The sex had meant nothing to either of them  -  but it meant something to Anna. He'd have had to be human to miss the hurt and mistrust in her eyes at Isabelle's thrust.

"Play nicely, Isabelle," he told her, abruptly impatient. He put a little force in his voice as he said, "Go home and tell Leo I'll talk to him tonight."

Her eyes lit with rage and she drew herself up.

"I am not my father," he said softly. "You don't want to try the shrew act with me."

Fear cooled her temper  -  and his, too, for that matter. Her perfume might have hid her scent, but it didn't hide her eyes or her clenched hands. He didn't enjoy frightening people  -  not usually.

"Go home, Isabelle. You'll have to swallow your curiosity until then."

He shut the door gently behind her and stared at it for a moment, reluctant to face Anna  -  though he had no idea why he should feel so guilty for doing something long before he'd ever met her.

"Are you going to kill her?"

He looked at Anna then, unable to tell what she thought about it. "I don't know."

Anna bit her lip. "She has been kind to me."

Kind? As far as he could tell kindness had been pretty far from anything that had happened to Anna since her Change. But the worry in her face had him swallowing his sharp reply.


"There is something odd going on in Leo's pack," was all he said. "I'll find out exactly what it is tonight."


"I'll ask them," he told her. "They know better than to think they can lie to me  -  and refusal to answer my questions, or refusal to meet with me is admitting guilt."

She looked puzzled. "Why couldn't they lie to you?"

He tapped a finger on her nose. "Smelling a lie is pretty easy, unless you are dealing with someone who cannot tell truth from lie, but there are other ways to detect them."

Her stomach growled.

"Enough of this," he said, deciding it was time to feed her up a little. A bagel was not enough. "Get your coat."

He didn't want to take the car into the Loop, where it would be difficult to find parking, because his temper was too uncertain around her. He couldn't talk her into a taxi, which was a new experience for him  -  not many people refused to listen when he told them what to do. But then, she was an Omega, and not constrained by an instinctive need to obey a more dominant wolf. With an inward sigh, he followed her down a few blocks to the nearest L station.

He'd never been on Chicago's elevated train before, and, if it weren't for a certain stubborn woman, he wouldn't have ridden one this time. Though he admitted, if only to himself, that he rather enjoyed it when a rowdy group of thugs disguised as teenagers decided to give him a bad time.

"Hey, Injun Joe," said a baggy-clothed boy. "You a stranger in town? That's a foxy lady you have there. If she likes her meat brown, there's plenty here to go 'round." He tapped himself on his chest.

There were real gangs in Chicago, raised in the eat-or-be-eaten world of the inner city. But these boys were imitators, probably out of school for the holidays and bored. So they decided to entertain themselves by scaring the adults who couldn't differentiate between amateurs and the real deal. Not that a pack of boys couldn't be dangerous under the wrong circumstances...

An old woman sitting next to them shrank back, and the smell of her fear washed away his tolerance.

Charles got to his feet, smiled, and watched their smugness evaporate at his confidence. "She's foxy, all right," he said. "But she belongs to me."

"Hey, man," said the boy just behind the one who had spoken. "No hard feelings, man."

He let his smile widen and watched them shuffle backward. "It's a nice day. I think that you should go sit in those empty seats up there where you see your way more clearly."

They scuttled to the front of the car and, after they had all taken a seat, Charles sat back down next to Anna.

There was such satisfaction in his face when he sat down that Anna had to suppress a grin for fear that one of the boys would look back and think she was laughing at one of them.

"That was a prime example of testosterone poisoning," she observed dryly. "Are you going to go after Girl Scouts next?"

Charles's eyes glinted with amusement. "Now they know that they need to pick their prey more cautiously."

Anna seldom traveled to the Loop anymore  -  everything she needed she could find closer to home. He evidently knew it better than she did, despite being a visitor. He chose the stop they got off on and took her directly to a little Greek place tucked in the shadow of the L train tracks, where they greeted him by name and took him to a private room with only one table.

He let her give her order and then doubled it, adding a few dishes on the side.

While they were waiting for their food, he took a small, worn-looking, leather-bound three-ring notebook from his jacket pocket. He popped the rings and took out a couple of sheets of lined paper and handed them to her with a pen.

"I'd like you to write down the names of the members of your pack. It would help if you list them from the most dominant and go to the least."

She tried. She didn't know everyone's last name and, since everyone outranked her, she hadn't paid strict attention to rank.

She handed the paper and pen back to him with a frown. "I'm forgetting people, and other than the top four or five wolves, I could be mistaken on rank."

He set her pages down on the table and then took out a couple of sheets with writing already on them and compared the two lists, marking them up. Anna took her chair and scooted it around the table until she sat next to him and could see what he was doing.

He took his list and set it before her. "These are the people who should be in your pack. I've checked the names of the ones who don't appear on your list."

She scanned down it, then grabbed the pen back and marked out one of his checks. "He's still here. I just forgot about him. And this one, too."

He took the list back. "All the women are gone. Most of the rest who are missing are older wolves. Not old. But there's not a wolf left who is older than Leo. There are a few younger wolves missing as well." He tapped a finger on a couple of names. "These were young. Paul Lebshak, here, would have been only four years a werewolf. George not much older."

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