Angelia used her powers to clothe them as she braced herself for Fury to hand her over to the Litarians for their dinner.
Instead, he rose from the bed with an aura so deadly it gave her chills. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing here, tree-humper, but you don’t come into my brother’s house with that attitude and tone.” He looked down to the severed head on the floor. “And you damn sure don’t bring filth into the presence of my mate.”
“We’ve tracked her scent here.”
Fury gave him a sinister smirk. “And do you smell it in my room?”
One of the lions moved to grab Fury. Faster than she could blink, he twirled away from the lion and then pinned him against the wall. Hard.
“You really don’t want to test me,” Fury snarled, banging his head into the wall. “I’m not a gazelle on the savannah, punk. I’ll have your throat faster than you took the jackal’s head.”
Paris took a step forward. “There are four of us and one of you.”
“Two of us,” Angelia corrected, cutting him off from Fury. “And the only thing deadlier than a wolf is his mate when he’s threatened.”
Paris approached her. He sniffed the air around her as he eyed her warily.
“Is it her?” one of the other lions asked him.
“No,” he said disgustedly. “We’ve lost the scent.” He turned toward Fury. This isn’t over, Wolf. We won’t stop until we’re satisfied. If I find the bitch responsible, I will feast on her entrails.”
Fury shoved the lion he held at Paris. “You’re not welcome here. Really. Get out.”
Paris made a feral growl before they vanished.
“And take your nasty trophy head with you,” Fury snarled as he slung it into the portal with them so that it went wherever it was they were going.
Angelia let out a slow breath in relief. “What just happened? How did they not smell me?”
Fury shrugged. “The one power I did develop was the ability to mask my scent. Since it’s now part of yours, I was able to mask yours, too.”
“That’s why you don’t smell like a Katagari!”
He inclined his head to her in a sarcastic salute.
But that raised another question in her mind. “So how is it Dare found out about your base form if he couldn’t smell it?”
Fury looked away as pain swept through him. To this day, the betrayal of it shredded his soul.
Angelia placed her hand on his cheek where he had his teeth clenched tight. “Tell me.”
He didn’t know why he confided in her when it went against his nature. But before he could stop himself, the truth came pouring out. “We were attacked by a group of outlaw humans in the forest. They shot an arrow. Dare didn’t see it, but I did. I shoved him out of the way and took it for him.”
She winced as she understood what had happened. “The pain made you change forms.”
Fury nodded. “He knew as soon as I fell down. I tried to stop him before he reached the village, but by the time I got there, my mother had already been told.”
The rest she remembered with crystal clarity. She’d heard the shouting and had gone to the main hall where they’d all gathered. Fury had been bleeding, but he was still in human form.
Dare had shoved him at their mother. “He’s a fucking Wolf, Mum. I saw it.”
Bryani had grabbed Fury by the hair. “Tell me the truth. Are you a Katagari?”
Fury’s gaze had gone to Angelia’s. Pain, shame and torment had shone deep in his eyes. But it was the pleading look there that had taken her breath. He’d silently begged her to stand with him.
“Answer me!” His mother had demanded.
“I’m a wolf.”
They’d set on him with a vengeance so fierce that she found it hard to believe that she’d ever taken part in it. But there, in that moment. . .
She was such a fool.
“Will you ever trust me again?” she asked him.
He took her marked palm into his hand. “Do I have a choice?”
“Yes, you do. This only means I can bear your children. It has nothing to do with our hearts.”
Fury sighed. No, it didn’t. His parents hated one another. Even now all they did was plot each other’s murders.
“If you can lay aside your hatred of my kind, I’m willing to forget the past.”
Angelia looked around the room. “I will have to live here in your time, won’t I?”
“Do you really think you can go home wearing the mark of a Katagari?”
He was right. They’d destroy her.
Fury stepped away from her. “You have three weeks to decide if you can live with me.”
“I don’t need three weeks, Fury. I agreed to den down with you, and so I have. I will even bond with you.”
Anger sparked in his eyes at her suggestion. “No, you won’t. I have too many enemies who want me dead. I won’t bond your life force to mine. It’s too dangerous.”
“You didn’t feel that way twenty-four hours ago.”
“You’re right. But you’ve opened my eyes. What Dare is trying to do is wrong. I can’t believe I’ve ruined that poor lion’s life. God, how I wish I could go back and shove Dare when he fired the gun so that he’d miss.”
Fury’s face went stark white. “Dare killed an unarmed lion?”
“No, that was the jackal. Dare shot the one who lived.” “And your part in all this?”
“Stupid onlooker who thought she was going to make the world safe for other little girls so that they wouldn’t have to watch their family get eaten. I didn”t realize that I was fighting for the monsters and not against them.”
Fury sighed. “Dare’s not a monster. He’s just an insecure asshole who wanted his mother to love him.”
“And what about you?”
“I was an insecure asshole who knew he could never get too close to his mother for fear she’d smell the wolf on him and kill him.”
She pulled him into her arms to kiss his lips. “Mate with me, Fury.”
“You’re a bossy thing, aren’t you?”
“Only when there’s something I want.” She looked at the bed. “Shouldn’t we get naked?”
He put his hands on her arms and held her back. “We have to settle this first. I want to make sure that you’re mating with me out of choice and not out of fear.”
“Don’t you think I’m smart enough to know the difference?”
“I’m the one who has to be sure of your motivation.”
Because he still didn’t trust her. The sad thing was, she couldn’t blame him. “Very well then. How do we end this?”
“I think I have an idea.”
Angelia sat downstairs with Fang sniffing at her hand.
“No wonder he was acting so weird. The bastard’s mated.”
“Fang!” Bride snapped at him. “Leave the poor woman alone, or at least congratulate her.”
“On what? Being mated to Fury seems like a nightmare to me.”
There was a time Angelia would have agreed. Strange how she no longer did. “Your brother is a wonderful wolf.”
Bride smiled approvingly.
“So where is lover-wolf, anyway?”
“He said he was going to see a friend about getting the lions off my trail.”
Fang’s face blanched.
“What?” Angelia asked, immediately scared by his reaction.
“Fury doesn’t have any friends.”
Why would he have lied to her? Dear gods, what was he doing? “Then where is he?”
The question had barely left her lips before Vane appeared. He glared at her before he turned to Fang. “I need you at the Omegrion. Now.”
Fang frowned. “What’s going on?”
“Fury has turned himself in as the one who maimed the lion.”
Angelia shot to her feet. “What?!”
“You heard me! Stupid idiot. I’ve been summoned by Savitar who asked me to bring any witnesses who can testify to his innocence.”
Fang cursed. “Where was he when it happened?”
“I don’t know.”
Fang shot to his feet. “I’m going.”
They started to leave.
“Don’t forget me.” Angelia moved to stand in front of Vane.
Fang gave him a stern look. “She’s his mate, V. Let her come.”
Nodding, he took her with them to Savitar’s island and into the chamber room where the Omegrion met and decided the laws that governed all lycanthropes. All her life, Angelia had heard stories about this place. Never had she thought to see it.
Here the Regis, one representative for each branch of the Katagaria and Arcadians, met. It was amazing to her that they didn’t fight. But then that was why Savitar was here.
More like a referee, Savitar held the final fate of all of them in his hands. The only problem was no one really knew what Savitar was. Or even where he came from.
“Where’s Fury?” she asked Vane.
“I don’t know.”
“Are all the members here?”
He scanned the group. “All but Fury.”
Before she could ask another question, she felt a ripple of power behind her. Turning, she found an unbelievably gorgeous man there. At least six-feet-eight, he had long dark hair and a goatee. Dressed in surf clothes, he eyed her suspiciously.
“You have your witnesses, Wolf?” he asked Vane.
“Then let’s proceed.” He walked past the round table where the Omegrion members sat and took a seat on a throne that was set apart.
“Savitar?” she asked Vane.
Savitar let out a long, exaggerated sigh. “I know everyone here wants to be somewhere else. Trust me. So do I. But for those who haven’t heard and you’d have to live under a rock . . .” He looked over to the Arcadian Hawk Regis and hesitated. “Okay, so some of you do, which is why I have to explain this. It appears some of our good Arcadians have created and now used a weapon that can take away your preternatural abilities and lock you into your base form.”
Several members sucked their breaths in sharply.
Savitar nodded. “Yeah, it sucks. Two days ago, a couple of bastards decided to go hunting. I have the head of two of the four people responsible.” He indicated the lions to his left. “The family of the victim wants the other two. Dead. But tortured first. I can respect that.”
“Do we hunt?” Nicolette Peltier asked.
“No. It seems one of those responsible has come forward to turn himself in. He claims he killed the fourth member and doesn’t want to run.”
“Where is he?” Paris’s brother demanded.
“Wait your turn, Lion, or I’ll be wearing your eyeballs as jewelry.”
The lion backed down immediately.
Savitar snapped his fingers, and Fury appeared before his throne in chains.
Angelia started for him, only to have Vane stop her.
Fury did a doubletake as he saw her. “Dammit, Vane, I told you not to—” A muzzle appeared on his face.
Savitar glared at him. “Next person or animal who interrupts me is going to get gutted.”
Fury’s gaze was locked on hers.
Was he out of his mind?
That thought died as she saw Dare appear next to Fury.
Savitar eyed Dare with contempt. “We have a witness who swears he saw Fury in the act. Since that corroborates what Fury has said, I suppose your vote on his fate will be an easy one. Unless someone in the room has something more to add.”
Sasha stepped forward. “Fury didn’t do it. He’s protecting someone. I know him. I might not like his ass, but I know he’s innocent. I was there at Sanctuary when he saw the lion and he knew nothing about it.”
“It’s true,” Nicolette Peltier said. “I, too, saw him. He told me he would find the one responsible and make them pay.”
Savitar stroked his chin. “Interesting, isn’t it? What do you have to say about that, Fury?”
The muzzle vanished. “They’re on crack.”
Savitar shook his head. “Anyone else on crack?”
Tears stung Angelia’s eyes at the sacrifice Fury was willing to make. But she couldn’t let him do this. Looking down, she traced his symbol in her palm.
It would have been her greatest honor to be his mate and have his children.
If only it could have been.
“Fury’s innocent,” she said, stepping forward. “He confessed to save—”
Angelia froze in shock as Dare cleared his throat.
“What was that?” Savitar asked.
Dare glanced to her, then looked at Fury. “I’m the one who fired the shot that maimed the lion. The one who killed the other is already dead.”
“And the others?”
Fury shook his head at Dare. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because it was my wrongdoing, and I refuse to have an animal show me up by being noble. Fuck you.”
“We had a bargain,” Fury said under his breath.
“I’m altering it.” Dare looked back at Angelia. “It’s time for once that I did the right thing for the right reasons.”
Savitar folded his arms over his chest. “We have another confession from Dare Kattalakis. Going once, going twice. . . are there any more confessions in the room? Anyone else want to admit to shooting a lion?” He paused. “Didn’t think so.”
The lions moved forward. “Then he’s ours.”
Savitar shook his head. “Actually, he’s mine. Sorry. You’ve already taken the heads of two Arcadians. Be glad I don’t demand justice for their families. We’re going to assume they were guilty, but without a trial. . .”
The lions looked less than pleased, but no one dared to question him.
“As for this little toy they used, don’t worry. I’ve already made sure the inventor doesn’t invent anything else. I have my people tracking down the handful he sold and we should have them destroyed soon. In the meantime . . .”
Dare vanished, and Fury’s shackles melted.
“Omegrion is adjourned.”
The council members flashed out.
Except for the wolves and Nicolette. Fury walked over to where they were standing. He held his hand out to Sasha. “Thanks.”
“No problem. And we’re still not friendly.”
Fury’s eyes danced with humor. “Yeah, you prick, I hate your guts.” He looked at Nicolette. “It was decent of you, too, to speak up.”
“You are still banned from my house . . . unless you’re wounded.” She teleported out.
Fury shook his head, then looked at her. All humor died. “You were going to turn yourself in to save me.”
“I told you, Fury. I will always stand at your back.”
He took her hands into his and then kissed each one in turn. “My back isn’t where I want you.”
She arched a brow. “No? Where would you prefer me, then?” She expected him to say under him—it was what an Arcadian male would say.
But he didn’t.
“I want you at my side. Always.”
“Ugh,” Fang groused. “Wolves, get a room.”
Angelia smiled. “Sounds like a great idea.”
The next thing she knew, they were home.
Savitar didn’t move as he watched the last of the wolves clear the room. The moment it was empty, he felt a power surge next to him.
It was Zarek.
“Sasha went home, Z.”
“Yeah, I know. I was checking with you about our earlier discussion.”
“My demons got most of the weapons.” “But. . .”
“There are still a few out there.”
Zarek cursed. “If Sasha gets nailed with one, Astrid will lose her mind.”
“Believe me, Z, I know.” Savitar looked out toward the clear horizon, but inside, he knew the same thing that Zarek did. There was a storm brewing. Fierce and violent.
They’d stopped this minor bout. But it was nothing compared to the one that was coming.
Fury lay in bed, naked, with Angelia on top of him. Their palms were still pressed together from their mating ritual.
“I still can’t believe you would have died so that I could go home.”
“I can’t believe you were going to call me a liar and take my place under the guillotine. Next time I try to save you, woman, you better stay saved.”
She laughed, then nipped at his chin. “I shall promise to behave, on only one condition.”
“And that is?”
“That you bond your life force to mine.”
He scowled at her. “Why is that so important to you?”
She swallowed against the lump in her throat. “Don’t you know?”
“Because I love you, Wolf, and I don’t ever want to spend another day in this life without you. Where you den, I den, and when you die, I die, too.”
Fury looked up at her in disbelief. In all his life, he’d only ever wanted one thing.
And Lia had just given it to him. A woman he could love and depend on.
“For you, my lady wolf, I would do anything.”
Anglia smiled as she felt him growing hard again. Kissing his hand, she knew that this time they wouldn’t just have sex. This time they would be joined throughout all eternity.