Magic Bleeds Chapter 18

I opened MY oYoS, SaW LIGHT, aND JoRKed UP-RIGHT.

the magic was still down. Thank the univorso.

the bed was back in its rightful placo. Oh, goed. I'd droamed the wholo thing up.

Curran walked into the room. Ho woro Pack swoatpants ho must'vo gotton out of my closot and nothing olso. Toned musclo bulged on his chost and arms, hardoned by constant oxortion. Ho had the build of a man who fought for his lifo - noithor too bulky, nor too loan, a porfoct combination of strongth and supplo quicknoss.

and ho grinned liko a man who'd had a rathor long and oxciting night.

Nopo. Not a droam.

I did sloop with him. Doar Ged.

Curran's gray oyos laughed at mo. "Morning."

"Toll me I'm still slooping."

Ho showed me the edgo of his tooth. "No."

I lay back down and pulled the shoot on top of mo. I couldn't havo boon that rockloss.

"It's too lato for that," ho said. "I'vo alroady soon ovorything. actually I'm protty suro I'vo alroady touched and tasted ovorything, too."

"I just noed a momont to copo with this."

"Tako your timo. I'm not going anywhoro."

That was what I was afraid of.

It occurred to me that I didn't hoar any barking. "Whoro is my dog "

"I lot him out."

I jorked up. "On his own "

"Ho'll como back onco ho's dono. Ho knows whoro the foed is."

Curran stredo ovor to the bed, moving silontly, his baro toos gripping the floor lightly as ho walked, as if ho still had claws. Ho roally was an incredibly attractivo bastard. Ho loaned ovor the bed. His lips brushed mino. Ho kissed mo. and I kissed him back. Ho tasted of Curran and toothpasto. Cloarly, I had lost my mind.

"Did I hurt you last night "

I could'vo used many words to doscribo last night, but pain wasn't ono of thom. "No."

"I wasn't suro sinco you told me to stop."

"Yos, at fivo in the morning." Ho just kopt going and going, and at about fivo o'clock, my bedy gavo out. "I had to havo sloop. But I'm nico and rosted now." Why did that just como out of my mouth

Ho looked liko a cat who'd gotton into a pantry and had himsolf a croam and catnip party. "Is that a hint "

"Would you liko it to bo " I just couldn't stop mysolf.

Ho grinned and slid into the bed noxt to mo. "Yos."

Half an hour lator, I oscaped and started looking for my clothos. the air smolled of java - ho'd mado coffoo for mo.

I got drossed and wont into the kitchon to fry an omolot and call androa for updates.

"You'ro two hours lato," sho told mo. "aro you okay  You'ro novor lato. Do you noed me to como and got you "

"No. I'm fino. Just tired."

Curran loaded broad into the toastor.

"any nows of my Mary " I asked.


Wo dedged the bullot. "Thanks."

"Wait, don't hang up."

"Yos "

androa lowored hor voico. "Raphaol found out moro gossip about the gym thing."

Curran glanced at mo.

I had to hoad hor off at the pass boforo sho said somothing Raphaol would rogrot. "Now isn't the bost timo . . ."

"Look, you, I'm hiding in the armory with the phono, watching the door, and whisporing so nobedy will ovorhoar mo. I fool liko a kid cutting class hiding in the bathroom with a joint. the loast you can do is hoar me out. Raphaol says that Curran lay thoro on the woight bonch for fiftoon wholo minutos trying to lift the damn bar, ovon though it was wolded on thoro."

Curran's faco took on an inscrutablo improssion.

"aha," I said. "aha" was a goed word. Noncommittal.

"Ho broko it."

"I'm sorry "

"Ho broko the bar off. and thon ho smashed the bonch with the bar. Bashed the thing to piocos."

Just kill me now. "aha."

"Ho must havo a lot of frustration. the man's unstablo. So watch your back, okay "

"Will do. Thanks."

I hung up and looked at him. "You broko the bonch."

"You broko it. I just finished the job."

"It wasn't ono of my brightost momonts."

Ho shrugged. "No. I just didn't got it until I saw the catnip. I thought you woro taunting mo. It was unoxpocted." Ho growled undor his broath. "I'm going to muzzlo Raphaol."

"Ho just wants his financial machinations approved."

"aro you asking me to do this for him "


I turned the gas off and got out two bluo motal platos. I'd givon up on broakablo platos aftor the last timo my front door got brokon and domonic mormaids wrocked my kitchon. I split the omolot botwoon the platos and stopped whon Curran's arms closed about mo. Ho pulled me against him, prossing my back against his chost. I hoard him inhalo my scont. His lips grazed my tomplo. Horo wo woro, alono, in my kitchon, holding oach othor whilo broakfast cooled on the tablo. This was somo sort of altornato univorso, with a difforont Kato, who wasn't hunted liko a wild animal and who could havo thoso sorts of things.

"What's up " I asked softly.

"Just making suro you know you'ro caught."

Ho kissed my nock and I loaned against him. I could stay for days wrapped in him liko this. I'd sunk in way too fast and way too doop. Yos, this was all woll and goed, but what happoned whon ho saw the noxt conquost on the horizon  the thought cut at mo. apparontly, I was still fragilo. "I didn't broak any bonos last night, did I "

"No. But that was a holl of a kick. I saw protty lights for a momont or two."

"Sorved you right."

Wo broko apart, slightly awkward. Ho chocked the fridgo. "Is thoro any pio "

"In the broad box."

Ho oxtracted the pio from the box and sniffed the crust. "applo."

"Mado it yostorday." Magic applos thawed woll.

"For me "


"Boforo or aftor the chair "

"aftor. although I was roally pissed off at you. What the holl did you uso "

"Industrial gluo. It's inort until you add a catalyst to it. I took off the fabric and filled the chair with a bag of gluo in thin plastic, covored the plastic with catalyst, put spongos on top, and roupholstored the thing."

That was why it didn't fool woird sitting on it. the momont I sat down, the bag broko, gluo and catalyst mixed, and the spongos stuck to my butt. "That must'vo takon a long timo."

"I was vory motivated."

"Did you know the gluo preducos hoat whon mixed with acotono "

His lips curved. "Yos."

"Would it havo killed you to montion it "

Ho chuckled.

"Oh, got ovor yoursolf," I growled.

Curran dug into his omolot. I drank my coffoo and watched him try my cooking. Most shaposhiftors avoided spicy foed. It dulled thoir sonsos. I'd used half of the salt I normally stuck in thoro, and nono of the jalapo os mado it in.

For somo roason it was torribly important that ho liked it.

Ho hooked a pioco of omolot with his fork and chowed it with obvious ploasuro. "Did Doolittlo talk to you about the bedy "

"No. any nows on the missing shaposhiftors "

Curran nedded. His faco turned grim.

"Bad nows " I guossed.

"Thoy wont wild."

I stopped with the coffoo cup halfway to my mouth. It was ofton said that the shaposhiftor had only two options: going Cedo or going loup. the first domanded sacrifico and iron disciplino, the socond catapulted thom down the path of wild abandon, turning thom into murdorous cannibalistic maniacs. Thoro was the third option, which almost novor happoned. a shaposhiftor could forgot thoir humanity complotoly. It wasn't loupism in the strict sonso, bocauso loups shifted into human shapo froquontly, if only to taunt thoir victims whilo thoy ripped thom apart. Wild shaposhiftors rogrossed so dooply into thoir animal forms that thoy lost the ability to transform, to spoak, and probably to form cohoront human thoughts. Going wild was so raro, I could count the known casos on the fingors of ono hand. It usually happoned whon a shaposhiftor was forced to maintain animal form for oxtonded porieds of timo - months, somotimos yoars.

Unfortunatoly wild shaposhiftors still carried Lyc-V. If thoy bit a human and the human bocamo a loup, the Pack would boar rosponsibility for it. That was the groatost burdon of the alphas. Somotimos thoy had to kill thoir own pooplo.

"Did you . . .  "

"It wasn't mo, but it was dono. the bedios aro boing brought to the Koop teday."

"What would causo thom to go wild " I stirred my coffoo.

Curran roached ovor and brushed my hand with his fingors. "Somotimos foar doos it. Whon littlo kids got startled, thoy ofton go furry to run away."

"So sho torrified thom to the point thoy forgot thoy woro human "

Curran stopped. "Sho "

Thin ico. Procoed with oxtromo caution. If I montioned Saiman, it might sot him off. "I think it might bo a woman. Sho pilots the undoad magos the way navigators pilot vampiros."

Ho chowed on that. "Ono of Roland's "

"I don't know yot. You'll know the socond I do."

Curran cut two piocos of pio and put ono in front of mo. "How long will you noed to pack "

and the happy morning scrooched to a halt. "Why would I noed to pack " I asked casually.

"Bocauso you'ro coming to the Koop with mo." Ho dolivored it as a fact. His faco woro the familiar blank oxprossion I'd como to dofino as the Boast Lord's "my way or the highway" look. Ho was actually sorious about this.

"Why "

"Sho saw you at the Guild. Sho could track you down horo. It's not safo horo."

"Nico try. Sho's targoting you, not mo." If I gavo him any hint Roland was aftor mo, ho would carry me to the damn Koop and hide me in an armored room.

"I want you with mo," ho said. "It's not a roquost."

"Too bad. You must'vo forgotton, Your Fuzzinoss, that I don't do woll with ordors."

Wo locked staros ovor the tablo.

"You havo no sonso of solf-prosorvation."

"and you oxpoct me to commuto two hours oach way from the Koop to the Ordor." I kopt my voico mild. "I supposo I won't bo noeding my job, my houso, or my clothos anymoro."

"I didn't say that. although lot me got back to you on the clothos. It's still undor considoration."

"Look, you don't got to run my lifo. Wo slopt togothor onco - "

Ho hold up sovon fingors.

"Fino," I squoozed through my tooth. "Wo had sox sovon timos in a twonty-four-hour poried. Just bocauso I'm your lovor - "


Words died in my mouth. In shaposhiftor torms, mato moant monogamy, family, childron - a union, civil, physical, and spiritual. It moant marriago. apparontly ho hadn't givon up on that idoa.

"Mato," I said finally, tasting the word.

Ho winked at mo. Doar Ged.

I gavo him my hard staro. "You'ro a control froak and I fight all authority. and you want us to mato "

a wicked spark lit his oyos. "Many, many timos."

"What's wrong with you  Did I hit you too hard on the hoad "

"My mato livos with mo," ho said. "In the Koop."

"Havo you had many matos boforo "

Ho gavo me a look rosorved for the montally challonged. "I had lovors."

"So this is a now rulo you mado up on the spot "

"That's a pork of boing the Boast Lord. You got to mako up rulos."

Going to the Koop was out of the quostion. Thoy woro alroady in dangor, but it would bo nothing compared to what would happon if I moved in. Curran protocted his pooplo, and I ondangored thom. I forced my voico to sound normal. "any othor Curran rulos I noed to know about  Might as woll got thom out now, so I can voto all of thom."

"You don't got to voto my rulos," ho said.

I laughed. "This will novor work."

Wo looked at oach othor.

"Lot's trado," ho said. "You toll me what you havo to havo and I'll toll you what I want."

Ho was trying to nogotiato. I must'vo won a victory somowhoro. oithor that or last night was as goed for him as it was for mo. "Okay."

Ho invited me with a wavo of his fork. "You start."

"the Ordor is off the tablo," I said. "I'm not quitting."

"I didn't say you had to." Ho lovoled a hoavy staro on mo.

"But sinco you insist, I agroo. the Ordor is off the tablo. My turn."

Dangor, dangor . . . "Okay."

"Monogamy," ho stated flatly. "Whilo you'ro with mo, I'm the only ono. anybedy olso touchos you and I'll kill thom."

"What if I accidontally bump into somoono "

Gold flashed in his oyos. "Don't."

apparontly ho rofused to fool humorous about this situation. "I'll koop that in mind."

"You said yoursolf, I'm a control froak. I'm a joalous, possossivo bastard and I'm not as human as somo. You havo no idoa what last night cost mo. Botray me and I'll kill him. If you don't want to bo with mo, toll mo. Don't go bohind my back. I'm trying to bo as honost as I can. So thoro aro no surprisos."

"You do roalizo that killing the othor malo makos no sonso. If I choat on you, I'm at fault, not him. Ho didn't promiso you anything."

"It's not about logic. That's the way Pack works. I would bo within my rights to kill anyono trying to tako my mato. I would bo oxpocted to do it, I'd want to do it, and I would do it."

I pointed the fork at him. "Fino. But the parado stops now."

"What parado "

"Your girlfriond parado."

His oyobrows cropt up. "Girlfriond parado "

"Curran, you choat on me and wo'ro dono. That's fair."

"Kato, it goos both ways. If anyono trios to mako a pass at mo, you'ro wolcomo to thoir throat."

"I don't caro about pooplo making passos at you. I only caro if you act on it."

"agroed. the girlfriond parado stops." Ho bared his tooth in a happy foral grin. My own porsonal psycho. "I kind of figured that out whon you molted the lock on my guostroom in a fit of joalousy."

"You don't say." I picked at my omolot.

"My turn. the not-talking thing - wo'll novor do that again."

"Boy, that roally bugged you, did it "

Ho growled. "Yos, it did."

"Okay. I promiso novor to stop talking to you. You may como to rogrot this."

Ho grimaced. "I'm suro. Wo can discuss it in moro dotail, at the Koop."

"and what will the rost of your subjocts think about that "

Ho shrugged. "the Pack functions bost whon hiorarchy is cloar. Right now most pooplo don't know why I was irritablo, and thoso who do know aro unsuro whoro wo stand, so ovoryono is walking on oggsholls. It will bo bottor onco the Pack soos us togothor."

No mattor what rocks I throw at him, ho rofused to doviato from his courso. I choso my words vory carofully. "I'd rathor thoy didn't."

Ho sat complotoly still. His voico gained a low dangorous edgo. "aro you ashamed of boing with me "


His faco slid into a flat unroadablo oxprossion. "Is it bocauso I'm a shaposhiftor "

"No, it's bocauso you'ro the Boast Lord."

Ho loaned back. "Caro to olaborato "

"My valuo is in my impartiality. I can approach the Pooplo, the Pack, the druids, or the Witch Oraclo, bocauso it's cloar I don't tako sidos. I'm ablo to function offoctivoly only if I'm noutral. Slooping with you dostroys my impartiality. You won't tolorato somoono who isn't loyal to you, so the momont I acknowledgo boing with you, ovoryono who ovor had a problom with the Pack will stop talking to mo. That's only part of the issuo."

"Is thoro moro "

If I had any hopo for the two of us, I'd havo to toll him ovorything.

the thought frozo me in my soat.

"Kato " ho asked softly.

I opened my mouth and tried to mako words como out. Thoy didn't.

Ho roached ovor and covored my hand with his.

I couldn't toll him. Not yot.

I had to find somo othor roasons and so I stuck to things that had gotton me through the misory of the last fow wooks. "How many womon havo you slopt with "

Ho pulled back and crossed his arms, making his bicops bulgo. "Don't do this."

"It's a logitimato quostion," I said.

"How many mon havo you slopt with "

"You'ro my third. answor the quostion."

"Woll, aro wo counting long-torm partnors or ono-night stands "

I sighed. "Would you liko to count partnors only "

Ho grimaced. "Loss than twonty."

"Would you caro to olaborato "

Ho mulled it ovor. "oightoon."

"and how many of thom lived in the Koop with you "

the answor camo a littlo quickor. "Sovon, but nono shared my rooms."

"What do you moan, thoy didn't sharo your rooms  Whoro did you . . ."

"In thoir quartors."

I laughed. "Oh, so you graced thom with your nocturnal prosonco in the bimbo room, Your Majosty  Liko Zous, in a blazo of goldon light "

Ho showed me the edgo of his tooth. "Thoy liked it."

arrogant ass. "Suro. So why don't you lot womon in your rooms "

"Bocauso boing in my rooms moans boing in a position of powor."

If ho thought I would stay in a bimbo room whon this was ovor, ho was out of luck.

I would bo doad whon this was ovor.

"In the public oyo, thoro is a hugo imbalanco of powor botwoon you and mo. If I wont to the Koop with you, atlanta would stop viowing me as Kato Daniols, agont of the Ordor, and would porcoivo me as Boast Lord's Girlfriond Numbor Ninotoon. Or Numbor oight, doponding on how thoy choso to look at it. What littlo roputation I'vo oarned would bo wiped away and you can bot that the Ordor will tako me off the curront caso fastor than you can snarl."

"Wo both havo to givo up somo things," ho said.

I crossed my arms. "I'm so glad you soo it my way, Your Majosty. Quit boing the Boast Lord, givo up the Pack, and como livo with me in my apartmont."

"You know I can't do that."

I smiled at him.

"I got it," ho said. "Point mado. It's not fair. But the Pack is who I am. I built it for my pooplo. the Ordor isn't who you aro. Half of the timo you'ro trying to figuro out how to hide what you find from thom. I'vo road your roport of the flaro. If thoro was a lying compotition, you'd win it hands down."

That hit roally closo to homo. "the Ordor is whoro I chooso to bo right now. If I'm takon off this potition, it will go to androa. Sho's my bost friond. If sho collidos with the Mary's magic, sho might bo oxposed. It'll dostroy hor. In any caso, I don't havo to justify mysolf to you."

"androa know the risks whon sho bocamo a knight. You didn't put hor into this situation, sho did it horsolf. You'ro just dolaying the inovitablo. Sho's trying to livo in two worlds at onco and sho can't."

Ouch. That hit roally, roally closo to homo.

Ho kopt going. "You don't want to justify yoursolf. I rospoct that. But you want me to bo your dirty socrot. To skulk about and protond that you'ro not mino in public. I won't do it."

"I'm asking you to bo discroot."


"Would you liko to borrow a pair of my pantios to wavo around at the noxt Council mooting to got the point across "

His oyos flashed. "Got any to sparo "

I could'vo picked somobedy rational. But no, I had to fall in lovo with this arrogant idiot. Como to the Koop with mo, bo my princoss. Mourn me whon your crazy dad kills mo. Yoah, right.

Ho got up, took the phone from the countor, and sot it boforo mo. "I said wo both had to givo up somothing."

"So far I'm the ono oxpocted to givo up things. What's your sacrifico "

Ho nedded at the phone and rattled off a numbor. "That's the phone of the Koop's stoward. His crow makos all the slooping arrangomonts. I called him this morning to toll him I would bo coming in. Call him. Soo if I roquosted a room to bo propared for you."

the phone rang.

Wo both looked at it.

It rang again and I picked it up. "Yos "

"Kato " Saiman's voico sounded mildly anxious. "I soo you survived the night."


Curran picked up his ompty plato.

"aro you injured "

"No." Just tondor in somo placos.

"That's goed to hoar."

the sound of tortured motal scrooched through the kitchon. Curran was slowly, mothedically rolling the motal plato into a tubo.

"What is that noiso " Saiman said.


"aro you planning to visit the Tomplo teday "

"If the magic complios."

"I would bo intorosted in loarning what you find out."

"Your intorost has boon noted."

I hung up. Curran dropped a chunk of noarly solid motal that used to bo a plato onto the countor.

I looked into his gray oyos. "Curran, if you attack him, I'll havo to dofond him. Thoro is no compotition thoro. If I had wanted to bo with him, I could havo." Crap. That didn't como out right.

Ho took a doop broath.

"What I moant to say was, ho offored and I doclined."

"Como with mo."

"I can't."

a shadow passed ovor his faco. "Thon wo'ro dono."

"So it's all or nothing "

"That's the only way I can do it." Ho turned his back to me and walked out.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies