Keona sat stoically in front of the man she thought was harmless; her mind sharpened to kill him with a thought should he even dare to say anything to piss her off. How could she have missed this?
His lack of scent should have alerted her immediately.
“Keona.” He sounded almost apologetic. Son of a bitch!
“Riley,” she replied through clenched teeth.
She had been told that he was a high ranking Vanguard –a trained assassin –and he would be her trainer as well as the source of information for her to hunt down the person trying to track him.
Keona would rather that person track Riley down and slaughter him.
A sudden multiple knife stabbing sensations hit her brain the moment she thought of that.
“Don’t fight me Keona,” said Riley gently. He had seen the pain etched on her face and knew she was probably thinking of killing him –a counter thought to her given mission.
“Just tell me what to do,” she forced the words out.
“Whoever’s looking for me left a trail and your job is to find this person and terminate him or her. You have exactly forty-eight hours to do so.”
“Then get me the hell out of here.”
“I can’t.” Patient eyes stared into hers. “You need to be briefed on how to pull up an ability from your mental cupboard and how to minimize power consumption to avoid blackouts. You are only half as strong as a Vampire.”
“At least I would never sell out the ones I love,” she whispered; a tone so low only he could hear.
Riley made no change in his expression; his face set in constant seriousness as he slammed the files in front of her. “First up, to maximize your energy consumption, you need to rearrange the abilities in your mind to a specific sector in your brain. So when you need to use it, you only need to focus on that part of the brain.”
“Like this.” He took her hand and placed it at his temple; knowing full well she could see straight into his mind as her uncle Draven could. “The remaining brain activity functions at a minimum while allowing that one sector to attain perfection. Now, your turn.”
Her ability to mimic meant there was no need for second tries.
“Good. Now, Kendall’s going to help you compartmentalize.”
The focused look faded slightly, replaced by a gentleness that Keona understood as love.
“He’s my brother,” he whispered as he turned to look at the door. As though on cue, the Vampire named Kendall walked in –the same handsome one who had read to her during the first abilities test.
The brothers hardly looked like each other.
“Hello,” he greeted her. “I hope we can be friends.”
Keona preferred Kendall. He had eyes that spoke of much innocence and the fact that his ability was not combative made him even less of a threat.
“Come, let’s start. The clock is ticking.”
Eian didn’t bother knocking. As an Alpha, he had the right to be in absolute control when it concerned the pack’s safety and as a father –well, that gave him the right to be just a little hysterical.
“Alex!” The command was all wolf.
Sharp green eyes stared into beads of onyx. “Where’s my girl?”
Alex knew his Alpha was going to be less than rational at the moment but he was firm as he answered, “I have tracked her as far as I could but her scent ended deep beneath the snowy mountains. The feral wolves are still continuing their search but they’re not meant for tracking down hybrids. Keona’s scent confuses them.”
“I can smell her on you damn well Alex. I could kill you for that alone.”
Alex would have protested except that the wolf before him was not just the father of his mate but his Alpha. Alex had no doubt that Eian could break every bone in his body without even breaking a sweat.
“With all due respect Alpha, she is my mate.”
The anger in Eian’s eyes faded slightly; replaced by a look of amusement and disbelief. “We will have this talk another time. Right now, I want you to find her and Marine. Alaron’s already on the verge of a rampage. I’m surprised he hasn’t come here yet.”
Everyone turned towards the voice at the front door to find Alaron; arms braced on the door frame, looking murderous.
“Get me that damn friend of yours and I’ll rip him apart with my fangs!”
“Alaron…” This warning didn’t come from Eian but from the only other Vampire in the room –Draven.
Alex looked at all the men in his room and wondered why no blood had been shed yet. A distressed Alpha, a frantic Vampire, two Beta wolves –his dad and Dominic –and then there’s the Pureblood Draven.
An unlikely ensemble but a task force nonetheless. Alex felt puny.
Everyone was asking him information; barking at him for what he should have done, criticizing his lack of judgment and all the while arguing amongst themselves on what should be done next.
A room full of dominant males meant that everyone wanted to take the reign and no one would concede.
“May I make a suggestion?” Alex put his hand up.
“What?” snipped the other males.
“We could divide the search into three teams –two for each of the missing people.”
Eian frowned then nodded as he considered the suggestion. The young wolf never failed to impress him –but since he dared to touch his princess, he ought to get bloodied a little.
“Fine, Alex and I will search for Keona. Alaron, you go with Dominic to look for Marine and Draven will be with Mike to look for this Riley fellow.”
“How come I can’t go after him?” asked Alaron. “I promise I won’t bite… hard.”
Draven who was leaning lazily against the wall explained, “Alex thinks he’s some high ranking Vampire disguising as the real Riley. The ability to hide one’s scent is meant for combat. I think it’s better for me to handle him.”
“Keep him alive so I can kill him.”
“Let’s not be rash to judgment now,” warned Eian.
“Fine,” he said stubbornly. “But I want all of you to use my house as our base. This place is… well, hardly fit for headquarters,” he said looking at the messy one bedroom apartment. “I have a proper living room big enough for all of us.”
Eian was pleasantly surprised. Alaron never offers anything unless…
“Erica okay with this?”
The Vampire rolled his eyes. “She already bought enough food to last a week.”
Alex forced himself not to react. Aunt Erika sure had her way.
“Great. I’m dying of hunger already,” complained Dominic, grinning at everyone. “We should go before we start attacking one another.”
Alex looked at everyone. Sure, the tension in the room had diminished a little but it was still high enough to cause a riot. Alaron gestured towards the door and everyone started to move except Alex and Big Mike.
The dark skinned man was large enough to be mistaken for a grizzly bear but his eyes were pure wolf. Those same eyes now bore down on his son with love and kindness of a father.
“You alright son?”
There was no use lying to his dad. The Beta saw and knew everything. “No. I’m worried as hell and scared.”
A brave confession.
“Your Mama doesn’t know about this,” he said with a smile. “But she’s got a mother’s instincts and will know the second you break down. You know what’ll happen.”
“Yeah. She’ll over react.”
Big Mike laughed. “And since you live halfway across the world, that’d mean I will get the brunt of her nagging.”
“Geez. Thanks Dad.” Alex nuzzled close to his father, needing his touch of assurance. It was the pack’s way of bonding and never had he felt so lost without it until now.
“Shh, we’ll get through this. I promise.”
Meanwhile, Keona had her first breath of fresh air. For a moment, she simply stood basking in the glory of the morning sun and appreciating the life around her –
She might not have this moment ever again.
Forty-seven hours left.
Alex was in his office, trying to apply leave for the duration of the search but was finding it hard. With Riley gone, the cases had to be reshuffled and redistributed. Even though he was a junior associate, he now had case files that rivaled some of his more senior colleagues.
He was still scowling when he exited the building for lunch. His boss had given him only two days –pathetic –to manage his ‘personal’ business before he had to haul his sorry ass back to work. Alex was going to cherish those two days. His wolf was already itching to track, to search for its mate. In fact the beast had been clawing at him incessantly since they got out of the lift.
Damn animal cannot be still for a second.
“Come on buddy… I promise we’ll start right after office hours today. I’ll let you run around, do your stuff and I’ll even…”
Every one of his senses perked; alert as though it recognized its mate…
Lunch forgotten, Alex scanned the lobby of the building. There was no scent but he knew she was there.
Keona! Raised as a wolf, he knew she could not ignore his mating call. And for a second, he swore he sensed a tug at the end of his bond.
She was here… but where?
“Damn it Key… what the hell is going on?”
Keona couldn’t believe it. She heard him –heard her mate calling out to her and yet she had to ignore him; hiding in the shadows, masking her scent, casting an invisible barrier between her and everyone else…
Because she had a task.
Taking the stairs, she headed up to Riley’s office. Whoever had been searching through his files had access to them directly. The Vanguard had a hunch it was Alex but Keona wasn’t going to believe anything he said anymore. If it truly had been Alex hunting down Riley…
No! She wasn’t going to think of that.
A sharp pain paralyzed her for a minute –a warning.
Pushing the thought aside, she cloaked herself with as much power as she could; a technique that Kendall had taught her. She smiled at the thought of the Vampire –so gentle and kind and yet so used just as she was.
Unseen to the human eye, Keona continued to walk into the office. It didn’t take her long to spot Riley’s work station but it took her a little longer to access his computer. They had changed the password and with all the encryption, it took her about fifteen minutes to hack her way into the system –courtesy of a Vampire whose ability she had mimicked.
Riley had said that the system would show who logged on to retrieve which file and at what time. They often cross-referenced each other’s cases so it was uncommon for co-workers to open unrelated case files.
Personal data was another thing.
Keona’s eyes scanned the screen as quickly as she could. She had sensed a Were –and she knew who –fast approaching. It showed that Riley’s personal database was opened –damn! –by himself from his own terminal…
Which meant that whoever tracked him down did not want to leave a trace.
She hastily retrieved the necessary files and shut the computer down. Alex couldn’t see her –yet but they both knew he could sense her. She wanted to say hi… to tell him she was okay… to let her mate knew she loved him…
A tear threatened to escape from the corner of her eye. Looking around, she spotted a post-it pad and scribbled something onto the scrap. Her agreement with Connor hadn’t stated that she couldn’t write anything did it? Only that she could not say a word of her task to anyone.
Still… it was a risk.
But she hoped he’d find it...
Alex swore he felt something –someone brushing pass him but when he turned, there was no one… and no scent.
He tried calling her again; desperate to feel even that one second connection with Keona but nothing. She was gone.
Alex was about to return to his desk when he spotted the yellow post-it stuck to Riley’s screen. No one had been at that work station since he himself had used it –Alex had made sure of that.
Curious, he moved over to take the note:
Still keep Mr. Panda around?
Alex’s eyes widened –fear, relief, excitement all welling into a lump in his throat. Keona had been here! Only she would tease him endlessly about such a thing and…
Mr. Panda… was that a clue?
Running to his own work station, he punched the numbers to Alaron’s home.
The sleepy sound of his Alpha greeted him on the other line. Alex didn’t blame him. Eian had stayed up all night searching the Lake Tahoe area for his daughter despite his jet lag.
“She left me a note.”
Alex could almost see his Alpha straightening up. Voice low and serious, he spoke, “I’m coming over right now.”
Hanging up, Alex started opening up Riley’s browsing history. He knew that if Keona had looked through the files, she wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave a trail...
But she did.
“Damn it Key! What the hell is going on?” Alex slammed his fist on the table. She had deleted every file available on Riley and made it seem like he never existed. He had no idea how she had bypassed the encryption and security codes but she had and that fact alone made him worried.
Someone was pulling the strings; her hands had to be tied because she would never do such a thing like this.
With a sigh, Alex began to trace the penciled words with his fingers, drawing in his mate’s essence.
Eian was very anxious as he heard Alex’s explanation of the ‘clue’ left by Keona. It wasn’t conclusive but it was the only thing they had to ascertain that she was alive.
“But why did she choose to write Mr. Panda? Is that a clue about the person holding her?” Eian knew he was reading too much but he was entitled to.
“I don’t think so Alpha. It’s the thing she constantly teases me about –an intimate thing that no one here would have known about.”
“But is it a clue?”
“I’m not sure…”
“I think she’s going to your place.”
“That’s where you keep the damn soft toy right?”
Alex’s wolf whimpered slightly at his Alpha’s anger –not out of fear but slight annoyance.
“Okay, let’s say she is but why? Why not just wait for me here and say ‘Hi Alex, I’m alive!’”
“Being a smart ass now?” The words were spoken with a smile although Alex could see the anxiety brimming underneath the façade.
“My wolf disproves of the word ass. It is not predatory,” he grinned, hoping to make his Alpha relax. But his words only served to ignite Eian’s worries.
“Predatory… Panda’s a prey right? I mean we don’t eat pandas but in the wild they are hunted…” Eian’s brows knit into a frown. “Is she hunting you down? Is Mr. Panda still there? You’re her prey?”
“What! That is absurd Alpha! I’ve just told you that she was looking for information on Riley; deleting everything about him, not me. And she knows I am a tracker wolf – one that isn’t hunted down easily.”
Eian’s expression softened a little. “Nothing escapes capture Alex… even the strongest of us Weres and Purebloods are at the mercy of things beyond our control. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t discard all possibilities. My baby’s really smart. She won’t leave around unnecessary words lying about. I mean she even arranges her pencils on her desk by height! She’s that organized and detailed.”
Knowing that touch would keep them both mentally stable, Alex placed a hand over his Alpha’s shoulder. The women were more affectionate but even the men knew when holding someone was important –like now.
“If what you say is right then I think we should go to my house now. If she’s looking for information on Riley then you’re right, my home office is the next place she’s bound to look.”
Eian managed a smile. “You’re a good wolf.”
Alex smiled back.
Keona wasn’t sure if Alex got the hint but she didn’t want to consciously think of it as leaving a clue. It was just a note –neutral and had nothing to do with going against her task. She needed to know who was hunting Riley and why, even though her gut already knew the answers.
Next stop –Riley’s P/O box. He had given her the pass code and had instructed her to open all the contents when she was alone. It would help her understand things, he said. Keona didn’t trust him one bit but right now she hadn’t much information to work with and the clock was ticking.
When she reached the small mail room, it took her a second to mentally ‘push’ the mailroom clerk to look another way, occupying her mind with trivial thoughts. With her back turned away, Keona moved towards Riley’s box and keyed in the code.
To her surprise, there were no letters inside but a musky old scroll kept in what must have been a bamboo carrier –odd. However, not wanting to waste time, she stuffed it into her jacket and left.
She had less than forty hours now and her next stop would be Alex’s apartment.
A quick look up the sky showed that it was slightly after five in the evening which meant that Alex was probably not home yet –all the better. She didn’t want him distracting her while she turned his apartment around.
Following the address from her files, she hunted down the building and slipped in unnoticed.
The smell of unwashed clothes and muddy sneakers hit her like a sharp razor the moment she opened the door. God! It was so like Alex to be such a slob!
Closing the door softly, she began to look for his laptop –a feat considering the mess. She had to hold her breath for a whole minute as she dug into a pile of sweat-sodden clothes, praying that the electronic device was below it. No luck.
Moving to the bookshelf beside his bed, she began to study his book collection, pleasantly surprised to find that he read other classics besides his law textbooks. Keona couldn’t help but grin when she saw Dr. Seuss. That was his favorite book.
With a sigh, she cast her eyes on the bed; knowing that her mate –yes she was admitting it –laid here to sleep here every night…
She might break his heart at the end of everything.
A sudden sound at the door made her arch her back; alert and aware that Alex had come home. Keeping a shield around herself, Keona made sure that she could not be seen or scented by the Were. She could not trust herself to carry out the mission within the allotted time if she got caught just when she was about to start.
She let him pass; the sheer presence of him beside her causing Keona to almost weep.
She watched his eyes scanning the room as though looking for her; his face set on predatory alert to hunt her out. It was then that Keona realized that she could just read his mind and be done with it. Werewolves might be immune to Vampire abilities but then again, Keona wasn’t just any Vampire… and Alex was –well, he is still her mate. Hadn’t Amber always said her uncle Draven could read her mind even though she was a Were?
Very slowly, Keona sliced her way into his mind; hoping that he wouldn’t feel her clumsy intrusions. Her father had trained her to keep her abilities away from Pack… and right now, she felt like she was betraying everything she believed in and stood for…
I’m so sorry Alex…
Alex had left Eian to roam the Lake Tahoe reserve with the others. Eian was sure that Keona was going to visit his apartment that night and had ordered the younger wolf to return home.
“If I’m wrong, I will apologize and you can return here to help us. But if I’m right, I’m skewering your guts for breakfast.”
“Yes Alpha.” Alex managed a grin before he left. Truth was, he was hoping she’d be waiting for him even when his head told him otherwise. However, the moment he stepped into his apartment, he knew she was there. He couldn’t see or scent her but he sensed her –the acute awareness of his mate so close that his wolf was howling loud in his head.
“Keona honey…” he whispered softly. He didn’t want to scare her. Whatever it was she was doing, he wanted to help. When an unfamiliar ache pounded at the base of his skull, Alex stood still. Someone was standing right in front of him… if he could just reach out and touch…
A blinding flash of light.
Alex felt his mind pulled inwards; replaying the last twenty-four hours like a cinema in his head. He saw himself sitting in front of Riley’s computer and then searching through his case files… and then there was the arrival of his Alpha and the others from UK…
“Enough!” he growled, stepping back; trying to dislodge the annoying headache by shaking his head vigorously. When the ache finally cleared, the scent hit him –
Strong and potent as…
“Keona… Honey, I’m here. Please stop hiding…”
Keona watched the annoyance in his eyes give way to concern and gentleness. He knew. She had accidentally let slip her control over her scent because she had seen her father in Alex’s memories. She had thought it would be easier to carry out this stupid task if he had been safe back home in the compound… but now that he’s here with the rest of the family, tracking her, Marine and Riley…
Connor’s instructions jammed hard down her spine. Who was tracking Riley? The memories flashed through her mind –oh god… her uncle Draven and Big Mike.
She might have to kill a Pureblood and her mate’s father. No! She’d rather die.
Fighting off the pain from going against the blood oath, Keona let slip her cloaking ability, revealing herself knelt down, hands on her head as though stopping the torture in her mind. It wasn’t that she was weak but it took more than just a few hours to have perfect control and manipulation of abilities she never had before –some of which belonged to Ancient Purebloods of the lethal variety.
It wasn’t surprising when she felt herself lean into the warmth and familiarity of a pack member… and the comfort of her mate. He wasn’t saying anything –no questions, no nagging –but simply held her until the shivers melted away under his strong embrace.
When she looked up –green eyes into his midnight black ones, Keona knew that all those years of fighting him was simply a mask for her attraction. There was no denying the special bond between them. It didn’t take an inner wolf to tell her that this man before her would rather cut himself than hurt her.
Curling against him, she took in his scent; reveling in the smell of the wilderness and trees in them.
“Shh… we’ll talk when you’re ready.”
“I’m sorry…” she murmured. How was she going to tell him?
“Don’t be… stay the night Key and we’ll figure out everything tomorrow…”
Yes, she wanted to scream but there was no time to lose… “I can’t… I have to go.”
“Two hours. Please baby, please be with me.” A gentle demand. “We’ll talk. I’ll help. Just don’t go.”
Keona doubted he’ll let her go anyway. From the deathly grip he had over her arms, she was sure that Alex would fight her all the way to the door if she even tried to escape. Two hours?
She’ll give it to him –for it was all she could give him. Alex would have to live on without her. Maybe he’ll find a nice wolf back home and settle down… have those young pups he loved so much…
Her hand went protectively to her stomach, realizing that it was something she would never get the chance to give him…
But for two hours tonight…
“Okay,” she whispered, burying her face at the crook of his neck. “I’m yours.”
He wanted to swipe at her, bite her and tell her to fight him but Keona was lying so forlornly in his arms that it was just… not her.
The Keona he knew would never yield easy. The wolf in him wanted to nudge its mate to play, to annoy and challenge its temper –a sadistic nature of his.
“Stop thinking and take me Alex…” she coaxed; fingers already at his buttons, desperate for skin contact. “Time’s running out.”
No, Alex thought, time would never run out as long as she was with him. Grasping her impatient fingers, he brought them to his lips. This wasn’t just another rut in the forest. He was going to take it slow this time.
For that one moment, Alex simply held his mate, feeling every emotion, hearing every thought, seeing every worry that gripped through her body. She had opened her mind to him –by accident or not.
And now he knew.
There was no way he was going to let her fight alone. It had taken the whole of his adult life to finally admit that he loved her and there was no way he’s letting her go so easily. He’d wrestle her to the ground if that was what it took to keep her with him.
His lawyer’s mind worked quickly, trying to find some sort of loophole in the blood oath she had taken with Connor. There had to be something he could exploit. She had to track whoever’s hunting Riley right and then terminate the threat, along with all information regarding the Vanguard.
At least he got something right. Riley was a high ranking Vampire –not by age or blood status but according to the American Council, he was probably like one of the Heads of a department.
But that was not all.
He had seen in Keona’s thoughts all the tests she had been put through and it was no wonder that she survived after all the arduous tasks she had to perform. She was like a pressure cooker, simply waiting for the time to implode.
So he was going to help her. First by channeling some of her stress and fear into himself and second, by taking her to Alaron’s place to sort out this mess.
“Keona…” he whispered, nudging her awake. The sexy image of her naked body tangled up in his made his wolf yearn for more but Alex knew it had to wait. “I need you to do something with me baby…”
“Can’t…” she groaned. “Too much already…” Or so she said but Alex caught her looking down between them.
“Not that…” he grinned, nipping her lower lip playfully. “I wonder if you can see our mating bond?”
“I can feel it.”
“Good. Do you trust me Key?” A hesitant look followed by a nod. “Okay, I want you to focus on it and let all your worries flow. I’ll be fine, I promise.”
“No!” she sat up immediately. “I have too much power inside me that I might kill you by accident Alex! No, I have to go now. You can’t do this to me.”
He caught her by the wrists as she started clambering off the bed. “Then when are you going to tell me about hunting my father?” That did it. She stopped to turn and look at him.
“How do you know that?!”
“You’re my mate. I can read your mind back.”
“You…” she was stunned. “So you know…”
“Yes. And I also know you’re about to burst with all those pent up energy. You’re a walking time bomb Keona. If you don’t stop worrying and over analyzing everything, you’re going to explode. I don’t want to bring pieces of you back to Eian. Trust me –my butt’s already on the line.”
There was fire in her eyes at the purposeful taunt but Keona kept her insults to herself. As infuriating as this man was, she loved him… as she had since they were children.
“You want to share my curse?” she whispered. “Why?”
He looked at her in disbelief. “Honestly?” She tilted her chin up arrogantly despite the situation. “The same reason why you stole my Panda bear and take it to sleep every night for the past five years.”
The shock in her eyes told him he was right.
“I did not!”
“Yeah and pigs fly. But I forgive easily. Let’s make a deal –you get to keep my panda and I get to keep you.”
“No arguments.” He pressed his lips over hers to mute her protests. “I’ll chain you to my bed if I have to but you’re not leaving me Keona… get that into your head.”
Her eyes narrowed in challenge. But then a wicked smile tugged at the edge of her lips.
“I love you.”
Keona enjoyed watching the surprise on his face just before they darkened into a dangerously sexy tease. “Huh. Think I’m scared?” he growled.
“You know I never back out of a fight. And love’s too tame a word for me.”
Something flashed in her eyes but he felt it –her disappointment.
“I’d like to spend my entire life driving you crazy, keeping you swelled with our babies and yelling at me to keep my feet off the table. Then we’ll make sweet love at night and snipe at each other again in the morning. How does that sound?”
“Bet your wolf likes that.”
“And so does the man.” He kissed her nose. “I’ll buy you flowers when you’re angry okay? Maybe bribe you with those triple chocolate cakes you love so much.”
“Mmm…” he nuzzled her neck. “Yeah… so what do say Keona? Want that with me?”
She kept her face close to his chest as she whispered, “Yes Alex… yes.”
Eian was pacing. He hadn’t heard from Alex for the past three hours and he was getting worried.
“He’ll be fine Eian… stop worrying,” said Erika gently.
“Yeah. You’re going to make a hole in the damn carpet,” grumbled Alaron.
“I can’t help but worry. I’m the Alpha. It’s my job to worry about my pups.”
“Mike’s not looking worried,” said Alaron, jerking a finger at the Beta wolf.
“He suffers in silence,” said Dominic. Looking over at his pack mate, he knew that the wolf was worried as well. Big Mike might be a giant but he had the gentlest heart ever. It would rip apart if anything were to happen to his only son.
“I’m fine,” said Mike. “Perhaps we should just update each other on our findings… that should keep us occupied.”
The others murmured in agreement. Eian took the lead. “Okay, I managed to track Keona’s scent to the little shelter she’s working at but the feral wolves seemed to have lost her scent after a few miles. It’s like she learnt how to shield her own scent somehow.”
“Probably had a Vampire with that ability close by,” said Draven. “We all know she and Naira have the ability to copy others’ abilities. She might have accidentally picked it up without realizing.”
“It could be that damn Riley,” muttered Alaron. At Erika’s look, he softened. “Well, me and Dominic followed the lead that Alex gave on Marine’s last location and aside from the tainted blood, we didn’t get much. The tracks that he discovered have been washed away by the rain.”
“But I think they also switched to another form of transport so they wouldn’t be followed. The tire tracks stopped slightly before one of the minor lakes and unless they can walk on water, we’d probably have to look around for an abandoned boat.”
“Wait,” said Erika. “What if they did walk on water?” At the puzzled look of the men, she continued. “It could be a façade hiding something beneath. I mean don’t you guys watch resident evil? The surface house is just a front for… ah well never mind. You oldies never watch TV anyway.”
“Hey! I watch TV. I know it’s that hot chick with the cool moves right?” said Alaron defensively.
“Oh, that you remember,” she laughed, slapping at her mate. “But it’s a possibility right? Maybe you two could take a swim?”
“It’s worth a try,” said Dominic.
“So how about you two? Any luck on Riley?” asked Eian.
“I went to the American Council earlier on to check the birth records but there was nothing on Riley Eos. The last remaining Eos were listed as deceased decades ago. They were mercenaries.” Draven tapped his temple as though trying to recall more information. “The clerk wasn’t more helpful but I think the American mercenaries are given more freedom than the European ones. Ours still obey the one hundred year rule but over here, I’ve heard rumors that they have rules on their own.”
Eian frowned. “Explain.”
“They were allowed to breed freely because of their extremely high death rate. Most of them work independent of the Council although I’m not sure to what extent. Records were probably not kept up to date because they never live more than a century and the secrecy of their missions probably meant that not all births and deaths were recorded.”
“So you’re saying that this Riley may or may not exist?” Eian didn’t like that.
Eian tried not to look too disappointed. “Anything else?”
“Well, there is one thing I thought strange,” said Mike. “Erika tells me that Riley eats and drinks. If he is a Vampire, surely that isn’t necessary right? And since his home address is a mail box, where does he keep his blood supply?”
“Geez. That’s great Mike!” said Alaron, clapping his hand. “I don’t think there are any Eos in the Pureblood families here are there?” he asked Draven excitedly.
His elder brother shook his head slowly. “A Pureblood could go for months without blood but if he’s not…”
“He’s been in California for less than six months. We talked to the law firm manager,” added Mike. “But what if he’s human? And this whole Vampire thing is just to put us off?”
“He should have a scent if he’s human Mike…” said Eian. “We have to assume him a Vampire and a dangerous one. I’m not taking anymore chances…”
When the knock came on the front door, everyone went silent.
When his eyes rested on the slender frame of his daughter, Eian felt the worst of his worries ebb away.
“Daddy…” Keona gave a hesitant run before jumping into his arms; cold exterior and false pretenses pushed aside. She was sunshine when she was with him and for that moment, she wanted to feel safe; as safe as she could be in her father’s embrace.
The gentle tug in her heart reminded her that she wasn’t just a Vampire, bound to the rules of her mother’s kind –but she was also a Were…
And Pack is one. Always.