At Charles's words, though, Justin released her so quickly that she staggered, though that didn't slow her down as she ran as far away from him as she could get, which was the kitchen. She picked up the marble rolling pin that had been her grandmother's and held it warily.

Justin had his back to her, but Charles saw her weapon and, briefly, his eyes smiled at her before he turned his attention to Justin.

"Who the hell are you?" Justin spat, but Anna heard beyond the anger to fear.

"I could return the question," said Charles. "I have a list of all the werewolves in the Chicago packs and your name is not on it. But that is only part of my business here. Go home and tell Leo that Charles Cornick is here to talk with him. I will meet him at his house at seven this evening. He may bring his first six and his mate, but the rest of his pack will stay away."

To Anna's shock, Justin snarled once, but, with no more protest than that, he left.

Chapter 2

The wolf who scared Anna so badly hadn't wanted to leave, but he wasn't dominant enough to do anything about it as long as Charles was watching. Which was why Charles waited a few seconds and then quietly followed him down the stairs.

The next flight down, he found Justin standing in front of a door prepared to knock on it. He was pretty sure it was Kara's door. Somehow it didn't surprise him that Justin would look for another way to punish Anna for his forced retreat. Charles scuffed his boot on the stairs and watched the other wolf stiffen and drop his arm.

"Kara's not home," Charles told him. "And hurting her would not be advisable."

Charles wondered if he should just kill him now... but he had a reputation that his father couldn't afford for him to lose. He only killed those who broke the Marrok's rules, and he only did it after their guilt was established.

Anna had told his father that Justin was the wolf who changed Alan MacKenzie Frazier against his will, but since there were so many things wrong in this pack there might have been mitigating circumstances. Anna had been a werewolf for three years and no one had told her that she could not have children. If Anna knew so little, then it was more than possible that this wolf didn't know the rules either.


Whether the wolf was ignorant of his crimes or not, Charles still wanted to kill him. When Justin turned around to face him, Charles let his beast peer out of his eyes and watched the other wolf blanch and start back down the stairs.

"You should find Leo and give him the message," Charles said. This time he let Justin know that he was following him, let him feel, a little, the way it was to be prey for a larger predator.

He was tough, this Justin. He kept turning around to confront Charles  -  only to meet his eyes and be forced away again. The chase aroused his wolf; and Charles, still angry at the way Justin had manhandled Anna, let the wolf out just a little more than he should have. It was a fight to stop at the outside door and let Justin go free. The wolf had been given a hunt and it was much, much too short.

Brother wolf hadn't liked seeing Anna frightened either. He'd staked his claim and it had taken all of Charles's control not to just kill Justin in Anna's apartment. Only the strong suspicion that she'd go back to being afraid of him had allowed him to stay seated until he was sure he could control himself.

Climbing four flights of stairs should have given him enough time to silence the wolf. It might have, except that Anna was waiting for him, rolling pin in hand, on the landing below her apartment.

He paused halfway up the stairs, and she turned around without a word. He stalked her back to her apartment and into the kitchen area, where she set the rolling pin on its stand  -  right next to a small pot that held a handful of knives.

"Why the rolling pin and not a knife?" he asked, his voice raspy with the need for action.

She looked at him for the first time since she'd seen his face oh the stairs. "A knife wouldn't even slow him down, but bones take time to heal."

He liked that. Who'd have thought he'd get turned on by a woman with a rolling pin? "All right," he said. "All right."

He turned abruptly and left her standing in front of the counter because if he'd stayed there he would have taken her, seduced her. The apartment wasn't large enough either to pace or to get much distance between them. Her scent, blended with fear and arousal, was dangerous. He needed a distraction.

He pulled one of the chairs around and sat on it, leaning back until it was propped on two legs. He folded his arms behind his head and assumed a deliberately relaxed posture, half-closed his eyes, and said, "I want you to tell me about your Change." He hadn't missed the clues, he thought, watching her flinch a little. There was something wrong with how she'd been Changed. He focused on that.

"Why?" she asked, challenging him  -  still caught up in the adrenaline rush of Justin's visit, he imagined. She caught herself and turned away, cringing as if she expected him to explode.

He closed his eyes entirely. Another moment and he was going to put all the gentlemanly behavior his father had taught him aside and take her, willing or not. Oh, that would teach her not to be afraid of him, he thought.

"I need to know how Leo's pack is run," he told her patiently, though at the moment he could have cared less. "I'd rather do that through your impressions first, and then I'll ask you questions. It'll give me a better insight into what he's doing and why."

Anna gave him a wary look, but he hadn't moved. She could still smell the anger in the air, but it might just have been a remnant from when Justin had been there. Charles was aroused, too  -  and she found herself responding to it though she knew it was a common result of victorious confrontations among males. He was ignoring it, so she could, too.

She took a deep breath, and his scent filled her lungs.

Clearing her throat, she tried to find the beginning of her story. "I was working in a music store in the Loop when I first met Justin. He told me he was a guitarist like me, and he started coming in a couple of times a week, buying strings, music... small-ticket stuff. He'd flirt and tease." She gave an exasperated huff for her foolishness. "I thought he was a nice guy. So when he asked me out for lunch, I said sure."

She looked at Charles, but he looked as though he might have fallen asleep. The muscles in his shoulders were relaxed and his breathing was slow and easy.

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