She walked over to join Tomer as he headed to meet the foundation’s representative. Ash fell into step with her, and Magda smiled at him. He caught hold of her hand and smiled back. “You’re not with the students?” Bridget had spent the last couple days showing him how to use the machine that analyzed soil samples. Stephan, Matthias, and Michaels had been planning the operation now that they could get closer looks. The rest of them had settled in to help out in the dig.
“They were arguing. It was…” He shrugged. “I decided to leave before it got too much.”
“Wise.” Tomer chuckled. “I try to avoid as many of their arguments as I can myself.” He shaded his eyes a moment, then nodded. “I believe that is her.” He walked toward a dark haired woman in an elegant suit, accompanied by a tall, dark-skinned woman who…
Magda caught Tomer’s arm just as the woman’s head came up and she stepped in front of the other woman. Rather than pull away or even turn to ask her what was going on, Tomer immediately took a step backward, grabbing Ash and pulling him back as well. The dark woman narrowed her eyes. “Identify yourself.”
“You first.” Magda squared her shoulders. Erilon are you there? I am. Tell Matthias and Gabriel we might have a problem. Already done.
“Ahit…” The other woman frowned.
“Werewolf.” The woman, Ahit, apparently, gave a small shake of her head. “Identify.”
“She’s a friend, here on my authorization.” Tomer spoke up from behind her. “I am aware of her nature.”
“We were not informed…” The woman started to lower her head.
“I am Lidia Wu.” The other woman inclined her head. “This is Ahit, my security officer. I am here on behalf of Ryuu Ishi to examine the artwork that was discovered here.”
“I’m Magda Jarlson, I…”
“Magda.” Ahit’s form relaxed a little. “Ryuu counts you among his allies.” Her gaze went past Magda, and then her stance became even more hostile than it had been a few moments ago. “Matthias.”
“Ahit.” Matthias drew himself to his full height.
Ahit let out a strange hissing sound as her eyes started to go violet. Magda winced when she saw Matthias’s eyes turn golden in response. Then suddenly their eyes both turned back to normal as odd looks came over their faces. She smiled when she saw Stephan a couple paces away, his face locked in concentration. “We are not here to do violence.” She met her son’s eyes. “Do I need to ask Khait to stash you elsewhere?”
He looked again at Ahit, then shook his head. “No.”
She turned back toward Ahit. “Do I need to take this matter up with Ryuu?”
“No.” Ahit glared at Matthias a moment longer before turning to look at Magda. “He does not get within a hundred feet of my charge.”
“He will abide by that.” She shot a look at her son and noted Gabriel had joined them. Matthias glanced at him, then nodded to her before heading back toward the students. Stephan visibly relaxed when Matthias left, and she saw him sway on his feet just a little. Michaels put a steadying hand on his shoulder. “Tomer?”
“Yes, well…” The professor took a deep breath before holding his hand out toward Lidia. “Professor Kravitz. Welcome to our site. Come, I’ll show you to where we found the artwork.”
“Thank you.” Lidia inclined her head. When Ahit fell into step behind Lidia, Magda gestured for Ash to go to Stephan before following after Tomer the same way.
“Don’t you…” Matthias whirled as soon as Stephan entered the tent. “Pull that shit again.” He raised his hand to point at the other man.
“You want to not wolf out in front of witnesses then?” Stephan glared at him.
“Lidia Wu is here as a direct representative for Ryuu Ishi.” Erilon’s voice came from all around him. “The spider is here as her bodyguard.”
“Woof?” Ash blinked.
“Yeah.” Stephan glanced at Ash before looking back at Matthias. “What do you mean spider, and should we be worried about Magda right now?”
“No on that last bit.” Michaels spoke up. “Gabriel stayed back to keep an eye on things.” He gave Stephan an odd look. “Okay, I’m not entirely sure, but uh…” He raised an eyebrow. “Did you just shut Matthias down?”
“Yeah.” Matthias glared. “He did.” Then he frowned. “How the hell long have you been able to do that?”
“Uh…” Stephan shrugged. “I’m actually a bit surprised it worked, let alone that it worked on both of you.” He sat down. “Khait’s been…” He frowned. “I feel a little dizzy.”
“Food.” Matthias straightened. “You need food. Ash, grab him some candy bars from over there.” Ash immediately moved to obey. “If that doesn’t take care of it fast we’ll have Daniel take a look at you.” He gave Stephan a considering look. “You know, I’ve never really noticed that about you before.”
“What about me before?” Stephan raised an eyebrow as he accepted the candy bar from Ash.
“You’ve never noticed how much Laura and Daniel can eat?” Michaels laughed softly. “My grocery budget tripled when she started throwing mojo around.”
And Stephan didn’t eat much more than a normal person. Matthias shifted a little as he considered the implications of that. Then he exhaled. “Ahit is one of the Ananazi or whatever they call themselves. Kind of like a were-spider rather than a were-wolf.”
“And you two want to rip each other’s throats out…” Michaels lifted an eyebrow. “Why?”
“I kind of killed somebody she was protecting. Her kind take that…” Matthias winced. “A bit personally.”
“Ah.” Michaels leaned back in the chair. “So how much trouble is looking in your direction right now?”
“If I abide by the restriction she gave, none. You can say a lot about Ananazi, but they are professionals. So, uh…” He shrugged. “Give me a heads up if you think I’m getting too near the art lady, cause I really don’t want Ryuu pissed at me for killing one of his pets.”
“You sure you’re okay?” Ash offered Stephan another candy bar before glancing up at Daniel.
“I said I’m fine.” Stephan patted his knee. “You didn’t have to pull healer boy in.” He leaned back. “Especially since healer boy can’t do much for me.”
“You showed him how to turn it up.” Daniel glanced at Khait. “Can you show him how to turn it off?” Daniel gave Stephan a frustrated look. “We even tried drugging him into unconsciousness once so I could fix his leg, and nothing.”
“You’d have to exhaust his power to turn it off, not just exhaust him.” Khait folded his legs up under him. “Personal use of the power is instinctive, part of the body and soul’s self-preservation instinct.” He raised an eyebrow at Daniel. “Such as your own regenerative ability.”
“My…” Daniel blinked. “I have a regenerative ability?”
Khait stared at him for a moment, then turned toward Ash. “Your friends are just so adorable.”
“Woof.” Ash grinned.
“You heal fast. You never noticed that before?” Khait chuckled.
“Well, I did, but…” Daniel frowned.
“Child, if I cut off your leg you’d regrow it in about a week, provided you got enough food.”
“I…” Daniel’s eyes widened. Then he shook his head. “Let’s not test that. I really don’t want to have to explain it to Matthias.”
Abigail suddenly laughed, then looked at Khait. “Is that why you always wake up when Bridget brings a lady friend over?”
“No.” Khait shook his head. “She sort of broadcasts a bit through the ring when she’s —”
“To much information.” Stephan started shaking his head.
Ash laughed. Then he glanced at Stephan again. “Are you sure —”
“He’s fine.” Khait stood up, then pulled Abigail to her feet. “A big dinner and a good shag, and he’ll be back to full strength.”
“Stephan doesn’t feed on sex, sweetie.” Abigail rolled her eyes.
“My dear…” Khait leaned down to kiss her. “Everyone feeds on sex. It’s life, in its most primal exchange.” Then he straightened before looking back at Stephan. “Seriously, man, get back in the saddle. Go get laid. It’d do you a world of good.”
“That advice seems like it would be more meaningful coming from anyone other than an incubus.” Daniel chuckled.
“You know…” Khait grinned suddenly before meeting Ash’s eyes. “I’ll give you the list of single girls that were checking him out earlier. You can take it from there.”
“Woof.” Ash grinned.
Gabriel leaned in the doorway as he watched the professor show the representative the artwork. The woman was taking pictures and making notes as she examined the paintings and frowned often. Meanwhile, Ahit and Magda kept wary eyes on each other. Magda’s probably a match for her, pet. Without collateral damage? Oh, good point.
He waited until the other two women had left before raising an eyebrow at Magda. “This going to be trouble?”
“No.” Magda gave the professor a reassuring smile. “Not while Ahit is here on Ryuu’s business, anyway.”
“I am not sure what happened…” Professor Kravitz exhaled. “And I’m not sure I want to know.”
“You’re here on what is technically Ryuu’s business.” Magda patted his shoulder. “Which means you are in no danger from Ahit unless you actually attacked Lidia.”
“Alright. I shall…” Professor Kravitz sighed. “Try to relax and most likely fail.” He glanced around to make sure no one was listening. “And as for the real reason you are here?”
“We’ve tracked Giroux to an estate about an hour from here, but it’s heavily guarded.” Magda folded her arms. “And from what we can tell, neither Adam nor Wren is there right now.” She looked up at him. “If they don’t show soon, I may want to hit Giroux and see if he calls them in for backup.” She gave a small nod. “Probably let Matthias handle that.”
“Adam warned us to keep an eye on Matthias.” Gabriel shook his head. “It was important enough for Adam to take that risk.”
“Good point.” She let her hands fall to her sides. “Khait has reason to have a personal beef with the Cabal.”
“And they are aware of his relationship with Abigail and Bridget and can trace them back to the Professor and the dig site.”
“A distressingly good point.” Professor Kravitz nodded to him.
“The plan we’ve worked out kind of depends on Adam and Wren actually being…” Magda trailed off. Then she exhaled. “Michaels. We know Wren wanted him captured. If he’s sighted on her turf…”
“You want to use my best friend…” Gabriel narrowed his eyes. “As bait.”
“No.” She sighed. “I’m saying if we need to use bait, he’s the best choice. We’ll keep watch in the meantime, and hopefully Wren and Adam show.”
He lay on Matthias’ chest. Even a double cot was barely big enough for Matthias, and his lover’s feet hung off the end just a little. Fortunately, Matthias had slept rough or in military barracks often enough in his life that it didn’t seem to bother him any. Daniel rested his head and listened to Matthias’ heartbeat. “You should get some sleep, boss.”
Daniel chuckled. “I thought you were asleep.”
“You’re thinking too loud for me to sleep.” Matthias frowned at him. “Something wrong?”
“No, not…” Daniel shifted position a little. “Not really. Just missing Anna and Jehanne a bit and worrying about what happens next and stuff.” He lifted himself up, then smiled. “I need to distract myself. Try to stay quiet.”
“Try to stay…” Matthias let out a small gasp as Daniel shifted down in the cot and took him into his mouth. “I am going to spank you until you can’t sit down.”
Laughing with Matthias’ cock in his mouth just made the big man squirm more.
Adam looked out over the city. As much as he liked Paris, returning still didn’t feel like coming home. Wren was playing with her new toy. The focus item Merlin had given her made him nervous. Wren wasn’t exactly ethical or responsible with the power she already had. And the man’s interest in him wasn’t exactly a comfort either.
The information from Giroux was interesting. Matthias’s group had returned to Gabriel’s city, and then all of them had gone somewhere. The only ones still there were Ted, Anna, and Giovanni. Giroux had started to give orders for him to go take care of them, but the only good thing to come out of Merlin’s visit was that Merlin had told Giroux that wasn’t necessary. It had been hard keeping the relief off his face at that. Ted seemed like a nice guy, and Anna was just a kid.
He’d sent a message to Iggy though, just in case. Hopefully, Ted could handle having a pack of friendly werewolves descending on him. Then again, considering the other folks Ted apparently could handle, Iggy’d be fine. He was starting to reach for his paintbrushes when he heard the phone ring. Wren spoke to whoever it was for a few minutes, then came outside with a wide smile on her face. “You’ll never guess what I just learned.”
“Why packages of hot dogs come in eight but the buns come in packs of ten?” Adam raised an eyebrow.
“No.” She snickered. “Matthias’s gang is here.”
“They…” Adam blinked. “They are?”
“A couple hours south.” She frowned. “We can’t hit them directly. Some sort of issue with territory. I don’t really understand it, but Merlin wants me to send you in.”
That was not good. “If we can’t hit them directly, then…”
“You’re not hitting all of them.” Wren shook her head. “You’re just getting that Gabriel guy, and bringing him back here. Merlin wants a word with him.”