Fury shrugged. "I used to. But if you guys want to chop him up and make hamburgers out of him, I wouldn't mind in the least. Hell, I'll even go get the grinder."
Dare moved toward him.
Serre grabbed him and held him back. "Hitting him here would be a very big mistake on your part. Even if we don't like him."
Fury winked sarcastically at the bear. "Love you, too, Serre. You guys always make rne feel so welcome here. Appreciate it."
"Our pleasure." Serre let go of Dare.
The father bear sighed. "Since it appears we've made a mistake, let's leave the wolves to their business." He cast a warning look to Dare. "Remember. No spill blood."
None of them spoke until the bears were completely out of earshot.
Fury watched the two before him warily. Dare and he, along with Vane, Fang, and their two sisters, Anya and Star, were litter mates. All born at the same time to their Arcadian mother. Their mother had kept him, Dare, and Star, and then sent the others to live with their Katagari father.
That was when they'd assumed Fury had been human. Yeah. And the moment his family had found out he wasn't human, they'd turned on him and tried to kill him.
So much for human compassion.
As for Angelia . . . he hated her even more than he hated his brother. At least Dare he understood. The punk had always been jealous of him. From the earliest memory of his childhood, Dare had been there, trying to push him out their mother's affections.
But Lia had been his best friend. Closer than siblings or even lovers. She'd blood-promised to stand at his back for eternity.
Then the very moment Dare had exposed his secret, she had turned on him, too. For that alone he could kill her.
Even so, he had to admit she still dazzled him. Her long black hair was shiny and soft. The kind of hair that begged a man to brush his hand through and bury his face in until he was drunk from her feminine scent. Her large dark eyes held a sleepy quality to them that was as seductive as it was pretty. And her lips . . .
Large and plump, they begged for kisses. They were also the kind of lips a man couldn't help but imagine wrapped around a part of his anatomy while she looked up at him with those dark bedroom eyes.
Damn, the very thought made him hot and hard.
Clenching his teeth, he narrowed his eyes at the scrolling marks that covered half her face. Those marked her as the worst sort of sanctimonious Arcadian.
They were the ones who thought themselves so much better than the Katagaria. Even worse, they were sworn to hunt them down and cage them like the animals the Arcadians accused them of being.
It was hard to believe he'd ever thought he cared about her. He must have been insane.
"I saw your work on the Litarian," Fury said, his tone guttural. "Want to tell me how you did it?"
Dare, whose eyes looked so much like Vane's that it was spooky as hell, glared at him. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Fury sneered at him. "Yeah, right. And I assume the two of you are here for drinks because those kind of sciewed-up coincidences happen all the time." He sniffed the air. "Oh wait, what is that? Bullshit? Yes, I smell lots of bullshit."
"As if," Dare spat. "You can't smell shite in this cesspit of cheap alcohol, oversprayed perfume, and animal stench."
"Oh see, there you're wrong. I live in this cesspit. Picking out the scent of shit is my specialty, and, Brother, you reek of it. So if I were you, I'd tell me what you did, or I'm going to turn you in to the Peltier bears."
Dare scoffed. "What are they going to do? They have to maintain the laws of No Spill Blood."
"True, but there are three Omegrion reps under this roof and two more live just a howl away. We call a vote and . . . Basically, Brother, you're fucked."
"No, Brother" Dare mocked the word. "You are."
Before Fury could blink. Dare lifted a gun and aimed it at Fury's head. Fury caught Dare's wrist at the same instant it fired. Docking and twisting, he fell to his knees, pulling Dare's arm with him. -
Screams rang out around them.
"Gun!" someone shouted, causing the human patrons to panic as they ran for the door.
Angelia caught Fury by his throat.
"Hold him down!" Dare snapped, as he tried to wring his hand out of Fury's.
Fury refused to let go of Dare's hand. If he did, the bastard would shoot him with whatever he'd used on the lions.
Angelia wrapped her arm around his throat, choking him. "Let him go, Fury."
Before he could answer, all three of them were thrown apart. Fury tried to get up, but someone had them pinned down with one hell of a forcefield. Growling, he struck out with his powers in anger. Instead of breaking the hold, it turned him into a wolf.
He barked at Mama Peltier, who moved to stand between them. But he knew from experience that it wasn't her powers he felt. The trouble was, he didn't know who they belonged to.
"No one comes into my house and does this," she snarled. "All three of you are banned from here, and if I ever catch you inside Sanctuary again, you won't live long enough to regret it."
"He attacked us," Dare said. "Why should we be banned?"
Dev hauled him up from the floor. "Anyone who participates in a fight is thrown out. Those are the laws."
Colt was far more gentle picking Angelia up.
"There was no bloodshed," Angelia argued.
Mama curled her lip. "Doesn't matter. You almost exposed us to the humans. Lucky for you, they evacuated quickly. Now get out."
Fury tried to turn human again to tell them what was going on, but his magick wasn't cooperating. Not even his mental powers were working. It most likely had to do with the fact that someone else's powers were holding him down.
Dare glared at him and made a gesture to let him know it wasn't over. Then, he and Angelia left.
"That means you, too, Wolf," Dev growled. "Max, let him go."
The forcefield dropped.
Finally he was able to turn back into a human. Though he could have done without the public nudity. Unlike other Were-Hunters, he couldn't manifest clothes at the same time as he shapeshifted. / really hate my powers . ..
As he reached to scoop up his clothes, they were put on his body. Confused, he looked around and caught Aimee's gaze. She inclined her head to let him know that she was the one who'd helped him. No doubt Fang had told her about his weakness.
Dev stepped forward.
"I'm going," Fury said. "But before I do, let me congratulate all of you on your stupidity. Those two assholes who just left were the ones who screwed the lions upstairs. I was trying to get the information out of them."
Dev cursed. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"I was trying. Next time you forcefield someone to the ground, you might not want to stifle their ability to talk, too."
The dragon, Max, shook his head. "I thought you were just going to insult me for holding you down. It's what you normally do whenever you speak to me."
"I probably would have had I not had something more important to tell you."
Dev cleared his throat to get their attention. "Are they from this time period?"
Mama nodded. "Then they have to be in town somewhere. There's no full moon for them to use to time jump."
Fury wished, but there was another truth about his old friend. "The woman was Aristos. She's not bound by the moon. They could be anywhere, in any time."
Dev sighed. "Well, at least we got the humans out before they saw anything unnatural happen."
"Bully that." Fury zipped his jacket up. "Now if you'll excuse me—" "Hey."
He looked at Dev.
"You're still banned from here."
"Like I care." He'd been banned from much nicer places than this, and at least there he'd had people who'd actually cared for him . . . at least for a few years.
Without a backward glance, he left them and headed back to Ursulines. The street was strangely quiet, especially given the fact that a large number of humans had gone screaming into the night only a few minutes before. The threat of violence must have really gotten under their skin.
But that didn't change the fact that he still had a wolf to track. Two of them to be precise. Common sense told him to return to his pack and tell Vane what was happening.
Fury scoffed. "Lived my whole life without any sense. Why should I start having some now?"
As he reached his bike, a strange fissure of power went down his spine.
He turned in expectation of a fight, but before he could even move, he was hit with a fierce shock. Cursing, he hit the ground hard. Pain exploded through him as he changed into his wolf form, then human, then wolf again. He was completely immobilized as his body struggled to hold onto one form and was incapable of it.
Dare walked up to him slowly, then kicked him hard in the ribs. "You should have died. Fury. Now you're going to wish you had."
Fury lunged at him, but his muscles wouldn't cooperate. If he could lay hand or paw on the bastard, he'd rip his throat out.
He looked up at Angelia to see sympathy on her face an instant before Dare shot him again. Unbelievable pain ripped through him as he struggled to stay conscious.
It was a losing battle. In one heartbeat, everything went black.
"What are you doing?" Angelia asked Dare.
"We need to know what he knows about our experiment. More to the point, we need to know who he's been talking to. We can't afford for our secret to get out."
She cringed as she watched Fury's body continue to shift from human to white wolf and back again. At least until Dare wrapped the collar around his throat that kept him as human. Since Fury's natural form was a wolf, keeping him as a human, especially in daylight, would weaken him.
And it would hurt.
She shook her head at his actions. "You know he's not going to tell us anything." "I wouldn't be so sure."
The Fury she remembered would never tell secrets. He'd die before he did, and he could take a lot of pain. Even as a child, he'd been stronger than any other. "How can you be so certain?"
"Because I'm going to turn him over to our Jackal."
Angelia sucked her breath in sharply at the threat. Oscar was a jackal whose heart was so black, he was more animal than man. "He's your brother, Dare."
"I have no brother. You know what the Katagaria did to my family. To our patria."
It was true. She'd been there the night Dare's Katagari father had led the attack on their Arcadian camp. Just a child, she'd been hidden as the attacks began. Her mother had smeared her with earth to mask her scent before she'd placed her in the cellar.
Even now, she could see the wolves as they attacked her mother and killed her while she'd watched in horror through the slats in the floor.
Dare was right. They had to protect their people. The animals needed to be stripped of their powers and put down like the rabid creatures they were. Even Fury.
"Are you with me?" he asked.
She nodded. "I won't see another child suffer my fate. We have to protect ourselves. Whatever it takes."
Angelia paced the small camp they'd made as she listened to Fury insulting Oscar while he and Dare tortured Fury for information. Honestly, she didn't have the stomach for it. She never had.
Maybe Dare was right. Maybe she shouldn't be on a tessera after all.
Then again, she was a warrior of unparalleled skill. In battle, she didn't hesitate to kill or to wound. It was just the idea of beating someone who couldn't fight back that sickened her.
He's an animal.
No doubt he'd kill her in a heartbeat. She knew that with every part of herself and yet. . .
She cringed as Fury howled in pain.
An instant later, Oscar came outside toward her and the fire they'd made. Without a word, he walked past her and manifested an iron pole.
Frowning, she watched as he placed it in the fire. "What are you doing?"
"I thought a little branding might loosen his tongue."
A wave of nausea went through her.
Dare came outside the tent with the same look of disgust on his face. "I say you should ram it up his ass until he talks."
Horrified, she didn't move until they started back with the poker in hand. "No!" she said sternly.
Oscar angled it at her. "Get out of the way."
"No," she repeated. "This is wrong. You're acting like one of them."
Dare's expression was stern and cruel. "We're protecting our people."
But this wasn't protection. This was all-out cruelty. Unable to bear it, she tried another tactic. "Let me question him."
Dare frowned. "Why? Like you said, he won't say anything."
She gestured toward the tent as she tried to keep her anger under control. "You've been beating on him for hours, and it's gotten us nowhere. Let me try another approach. What will it hurt?"
Oscar put the poker back into the fire. "I need to eat anyway. You have until I finish, and then I'm going to try my way again."
Repulsed by them both, Angelia turned around and headed into the tent. The sight of Fury on the floor stopped her dead in her tracks. Still in human form, he was naked with his hands tied at an awkward angle behind his back. Another rope held his legs tied together. He was covered with bruises and cuts to the point that she could barely recognize him.
The fact that he was this wounded and in human form had to be excruciating for him. Anytime they were wounded, they reverted to their natural form. For her it was human. For Fury . . .
He was a wolf.
Trying to keep that in mind, she knelt by his side.
He growled threateningly until he looked up and met her gaze. The pain and torment in those dark turquoise eyes made her wince. And as she dropped her gaze, she saw the scar on his chest. The wound where she'd stabbed him.
Guilt tore through her over what she should never have done.
"Why don't you just finish the job," he said, his tone hostile and deadly.
"We don't want to hurt you."
He laughed bitterly. "My wounds and the glee they had in their eyes when they gave them to me tells me a different story."
She brushed the hair back from his forehead to see a vicious cut that ran along his brow. Blood poured from his nose and lips. "I'm sorry."
"We're all sorry for something. Why don't you be an animal for once and just kill me?" He glared at her. "You might as well. I'm not going to tell you shit."
"We need to know what happened to the lion."
"Go to hell."
"Don't you fucking dare use my name. I'm nothing but an animal to all of you. Believe me, all of you made it more than clear to me four hundred years ago when you beat me close to death and then dumped me out to die."
He barked at her like a wolf. "Would you stop?" He continued making wolf noises. Sighing, Angelia shook her head. "No wonder they beat you."
Baring his teeth in true canine fashion, he growled, then woofed. There was nothing human in the sound or his demeanor.
Angelia stepped back.
The moment she was away from him. Fury slumped on the ground and stopped making any sounds at all. He lay completely still.
Was he dead?
No, his chest was still moving. She could also hear his faint breathing. As she watched him, her thoughts turned to the past. To the young man she'd once been friends with. Even though he was younger than her by four years, there had been something about him that had touched her.