The doors to Dracula’s Crypt diner chimed, and Evie snapped out of her daydream.
By Orin! Samara claimed wolves did not visit this part of the lowlands, so what were these two doing here? Her eyes followed them as they waltzed into the diner and headed left. The brunette behind the counter waved to them with a big smile.
After a few minutes contemplating, Evie leaned back in her chair and eyed the door. Was she worried about nothing? Not all wolves could sense the ascendants when they crossed parts, and even if they could, none of them would believe she was a Crowe.
No one knew of her.
Evie’s interest piqued when the brunette server tussled her hair and fiddled with her low-cut navy-blue dress before approaching the wolves. So, she took another sip of her Irish coffee and leaned forward, her gaze fixed on the men and waiter. The brunette sashayed, swaying her hips seductively as she neared them, and Evie smiled. Her visceral reaction to the well-dressed men wasn’t surprising at all. The pheromones oozed from them, drawing everyone’s attention like vultures to prey.
“A pitcher of the devil’s nectar, Krieger.” One of them ordered in a rich, resonating voice that drew Evie in.
By Orin, this damn city was out to get her. Evie took a deep breath and shifted to the edge of her seat. Her only choice was to slip out without drawing their attention, yet any moment from her would.
Her eyes stayed fixed on them as they examined their menus. Squinting, Evie noticed the similarities in their appearances and rolled her eyes; great, blessed brown wolf brothers.
Taking another sip of her drink, she continued to watch them. Her gaze drawn more to the wolf with ash brown hair and almond eyes, a dead giveaway that he was a blessed brown wolf, but there was something more about him that pulled her in.
Her phone buzzed, and she peeked at the text message from Samara. She had ditched Samara downtown to explore the lowland on her own, and she was starting to regret it. It would have been nice if Samara was here to whip up one of her spells.
She felt silly now for chastising Samara about being worried over nothing; why didn’t she just follow Samara back to the mainland? Evie shook her head as she took a deep breath before shutting off her phone’s screen. When she looked up from her phone a few seconds later, brilliant amber eyes from the wolf’s table caught her gaze.
A brown fur.
Evie inhaled a sharp breath as his gaze held her transfixed. Orin’s virtue!
Not a brown fur, he was the worst blessed fur to run into. Without a doubt, he was already stripping her thoughts bare.
This made no sense at all. In truth, her presence in Broxbridge didn’t. From the nagging pull towards the Christening and running into two blessed furs. Maybe yesterday’s black fur was a coincidence, but a brown fur in the lowlands? Broxbridge was hell-bent on exposing her.
After what felt like an eternity, she tore her gaze from him and drummed her fingers on the table, trying to distract herself from the many scenarios running through her mind. On the bright side, he was the first brown fur she’d ever seen up close.
When Samara’s billionth message buzzed, she unlocked her phone to see what it was. It would be best to head back to Sam’s now before the brown fur got any ideas.
Her eyes caught movement, and she raised her gaze from her phone to find those mesmerizing amber eyes squinting at her as he rose.
“Oh, no,” Evie murmured, looking about with a frantic air of dread, but there was no use. It took him only a second to reach her, thanks to the speed of his blessed kind.
Inadvertently, her eyes travelled the length of him—over six feet, she estimated—with his well-toned arms and strong shoulders gleaming through his tight brown trench.
“May I help you?” Her eyebrows arched in question.
Taking the other seat at her booth, he ran his fingers through his short, wavy hair, a shade of brown that matched his overcoat. Evie watched his almost enigmatic motion and blinked out of her daze with a frown.
“That is a distinctive tattoo.”
Her heart leapt at the sound of his deep, raspy voice, and she leaned back when his sandalwood scent hit her.
She looked down at the enchanted mark on her right wrist, unsure how he spotted it. In an effort to hide it, she pulled the sleeve of her navy-blue sweater till it covered up the mark that reminded her of an indelible part of her life she couldn’t remember.
“That is none of your concern.” She sipped her drink, peering at him through the rim of the glass.
With a deep, stimulating chuckle that matched his personality, he leaned against the table, giving her a glimpse at his savagely handsome face.
He was breathtaking.
“Well.” He grinned. “I’ve been known to leave a few folks breathless, so I can’t argue with you there.”
Evie narrowed her eyes at the mind-reading Lord, and set her cocktail down before clearing her throat.
“If you didn’t have that face or your privilege, brown fur, that would be impressive.”
“That makes no sense. It would be impressive for someone less good looking just because? Isn’t that ridiculously biased?”
Curious, she glanced at his brother, who seemed far more interested in the platter the waiter had just put in front of him as she touched his arm.
“You’re fortunate. Things are easier for you because of your…” she gestured at him, “looks, so it doesn’t count.”
“Doesn’t or shouldn’t?”
“What difference does it make?”
“Oh, a tonne,” he replied, leaning in. “Since you carelessly referred to the honour of the goddess’ blessing as a privilege.”
“Isn’t it?” Evie snorted. “We wouldn’t be discussing my private thoughts right now if you didn’t have your brown fur ability.”
His grin widened. “Or you are just bitter because now I know you think I am breathtaking.”
With a smile on her face, Evie shook her head. It would be breathtaking for her if she could rip out his tongue.
“I believe you’re about ready to get your breathtaking, intrusive self out of my booth.”
“Don’t be like that.”
Evie observed his eyes twirling brilliant amber as he leaned back against his seat.
“Is there something you want?” She kept her mind clear so he wouldn’t get any more from her.
“Not at all, Lady Crowe.” He stood up and stepped forward, his amber eyes sparkling in her direction.
Her jaw almost dropped as he looked steadily at her. By the gods, he already knew who she was! Her gaze flashed across the small diner; everyone was suddenly staring at her.
“I’m simply delighted to meet an ascendant. You must join us, I insist.”
Anger coursed through her veins, clamping her jaws tighter than a shark’s grip, and her eyes followed him back to his table. As his brother finally turned to her, she gripped her mobile phone in one hand.
Staying back for the ceremony was such a foolish move. Now she was stuck with a brown fur who knew who she was, and as a high Lord, he would insist on escorting her to Ethan because it was senseless to leave her by herself.
The moment she got the chance, she was out of Broxbridge, but not before evading the dashing brown fur and his brother.
With a groan, Evie rose, and the entire diner followed her lead. But she ignored them as she went across the diner to the wolves. Even if she tried to run now, she wouldn’t get very far against the speed of a blessed fur-she didn’t have abilities.
As she reached them, his brother bowed to her.
“Lady Crowe, this is a surprise and an honour!” His brown eyes shimmered with awe.
“Lady Crowe.” The dinner chorused to her.
Evie shot the brown fur a furious glare for carelessly revealing her identity, but his reaction was a sweet smile that calmed her wrath. She bobbed her head with a grunt and glared at his brown wolf brother.
“We had no idea a Lady Crowe existed!” his brother continued. “By the way, this is Oscar, and I am Newton.” As he introduced them, Newton pointed to the brown fur. “We are the Saxes.”
Her gaze shifted to Oscar. “Oscar Saxe, as I live and breathe.” Then her eyes flicked over him in sharp evaluation. Samara was right, he was…
“What, breaktaking?” Oscar grinned.
“It’s rude to prattle about in people’s minds, Lord Saxe.” Evie frowned.
“Not for me, it isn’t.”
Then Newton turned to him and whispered, “Where are your manners, Oscar? You’re addressing a high Lady.”
“At least one of you has some manners,” Evie murmured.
Oscar took a step back to look at her. Then he leaned in closer, close enough that she couldn’t help the gasp that escaped her lungs. For a minute, he just stared at her. The brilliant amber of his eyes sparkled like he was probing her soul for her secrets.
“What are you doing?” she said, breathless. “Back away, Saxe.” Her palms trembled as she took a step away from Oscar’s gaze.
“After you, Lady Crowe.” He motioned to the door.
Oscar stared at her through all the stares of the other diners, and she matched his grim gaze. She didn’t like this kind of attention at all, and the bloody Saxe was responsible!
Then, heading for the door, she said, “If you meant breathless as a pants dropping sensation, I’d wager it was more like being shattered by death itself due to your meddlesome privilege.”
Oscar’s chuckle accosted her as she walked out. She was about done worrying about her escape plan, which seemed to have taken on a life of its own. Her breath caught when she stepped out onto the pavement.
Ethan stood in front of a swarm of Tranquil Bane wolves in the middle of the street.
“Hey there, sis.” A smile spread across Ethan Crowe’s face.
“Lady Crowe.” The Tranquil Banes bowed to her.
If looks could kill, the glower Evie shot him would have knocked him dead.
As she stalked up to him with purpose, his charming smugness seeped from his eyes.
“By Orin, how did you find me?”
“Lord Commander.” The Saxes bowed before Ethan, and Evie turned to face them at her brother’s side. Oscar glanced at her. “Look who we found.”
Oh, you fool. You couldn’t just let it go, could you?
The Crowe wolves followed Ethan as he marched up to Oscar by the diner’s door. Even though Newton slightly backed away, Oscar remained rooted until Ethan was almost nose-to-nose with him.
“And?” Ethan said with keen anticipation.
Evie went to his side and nudged him in the gut. That look in his eyes was the one he got just before going reaper crazy.
“Easy there, Ethan. At the very least, thank the breathtaking Lord Saxe for his hospitality.” Oscar looked at her, and her silver eyes flared with enthusiasm.
“She was never here. This didn’t happen,” Ethan said to the Saxes.
After a begrudging bow from the two, he took Evie’s hand and led her to the black SUVs parked parallel to Hayes Landing street.
Her eyes trailed over to the brown fur of the Broxbridge tribe, and she shot him a lopsided smile. Oscar gave her a coltish wink, and she felt herself giggling as Ethan helped her into the car.
“What the hell, Evie!” Ethan barked the moment the doors closed. “Of all the wolves to run in with, the Saxe brown fur! Now they know of you.”
“By Orin’s virtue, calm yourself!” She echoed his tone. “Did the world suddenly end now that they do?”
Ethan Crowe leaned back in his chair with a deep breath.
“Evie, if anything happens to you, then Liam and I fail father. Is that really what you want?” His eyes pleaded with her, then he gave her hands a gentle squeeze.
She yanked her hand away from him. “Don’t give me that. How do you think father would feel if he knew you and Liam turned me into a prisoner in my home?”
Then he leaned forward and whispered, “Evie, sneaking off and scaring us like that was unreasonable.”
“I can think of several more unreasonable things to consider. You both deserve worse heartaches.”
“Liam wants you back immediately. I am afraid you may not be able to leave your chambers ever again.”
“Liam can burst into flames for all I care! I am not going back to Uweka!” she yelled and pulled away from him. She noticed his small, exhausted exhale. “How did you even find me?”
Ethan leaned back against the chair with a full smile, and Evie waited quietly, hating the slowness but knowing it’ll be futile to rush him.
“Althea scried for you. Father anchored you, so we could always find you.”
The billboards faded from view as they left the lowlands. Evie turned to the window, watching the trees and forests fill in. In her mind, she yelled with the force of a thousand suns.