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Home > Fair Game (Alpha & Omega #3)(13)

Fair Game (Alpha & Omega #3)(13)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"Are you sure this is safe?" asked the blond man of the federal pair nervously. He looked fresh out of college, not yet twenty-five. "I mean, werewolves, Pat. Plural."

"They're cooperating with us," said Pat, the older man. Charles pinned his accent as New England native softened a little by a stint somewhere in the South. He was in his early forties and walked like someone who'd done a lot of it. "They'll behave themselves because they have to."

"You don't think they'll be mad because I tagged along? It was supposed to be just you. Five people. Two FBI, two Homeland Security, and one of us."

They must be Cantrip, then, thought Charles. According to Da, there should have been two of them and one Homeland Security. Someone had been flexing their muscles. Several someones. Brother Wolf decided that Charles was feeling too relaxed to teach them to mind their manners better.

"Easier to ask forgiveness than permission," said Pat as he opened the door to the room that they were meeting in. "Isn't that right, Leslie?"

"One of you can leave," said a woman's voice coldly. "Just because you aren't in the FBI anymore, Pat, shouldn't mean you forgot how to count. Five. It's easy. You can cheat and count your fingers if you have to."

"Ha-ha," said Pat, pulling the door shut behind him. Charles stopped to listen before going in. "Bet you that no one really cares. When is the werewolf showing up? I thought the memo said eight straight up."

"Six people is fine," said Anna, and Brother Wolf relaxed further at the amusement in his mate's voice. "Five was just to keep the numbers down."

He'd known she was safe. She was a werewolf, and if the training he'd been giving her didn't make her safe in a room full of humans, he'd been doing it wrong. But still, Brother Wolf was happier listening to the relaxed tones of her voice.

Charles looked at the door and realized that it would be tough to open with both hands full. He might have managed it, but there was another way.

He knew better, knew that the ghosts weren't gone. But the temptation was too great. It had been so long since he'd touched her, and Brother Wolf was so hungry. Almost as hungry as he was.

So he opened the bonds that tied wolf to mate and said, as mildly as he could manage, Open the door, please - and someone is going to have to drink hotel coffee since I only brought enough for five federal agents.

The door snapped open and she looked up at him, her face entirely serious and her eyes bright with tears.

You talked to me. But more than words traveled along their bond from her side; she was always generous in sharing her feelings with him. She gave him a rush of relief that almost hid the deep-seated sorrow and pain of abandonment. He'd done that to her; he'd known he was doing it - and still knew that it was the lesser of two evils. He had to protect her from what was happening to him. Knowing he was right didn't mean he wasn't torn, that he didn't regret hurting her.

"I don't mind hotel coffee," she said aloud, her voice a little foggy.

He was afraid that he was going to hurt her much worse before this was all over.

Charles bent his head down and touched his nose to hers, closing his eyes to hide the effect of the knowledge of what he'd been doing to her - and the effect of feeling her, skin on skin, once more. Brother Wolf wanted to drag her away from all of these strangers and find the nearest empty room so he could wrap himself around her and never let go. Charles wanted to say, "I'm sorry for hurting you," but that implied that he would do something differently if he had to do it again. He would never allow the ugliness of his life to stain her, not if he could help it.

So he said something stupid instead. "My wife is drinking the cocoa I brought her." He looked past her and into the room. Except for the two men he'd followed, everyone was sitting down around the table. It must have been her suggestion, because all of them looked tense and uncomfortable. Being seated when someone else is standing can be a position of power - a way of saying, "I am so confident that I can take you that I won't bother getting up." But when a monster comes into the room, everyone wants to be on their feet. Charles was a big monster.

Proof that Anna had been smart to do it, though, was the level of his irritation with the two men still standing behind Anna.

He met the younger Cantrip agent's eyes. The human dropped his gaze and stepped back involuntarily, pleasing Brother Wolf. Charles smiled at the agent with his teeth. "You invited yourself where you weren't asked. You can drink hotel coffee."

And now they'd think he really was stupid, because most humans wouldn't understand that he'd needed to establish who was in charge so that Brother Wolf would know that Anna was safe. Giving an order that they would obey had established the pecking order. It was okay they would think him stupid, he decided. He and Anna could engage in a little smart cop, dumb cop if they needed to. And playing with the federal agents was so much easier than trying to deal with what he was doing to Anna.

She should have picked someone else. Asil. Someone. But the thought of Anna with someone else sent Brother Wolf into a fit of jealous rage.

There is no one for me except you. Anna's quick response reminded him that he'd chosen to leave the bond between them open. He didn't know how much she was picking up, but it was more than time to control himself.

Charles moved past Anna and set the carriers down on the table. Pulling out the single non-coffee for Anna, he handed it to her as he watched everyone sit perfectly still and drop their eyes except for the Cantrip agents: Anna had been educating them.

Anna moved around to the back of the table, taking a chair with no one sitting next to her. The Cantrip agents took empty chairs on the other side of the table after he warned the younger one away from Anna with a lifted eyebrow. Charles stood behind Anna's chair.

"This is my husband, Charles," Anna told them, her hands folded. "Perhaps it would be a good thing to introduce ourselves again, now that we are all here. I'm Anna."

"Special Agent Leslie Fisher," said the other female in the room, a black woman with intelligent eyes and a firm voice. "Violent Crimes Unit, FBI."

"Special Agent Craig Goldstein," said a slender man in his fifties. "On assignment to the Boston Violent Crimes Unit because I have a background with this serial killer."

Charles nodded to the FBI agents. Fisher's background he knew, because he'd done background checks on all of the Boston VCU. Goldstein he'd find out more about.

"Jim Pierce," said the only man in the room who was smiling. He aimed it at Charles. "Homeland Security. They send me out to gather information."

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