The Lost Saint Page 71

Jude finally looked me in the eyes. His flashed with silver at first, but then softened into the violet eyes that were a mirror image of mine. My brother was in there somewhere. “Just don’t pull a stunt like that again, and you’ll be fine,” he whispered. “It’s Daniel he wants.”

“I can hear you,” Caleb said. “Superhearing, remember?”

“Sorry, Father.” Jude lowered his head and stepped aside as Caleb approached.

The welt across Caleb’s cheekbone had lessened some, but it was still a bright pink. He sneered in my direction, but then walked past me to Gabriel, who was held by only one guard now.

“I’m impressed,” Caleb said. “I set a trap for one nuisance and ended up with two. It’s fitting that you’ll see what I’m going to do here. Since ultimately, this all comes down to you and your pack.”

“What do you mean?” Gabriel asked.

Caleb’s crooked smile danced on his lips. “We both know Sirhan is dying. And when he does, I’ll be there for the challenging ceremony.”

“You’re not wolf enough to show up there alone,” Gabriel said. I could practically hear the bluff in his voice. “You weren’t even wolf enough to try to kill Sirhan yourself. You made your little friends do it, and they ended up killing Rachel in the process. The pack doesn’t forgive easily.”

“I’m more wolf than you,” Caleb said. “You sit up on your mountain, teaching werewolves to go against their nature, to be peaceful. Thanks to you, they won’t be ready for the fight I’m bringing their way. As you’ve seen, I’ve been recruiting my own pack. And my boys and me, we’re coming to that challenging ceremony, and we’re taking over. We’ve collected enough money to buy off the other challengers, and we’re strong enough to fight anyone else. I’ll spit on Sirhan’s corpse before they lower it into the ground. I’ll have everything that should have been mine years ago. And the best part is that you’ll just stand by and watch it all happen, won’t you?”

Gabriel didn’t answer. He just stared at Caleb, as if unmoved by his admission.

So my fear had been right? Caleb wanted to take over Sirhan’s pack, and Gabriel was going to do nothing to stop him? If Caleb was capable of practically overrunning the city with fear as the leader of the Shadow Kings, what would happen if he became the alpha of the strongest pack in the country?

It would be Gevaudon all over again.

Caleb’s eyes seemed to flash with satisfaction at Gabriel’s blank response. “Coward,” he said, and cuffed Gabriel across the forehead with his fist.

Gabriel grunted. His eyes rolled back in his head, and he went limp. His captor let go of him, and he crumpled to the ground. The Shadow Kings were apparently good at knocking people out with a single blow. I wondered if that was how they had pulled off so many crimes without eyewitnesses.

“Now, I just have one last thing to take care of.” Caleb turned around, smiling like a jackal, and approached Daniel. “I thought you were gone for good until Jude told me where to find you,” Caleb said to Daniel. “I was surprised you’d come back. Last I’d heard, you’d split town when I left with your mother. And then you just dropped off the map. I was hoping you were dead. I told your mother you were.”

Daniel almost flinched at the mention of his mother. It had been almost four years since she chose Caleb over him. “And where is she? I’m sure you have her on a leash around here somewhere.”

“I killed her.” Caleb pulled a short knife from a sheath on his belt. “With this.”

“What?” Daniel struggled to break free. He always said he didn’t have a real mother, but I knew he still cared about her.

“She kept bitching about wanting to come back for you. So I told her you were dead. But that only made her angrier. She wouldn’t shut up, so I stabbed her. I guess you can say it’s your fault she died.”

Daniel’s nostrils flared. “So if you didn’t want to find me then, why do you want me now? I assume this trap was set for me?”

“Quite right,” Caleb said. “I’m glad your friend told us where to find you. Saved me the trouble of doing it myself before the challenging ceremony. Thing is, I thought Jude looked familiar when Talbot brought him home to us. He’d been living on the streets like a stray. Most of my boys were. That’s the nice thing about desperate teenagers—they’re easy to dominate. You tell them they belong, and they’ll do pretty much anything you ask. But I didn’t realize who Jude was until one night he decided to entertain us with the story of how he became a werewolf. Seems his sister Grace and her boyfriend, Daniel, had something to do with it. You can imagine how much I enjoyed listening to his story from the balcony, and how badly I wanted to know more.

“He tried to run when he realized who I was and what I wanted. But then I helped him see we had something in common. We’d both been betrayed by our families. Sirhan would rather leave his pack in the hands of a coward like Gabriel than let me lead it the way it should be led. And Jude’s family chose the mutt next door over their own son. Once we saw eye to eye, it was only a matter of time before we set our trap.”

Caleb’s explanation still didn’t make sense. Why would he set such an elaborate trap just to see Daniel again? Why did he even care? He’d already replaced Daniel twenty times over with the boys in his pack. Why would he send Talbot to become friends with me, only to kidnap me later and leave a trail for Daniel? I didn’t know if these were the workings of a madman, or some genius plot I couldn’t comprehend.

“The thing about your friend’s story that baffled me,” Caleb said, standing right in front of Daniel, “is that he claims you’ve been cured. I didn’t think that was possible. I still don’t.”

In a lighting-quick movement, Caleb thrust the knife at Daniel. I screamed. The knife plunged into Daniel’s upper arm. Caleb pulled it out, and blood spurted from the wound. It slithered down Daniel’s arm.

Caleb dabbed at the cut with his fingers. Daniel winced. Caleb brought his bloodstained fingers to his nose and sniffed. I assumed he was testing it to see if it smelled like wolf’s blood or like a human’s—like Daniel had tested Jude’s blood when he found it on our porch, and that was how he knew Jude had been infected. Caleb’s eyes squinted with confusion. He tasted the blood with the tip of his tongue. I tried not to gag. His forehead creased, and he seemed even more confused. Then he beckoned Talbot to his side.

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