Filtered light bled through the fog outside my window pane. Just because it was the nice time of year clearly didn’t mean the fog was an ancient memory.
I glanced at the time. Nine o’clock. The kids would be up getting their breakfasts in early so as not to throw it up during training later on. They’d finally learned that lesson the hard way.
I zipped back a return text, though I couldn’t bear to end my salutation with handsome. Or hot ass. Or fucking godly. The man already had an ego problem—I didn’t want to make it worse.
But good heavens I did want him in my bed. It had been nearly a week since I’d seen him last. Nearly a week since I’d felt the rush of his kiss. My body ached for his touch.
“Time to get up, Alexis,” I chided myself, desperately wanting to spare the time to let my hand slip down south and take care of some of the pounding.
My phone vibrated.
Kieran: Wait until later when I can participate.
Shivers ran through me and a slow smile curled my lips. The pounding between my thighs intensified. Sometimes I hated that he could feel me through the connection I’d forged between us. And sometimes, when we both had quiet time, I loved it so hard.
I blew out a breath while throwing back my covers and swinging my feet over the mattress.
After getting dressed, I walked down the hall in time to hear Daisy say, “Tell me how that is a bad idea.”
She sat at the table with a half-eaten omelet in front of her.
“Did you make one of those for me?” I asked, stopping next to her. Mordecai looked back from the stove, a black apron around his waist and a spatula in his hand. “Isn’t the rule that we have to be up for you to make us food?”
“Yup, that’s the rule,” Daisy said, cutting off some of her omelet. “Now she is, so you have to make her one, Mordie.”
“When did I become the house cook?” he demanded.
“You’re a guy.” Daisy shrugged. “Everyone knows the guys cook around this house.”
“Since when?” Mordecai asked.
“Since we started eating real food, that’s when. Hello?” Daisy turned so she could glare at him. “How little do you pay attention?”
Mordecai flipped what would now become my omelet. “That’s gaslighting.”
“No, it’s not. It’s a fact.”
“Okay, you two, knock it off.” I crossed to the fridge. “Daisy, stop gaslighting your brother.”
“The Six are the reason we have real food,” Mordecai said, sliding the spatula under the omelet. “Just because they also started cooking for us, and also happen to be guys, doesn’t mean—”
“Ah ha!” Daisy jabbed her fork at him. “You just proved my case. Now do as the lady says, and mind you don’t burn the omelet.”
“Daisy, that’s not nice,” I admonished her out of duty. “What were you guys talking about? What’s a good idea?” I crossed to the cabinet and took out two glasses.
“Daisy thinks this whole situation with Kieran is a hot mess,” Mordecai explained, “and we need to enlist more help.”
“From where?” I set the glasses on the table. “Craigslist? Upwork?”
Daisy rolled her eyes. “I heard Jack and Donovan talking last night—”
“Do you constantly eavesdrop now?” Mordecai asked with a scowl.
“Um”—Daisy lifted her hands—“yes. That is what I’m training for, idiot.” She shook her head in annoyance. “Anyway, apparently Valens has at least three times as many forces as we do. Three times, Lexi! He has more Elite, too, that he controls pretty tightly. If we don’t think of something to help, we’ll be steamrolled.”
“Kieran is working it out,” Mordecai said. “He knows what he’s up against.”
“Kieran is only one man, and up until recently, he was a rich playboy mostly confined to an island. A small island, at that. He’s never led an army, or organized troops, or—” Mordecai turned around to give a rebuttal but Daisy stayed his argument with a hand. “No, I haven’t either. What I’m saying is, he’s in over his head. He needs help, and someone has got to step up. Since you and the Six are content to blindly follow him, that leaves me.”
Mordecai slid the omelet onto a plate and nudged it in my direction. “It’s all meat. No veggies.”
I frowned at him, momentarily distracted from what Daisy was saying. “Even shifters need vegetables,” I said, taking the plate. I was going to say canines, but that was a touchy subject, and also Daisy’s favorite button to push. “You need—” I stopped when I noticed him pointing at the pan resting on the top burner. “You made collard greens to go with an omelet?”
“I don’t like vegetables interfering with my meat dishes,” he said as though that made sense.
“Okay. Parental crisis averted. You may continue, Daisy.”
Daisy was utterly convinced that our little untrained and mostly unknowledgeable family would save the day. Which was probably why she felt responsible for overseeing his efforts.
Daisy pointed at me with the business end of her fork. “You told us that Kieran said the magical ruler of Sydney doesn’t get along with Valens, remember?” She paused for my answer. I nodded. “The fire thrower lady, remember?”
“A nod generally means yes,” I said dryly.
Daisy scowled. “Gross.” She scoffed but continued. “Kieran was going to move us into the fire lady’s—”
“Fire Elemental,” Mordecai supplied as he mixed eggs in a bowl.
“—territory to keep us safe because she would get pissed if Valens tried to stick his nose in her sh—stuff.” Daisy pressed her lips together after her near miss with swearing.
“She’s a class-five Fire Elemental, and I remember all that.” I reached for the orange juice.
“Well, if she hates Valens, and Valens hates her, she might want to join our cause,” Daisy said. “It’s certainly worth asking. The research I’ve done tells me that she’s fierce, a strong leader, and well-liked and respected by her people. She’d be a good ally, right?”
“Yes, but it’s not for us to initiate that connection.” Mordecai peeled two strips of bacon from the package. “We’re nobodies. You’re not even magical. We can’t go randomly contacting world leaders.”
“Peel off a couple more, would ya?” I asked. “I could do with a side of bacon. And Mordecai is right. She’s a ruler and we’re basically trainees under an uncrowned Demigod taking on an active Demigod of a prestigious magical city. It’s a delicate situation. If anyone approaches her, it should be Kieran.”
“Right. I agree with you. It should,” Daisy said after she finished chewing. “But when I asked Zorn about it, he ignored me.”
“He always ignores you.” Mordecai pulled the package of ham closer to him.
“Yes, genius, I’m aware of that.” Daisy pushed her plate away. “But you don’t have to be part dog to read body language.”
“Low blow, Daisy,” I said around a full mouth.
“Zorn discounted me,” Daisy said. “He might as well have called me an ignorant girl.”
“Except…” Mordecai shook his head as he put the eggs into the pan. “I mean, I don’t want to start anything, but in terms of the magical world, you are an ignorant girl.”
“Since when don’t you want to start something?” I asked. “All you two do anymore is fight.”
“He said that to tell me he’s serious,” Daisy explained. “He’s not just busting my chops. And yes, Mordie, I am ignorant, but this is glaringly obvious.”
“Kieran got no love from the non-magical mayor of San Francisco,” Mordecai said.
Daisy threw up her hands. “So? Kieran shouldn’t give up looking for more allies because one butthead turned him down. Everyone knows the mayor is a crook, just like Valens.”
“I just think we should leave the networking to Kieran,” Mordecai said, plating his omelet.
Daisy huffed loudly, stood, and grabbed up her plate. “That’s just the problem—everyone thinks everything should be left to Kieran. It’s one thing to have faith in the guy, but at some point, we have to take a step back and acknowledge he’s terrible at delegating.”
“The thing is…” Mordecai sat at the table. “Kieran has gotten a lot of training, he’s talked with powerful people, and he’s been preparing. There’s a reason everyone is turning to him. He’s a lot more qualified to make these types of decisions than me. Or you.”
“Spoken like a follower and not a leader.” She dropped her plate into the sink. It clattered against the porcelain. “What do you think, Lexi?”
I paused in my chewing. “It’s a dicey situation. On one hand, I can absolutely see what you’re saying.” Daisy beamed and I held up a finger in warning. “But you’re also being short-sighted. Joining the fight against Valens means picking a side. If Kieran loses, she loses. And if he pursues her as an ally and she doesn’t want to get involved, she’ll know his secret information. How much would that be worth to Valens? Mordecai is right, it is an extremely fragile situation.”
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