Home > Fair Game (Alpha & Omega #3)(12)

Fair Game (Alpha & Omega #3)(12)
Author: Patricia Briggs

His father frowned at him. "No. It's becoming painfully obvious that nothing I've done has helped you."

Bran didn't say what it was for a few moments, just studied Charles's face as if it were not the face he'd worn every day since he became an adult nearly two centuries before.

"I cannot send anyone else to enforce the rules - but I am, as of this moment, relaxing the penalties for many transgressions in the hope that it will allow the Alpha wolves to need less...help enforcing them." He held up a hand and Charles bit back his protests. "You are the only one I can send out, yes. But if you falter, there will be no one but me - and I do not trust myself. So it is necessary that you not break. Anyone who has been Changed less than five years gets one warning. Asil is as frightening as you - and he also is not an Alpha right now. He has volunteered to go out and scare the bejeebers out of young idiots who break the rules the first time."

Charles knew it was wrong. His father had weighed and assessed the needs for the wolves' survival and had made the necessary changes in the laws of the packs. But it wasn't shame, but rather relief, that made him drop his eyes.

"I have failed you," he said.

"No, son," said Da. "I nearly failed you. You are, as Asil has reminded me, one of my pack and I am responsible for your well-being." His tone turned wry.

"Asil has appointed himself my guardian?" asked Charles softly. Asil was overstepping himself.

"He was bored, he told me," said his father. He gave Charles a small smile. "I have given him a job so he doesn't get bored again."

Da rocked back in his chair and studied the ceiling as if it were interesting for a moment, before turning his yellow eyes back to Charles. "Asil scaring the britches off our young wolves won't be enough. I...We will still need you to kill. However, Adam thought that maybe doing other things, too, might...dilute the effect. Maybe if every trip you take isn't to go kill some more old friends and acquaintances - " Charles hid a wince, or tried to. "Maybe it will help. So. I have a call from some of my contacts in the government that they need to consult with one of us about a possible serial killer."

His father saw his face and smiled without humor. "Not one of us. One of the killers they've been tracking awhile seems to have changed his victim of choice. At least three of his kills in Boston have been werewolves."

"Three? And we didn't know?"

"I knew three had died," said Da. "From three different packs, but someone did not see fit to tell me that they were probably connected. I'll deal with that part."

Some heads would roll - probably not literally. "There is only one pack in Boston." It wasn't quite a question, but Da should have started asking questions if three wolves from the same pack had died in a short period of time.

"One tourist from a Vermont pack and another from Seattle. Only one from the Boston pack. The FBI is interested in anything we can add to the investigation."

"You're sending me?" People instinctively wanted to please Adam. Charles was better at the destroy-and-subdue, not so good at the coax-and-charm.

"No," said his da. "That would be dumb. I'm sending Anna. You are going as her guard. I've sent the particulars of what I know to your e-mail and to hers."

AND THUS CHARLES found himself wandering around a hotel, trailing a pair of federal agents as he held a cardboard coffee cup holder in each hand, instead of out killing misbehaving werewolves. He knew they were federal agents because only men who were partners moved that closely together. Body language said they weren't in a relationship, so that meant military, feds, or cops. Since they were headed the same direction he was, Charles surmised that he'd happened upon two of the feds they were supposed to meet with.

The thought came to him suddenly that he was enjoying himself, stalking feds through the halls of the old elegant hotel, especially because they had no inkling that he was doing it. It amused him.

If he hadn't lost the bet to Anna, he'd never have gotten the chance. Who'd have thought that the security people at SeaTac would be so worried about him that they'd miss Anna smuggling a bottle of water through the checkpoint? His bet should have been a safe one - and the worst that would happen to Anna was that they would throw out her water bottle.

It was his fault he'd lost the bet.

Maybe Samuel was on to something when he'd told Charles that his expression put people off, because one of the hotel workers who'd been giving him a worried look suddenly relaxed and gave him a cheery grin.

He could have beaten Anna. He hadn't needed to let out a subvocal growl at exactly the right moment to distract everyone when Anna threw the plastic bottle over the scanners and onto someone else's pack on the other side of the machines. No one heard him, not really, just felt the hairs on the backs of their necks crawl while Brother Wolf laughed at their mate's audacity.

Not only had Anna made it through unscathed; she'd distracted him while they patted her down and ran her through the scanners. Which had probably been her intent in the first place. Smart woman, his Anna - but she hadn't let him off from paying up on the bet.

When the TSA finally let him through security - because being scary wasn't really enough to keep him off an airplane - Anna had been waiting for him comfortably curled up on one of the little benches where people sat to put on their shoes. She'd raised her blue food-colored water in a triumphant toast and then drank it down to the last drop. It had been Anna's idea, not his, to dye the water so she couldn't just play sleight of hand - she would never cheat on a bet with him.

Watching her throat as she downed the liquid was a strangely erotic thing - erotic and magical, something that couldn't exist in the same universe as the deaths that haunted him. So the ghosts retreated, not a permanent thing, but it was more freedom than he'd had for a while, and it was good.

Charles didn't mind losing to his mate, though leaving Anna alone to deal with the feds while he fetched for her didn't make his wolf happy. But he knew that Anna could charm the birds out of the trees, and a few feds who needed their help weren't going to give her any trouble. No one was going to try to hurt her. Not yet, not before they involved themselves in the FBI's hunt.

Da thought it would be good for Charles to hunt something other than a werewolf, something truly evil. He hoped that his father was right - and empirical evidence tended to support his hope, as his da was frequently correct.

So Charles followed the pair of feds down the hallway to the room where they were meeting his mate and a small group of others. These weren't FBI field agents, he decided, because neither of them noticed him, even though he wasn't making any particular effort to avoid detection. Homeland Security and Cantrip tended to have more chair sitters than the FBI did. They were speaking quietly enough that it would have taken a werewolf's ears to hear them. Unabashedly, he listened in.

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