Home > Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(15)

Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(15)
Author: Kristen Banet, K.N. Banet

“I couldn’t legally tell Carey no when she showed up,” I reminded him. “And who is so heartless to turn away a child in need?” I pointed at the back door. “Right there. That’s where I met your daughter for the first time.”

“What about Washington?”

“I thought it was my fault,” I pointed out.

“And this patio?”

“I’m bored.”

“You had already brought it up and given it consideration.”

“Oliver.” I groaned. “He’s smart and willing to do anything to please. I just wanted him to think I was going to take what he said as professional advice. To give him the feeling of being useful, in charge. You know how that is.”

“I do. Wolf packs are like that. Now, you’re making the patio because you have the expendable cash and nothing to do with it. It also makes Oliver think he’s done something good for your business. He needs a confidence boost.”

“You noticed?”

“He’s too much of a people pleaser to not have a self-confidence issue. He’s willing to do whatever is necessary to earn respect, including agreeing with bad ideas,” Heath said with a smirk. “I wasn’t going to knock down any of your walls.”

“I thought you made a reasonable point…” Frowning, I tried to figure out what he was thinking.

“I would rather build out, so the staircase is in the center of the building, not on the far end. It would also keep the building’s center of mass toward the center.”

“So, it doesn’t seem lopsided…That’s very smart, but you were testing my new manager by giving him an option you didn’t even like. He’s not your employee, Heath.”

“They aren’t just invading your space,” he reminded me with a small smile. “I’m still uncomfortable with the idea that your siblings have sent their own people here to work for you or spy. Do you think anyone in your family would be okay with these long Saturday night talks?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I don’t ask for their opinions on my friendship with you.”

He gave me a look, and I threw up my hands.

“I don’t ask, but sometimes, they let me know they think it’s foolish to let you live in my territory,” I conceded. “We haven’t really spoken about it in months. They’re used to the idea. They even warned these two about you and your family before they came here.”

“You understand my concerns, Jacky.”

“I do and wish there was something I could do about them. I…”

“Can’t say no,” he said, smirking as we went back to that part of the conversation. “I know.” He stood up, leaving his half-finished whiskey on the table. “I’m going to get home. You have a good evening, Jacky.”

“Bowling tomorrow?” I asked before he could sneak away.

“No, next Sunday. First Sunday of February.”

“The weekend before the full moon. Okay, I’ll write that down.”

“I’ll remind you next week,” he promised. He touched my shoulder for a moment as he passed, awkwardly patting it like friends would do.

I didn’t watch him go, frustrated he was right. Frustrated I was bowing so easily to my family’s forced intervention.

I didn’t go back in, heading home, knowing Heath was headed for his own home.

I was halfway back to my house when I felt it. I spun to face the north. Just for a moment, there and gone before I could make another move.

Another werecat had crossed into my borders.

I ran home, pulling off my clothing as I went and dumped it all on my porch. I Changed, snapping my jaws as it completed and took off into the dark woods.

Maybe this time, I could get there fast enough to see if the werecat was still around. Maybe this one was a normal visit.

I skidded to a stop ten yards from the edge of my territory, sniffing the air. Another male, this one different from the last. That disturbed me. Werecats didn’t do anything as a group, and rogues didn’t go near each other. I had always been told rogues fought when they crossed paths. Two coming near and crossing into my borders within a week of each other?

It was a terrible coincidence.

The only reason I didn’t raise the alarm was that he had left even faster than the werecat before, not even giving me a chance to react.

I growled loudly as I approached my territory border, knowing everything outside it was the dangerous unknown. I had made it to the border fast enough, the scent was very fresh. Too fresh to know if the werecat was still around.

I saw nothing, and a small patrol revealed nothing. I couldn’t see or smell him on the other side of the invisible line that kept me safe.

Heart racing, I headed home. I didn’t return to my human form, opening my door with my paw and nosing my things inside. Since my fur could handle the cold, I stayed on the porch, wondering if the intruder would step in again.

I don’t know how long I waited, but the dim glow of the sun breaking over the tops of the trees told me it was time for me to try to get some sleep.

I didn’t tell anyone what happened. In my human form, I sat on the edge of my bed, trying to reason out what was going on.

The easiest explanation would be rogues passing by to get an idea of who I am. It’s been several months since Hasan had word passed around that he would look to me to keep everyone in the Americas safe and represented. After everything else, they could have been wary to introduce their scents to me earlier, but why aren’t they saying hello? Why are they leaving so fast? They could at least stop and talk to me.

Uneasy, I fell back onto my bed, my mind spinning until the very minute exhaustion demanded I rest.

Chapter Ten

I was exhausted as I parked in front of the bowling alley, feeling like I had barely slept in days. The reality was, I had barely slept in days. Every few nights, I felt a werecat step into my territory and leave.

I was being toyed with, and I didn’t understand why or by whom. I had four different scents, three males and a female. There wasn’t any schedule, and for all I knew, they were hovering on the outside of my territory, just to fuck with me. Werecats didn’t toy with another of their own kind like this.

Part of me felt like I was just going crazy, like the lack of sleep after the first few visits turned into a recurring belief it was happening.

I have to put this aside and go bowling. Just this. Then I can call all the people I need to call and see if anyone can come up with some reason for this.

There were a few things I hadn’t done yet, but I needed to. Calling my family was one of them. Expanding Kick Shot was proving to be insanely time-consuming, and with the intruders, I devoted myself to being around Oliver and Dirk whenever the business was open and even hovered while they were off. It wasn’t until Heath texted and asked if I was going to be late for bowling that I remembered I needed to keep up appearances for a while. Just one afternoon for Carey, so she didn’t think she had to be afraid of anything. Heath knew part of what I was facing. I had told him someone seemed to be toying with me, hopping in and out of my borders. It was enough to put him on his guard without starting a panic.

I walked into the bowling alley like it was any other day, smiling at the werewolf family as they picked out their bowling balls for the day.

“Sorry for being a little late,” I said as I walked over with my rental shoes.

“It’s okay!” Carey replied brightly, falling onto the bench next to me. “We would have waited.”

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that.”

“She wouldn’t have let us start until you were here,” Heath commented from his seat with Landon on the other side of the lane. “Because she’s polite and you’re part of bowling day. We don’t leave people out of bowling day.”

“Well, thank you for that.” I tried to give him a smile, but I knew it fell flat by the way his eyes narrowed. His head tilted to the side as he asked me the silent question.

Again?

I nodded so quickly, I was certain Carey missed it, but I knew Heath didn’t. He sighed, but nothing was said as the first game started.

Three hours later, and I was finally feeling more relaxed. Too bad it was time for everything to wrap up.

“How’s your science project coming?” I asked Carey as we walked out the front door.

“It’s good. It’s really easy. Plants, photosynthesis. You know. The easy stuff.”

“That’s good. It’s an easy A for you.” I squeezed her shoulder lightly, pulling her tight to my side. “You keep out of trouble until tomorrow, and we’ll play a bunch of video games and go out to dinner. Wherever you want.”

“Why?” She looked up at me with a frown. I only took her out to eat for special reasons.

“Because tomorrow is your presentation, isn’t it?” I grinned as she nodded. “And you’ll tell me you got the A you promised me, and I will take you out to dinner.” I would take her out to dinner, no matter what. I always tried to reward her when she tried something uncomfortable or daring—not dangerous. Making that distinction was important with Carey.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get that A!” She grinned and jumped into Heath’s nondescript black SUV. Landon checked her seat belt, then got in as well. Heath stepped up next to me and motioned toward the back. I followed him, knowing he wanted to talk.

“You’re not sleeping,” he pointed out.

“Would you, knowing someone is either staking you out or being an ass just to be an ass?” I asked, annoyed. I didn’t want him to know the severity of the situation, so I altered the way I mentioned it. He didn’t need to know how many there were. One rogue was bad enough. “Heath, it’s been two weeks of this motherfucker jumping in and out of the territory, a shitty rogue looking to be an ass. If he wanted the territory, he would have picked the fight already, and I’m not stupid enough to hunt him outside my territory.”

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