I leaned in, trying to make it seem like I was conspiring with him. “So, what did she get out of the deal? Did she just want your coven as allies?” That was my best guess so far, but my instincts said there was more to it than that.

He scoffed. “No. She could care less about being allies. We had an item she wanted. I didn’t think too much about it. My coven… Things aren’t easy over there. I needed your help, so I traded. You for it. And, one way or another, I need you there.”

One way or another? My nails dug into my palms as I fisted my hands. I wasn’t an object to be traded. I was a human being. “At least tell me what you traded me for.”

“Doesn’t matter. She can’t use it.”

He was so unbelievably wrong. When she wanted something that badly, she’d find a way to make it work. “If you really believe that, then you’re more naive than I thought.”

“You’re really not going back with me?”

Should I lie? Maybe. But I couldn’t. “No. I’m not.”

Matt stood and started for the door.

Where was he going? Panic tightened my chest.

No. I needed his help.

Damn it. Why had I pushed him so much?

I sat there watching him leave, wondering what I could say to get him back. What was I willing to agree to?

He paused in the exit. “You coming?”

That had been so much easier than I’d expected. And I hadn’t actually agreed to do anything for him. Why would he take me there?

I knew he’d ask for something later. He wasn’t the type to let me forget a favor, but I’d deal with that when the time came. I scrambled to put a tip on the table, and caught up with him. “We’re going now?”

“The sooner we get this taken care of, the sooner I can get home. I have to get back to New York. My coven is falling apart.”

I almost felt bad for him. Then I remembered that he’d tried to trade me for some magical object. He was going to push me to marry him just so I could fix whatever messed-up situation his coven was in.

Not your problem, Claudia. You can’t fix everything that’s wrong in this world. You can barely protect your own family.

I followed him out of the hotel, trailing behind as he walked down the narrow street to a parked car. He opened the driver’s side door for himself. “Get in.”

I didn’t wait for him to ask twice. I opened the door to his little blue Honda rental, and slid into the passenger seat. “You know where you’re going? We don’t need directions?”

“No.” He started the engine and drove down the street. I buckled my seatbelt as he nearly sideswiped a car.

Lucas had made driving down the tiny roads look easy. I’d never felt anything but safe with him, except for being terrified when we went up that mountain road. Even then, he’d reassured me. But a few seconds into the drive with Matt I knew I was really putting my life in his hands.

“My cousin joined up with this sect a while back,” Matt said as he cut off a truck. “We all thought he was nuts, but he was always a little on the odd side. I’ve visited a few times over the years. Luciana has been known to stop in, too.”

I didn’t like that Luciana had been there. It definitely supported what Lucas said about those brujos being evil. I cracked my knuckles as I contemplated asking Matt to turn around, but kept my mouth shut. If there were another way, I’d take it. But there wasn’t.

As I sat there, I wondered if there was any way I could get Matt on our side. I knew I couldn’t trust him, but while we were stuck in the car together, I figured I might as well try to convince him to support us against Luciana. He’d definitely pass along anything I said to his mother—the leader of his coven. And she might pass that information along to Luciana. But she might not.

Worst he could do was say no and tell Luciana I’d asked. It wasn’t like she didn’t know I’d left the coven.

I blew out a breath as I thought about what to say. Keeping it simple was probably the best way to go. “I know it’s asking a lot, but it would be amazing if I could get your support against Luciana. You said your coven was in trouble. Forming a little alliance right now could do both of us some good.”

“Why are you so set against her? What’s she done to you?”

That question was so absurd to me, I wanted to laugh. Or cry. What hadn’t she done? “She’s gone solid black. A few weeks ago, she attacked the pack, and tried to raise demons. She only stopped because Daniel was killed.”

“Demons?” The car swerved as he looked at me.