We were the last to arrive to the lounge. Gabe was talking quietly to Zavier, Zach and Omar, sending careful glances to Miles, who stood by the window stoically and seemed as hollow as ever. Juniper was talking on the phone, her face an annoyed scowl, and I guessed she might be talking to her brother, Jed, who was currently over at Houston, Texas. Besides them, Claire and Daphne were there, looking worried, and Eve and Raphael stood at the corner and seemed to be arguing.
Once Gabe noticed we arrived, he cleared his throat and rose to his feet. “Guys, Shade and Daisy are here,” he announced and everyone turned to look at us, or rather at me. There were questions and judgment in their eyes which I avoided by looking at my feet. “Let’s start.”
Eve hissed something to Rafe before she strode over and threw herself on a vacated sofa. Rafe let out a low growl before settling next to her, face annoyed. Juniper hung up, standing by Claire’s chair, and Miles grabbed a seat, face still distracted. I couldn’t really blame him.
Raphael was the first to speak, looking at me. “Daphne told us about the how of what happened yesterday,” he said without preambles. I sighed and sat down on the sofa before him, Shade taking the seat next to me. “I want to hear it in your words.”
I glanced at my sister and tried to discern from her apologetic gaze what exactly she told them. I got nothing. So I decided to be as vague as I could be. “A few years ago, I tried healing with my violin,” I said, leaning my elbows on my knees. “It worked. Somehow, it made my healing powers stronger. I never thought it would work on a human, though, but I felt it was better trying than be sorry later.”
“Which I agree was a good call,” Raphael’s eyes flashed gold and narrowed. “But what I don’t understand was why you didn’t tell anyone about it. Either you or Daphne.” He sent an irritated look to my sister, who winced.
And that pulled out the mama hen in me, the one who was extremely protective over her little sister. “I asked Daphne not to tell anyone,” I said, giving him an annoyed look of my own. “It wasn’t something I wanted to advertise. It’s freaky enough as it is; have you ever heard of werewolf healers who healed with music?”
Eve and Raphael suddenly exchanged glances. They seemed to be communicating telepathically, like I knew they could, and it didn’t make me feel better. Then Eve’s piercing eyes turned to me. “I’m going to breach a very delicate subject here,” she informed me, “and I need you to be honest with me, Daisy. Can you do that?”
Something in her voice made me tense. Whatever it was she wanted to say, I knew I wouldn’t like it. Not at all. “I’ll do my best,” I said, my hands curling. I needed to brace myself for whatever it was.
A warm hand landed on my clenched fist. Jerking, I glanced sideway and saw Shade staring grimly at Eve. His hand was on mine. Was he trying to comfort me? That couldn’t be it. Shade wasn’t this kind of guy. He wasn’t touchy-feely like that. Yet he was holding my hand, actually touching me skin-to-skin. My heart pounded loudly at that.
But then Eve spoke and the moment I had was broken. “This morning, I went to visit your parents. I asked about you and if they knew about what you did. They told me something I didn’t expect to hear.”
Daphne snapped her gaze to Eve now, and I knew where this was going. My mouth went dry.
“Your mother, Lyra, told me about her being raped,” Eve said, and I could see she was trying to be nice here, but it came out almost cruel from her. “She said that, against all odds, she got pregnant from her rapist, even though she was mated to Cyrus and it shouldn’t have happened. Then, she told me she gave birth to you. Which means you’re only half werewolf, and half something else. I’m guessing that something was not human.”
I paled. Daphne shot me a look of fury. “What the fuck? Did you know about this, Daisy?”
I felt cornered. Everyone’s eyes were on me. I wanted to hide somewhere. I wanted to upchuck. This was not what I had planned. I wanted to tell everybody about Webb only after I found out more. I didn’t want Daphne to figure it out like this. She hadn’t known!
Raphael let out a curse. “I told you it wasn’t a good time for that,” he murmured darkly to his mate.
Eve’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not trying to be the bad guy here, Daisy. And I think after you used Snow for whatever purpose of yours, you owe me that much.”
My mouth spoke before I realized it did. “You told me I was off the hook after saving Reyna.”
Her eyes flashed violet. “I did let you off the hook, despite the fact I want to tear you fucking apart for hurting my baby. So the least you can do is just tell the truth.”
I started shaking. Webb Montgomery was my mission. It was the one thing I felt like I needed to solve on my own. I didn’t want anyone in my mess other than myself. I was wrong when I took Snow’s blood, I know. But at least I didn’t go snooping about Eve behind her back and uncovered all of the dark secrets she had, which I was sure were worse than mine.
“The matter of Daisy’s true parentage isn’t related to anything of importance right now,” Shade spoke, drawing everyone’s attention off me. I looked at him, and saw he was staring at Eve almost coldly. “We’re here to discuss much more urgent things than that. Satisfy your selfish curiosity some other time.”
Eve jerked as though Shade slapped her, and she sent him a death glare. When a vampire as old as she was sent you this kind of look, you feared for your life. Shade, however, remained completely cool and serious, and stared back at her, unmoving.
And at that moment, he became my hero. I looked down at his hand on mine, and felt tears burning my eyes. I’d never in my wildest dreams imagined he would stick up for me. I never thought I would get that much from him. It made my heart ache that he actually cared about me, to a certain degree.
Through choked throat, I managed to whisper a soft, “Thank you.”
And when his hand squeezed mine, I melted.
“Shade’s right, Eve,” Gabe said, irked. “There are more important issues on the plate for now. Let’s start talking about them instead.”
Sucking in a deep breath and forcing the tears back, I put myself under control and raised my head. Glancing at Daphne, I could see her giving me a furious look. Her eyes told me we would have words later about what had just occurred. I guess we would, then.
“First things first,” Zavier said, and I saw him looking at the notepad he carried with him everywhere. “Reyna – what happened to her?”
“No clue,” Juniper shook her head, grimacing. “The girl isn’t talking to anyone about what happened.”
“She refused to tell even Martin,” Raphael said, pinching the skin between his eyebrows. “According to Martin, while she’s not the most forthcoming person in the world, she does tell him about things like that, usually.”
“She’s not acting herself,” Daphne added in, “I’m usually on good terms with her, and she blew me off, cussing at me. Something’s wrong with her.”
“Nothing we can do about it now, though,” Gabe said, sighing, “if she doesn’t speak, then we’ll have to wait until she does. Until that happens, I sent sentinels to check the area where Miles found her. I’ve already started the search after whoever hurt her.”
“It was a man,” I said, looking at Gabe. “Make sure you tell your sentinels it was man. When I talked to her about an hour ago, she said it was a ‘he’.”
Gabe nodded and looked at Zavier. “That’s settled then until farther notice. Next.”
Zavier said, “The situation in Texas. Any news from Jed?” he looked at Juniper when he asked.
The Spymaster shook her head no. “Jed said he’s on the lookout for any movement, but so far, after their attack here in Lumen, the Hunters are keeping a low profile.”
“Fucking Dorian,” Zachary growled. “I hate that he plays games with us.”
“But that’s Dorian,” Claire shrugged. “He likes hide and seek.”
Juniper rolled her eyes. “Anyway, no news in this area.”
“Does Jed know about Reyna?” Omar suddenly asked, seeming contemplative.
“No,” Raphael said, grimacing. “I ordered Juniper not to tell him a word. He needs to concentrate on Houston.”
“Who said him hearing about Reyna would distract him?” Claire asked, frowning. “What I heard was that they were friends. He should at least know what his friend went through.”
Nobody answered that and silence stretched in the room. Claire didn’t meet Jed, didn’t see his interaction with the would-be queen. They might be friends, but it was obvious something more had been brewing there for a while. Still, no one wanted to speak of that because until things weren’t settled in stone, it didn’t matter.
“I’ll explain to you later,” Zach murmured to his mate, and turned to his brother. “So Jed is doing his job. Good. What’s next?”
Zavier scratched his head in thought. “Well, I don’t know how urgent this is, but it’s good for you all to know. A new werewolf family moved into the city.”
“Someone we need to be on guard around?” Eve asked, tensing.
“We’re not sure about that yet,” Gabe said, leaning back in his chair. “They were very secretive and closed off when I met them. All I know is that they asked to move here from the Mexico Pack and that Mexico’s alpha, Pedro Suarez, was more than willing to let them leave. It was almost like he wanted to be rid of them.”
“That doesn’t sound Promising,” Raphael said, looking exhausted all of a sudden. “What’s their name again?”
“Redway,” Zavier said, and I felt Shade next to me suddenly freezing. “They’re five in total; Cristiona, Morrigan, Marceline, Ivan and Gerardo. Cristiona and Ivan are mated and Morrigan and Marceline are their twin daughters.”
Shade took his hand off me as though he’d been burned and when I glanced at him, I saw that while his entire body was frozen as a statue and his face didn’t show anything away, his eyes were a stormy jungle. Something about this family was ruffling his fur the wrong way.
“What about Gerardo?” Eve asked, eyes contemplative. “Isn’t he their son or something?”
“We have no idea,” Gabe grimaced. “It was all very strange; they didn’t address him, didn’t even mention anything about him aside his name. What I did notice is that he’s around sixteen or seventeen, and he looks nothing like them.”
“I don’t have a good feeling about this family, Gabe,” Raphael said, lips pursed. “Too much mystery around a so-called simple werewolf family is never good.”
I had to agree with them. There were two types of werewolf families; simple or complicated. No in between. If a werewolf family was more complicated than your average werewolf family, then something was bound to be fucked up there.
And also Shade’s response to this news bothered me. Really bothered me.
“Well, if it makes you feel better, I invited them to dinner tonight,” Gabe said, “and you can all sniff around them for your liking. We will discuss it farther afterwards.”
“Agreed,” Rafe nodded and turned to Zavier. “Anything else in your list?”
“Nope,” Zavier closed the notepad and tucked it under his arm. “That’s it for now. Be at the Dinning Hall at eight.”
“All dismissed, then,” Raphael rose to his feet and looked at his mate. “Come on. We need to meet Killian for lunch soon.”
Eve sighed. “I really wish he had better timing sometimes,” she murmured but followed Raphael out.
Seeing that everyone was about to disperse, I stood up as well. “You coming?” I asked Shade. He was my shadow, after all.
But he was stuck in place, eyes still stormy, almost horribly so, and a warning bell tinkled in my head. I’d never seen him like that. I doubted anyone else had, too. What the hell was it about this family that made him look like this?
I wanted to ask, to offer comfort, but I knew that this was not the time. Shade wasn’t a man who needed comforting. He was used to take care of himself. Even if I was mate, things like that didn’t just go away. Sure, he’d opened up a little to me, but it was nowhere close near the true trust I needed him to have in me, or he needed, for that matter.
Waiting until everyone was out of the lounge, I crouched before him and cupped his cheek. He tensed, and his stormy jungle eyes went to mine. “I don’t know what’s going on in your head,” I told him softly, brushing my thumb against his cheekbone, “and I know you probably don’t want to tell me. So I’m not going to push you, not today at least. But I do wish you would let me at least hold you.” Because my wolf was going crazy, nudging at my skin, with worry about him. The healer in me couldn’t bear seeing him suffering from whatever demon that was haunting him.
For a few minutes, he simply stared at me, unblinking. Then he closed his eyes tightly, let out a growl, and grabbed the wrist of my hand that was cupping his face. For a moment my heart stilled, sure he was going to shove me away again. I even closed my eyes and braced myself for it, even though it broke me that he was going to do that again, was going to shut me out again, after the small progress I finally made today.
But, to my utter shock, he used my wrist to pull me forward and then his arms were around me, his face buried in my neck, and he hugged me tightly, as if afraid that if he let go, he might collapse.
My heart thudded so loudly I was sure he could hear it, and I was so shocked for a moment that I didn’t move. But then I did what came naturally to me; I settled myself between his thighs, put my arms around his shoulder, and grabbed his hair with my hand, tugging his head even closer to my neck.
“I’m here,” I whispered, and tears welled in my eyes again at the suffocating emotions that churned inside me. “I’m right here and I’m not letting go, baby.”
I didn’t know if he heard me or if his mind was elsewhere, but it didn’t matter. He let me hold him. He let me hold him. It meant more than anything else. It was everything. It was better than his grin. It was better than him joking with me.
It was better than everything that had ever happened between us.
And so I held him, my tears falling softly, none of us making a sound.