Chapter Ten

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With a heavy heart, Nate headed into Nairobi. Nearly two weeks had passed since the explosion at Ife's hospital. Akinyi was back in town and Nate, posing as an arms dealer, had an appointment with the African First. Finally, he'd come face-to-face with the man who'd taken his family. He hoped he wouldn't blow the opportunity by ripping Zaire's throat out then and there. After his fight with Ife, he was no longer feeling so magnanimous about his need for revenge against the werelion.

Stretching stiff shoulders, Nate was reminded of the past few nights spent on Ife's floor. The tension between them was still there, an incessantly dark presence in the room. They'd reached a détente of sorts. Ife no longer hounded him about wanting to feel useful, and he didn't bring up leaving together again. Hell, they barely spoke to each other. The unease between them made Nate's heart hurt.

"You still in the doghouse, Allen?" Brice had noticed Nate's stretch. The Master Sergeant was acting as his private security as was the other shifter in the black SUV, Corporal Tony Anderson. Mills was driving.

"Mind your own business Everett," Nate warned.

From the front, Dick laughed. "If you don't want the woman, Doc will take her."

Anderson, sitting in the passenger seat, cuffed the young man upside the head. "Best not to stick your nose in shifter business," he warned the lone shaman. "You could get dead."

Nate unclenched his fist. The shifters on the team knew that Ife was his. The shaman were slower to understand that fundamental truth. Walker continued to make moves on Nathan's woman. She seemed clueless to them, but Nate and the rest of the team weren't. Lieutenant Jaeger volunteered to talk with the recalcitrant healer. He declined the offer. He'd deal with it himself.

If only Nate knew whether Ife felt the same as he did. Then, he could come clean about all he'd been hiding. It was different between mates than it was between humans and their spouses. A shifter mate would never betray the other's confidence.

From the driver's seat, Dick grumbled about having to work with shifters. After that, nothing but the sound of the engine and the occasional bump in the road was heard. It was a solemn group that arrived in Nairobi twenty minutes later. A few turns and several miles saw them to their destination. The vehicle stopped in front of an abandoned warehouse.  Mills cut the engine.  The two werewolves acting as security exited first. Brice opened the door, and with a command for Richard to stay with the vehicle, he hopped out and onto the cracked pavement. Nate followed.

Since Akinyi didn't know Nate was a shifter, he kept his movements slower, less agile. He played up his human role. The two werewolves flanking him did likewise as they entered one of the dock doors and walked to the center of the warehouse. Zaire and his men were already there. As with Nathan, there were two on either side of the African First.

Nate consciously made his gait loose. His shoulders hung relaxed as he approached. He didn't want the other werelion to know how pissed he was just by the sight of him. As far as Akinyi knew, Nathan believed a random act of terror had killed his lover. It was a common enough occurrence in their world.  Besides, there was nothing to link it back to Zaire.

How Nate longed for the day when this subterfuge came to an end.

"You are the American?" Akinyi called, his voice echoing in the space. He was seated in a display of power. The werelion acted like a king, lounging on his folded chair as if it were a throne. Zaire, believing in his own portrayal, didn't rise once Nate's group reached him.

"I'm currently between countries," Nate quipped. He knew his American English was accented, as was his Swahili. It was the easiest way for him to explain that away. Plus, there was a bit of truth to it, and so Zaire wouldn't smell a lie. Nathan felt torn between his adopted country and the one of his birth; toward his team and Ife.

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