He saw the fear in that clear blue gaze that didn’t waver at all from his. "I’m Arcadian. Like Vane, I changed at puberty. It’s something I’ve never told anyone in my life. Not even my family knows."
"Why would you tell me?"
Her eyes turned glassy from restrained tears as she showed him the Sentinel markings on her own face. "I just thought you should know what you’re involved with."
Fang cupped her cheek where the ancient Greek design spiraled, marking her as one of the most hated groups to his kind. He saw the fear in her eyes and the fact that she would trust him with this . . .
She did love him. She’d have to because only a fool with a death wish would lay this in the hands of a Katagari who knew how Nicolette Peltier felt about Arcadians. The fact that Aimee had kept it from her mother said it all.
Aimee had laid herself completely nak*d and open to him. No wonder she was trembling.
"You know it doesn’t matter to me."
Aimee choked on a sob as she pulled him into her arms and held him close. "You have no idea how scared I’ve been all these centuries. I think it’s why I’ve been so afraid to even attempt mating with a Katagari. Can you imagine what they might do to me if they find out?"
Kill her at best. Mutilate her at worst. She was right, it wasn’t something to be shared lightly. "You were brave to tell me."
"I trust you that much, wolf."
"And I will never betray that trust. I swear it."
Aimee felt a single tear slide down her cheek. Fang brushed it away.
The tenderness in his eyes melted her. He wouldn’t betray her, she knew that. But it still couldn’t bind them. This was the most hopeless relationship ever devised by the gods.
"So where does this leave us?" she whispered, too terrified to even contemplate an answer on her own.
His look turned to steel. "Come away with me. Just the two of us. Let’s forget about all the differences and prejudices. Let’s just leave and be together."
How she wished it were that simple. But it wasn’t. "I can’t do that, Fang. My brothers died protecting me. But for Bastien, I would never have learned to use my powers. He tutored me when I couldn’t trust anyone else. Now I’m the only one who can train Kyle to use his. And Maman would be shattered to lose me too. I’m her only hope at maintaining our legacy. The Peltiers have been on the Omegrion since the beginning. You know how rare that is."
His look turned cold. "Is that really more important to you than me?"
"No, but you can’t make me choose between you and my family."
Fang winced as he realized she was right. He was being selfish. "Yeah. It was a stupid idea."
And he was a fool for thinking, even for a second, that she would put him over them. No one had ever done that before. Why should she?
His heart broken, he pulled away. "We better finish cleaning up. As you said, I don’t want Nicolette yelling at you."
Aimee watched as he returned to stacking chairs. She’d hurt him and she wasn’t sure how. But she could tell there was a wall between them that hadn’t been there earlier.
When they were finished, she led the way upstairs. She paused outside his room. "Good night, Fang."
"You too." He didn’t even look at her before he vanished and left her in the hallway.
Sighing, she headed for her own room.
Fang didn’t breathe until Aimee was back in her room. He stripped his clothes off, grimacing at the soreness he still had from his fight with Fury. That little SOB could punch like a sledgehammer.
He fell into bed, exhausted, but still couldn’t sleep for thoughts of Aimee.
In his heart, he knew he couldn’t stay here forever. And if she did start mating with other men, he’d have to leave or kill someone. The thought of anyone touching her spun him into the galactic outer rims of pissed off.
I’m going to have to leave. Because every day he stayed here and didn’t have her, he died a little more inside.
Weeks later, Fang still hadn’t left.
I am a total head case.
No, he was a moron and he couldn’t bring himself to leave Aimee. He would rather stay here and be miserable where he could at least hold her when no one was around than leave and be completely miserable without her.
But every day he stayed, it was worse.
Thorn had been right. There was all kinds of shit brewing at Sanctuary. Wren had been thrown out after he’d taken up with some politician’s daughter and now the Peltiers and the entire Omegrion were hot after the tigard to kill him over something his own cousin had said at the last council meeting.
Nicolette was convinced the kid was a threat to her precious family and Aimee was hell-bent that it was all a misunderstanding. Mother and daughter had been fighting over it constantly and there had been a time or two when Fang had almost gone for Nicolette’s throat over the way she talked to her daughter.
"Please, Fang. Let it go. She’s my mother and I love her." That was all Aimee ever said, but it was hard to do nothing while her mother treated her like shit.
As far as Wren was concerned, Fang agreed with Aimee that it smacked of Wren’s distant relations trying to lay hands on his inheritance. But there was no way to prove it. Right now there was a blood hunt out for the tigard and a pack of tigers were stalking him.
Fang felt for him and hoped for the best where Wren was concerned.
Tonight he was on bar duty with Sasha, Etienne, Colt, and Cherif. Out of all the Peltier brothers, Dev was his favorite, but Cherif was a close second. Cherif lacked Remi’s nasty attitude. Instead he had a badass aura that said he didn’t have to pick or bully to reign supreme.
He simply was, and death to anyone who wanted to knock him off that throne.
Sasha was another Katagari Lykos who stayed here off and on depending on his mood. The last survivor of his pack, he was technically the bodyguard for a goddess. But since his goddess had married, his duties had been light, which meant that whenever he was bored, he’d come hang out with the rest of the animals at Sanctuary.
Tall and blond, Sasha had a nasty temper and a biting sarcasm he could definitely appreciate. All in all, Fang liked the other wolf, but the nature of their species made it hard for them to be around each other too much. Since they weren’t in the same pack, they were extremely territorial here.
Kyle’s twin, Cody, was sitting at the bar beside Sasha, drinking a Coke. He choked on his drink.
Frowning, Fang turned to see what had set him off. His gaze focused on Aimee who was wearing a tight string tank top and a pair of cutoff shorts that were way too short.
"Oh, hell no," he said before he could even think not to. "You’re not working in that."
Cherif agreed. "Hear, hear! Get your ass back upstairs and change before Maman or Papa sees you."
She gave them all a go-to-hell glower. "Were you people born on the sun? It’s stifling hot in here and unlike you losers, I’m the one who has to run orders back and forth."
Fang scoffed. "Then be glad we’re not putting you in a parka."
She narrowed her gaze at him. "You got no authority over me, wolf." She raked her brother with a curled lip. "You even less so."
Cherif pulled his phone out of his pocket. "I’m calling Maman. Right now."
She hissed at him. "I hate you. I swear one day, I’m going to poison your food." Then she turned her fury to Fang. "And I’m not talking to you for the rest of the night."
That was fine by him so long as she covered herself up. He wasn’t about to have her walk around like that with the body she had. They already had enough trouble keeping men and animal hands off her.
Cherif held his beer bottle up toward Fang. "Here’s to you, my brother."
Laughing, Fang held his up to tap the bottom of the bottles together in a salute of solidarity against public female fashions that only looked good on a woman you didn’t have a relationship with.
"Hey, Fang, you got a visitor."
He frowned at Dev’s voice in his earpiece. "Vane or Fury?"
Fang set his bottle down as he frowned. The only other person he could think of would be Thorn, but Thorn didn’t usually come in the front door.
His breath caught as a searing pain cut through his shoulder where Thorn’s mark was.
What the hell?
Trying not to show the pain, he scanned the room until his eyes fell on Varyk. He didn’t know how he knew that, but the name popped into his head like a beacon.
Dressed in a light linen suit and with his hair immaculately combed, he looked as out of place here as Fang would on a billionaire’s fancy boat.
Pulling the earpiece out and turning it off, Fang met him in the middle of the bar. "What are you doing here?"
Before Varyk could answer, Sasha was there, looking like he was staring at a ghost.
Varyk’s gaze went to him slowly. Unlike Sasha, his features were completely blank. "Betrayer." There was enough venom in that one word to supply an army of cobras.
Sasha let out a deep, vicious growl. "I betrayed no one."
By Varyk’s face it was obvious he didn’t believe a word of it. "And yet you survived while the rest of us were hunted into the ground."
"For a dead man, you look awfully hale."
"There’s more irony in that statement than you realize, punk. Now get out of my face before I decide killing you is more important to me than Savitar’s bullshit laws."
Sasha started away, then stopped. "Lera made her decision based solely on my age."
"And my brother was younger than you and still he was slaughtered. Get out of my presence, Sasha, or lose your life."
Fang didn’t speak until the wolf was gone. "What is up with you two?"
Varyk, obviously one who didn’t like to elaborate, shrugged it off. "Forgotten history. You, however, are my present."
"Oh, goody. Do I have to wear a bow?"
His face unamused, Varyk pulled out a scrap of cloth. "Recognize the scent?"
Fang caught the whiff even before he put it to his nose. The stench was unmistakable and it made him see red. "Misery."
He nodded. "She broke out. I can’t find her. I’ve alerted Wynter and now I’m letting you know. I’m sure she’s in someone else’s body. The question is . . . whose. Keep your eyes open since she has a hard-on for you. We’re hoping she makes contact or screws up so that we can find her and send her back to where she belongs."
"I’ll be watching for her."
Varyk inclined his head before he turned and left the bar. Fang put his headphone back on and switched it on just as Varyk paused at the door where Dev was standing.
"I feel the need for a bearskin rug."
Dev scoffed. "Funny. I was thinking a wolf’s head would look good on my mantel."
"Watch your back, bear."
"You better watch your front. I want to see your face when I take you down."
Varyk flipped him off on his way out the door.
Fang shook his head.
Dev pressed his earpiece in deeper. "What did he want with you, Fang?"
"Nothing. Just wolf business."
Even at this distance, he could see Dev’s glare. Ignoring it, Fang went back to the bar where Aimee had returned. Now dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, she still made him hard.
But at least he couldn’t complain about this outfit. "Much better."
Snatching her tray up from the counter, she snarled at him, "Shut up, wolf."
"Ouch," Cherif said as she stalked off.
Fang would have gone after her, but he couldn’t with half her family watching them. Instead, he projected his thoughts to Aimee. "Tell you what? I’m going to head over to that table of college girls who’ve been eyeing me all night like I’m the last piece of steak in New Orleans, and talk to that little redhead. What do you think?"
Aimee looked at the table and stiffened. "I’ll gouge out your eyes."
"Then why are you mad at me about you?"
She had the decency to look a bit sheepish as she wiped down a table. "Because it’s different."
"I don’t think so."
She stuck her tongue out at him before she went to take an order.
Aimee tried to ignore Fang as she went about her job. They were a little shorthanded tonight, which was why she was down here instead of upstairs reading. Matt had called in sick and Tara was acting strange. Aimee watched her even now as she mixed up orders, which was completely out of character for her.
Aimee went over to her as she headed back to the kitchen with a plate of fried chicken. "Is something wrong, girl?"
Tara shook her head. "I’m just tired and these people are being jerks. Have I ever said how much I hate the living?"
Aimee snorted. "About as much as I do most days."
"I know. It’s just . . ." She paused to look at the bar where the men were gathered. "Fang is creeping me out."
Aimee couldn’t have been more stunned at that had she thrown the plate of chicken at her. "Fang?"
Tara nodded. "I don’t like the way he watches me."
"Fang?" Aimee repeated, unable to believe this discussion. Was the girl out of her mind?
Drugs . . . definitely drugs.