Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(69) by Ilona Andrews
“What if he asks me?”
“Tell him to ask me.”
“Are you and Curran going to get a divorce?” Julie asked, her voice small.
“We can’t get a divorce. We’re not married.”
“Oh God, I’ll be one of those kids.”
“One of what kids?”
“With weekend parents.”
“Julie, damn it, we are not getting a divorce . . . Why the hell are six cars parked in our driveway?”
We both stared at the completely full driveway, occupied by four Pack Jeeps; Pooki, which was Dali’s Plymouth Prowler; and a sleek-looking silver Ferrari, which was Raphael’s favorite ride.
“Something happened,” Julie said.
I parked fifty yards away, just in case, and hightailed it to the door. The door handle turned in my hand. Unlocked. I walked in, Julie at my heels.
“I want to know why nobody told me she almost died!” Andrea said.
I followed her voice and stepped into the kitchen. She sat at the table, eating handfuls of trail mix. Raphael sat next to her, stroking her back.
“I’m her best friend. I had a right to know!”
“You had a right to know?” George waved her arm. “I’m directly involved in this and nobody told me.”
“We all had a right to know,” Robert said, one hand over the phone receiver’s mouthpiece. His husband, Thomas, stood next to him, drinking coffee out of a mug with a kitten on it. Both alphas of Clan Rat were in attendance.
“She claimed the city. It’s a matter of Pack security,” Robert said, then put a hand over his free ear and went back to his phone call.
“It’s a matter of Kate and Curran,” Dali said.
Jim dragged his hand over his face. “You weren’t told because you would bicker about it all day and by the time you were done deciding, she would’ve been dead.”
“Oh please,” Desandra said. “It’s not like we’re children.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Dali told her.
The blond alpha of Clan Wolf winked at her.
Curran stood near the stove, behind everyone. Our gazes met. Relief showed in his eyes and then I saw the precise moment he realized I was covered in gore. A gold fire sheathed his irises.
“It was my decision,” Jim said. “Deal with it.”
“What is that smell?” Andrea turned. Suddenly everything went quiet.
“The scouts report there was a giant incident near the Casino,” Robert said, hanging up.
“What kind of a giant incident?” Desandra asked.
Curran’s face was terrible.
“An incident with a giant in it,” Robert clarified, and saw me.
One moment I was standing and then I was in the hallway, my feet in the empty air. He’d clamped his hands on my shoulders and lifted me to his face. His voice was glacial. “One thing. I asked you to do one thing.”
He was really pissed off. I would’ve preferred it if he’d roared.
Something thudded against the front door.
“You gave me your word and you broke it.”
“Yes. I’m sorry. I had no choice. I was trying to save Rowena.”
He opened his mouth.
“Reckless, stupid, wrong, broke your trust, I’m sorry,” I told him. “Don’t be mad at me.”
The door thudded again. Curran dropped me down and jerked it open. “WHAT?”
A thirty-foot-tall bull with enormous metal horns glared back at us with eyes the size of teacups. Flames sheathed its huge legs, flaring around its hooves. The bull opened its maw and vomited fire.
Curran spun me around, clamping me to his chest, his back to the flames.
The fire smashed into the invisible shield of the house ward and splashed back, falling harmlessly to the ground. Curran thrust me aside. His human body tore and a seven-and-a-half-foot monster spilled out and charged the bull.
The eight shapeshifters in my kitchen went furry as one and sprinted through the hallway past me, followed by Grendel barking his head off.
“Alive!” I called after them. “We need to ask him some . . .”
The bull ducked his head, ready to gore Curran. Curran grabbed the bull’s left horn and punched the enormous bovine in the face. The bull’s head snapped to the side, but Curran jerked it back and hammered another hard punch into its skull.
Curran punched it again and again, his fist like a jackhammer, smashing into the bone. The bull attempted to back up, jerking its head, trying to free its horn, but Curran held on and kept punching. Blood flew from the side of the bull’s head. The monster pushed forward, trying to bulldoze Curran off his feet. Curran locked both hands on the bull’s horns and thrust his clawed feet into the ground. Muscles bulged under his gray fur, the faint dark stripes standing out like whip marks.
Curran’s feet slid and stopped. They struggled, face to face, the bull’s maddened fiery eyes staring into Curran’s ice-cold gray. The shapeshifters waited in a ragged semicircle.
The bull strained, but Curran held it.
The bull opened its mouth and bellowed. Curran roared back, the sound of pure fury. Tiny hairs rose on the back of my neck.
Fire flared, sheathing the bull’s sides. Curran vaulted onto its back, one hand still on the horn. His enormous leonine jaws gaped open and Curran bit into the side of the bull’s throat. The monster screamed and the shapeshifters ripped into the bovine monster, oblivious to the flames.
“This is good,” a wererat in a warrior form said next to me in Robert’s voice. “He was very stressed-out. Excuse me.”
He pushed past me and joined the slaughter. I slumped against the door frame and watched.
• • •
“WILL YOU STOP eating it,” I growled.
“No,” Andrea said. She was sitting on the ground and chewing on some unidentifiable chunk of bull flesh.
“It’s a piece of meat from something a djinn summoned.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Who else would send a bull made of fire to my house after I helped kill a djinn-possessed giant? Stop eating. It might have been a person,” I told her.
“I don’t care.”
“Andrea! You don’t know what this will do to the baby!”
“It will make it nice and strong.” Andrea bit into the piece of meat, shredding it with her sharp bouda teeth.
“You have all that evidence over there.” She waved at the rest of the bull corpse, spread in about a hundred pieces across our lawn. Curran had torn it to pieces with his bare hands. “I’ve been starving all day and eating that bird-food trail mix. I’m pregnant, hormonal, and tired, and I am damn hungry. I’m going to sit here and eat my meat.”
“She’s right,” Desandra told me, biting into a chunk. “It’s really decent. Tastes like grass-fed Angus to me. So kind of your fiancé to tenderize it.”
That was it. I was done. I just didn’t even care anymore.
I marched my way up the driveway to the house. An enormous white tiger sprawled in my driveway, flicking her tail at a small flock of butterflies that bounced on bright wings around her brilliant white fur. I circled Dali and the butterflies and went inside. Curran sat on a couch in the living room. He was back in his human skin. The couch was covered in blood. That was fine. I was having second thoughts about the color anyway.
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