Home > Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(11)

Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(11)
Author: T.S. Joyce

Logan hesitated.

“Answer me.”

“Not at first. At seventeen, I was ordered by my alpha to put down a problem shifter he couldn’t muster the balls to put down. My bear was…” Logan inhaled deeply and spilled the rest of his sins in one breath. “He was dominant, and I was young, and I didn’t know I could say no, and he hired me out after that.”

“How many kills?” Kane asked low.

“Enough,” Rowan said.

Kane made a tick sound behind his teeth and asked again, over his mate’s wishes. “How many?”

That number was for Logan alone. It was his ticket to hell.

“Sit down,” Rowan demanded, making her way to the table.

Kane shot her a warning look. “Rowan—”

“You said this was just as much my choice, and before we nix anyone, I want to know more than their career. I want to know them.”

“He is his career.”

Rowan cupped her mate’s cheeks and smiled down on him like an angel. “You see things in black and white.”

“I’m supposed to protect you.”

“I’m a dragon, and I’m not his target.” Rowan dragged her lightened eyes to Logan. They were gold now, with elongated pupils. “Sit down and tell me…what was the happiest day of your life?”

Shocked by her question, Logan stood frozen. This wasn’t what he’d bargained for. He’d thought the interview would be to assess his capability of keeping the crew safe, not this personal shit.

Rowan arched her blond brows. “Sit.”

There was dominance and order in her words, and he wanted to listen to her. He could practically smell the irritation on Kane, but he didn’t want to disappoint the Second.

He missed Winter. He shouldn’t be thinking about her right now, but he did. He missed the way she looked and smelled. He’d really liked the way he felt when he’d imagined her touching him.

If he didn’t answer questions, Kane would send him away from here. Away from her.

His mouth was dry as a desert as he took the chair across from Kane slowly.

“Take your time,” Rowan urged. “Think about it. Happiest day.”

The chair creaked under him as he shifted his weight and angled his face, exposing his neck to the pair of subdued titans across the table.

Kill him.

Kane snorted and shook his head as if he’d heard Logan’s bear.

“Five years ago, almost to the day, I was sent to a crew up in the Appalachian Mountains. Cougars. Real backwoods, quiet. Big crew. They had a problem cat, alpha couldn’t manage him anymore. He paid my alpha for my services with moonshine money. I was usually only brought in after the problem shifter had started killing, when their animals were out of control. This one was early. He hadn’t killed yet, but he was close. He’d been stalking hikers, tempting himself. His alpha said he was obviously bloodthirsty, so it was a typical job, nothing out of the ordinary. I was supposed to go in and challenge him, let him go honorably, leave. It was going to be a one-day job.”

“This is your happiest day?” Kane asked, looking disturbed.

“Just wait,” Rowan murmured. “Continue.”

“I got there, and I’d already grown this sixth sense about problem shifters. I could tell how far gone they were, and this one, Nick, wasn’t far gone. He was salvageable. Hadn’t got the taste of human blood yet, and so I stalled. I asked the alpha if I could take him out for a drink before the challenge. First time to ever do that. He agreed, thinking it was part of the gig, and I sat down in this old, shitty, hole-in-the-wall bar with the guy, and we talked. Really talked. I could tell he was trying, but the effort was new. And when I finally got him to fess up, he said there was a girl in his crew. She didn’t give him the time of day because he wasn’t right, but he’d been working harder in hopes he could get his cougar under control enough to ask her out.” Logan chuckled at the memory and scratched his jaw. “It was the first time I refused a job. I told the alpha Nick needed more time, and that if he ended him, I was coming for the alpha. That I would put his entire crew under my fucked-up bear. So he had a choice. Boot Nick from his crew or put more effort into saving him.”

Rowan smiled. “So your happiest day was when you didn’t have to kill.”

“Second happiest day.” Logan pulled his wallet from his back pocket and plucked a picture of a sweet baby girl from behind his driver’s license. He slid it across the table to Kane. “My happiest day was when Nick sent me this picture in the mail with a letter thanking me for giving him more time.”

Eyes going misty, Rowan sat there with the picture held in front of her. Females did that—cried a lot. Kane sat stoically, eyes narrowed and thoughtful.

“You asked me how I fucked up my bear. I did that by killing when my bear didn’t want to. I did it by not giving problem shifters enough time.”

“Worst day,” Kane said.

That was an easy one. “A month ago when my alpha went back on his word.”

“Which was?”

Logan leaned back in the seat and met Kane’s glowing green eyes. “To put me down. He’d promised me a set number of jobs, and then I was gonna have peace. He was dominant enough. One of the only ones in the world who could’ve bested me, but he liked that money too much, so he gave me another job instead.”

Rowan set the picture on the table and turned her head away, but Logan could see it—the tears dripping from her chin.

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