Kitty Rocks the House Page 51

“Yeah. You sure that’s such a great idea?”

“He’s sticking around because he wants to talk.”

“Or he’s sticking around because he wants another shot at you.”

Also a possibility, I had to admit. “We’ll find out, I suppose.”

“All right, then.” He gave me a spot to meet him at and hung up.

I looked at Ben.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” he said.

“He’s still a strange wolf in our territory. If we let him alone he’ll think he’s getting away with something.”

Ben couldn’t argue with that. He started up the car, and we headed back out.

By the time we reached the park and found Shaun, the sun tipped over the horizon. The day was going to be clear and warm. Following Darren’s wolf, Shaun had come all this way on foot, and he was exhausted. Werewolves were stronger, could run faster and farther, even in human form. But he’d really gone above and beyond. He’d sent Wes and Tom back to the den to sleep off their wolves and bring the car back.

“Get in the backseat,” I told him, nodding at the car. “Get some sleep.”

“You going to be okay?”

As if he’d be any good in a fight after the night he’d had. “I don’t think he’ll try anything. Not after last night.”

He didn’t need any further convincing. I owed him a steak dinner after all this.

This close, I could track Darren’s scent myself. He’d found a stand of trees in a gully, safe and hidden. As an afterthought, I grabbed a blanket from the trunk of the car.

“You want to hang back some?” I asked Ben.

“What, insult him by showing him you don’t think he’s a threat?”

“Proving a point,” I said, lip curling.

Ben slowed his pace, letting me move ahead alone.

I found Darren sprawled under a low-hanging pine branch. Naked, he lay with his arms and legs bent, clenched, fingers digging into the ground like claws, as if he had collapsed where he stood instead of settling. Even in sleep, his brow was creased, worried. I could almost be sympathetic. Sitting upwind, a dozen feet away, I waited for him to catch my scent.

Didn’t take long. His eyes opened, focused on me. Then he froze, waiting. Probably wondering which way to jump. I’d cornered him, and that felt pretty good.

When I didn’t move, he took a moment to glance around, his nose working to catch smells, to see who else was stalking him. He had to smell Ben, but I was the only one in sight, and his gaze turned back to me.

I smiled nicely. “Good morning.” He didn’t answer, but I didn’t expect him to. “I’m just here to point out that I could have killed you, and I didn’t.”

“Don’t do me any favors,” he said. His voice scratched, a symptom of a night of growling and running.

“I’m all about favors,” I said. “It’s how I get things done. So, I didn’t kill you. Now what I’d like you to do for me is to leave Denver. You can go back and get your car, and I’ll give you a couple of days to get your things together.”

He pushed himself up to sitting, broad shoulders flexing. Guy was pretty ripped. But I focused on his eyes. He was glaring back, not showing an inch of submission.

“I came here to help,” he said.

“Maybe you should have asked first,” I said. My own fatigue was catching up with me. I wanted to walk away, get naked myself and curl up with my mate. Sleep for a week. “Look, Darren, I’m not going to turn down help because you’re right, we need all the help we can get against Roman. But not like this. We need allies. Go back to Nasser and be an ally.” I handed him the blanket.

After a moment, he lowered his gaze and took the peace offering. I kept my face a blank, but inside I sighed with relief.

Wrapping the blanket around him, he said, “I wasn’t really going to hurt Becky.”

My smile turned wry. “No, not physically. But you were going to use her for your own ends. That’s so not cool.”

His own lip turned up in acknowledgment. “How about I go back to Nasser and tell him that you’re stronger than you look?”

“Remind him that Marid called me Regina Luporum.”

He bowed his head at that.

I continued. “You need a ride anywhere? Change of clothes?”

“No. I’ll get out of your hair just as soon as I can.”

“Appreciate it,” I said.

Hauling himself to his feet, he gave me one last flash of his beefy body—on purpose I was sure—then tipped a salute at me, another one off to the edge of the park where Ben was waiting, and walked away. He looked odd, a well-built guy walking across the scrubby grass with a blanket over his shoulders and clasped around his middle. If any cops spotted him, he’d get picked up for sure. On the other hand, he’d probably avoid getting spotted by anyone.

I walked back to the car, and Ben met me halfway.

“Now can we go home and get some sleep?” he asked.

“After we drop off Shaun.”

“I don’t think anyone can accuse you of being an inattentive alpha after all this.”

That wasn’t really the main point of all this, but I’d take it.

Back at the condo, I was too hyped up to sleep, but Ben coaxed me into bed. Not that he had to coax too much, offering his warm body to cuddle with. His safe, familiar scent in my nose, his warm naked skin against mine, made the world a better place. A few minutes of contact was worth an hour of sleep. For a short time, I didn’t think about Darren, worry about Rick or my sister, or Roman, or anything. I even slept, for a little while. That was enough, at least for now.

I had to wait until nightfall anyway, before I could talk to Rick, at least one more time.

Chapter 18

BEN DIDN’T trust Darren to just leave, and I agreed. The guy had acted defeated enough this morning, but he might have some other plan cooked up. Ben offered to drive past the apartment where Darren had been living to check. Even if it meant leaving me alone.

I grinned. “Aw, does that mean you’re not worried about me spontaneously shape-shifting anymore?”

“I’ll always worry. But after last night, I think you’ll be fine.”

That left me to go talk with Rick. It was Ben who suggested Rick might be more forthcoming if I showed up by myself. I hadn’t considered that. The theory was sound, might as well give it a try.

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