Tracked: A Valkyrie Saga Book 2

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Chapter 2 - Broad Street Diner

Fuck, I’m confused.

The magic the witches were using to keep me in my wolf form and all of the blood that they were taking was really messing with my head. Then, all of a sudden there is a female Val kneeling in front of my cage telling me that we are going to be friends and asking me not to eat her face. She broke me out of that god forsaken cage and moments after bullets started flying. Before I knew it the scene had devolved into screaming and pain.

I was a wolf. I had no business sticking my nose into Valkyrie politics, but something inside of me needs to protect this brave and lost girl. Not to mention the fact that Ray is the only Valkyrie in my entire life to treat me like an equal. I didn’t understand what was going on with her people, but I did know that we were now indeed friends.

-- Logan Torres

Logan waited for me to catch up and then we walked side by side down the sidewalk to some unknown location. If I didn’t have so much on my mind I might have been more worried about where we were going, but all I could think about was the royals and how to get myself out of this mess. What would they do now that they knew that I had five Gifts? I doubted that Kaiden would be the only one to react dramatically. How did I protect myself while still exploring this new world I seem to have stumbled into?

I was lost in my thoughts when Logan started talking, distracting me from my own problems. “My brother was right. I drove down here to square some things with Lawrence and the Oakland Pack. But once I got down here, I decided that I could use some fun before dealing with those tight-asses, so I went to Solace for a couple of drinks.”

“Solace?” I asked and Logan looked over at me with disbelief written all over his face.

“You’re telling me that you are a teenage supernatural in the Bay Area and you don’t know about the supernatural nightclub? What rock have you been hiding under? You are like a walking, talking contradiction,” Logan declared and I gave him my best nonplussed stare. He laughed at my attitude and then said, “No seriously, what is up with you? How is it that the scariest motherfucker in the kingdom just called you the most powerful Valkyrie to live and yet you seem weirdly clueless.”

“Hernan?” I asked to clarify that he was calling the queen’s brother the scariest supernatural in the kingdom. Logan raised his eyebrows at me, as if to say that I was proving his point before giving me a slight nod of his head.

I blew out a breath and fought off a particularly intense dizzy spell before answering, “I seem clueless because I am clueless. My abusive excuse of a father raised me in isolation away from all other Valkyries and when he got himself murdered four years ago the state of California put me in the human foster care system. Before two weeks ago, I hadn’t interacted with any other supernaturals for years. And now, every person I meet expects me to act a certain way or wants to use me in some kind of power play. If it were up to me, everyone would just leave me alone,” I told him in a heated voice.

“Well shit. That explains a lot,” Logan said as I stumbled on my own two feet. He reached out and caught me before I fell on my face. “You okay?” he asked and I nodded my head.

“Just low blood sugar. I’ll be fine.” Logan took a moment to look me over before deciding to take my word for it and we continued to walk towards wherever we were going.

“Solace is a supernatural nightclub. It is run by the vamps, but all types are welcome and show up there. It is a kind of neutral ground where all of us supes can interact. I went there looking for some fun and caught the attention of this fine ass witch. Witches can throw one hell of a party, so when she asked me if I wanted to come home with her, I didn’t hesitate. Once we were in her car she must have put some kind of spell on me to knock me out because the next thing I remember is waking up in that cage in my wolf form. They seemed to be only interested in draining my blood to make that weird ass new drug that has been circulating around the human underground. I tried to escape, but as you remember the cage was spelled to zap me anytime I touched the bars.”

“Maybe next time you will think twice before going home with complete strangers,” I muttered under my breath and Logan started chuckling.

“Says the teenage girl who is blindly following a convicted criminal werewolf,” Logan replied in a teasing tone. The whole convicted criminal part was a little concerning, but I was confident that I could take him, even in my weakened state.

I pointed Kaiden’s dagger at him and replied, “Anytime, anyplace Mr. Wolf.”

Logan eyed the bloody dagger and then met my gaze before saying, “Seriously though, I would never hurt you. You can trust me.”

I truth checked him and he wasn’t lying. Logan wasn’t going to hurt me.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly before asking, “Where are you taking me then?”

“Broad Street Diner,” he replied and turned to keep walking. I looked around and noticed that we had left the residential neighborhood and were now walking towards a strip mall. At the mention of a restaurant my stomach growled and I decided I didn’t care why we were going to the diner as long as I could order some breakfast while we were there. I scanned the sad looking parking lot and age worn buildings until I spotted where Logan was taking me.

Broad Street Diner was a stand alone building in the far corner of the lot and looked like a classic old fashioned diner. Logan walked up to the front door like he owned the place and went to grab the doorknob. However, I had never uncloaked us and we were still in the void so his hand passed right through the knob.

Logan ran his hand through the knob one more time before turning and giving me an exasperated look. “I can’t get back to my pack if no one can see us. Have we really been ghosts this whole time?”

I just shrugged my good shoulder, pushed us free of the void and opened the door for him. Logan shook his head, gave me a smirk, and walked into the restaurant that smelled of bacon grease and fried dough. God, right now this place smelled like heaven.

When I followed Logan into the diner, I saw that at least five different people were staring at us and they didn’t look too friendly. Thinking that it was because I was covered in blood and carrying a six inch dagger, I cloaked myself enough so that everyone would forget that I was even here. However, my disappearing act didn’t seem to help the situation any and the people continued to stare at Logan as he strode through the dining room and sat down at a booth at the far corner of the room.

“Care to explain what we just walked into?” I asked in a conversational tone and took the seat across from him while continuing to scan the faces around us for any hostile intent.

“This is Oakland Pack territory and I am kind-of persona non-grata right now. But just showing up here started the coconut telegraph. My father and the Oakland Pack Master will know that we are here within minutes. Almost better than having a working cell phone,” Logan explained and I grabbed one of the laminated menus that were propped up between the ketchup and mustard.

“Works for me, as long as I can get something to eat while we are here,” I murmured and scanned the menu. Hmmm, pancakes sound amazing right now. And the combo comes with hash browns, bacon, and eggs. Perfect! After making my breakfast decision I glanced up to see that Logan was staring menacingly at the cook through the window to the kitchen and that all of the waitresses were looking at our table but none of them actually would come over here to take our orders.

“Please tell me that they are going to feed us,” I whined at the same time that the front door burst open and a short man in his mid twenties with a shaved head and a mustache came charging towards our table. He was followed by a tall skinny guy and another man that was built like a freaking linebacker. Logan pushed out of the booth and stood to meet the three visably aggressive guys head on. He clearly had a death wish because he did nothing to stop the beat down that was the next logical conclusion here.

The first short, bald guy didn’t slow his charge and when he was within striking distance he pulled his arm back, telegraphing a right hook. I put a Shield around Logan and short and bald’s fist glanced off the impenetrable surface. The unexpected interference caused the three men to pause in their assault and they all looked around in confusion. I uncloaked completely and gave them a little finger wave.

“What the fuck?” short and bald exclaimed and I decided to try to shed some light on the situation.

“I don’t mean to interfere with whatever personal beef you have with Logan, but until I can get him back to his pack he is still technically under my protection. If you wouldn’t mind telling Pack Master Lopez that we are here, I am sure we can get this whole mess sorted. Then you and Logan can settle whatever issues you may have,” I said without moving from my seat in the booth and Logan gave me an exasperated look.

“You’re that Val that saved the kids at the school,” the tall skinny guy stated and I gave him a smile.

“Yes, that would be me,” I confirmed and all three men took a step back, became visibly less angry, and started to look worried.

“Holy shit, what are you doing here with this piece of shit?” short and bald asked. This caused the tall skinny guy to elbow short and bald in the ribs.

“We need to talk to your Pack Master,” Logan said with ease. “And we were hoping to get some sort of breakfast while we waited. But I have to say, service here has really taken a dive since the last time I was here.”

One of the waitresses, who needed a root dye job, came over and stepped between the three guys and Logan. “Logan, you can’t be surprised with this reception after what you did to Luis’ sister. You should have said that you were with Valkyrie Olsen. She is always welcome,” the waitress stated dryly and the buzz in my head told me that she was lying. “What can I get for you while you wait for the Pack Master?”

I was a little worried that they were going to spit in my food or something, but at this point I was hungry enough not to care. I ordered the pancake combo and asked for some coffee while the three aggressive Oakland Pack members settled into a table across the aisle from us. Logan sat back down but the waitress walked away before taking his order. “You’re really popular here,” I teased and Logan sent me a menacing glare that just made me smile.

“We wouldn’t be here if you would have just taken one of the set of keys from that fancy house. They have like seven cars,” Logan replied and I shook my head.

“We wouldn’t be here if you weren’t too prideful to take the bus.”

“Some kind of protector you are, relying on public transportation to -” Logan started to say but he stopped talking when the front door opened and the Pack Master of the Oakland Pack entered the diner followed by his son, Lawrence, and a mean looking dude in leathers. Logan stood again but this time he didn’t look like he was ready for a fight, but rather that it was some sign of respect.

The Pack Master scanned the area until his eyes fell on Logan and me. He looked more curious than angry and I took that as a good sign.

I decided that showing some respect wouldn’t hurt and scooted out of the booth to stand next to Logan as the group of wolves walked towards us. I still hadn’t figured out what to do with Kaiden’s dagger and I could feel Lopez’s eyes zero in on the weapon within my right hand. A quick glance around told me that we had the undivided attention of every single person within the diner.

How in the world do I get myself into these situations?

“Valkyrie Olsen, what a pleasure to see you again so soon,” Lopez stated and he was actually telling the truth. “I assure you that no harm will come to you while in my territory. There is no need for weapons here.”

I understood that he was waiting for me to dematerialize the weapon as a gesture that I believed him and trusted that I was safe in his territory. To refuse would be an insult and not how I wanted to start this conversation. If I had my boots on I could have tucked the damn thing into them, but I was still wearing flip flops from our trip to the beach last night. It wasn’t like I could put the dagger in my pocket. Maybe I could just lay the bloody thing on the diner table.

“My apologies, Pack Master Lopez. I mean no disrespect, but this is not my weapon,” I explained weakly. Lopez tipped his head to the side and eyed my wounded shoulder. This guy was clearly astute and knew that there was more to this situation than met the eye.

“Please call me Arlo. May I see the blade?” Arlo said, and I considered a moment before holding out Kaiden’s dagger in my palm for the Pack Master to see. He stepped forward and inspected the blade within my hand but didn’t make any move to touch it. “That is a Valkyrie blade with Prince Kaiden’s markings.”

“But that’s not possible,” Lawrence stated as he too took a step closer to inspect the blade. I was getting really sick of people telling me things that I did were impossible. I was even more tired of not knowing what was so unusual about the things that I did. Why was it so unbelievable that I had disarmed Kaiden? It wasn’t like he was that good of a fighter. I bet both of the twins and Derik could take him in a one-on-one fight.

“Valkyrie blades dematerialize when they are not wielded by their specific Valkyrie,” Lawrence explained, sounding like he was reading the information from some kind of textbook. If there really was a how to book on Valkyries, I desperately needed a copy.

“Doing the impossible is kind-of what Ray does best,” Logan said, breaking the focus that they had on Kaiden’s blade.

“Yes, I am very interested to hear how you two ended up in my diner shirtless and bleeding. Valkyrie Olsen do you require medical attention?” Arlo asked and gestured that we should resume our seats in the booth. This time Logan slid into the same side as me while Arlo and Lawerance took the opposite side. The intimidating wolf in leathers moved to sit with short and bald across the aisle from us. I very much felt surrounded by people that didn’t feel completely friendly towards me.

“Please, call me Ray,” I replied. “And I think the bleeding has stopped. I will be fine until I can be healed.”

“You’re going back to them?” Logan asked in a disbelieving tone.

“I have a feeling that they will find me before too long,” I answered resigned to the fact that unless I did something drastic, I wasn’t going to shake the Valkyries anytime soon.

“Are you running from your Valkyrie Clan?” Arlo asked in a careful voice and glanced at the blade I had laid on the table. I wonder what he would do if I said yes and asked him to hide me from the Royals.

I took a deep breath before replying, “No. Just a misunderstanding and not the reason we are here. We have some information that you need to hear.” Arlo and Lawerance were both visibly relieved that I wasn’t going to drag them into my drama, but I could tell that Logan wanted to say more on the matter. Luckily he kept his mouth shut and the waitress came to the table with a tray filled with food. She placed my plate piled high with pancakes in front of me and then handed out other amazing smelling food to Arlo and Lawrence.

Logan was given a small plate that had two pieces of burnt toast on it. When I saw what they had given him, I couldn’t help but laugh. Logan growled at my reaction and reached out to steal a piece of bacon off my plate. I formed a partial Shield protecting my food and grinned at Logan when his hand came up short. Then I proceeded to devour the absolutely amazing food. I tried to remind myself that I was out in public and needed to maintain proper table manners, but I had almost completely drained my power reserves last night helping Max heal Connor. I needed to refuel.

“Jesus Ray, you should have said something,” Logan said with worry lacing his voice. When I finished my entire helping of food he reached over and pushed one of the side orders of biscuits and gravy towards me. I looked up at Lawrence to make sure it was okay that I ate it before pulling the plate towards me.

“Why aren’t you as starving as I am?” I asked Logan through a mouthful of biscuits.

“Elijah cooked a full breakfast at the Clan house. I already ate before you woke up this morning,” Logan admitted and I felt a little guilty about just walking out on the guys.

“There is a story that I think needs to be told,” Arlo said and Logan explained how he was kidnapped and trapped in his wolf form. He was just getting to the part where three Valkyries from the Blade Clan were also captured by the witches when the door to the diner opened and three men and two women walked in. I recognized Logan’s brother, Kace, and the Fremont Pack Master and assumed that the rest were wolves from Logan’s pack. Logan jumped from his seat and embraced first his brother, then his father, and ended by locking lips with the tall gorgeous Latina woman that seemed to be in her mid twenties.

While Logan was busy reuniting with his family, Arlo took the opportunity to ask me some more personal questions. “Ray, I can’t tell you how grateful our pack is for your assistance last week at the school, not to mention that we are finally getting some answers about the missing wolves. But I have to tell you that we cannot go against the Collins’ Royal Line. They rule with an iron fist and they do not consider mercy a virtue. With that being said, I wish to help you in a way that I can without jeopardizing my pack. What kind of trouble are you in?”

I took a moment to consider what Arlo was asking. What kind of trouble was I in? I wasn’t even sure that I was in trouble. Just that I wasn’t going to just roll over and become some kind of power object for the royals to use.

I was just about to try to explain some of what I was facing to Arlo and ask his advice when the door to the now over crowded diner opened and Elijah and Max walked in. They stood with straight backs and chins held high even though they were outnumbered ten to one. Both looked relieved when they finally saw me and they started walking towards our table. Logan broke away from his family and stepped in Elijah’s path, effectively stopping him in his tracks.

Well this had the possibility to go very wrong and there was no reason it.

“Thank you Arlo for the offer of assistance, but I am just trying to figure out all of the power games that are being played around me. Logan will tell you the rest of what happened at the factory. I think it would be best if I got going now.” With that I gave each Arlo and Lawrence a head nod and stood from the booth to walk over to where Elijah and Max were having words with Logan.

I sensed Arlo and Lawerance shadow me and still felt completely surrounded and at the center of attention as I walked through the packed diner. When I neared Elijah and Max I heard the tail end of what Logan was saying, “-- ensure she is safe?”

Whatever Logan said clearly didn’t sit well with Elijah and he looked as close to losing his temper as I have ever seen him. Elijah losing his temper was the last thing I wanted to happen. He was a quiet man, but I could tell that he had steel strength beneath. I reached out with my left hand and gently touched Elijah’s arm causing him to break the stare down with Logan and look me over.

Elijah took a deep breath before saying, “Ray, can we talk outside for a moment?”

“Ray, you don’t have to go with them. You can stay with me,” Logan growled out and I looked over to see that he was completely serious. I had known him for less than twenty four hours and now he was offering me help and protection. While Logan might be serious in his offer of help, I could tell with one glance that the rest of his pack wasn’t thrilled about the idea of trying to shelter a female Val from other powerful Valkyries.

I may not be very happy with the royals right now, but the Oakland Clan weren’t the royals and I wasn’t going to drag the wolves into my mess.

“Logan, it looks like you have enough on your plate already. I can take care of myself and the Oakland Clan is going to help me,” I told him and felt Elijah move to stand behind me and place his hand on my uninjured shoulder. Feelings of warmth, support, and love flowed through the clan bond and I knew that I was making the right decision. I needed to start relying on my own people and stop running away.

Logan looked doubtful about the whole situation. He grabbed an ordering pad and pen off the nearby counter. He wrote down his number before tearing off the small piece of paper and handing it to me. “You call if you need anything. Hell, call just to catch up. Don’t be a stranger,” Logan said and I gave him a side smile.

“Don’t get into cars with strange witches,” I teased and then thanked Arlo for the breakfast before walking out of the diner. Elijah and Max followed me out. When we were no more than three steps from the front door Max reached around and pulled me into a giant bear hug.

I buried my face in his chest, took a deep breath filled with Max’s clean and unique scent, and let the clan bond fill me with strength. Soon the feelings of warmth and protection were overridden by the extreme itching and burning sensation of Max’s healing magic working to seal off the gash on my left arm. When the healing was done Max started talking and I knew that everything he said was nothing but the truth.

“God Ray, we are so sorry. I am so sorry. We didn’t want to tell the royals anything, but it would have been worse for everyone if they caught us in a lie. I swear that we had no idea that Kaiden was going to attack you like that. I swear that we would never hurt you. I swear that you can trust us. I know that you don’t have a good history with Valkyries and shit keeps happening to you, but please know that we would never do anything to intentionally hurt you. Please don’t leave us. We will figure some way forward, but running away isn’t the only answer.”

For a moment I just leaned further into Max’s chest and allowed his reassuring words to seep into my soul. I already knew all of the things that he was telling me, but it felt good to hear them like this.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and pulled away from Max so that I could look him in the eye. “I’m not leaving. I just needed to walk away from that situation before I did something I couldn’t take back. And the Royals need to know that I am not just going to follow their lead like some kind of lost puppy.”

"Oh thank God," Max breathed out and pulled me back in for another hug.

“I was going to walk back to the house once we got things squared away with the Shifters. How did you guys find me?” I asked and it was Elijah that answered.

“Once we figured out that you had actually left and weren’t just cloaked, Edison called in Dominic Araya. He is the Blade Clan Tracker who you helped rescue last night. He was more than willing to help find you. We convinced Edison that it would be better if we talked to you alone first, but they are sitting in a SUV down the block. I am afraid that they aren’t going to leave until they talk to you.”

Of course they were. I moved Kaiden’s dagger into my left hand and undid Logan’s temporary bandage to see that Max had completely healed my wound. It was now a thin, barely visible, white scar. Seeing the incredible evidence of his healing gift reminded me of how we almost lost Connor last night and how Max had completely drained himself healing him.

“How are you feeling Max? After last night?”

Max gave me a weak smile before replying, “I’m okay. I slept like a rock and ate half my body weight this morning. I will need a couple more days to fully recharge, but no permanent damage was done.” He then reached down and pulled my right hand towards him and flipped it over so that he could see my newly scarred palm. “How about you? How are you feeling?”

“Overwhelmed and ready for things to return to some sort of normal,” I admitted. “But I feel fine. How about you Elijah? How much hot water are you in because of what we did?”

“Before the Royal Prince tried to kill you, I would have said we were in over our heads. But what he did was unforgivable and against just about every one of our laws. The Royal and Blade clan now see us as the only way to maintain communication to you and that gives our clan a sort of untouchable status,” Elijah said bluntly. I appreciated that he wasn’t sugar coating the situation for me.

“What will happen to Kaiden?” I asked, not completely sure I wanted to know.

“I don’t know,” Elijah admitted. “This is an unique situation. If he had tried to kill a female of another royal line he would be executed, but you don’t have the backing of a royal family. Therefore they aren’t going to lose any political connections if nothing is done. If this sort of thing happens within a royal family, I would guess they deal with it quietly. It is possible that they will let you decide what happens to the prince. It is also completely possible that they will try to sweep it under the rug and never speak of it again.”

I hope they don’t ask me what to do. I don’t want to have that sort of responsibility. I held up Kaiden’s dagger and asked, “What should I do with this? Should I give it back?”

Both Elijah and Max stared down at the dagger in my hand in confusion for a few moments before they noticed the intricate inlay of dot engravings that formed interconnected geometric shapes. I summoned a similarly sized hunting knife of my own in my right hand so that they could clearly see that my markings were made up of swirling filigree and delicate flowers. Each Valkyrie had their own unique set of markings that decorated each of their weapons. The dot geometric markings unmistakably declared the dagger as Kaiden’s.

“I didn’t mean to take it from him. I just disarmed him after he tried to stab me and then just walked away with it still in my hand. I don’t know the protocol when it comes to Valkyrie weapons,” I explained. “So should I give it back or do I get to keep it?”

Max and Elijah shared a look before Elijah said, “I have never heard of another Valkyrie being able to keep another’s blade before Max told me that you gave him a sword to use last night. I think that it has to do with your power level. Your Weapons Gift is so strong that it allows you to keep other Valkyrie’s weapons or give your blades to another. If it were me, I would use it as a power play. Go into that SUV showing that you can take a personal Weapon from even one of the most powerful Valkyries in the kingdom and that you are going to keep that blade in recompense.”

“What happened to keeping my power level on the down low?” I asked remembering that it was Elijah that had counseled me to not flaunt the fact that I had five Gifts when most Valkyries were considered powerful when they had three.

“Pretty sure that ship has sailed, at least with this group,” Elijah replied and I nodded my head in agreement. I knew that I was risking exposure when I offered to help find the twin’s father, but I couldn’t not help when I knew that I could find him. And spilling the beans on my Truth Gift was one hundred percent my own fault. Yes, Hernan had forced the guys to tell him things I rather that he did not know, but really everything that happened was my own doing.

I needed to step up and put on my big girl panties now. I was dipping my toes in seriously powerful waters now.

“Alright, let’s get this over with. I am ready to go home and spend some time alone,” I admitted and Max told me that he would give me a ride to my bus after I was done with the Blade Clan.

We walked down the block, turned left and up to a black SUV that was parked halfway down the next street. As we approached Tobias exited from the drivers side, Edison from the passenger side and a man I vaguely recognized from the factory got out of the back. He must be Dominic, the Blade Clan Tracker. Tobias has a strong telepathic gift that he has honed throughout his many decades. Him being here means that Edison wants as much information about this meeting as possible. I had no idea what Edison’s third Gift was, but considering he was the leader of a clan that required all of its members to have three Gifts, I was pretty sure he had one.

Before anyone said anything Tobias walked over to me and gently ran his fingers over my left biceps where Kaiden had cut me. I only ever saw the elderly man with Edison so I was starting to think of them as a unit, but when I really think about it, Tobias has only ever been kind and straightforward to me. He was like one of the grandpas or santas that are depicted in the silly hallmark movies. Wise, kind, and just trying to stay relevant in a world that is quickly passing him by. I gave him a small smile to reassure him that I was okay before Edison started talking.

“Delia, I am glad to see that you are well after this morning’s unfortunate turn of events,” Edison said once we were in speaking distance. “Prince Kaiden wanted me to convey how deeply regretful he is about the entire situation.” I didn’t need the buzz in my head to know that was an out and out lie.

“Hunter Greer, I will remind you that I can tell when you are lying to me. I don’t much appreciate being lied to. Especially about my attempted murder,” I stated in a hard cold voice and used Kaiden’s dagger to clean the blood from underneath my fingertips while maintaining a relaxed stance giving the allusion that I was at ease with this conversation. My father may have been a heartless asshole, but he did teach me how to manipulate a situation into your favor.

Both Edison and Tobias saw Kaiden’s markings and eventually understood the meaning behind the dagger. The tension level within our little group rose ten fold.

Tobias visibly paled, but Edison kept his cool and continued to try to smooth things over. “What I should have said is that the Collins’ Royal Clan and the Blade Clan are deeply sorry that any harm came to you while in our presence and we are dedicated to working on strengthening our relationship with you in the future.”

“And how would you propose that we go about doing that?” I asked in a skeptical voice. I wasn’t opposed to actually getting to know the other Valkyries in the Bay Area, but every time I interacted with them it left a sour taste in my mouth. I felt like they were always expecting me to be someone that I am not, and trying to navigate their preconceived notions was exhausting.

Edison glanced back at Dominic and the Tracker stepped forward to stand side-to-side with his clan leader. “Tracking is a rare and unbelievably useful Gift to possess. Usually when a young Valkyrie discovers that they have been blessed with such a Gift they must travel far from their families to find someone willing to train them. Luckily for you, Dominic is the best Tracker in the Americas West Kingdom and is offering to train you.”

I scanned the scowling short man and doubted that he had been the one to volunteer to train me, but Edison did have a point. I was stumbling around in the dark with only a few paragraphs from an old book to go on where my Tracking Gift was concerned. If they were really offering to train me, I would be an idiot to refuse them. And Edison knew it.

“What does training entail?” I asked sensing that there was a catch to this deal.

“It is a very in depth process that only a mentor and mentee with the same Gift can understand. The bond that will form between the two of you will be like nothing you have ever experienced. As Dominic’s trainee you will be considered an honorary member of the Blade Clan and will be granted living quarters within our clan community to foster any and all advantages that not only Dominic but the entire clan can provide you,” Edison said and I couldn’t help envisioning him as a used car salesmen trying to sell me a lemon.

There was absolutely no way that I was going to move into a Blade Clan house.

“No,” I said with finality and Edison’s smile started to look a little forced. “I will meet with Dominic twice a week at the Oakland Clan House for training sessions and the time will be flexible according to my work schedule. At least one member of the Oakland Clan must also be available to supervise each training session.”

The smile completely fell from Edison’s face and I could see him visibly clench his jaw. “Delia, it is an honor to be chosen by such a high level, successful, and influential Valkyrie such as Dominic. One cannot fully master a Gift with casual training sessions that occur so infrequently. Furthermore, you have insulted your mentor by even suggesting the presence of a supervisor,” Edison said with disappointment and barely contained temper in his voice.

Dominic didn’t look offended. In fact he hadn’t shown a single emotion during this entire conversation. No, it was Edison that was offended that I would prefer to spend my time with the small and unconnected Oakland Clan instead of joining his prestigious clan of Hunters.

“I meant no offense and if you are unwilling to come to my terms, we will have to find another way to mend the broken trust between us,” I said, deciding to call his bluff.

Edison shifted on his feet and took a moment to look down at his feet but I maintained my poker face. Considering that these people were supposed to rule everything supernatural west of the Daktoas, they weren’t very good at keeping their emotions under control. But then I remembered that Edison wasn’t a royal. Just one of their more loyal lap dogs.

“Very well. Dominic will coordinate with you and Elijah on the details. And I am sure that you agree that the extensive time demands this will put on Dominic and the Blade Clan will go a long way to constructing that bridge of trust between us.”

“Of course,” I agreed and gave them an agreeable smile. “Now if you will excuse me, it has been a trying morning and I need to get some rest.”

With that I turned my back on the leader of the second most powerful clan within the Americas West Territory and walked away.

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