He looked again to his father, his voice coated in angry disbelief. “She’s human.”
Mac took in a breath through his nose, hesitated, opened his mouth, closed it then opened it again to say, “She is.”
“I can’t be connected to a human,” Callum clipped.
“The oracle has spoken,” his father declared.
Callum heard his brethren pull in shocked breaths.
Mac moved even closer and his voice grew lower when he asked, “You felt it?”
He felt it.
It was bigger than him, bigger than his brethren, bigger and more important than anything.
He’d die for her.
She was in a very important sense, his reason for being.
Hell, he’d even moved to protect her against his own father, a wolf he knew wouldn’t harm a living soul unless forced to do it.
“Fuck!” he bit out.
“She’ll be protected until the time is right,” Mac assured.
Callum narrowed his gaze on him and growled, “She bloody better be.”
Mac glanced to the side. “Ryon, see to it, our best men.”
“But, Mac, we can’t –” Ryon began and Callum watched his father’s eyes narrow.
“See to it,” Mac ordered.
“We’re at war!” Ryon hissed. “We need every brother we have. We can’t afford –”
Mac cut Ryon off by repeating, “See to it.”
Callum watched his brethren shift and glance at each other.
Then their gazes moved back to him with dawning realization.
Callum had the same thought they did and he felt his body grow tight.
He looked back to Mac and asked with extreme unease, “She’s my queen?”
He watched his father nod and anguish tore through him but he didn’t allow it to show, instead, he lifted his chin.
“When?” he demanded to know.
“It matters not,” Mac replied.
“You’re my father and you’re my king, it fucking matters that you’re soon to die,” Callum ground out.
Mac didn’t answer.
Callum leaned forward. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I have my reasons,” Mac responded.
Jesus but Mac could be mysterious and in the three hundred fifty years of his life it never failed to piss Callum off.
“Mac –” Callum began but his father lifted his hand and placed it on Callum’s shoulder.
“We’re at war and this war will not end under my reign. You and she,” he glanced down at the girl before his eyes moved back to his son. “Will lead our people to peace.”
Callum didn’t know what he was feeling because there was too much to feel.
What he did know was that he didn’t like any of it.
His eyes leveled on his father’s and he promised, “If they bring you down, it’ll be a fucking bloody peace and only on my fucking terms.”
Mac leaned close as his fingers tightened on Callum’s arm.
Then he whispered in his son’s ear, “I’m counting on that.”
Sonia Arlington walked through her store and switched off the many Christmas lights decorating the space.
She loved Christmas.
She couldn’t help it. Her mother and father had both loved Christmas. They made it so special that the ones she remembered made the season one she always looked forward to even though her parents died during it.
She adjusted her fluffy, white scarf around her neck, pulled the white knit cap down over her ears and transferred her dove gray suede gloves to one hand, pulling the strap of her matching stylish suede handbag more securely over her shoulder.
She took one last look at her shop, called Clear because everything she sold in it was either clear, silver, gray or white. Everything. Furniture, clothing (though the clothes were never clear, of course), candles, jewelry, knickknacks, everything.
She loved her shop almost as much as Christmas.
Yuri wondered (aloud and often) why she bothered to work. He thought she was crazy, considering she had her father and mother’s millions of dollars “festering” (his word) in different accounts.
Sonia couldn’t imagine not working. What on earth would she do if she didn’t work?
She knew what Yuri wanted her to do.
She loved Yuri but she still wrinkled her nose at the thought, pressed the code into the alarm panel and quickly exited, locking the three locks to the front door.
Then she turned toward home.
It was four blocks away. She was wearing dove gray suede, stiletto-heeled boots and it had snowed that day. She walked the oft-not-shoveled sidewalks with a grace akin to a model on a catwalk.
This, her father would have said (if he’d lived to see her wearing heels and, of course, walking through the snow in them), was one of her special abilities.