"Wren? Where are you?"
Someone knocked on her door.
What is he doing now?
Sure it was him, she went and swung open the door to find Dr. Alexander standing on her front porch.
"Hi, Marguerite," he said. "I’ve been-"
"Not now, please, Dr. Alexander. I’ve got a serious problem."
"Is there anything I can do to help you?"
Disgusted, scared, and frustrated by what was happening to her, she spoke without thinking. "No. Not unless you know some way to track a vanishing tiger."
She saw the color drain from his face. "Then Wren really is here."
It was then she knew…
That was why Dr. Alexander and the others had shown up to bail Wren out of jail. "You know what he is?"
His defensive vagueness was starting to piss her off. "Why are you here, Dr. Alexander?" she asked in a cold tone.
"You haven’t been in class for four days and you haven’t answered your phone."
Her stomach tightened in reservation. "How do you know that? You’re not my advisor anymore."
His handsome face was grim. "No, I’m not. But I knew you were most likely the last one to see Wren and I have to find him."
"Because he’s dead if we don’t."
Marguerite shrieked at the deep voice behind her. She turned to see a tall, blond man dressed in black. "How did you get into my house?"
He didn’t answer as he went to where Wren had been sleeping. "He was here," he said to Julian. "His scent is all over the place." The man pierced her with an angry stare. "Where did he go?"
"Who the hell are you?" she demanded.
"Fury," he snarled, "and it’s not just a name, it’s my temperament. So stop being defensive, human. I don’t got time or patience for it. We’re here to save your boyfriend before he gets himself killed."
Dr. Alexander cleared his throat in a warning gesture. "You know me, Marguerite. Believe me when I say that we’re on Wren’s side. Do you know where he is?"
She hesitated as she considered her options. Wren had called for Dr. Alexander and Bill when he’d been locked in jail. But then, he hadn’t sought them out while wounded.
Did that mean they couldn’t be trusted?
Or did it just mean that he had trusted her more?
Unsure of the answer, she decided that the only way to help him now was to take a chance and pray it was the right decision.
"No. He vanished a second ago."
"What did he say before he left?" Fury asked.
"I don’t know. He told me I needed to run with him and I told him I can’t just leave. He got this weird look on his face and then he apologized for screwing up my life. Two seconds later, he was gone."
"Shit," Fury snarled as he met Dr. Alexander’s gaze. "He’s headed you know where."
Dr. Alexander looked disgusted.
"Grab Vane and have him meet me there." Fury had barely finished those words before he, too, vanished.
Dr. Alexander cursed as he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and pressed a button.
"Vane," he said after a few seconds, "we found where he’s been. But we just missed him. Literally. I think he’s headed back to Sanctuary to confront them."
Dr. Alexander frowned at her as he paused to listen. "No. I have the woman he’s been with. I’ll keep her with me for the time being. Can you and Fury handle the others?"
Marguerite chewed her nail as she waited.
"I’m taking her to Jean-Luc’s. Let me know what happens." He hung up the phone. "Pack an overnight bag."
His gaze was severe and cutting with its intensity. "They know who you are, Marguerite. It’s why I’m here. I checked with your professors, who told me you’d been missing classes. I was terrified that they’d already found you and were holding you to bait Wren. You’re both damn lucky that they haven’t tracked you down yet, but believe me, it’s only a matter of time until they do. It’s imperative that we get you to safety. Now."
Still, she wanted some answers. "Who are ‘we’?"
"Look, I’ll explain all this later. Right now, I need you to get the hell out of here before I have to kill people who I generally consider my friends."
He was right. She was being stupid when she’d already seen what they were capable of.
Nodding, Marguerite turned and ran to her room, where she grabbed a small bag that she quickly filled with a change of clothes, underwear, some makeup, and a nightgown.
By the time she returned, Bill Laurens had joined Dr. Alexander in her living room.
She arched a brow at the lawyer.
"Yeah, I know," Bill said. "I look like a mild-mannered corporate attorney. But I can wrestle a bear or tiger any day. C’mon, we need to get you out of here."
"How long will I be gone?"
Bill exchanged a nervous look with Dr. Alexander. "We don’t know."
Agitated at how fast her entire life was changing and how powerless she was to stop it, she grabbed her cell phone and charger from the counter. She led the men out of her house, then locked the door.
"You don’t really think Wren went to get himself killed, do you?" she asked Dr. Alexander as he led her to his black Land Rover.
Both men answered at once. "To save you? Yes."
Marguerite had never felt more selfish in her life as she climbed into Dr. Alexander’s car. "I can’t believe this is happening…" She wasn’t even aware she’d spoken aloud until Bill spoke.
"Welcome to our world. It’s not a pretty place. But then, it’s never boring, either."
She sighed as pain swept through her. "I keep thinking this is all a dream and tomorrow I’m going to wake up in my bed and wonder what the hell I had for dinner."
Bill laughed at that as Dr. Alexander pulled out of her driveway. "You want a real rude awakening, ask your classics professor how old he really is."
By the tone of Bill’s voice, she could tell it was going to send her over the edge. "I don’t want to know, do I?"
"Not really," Dr. Alexander said. "Let’s just say that I have firsthand knowledge of my subject matter."
That made her head swim. No wonder Dr. Alexander was so impressive in his knowledge. It would be a lot easier to teach a subject you’d actually experienced, which meant the man was probably several thousand years old. It was enough to boggle the human mind.
Marguerite watched the traffic pass by as they headed off toward the Warehouse District. The world outside the car looked normal, and yet nothing was the same as it had been five days ago. She wondered how much of what was out there wasn’t what it seemed. Heck, for all she knew, the bar they were passing right now could very well be owned by demons or some other freaky Were-Animal. For that matter, gargoyles.
But that wasn’t really what concerned her most. Right now her thoughts were on one particular Were-Beast. "Tell me Wren’s going to be okay."
Bill turned to look at her over his shoulder. "At this point, you should be more worried about yourself, Marguerite. If the ones after Wren ever learn that you know they exist, they’ll come for you."
She scowled at him. "I don’t understand that You know they exist. Why don’t they go after you?"
"I have a vested interest in keeping their existence quiet. You don’t."
"Don’t I?" she asked, her voice heavy with her fear and anger. "The last thing I want is for Wren to be locked in a government lab someplace."
Bill smiled approvingly. "Good answer."
Marguerite sighed as she fought off the tears that were stinging her eyes. "I can’t believe they’re trying to kill him because of me. Can’t he just tell them that he won’t see me anymore?"
Bill frowned at her. "What are you talking about?"
"Wren said that they’re after him because they don’t want him involved with a human. If we don’t see each other-"
"I’m afraid it’s too late for that," Bill said in a sympathetic voice. "This isn’t about you anymore, Marguerite. This is about big business. Wren’s family has been aching for a chance to kill him for years now. As long as he had the protection of Sanctuary behind him, they couldn’t touch him or his money. Now that he’s been thrown out, there’s nothing to stop them."
But that didn’t make sense. "I’m completely confused. Sanctuary is just a bar, right?"
"No," Bill said, his voice laden with gravity. "It’s more like an animal shelter where people like Wren can go and not be hunted by those who want to kill them."
"Can’t he find another sanctuary?"
Bill shook his head. "They don’t exactly grow on trees for his people. Not that it matters. Right now the Omegrion has him marked for death. Until they lift that sentence, no one can take him in and protect him. If they do, they die, too."
She frowned. "What’s the Omegrion?"
"It’s the governing council for his people," Dr. Alexander said as he turned right. "Kind of like their version of Congress."
She hoped their Congress was a little more effective and had more cooperation, especially since their decision determined whether Wren lived or died.
"How do we get them to lift the sentence against him?" she asked.
Bill sighed. "You have to prove he’s not a danger to his people."
"And how do we do that?"
Bill gave her a hard stare. "We don’t. Basically Wren is going to be hunted down eventually and killed. All we can do at this point is delay it and keep you alive until they determine that you’re not as much a threat as he is."
That was so unfair. How could this be?
A single tear fled down her cheek as Bill’s words went through her like daggers.
"Wren doesn’t deserve this. Man or animal, he’s the gentlest soul I’ve ever known."
Bill’s eyes widened as Dr. Alexander made a sound of disagreement.
"You’re the only one I’ve ever met who said that about him, Marguerite," Dr. Alexander said. "Wren is about as wild and dangerous as they come."
Maybe to them, but he wasn’t like that with her.
Marguerite closed her eyes as she imagined Wren the way he’d been the night they met. He’d been so shy and bashful. He’d kept himself to the shadows, only coming out to speak to her.
Then her thoughts turned to the way he’d held her while they made love. The way he’d been when he fought off her muggers. They were right, Wren could be dangerous. But he wasn’t out of control. He had never attacked anyone without provocation. That didn’t make him a threat. It just made him not a wimp.
"We have to save him," she said to the men. "Tell me how to kill the things after him."
In tiger form, Wren crept through the upstairs of Sanctuary, seeking out Nicolette. He had no doubt who had turned on him, and it was time to end this. It was one thing to come after him, but to put Maggie in harm’s way… that was another story.
The time had come for them all to realize that solitary didn’t mean pushover. This tiger had teeth and he was more than ready to use them.
He turned to find Fang in human form standing in an open doorway behind him. The wolf wore nothing except for a pair of jeans. Even his feet were bare.
Crouching low, Wren prepared himself to attack.
"Get your ass in here," Fang snapped. "Now!"
Wren started away from him.
"Listen to him, Wren. Please."
He froze at Aimee’s voice. In human form as well, the bearswan was standing behind the wolf. One side of her face was red and her lips were swollen, as if she’d been necking with Fang in his room.
Damn, the two of them had even bigger problems than he did.
Before he could move, another door opened. Aimee dashed out of sight as her younger brother Etienne froze in his doorway. Tall and blond like the rest of his brothers, the bear was only a few decades older than Wren but didn’t appear any older in human form.
Etienne instantly flashed to his bear form.
"There’s no fighting in Sanctuary," Fang said, closing his door to protect Aimee as he moved to stand between them. "You both know the Eirini Laws that govern us."
"He is marked, wolf. Stand down."
Wren turned at the sound of Aubert’s voice and flashed himself to human form to confront the famed Papa Bear, who only took orders from Nicolette. "I did nothing wrong. This is bullshit and all of you know it."
"You’ve gone mad," Aubert said. "You’ve threatened my cubs and my mate."
Wren narrowed his gaze at the bear. "No, I haven’t. But you can tell your bitch that I’m here for her now."
Aubert ran at him.
Fang put himself between them and caught the bear as he lunged. Wren tensed, expecting Aubert to break past the wolf, but to his amazement, Fang held his own.
Roaring, Aubert knocked Fang aside and came at Wren.
Wren flashed to tiger form and launched himself at Aubert, who transformed instantly to a bear. Wren caught the larger animal about the throat as Etienne attacked him from the back. He hissed as Etienne threw him against the wall and laid one leg open with his huge claw.
Dazed, Wren sprang back to his feet only to have his wounded leg buckle as pain lacerated him. His wounds were still too fresh, and these new ones were taking their toll on his stamina. Not that he cared. He’d come into this knowing they would most likely kill him.