Home > Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(3)

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(3)
Author: Ilona Andrews


   “We can’t,” I told him. “We have to leave. We have Conclave tonight.”

   “I didn’t know you still go to that,” Roman said.

   “Ghastek outed her,” Curran said.

   The Conclave began as a monthly meeting between the People and the Pack. As the two largest supernatural factions in the city, they often came into conflict, and at some point it was decided that talking and resolving small problems was preferable to being on the brink of a bloodbath every five minutes. Over the years, the Conclave evolved into a meeting where the powerful of Atlanta came together to discuss business. We had attended plenty of Conclaves when Curran was Beast Lord, but once he retired, I thought our tortures were over. Yeah, not so fast.

   “Back in March, Roland’s crews started harassing the teamsters,” I said.

   “In the city?” Roman raised his eyebrows.

   “No.” I had claimed the city of Atlanta to save it from my father, assuming responsibility for it. My father and I existed in a state of uneasy peace, and so far he hadn’t openly breached it. “They would do it five, six miles outside of the land I claimed. The teamsters would be driving their wagons or trucks, and suddenly there would be twenty armed people blocking the road and asking them where they were going and why. It made the union nervous, so a teamster rep came to the Conclave and asked what anyone would be doing about that.”

   “Why not go to the Order?” Roman said. “That’s what they do.”

   “The Order and the union couldn’t come to an agreement,” Curran said.

   The Order of Knights of Merciful Aid offered that aid under some conditions, not the least of which was that once they took a job, they finished it on their terms, and their clients didn’t always like the outcome.

   “So the teamster rep asked the People point-blank to stop harassing their convoys,” Curran said, “and Ghastek told him that Kate was the only person capable of making it happen.”

   “Did you?”

   “I did,” I said. “And now I have to go to the Conclave meetings.”

   “I’m there as a supportive spouse-to-be.” Curran grinned, flashing his teeth.

   “So why did your father mess with the convoys?” Roman asked.

   “No reason. He does it to aggravate me. He’s an immortal wizard with a megalomaniac complex. He doesn’t understand words like ‘no’ and ‘boundaries.’ It bugs him that I have this land. He can’t let it go, so he sits on my border and pokes it. He tried to build a tower on the edge of Atlanta. I made him move it, so now he’s building himself ‘a small residence’ about five miles out.”

   “How small?” Roman asked.

   “About thirty thousand square feet,” Curran said.

   Roman whistled, then knocked on the wooden table and spat over his shoulder three times.

   Curran looked at me.

   “Whistling in the house is bad luck,” I explained.

   “You’ll whistle all your money away,” Roman said. “Thirty thousand square feet, huh?”

   “Give or take. He keeps screwing with her,” Curran said. “His construction crews obstruct the Pack hunting grounds outside Atlanta. His soldiers nag the small settlements outside the claimed area, trying to get people to sell their land to him.”

   My father was slowly driving me insane. He’d cross into my territory when the magic was up, so I would feel his presence, then leave before I could get there to bust him. The first few times he had done it, I rode out, dreading a war, but there was never anyone to fight. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night because I’d feel him enter my land, and then I’d lie there gritting my teeth and fighting with myself to keep from grabbing my sword and running out of the house to hunt him down.

   “Don’t forget the monsters,” I said. “They keep spawning outside the boundary and then raid Atlanta.”

   “Most of the time we can’t tie it back to him,” Curran said. “When we can, she calls him on it. He apologizes and makes generous reparations.”

   “And then we all somehow end up eating in some seafood joint, where he orders the whole menu and the waiters serve us glassy-eyed,” I said.

   Curran finished his coffee in one gulp. “Last week a flock of harpies attacked Druid Hills. It took the Guild six hours to put them down. One merc ended up in the hospital with some kind of acute magical rabies.”

   “Well, at least it’s rabies,” Roman said. “They carry leprosy, too.”

   “I called Roland about it,” I said. “He said, ‘Who knows why harpies do anything, Blossom?’ And then he told me he had two tickets to see Aivisha sing and one of them had my name on it.”

   “Parents.” Roman heaved a sigh. “Can’t live with them. Can’t get away from them. When you try to move, they buy a house in your new neighborhood.”

   “That’s one thing about having both of your parents murdered,” Curran said. “I don’t have parent problems.”

   Roman and I looked at him.

   “We really do have to go,” I said.

   “Thanks for the coffee.” Curran put his empty mug on the table.

   “No trouble,” Roman said. “I’ll get started on this wedding thing.”

   “We really appreciate it,” I said.

   “Oh no, no. My pleasure.”

   We got up, walked to the door, and I swung it open. A black raven flew past me and landed on the back of the couch.

   Roman slapped his hand over his face.

   “There you are,” the raven said in Evdokia’s voice. “Ungrateful son.”

   “Here we go . . .” Roman muttered.

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