Authors: Hailey Edwards
Unexpected relief spiraled through me. I liked the no-nonsense marshal, and I fully intended to make good on her offer to dial her up if I needed help. Due to my current circumstances, I had to hope her rebellious spirit lent itself to helping out those of us about to lose access to restricted information, including sending me a copy of the portal breach video.
Another pressure wave popped my ears. While I was vacillating, Vause had killed the privacy spell.
“An escort has been arranged to bring you to the airport.” Vause held her hands clasped in front of her. “Your belongings were retrieved from Abbeville, and your flight home has already been booked.”
I accepted our meeting was over. “If you hear anything about Harlow…”
“You will be the first person I contact,” she assured me.
I exited her borrowed office and dumped the chai I hadn’t touched in the trash. It didn’t hit me until then that my lips had tingled more than once since Thierry bound me when I spoke to Vause. The magistrate knew so much…and yet… I must hold a piece of the puzzle she had yet to learn. There was only one thing for it. I had to speak to Thierry again.
I located the fae who had escorted me to Vause’s dressing down. “I’m ready to go.”
The man shoved onto his feet with a donut clenched between his teeth and a cup of coffee wrapped in one fist. He set off toward the parking lot, and I trailed him. Music on the ride to the airport was as twangy as the soundtrack to Falco had been. He pulled next to the curb and popped the hatch. I took the hint, climbed out with Harlow’s bag tucked under my arm and grabbed my carry-on from the trunk. The second the latch caught, the SUV’s tires spun, burning rubber toward Abbeville.
Rooting through the pockets of my overnight bag, I touched a slice of heavy plastic. My cell? I hadn’t spotted it since I woke at the Rebec home. I powered it up as I strolled through the lobby of the airport and checked my messages. My thumb was hovering over the first digit of Aunt Dot’s number when the screen went dark.
“Dead battery,” I grumbled. “Perfect.”
In the age of cellular supremacy, phone booths were long extinct. I had no idea if my charger had survived Graeson’s and then the conclave’s packing efforts, and I was too tired to dig through my belongings to figure it out. That meant waiting in line at the customer service kiosk, which was slightly less painful than visiting a dentist when in a major airport. I blessed this bucolic Alabama town as I walked right up to the counter.
“My battery died.” I pasted on a smile that didn’t come close to matching the brunette behind the counter’s megawatt grin and dropped the bags at my feet. “Do you have somewhere I can make a call?”
“Sure, hon.” The attendant set a light blue phone with a dark blue cord on the edge of her desk. “Instructions for dialing out are printed on the handset.”
“Great.” I dialed Aunt Dot, my fingers foreign on the raised square buttons. “I appreciate it.”
“No problem.” She stepped away and gave me a modicum of privacy.
“Pumpkin,” Aunt Dot boomed in my ear. “Did you get my message?”
“No. Sorry. My phone died.” The sound of her voice was a balm to my nerves after the last twenty-four hours. “I just wanted to call and let you know I’m at the airport. I should be home in time for dinner.”
“Home?” She cackled merrily. “Honey, have you spoken to Cord lately?”
“Yes. Wait— What?” My heart shriveled to the size of a raisin. “How do you know Graeson?”
“He called first thing this morning and explained
.” She sounded peppier than she had in months. “He told me how you met and fell in love working a case together. He sounds like a doll. He’s so smitten with you, it’s precious. I can’t believe you didn’t mention him to me. How tall is he? Does he have a lot of muscles? He sounds gorgeous. Do you have a picture you can email Isaac? No. Don’t do that. I’ll wait. I want to be surprised.”
Me? In love with Cord Graeson? “How did he get your number?” I answered my own question. “He copied my contacts while he had possession of my phone.” Her indulgent laughter didn’t help my mood. “What do you mean you’ll wait? Wait for what?”
“You really don’t know?” She clucked her tongue with budding fondness. “That boy promised he would clear things up with you.”
“Things? What things?” My shrill voice kept rising. “What are you talking about?”
“Cord said you two are getting close, and he wants to meet the family before things get serious.” A sigh blasted my ear. Clearly, I was ruining her fun. “He owns acreage in Georgia. Did you know that? He invited the whole family to drive down so we could spend the week getting to know each other.”
My fingers clenched around the phone until the plastic shell creaked. Vause must not be the only one keeping tabs on me. What would Graeson have done if Vause hadn’t suspended me?
I don’t want to know.
I was learning he was a warg with a plan for every possible contingency and that he had no qualms taking what—or who—he wanted. The thing was, with Charybdis still at large and my ties to the conclave temporarily severed, I didn’t mind the idea of having backup when it came to protecting my family. Getting Aunt Dot and my cousins out of Tennessee until Charybdis reared his head again relaxed the part of me that had been fretting over the killer’s apparent fascination with my current home state.
Had Graeson mentioned this plan, I might not have laughed in his face. Now we would never know, because he did what he always did, which was hatch a scheme, assume his way was best, and expect everyone else to fall in line behind his hairy beta warg ass.
“You don’t sound thrilled.” A horn blasted in the background, and Aunt Dot swore revenge against the driver of a red Jetta, telling me the caravan was on the move. “It’s not too late. Should we pass on his invitation?”
“No.” I massaged my forehead. “I just didn’t expect Graeson to tell you about us.” I clenched my teeth. “He must have wanted to surprise me.” Shock was a good word for it. I’d had no idea there was an
. Let alone that we had gotten so serious as to involve our families in our relationship. “I have to exchange my ticket, but I’ll get there as soon as I can.”
Accepting Graeson’s hospitality felt a whole lot like strolling into a wolf’s den while modeling a Kobe beef necklace, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt who would be waiting to collect me at the other end of the flight with warm hazel eyes and a smug grin.
Cord Graeson. Wolf with a taste for vengeance. Man with an agenda. And, apparently, my new boyfriend.
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