Chapter Fifteen

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Morning dawned after the full moon. Nassor had removed the humans' bullets with a clawed nail, then he and Ife ran as their beasts. They'd gone northeast of Kenya's capital, to his mate's birth pride's former territory. Then, they'd taken the car back to Nairobi this morning. In some ways, it seemed as if the previous evening's events were far in the past. In others, they were fresh and had the power to sting.

Nassor came out of the shower in his mate's apartment. He needed to give her space to grieve the loss of the many possessions Zaire's men had destroyed during the time they thought her dead. The place looked as if a tornado had ripped through.

Ife was no longer sitting in the middle of her scattered belongings Nassor saw as he came down the hall and into her living room. Instead, she was busily cleaning up the mess. "Need help?" he offered.

Ife eyed Nassor's bare chest for a moment. Her mate wore a pair of sweatpants and naught else. They were borrowed from the trunk of the car they'd taken from the airfield. The full moon high was still riding them both. With a quick shake of her head to banish lustful thoughts, Ife pointed to the rubbish bin. "Anything unsalvageable goes in there."

After a quarter hour, Nassor sighed. His head rose from the stack of papers on his lap, and he caught Ife's gaze. "Why do I feel guilt along with the sorrow? You've done nothing wrong, mapenzi."

Blinking rapidly, Ife looked away. She hadn't told him of Andrew's demise by her hand. They'd barely made it out of Nairobi before the full moon was upon them. Then come morning, they'd made love, returned to the city, and she'd found her apartment in tatters. There hadn't been a moment where she could confess. It looked as if the dreaded time had come.

"Something happened with Andrew," Ife began.

Instant alarm screamed across their bond. Nassor rose and pulled her into his arms. Ife's cheek was smashed against one, hard and warm pec. "Whatever that bastard did, it wasn't your fault."

Nassor thought Ife had been raped. It was there in his words and his actions. "It's not that," she was quick to assure him. "I killed him."

"Good. The bastard deserved it," Nassor said, hugging Ife closer.

Ife could tell her mate didn't quite believe that was all to the story. "Really," she pressed.  "He tried to take me to Zaire's men. He said you were in trouble and needed me." Raising her head, she looked at Nassor. "I could feel that wasn't true through our mate bond and so I refused to go along with him. That's when he got physical and tried to make me go. My beast took over and ended up killing him."

Nassor gazed at Ife intently for a time. She could see the shift in his eyes when it finally penetrated his mind that she hadn't been sexually assaulted. His head dipped, and he captured her lips, offering her silent comfort. Hungrily, she took all that he gave.

Before Ife could forget about her wrecked apartment, her kidnapping and having slain a man, Nassor broke the kiss. "I'm still glad you killed that bastard. It saves me from having to hunt him down."

Shaking her head at him, Ife left Nassor's embrace. She knew it would take some time to get over having caused another's death. But her mate was there to lend her his understanding and strength. It was a journey she wouldn't have to travel alone.

On their drive back to Nairobi, they'd received a call from Richard Mills of all people. He explained all that he and Owen found during the shifters' full moon romp. Most important was the news that Andrew had played both sides. Stevens hadn't told Zaire as much as they'd feared. The hidden trackers remained undiscovered, and the first shipment had been delivered to a vampire burrow in Egypt. They were known as demon spawn and were notorious sympathizers toward their evil brethren. Hell had a hand in this war it would seem. The extent of its denizens' reach or what their endgame was, no one could say. It was uncertain whether they'd ever know.

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