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Wolf's Bane (Dire Wolves of London Book 3) by Carina Wilder (16)

16

When Phair and Mir had walked away, Lumen grabbed Cad by the arm, pulling him into a dark, quiet corner. “Roth will be here any time now,” he hissed. “What are you thinking, bringing that woman to this place?”

Cad stared at him blankly. “What do you mean?” he asked, genuinely perplexed. It wouldn’t have surprised him to hear the question from Roth, but Lumen? He was another story altogether. Cad would have thought he’d be more sympathetic to their plight.

“Why would you bring a human here? Especially that human?”

“It’s a long story,” Cad said, his eyes following his two companions as they wandered over to the bar. “Too long to tell you right now.”

“You don’t need to tell me much. I already know she wants you, and you want her—both of you do. You must know you’re treading on dangerous ground.”

Cad ground his jaw. “Explain something to me, Lumen. You, Roth and Laird all have human mates. But all of a sudden it’s become a sin to want one for myself. Why is that again?”

Lumen’s brows met in a look of irritation that was enough to send a shiver down Cad’s back. The Dragon Alpha could be terrifying when he wanted to. There was a reason he was known as the most powerful shifter in London, which was exactly the reason that no one fucked with him.

It was generally a bad idea to challenge a man with fire breath.

“Your human is tied to a crime syndicate,” Lumen replied, as if it was the most ridiculous thing on earth to have to point it out. “She works for a man who wants our kind wiped off the face of the earth. You know perfectly well why I have a problem with her, and why Roth might. She can’t be trusted.”

“No? Look at her,” said Cad, challenging the Alpha in a way that surprised even him. Lumen moved his gaze towards Mir, who was standing at the bar now, her body close to Phair’s. “Tell me what you see, Lumen. You can read people like they’re transparent as glass. Do you really think she’s the enemy?”

For a moment, the Dragon Alpha’s eyes glowed bright, but then they settled. “No,” he confessed. “I don’t. I think she’s a victim. But that doesn’t change the fact that you have defied an order by your Alpha. I can’t support that.”

“Yeah? Well, I can’t bring myself to worry too much about Roth’s concerns,” Cad protested. “I know he’s my leader, but he should know as well as anyone that destiny doesn’t always align with the wishes of one’s Pack. Attraction doesn’t always fit into everyone’s idea of a nice little life. I didn’t walk into Barton’s club looking for a mate. Neither did Phair. But we’ve found our mate now. I’m afraid that’s all I have to say on the matter.”

“I’m afraid that’s where you’re wrong, Cadman.”

The heavy words didn’t come from the Dragon Alpha.

The combination of the familiar voice and the sound of his full name made Cad spin around, only to see the bright blue eyes of the Dire Wolf Alpha staring into his own.

“Evening,” he said.

“I thought you were still working on the reconnaissance mission I assigned you,” Roth replied as Lumen moved away to speak to the members of the Dragon Guild.

“We were. We are,” said Cad, nodding towards the bar. But as soon as he did so, he realized his mistake. Roth’s eyes were already on Mir. His mind was no doubt sorting out who she was, and what this meant.

“I see.” Roth’s voice tightened. “You brought a human woman into this place. Who is she?”

“She’s one of Barton’s,” Cad replied. “There’s something you ought to know—he’s been holding her captive, along with a lot of others. I thought that if we could get her out of there for a bit, then maybe…”

“Let me get this straight. You brought a woman who works in Barton’s club to the U.C.?”

“I wouldn’t call what she does working, Roth. He keeps her there against her will.”

“Let me repeat my question, in case it wasn’t clear,” Roth said, edging closer, his rage palpable on the air. “Did you bring an employee of Barton’s to the U.C.?”

“Yes, I did.”

“So, may I ask what surgeon performed your lobotomy?”

A flash of anger shot through Cad. This was getting ridiculous. “What the fuck are you on about?” he asked. “I told you, she’s not some waitress who’s happily employed in a pub. He’s keeping her against her will.”

“Or so she’s told you. It didn’t occur to you that by bringing here, you were supplying Barton with the means to attack us? That this woman of yours might not be as honest as you think she is?”

“She’s honest, Roth.”

“How do you know?”

Cad could feel his blood begin to simmer, his Dire Wolf creeping closer to the edge of his skin, ready to lash out. “I know because I know. I know because my déor has told me to claim her.”

Roth made a scoffing sound. “You know because your dick gets hard when you’re around her, you mean,” he growled. “I know you, Cad. You’re a horny devil. You always have been. I’d hoped that maybe you could curb your appetite while you completed this one assignment, but clearly I was wrong. This woman of yours now knows that Dragon shifters congregate here. She knows that the Dire Wolves meet here. She knows how you got here, too, I’ll bet. But you thought it was wise to bring her anyhow.”

“Even if she told Barton and his men, it’s not like they could get into this place,” Cad retorted. “No humans can, if they’re not accompanied by a shifter.”

None of the Alpha’s anger made sense. Roth had a gift for foresight—couldn’t he see that Cad and Phair were meant to be with Mir? Couldn’t he see a happy future for them?

But maybe that was the problem.

Maybe they weren’t meant to be happy. Perhaps Roth had seen something ugly on the horizon, something that would hurt his Pack.

“I didn’t send you to Barton’s to buy some attractive woman a few drinks,” the Alpha said. “I sent you there to help shifter-kind.”

Cad grimaced. “Why don’t you tell me what this is about, Roth? What’s going on here? Why are you being such a complete arse about my love life?”

The look that flashed across the Alpha’s face told Cad that if he asked one more question he’d lose his life. “You’ve defied my authority, Cadman. All for some woman you’ve just met, who’s probably using you for her own means.”

For a few seconds, Cad stared into Roth’s eyes, defiant. He wanted to punch him, to shout him down. To hell with him, and to hell with the Pack. Phair and Mir were pack enough for him. “It seems that you trusted me enough to send me into the den of a crime boss,” he said between gritted teeth, “but not enough to exercise my own judgment with matters of the heart.”

“The heart, is it?” Roth said. “Or is it the hard-on?”

“I can’t believe you’d say that to me,” Cad said. “I can’t believe that you of all people would judge my choice of mate.”

“She’s not your sodding mate, not yet,” Roth said, his tone curt. “Is she?”

Cad raised a fist, prepared to throw the hardest punch of his life, but he pulled it down to his side again when Lumen shot him a hard look of warning from the Guild’s table. Apparently Cad was on his own in this fight.

“She’s not my mate,” he replied. “Not yet.”

“So get her out of here and don’t bring her back. Finish the job I assigned you. Get me the information I asked for.”

“And if I don’t?”

“If you don’t, you’re out of the Pack. You and Phair both.”