Home > Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(17)

Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(17)
Author: Kristen Banet, K.N. Banet

“We would also see ourselves as in charge,” Jabari added. “That’s how the werewolves were able to make ground on us during the War. We’re stronger, faster, bigger, but we’re not good at tactical, group fights, and most werecats didn’t want to be a part of them. Then there’s Jacky.”

“Yeah, I still have that ability,” I said with a sigh. “Let’s not get into that right now.”

“Let’s. You’re an oddity, not the norm,” Hasan said. “Play this carefully, Jacqueline. Just be careful.”

“And run if they attack,” I finished. “But most likely, they won’t.”

“Most likely,” he agreed. “Mischa?”

“I’ve said it already, but they’re probably just fucking with you. Picked a bad time to fuck with you with new humans in your territory, but they wouldn’t know that. You know, if they’re playing around in a group, they could be a family unit as well. Let me dig around and see if there are any family units out there I might not recall off the top of my head.”

“Are there rogue families?” I frowned, not wanting to consider that.

“Sometimes a rogue will turn someone, teach them the ropes, then drop them off somewhere. It’s not common, and we try to step in when we hear about it,” Niko informed me, his tone a little snappy. “We’re not like werewolves in that way. We have very strict rules, and we don’t tolerate accidents.”

“Yeah, I knew that much,” I snapped, not liking how he was in a bad mood. This wasn’t my fault. I was just trying to best prepare myself for every possibility. “Plus, we naturally bond when we Change someone, right?”

“We do, but long-term rogues already have a hard time bonding to land,” Mischa said with a rueful smile. “There aren’t many out there like me, looking for no connection. It leads to rogues having way fewer children than other werecats. Maybe one every thousand years, if that. I’ve only ever Changed one person in my entire life, and it wasn’t an accident.”

That was interesting. I had no idea any of my siblings had ever Changed anyone, where those other werecats were, or who they might be.

“That was before you went rogue, though,” Zuri said softly.

“A story for another time,” Mischa said with a soft growl. “Either way, let me look into anything that might sound like your four cats and get back to you, little sister.” Mischa turned off her camera and signed off.

“Well, we’ve lost the expert,” Davor pointed out. “I’m leaving as well. Good luck, Jacky.” Then he was gone as well.

Slowly, they all signed off and left me alone, Hasan grilling me before he finally left. He wanted to make sure I’d heard everything that was just explained to me.

I stared at my screen for a long time and snarled as I felt one of the werecats jump in and back out of my territory. I stumbled as I got up and went to my door, the snarl never ending.

Fucking assholes. I need this to stop. This isn’t a fucking game. There are people here who rely on me. Don’t they fucking realize that?

I decided not to run out to the spot and sniff who it was. I could do it later in the evening. There was one more phone call I wanted to make.

I hadn’t spoken to Lani in nearly a year since before I went to Washington. She didn’t see me as a friend anymore, and that was fine. I had other friends of a sort. I had my family around me, even if they were across the planet. I didn’t need the friendship of the other Texas-based werecat.

But with this much rogue activity, I knew I needed to call her and check in. The phone rang and rang, but there wasn’t an answer. I tried a second time before giving up and leaving to get the scent of my intruder. It was the female, twice in a row now. This was her third time breaching my borders. Her visits were definitely the shortest, always so fast I could barely react.

By the time I was back, Lani had texted me.

Lani: What do you need?

Jacky: I just wanted to check in with you. I’ve seen an increase in rogue activities around my territory. Are you having the same problem?

Lani: No. Sounds like a mess. Good luck with it. Don’t get yourself kicked out of your territory. Would hate to see what a rogue would do to those werewolves you love so much.

Jacky: Do you need to be so bitchy?

I shouldn’t have called her out, but her comment was uncalled for. I was trying to be polite. She didn’t need to meet me with hostility.

Lani: No, but then again, you didn’t need to lie to me for over six years. Forget my number, Jacky. I’ve tried to get over it, but I don’t think I can, and I’m done trying.

Jacky: I’m not asking you to get over it. You’re right. I lied to you. I’m sorry. But I am Hasan’s daughter, and he asked me to do certain things. I’m checking in with a werecat who lives near me because there’s increased rogue activity. Excuse me for worrying about you and your territory.

Lani: You don’t need to worry about me. Good night.

I resisted the urge to throw my phone. Lani’s attitude was the last thing I needed that day.

But she was right. I was the one who killed our friendship. Even if she could have forgiven me for the Dallas drama, lying about who I was for over six years was a betrayal I couldn’t take back. I kept the most important thing about myself a secret from her, and there was no fixing that.

“I can’t do this right now,” I whispered to myself, sitting at the edge of my bed. “I shouldn’t have contacted her.”

I didn’t sleep that night.

Chapter Eleven

Saturday, I felt like I was going to fall asleep on my feet or just fall to the ground to get some rest. Whatever those werecats were doing on the edge of my borders, I didn’t know, but they were breaching my territory and keeping me on edge nearly every night now.

Almost as if they were ramping up to the full moon, which would be in just over twenty-four hours.

It wasn’t even noon, but I was up and moving around, even though I was fighting the need for sleep. Just before dawn, one of them had breached and toyed with me, dancing along my border, and when I answered, they left. I didn’t even bother to go see which one it was. I didn’t care anymore. In the end, it didn’t matter much. If Mischa was right, they would stop eventually and go off to have their laughs someplace else.

Hazing. That’s what this amounted to if my sister is right. I’m being hazed for a laugh.

It was like college all over again, the werecat equivalent of someone knocking on the door, then running when it was answered. It was rude and induced a level of paranoia that was beginning to drive me a little insane.

Cleaning my kitchen, I tried to focus on something while waiting for my new employees to be up and ready to work. Kick Shot opened at five, and we were falling into the habit of having a three o’clock meeting before opening to go over any possible changes. It never lasted long, but it was good to touch base before the day started.

I still didn’t have a new hobby to help kill time, but I had replayed six different video games over the course of the three weeks since Oliver and Dirk arrived. A couple of days earlier, Heath and I talked to one of his company’s architects about the new patio and would see official plans for it in only another week.

With all of that and the rogues, I was glad to be keeping busy, even if it was driving me further down the dark hole of insanity.

“Rude fucking cats,” I mumbled, scrubbing a pan in my hand, gripping the side hard enough to leave dented fingerprints. Noticing, I cursed again and dropped the pot, stepping back from my sink. Frustration and annoyance, combined with the paranoia of when it might happen again, were starting to make me unfit for company. I took a few moments to breathe, then went back to the dishes, handling them with care. I would have to replace the pot, but it wasn’t a big problem.

At one, I was ready to leave, my house spotless, and headed for my bar, tucking my hands into my pockets to avoid the chill. I chuckled to see that the table for Heath and me to have drinks at was already out, meaning Dirk was awake and moving around early today. His truck was parked next to my Nissan, telling me he wasn’t running before-work-errands either, probably holding off until tomorrow. I knew he and Oliver were actively looking at rentals around my territory in hopes of leaving the apartment upstairs. Neither of them wanted to stay upstairs for their entire year in Texas.

“Good afternoon, Dirk,” I called as I walked in the back door.

“Hey, Jacky,” he called back. “Tomorrow is the full moon. Anything you want from me before that?”

“I don’t know yet. Let me think about it, and if anything is unusual, I’ll say something when we’re closing,” I answered, seeing him behind the bar. “Is there anything you need?”

“No, I’ll be fine. I’ll keep Oliver from doing anything dumb tomorrow night since this will be his first full moon in werecat territory. You’re going to run the borders, right?”

“Yeah, probably,” I agreed, sitting down across from him. “If I have time, I might go for a hunt, but there’s been some strange activity, and I want to make sure my territory borders are clear of any intruders. It’ll send them a sign that I have no intention of making my territory smaller and easier to defend.” I found it was easy to talk to Dirk about werecat aspects of my life. While Heath understood the immortality aspect, Dirk was raised by a werecat, and Niko had obviously educated him in preparation for a potential Change. It was the one thing I could count on to get Dirk talking to me.

“Showing them you aren’t scared is a good thing,” he agreed. “Niko says it’s more complicated than you’ve been letting on to me and Oliver.”

“It is, but that’s my business, not yours, and Niko should know better,” I answered with a smile. “And if you want to live by the pretense that you aren’t related to me in any way, you won’t use Niko to get information I only tell my family.”

Dirk’s face flushed. “Yeah. Sorry. He called earlier this morning, wondering if you had made plans for the full moon.”

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