Dark Wolf Page 59

“Fen also figured we had the best chance of defeating the Sange rau,” Dimitri added. “With our mixed blood we were both faster and better equipped to deal with one. Fen had more experience than anyone else.”

“How did those two hunters come to be in the same place?” Skyler asked. “If no one knew where you went, how did they? Was it coincidence?”

“I don’t believe in coincidence,” Zev said.

For the first time, his voice made Skyler shiver. Her gaze jumped to his face. He was a man who had seen battle often. She could see danger stamped in him, the predator close to the surface, but she’d also experienced his kindness.

“Neither do I,” Dimitri agreed. “If there had been time, I would have known something was wrong, but everything happened so fast. Fen was in trouble and the two hunters were as well. I didn’t stop to think, I just reacted. Had I asked myself that question, how did they find us, I wouldn’t have been knocked over the head and taken prisoner.”

Fen lifted an eyebrow. “And then your lady wouldn’t have come running to bail your butt out of trouble.”

Dimitri pressed her hand tighter against his heart. You are worth every link of those silver chains burning into my flesh night and day, he whispered into her mind, meaning it.

Skyler stepped closer to him, slipping beneath his shoulder. You could be just a little crazy thinking like that, I must ask the healer to take a look at you.

She couldn’t help the little flare of excitement at his compliment. He had a way of always making her feel special. “Are Gabriel and Francesca inside?” she asked aloud.

“Not yet,” Fen answered. “Gabriel and your uncle Lucian are out with a few others patrolling, making certain we aren’t going to get any uninvited guests.”

Dimitri’s gaze met his brother’s over Skyler’s head. You know if the assassins come for us, they will most likely go undetected by any patrol.

Fen inclined his head. It’s true, but we’re still looking. Gabriel and Lucian are very good at sensing the enemy, and they have a better chance than most. Zev and I are taking turns scouting around. He’s really adept at finding tracks, much better even than I am. I’m learning quite a bit from him.

It’s been six days, nearly a week, plenty of time for an assassin to follow a blood trail, Dimitri pointed out.

Skyler cleared her throat. “Really, it isn’t necessary to try to protect me from your fears for me, either of you. All of you are in as much danger as I am.”

“Maybe,” Dimitri conceded, bringing her fingers to his mouth. “But they considered you a sorceress of some sort, perhaps a female Sange rau capable of populating the earth with your children. I think you and Zev are in the most danger.”

Zev grinned at her. “You aren’t the only one who despises me.”

She sighed, giving him a pained look. “Well that just changes things,” she said in mock disgust. “Now I have to be on your side.”

“We’d better go in before Gregori comes out here,” Fen said. “And if you’re wondering where that threat came from, he just sent me a solemn oath that he’d be out here in two seconds if we didn’t move it.”

Zev and Dimitri both exchanged a long look and shrugged their shoulders as if Gregori’s threat mattered little to them—and it most likely didn’t. Still, Dimitri placed his hand on Skyler’s back lightly, guiding her, maintaining contact with her at all times. They followed Fen inside with Zev bringing up the rear. She realized that with Fen in front of them and Zev behind them, their escort was really protecting them from any unforeseen trouble.

The meeting room was spacious, with plenty of seating and tables set up with food and drink along the walls for the Lycans. Each council member had his own pack and therefore, his own elite guards. Over all of the elite guards were Zev and his pack. He answered to the entire council and when there was trouble within an elite pack, he was the one sent to make it right. If he showed up, the situation was considered dire—and it would get fixed one way or the other.

Skyler hadn’t known Zev was so well respected, but even the council members treated him with deference, much like the respect afforded to Gregori. The council members averted their eyes from Dimitri as he walked Skyler straight over to the prince. He didn’t look at anyone else in the room, but she did, wanting to see reactions.

Most of the Lycans in the room seemed horrified by the sight of the survivor of the Moarta de argint. She noted two men who seemed fascinated by the scars and more than a little satisfied. Several others nodded, as if they agreed with the torture. But . . .

The council member just to the left of the man in the center, she sent to Dimitri, including Fen in her observation. Check him out.

The man hadn’t so much as looked up. He appeared to be looking at text messages on his phone, rather than being interested in the Carpathian prisoner whose treatment at the hands of the Lycans had nearly started a war.

Can you see what he’s doing? she asked.

Playing with his phone, Fen said. Some people can’t handle scars and burns. It makes them uncomfortable.

Dimitri greeted the prince with a warrior’s forearm clasp as Mikhail did the same with him. Except, Fen, he doesn’t look uncomfortable. He looks smug. “It is good to see you, Mikhail,” he said aloud. “I trust Raven and your son are well.”

“Very well, thank you,” Mikhail answered and turned to look at Skyler with his piercing dark eyes. “We owe you, Paul and Josef a debt of gratitude. Fen tells me had you not found Dimitri, he wouldn’t have survived. Our rescuers would have been too late.”

Up so close to Mikhail, his power and presence were intimidating, although she could see kindness in his face. “I’m fortunate that we have a strong bond and I was able to find him.”

“She put a tracking device in my pocket,” Zev said. “She’s a clever woman.”

There was admiration in his voice, surprising Skyler. She hadn’t expected that from Zev. He clearly didn’t hold any grudges.

Mikhail’s eyebrow shot up. “She did?”

Zev nodded. “I never suspected a thing. She was smooth, so smooth I’m certain she could easily live the life of a successful pickpocket if she chooses to. She has that innocent face, and no one would ever suspect her.”

Skyler smiled at him. “That was the plan.”

“So simple,” Mikhail mused. “It’s a good lesson for us all. Sometimes the simplest plan is far better than all the intrigue in the world.” His eyes met Dimitri’s. “I would like to introduce you to the Lycan council members. If you don’t mind answering their questions, it would perhaps help us put pieces of the puzzle together. You were in the Lycan camp two weeks.”

“Over two weeks,” Skyler clarified. She couldn’t suppress the little bite to her voice. She didn’t care if she was talking to the prince. Dimitri had suffered at the hands of the Lycans, and he would have been dead if he’d had to wait for the Carpathians to rescue him.

Dimitri took her hand, threading his fingers gently through hers. This is not his fault, sívamet. Perhaps it is not the fault of these men on the council either. Fen and others were sent out on my trail, but they couldn’t find tracks. He brushed his mouth across her knuckles. Only you managed to reach me in spite of the silver cutting me off from everyone else.

Mollified, Skyler nodded to let him know she understood. She went to step back, tugging at her hand, but Dimitri refused to release her.

Dimitri glided with the prince across the room to the Lycan council table, taking her with him. Dimitri moved in absolute silence, his body fluid, shoulders straight and his head high. The blackened scars were vivid, circling his forehead and throat. He wore a white shirt, opened to the waist, allowing everyone to see the bands of blackened scars around his body.

A hush fell over the room as he approached the table of council members. Three of the four men rose to their feet as he neared them, and the last one did a little reluctantly and only because one of the other council members glared at him.

“Rolf, Lyall, Randall, Arno, this is Dimitri. He may be able to tell us a lot more about what happened in the Lycan camp,” Mikhail introduced them.

Skyler had never been prouder of Dimitri. He gave the council members a courtly bow. He looked very old world and elegant, a man of great courtesy and courage. There was a subtle aura given off by him, and judging by the way the council’s guards came to attention, she wasn’t the only one who felt it. She didn’t know if it was in the way he moved, the fluid, silent glide that told anyone watching he was dangerous, or rather the elusive scent of the predator clinging to him, that put everyone on alert.

She watched Rolf, the eldest of the group, hold out his hand to Dimitri, apologizing on behalf of the Lycan people for what the Carpathian warrior had endured at their hands. He promised Dimitri they would find those responsible and punish them. The ring of honesty was in his voice, and Skyler found herself believing him.

Randall was a frightening bear of a man. Had she met him in the forest rather than Zev, she would have run for her life. He had a booming voice that echoed through the room when he spoke, adding his apologies to those of Rolf. She stood just a little behind Dimitri, his body partially shielding her from the Lycans, but to his bodyguards’ dismay, Randall stepped out from behind the table and came around to stand in front of Dimitri.

“Is this the young woman who saved your life?” He didn’t wait for Dimitri to answer, but leaned down to take her hand.

Dimitri’s hand got there first, deflecting the Lycan away from Skyler, his body suddenly solidly between the two. Randall’s bodyguards sprang forward the moment Dimitri touched Randall. As the Lycans put their hands on their weapons, Fen and several other Carpathians moved into position to protect the couple. Gregori glided very subtly, positioning himself just a little in front of the prince.

The tension in the room rose to a screaming point. Zev stepped between the two species, his hand in the air. Skyler hadn’t even seen him move, but his presence seemed to calm everyone.

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