That night I went to the Red Market. In retrospect, I realized how foolish it was, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity. Fred contacted me through one of the pirate websites of the Market, telling me he’d found something about Webb Montgomery, and despite the fact the Market was open at the same night of the same day Eve and Raphael found out someone was using Snow, I knew I couldn’t pass this up, consequences be damned.
Still, I wasn’t so stupid that I took Snow’s blood again. Instead, I decided to give something else to Fred in return for his information. Hopefully it would be good enough.
At midnight, I sneaked out of the Pack House and grabbed my bike from their shadowy corner of the parking lot (after the fight with the would-be Hunters, I’d gone surreptitiously to retrieve them from the previous battlefield). Turning the engine on, I drove away from the House, the neighborhoods, the Wolf City in general.
I arrived Eugene ’round two, and hunted down the Market. I found the marking on some old shop’s windows, carved, RM II–. That meant the Red Market was two blocks away underground again. There weren’t many times the Market wasn’t underground somewhere; blood-suckers preferred it like that for better secrecy
Reaching the mentioned block, I descended the stair in an unlocked shoe store, and found that the entire basement of this place was cleared and now was vastly used for the Market.
Anxiety began eating me as I moved through the people. Every time I visited the Market, I was on edge, feeling like something bad would happen. That feeling remained with me now. Trying my best to avoid eye contact with anyone, and hoping that my mortality wasn’t showing, I rapidly searched for Fred, and found the vampyre sitting in that seat of his, face grim. That was new.
“Fred,” I said as I marched toward him. His eyes snapped up to me, sunken. I stopped right before him. “What’s wrong?”
“Stop looking for Webb Montgomery’s past,” he said hollowly then, so unlike him that my skin ran hot and cold and goosebumps covered it. “I got a visit from a Deity. She threatened me to stop feeding you information.”
My stomach dropped. “Which Deity?” I asked, breathing hitching. It couldn’t have been Kim, because he was a good Deity, and besides, Fred mentioned a she...
“Llinos,” he said simply, giving me a pointed look. My heart skipped a beat at the name. Llinos was an androgynous Deity that was neither good nor bad – neutral. She was the one who made Eve the dangerous woman she was today. Why did she interfere with my search? Why did Webb Montgomery stirred such a commotion just by having his name mentioned?
“Fred,” I said softly, and decided to reveal my true intention behind finding Webb. Maybe that would propel him to help me. “Webb Montgomery was my biological father.”
His eyes widened significantly. “That can’t be,” he murmured, stupefied, “you’re a werewolf.”
He found something. I knew for a fact that he found something. “What was he, Fred?” I inquired, my skin growing clammy with sweat. “Please tell me. I’ll give you something in return, I promise.”
“You’re asking me to risk a Deity’s wrath,” he informed me, eyes turning cold. “What do you have that might be appealing for me more that what you’ve been offering the last few months?”
That sentence told me that even if I had Snow’s blood with me, he wouldn’t have taken it because he was terrified of Llinos. That meant only one thing.
Disgust boiled in my gut at the predicament. But I needed to know more about Webb, needed to understand what he passed on to me, why was I one of the most powerful healers to ever exist. I needed to know, or else I would never be able to master my abilities.
A picture of Shade popped into my mind, staring after me as I fled the Dinning Hall earlier this night. What would he think if he knew what I was about to do? Would any progress I managed to achieve with him be wiped out completely? Or would he listen to my reasoning and understand where I came from?
But Shade wasn’t here. He also probably wouldn’t even care. He was the one who declared he didn’t want a mate, so it would probably be nothing for him.
That pitiful thought – so unlike me – brought on the numbness I sought. “Come with me,” I told Fred and grabbed his wrist. A little dazed, Fred let me lead him away from the Market and into a dark spot among the pushed rows of shoe boxes. There, I sat him down and before he could speak, straddled him.
He froze and stared. “You have a mate.”
How did he know that, I didn’t bother to even think about. He was an information broker. Gathering information, especially about his clients, was what he did for a living. “He doesn’t want me,” I told him, fixing my gaze on his. “And honestly, I don’t think I want him either.” That last part was a lie but I didn’t let him hear the deceit in my tone.
However, he didn’t look convinced. He also strained to keep his eyes on my face alone, despite hardening beneath me. “That last thing I need is for you to get me into trouble with the Gamma of the Millennium.”
So he knew who my mate was. Whatever. Giving him a smile, I pulled my hair back and cocked my head to the side, exposing my neck for him. His eyes fastened on the skin there, on the prominent vein, and his eyes went neon-blue as his fangs probed his lower lip. “I can’t,” he whispered.
“My blood is that of a werewolf and something else,” I told him, “that something else was Webb Montgomery’s blood.” It was a gamble, just to see if what I already suspected about my true father was true.
And I was proven right when I saw the resistance in his eyes breaking and felt his hands tugging at my hair, exposing my neck farther. Then his lips were on my skin and I shuddered, but not pleasure. I shuddered because my body screamed at me how wrong it was for someone who was my mate touch me like that intimately, where usually only your mate could touch, could mark.
But Shade was not in the stage of even thinking of me as a possibility of a future. And while I promised to fight hard for him, it stung that he needed cajoling and convincing. Was I not good enough? Was I not pretty enough?
When Fred’s fangs sank into my skin, causing me to tense with pain, I knew the answer. I wasn’t good enough for him, not for a long shot. Shade deserved someone better than who I was now, letting some leech to munch on my neck for information.
Wiping the disturbing thoughts from my head, I let him drink for a few long moments before I began with my questions. “Who was Webb Montgomery?”
Fred moaned against my skin. Apparently my blood, like I gambled, was good. “He was a Wielder,” he murmured as he kept on suckling. “Energy Wielder.”
My blood ran cold, but the vampyre with me didn’t notice his meal had chilled. Energy Wielder. Of all things Webb Montgomery could be, I did not expect that.
Kimbringe had built an Academy for gifted kids, humans who could control actual energy and bend its shape for their whims. I didn’t know much about where those kids came from, or how Kimbringe found them, but I did know they were called Wielders, Kim’s school was called Dengen Academy, and Eve’s ward, Killian Darrow, had attended and graduated that school.
If Webb Montgomery had gone to Dengen Academy as a teenager... That would explain Kim’s reaction when I told him the name. But why was his reaction so negative? Why did Dorian call him sadistic monster? And how come Dorian knew about him in the first place? Why didn’t Llinos want me to know that tidbit about him?
When I felt myself getting a little dizzy with loss of blood, I grabbed Fred’s hair and pushed his head back. “What else did you find?” I commanded, looking into his hazed eyes.
He said instead, “Your blood tastes divine.”
“Answer me,” I insisted, tensing.
He grabbed my head in his hands. “Leave the Gamma,” he murmured, voice husky, “be with me. Let me feed on your blood. I’ll shower you with anything else that you might want.”
He was high on my blood. Actually high. I had no idea how it was possible, but I knew that I needed to get out of here and away from him. Now. So without speaking farther, I jumped on my feet backward, said a short, “Bye, Fred,” and left the Market.
I didn’t allow myself to think much as I mounted my bike, turned them on, and began driving into the eerily quiet night.
Halfway from Eugene to Lumen, I knew I was being follow. I was still dizzy from the blood loss, the wound on my neck had already healed yet still splotches of my blood could be found on the unmarred skin, but my senses worked just fine. Daring to glance behind me, I saw a sleek black SUV I recognized.
It was Zavier’s car.
I was so busted.
But instead of submitting to their obvious pursue, I found myself pushing the gas. I wasn’t ready to be caught and expected to answer some tough questions. I wasn’t ready for the Spanish Inquisition. I wasn’t ready to face all the crimes I’d committed in the past few months.
So I sprinted as far away as I could from them, but the SUV was pretty fast and caught up to me. So I decided to take a different detour. Careening the bike in a dangerous, unexpected way, I left the highway and drove into the woods next to them, the woods of Deschutes National Forest. Then I ditched my bike, knowing I could send pick up for them tomorrow or something, shifted into my wolf, and used every trick in the bag to mask my scent from my chasers.
I hid between the bushes, keeping myself against the wind direction, as the wolves got out of the SUV and surveyed my fallen bike. Zavier apparently had backup; Omar, Raphael’s Warlord and also PR person, and none other than Shade.
At seeing my bike, I saw Zavier turning to Shade, face serious. “She’s your mate,” he stated flatly, “she’s yours to hunt down.”
Shade didn’t look happy with the order. “She might be my mate, but she’s not my responsibility.”
“Greyson here is right and you know it,” Omar said, eyes narrowed on Shade. “We can’t help you hunt her down. That’s as far as we can go.”
“Don’t forget to get her to talk,” Zavier added, face dead-serious. “We need to know why she sneaked out of the Pack House in the middle of the night to go Eugene. We need to know why she does that every couple of weeks on the same exact day, has been doing it for the past few months.”
Shade’s face turned both grim and scary. Omar noticed the change in him and actually dared to smirk. “You got yourself a troublemaker for a mate.”
“That’s why I never wanted to find her,” he growled, and both Zavier and Omar looked at him like he lost his mind. “I don’t need this kind of shit in my life.”
My wolf didn’t like that, not one bit, and, despite my better judgment and because I was in her shape, I found myself – found her – snarling, breaking the terse silence.
The three tensed. “She’s here,” Zavier said, giving Shade an accusing glance. “And she’s heard what you’ve just said. I don’t think she likes it.”
“Good luck trying to capture a pissed off female wolf,” Omar grinned widely at Shade. Shade didn’t seem to hear them. His eyes were focused on the bushes I hid behind, flaring like a wild jungle.
When he launched, I turned around and fled. And thus the chase began.