Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(71) by Ilona Andrews
“We raised you, we clothed you, we fed you, we educated you, and this is how you repay us?”
“You did all the things that parents are legally obligated to do. Congratulations, Dad. You weren’t a neglectful parent. Thank you. It doesn’t give you the right to shackle me for the rest of my life. You’re not entitled to it. This is my life and I will live it.”
“She isn’t leaving your family,” Thomas said. “She’s leaving the Pack.”
“The hell she is.” Mahon seemed to get bigger somehow, his face darker. He pointed at Curran. “Is this it? Is he your example? You want to throw it all away because some . . . human couldn’t stand living in the Keep? She nagged at him and nagged at him until he gave in and now look at him. Years wasted! Years! And we are all worse off for it. He thinks with his dick, but you, you were always smarter than that.”
It’s funny how loud horrified silence can be.
Mahon stared at him, incredulous.
Across the street Heather was gaping at me. I smiled and waved at her.
“What about this is funny?” Mahon roared. “You were supposed to be the Beast Lord. You were supposed to start a legacy!”
“I’m happy,” Curran told him. “Don’t you want me to be happy?”
“It’s not about being happy! It’s about duty and obligations and doing something with your life!”
“What about your obligations?” Curran asked, his voice mild. “What was your duty to my mate when I was comatose?”
Mahon opened his mouth.
“Did you protect her?” Curran asked. “Did you help her? Did you do anything to support this future legacy?”
“She was not a proper mate. She will never be a proper mate. She is a human!”
Well, of course.
“You don’t get to decide that.” Curran said. “It isn’t your place. I chose her. I led the Pack for seventeen years and it failed me when I needed it most. You failed me.”
“My obligation to the Pack is over,” Curran said. “You failed to uphold your end of the bargain.”
“Speaking of duty,” George put in. “What the hell were you thinking, sending a fifteen-year-old against Andorf? He was a berserk bear with years of experience and Curran could barely shave. Why didn’t you go, Dad?”
“Be quiet,” Mahon snapped. “You were barely twelve. You have no idea what was involved. I sent him because we needed a leader. Because the packs wouldn’t follow me!”
I went and sat by Andrea. I’d had a long day and I was tired of standing.
“So your convenience and lofty ideals justified sending a child to the slaughter and then unloading the burden of being in charge of people’s lives on him?” George raised her eyebrows. “So you could stand behind the throne and have fun playing kingmaker? You should ask yourself, Dad, why all your children want to escape. Maybe we’re not the problem.”
“This is it!” Mahon roared. “This ends now. You’re coming with me, if I have to carry you. You’re not separating from the Pack. I will put you under lock and—”
“Enough.” Jim’s voice cut through Mahon’s roar like a knife.
“I said, enough!” Jim snarled. “No member of the Pack will interfere with separation. No member of the Pack will be restrained against her will because her father is on a power trip. Mind your conduct, Alpha.”
If I slow-clapped, Mahon’s head would probably explode.
“You need to rethink that,” Mahon told him.
“You will not break the law you yourself helped put in place. The law applies to everyone.” Jim glared at Mahon. “You will obey it. If you find yourself unable to follow the law, step down and Clan Heavy will find an alpha who can.”
“You—” Mahon began.
“I am the Beast Lord,” Jim said.
“Not for long,” Mahon snarled.
“Is that a challenge?” Jim bared his teeth. Dali rose from her spot in the driveway and stalked over, paw over massive paw, like a silent majestic shadow, and stood beside her mate, her blue eyes staring at Mahon with unyielding intensity.
Mahon glanced at Curran.
Curran shook his head.
“You would side with them against me?” Mahon looked shocked.
“You’re wrong,” Curran told him. “The law is the law whether you like it or not. Either you’re an alpha and you uphold the law, or you are not.”
“It’s always like that with you,” George said. “You’ve been after Curran for years to find a mate, and when he found one, you didn’t approve of her, so you decided that none of the things you were supposed to do as his father applied. You’ve been asking me for years when I planned to settle down, and when I did, you didn’t like him either. Now he’s disappeared and it’s your responsibility as an alpha to look for him, but you don’t like it, so you chose not to do it. All your talk of duty and obligations means nothing. You think you know better than any of us. You don’t. Look at what you’re doing, Dad. You’re challenging the Beast Lord you swore allegiance to because you don’t like the man your daughter loves. Because it hurt some weird little place in your pride. This is how you serve and lead your clan. Don’t you have any integrity at all?”
A burning rock the size of a basketball streaked across the sky and landed in the street in front of our house. I lunged in front of Andrea, trying to shield her. The explosion shook the ground.
“What are you doing?” Andrea hauled me back. “I’m a shapeshifter. I regenerate!”
“Oh, shut up.”
A brilliant golden flame ten feet high and five feet wide ignited in the middle of the street. Inside it, Eduardo writhed in his cage. The ifrit was punishing Eduardo because we’d killed the bull.
A voice rolled through the street, a voice charged with inhuman power that prickled against my skin like static. It raised every hair on the back of my arms. “All who are guilty will die. Witness the betrayer spawn. See his suffering.”
George ran. I jumped to my feet and chased her. Jim made a grab for her, but he wasn’t fast enough. George dashed into the street, right into the fire. It broke apart into a thousand sparks and transformed into a thirty-foot-long, glowing snake.
George screamed at the top of her lungs. It was a scream of rage and pain, rolled into one horrible, soul-crushing sound. She screamed as if something inside her had torn and nothing could put it back together.
The snake lunged at her. George grabbed it by its neck, heaved it upright, and slammed the body against the pavement. The snake hissed, the massive coils trying to wind around George and crush her. The werebear planted one foot on the snake. The muscles on her arm flexed and she tore the reptile in two. The light went out of the snake’s eyes, but George didn’t stop. She mauled and ripped the creature again and again, venting her grief on its body.
We watched her rage, tears welling in her eyes, until she finally let it go, and then Curran and I led her back into the house off the street.
I OPENED MY eyes. I lay in our bed, on my side. Something felt odd. I puzzled over it and realized Curran wasn’t with me.
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