need to go on a killing spree?”

She rolled her eyes. “Ew. No. Zorn wrote it, obviously.” She trudged down the hall toward the kitchen. “For some reason, he thinks that after just one day of training I should know when a stealthy intruder at the top of his game lets himself into my house with a key he probably got from your possessive boss and enters my room. He probably went through my shit, too, trying to find something that would press my buttons. I would’ve.”

“So…” I shifted as Mordecai sat up from his bed and rubbed his eyes. I pointed at the note again. “He did stare at you while you were sleeping? Because that is incredibly messed up, Daisy.”

She shrugged. “He was probably trying to see if I would feel his presence. But dude, I’ve only gotten one lesson from him. And he’s a master at stealth, like I said. Obviously I wasn’t going to wake up. Come on.”

“So then…” I put my hands on my hips, really unclear as to how she was so blasé about the note. “Which is the part that’s full of shit?”

“He won’t try to kill me yet. Give me a break. If anything, my not waking up is his failure as a teacher. He needs to try harder.” She continued into the kitchen, leaving me standing there with my mouth open.

Mordecai met me at the door and read the object of our discussion. A tremor moved through his body and a strange look sparkled in his light eyes—a mixture of rage, wariness, and aggression. Intense aggression, like an alpha animal sensing danger in its territory.

The shifter was blossoming in Mordecai. The guys were right. He’d need to learn to change into his animal soon. Very soon.

“Who did this?” His deep, threatening voice was only slightly ruined by the crack halfway through. Puberty was a dickhead.

“Zorn. Apparently, it’s a training exercise.” I shook my head and continued down the hall. “He forgets, though. He was in my house uninvited, not hers. And that motherfucker will answer for it.”

“Yes, he will.”

My small hairs stood on end and I grinned. Zorn was shortsighted. He was focusing solely on one individual in the household, clearly forgetting that we were a family. A unit. You fucked with one of us, you fucked with all of us. And we were crazy.

“Leave it alone for now,” I said, stalling near the kitchen. “I want to see how this plays out.”

Daisy stood at the kitchen sink eating a leftover piece of watermelon. The juice dribbled down her chin and into the kitchen sink. I probably should’ve encouraged her to sit at the table like a normal human being, but then I’d also have to encourage her to clean up after herself… Too much effort.

“What’re your plans for today?” I asked, feeling a wave of anticipation about my own plan. I grabbed a Pop Tart and sat down at the table, breathing through my nerves. Working up my courage. This time, I’d be defying two Demigods. Talk about crazy.

“Zorn will probably try to kidnap me or something,” Daisy said, opening the cabinet at her knees with sticky fingers and throwing the rind in the compost bin. I thinned my lips at the thought of the mess on the handle. “He thinks shock value is the only thing that’ll get through to me. I’ll go with it until I’m good enough to get one over on him.”

“Or maybe he’s setting you up to think that.”

She grabbed another piece of watermelon out of the tub. Mordecai sauntered in wearing faded sweats with holes in the knees and a shirt that was barely holding together. He had other clothes, but he wore his favorite things into the ground.

“I thought of that,” she said. “And I’ll definitely look out for it. But I really think he latched on to one element of me, and disregarded the rest. Like I’m some ape with a one-track mind.”

“That’s sexist,” Mordecai said, eating a muffin as he leaned his butt against the counter.

“No, no.” I pointed at him. “No. You lean over the sink like your sister or you lean over the table. The floor is way harder to clean than wiping off a surface.”

“Or get a plate, idiot,” Daisy said, smacking him with a dish towel.

“Then I’d have to wash it, idiot.” Mordecai crossed to the table.

“What’s sexist about it?” Daisy bent over as more juice dribbled down her chin. “I didn’t say anything about guys.”

“You always call me an ape,” he said, “because you don’t think men have evolved beyond them.”

“You are an ape.”

“See? It’s sexist. You don’t call women apes.”

“Fine. Would you prefer I called you a cu—”

“Don’t you do it,” I yelled. “No swearing.”

Daisy narrowed her eyes at Mordecai. “I only didn’t finish that sentence because I believe, in my bones, that she would punch me in the face.”

“All right, all right,” I said putting up my hand. The note crinkled between my thumb and palm, reminding me of what was on it.

The ache in my middle intensified and I dropped my hand again, swallowing the lump in my throat.

The door burst open and I jerked around to look. Mordecai pushed up from the table, half-standing. Daisy barely flinched. I couldn’t remember if that was normal or not.

Bria winked at me before shutting the door and strolling in, her heavy boots thudding on the floor and her camo backpack hanging from her shoulder. “Yes, I will just walk right in, thanks for offering,” she said, then frowned at me. “Why aren’t you ready? Let’s get going.”

I braced, confused. “Where?”

“What do you mean where? The government building. Didn’t you say you needed to check that place out?”

“Yeah, but… Didn’t Kieran tell you that he pulled me off the case? He wants me out of the picture now.”

“Yes,” Bria said patiently, and sat at the table. “He did tell me that.” She frowned harder. “You weren’t actually thinking of listening to him, were you? Because if so, I seriously misjudged your personality.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Daisy hurried to the last chair and sat. “We have to start at the beginning. There are issues we need to discuss regarding that stalking S.O.B.”

“We were supposed to do this in a private family talk,” Mordecai mumbled, and a different sort of anticipation jiggled my stomach. They were going to bring up what had happened between me and Kieran.

I hated when they were disappointed. It always cut right through me.

“Don’t mind me,” Bria said, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning back. “I’m just a fly on the wall.”

“Lexi, honestly, what were you thinking?” Daisy demanded. She leveled a finger at me. “And don’t say it was just the one time, and you had to get it out of your system, and blah-bidy-blah. I know about his dad’s house. That excuse won’t work this time.”

“This time?” Bria beamed in pride. “I knew you were my kinda girl, Lexi. Except, if you were ever to love and leave a guy, the entitled Demigod would be that guy. Remember what I said about the train? You need to get off that train. I know I just said it yesterday, but clearly it bears repeating…”

“I know, but—”

“He has been manipulating you since he met you. He’s been aiming to get this one exact thing,” Mordecai said. “He stalked you, remember? Decent guys don’t stalk people.”

“No, but he was stalking me because of my magic—”

“And he was crude about the nasty business.” Daisy’s eyebrows lowered. “Nice guys aren’t crude.”

I barely stopped myself from saying that the crude language had been extremely sexy, and while Kieran was respectful of me, no one could call him nice. He was a powerful sort of dangerous. Crude worked very well for him.

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