Caia wasn’t sure she was convinced. “Bu-”

“Why don’t you can the questions?” Alexa glared at her meaningfully. “You don’t want to annoy me.”

What she really wanted was for her to go to Hades, but Caia was a little worried that Lucien might believe Alexa over her. It was definitely too soon to be getting in trouble with the Pack Leader. When it was obvious Caia wasn’t going to retaliate, Dana snickered at Alexa’s victory. It was a short-lived snicker, followed by an ‘Ow’. Jaeden had kicked her under the table and was now turned towards Alexa. “Why don’t you sheath your claws, Alex?”

“I hate that name,” Alexa spat.

Jaeden smirked. “I know.”

“Ladies,” Mal growled, “Please. You’re spoiling my appetite.”

Caia looked down at her food, feeling Jaeden’s gaze on her.

“So, that’s why you didn’t tell that spawn of the undead where to go?” Jaeden mused, as she drove Caia home.

“Pretty much.”

“And you didn’t kick her?”


“I swear to Gaia I don’t know what happened in that classroom.”

Jaeden shrugged. “Just ignore her then. You know Alexa’s unbalanced enough to have pushed her own damn chair away from you.”

“It was just... weird.”

Caia was exhausted. She hoped everyday with the pack wasn’t going to be as trying as today had been.

And she had been so stupidly optimistic this morning.

Jaeden pulled the car up to the driveway and Caia was surprised to see Lucien was already home; an unfamiliar car parked beside his.

“Is it always like this, do you know?” she quizzed Jaeden, gesturing to the vehicle.

Jaeden smiled in understanding. “He’s Pack Leader, so you’ll find the house pretty busy. You know, if you ever need space to breathe you’re always welcome at my house.”

It must have been the exhaustion but Caia felt her eyes watering at this young girl’s kindness, her friendship like air to a trapped claustrophobic. Rapidly blinking to blot out the tears, she smiled wearily and thanked her.

“Cy?” Jaeden stopped her as she was getting out of the Buick.


She looked away from Caia, a deep frown creasing in between her eyebrows. She sighed, seeming unsure whether to say what she was going to say. She bit her lip.

“Jaeden,” Caia prompted.

“OK.” She sighed. “I... just... I want you to tell me if Alexa bothers you, OK.”

“You know, contrary to popular belief I can take care of myself.”

“I know. But I’ve known her my whole life and she’s... manipulative.” Her blue eyes saddened. “Her brother was Dermot... He died in the Lunarmorte against Lucien.”

Caia’s eyes widened at this new piece of information. “He tried to take Lucien’s title?”

Jaeden nodded solemnly.

Caia was quiet for a minute, absorbing this. It didn’t seem right to condemn someone for their family’s mistakes. Then again, Alexa was pretty scary. Ruthless her middle name. But... nah... she shook her head. “That doesn’t mean Alexa’s the same. Look at my grandfather. He tried to take Lucien’s dad’s title and my father was nothing like him.”

“Cy,” Jaeden’s voice was firm, “Alexa wants to be Lucien’s mate. She’ll stop at nothing to do it.”

“I’m not standing in her way.”

Her friend shrugged, starting the engine up again. “Apparently, you are.”

Caia laughed humorlessly. “Are you all crazy?”

“Just promise if you need me you will come to me?”

“I feel like I’ve landed in a bad mafia movie.”

Jaeden giggled as she started backing up the car. She leaned out of her window as she passed Caia. “You’ve lived the life of a human too long. Pack politics are normal for us.”

Caia rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, Irini could have at least warned me about them.”

Jaeden pulled to a stop now that she’d turned the car around. Her face was suddenly serious. “Yes, she should have.”

Caia raised a questioning eyebrow. These lykans confused the hell out of her. They were so blasé one minute and the next as serious as if someone had just killed their mom.

“See you tomorrow, Cy.”

She waved silently as Jaeden pulled away, and then turned to look at the house. When she had stood in the airport unable to breathe for panic at the sheer thought of returning to the pack, she hadn’t been afraid because she knew what was awaiting her, she’d been afraid because she hadn’t known. If she had... well... she might have jumped on the next plane to anywhere else.

As she entered the house she could hear Lucien talking to someone in the kitchen and being answered by an unfamiliar female voice. What she really wanted to do right now was run upstairs to her bedroom, shut the door, and have an uncharacteristic crying session.

But that would be rude.

Heaving a sigh, she walked cautiously into the kitchen. Lucien had obviously caught her scent because he was looking towards the doorway when she stepped through it.

“Caia.” He smiled, and she was surprised that he looked genuinely happy to see her. She tried not to blush and strolled slowly towards him, her gaze flicking between him and the attractive older blonde across from him.


“Caia, this Yvana, Ryder and Aidan’s mother.”

She smiled at the older woman, catching the resemblance now. She held out her hand formally. Yvana had been staring at her, expressionless, but as she’d stepped closer, freezing icicles had crept into her eyes, and she cringed back from Caia’s outstretched hand. “I hadn’t realized how much you look like your mother,” she spat.

Caia flinched, completely taken aback. The venom in this woman’s voice was uncontrolled and so heartfelt. First Alexa, now her?

“Yvana,” Lucien’s voice rumbled darkly in warning. Caia had never heard him use that tone before, but she was still too shocked by Yvana’s reaction to look at him. She was caught in this woman’s bleak gaze. What had she done to her?

“Griffin died because of your parents... because of you.” Yvana was standing up now, trembling with anger and grief.

Caia looked to Lucien for answers. Who was Griffin? But Lucien’s face was mottled with anger as well, the muscles in his forearms taut as he rounded the table. “You can leave now.”

“Lucien,” Yvana protested, her eyes breaking from Caia’s as she realized how angry she had made him.

“What’s going on?” Irini’s voice drifted towards them from the doorway.

“You can’t expect me not to be upset. That you would even expect me to be in the same room as that,” she spat again, flicking her hand distastefully at Caia.

Caia recoiled as if she’d been hit. She staggered back, her mind roiling with confusion. This woman really hated her. Not the petty teenage hatred of Alexa, but real intense dislike. As if she had wronged her somehow. She felt the tears prick the corners of her eyes. She didn’t want to be here. Where everything was unfamiliar and cold; where she was welcome, but unwelcome; where secrets hung in every doorway and no one trusted her enough to confide them. Instead of asking for an explanation, exhaustion defeating her, she turned and hurried from the room, brushing past a worried Irini who tried to stop her. But she didn’t stop. Not until she was in her room with the door closed. The tears had cascaded down her cheeks now, her vision blurred as she stumbled past the bed, and into the bathroom where she could lock the door behind her. Relieved, she slid down and crumpled onto the bathroom floor. Big fat tears rolled down her cheeks for the first time in a long time. And she let them keep on rolling.

It wasn’t long before she heard a soft knocking. Irini must have followed her.


She tensed at the voice. It wasn’t Irini. It was Lucien.

“Caia, open the door.”

“I’m OK.” But she knew he would hear the tears in her voice.

“I’ll just break it down,” he teased.

Sighing, she slid away from the door to the wall opposite it, rubbing the salt out of her eyes. She must look a mess. Sniffling, she stretched up and flicked the latch up on the door, and then settled back against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chest, her arms protectively around them.

“It’s open.”

Slowly it eased open and Lucien appeared. His hair brushed the top of the door frame as he stepped inside, his gaze soft as he looked down at her. In fact, Caia could have sworn there was anguish in his eyes.

“Yvana’s gone,” he told her quietly.

“I’m not crying because of that.”


For a moment Lucien just stared at her, and then sighing, he stepped towards her. She was surprised at how he managed to fold his huge body down into a sitting position next to her, his entire left side pressed against her right.

“So... why are you crying?” he persisted gently.

“Tired, I guess.”

“It’s been a long couple of days for you. But I thought... I don’t know... I got the impression last night you enjoyed yourself at dinner.”

Caia peered up at him from under her lashes. He was looking down at her, his eyes wary, sad even. She nodded. “I did.”

“But today you don’t want to be here,” he guessed.

She didn’t have to say anything. Why else would she be sobbing her guts out on the bathroom floor?

Lucien sighed again. “Yvana has her reasons, Caia. Not great ones. What she said she never should have, but the rest of the pack wants you here. You belong with us.”

“Her reasons?” she whispered.

“Griffin was her husband,” he explained wearily, grief in his own voice. “He died alongside your father... I mean, your parents... protecting you.”

She blamed Caia then; blamed her, and her parents, for bringing The Hunter upon the pack. She guessed she could understand her rage. Most lykans when they mated, mated for life. It was said that when their mate died, a part of themselves died with them.

Most Popular