Rory tensed, smart enough to sense that was a jab at him. I have many regrets, Edward went on. Mainly that I sat around, waiting for my true mate to stumble into my path. It was a stupid move, considering shifters don’t always recognize their mate at first glance, but I was so sure that I would know instantly. Maybe she did cross my path, maybe she didn’t. In any case, I have spent my life relatively alone, and now I have died alone. I encourage you all not to wait around as I did. Find your own path to happiness, and walk down that path whether it leads to your true mate or not. Love and best wishes, Dale. Edward lowered the letter to the desk. Touching, Rory bit out. Yes, Edward agreed. Your uncle didn’t own any physical properties, but he received the same payment upon his death that all in his pack receive so that they may leave some for their families. Dale split it as follows . . . As the attorney read out the will, Zander briefly closed his eyes. He should have seen it coming. A dollar, said Rory, voice strangely calm. He left me a dollar. The attorney licked his lips. Yes. Rory jumped to his feet, hands curled. Is this a fucking joke? Edward shifted in his seat. He felt that you wouldn’t need money, since you were your parents’ sole heir. So, he did this to piss me off. He divided everything between Zander and Shelby to piss me off. Rory whirled on Zander. Are you responsible for this? Did you convince him to change his will before he died? Utterly calm, Zander said, You’re judging me by your standards, Rory. Expression sour, Rory pointed at himself. I have every right to a portion of that money. I earned it. Something about the way he said it made Zander realize . . . You spent time with Dale near the end, didn’t you? Helped him out? Did him favors? Rory was manipulative and smooth, but Dale was far from dumb; he’d obviously known what Rory was doing. Oh, I helped him. Even wiped the old bastard’s ass at one point. He owed me. You owe me. You’d probably be either dead or on dialysis if I hadn’t given you that kidney. With a bored sigh, Zander stood up. Are we really back to that again? Even his wolf was bored of that. Just give me half of what he left you. That’s all I’m asking for. You really need it that badly? I told you, I want to expand the business. So, it has nothing to do with your gambling debts? Not that paying them off will really help you. You’ll just put yourself in more debt. Zander knew that Rory was a compulsive gambler with a bottomless greed that couldn’t be satiated. Rory’s eyes narrowed to slits. You owe me. Nobody owes you anything, Rory. But that’s your problem—it’s always been your problem: you think the world and everybody in it owes you. Fucking grow up. A cunning glint entered Rory’s gaze. Maybe Shelby will go into business with me. It was a veiled threat—if Zander didn’t yield, he’d turn his attention to Shelby. You’d have a hard time getting to her. She’s part of a different pack now, and it just so happens that her Alpha hates you. He won’t let you near her, and you know she doesn’t leave her territory. Face flushed, Rory stepped toward him. If you won’t give me what’s mine, I’ll take from you what’s yours. That was supposed to scare him? Zander inwardly snorted. Don’t be a prick all your life, Rory. With that, he strode out of the office and into the reception area. He almost felt bad leaving Edward alone with Rory, who was now shouting his intention to contest the will. Bracken rose to his feet, brow cocked in question. I’ll tell you in the SUV. Once inside, Zander switched on the engine and, as they drove back to the B&B, explained what had happened. A dollar? Bracken echoed, amused. Somehow, that’s more insulting than leaving him nothing. I’ll have to tell Shelby what happened and warn her that Rory might try to contact her. What do you think he was talking about when he said he’ll take from you what’s yours? Don’t know. But since Zander didn’t own anything that particularly meant anything to him, he wasn’t concerned about the threat. It was probably just Rory chatting shit—he’s been doing that since he learned to talk. Good point. Later, when they were back on the balcony of his room at the B&B, once again surrounded by the sounds and smells of the marsh, Zander called Nick and put him on speakerphone so that Bracken could be part of the conversation. As Zander told the Alpha how Dale had divided the money, Bracken shook his head in amusement—still tickled by the matter. How did Rory take it? There was a smile in Nick’s voice. Not well, said Zander. Expect some trouble. Tell the others to look out for him—he could turn up at the club or the motel and act like an asshole. He won’t do anything major like attack anyone, but he will fuck with you if he can. All right, we’ll be on the lookout for him. What time will you be back tomorrow? Zander exchanged a look with Bracken before speaking. There’s a situation here at the B&B. What kind of situation? asked Nick. Zander explained, and the Alpha swore viciously. Gwen looks worn out by it all, Zander added. But she’s still not folding. We plan on offering to stay and give her protection, announced Bracken. There was a long pause before Nick spoke. I don’t like it, Bracken. We’ve had peace for months now. I don’t want us to lose that. The pack as a whole won’t be affected, said Zander. We’re not proposing taking her to our territory. We’re talking about extending our stay at the B&B. If something happens while we’re here, we can intervene. She doesn’t need protection from shifters; she’s up against her own kind, not ours, Nick pointed out. Yeah, and she’s up against her own kind because she’s helping one of ours, said Bracken. It would be all kinds of wrong to walk away from that when our very presence could make them hesitate to harm her. If we went home and then later found out something had happened to her, I’d feel like a complete bastard. Nick sighed. They might not have any intention of harming her. They may just stick with trying to scare her. You’re right, allowed Bracken. If they don’t try to harm her, great—it means we weren’t needed. We’d just like to be here in case we are. Is there something else going on that I don’t know about? You seem pretty insistent on helping her. Neither of us are involved with her, if that’s what you’re asking. She’s not my or Zander’s type. She has gorgeous eyes, though. I’m not really a guy who looks at eyes, but they’re a seriously striking blue—if you saw them, you’d know what I mean. Great legs too.

We’d graduated to yelling voices now, and I realized that Shadow was on her feet, her teeth bared silently in the direction of Eli. She wouldn’t normally attack without a command, but if he made a sudden move toward me all bets might be off.Feeling the tension, Jesse looked at his watch, or pretended to. I’m going to hit your bathroom, he said. And then I need to go meet this guy. I’ll leave your vest by the van, Scarlett.

Neither Eli or I moved. When Jesse had retreated through the kitchen doorway, I spread my hands on the counter. What else can I do, Eli? I asked. Do you have any better ideas?Stop trying to save Molly, he said immediately, and I realized I’d walked right into that one. Stupid, stupid Scarlett. You’re the only person in this whole mess who’s trying to get her out of it. If you let it go—She did it, didn’t she? he countered. She admitted she killed those girls. She should be punished. And you don’t owe her anything. She’s barely spoken to you in years, over something that was never your fault. For the first time, I realized that Molly keeping her distance from me had actually offended Eli, on my behalf. It might have been really sweet if he wasn’t being pigheaded and stupid.

So because Molly hurt my feelings three years ago, the people who are actually responsible for killing eight girls and turning four against their will should just . . . go free? I said hotly. No fucking way.Have you considered that pushing to save Molly could actually make things worse?

Honey. His voice gentled. Look, at the end of the day, Molly killed a bunch of girls. She goes on trial, she’s sentenced to death, that’s clean. The system works. But if you wade into this mess and tell everyone that someone’s controlling vampires in LA and Dashiell can’t stop them, that causes chaos. At the exact time when we can’t afford it. And I don’t know about Kirsten, but Dashiell and Will know all this.

What? Look for clues? he said, his tone derisive. Dashiell has about as much faith in your crime-solving abilities as I have in Scooby-Doo’s. He might have moved Molly’s trial until tomorrow night, but think about what he didn’t do. He didn’t mobilize his security team to help you, or delay the Trials for a few nights, or even put the word out for vampires to be on their guard against this boundary witch. Because he expects you to fail.Needle&Thread: I’m the one who’s different now. It’s as if everything I’ve been dealing with suddenly doesn’t matter. It’s just gone….

Needle&Thread: Yes. It’s liberating, scary as hell, and confusing. But something’s changing inside—it feels as if I’m…growing up.I sighed. He’d send something horrible back—my response had been too personal. I knew that. But I’d sent it anyway.

Kite007: Out of bounds. Get back to the subject. Let’s try this, here’s something you obviously want: I’m happy you’re growing up—makes me feel a lot fucking easier knowing I’m not jerking off to a kinky fourteen year old. And now for want I want: Too bad for you, I’m not gone or planning to before you finish doing what you started. I’m done with the cryptic crap. Pay attention, because I’m sliding my cock into your mouth. You try to talk but you choke on my length, your voice is humming against my balls. Stop trying to communicate and settle in to your task. Suck me.I sighed. Two emotions swirled inside—exasperation and gratefulness. He’d replied to my overshare. He hadn’t shot me down or been the pillock he usually was. Progress.

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