Dimitri followed Ana through the newly fallen snow, his running shoes slipping on the icy road as they turned up the mansion’s long, circular driveway. He smiled to himself as he pulled more freezing New England air into his burning lungs. The running had started out as a way to keep his partner distracted while her mate was out on duty, but he’d come to look forward to his late night runs with the Order’s only female. They were becoming an essential part of his week.
He looked up at the mansion, the warm light in the windows welcoming them home even at this late hour. Less than a year ago it had been totally deserted. He’d even considered selling it once or twice, but clearly the Goddess had other plans. They reached the front door and Ana started Diesel and V’s endless security crap. She was about to have her fingerprint scanned just as the north wind picked up. He pulled up his collar. Fuck that. He took her hand and together they gleamed into the warm foyer. They wiped their shoes on the mat and Dimitri brushed the snow off his chin length blond hair.
Ana took off her gloves. “That was a good one. We beat yesterday’s time by at least ten minutes.”
He grinned. “We should enter the Boston Marathon.”
“Actually, that’s not a bad idea. We could pick off a few terrorist a-holes while we’re at it.”
“Oh, Mr. Ivanov, you’re back. Pardon the interruption, but you have a visitor in the drawing room.”
Dimitri rolled his eyes. “Jesus, Geoffrey. You’ve known me since I was ten. When are you gonna lay off that Ivanov shit?”
Ana grinned and turned to head up the main staircase. “See you at breakfast, Mr. Ivanov.”
“Funny.” Man. Hours at the house ran late, but a guest? It was after midnight. He walked down the hall and hung a left into the drawing room. There in front of the great floor to ceiling fire place, warming his hands, was a huge male.
Viktor. Jesus Christ.
Troy’s legs pushed through the snow until he reached the sidewalk. He tried to pick up Evy’s scent, but somehow his senses were shut down and he could only follow whatever was happening inside him, like he was on autopilot. He flew down York, staying off his pads and on his toes to manage the sharp curve right before he hit Summit again. He could feel the pull inside him—the call, screaming from deep within—and he felt like he’d die if he didn’t mate Evy in the next ten seconds. But it didn’t matter. He didn’t give a shit how he found her.
He turned onto Summit and picked up speed again. He had the cold north wind working against him so he pushed himself even harder.
And then it hit.
The protective instinct.
It grabbed onto his gut and refused to let go. His concentration slipped for just a second and so did the rest of him. Not good. He was runnin’ down that slippery incline on four legs at forty miles an hour. As the intersection with Corey Road approached, he pedaled backward frantically. It was no use. He was gonna fly right through it. The only thing on his side was the late hour.
Just as he went into a full tumble, a big black SUV came barreling down the road. The last thing Troy remembered was almost total darkness as the truck blocked out the light of the moon.
“What are you doing here, Viktor?”
“Now is that any way to greet your big brother?”
He was huge and radiating a shitload of k’ul. He’d clearly gone through the second transition. Dimitri had wondered about it from time to time. Mostly he just tried to keep the bastard totally out of his thoughts. Goddammit. Geoffrey must have recognized him. He could have at least warned him. “Just answer the question.”
“Well, I am a warrior. Clearly this is where I’m supposed to be.”
“If you’re a New Breed then where the hell have you been all this time? Evading the call of the Goddess in some shithole bar while the rest of us picked up the slack?”
“I don’t owe you any explanation.”
“No. But you do owe one to Reyn. It’s late. The last room to the left of the staircase is free. You can crash there. I’m sure he’ll want to see you in the morning.”
“Fine.” Viktor pushed past him and left the room.
Dimitri walked over to the fireplace and put his hand on the mantle. He watched the flames lick the dry wood until they seemed to disappear altogether. The long, chestnut brown hair and blue eyes of his beloved Elena came to him instantly, as if no time had passed. With the old house alive with the members of the Order and their families, he had almost forgotten. Or at least it was easier to pretend he had. He ran his hand over his face. Fuck. Why now, Viktor? Why now?
Troy opened his eyes. His vision was fuzzy at first, but the outline of a couch came into view. Where the hell? He tried to move, but his right, back leg was stiff.
O-kaaay. There was a guy walking toward him. A human. He was reaching out. Aw, for fuck’s sake. He was gonna pet him. Troy felt his breathing pick up. Touching was not his thing, but he needed to stay calm—biting this idiot’s arm off was only going to get him a trip to the pound, or worse.
“You’re okay. I’m glad you’re up. I’m so sorry, boy. You sort of came out of nowhere, you know? I didn’t mean to hit you.”
Oh, my fuckin’… The guy thought he’d just hit a neighborhood stray or somethin’. He had zero clue he was pettin’ a wolf. Troy tried to move again. His leg was wrapped. No wonder it was stiff. Shit. He had to get the hell outta there. He was wasting time. His leg was obviously okay or genius here would have taken him to a vet.
The human covered him with a blanket. “Listen, buddy. I gotta grab a little sleep before work. Get some rest, okay?”
Troy’s body was poised to take off the second he was alone. He watched in total defeat as the human sat down in a recliner, put up his feet, and covered himself with a blanket of his own. Troy turned his head and looked out the window. There was only a half hour ‘til daylight max. He may as well skip making a scene and wait ‘til the guy left. He rested his head on the arm of the couch and sighed. He had no idea where he was. This human could live anywhere. How far off the trail was he? If only he knew. He’d lost hours of darkness and he’d be stuck searching in human form until nightfall. More lost time. Hang on, Evy. Just a little longer. Please.
Evy watched as Seth put out a cigarette. “You can sleep, you know. I’ll be here another hour before I go make a call.”
“No thanks.” She was so tired she could hardly hold up her head, but it was no use. Her body just wouldn’t shut down.
He handed her a paper bag. “Your choice. I brought you a bagel and some coffee.”
“Seth, why don’t you ever eat?”
He shook his head. “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to, little prisoner.”
He walked off down the little hallway, went into the apartment’s one bedroom, and shut the door.
At least Seth hadn’t noticed she’d only managed to get the freaking couch halfway back to its original spot. She sighed. The feeling she’d had when she’d approached the window was gone now; she felt empty and alone. She wanted it back—whatever it was. It felt like a part of her was suddenly missing. Okay, she really needed some sleep. She was starting to sound seriously insane, even to herself.
She heard the lock on the door and immediately swung her legs up onto the couch and put her arms around her knees. She exhaled as Joey walked through the door. He hadn’t been there much, but he didn’t seem to have much interest in her. He kinda seemed like a neurotic little freak. She watched as he went to the fridge and pulled out a beer. At six in the morning? She could see the contents of the kitchen from where she sat. There was nothing in that fridge but beer. No food on the counter. Seth only brought her take-out. What the hell were these things?
Seth walked down the hall and turned in to the kitchen. “Hey, Joe. You’re back early.”
“Yeah. I checked out that den. Nada. I’m starting to wonder if maybe we’re the only ones like us.”
Seth nodded toward Evy. “You’re an ass to bring that up in front of company. Listen, I need to make a call in a few minutes. Hang around and make sure Nick keeps his paws off the merchandise. If she’s damaged in any way, it’s totally gonna fuck up the deal I’m trying to set up with the Order.”
Evy watched Seth leave the apartment. Joey sat down next to her and grabbed the remote from the coffee table. “You mind?”
She shook her head. “Hey, Joey?”
She held up her cup. “I gotta pee. Too much coffee.”
He sighed. “Fine. Let’s go.”
He went into the kitchen for the key and unlocked her chain so she could walk down the hall.
“Make it quick,” he snapped as she closed the door and locked it.
She flicked on the light. Quickly she ran her hands along the floor and checked the cabinet under the sink. There had to be something she could use to pick that lock. She’d been doing it since she was a kid. She could use almost anything. “Come on, come on.”
Joey banged on the door. “Let’s go.”
Damn it. She checked the shower while she flushed the toilet and ran the sink. Nothing. She opened the door and picked up her chain.
“Took you long enough.”
Sorry wasn’t the word.
Reyn leaned back in his chair and looked the big Russian New Breed up and down. You’d never know Viktor and Dimitri were brothers. No blond hair and blue eyes here. Viktor had short brown hair, brown eyes, and facial hair that reminded him way too much of Wolverine.
Richard leaned back in his chair. “So, when exactly did you receive the call to join the Order? And don’t bother lying. Reyn here rolls with the Goddess.”
Viktor looked Reyn straight in the eye. “It was about two months ago.”
Not exactly what he wanted to hear. “Mind if I ask what you’ve been doing for two months? Get lost? I mean, this is your mansion.”
“Yeah, I do mind and this isn’t my mansion.”
“Easy,” Richard said. “No one is questioning the fact the Goddess wants you here. We’re just a little curious as to your delay.”
“Afraid you’ll just have to stay curious.”
“Well, you obviously know Geoffrey. He’ll get you whatever you need. Richard will work with you on your training.”
“That won’t be necessary. You can put me on the schedule whenever you’re ready. I’ll need some steel.”
“I’ll see that Diesel gets you what you need. Get the door on your way out.”
The male pulled the door closed behind him.
Reyn looked over his desk at his brother. Thank the Goddess he was a telepath. “Did you get anything?”
“He’s telling the truth about when he was called. Other than that all I got were images of him in bars, fighting.”
“Well, there were a lot of bars and there was a lot of fighting.”
Reyn sighed. Jesus, his head hurt. “We really have no choice. We need him. I wish like hell we didn’t. Dimitri has been so good to us and there’s gotta be a reason he’s never mentioned him.”
“Yeah, I think you’re probably right about that.”
“Well, there’s no way he’s fighting with James, that’s for sure.”
Richard stood and stretched. “Why don’t we put James with Pax until Diesel’s ready? Pax is his camzah anyway.”
“That’s a good idea. I’ll take Viktor with me for now. I need more time in the field before I go straight up batshit. We’ll reshuffle when Diesel’s ready to go.”
“At the rate he’s going, that won’t be long.”
Reyn shook his head. “He’s been something. I don’t know if I could do it. He’s a pain in the ass, but I respect the hell outta that male.”
Richard grinned. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone.”