Chapter Three

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"You should probably leave," one of the Atargarians murmured to the tall, attractive black man who'd been all but wrapped around Zee Day just seconds earlier.

He cracked his neck and rubbed his jaw, then glanced over at the pale, trembling woman who huddled on the floor, doubled-over as if in the worst pain imaginable

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He cracked his neck and rubbed his jaw, then glanced over at the pale, trembling woman who huddled on the floor, doubled-over as if in the worst pain imaginable. "I don't know if that's a good idea."

The Zee he saw curling in on herself, as if to hide, was a far cry from the hot, sweet thing who'd been all but wrapped around him only seconds earlier. And while Duke knew he'd be mincemeat if the Atargarians made a move on him as a united front, he didn't feel right walking away from a woman obviously suffering.

A slender woman with skin as dark as his own separated herself from the others and approached. "We'll take care of this, of her. It's what we do."

"Yeah?" His mouth twisted in a dismissive smirk. "Doesn't look like that from here."

"Well, then." She gave him a cool look. "Then maybe you should hang around."

Duke narrowed his eyes but before he could push for more info or move in to talk to Zee, a hush fell over the crowd. It gave him a chance to assess the situation and he took in the big, thickly built man who stood out like a sore thumb. Long, dark brown hair that fell in a sleek curtain to his shoulders, a face that was too fucking pretty to belong to a man and eyes the same color of blue as the little flowers that had decorated his mother's favorite china towered over many of the others in the bar, save for the smiling bartender who'd been teasing subtly teasing Zee when they thought he wasn't paying attention.

Too many vibes, Duke thought. Way too many vibes.

The bartender, Donner, had his body between Zee and the other guy—Therian, Duke's instincts whispered. A split second later, he pegged the man as a wolf, although he was damn far from home, a couple of hundred miles, easy. The only wolf pack of note for several hundred miles in any direction were the Wolves of Greylock, out near the Appalachian Trail.

Not all Therians lived in packs or dens, but almost all the wolves did.

Everything he'd ever learned about Therian wolves indicated they didn't do well separated from pack.

Zee trembled again, her body all but spasming with the force of the tremors. Her nostrils flared as if catching scent of something.

Fuck. He'd known she was Pretern—had thought she was some sort of fae, hadn't pegged her as wolf. She didn't put off quite that vibe, and why would a wolf be holed up in an Atargarian pub, so clearly part of the group?

A bad feeling settled in his gut but he didn't have time to think things through any further as a cold but beautiful voice shattered the tense silence.

"Colby Winters, I hope like hell you have a good reason for causing trouble in my territory."

The crowd separated to allow passage to a tall, trim black woman with skin that looked smooth and silken, a warm, burnished brown and eyes of a cool, clear blue that appeared to glow. Those eyes were living ice as she locked them on the Therian male who stood almost a foot taller.

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