Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ilona Andrews (please note it is an unedited advance reader copy – a gift from Ilona to her fans)
25 December 2011
Jim sighed and headed toward us at a brisk pace.
Tall, with the skin the color of rich coffee, and dressed all in black, Jim looked like he was carved from a block of solid muscle. Logic said that at some point he must’ve been a baby and then a child, but looking at him one was almost convinced that some deity touched the ground with its scepter and proclaimed, “There shall be a badass,” and Jim sprung into existence, fully formed, complete with clothes, and ready for action. He was the alpha of Clan Cat, pack’s Chief of Security, and Curran’s best friend.
He braked near us.
“Have you vetted the Wolves of the Isle yet?” Curran asked.
“Who are the Wolves of the Isle?” I asked.
“It’s a small pack from Florida Keys,” Curran said. “Eight people. They’re petitioning to join us and for some odd reason our Security Chief is dragging his feet on the background checks.”
Jim waved the stack of paper in his hand. “The Security Chief has two thefts, four murders, and an abandonment of post to deal with.”
“Murders?” I asked.
“I gave my word to the wolves,” Curran said.
“I’m not opposed to admitting them.” Jim spread his arms. “All I’m saying is let me make sure people we have are safe before we add any more to them. By the way, Kate, did you review the Guild documents I sent you?”
Deflecting the attention, are we? I gave him my tough stare. It bounced off Jim like hail from the pavement. “Somewhat. I was busy.”
“See?” Jim pointed to me. “Your mate is doing the same thing I’m doing. Prioritizing.”
I would get him for this. Oh, yes.
Curran looked at Jim. “Do you need my help with the background checks?”
A muscle in Jim’s face jerked. “No, I’ve got it.”
Ha! He didn’t want Curran in his hair either. “Don’t worry, he’s coming with me to investigate things.”
“In the city?” Jim asked.
“That’s a great idea. You both should go. To the city.”
Curran and I looked at each other.
“He’s trying to get rid of us,” I said.
“You think he’s planning a coup?” Curran wondered.
“I hope so.” I turned to Jim. “Is there any chance you’d overthrow the tyrannical Beast Lord and his psychotic Consort?”
“Yeah, I want a vacation,” Curran said.
Jim leaned toward us and said in a lowered voice, “You couldn’t pay me enough. This is your mess, you deal with it. I have enough on my plate.”
He walked away.
“Too bad,” Curran said.