Chapter Seven

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"You're losing sight of your mission." Jaeger stopped Nate before he could walk toward the team's black SUV.

They were getting a late start this morning. Nate's commander had been closeted in his tent with higher ranking officials. So far, their mission hadn't been scrapped, but that was subject to change on the American First's or the Shaman Council's whim. The First Lieutenant was staying behind to deal with higher ranking officials. Nate was happy it wasn't him as he was eager to reach Nairobi and his werelioness.

"I haven't lost sight of anything," Nate nearly snapped.

Worried, green eyes met Nate's when he turned to face his commander. "I don't want you to become too invested in the female," Jaeger expressed his concern softly.

It'd been two weeks since Nate had been given the orders to use Ife as a way to draw Zaire back to Nairobi. The African First had to have known by now that Nathan was all over the lioness he wanted to force a mating upon. He remained abroad, in India as of the latest report. As a result, Jaeger and higher command were having second thoughts about using Ife as bait. Unfortunately, now Nate was committed to his assignment. He didn't want it to be pulled.

In the time they were allotted, Nate and Ife had grown closer. Whether she felt as he did - that Nate was her mate - he couldn't say. The beast within had been convinced from nearly the onset. It seemed unsettled at Jaeger's words and was clawing to come to the surface. Swallowing, Nathan fought an inner battle with the lion for control. If he was told to stand down, to leave Ife be, he knew there would be trouble from his other half. If it gained supremacy, it'd push Nate to a far corner as it destroyed anyone in its path to her.

Brice and his damned drone saw too much. It was little wonder Jaeger questioned Nate's commitment to the mission. If it came between Ife or his team, he was no longer certain which he'd choose. As with his beast, he now accepted she was his mate.

Letting out a long breath, Nate felt his shoulders relax. He'd won the battle with his beast this round. "And if I said your concern is a little too late?"

Wolf's eyes narrowed in a pained expression. "Your team and mission have to take priority." Nate's commander's features hardened. "Do you understand what I'm telling you?"

The werewolf was saying that when it came time, Nate would have to put Ife aside to complete his mission. Akinyi wouldn't deal with someone who he felt was stealing his woman. Hell, he'd probably have to give Ife to the bastard, tied with a bow.

The thought turned Nate's stomach.  Swallowing the bile, he ground out between clenched teeth, "Yes, Lieutenant." It was the truth. He did understand. He also knew the consequences were he not able to give Ife up to Akinyi. The word traitor flitted through his mind.

"Do you feel you can continue?"

Of course, Nate could continue. The real question was could he stop when it was time? The answer was a resounding "no," of course. "Yes, sir," came his eventual reply.

Whether his commander knew what Nate was really saying, he couldn't tell. With a single, sharp nod, Jaeger dismissed him. Nate didn't need any more encouragement than that.  

As he, Dick, Everett, and Anderson made the five-and-a-half-mile trek into Ngong, Nate thought of Ife. They'd gone on countless dates since the first. Kojo was an annoyingly constant presence, but they'd grown used to her shadow. He'd become easy to avoid. The lackey wouldn't follow them indoors. That became their escape from the bothersome Kojo and his dire warnings.

The other three men chatted amongst themselves, having grown used to Nate's preference for privacy.

On reaching Ngong, people wanting a ride into Nairobi rushed toward the vehicle and signaled for Mills to stop. The buses were running sporadically now that Zaire was out of the country. Fuel shipments were being interrupted once more, causing shortages and astronomical prices. The team's SUV wouldn't take on extra passengers, so they slowly moved past the throngs.

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