Another flash of light burst and he was full-sized again. “This is not agreeable to me.”

I wasn’t sure what to say. Should I apologize? “Where am I?”

“Not far from your wolf mate.”

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I nearly laughed. “He’s not my mate.”

He tilted his head to the side. “Are you sure?”

“I think I’d know if we were bonded.” Wouldn’t I? Maybe it was possible, but it certainly hadn’t happened yet. “How did you get me here?”

“I have the gift of travel.” He disappeared without a sound. One second he was there and the next, he wasn’t. “I go where I want.”

I screeched when his voice came from right behind me.

He grabbed my shoulder hard. “That sound is very disagreeable.”

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I cleared my throat. Don’t show your fear, Claudia. “I apologize. You frightened me.”

He let me go, and I was sure I’d have his fingerprints as bruises by morning. “I like being frightening.” He grinned, showing his row of sharp teeth. That together with the look in his eye… He was doing a fantastic job of being frightening.

I was wondering if running would be a good idea after all, when a snarl tore through the dark.

A wolf leapt between us. His back faced me as he snarled at the fey creature.

It didn’t take a second for the fight to start. I crab-crawled backward to get out of their way until I hit a tree. They moved faster than I could track, turning into blurs of aura—Lucas’ bright light yellow and Gobble’s glittering blue and silver. Their snarls and cries broke the quiet of the night. I froze for a moment, watching in awe.

But what was I doing? I needed to stop them.

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“Stop!” I yelled. I stood and put the force of my will and magic into my voice. “Stop fighting. Right now.” It wasn’t a spell per se, but the words would carry my power if I believed they would.

The two separated, breathing hard as they stared each other down. The wolf transformed to human, and suddenly I was staring at Lucas.

A totally naked Lucas.

I covered my eyes with a hand. “You’re naked!”

“Yes. That’s usually what happens when I shift.” I would’ve had to be deaf to miss the humor in his voice.

“I just… Where are your clothes?”

The fey clacked his tongue. “Little tasty is a prude.”

The nerve of that little… “I’m not a prude!” But I still didn’t lower my hand.

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Well, maybe I was a little bit, but I didn’t need to hear it from him.

“I’ll shift back in a bit,” Lucas said before addressing the fey. “What’s your name, fey one?”

“I don’t share my name.” His words were so haughty, I almost lowered my hand. I was sure he was making some sort of awful face.

He was smart, though. If words had power, names were infinitely stronger. I’d read that true names were precious things among the fey. It could make one become a slave to another.

“Then what shall I call you?” Lucas asked.

“Gobble.”

I couldn’t suppress a wince. That was both creepy and appropriate.

“Fine. Gobble. Why did you take her from me?”

“She seemed tasty.”

“Enough with the tasty thing.” It gave me the creepy-crawlies.

“She’s not food and you know it. She was under my protection.” Lucas’ growl echoed across the mountain. “Or are you willingly and knowingly violating our pact?”

Pact? The wolves and fey had a pact?

“No! I didn’t break a pact! I didn’t know she was your mate.”

“You did and you took her from me. If you don’t leave us be, the pack will bring this matter to your prince.”

Gobble sputtered words in a language I didn’t know. It favored voiceless dental fricative and sibilant sounds. When he finally started speaking English again, his voice was wheedling. “She said you were looking for the mages. They’ve not been here in many years, but I remember where they were. I can help along the way.”

I doubted his intentions were anything but selfish, but if he had the gift of travel… “We might need him.”

“Take us there directly if you’re so eager to help.” Lucas’ words were half growl.

“Lazy wolf. You must do some of it on your own.”

“Her brother is dying. Time is something we don’t have.”

“Then it’s good that I can keep you from getting lost.”

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