I’d half expected Shade to tear into Gabe for admitting what he had, but was somewhat crushed when he remained sitting on the bed, watching the scene unfolding before him with calculative eyes.
His self control was otherworldly, and not in a good way. No male who’d just found his mate should act so cool and calm and collected when another male had just claimed to love his mate. But that’s exactly what Shade did, and it made me want to both hit him and weep.
What the hell was wrong with him?
Raphael put his hand on Gabe’s shoulder and gave him a disappointed look. Gabe seemed stricken, cut deep down at such an expression from his only old-brother figure he’d ever had. “The situations are not different,” Raphael said sternly, “Jocelyn White and Daisy are in the same position exactly. Being an alpha is all about not to be led by emotions when things like what happened today occur. Daisy is right; she needed to be out there today. Without her, Shade would’ve been wounded much worse and the fight wouldn’t have ended when it did. So yeah, while it’s bad attitude to disobey your direct command,” Raphael glanced at me and I winced slightly, “she was right in disobeying this specific order. You need to let her off the hook, Gabe.”
Gabe reddened in a new wave of anger. “Raphael, she – “
“Has Daisy been anything but loyal to you?” Rafe cut him off, and by his tone it was obvious he was getting annoyed with his relative. “She’s one of the two strongest healers I’ve ever encountered. She deserves to be appreciated for it, deserves to be heard and listened to. I repeat, you cannot let emotions guide you. That’s not how a good alpha does his job.”
Gabe seemed ready to kick Raphael’s balls but held himself back. Instead, he gave a jerky nod and snapped his infuriated gaze to me. “Next time you disobey me, you will suffer some consequences,” he warned.
I gave him my own version of serious gaze. “Next time you give me foolish orders, I will disobey them again.”
We glared at each other before Gabe averted his gaze back to Raphael. He was about to say something when suddenly the door was slammed open and Zavier, breathing heavily, appeared. “Claire,” he said, looking at the Necromancer, “the leader of the Hunters is here to see you. He says he’s come in peace and will only speak to you.”
Claire blanched and glanced at Zack. Zack didn’t seem happy with what his older brother said. “How sure you are that he came in peace?”
Zavier gave Zack an annoyed stare. “I checked him for weapon and he has none. I have no idea how he managed to sneak through all the extra sentries I put all over the city, or how he knew exactly where the Pack House is placed at.”
“He’s immortal,” Claire said flatly, shrugging. “Immortals know things they probably shouldn’t.”
Eve sighed. “Truer words were never said.”
Claire sighed along with her and squared her shoulders. “Let’s go see the idiot,” she said, and didn’t seem like she was waiting for it.
I strode forward at once. “I’m coming with you.”
Gabe was immediately huffing and puffing again. “Daisy Rachel Luxford – “
Raphael saved me by sending him an intimidating, pointed glare. Gabe growled but shut up.
Shade pulled himself up on his feet. “I’ll come to,” he said, and for a moment I thought it was for me, but Shade was barely even gazing at me. He was looking at Raphael. “It’s best if we deal with it and not you. I don’t think we need to know how he might regard you just yet.”
Raphael nodded. “Come on, Eve,” he said, grinning at his mate, “it’s been a long twenty-four hours for us. Let the kids handle it.”
Eve yawned and nodded in full agreement. And so Eve and Raphael went back to their rooms, while Claire, Zack, Shade and I went to the Entrance Hall, led by Zavier. Once there, I saw Miles, completely healed, standing guard next to a tall man with dirty blonde hair and cobalt eyes. He was quite handsome, I guess, and pretty hot too, but there was something twisted and not entirely sane in his eyes that kind of ruined his looks in my opinion.
He smiled at us, his eyes fastening on Claire. “Ah, yes,” he said as a greeting, his voice deep and amused, “that’s the body I threw to Logia. It looks much better now, I daresay.”
Zack began to growl but Claire put a hand on his chest, efficiently calming him down. “Hello, Dorian,” she said, giving him a big smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “What can we do for you after you attacked this city’s sentries?”
Dorian, the leader of the Divine Hunters, chuckled. “Yeah, about that,” he gave us an almost childish, sheepish grin, “it’s not, erm, the Hunters.”
Claire narrowed her eyes and both Zack and Shade tensed. I, on the other hand, studied Dorian curiously and scented the air. He reeked of catnip. What the fuck?
Incredulous silence seemed to stretch before Claire spoke. “Explain, Dorian,” she said, folding her arms, “because last time I checked, those attackers claimed to be the Divine Hunters.”
He eyed her with what seemed like odd intrigue. “I guess you probably figured out how we worked,” he said, “and believe me, attacking your blasted city is not how we usually roll. You know that.” A faint British accent entered his voice and I wondered if he was, indeed, British. Maybe that was why he smelled so weird?
“Then who were these people?” Zack inquired, arching a skeptical eyebrow.
Dorian shrugged. “They were new recruits, wanted to prove something to me by going big or going home. I told them the rules. They didn’t listen. They made a foul out of themselves, those blasted kids.”
“So they were still yours,” Shade murmured darkly, drawing Dorian’s attention as though he realized there was a true predator here. Shade loomed next to me, his face dark. “What stops us from ripping your throat out, then? Those were still Hunters, whether under direct orders or not. You’re still their leader. We kill you, we give the Hunter a power vacuum that would be hard to fill.”
The leader’s eyes flashed and he grinned, exposing his teeth. He was regarding Shade as the true threat here, and he was right. While Zack held the Beta position of the Millennium Wolves, it was Shade whom I always suspected to be the truly stronger one between the two. “If you kill me, the Hunters would go on a rampage. That wouldn’t do any good for the werewolves of North America.”
“But by keeping you alive, you will keep on killing werewolves,” Shade gave him a truly focused stare, like that of a true hunter.
Dorian gave us all an easy grin and a dishrag. “I just came to apologize on the behalf of those blasted recruits. I came in peace, so I won’t kill any of you blasted wolves. That’s all I’ve come here today for. Next time I see you and I deem you a threat,” his own eyes darkened, “you won’t come out of the duel alive.”
Shade gave him a grim, hard stare before nodding. “Apology is not accepted, and we will keep on trying to point you down. Since you came in peace, you will go at peace, but next time you step foot in Lumen, in any place that your foot does not belong to, you will feel our wrath.”
“Yes, yes, I hear you,” he grinned sloppily, then winked at Claire. “Good to see you again, this time alive and well in your own body, Claire. Say hi to Chloe for me.”
Miles, who stood silent all the while, was now tensed, and his eyes held a haunted look to them. He growled, voice more animal than human when he snarled, “Don’t say her name.”
Dorian blinked, as though confused, and when he looked at Miles, then at Claire and Zack, whose faces were trying to show indifference but were unusually white and tight-lipped, he blinked again, this time with realization. “She’s dead, isn’t she?”
“It’s none of your business,” Claire almost snapped.
The leader gave another long, lingering gaze on our group, before he said in a strangely musingly seriosu tone, “Chloe Danes was suffering from depression, you know. Back when she was alive the first time and I was visiting Houston with my Hunters, I saw her sometimes. She always had this dead look in her eyes. When she was raised again, along with you, Claire, I had a hunch that hadn’t changed.”
Miles’s face was stricken, as though he’d been slapped. Claire, Zack and even Shade, too, seemed a little disconcerted by Dorian’s words, or more so by his grave voice.
He continued after a sigh. “I would guess that you thought her selfish and pitiful to simply give up on life like I assume she did. But what you must understand is that she couldn’t live with herself any longer. From the way I see it, Claire, you had no problem leaving her body and return to yours, to have your own mind without anyone intruding on you. The only reason Chloe was, perhaps, somewhat happy after your dual-revival case, was because she wasn’t alone, she always had you there. When you walked away from that...” he shrugged. “Unless her mate could’ve somehow replaced your place in her head, she felt completely, truly alone.”
Another sigh. “Well, that’s what I think, but I’m just a bloody Hunter, right? What do I know?” he gave a bark of laughter and his eyes returned to their earlier insanity. “Anyhoo, I’ll take my leave, fellas. Kind of disappointed you chose that silly Beta after all, Claire.”
Zack growled in warning and Claire gave Dorian an annoyed look. “Goodbye, Masterson.”
It finally clicked to me that he was going to leave now. I couldn’t have him leave yet. “Wait!” I blurted out louder than I intended, and that draw Dorian’s gaze along with everyone else’s. I kept my gaze on the Hunters’ leader, however, and concentrated. “Do you know someone called Webb Montgomery?” I asked, heart thumping loud in my chest. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to at least know if Fred’s intuition had been right.
Dorian studied me, as though he hadn’t noticed me until now. His eyes narrowed and I could see his nostrils flare. Was he sniffing me? “Huh,” he said, reaching to some conclusion. “I see now. Yes, I did know Webb. He died a few years ago, however.”
My heart was booming in my ears. “He was part of the Hunters?”
His eyes locked on me, probing, and I struggled to stare back. Then he cocked his head and said, “No, he wasn’t,” he said, and before I could feel the crushed wave of disappointment, he added, “but I do wonder what the head healer of West Coast Pack wants from a dead sadistic motherfucker.″
My skin grew cold and I paled. “None of your business.”
He shrugged. “If that’s all, then,” he gave us all a last, mad gaze before blinking out of existence, teleporting away as he pleased. I had no idea someone who wasn’t a Deity could do that... or was he a Deity? Not that I cared.
No one spoke for a few moments after he departed, and then Claire looked at me with strange eyes. “Who’s Webb Montgomery?”
Claire was my friend. Shade, Zack and Miles, however, were not. “No one,” I said flatly and began to walk away. “I’m going to check on the remaining patients.” Because if I went to sleep now, I would end up twisting and turning in bed.
If I was to believe Dorian’s words, and I wasn’t so inclined to do so, then that meant there was something more to Webb Montgomery, something that my gut told me if I dug any deeper, I would be sorry to learn the truth.
Yet I was in too deep to pull out now.