Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(70) by Ilona Andrews
I sat next to him. Watching him rip the bull apart wasn’t just frightening. It was one of those things I would never forget. It was imprinted in my brain. Curran’s control was absolute, so when he opened the door and the feral lethal monster shot out and reveled in unrestrained destruction, it made your blood run cold. He’d had less outlet than usual since we moved out of the Keep. There people recognized what he was. If he wanted something, he had only to pick up the phone and people would run to do his bidding. Here, he was trying his best to be a good considerate neighbor. To be a normal human, not in the true sense of the word, but in the meaning other suburban families would accept and find nonthreatening. I hadn’t fully understood how hard it was for him until now.
It was over. People saw it. They stopped and stared, and there was no going back. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
“Julie asked me if we are getting a divorce,” I told him.
“I told her that we couldn’t get one since we aren’t married.”
“I understand now,” I told him. “You left the Pack for me and threw it all away, because you thought we would have a happy peaceful life together. You’ve been so good and assumed this calm, nice role of a man who lives in the suburbs with his family and instead this messed-up crap keeps happening. I—”
He put his arm around me and pulled me closer to him.
I shut up.
We sat together on the couch.
“I didn’t touch the giant. I didn’t use any power words. I only threw some undead blood at it. I just got splattered with gore.” I almost said I promise but held my tongue.
“I will kill anything that tries to hurt you,” he said, his voice quiet.
“I know. I will kill anything that tries to hurt you,” I told him.
Curran looked at me. “I just can’t figure out what to do when you hurt yourself. Who am I mad at?”
I opened my mouth. Nothing smart came to mind. “If anyone can figure it out, it would be you. You’re the only one who’ll put up with me.”
He didn’t answer.
“I have some bad news.” Might as well drop all of the shoes at the same time.
“The Order claimed the earring that houses the ifrit. They won’t let anyone examine it. Eduardo is being held in some abandoned building. He is starving and we have no way to know which building he’s in. I saw him in a vision. He doesn’t have long.”
“Anything else?” Curran asked, his voice even.
“Yes. My father is building a tower near Lawrenceville. He wants to have dinner tonight. At Applebee’s.”
The arm holding me shook. I glanced at him. Curran was laughing.
“I love you,” I told him. “I don’t give a crap what anybody thinks or says. You don’t have to be anyone or anything but you, Curran. Don’t do this for me, because I just want you.”
“You realize all of the neighbors are going to move, right?”
“Screw them. Good riddance. I couldn’t care less if we fit in with them or don’t. I never wanted the ‘good’ neighborhood or to be seen as ‘normal.’ I just wanted to live in a house with you and Julie. You can be yourself. You let me be myself, so it’s only fair. Stop trying so hard to fit in. I love you because you don’t.”
He kissed my hair.
“Anything exciting happen while I was gone?” I asked.
“Remember how we sent George to have a subtle conversation with Patrick?”
Oh no. “I’m afraid to ask . . .”
“He tried to lecture her on her duty to the Clan and she told him to shut up. He told her he would take her in hand for her dad.”
I squeezed my eyes shut for a few seconds. “Is he alive?”
“Oh yes. She didn’t kill him. Both of his legs are broken, but he is alive.”
“Was that an official challenge?”
“No, they are classifying it as a family dispute, since George decided to separate and isn’t in the clan chain of command anymore.”
Raphael walked into the room. He was wearing worn-out jeans and a leather jacket, and if you sent him and the leading male model down the street, he would turn more heads. There was just something about Raphael that broadcasted sex, loud and clear, and I had yet to meet a woman who didn’t respond to it. Of course, they usually did their best to hide that response because Andrea was a crack shot.
Raphael crouched by Curran and said, “Hey. I just figured out how we all could make a lot of money.”
“Go on,” Curran said.
“I’m going to buy out your neighbors and offer their houses to Pack members who live in the city. Any Pack family would give up their life’s savings to live next to the former Beast Lord, and something tells me your neighbors will be extremely eager to sell.”
Curran laughed again.
“We’ll make a small fortune,” Raphael said. “All you have to do is go out once in a while in your warrior form and roar. Especially when it’s dark. They’ll line up to sell so fast, we’ll have to give out numbers.”
“I’m completely serious.” Raphael was grinning. “You could use the extra cash.”
“You should get your wife to stop eating unidentified meat,” I told him.
Curran stroked my back.
Desandra thrust her head into the room. “You better hurry. Mahon is here.”
• • •
MAHON STOOD ON the lawn. Large, burly, with a curly beard, he looked like he needed a chain-mail hauberk, a mace, and a castle to defend. His beast form made his human body look weak and puny, which was why Mahon served as the Pack’s Executioner. His glower made hardened fighters run for cover. His daughter couldn’t have cared less. She stood defiant in the middle of the lawn, holding a blanket around herself with her one hand. Usually transforming from a human to a beast and then back to a human would’ve put her down for a nap, but the tilt of her chin told me she was very motivated to stay awake. George was pissed off. They both looked ready to explode. I braced myself.
Across the street a crowd of neighbors had gathered at Heather Savell’s house. Awesome. Nothing better at a shapeshifter family brawl than conveniently placed innocent bystanders.
“. . . Separation is ridiculous. You’ve had your fun,” Mahon said, his voice deep. “This foolishness stops now. Come home.”
“No.” If George had freezing powers, that one word would’ve turned her dad into an icicle.
“You are not leaving the Pack.”
“Yes, I am.”
Mahon exhaled rage. “For what?” His voice boomed. “For some boy?”
George bared her teeth. “He isn’t a boy. He is a man. My man. The one I chose.”
“Yes, just like you chose Aidan before, and what’s-his-face, Nathan. This will pass. Don’t throw your life away.”
“Staying with you would be throwing my life away. You want me to marry a werebear and be a good little brood mare.”
“I want you to stay with your family!” Mahon roared.
“Do not raise your voice at me!” George roared back.
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