“I waited a long time for you. Many, many decades. Longer than that.”

I laughed. “How old are you?” I stuck my fork in a hunk of melon.

“I’ll wait until you’re not so young before I tell you. I don’t want you to get spooked.”

“Are you as old as Donovan?” I asked as I waved the fruit in the air, and then took a bite.

He settled back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Older.”

That didn’t make sense. “But you look younger?”

He laughed. “I can’t wait to tell him you said so.”

I paused. “But then why aren’t you one of the Seven?”

Lucas gave me the most wicked look. “I don’t like to play by the rules.”

Holy moly. How did I not know he was a bad boy at heart?

No. I must’ve misunderstood.

Lucas motioned to the food. “Eat. And then you can take a nap before the flight. I didn’t realize how exhausted you were. You didn’t move the entire time you slept.”

I rubbed my eyes. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to actually sleep without the fear of Luciana draining me. I did okay in Peru—I was far enough away—but I was—”

“Restless. I thought it was because I was with you.”

I shook my head. “Not at all. I was just afraid to close my eyes.”

“Ah. I see.” Lucas stood up, and walked to my chair, reaching a hand for me. It seemed natural to reach back to him.

He pulled me down on the bed and tucked me against him so I could rest my head on his chest. Then he pressed a kiss to my forehead. “Sleep. I’ll watch over you.”

I got comfortable, resting half on him, my arm across his stomach. He ran his fingers up and down my arm. For the first time in longer than I could remember, I felt safe. Comfortable. Not panicked.


We met in the lobby a few hours later. Adrian was already there, chatting with Shane and Beth. We were just waiting on Raphael and the wolf I still hadn’t met yet.

After the nap, Lucas got me more food, and I felt infinitely better. As I sat down, I was glad we hadn’t stayed here longer. The couch was a fuzzy zebra print with hot pink and neon green pillows. The coffee table was chrome and glass. Actually everything was either black and white, neon colored, or chrome. There were so many shiny surfaces, the hotel must spend a fortune on cleaners.

What I didn’t understand at all was the hot pink deer head hanging over the mantel.

It’s a little much, don’t you think?

Lucas nodded. It’s hideous.


We both started laughing, and Adrian moaned. “Not you, too.”

“Sorry,” I said.

I felt Raphael coming down the hall before I saw him. Twindar was back. I stood up. “Hey,” I said as I gave him a hug. His skin tone was still a little off, but he looked like himself now. “You look better.”

“Feel much better. Thank you.”

“Anything for you.”

Raphael turned to Lucas, sizing him up. “I hear you’re mated to my sister now.”

Lucas stood tall, meeting Raphael’s stare-down head on. “I would’ve liked to have met you before we bonded, but we found ourselves in a bit of situation and Claudia needed the added power boost.” He held out his hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you. I hope you know that I’ll do everything I can to make sure your sister is happy and well taken care of.”

“Are you going to make her change?”

I choked on air at the blunt question. Before I could say it was none of his business, Lucas spoke up. “Never. If she wants to change, that’s up to her. She’s my mate either way.” He didn’t even bristle at my brother’s sharp tone.

Raphael crossed his arms. “None of this forced biting like the guy my cousin hooked up with.”

“Absolutely not.” Lucas looked to me. “What Dastien did was wrong. He knows it. He was young and couldn’t control the urge. But I’m not young. Okay?”

I nodded. My life was complicated enough without being a wolf, and for once I wanted to think things through before jumping in. For the time being, it was enough to just be me.

“Let’s go,” Adrian said. “Don’t want to miss the flight. Tessa is freaking out. She thinks Luciana is up to something.”

I sighed. “She’s always up to something.”

“Well, this time it’s extra bad.”

When it came to Luciana, it was always bad. “You got the stuff?”