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Home > Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(3)

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(3)
Author: Patricia Briggs

She could look at Bran, and so she watched his eyes assess the wolves Boyd had brought like a general surveying his troops. His gaze settled on Thomas.

Anna looked, too, seeing what the Marrok saw: old jeans with a hole in one knee, tennis shoes that had seen better days. It was very much like what she was wearing, except that her hole was in her left knee, not the right.

"Will the time it takes to drive to Montana and back put your job at risk?" Bran asked.

Thomas kept his eyes on his toes and answered, soft-voiced, "No, sir. I work construction, and this is the slow season. I okayed it with the boss; he says I have two weeks."

Bran pulled a checkbook out of his pocket and, using one of the other wolves' shoulders to give him a solid surface to write on, made out a check. "This is for your expenses on this trip. We'll figure out a pay rate and have money waiting for you when you get to Montana."

Relief flashed in Thomas's eyes, but he didn't say anything.

Bran went through the door, passed by Anna, and started up the stairs. As soon as he wasn't watching them, the other wolves lifted their eyes to look at Anna.

She jutted her chin up and met their gazes, forgetting entirely her decision not to do just that until it was too late. Boyd's eyes were unfathomable, and Thomas was still looking at the ground...but the other two, George and Joshua, were easy to read. With Bran's back to them, the knowledge of what she'd been in their pack was fully visible in their eyes.

And they had been Leo's wolves by inclination as well as fact. She was nothing, and she had brought about their Alpha's death: they'd have killed her if they dared.

Just try, she told them without using words. She turned her back on them without dropping her eyes-as Charles's mate, she supposedly outranked all of them. But they weren't only wolves, and the human part of them would never forget what they had done to her, with Leo's encouragement.

Her stomach raw, and tension tightening the back of her neck, Anna tried to keep an even pace all the way up to her apartment on the fourth floor. Bran waited beside her while she unlocked the door. She stepped aside so he could go in first, showing the others that he, at least, had her respect.

He stopped in the doorway and looked around her studio apartment with a frown. She knew what he saw: a card table with two battered folding chairs, her futon, and not much else.

"I told you I could get it packed this morning," Anna told him. She knew it wasn't much, but she resented his silent judgment. "Then they could have come just to carry out the boxes."

"It won't take an hour to pack this and carry it down," said Bran. "Boyd, how many of your wolves are living like this?"

Summoned, Boyd slid past Anna and into the room and frowned. He'd never been to her apartment. He glanced at Anna and walked to her refrigerator and opened it, exposing the empty space inside. "I didn't know it was this bad." He glanced back. "Thomas?"

Invited in, Thomas, too, stepped through the door.

He gave his new Alpha an apologetic smile. "I'm not quite this bad, but my wife is working, too. The dues are pretty dear." He was almost as far down the pack structure as Anna, and, married, had never been invited to "play" with her. But he hadn't objected, either. She supposed that it was more than could be expected of a submissive wolf, but that didn't keep her from holding it against him.

"Probably five or six then," Boyd said with a sigh. "I'll see what can be done."

Bran opened his wallet and handed the Alpha a card. "Call Charles next week and set up a conference between him and your accountant. If necessary, we can arrange for a loan. It's not safe to have hungry, desperate werewolves on the streets."

Boyd nodded.

The Marrok's business apparently concluded, the other two wolves surged past Anna, George deliberately bumping against her. She pulled back from him and instinctively wrapped her arms protectively around herself. He gave her a sneer he hid quickly from the others.

"Illegitimis nil carborundum," she murmured. It was stupid. She knew it even before George's fist struck out.

She ducked and dodged. Instead of a fist in her stomach, she took it in the shoulder and rolled with it. The small entryway didn't give her much room to get away from a second blow.

There wasn't one.

Boyd had George pinned on the ground with a knee in the middle of his back. George wasn't fighting him, just talking fast. "She's not supposed to do that. Leo said no Latin. You remember."

Because once Anna realized that no one else in the pack except Isabella, who she had thought was a friend, understood Latin, she'd used it for secret defiance. It had taken a while for Leo to figure it out.

"Leo is dead," said Boyd very quietly, his mouth near George's ear. "New rules. If you are smart enough to live, you won't hit Charles's mate in front of his father."

"Don't let the bastards grind you down?" said Bran from her doorway. He was looking at her like a child who had been unexpectedly clever. "That's horrible Latin, and your pronunciation needs some work."

"It's my father's fault," she told him, rubbing her shoulder. The bruise would be gone by tomorrow, but for now it hurt. "He had a couple of years of Latin in college and used it to amuse himself. Everyone in my family picked it up. His favorite saying was, 'Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum europe vincendarum.' "

" 'Sometimes I have the urge to conquer large parts of Europe '?" Boyd said, sounding a little incredulous. Isabella hadn't, apparently, been the only one who understood her defiance.

She nodded. "Usually he only said it when my brother or I were being particularly horrible."

"And it was his favorite saying?" Bran said, examining her as if she were a bug...but a bug he was growing pleased with.

She said, "My brother was a brat."

He smiled slowly and she recognized the smile as one of Charles's.

"What do you want me to do with this one?" asked Boyd, tilting his head toward George.

Bran's smile fled, and he looked at Anna. "Do you want me to kill him?"

Silence descended as everyone waited for her answer. For the first time she realized that the fear that she'd been smelling wasn't hers alone. The Marrok scared them all.

"No," she lied. She just wanted to get her apartment packed and get done with this, so she never had to see George and those like him again. "No." This time she meant it.

Bran tilted his head, and she saw his eyes shift, just a little, gleaming gold in the dimness of the outer hall. "Let him up."

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