I saw him before he saw me.
He was a few yards away, but I knew it was him immediately. I could sense him.
My eyes traveled over his golden skin, over his rippling biceps, his tight abs, and back up to his strong jawline.
Maybe it was bold of me to take him in so shamelessly. I didn’t want him to catch me.
He couldn’t catch me. That would ruin everything.
But I was hidden in the trees, the branches and leaves serving as my camouflage.
I knew I didn’t have anything to worry about. So I kept watching.
I watched as he ran his fingers along the bark of an old tree.
He looked around, like he was trying to find something. Or someone?
But no, he couldn’t know I was here.
I was powerful enough, full of enough magic, to be able to hide well.
He walked up to a different tree and, this time, reached out with both hands, holding the tree.
He slid both hands down, and I watched as his ripped arms strained against the thin fabric of his T-shirt.
How I wanted those fingers to be trailing me, to be holding me…
I didn’t know what it was about him.
He was the only man, the only living creature, that could arouse me. And, no, I don’t mean arouse me that much. I meant physically turn me on. At all.
My eyes were glued to him—his muscles, his jaw, his dark, wild hair.
I could feel my body reacting. I was tingling in places I never tingled, needing to close the distance between us.
I wanted it so badly I could feel him touching me. I could ~feel~ him giving me the satisfaction I’d been waiting so long for.
I took a step out from my hiding spot. It might have been a bad idea, but I didn’t care.
This was what I wanted…no. This was what I needed.
I took another step.
I wanted him to find me almost as much as I was scared that he might. Because I knew what would happen. But right now, I didn’t care.
He turned his head.
And then I gasped.
Because a dagger had soared past my shoulder, thrown from somewhere behind me.
It moved through the air at warp speed, and a moment later, it hit him. It impaled him. Right through his heart.
Blood soaked through his T-shirt.
I was frozen, shocked. My mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out.
I turned to see behind me. I tried to find where the dagger had come from, who had been responsible. But I couldn’t see anyone else.
It was just me and him and the forest.
My eyes shot back to him. He was sinking to the ground, his hands covering the wound, trying to hold in the blood.
He must have felt my gaze on him this time because his eyes flashed up.
He was looking right at me.
I couldn’t run. I couldn’t hide. He saw me.
And I knew. I knew that he thought I was the one who’d thrown the dagger.
I was saddened by this, overcome with remorse, even though I was innocent.
But deep down, I knew I wasn’t innocent. Not even close.
He was on his hands and knees now, trying to keep his eyes open. Trying to keep them locked on me. And my heart was still racing. He was the only man it could race for, after all.
Go to him, Eve.
But I stayed frozen, right where I was.
I watched as the life drained out of him, as his eyes closed slowly, as his fingers stopped trembling. I had to watch. I wouldn’t let myself look away.
When he took his final breath and then lay still, a new calm washed over me. I let out the breath I’d been holding.
It was finally over.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
My eyes shot open. What was that?
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
A goddamn phone was ringing. My goddamn phone.
I looked around. I was in bed, a white bed. Everything was white.
Right. I’d been staying in a New York City hotel. I found the phone under the pillow beside me, trying to ignore the dream I’d just had.
I didn’t have time to read into it right now. Besides, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out what it was about.
Those muscles… that hair… it wasn’t the first time I’d dreamed about him. And it wouldn’t be the last.
Especially as the days kept passing. As we kept getting closer to...
I looked at the phone. Two missed calls from Killian. And one—Beep—and ~two~ follow-up texts.
I hadn’t heard from him in a couple weeks, so he must’ve found something important. He’d been spying for me, doing research and recon.
I read the text.
I walked along the pavement, my combat boots hitting the ground with thuds.
It wasn’t quite raining, but the air had a mist in it. Made me feel damp, like a sponge sitting on the edge of a sink.
It was safe to say I hadn’t missed London.
But that wasn’t the whole truth.
I’d spent a lot of good years here, with Killian, when he was growing up. I rounded the old church and found myself in an empty parking lot, hidden away in some suburban neighborhood.
Killian and I never went to the church, but we used to come here to watch the sun set sometimes. But that was a long time ago.
I heard the vroom of a motorcycle behind me, and I smiled, checking my watch.
5:59 p.m. He was right on time.
The motorcycle sped into the lot and came to a stop right in front of me, braking so hard that steam floated out into the air.
I watched as Killian hopped off the bike and steadied it, pulling his tinted black helmet off.
Immediately, his long golden locks were released, and he ran a gloved hand through them.
His golden eyes had nothing but mischief inside them, and they flashed at me, his face unable to conceal the smile tugging at his lips.
“What, you’re trying to impress me now?” I asked him, nodding to the motorcycle.
“I’m doing a pretty good job. Admit it,” he responded.
He opened a leather messenger bag and pulled out a file, handing it over to me.
I took it. “If everything’s in here…”
“Everything and more. The whole bloodline,” he assured me.
I couldn’t help but feel proud. Looking at his dimpled cheeks, now covered in scruff, it was like he was a man. A talented, highly useful man.
“So it’s true then?” he asked, nodding at the folder. “You think the Morgans are in trouble?”
“You’re not going to get a tabloid story out of me, Kil.”
“Come on,” he pressed.
“Look, everyone knows about the Morgans. They’re the most respected humans in America, and because of the deal they struck with the West Coast Pack all those years ago, they’ve been living on Pack territory, untouchable.
“Elena Morgan was like the queen. Her fortune was the reason the West Coast Pack could run so strongly for so long. She was their biggest sponsor. But she left the fortune to her daughters. Her mate, he has no legal claim to it.”
“So, legally, her daughters are too young to claim it. The oldest one is seventeen.”
Killian eyed me. “You think the family’s in danger because someone’s going to go after the fortune?” He shook his head. “Everyone knows the Morgans, Eve. They’re like royalty. No one would try to hurt royalty.”
“What? They don’t teach you world history at the Academy?” I asked, a smirk on my face.
He rolled his eyes. “The fortune can only be claimed by Elena’s daughters when they turn eighteen.”
“So you’re going to what, protect the daughters until they’re old enough to claim it?”
I shrugged. “Someone has to. Because if someone wipes them out before then, the fortune would be up for grabs. That’s a whole lot of incentive.”
I turned to go, but Killian grabbed my shoulder. “You know something else. About the people trying to hurt them.”
I shook him off. “Don’t worry about it, Kil—”
“I can’t help you unless I know things,” he said, crossing his arms.
“Fine. What do you want to hear about? The mafia? The mafia knows about the fortune, and they’re plotting their next move. Then there’s the rogue werewolves. They’re always looking for a boost in income. And let’s not forget the vampyres.”
I saw Killian’s face fall. He always had a soft spot for the vulnerable ones.
I clapped him on the shoulder. “They’ll be okay, Killian. I’m pretty good at what I do,” I said, tossing him a smirk. He nodded.
“I’ll be in touch,” I said, turning on my heel and starting the long journey back overseas. To the West Coast Pack.
“No goodbyes,” he called out to me.
I smiled. “No goodbyes,” I shouted back.
“Don’t keep me waiting too long,” he yelled. “I get bored.”
The cab sped along the barely paved road at the edge of the forest, and all I could see were millions and millions of trees on either side of me.
When I was deep enough inside, no more pavement in sight, I told him to stop.
“Here’s fine.” I got out.
He took the money I handed him and tore off in the same direction we’d come, obviously not trying to spend a second longer than necessary out here.
Humans like him weren’t exactly welcome in the territory of the West Coast Pack, unless they’d been cleared for residency. Or unless they were a Morgan.
And this forest, the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon, was very much West Coast Pack territory.
But it wasn’t just unannounced humans that weren’t welcome. It was any non-werewolf species. And that included me.
But I was here for a reason. And I wouldn’t let something like potentially getting caught by a werewolf guard, or an Alpha, stop me.
I’d dealt with far worse before, after all.
I focused all my attention on my body. The intense concentration worked, and I felt my cells spreading apart, lessening the opaque filler of my skin.
I wasn’t exactly invisible, but I wasn’t completely visible either.
I was like a dimmed version of myself that someone would have to squint to really see.
Satisfied, I turned to the trees. I channeled my power and used it to boost myself high up into the air.
And then I was swinging from trees, jumping from one to the next.
After thirty or so miles, I started to slow down. And then I landed in a tree, using its leaves to shield myself, just in case. Because there, ahead of me, about a mile away, was Lumen.
Lumen, also known as Wolf City, housed the West Coast Pack, which was one of the strongest Packs in America, if not the world.
I took a deep breath, knowing that the last mile would be the toughest.
Every Pack city had security parameters around it, with highly trained guards keeping watch.
And the problem with werewolf guards was that their noses were their best weapon.
Even in human form they could scent an intruder from miles away. Which meant that if they hadn’t smelled me already, they were about to get a good whiff.
But it didn’t matter.
I had a job to do.
I took off with a leap, landing in another tree, and then jumped to the next. I was swinging from branches, getting lower than the treetops so I could blend in with the leaves more easily.
That was when I saw him. About 200 feet away.
A werewolf guard.
But not just any werewolf guard. I focused my sight and was able to make out the pin on his security vest, indicating he was in the Alpha’s own personal security team.
But before I could do anything else, the guard’s eyes shifted to where I was.
He could definitely scent me, feel my gaze on him. And I didn’t want to wait around for him to call for backup.
So I took a gulp of air and leaped straight ahead, hoping that my dimmed body would make me hard to see. But it didn’t matter if I was barely visible, because the guard used his nose to track me.
As I raced through the trees, nearing the entrance to the city, I heard the sound of the guard shifting, and I knew I was in trouble. It was one thing to outrun a werewolf in human form. But to outrun a wolf?
I kept moving, kept running, and risked one glance over my shoulder.
The guard wolf was right there. Snarling, teeth bearing. Not more than two steps behind me.
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