Home > Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5)(9)

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5)(9)
Author: Patricia Briggs

Dangerous, whispered the spirits in the trees. Ours. Dangerous. There was a gleeful, spiteful enjoyment in the voices of the spirits who spoke to Charles—spiteful and half-afraid.

Charles would definitely have a talk with his da when Bran got back. They would have to see who else was a lot more dangerous than he’d already accounted them to be. Charles seldom underestimated people, but he damned sure should have been paying more attention to Jonesy than he had. And so should Bran have.

“What happened?” asked Anna, her voice low and sweet. She couldn’t hear the warning voices of the spirits, but she was smart about people. She’d know to tread lightly.

“We heard motors,” Jonesy said after a long pause, as though whatever lived inside him had trouble with English. “They rode all over. They couldn’t find us, not through my glamour, but they wouldn’t go away. Hester went wolf, so I followed her. In case someone needed to be able to talk.”

He hesitated. “I thought they were just kids, you know? We get them now and again—and usually Hester can frighten them off without much trouble.” Then his voice grew lighter, almost feminine, as he obviously imitated someone. “A giant wolf is scary out in the woods. If people have a good way to leave—like a motorized vehicle—they do. Failing that, we can retreat all the way to Canada without crossing a major road.” He cleared his throat, rocked back and forth a little, then bent his knees suddenly, dropping a foot or two in height with the motion. Balanced lightly on the balls of his feet, the fey looked up into Anna’s eyes. He gently pulled his hands out of hers.

In a hungry and rough voice, he said, “Hester says not to kill anyone.” His hands fell to the earth and dug into it. “That is the first rule if we are to stay here. I cannot kill anyone.”

And there it was, revealed, the predator that Brother Wolf had sensed from the time they’d gotten out of the car.

Anna held Jonesy’s gaze as carefully as she had held his hands. It was something another werewolf would never have done. Looking a stranger in the eyes was the first habit new wolves learned to break.

No matter how tough you are, there are other people who are tougher. Even Charles didn’t meet a stranger’s eyes unless he had a very good reason—and there wasn’t a werewolf outside of his immediate family he’d ever found who could stare him down. But Anna was an Omega wolf who could meet the eyes of any without arousing another to challenge, her gaze warm and caring, like a blaze of peace in a world of war.

Under Anna’s peculiarly effective sympathy, Jonesy’s body relaxed, and his hands stilled, though he was still bent low in a posture that would be awkward if anyone less graceful had held it.

“These people weren’t frightened off?” Anna asked.

Jonesy shook his head. “There was something about them that made Hester say they were connected to the people who’ve been flying over us.”

“Flying over you?” Anna repeated.

He nodded, a gesture that began with his head but continued to his shoulders and traveled through his body to his knees.

“Hester has been worried lately.” He turned his face, pulling away from Anna’s gaze as if it took a little effort. When he had freed himself, he met Charles’s eyes. “She says that there have been too many flying things. Spying things watching our woods.”

Maybe it was that Brother Wolf lived inside him, or that his mother had been a magic handler and his da witchborn, or just the summer sun’s illumination, but in the fae man’s eyes, Charles could see Jonesy revealed for what he was.

The outer man who was simple and … sweet, and the creature that lived inside him who was not sweet. And that something inside Jonesy was powerful, his magic a dense ball of power imprisoned within. How much power, Charles could not fathom. A lot. The monster saw Charles looking and grinned a bloodthirsty grin, though Jonesy’s rather anxious expression didn’t change at all.

“Too many aircraft?” asked Anna, glancing at Charles. Either she was oblivious to the monster she spoke with or unfazed by him. With Anna it was a toss-up.

“They wouldn’t be able to see this place from the air,” Charles told her. He used her words, her gaze, to allow him to change the focus of his attention from Jonesy to Anna—to drop Jonesy’s eyes. Brother Wolf had no reaction to that other than relief. Jonesy and what Jonesy was would be his da’s problem as soon as Bran returned. “The cabin is under the forest mantle.”

But, like Hester, Charles was bothered that they had been getting flyovers. Mostly because if it had been someone just randomly flying over the camp, they would probably have passed over Aspen Creek, too. And Charles would have noticed if there had been an unusually high amount of air traffic over town.

There was a certain amount of drug traffic that tried to get through to Canada via the back roads of Montana. Sometimes that engendered a few unexpected flights over their territory. But Charles kept track of such things and hadn’t heard any chatter from his contacts at the DEA since they broke up a drug-trafficking ring out of Spokane two years ago. There were a few pot farmers, but that was legal in the state now—and no one was currently hounding them.

“Helicopters or airplanes?” he asked Jonesy.

“Flying things,” said Jonesy, sounding stressed. “I don’t know ‘helicopter’ or ‘airplane.’”

“Okay,” Anna said, and Brother Wolf wanted to roll over and bask in the wave of comfort and quiet she sent out. “That’s okay.”

He didn’t think she meant to direct it at him. Anna was still working on controlling that aspect of her Omega powers. There were times when Charles needed Brother Wolf to be alert, especially when his mate was standing so close to Jonesy.

When she got worried about someone, she tended to soothe them whether she wanted to or not. Even nonwerewolves felt the effects if they got too close to her.

Jonesy’s face lost the lines that had gathered around his eyes, and the monster inside him became less ferocious.

“How long has Hester been worried about the flying things?” Charles asked.

“Fortnight,” Jonesy said. “No more than that.”

Two weeks. About the time his father had left.

“So what happened?” Anna asked. “Where is Hester?”

Jonesy’s face was suddenly twisted and inhuman, and the monster who lived inside the innocent said in a voice that could have come from the throat of a mountain, “WE LEFT HER. WE COULD HAVE STOPPED THEM. STOPPED ALL OF THEM, AND SHE SENT US AWAY.”

Jonesy dropped to all fours, and Charles thought that perhaps his real fae form was something with four feet. On Hester’s mate, that posture was a position of strength.

Anna was too used to living with monsters to do more than flinch at Jonesy’s volume, and even that had been very slight. The spirits that had been slowly gathering closer as Anna and Jonesy spoke vanished, frightened by the monster’s raw appearance.

Charles didn’t move, though he felt the vibrations of that voice rising from the ground beneath his feet. Jonesy was too close to Anna, and even Brother Wolf knew better than to increase Jonesy’s stress when she was vulnerable.

“Hester sent you home?” said Anna in a soft voice. “That’s rough. We need to go help her, right? You need to tell us the rest, so we can do that.”

And just as quickly as it had come, the beast left Jonesy’s face.

He nodded and rose to his feet ungracefully. When he spoke, it was a half mumble. “She said, ‘Go home, Jonesy. Go home. Call Bran. No, he’s gone. Call his number and tell whoever answers to come up here. Then you wait behind your glamour for them to come. You go, Jonesy.’”

Charles was aware, because Bran had told him, that Hester could talk to her mate when she was in wolf form. What he found most interesting was that her words—he had no doubt he’d been given what she said word for word—didn’t sound like a wolf who had gone feral after she’d killed a bunch of intruders who had invaded her territory.

“Why couldn’t she come?” asked Anna. She was still sending waves of comfort—it would take awhile before she could get it under control again.

   
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