Dev growled again while Colt laughed and tightened his hold.
Colt indicated the door with a jerk of his chin. “Get your ass inside, Fury, before I decide to feed you to him.”
“I’m seriously not worth the indigestion.” With an antagonistic wink at Dev, Fury sauntered past them to enter the bar where the music was loud and pumping, something that made the wolf in him want to whine in protest as it assaulted his heightened hearing.
Since Colt was one of the Howlers, they weren’t on stage yet. But there was already a good-sized crowd gathered. Tourists and regulars were dancing or milling about on the first level of the three-story bar. No doubt it was just as crowded on the second floor, too. The third floor, however, was reserved for their kind only.
Fury tucked his hands into his back pockets as he moved through the people. It was easy to spot the bikers from the others since many of them were old school and covered in leather. The younger, hipper crowd wore nylon or Aerostitch suits like his while the tourists and college kids wore everything from short skirts to khaki pants to jeans.
As Fury passed the tables where customers could sit down and eat, he caught the gaze of the beautiful blond waitress who just happened to be the sister of the ass**le outside.
Like her brother Dev, her long hair was blond, and she was tall and thin. Lithe. All in all, very attractive except for the fact that when she went to bed at night, she turned into a bear. He shuddered at the thought. His brother’s taste in women left a lot to be desired.
Aimee froze the moment she saw him.
He subtly indicated the bar with his eyes to let her know he had a message for her. She was the real reason he was here, but if any of her numerous brothers found that out, they’d both be dead.
So he continued on his way to the bar where three bartenders were making drinks. Since Dev was one of a set of identical quads, Fury felt like he was seeing double as another werebear came over to him. The only reason he could pick out Dev from his other three identical brothers was from the tattoo on his arm. With the other three, well, he really didn’t give a rat’s ass about who it was.
The quad narrowed his eyes threateningly. “What you want, Wolf?”
Nonchalant, Fury sat down. “Tell Sasha I need to see him.”
“Why you need to see him?”
Fury gave him a droll stare. “Wolf business, and the last time I sniffed, which I’m trying real hard not to do ’cause the stench of you ass**les is rough on my heightened sense of smell, you’re a bear. Grab his hide and send it over.”
“Do you have to piss off everyone you meet?” That soft voice went down his spine like a caress.
He turned to find Margarite Neely standing beside him. Tiny and human, Margery had one of the finest posteriors he’d ever seen on a woman. But therein was the problem. She was human, and he had a hard time relating to that breed, or any breed for that matter. Social skills were so not his forte. Like Margery had pointed out, he tended to piss off anyone dumb enough to come near him. Even when he didn’t mean to.
“It’s a congenital habit that serves me well most days.”
Laughing, she held a bottle of beer out toward him.
Fury shook his head, declining the offer. That stuff on his tastebuds… nasty. He frowned at her. “I’m surprised to see you down here.” She was the nurse for the Peltiers, and he normally only saw her when he was injured and in need of care. As a rule, she avoided the bar area and stayed in the hidden hospital that was attached to it.
She took a swig of beer. “Yeah, but there’s some bad mojo going down. I had to have a drink to steady my nerves.”
Since he’d never known her to drink, that intrigued him. “What kind of bad mojo?”
Sasha joined them and answered for her. “There’s a Litarian in Carson’s office.”
Fury scowled at Sasha, whose face was pale. If he didn’t know better, he’d think the wolf was shaken. “Yeah, so? There’s a lot of shit in his office most days.” Carson was the resident doctor and veterinarian that all the Were-Hunters in New Orleans went to when they were in need of medical services. The fact that he had a lion in his hospital shouldn’t even cause an eyebrow to raise.
Margery shook her head at him. “Not like this, Fury. He can’t turn human or use his magick.”
Now that was shocking. “What did you say?”
“The Arcadians hit him with something,” she said in a low tone as if afraid of being overheard. “We don’t know what. But it drained his powers instantly. He can’t even project his thoughts to his mate.”
Fury couldn’t breathe at the thought of that happening. Even though his base and primary form was that of a wolf and he lacked a lot of magick control, he still couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live entirely as an animal. “And you’re sure he’s not a regular lion?” It was a stupid question, but one that had to be stated.
They both gave him a “duh” stare.
Fury held his hands up in surrender. “Just checking. You guys could have had an aneurysm or something.”
Margery took a deep draught of her beer. “It’s been a bad day.”
“Yeah,” Sasha agreed, taking the bottle from her and duplicating the gesture. “We’re all rattled by it. Imagine minding your own business and having a tessera come out of nowhere, pop your ass with something we can’t identify, and then losing yourself forever.”
Fury let out a long breath. “I saw that movie once. It sucked.”
Sasha bowed his head sheepishly as he remembered Fury’s past. “Sorry, man. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
No one ever did. Yet it stung regardless of intent.
“You needed to see me?” Sasha asked, changing the subject.
Fury checked his peripheral vision to make sure none of the bear clan were nearby. Then he gave a pointed look at Margery. “We have a bit of Wolf business, if you don’t mind.”
“It’s all right. I need to get back upstairs anyway. The Litarian’s mate had to be tranqed earlier and she should be coming out of it any moment.” She stepped past him to slap the bar to get the Bear’s attention. “Remi, give me one more bottle and I’m back to work.”
Fury choked at her words. “Glad I’m not the patient.”
Margery gave him a chiding glare. “It’s for Carson.”
He snorted. “And I repeat what I said. Just what I need, a bunch of drunk f**ks working on me.” He met Sasha’s amused expression. “Remind me not to do anything stupid tonight. Oh wait, I’m here. Too late for that warning, huh?”
Sasha ignored that question as he crossed his arms over his chest and shifted his weight to one leg. “What do you need, Fury? We’re not exactly friendly.”
Fury led him a few feet away from where Remi was handing off another bottle of beer to Margery. “I know, but you’re the only wolf the Peltiers aren’t suspicious of and the only one I could trust to get this to Aimee.” He palmed the small note into Sasha’s hand. “Make sure you wipe your ass with it or something to get the stench of Fang off it. I did what I could, but he’s pretty fragrant.”
Sasha looked less than pleased by the request. “You know the last time I involved myself in subterfuge, I was mortally wounded and branded, and saw my entire clan put down over it. Take my advice and don’t let your brother drag you down with him.”
“Yeah, but I’m not stepping in between two gods.” Which was what had almost gotten Sasha killed. “I’m just doing a favor for my brother.”
“That’s what I told myself, too. But the problem with family, they get you into shit and then abandon you to it. Or worse, get themselves killed off.”
It was true, and he knew it. But he owed Vane and Fang for welcoming him in when no one else ever had.
For his brothers alone, he was willing to die.
“So will you give her the note?”
Sasha ground his teeth. “I’ll do it. But you owe me.”
Actually Fang owed him, but… they were brothers, and for the first time in his life, he understood what that meant. “I know and I really appreciate it.”
Sasha slid the paper into his back pocket. “You know what really kills me over this is that I’ve never seen two animals act more human. What kind of Romeo-Juliet bullshit are they playing anyway?”
Fury shrugged. “Hell if I know. He says she’s the only one who understands him. Given the girly way he’s been acting lately, I actually agree with that ’cause I definitely don’t get any of it. If he starts wearing lipstick and pink, I vote we take him out and shoot him. Put his whiny ass out of my misery.”
The corner of Sasha’s lips curled up as if he were trying not to smile.
“What are you doing here?”
Fury tensed at the sound of Nicolette “Mama” Peltier’s deep French accent. Since his brother was making time with Mama’s only daughter, Aimee, he more than understood her hostility toward their entire clan, but it didn’t mean that he appreciated the tone.
He started to tell her what she could do with it, but before he could draw breath to answer, Sasha spoke up. “I asked him to come. I wanted to warn him about what happened to the Litarian.”
Mama relaxed a degree, but her expression was still deeply troubled, “That’s bad business there.” She cast her gaze around the room as if looking for someone suspicious. “May the gods take mercy on us all if we don’t stop the ones behind this. I shudder at the thought of what else they might be capable of.”
So did Fury. “Are the bears doing anything to find out who’s responsible?”
She shook her head. “Non, the laws of sanctuary prohibit it.”
“Then I’ll do some digging.”
Sasha snorted. “You just can’t help this kamikaze streak you have, can you?”
Fury grinned. “Not really. I find it easiest if I just go with it rather than fight it. Besides, if someone is screwing with us, I want to know who and how. Most of all, I want their throat for it.”
Respect glowed in Nicolette’s eyes. She looked at Sasha. “Take him upstairs before too many scents contaminate the lion so that he can track the ones who did this.”
Sasha inclined his head to Nicolette before he motioned for Fury to follow after him.
Fury didn’t speak as they left the bar and headed through the kitchen and into Peltier House. Once they were out of sight of any humans, Sasha used his powers to vanish and pop into the doctor’s office on the second floor. Fury was a little more cautious.
Because no one had mentored him on how to use his magick when he hit puberty, his control of it was less than desirable. More to the point, he refused to let anyone know just how little control he had. No one knew his shortcomings and lived to tell them.
So he walked up the stairs to the rooms that were set aside for medical aid.
As soon as he entered the small office area, he saw Margery, Carson, and Sasha waiting for him.
“Why didn’t you follow me?” Sasha snapped.
“Yeah but – ”
Fury interrupted him. “I’m not leaving a power trail for one of you ass**les to use against me. Walking works for me. So where’s this lion?”
Carson stepped to the back of the office where another door led into the hospital area. “I have him in here.”
Fury followed him. As soon as he entered the sterile room, he froze. There was a woman leaning over the lion on the gurney, weeping. She had one hand buried deep in his mane while the other was lying palm-up on the table. In the center of her palm was the elaborate design that marked her as someone’s mate. The affection she showed toward the lion made it a safe bet that he was hers.
“Anita?” Carson said gently. “This is Fury Kattalakis. He’s here to help find the ones who did this.”
Sniffing, she lifted her head to give him a look that said she wasn’t impressed with his offer. “My pride is after the ones who caused it.”
“Yeah,” Carson said gently, “but the more trackers we have, the more chances to find them and hopefully get a cure.”
“We are lions – ”
“And I’m a wolf,” Fury said, cutting her off. “If I need raw brutality and force, I’ll call you. But if you’re looking for someone who did you wrong, nothing tracks better than one of us.”
Carson put his hand on the woman’s arm. “He’s right, Anita. Let him see if he can help us find the culprits before they prey on someone else.”
She tightened her hand in the lion’s mane before she got up and stepped away.
Fury approached the table slowly. “Is he fully animal or does he retain any human rationale?”
Carson sighed. “We’re not sure.”
Those words wrung a deep sob from the woman.
Fury ignored her and approached the table. The lion growled low as Fury neared him. It was an animal warning. The wolf inside Fury rose to the forefront, but he tamped it down. While the wolf might want to fight, the man knew a lion would tear him up. Sometimes it was good to have human abilities, even if those sometimes went to war with his wolf’s heart.