Home > Blue Blooded (Jessica McClain #6)(16)

Blue Blooded (Jessica McClain #6)(16)
Author: Amanda Carlson

His expression reflected he was a little shocked that I’d been so bold, but it warmed quickly. It was clear he was a good-natured guy. “Yes, I’m a hybrid. I’m half wolf, half fox. Not many pick up on that.”

I raised an eyebrow.

Fox was the last thing I thought he’d say, as shifters usually inherited their supernatural genes from their fathers. So that meant his father had been both fox and wolf, or his mother had fox genes of some kind.

He seemed to anticipate my next question and preempted with, “My mother was Japanese. In Japan, there are female fox shifters, called—”

“Kitsune,” Nick finished from across the table, grinning.

My eyes flashed to my friend. Nick was a fox, but his shifter genes came from his father, who was Inuit. I smiled, turning back to the chef. “That’s so interesting. Thank you very much for telling us,” I said. “I apologize for being so brash. I know it’s impolite to ask. My only excuse is that I’m new and very curious. It seems you have some things in common with my friend here. Nick is a fox shifter as well.”

The cook blushed. “I picked up on that. My Kitsune genes have given me a very enhanced sense of smell. I can detect almost any supernatural by their scent alone.”

My eyebrows shot up again.

Nick pushed back his chair and rose, reaching his hand across the table. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Nick Michaels. I look forward to sharing stories. Being a fox in a wolf’s den is a precarious position. I’ve never met another fox before—Kitsune or other.”

The chef leaned over the table and shook Nick’s extended hand, grinning widely. “I’m Lucas Mancini, and I look forward to swapping stories. You are correct, it’s not for the faint of heart.”

Julian cleared his throat.

I glanced up. It was clear the Alpha was trying to contain himself. Lucas should be beneath our notice, and this entire interaction had taken too long. A hybrid wolf was not a true wolf, especially not to a leader like Julian. Lucas’s place was likely at the very bottom of Pack hierarchy.

Lucas didn’t take offense to his Alpha’s interruption. Instead, he smiled, bowing his head graciously before heading into the kitchen to prepare our breakfast.

“Julian,” I said amiably, getting us back on track while popping another piece of delicious croissant into my mouth, “I’d forgotten how absolutely gorgeous your estate is. It’s stunning in every way. You must entertain a lot.” To my mate, I said internally, We have to find a way to bring Lucas into town with us. We need him to sniff out the supe we’re looking for. Try to think of something that doesn’t seem too suspicious. I’ll talk to Nick as soon as I can.

Julian’s demeanor relaxed as he smiled proudly. “Yes, this villa and the grounds around it have been a work in progress for many years. I inherited it all from my father, who failed to keep up with all the needed repairs. These villas were built hundreds of years ago and need a lot of upkeep, especially one of this size. The renovations are finally complete.”

In what I hoped was a casual tone, I changed the subject with, “Are there a lot of supernaturals in the area? I mean, Florence is a big city with old magic. It would only make sense that there is a large population of creatures living here.” I reached for some apricot preserves.

Julian appraised me for a moment, settling back in his chair. “Yes, there are many who live here. Florence is a thriving city, full of magic.”

Judging from how he’d handled seeing Eudoxia, it made sense that he might interact more regularly than my father did with other supernaturals. “Back in the States,” I told him, “we tend to stick to our separate Sects. There isn’t a lot of commingling going on. Is it the same here?”

He shook his head. “No, we Europeans tend to be more relaxed about most things. As I told your friend, I have a lot of contacts. We’ve learned over the years that different species, who have different magic, can be an asset, so we’ve managed to get along for the good of everyone.”

My brother cleared his throat. “Because of that, are there a lot of interspecies couplings? If everyone is hanging around each other, it makes sense that they would be drawn to one another.” Tyler immediately turned red, reaching for his water glass and taking a long draw.

That was very smooth, I told him. Interspecies couplings? Why didn’t you just come out and ask if he was banging a nymph and get it over with?

Julian chuckled. It was the sound of indulgence. “Yes, it does happen. In my opinion, another supernatural is a much better match for a wolf than any human could possibly be.”

I kept my face passive. Humans, as far as I knew, were the only species genetically matched to give birth to a wolf outside of a mated pair. So a supernatural was not a better choice if you wanted to procreate. Fated matches were another thing altogether, but we weren’t talking about those.

Julian smoothly changed the subject. “What are your plans for today? Other than hunting for your missing friends.”

“We’re planning to head into Florence after breakfast,” I said. “Two of our friends, Daniel Walker and Tallulah Talbot, are missing. If they’re near here, we’re hoping some of the supernaturals in town might’ve seen or heard something.” I watched Julian’s face closely to see if either name registered. “Tally is a very powerful witch and Marcy’s aunt.” I inclined my head toward Marcy. “She’s been missing for a while now. It’s baffling, since she’s incredibly powerful. Whoever took her has to be her equal or greater. Either that, or they had help. Whatever the case, we plan to get to the bottom of it, starting in Florence.”

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