Home > Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(4)

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(4)
Author: Ilona Andrews


   “Eighteen hours in labor and this is what I get. He can’t even pick up the phone to talk to his own mother.”

   “Mother, can’t you see I have people here?”

   “I bet if their mothers called them, they would pick up.”

   That would be a neat trick for both of us. Sadly, dead mothers didn’t come back to life, even in post-Shift Atlanta.

   “Nice to see you, Roman.” I grabbed Curran by the hand.

   The bird swiveled toward me. “Katya!”

   Oh no.

   “Don’t you leave. I need to talk to you.”

   “Got to go, bye!”

   I jumped out of the house. Curran was only half a second behind me, and he pushed the door closed. I sped down the wooden path before Evdokia decided to track me down.

   “Are you actually running away from Evdokia?”

   “Yes, I am.” The witches weren’t exactly pleased with me. They had trusted me to protect Atlanta and its covens, and I had claimed the city instead.

   “Maybe we could skip the Conclave tonight,” Curran said.

   “We can’t.”

   “Why?”

   “Because it’s Mahon’s turn to attend.”

   The Kodiak of Atlanta was brave and powerful and the closest thing to a father Curran had. He also had an uncanny ability to alienate everyone in the room and then have to defend himself when a brawl broke out. He took self-defense seriously. Sometimes there was no building left standing when he was done.

   “Jim will be there,” Curran said.

   “Nope.” The Pack rotated Conclave duty between the alphas, so if something happened at the Conclave, the leadership of the Pack as a whole wouldn’t be wiped out. “Jim was at the last one. You would know this if you hadn’t skipped it to go fight that thing in the sewers. It will be Raphael and Andrea, Desandra, and your father. Unsupervised.”

   Curran swore. “What the hell is Jim thinking with that lineup?”

   “Serves you right for pretending you don’t have parent problems.”

   He growled something under his breath.

   Mahon and I didn’t always see eye to eye. He’d thought I wouldn’t make a good mate for Curran and that I was the reason Curran left the Pack, and he’d told me so, but now he’d come to terms with it. We both loved Curran, so we had to deal with each other and we made the best of it. Although lately Mahon had been unusually nice to me. It was probably a trap.

   “We make it through the Conclave and then we can go home, drink coffee, and eat the apple pie I made last night,” I said. “It will be glorious.”

   He put his arm around me. “The Conclave is only a dinner.”

   “Don’t say it.”

   “How . . .”

   I glared at him. “I mean it! I want a nice quiet night.”

   “. . . bad could it be?”

   “Now you ruined it. If a burning giant busts through a window while we’re at the Conclave and tries to squish people, I will so punch you in the arm.”

   He laughed and we jogged down the winding forest path to our car.

   • • •

   BERNARD’S WAS ALWAYS full but never crowded. Housed in a massive English-style mansion in an affluent northern neighborhood, Bernard’s restaurant was one of those places where you had to make a reservation two weeks in advance, minimum. The food was beautiful and expensive, the portions tiny—and the patrons were the real draw. Men in thousand-dollar suits and women in glittering dresses with shiny rocks on their necks and wrists mingled and had polite conversation in hushed voices while sipping wine and expensive liquor.

   Curran and I walked into Bernard’s in our work clothes: worn jeans, T-shirts, and boots. I would’ve preferred my sword too, but Bernard’s had a strict no-weapons policy, so Sarrat had to wait in the car.

   People stared as we walked to the conference room. People always stared. Whispers floated.

   “Is that her?”

   “She doesn’t look like . . .”

   Ugh.

   Curran turned toward the sound, his eyes iced over, his expression flat. The whispers died.

   We entered the conference room, where a single long table had been set. The Pack was already there. Mahon sat in the center seat facing the door, Raphael on his right, Desandra three seats down on his left. Mahon saw us and grinned, stroking his beard, which used to be black but now was shot through with silver. When you saw the Kodiak of Atlanta, one word immediately sprang to mind: “big.” Tall, with massive shoulders, barrel-chested and broad but not fat, Mahon telegraphed strength and raw physical power. While Curran held the coiled promise of explosive violence, Mahon looked like if the roof suddenly caved in, he would catch it, grunt, and hold it up.

   Next to him, Raphael couldn’t be more different. Lean, tall, and dark, with piercing blue eyes, the alpha of the bouda clan wasn’t traditionally handsome, but there was something about his face that made women obsess. They looked at him and thought of sex. Then they looked at his better half and decided that he wasn’t worth dying over. Especially lately, because Andrea was nine months pregnant and communicating mostly in snarls. And she wasn’t at the table.

   Desandra, beautiful, blond, and built like a female prizefighter, poked at some painstaking arrangement of flowers and sliced meats on her plate that was probably supposed to be some sort of gourmet dish. She saluted us with a fork and went back to poking.

   Curran sat next to Mahon. I took the chair between him and Desandra and leaned forward, so I could see Raphael. “Where is Andrea?”

   “In the Keep,” he said. “Doolittle wants to keep an eye on her.”

   “Is everything okay?” She was due any day.

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