Home > Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(7)

Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(7)
Author: T.S. Joyce


“Of Nowhere, I heard. Are you one of Ben’s panthers?”

“You know Ben?”

“I met him once. Kane knows him better.”

“What the fuck, man?” Kane yelled in a muffled voice through the wall. “You’ve done some dumb shit since I’ve known you, Ryder, but this is next level messed-up. I don’t want a crew.”

“But you have a crew, registered and everything,” Ryder argued.

“I have Rowan. She’s all I need. I’m not cut out to be a real alpha, or have you lost sight of that completely? God Ryder, have you seen me Changed lately? I don’t have perfect control, not outside of Damon’s facility, and now I’m supposed to build a crew under me? To protect? Fuck! You way overstepped on this one, man.”

“You’re freaking out—”

“Damn straight I’m freaking out! I’ve lived my whole life in the shadows. My whole life, and now I’m trying to build a friendship with the Bloodrunners, trying to be a good mate for Rowan, and trying to be a normal, decent—fuck! I’m the End of Days, Ryder. I don’t need a crew under me. I need as little stress on my dragon as possible. I don’t even like people!”

“You like me!”

“You forced me to! You with your surprise moonshine visits and fourth-best-friend talk, and…and…matching keychains, and Beer Fridays, and invites, and social media pictures, and hashtag-bro-dates, and aaaaaaaah!”

When Kane’s yell tuned into a roar, Winter whimpered and hunched into herself. Rowan nodded and put her hand out in a comforting gesture that said everything was all right, but everything did not feel all right. The air was nearly un-breathable, and the house was vibrating with a power she’d never felt before. Discreetly, Winter leaned forward and pressed her palm onto the cool wood floors. The house was actually vibrating from Kane’s rage.

“Winter of Nowhere, come in here,” Ryder called.

“Who?” Kane asked in a gravelly demon voice. “And who the fuck are you calling?”

“Winter! I need you!”

Hell no, she didn’t want to go in there. Kane was rattling the house, and she’d seen his dragon on TV. Fire breathing beast that looked like he was from Hell itself, nope!

“It’s ringing,” Ryder said. “Winter move them legs, woman!”

“Oh, my gosh,” she murmured as she forced her feet to move in the direction of the office. “I’ll be okay, right?” Winter asked Rowan as she passed, desperate for her terror to be put at ease.

Rowan shrugged. “Probably.”

“What?” she whisper-screamed. But then Ryder appeared out of the open doorway and dragged her inside as Ben’s voice came over the speaker of his phone. “Hello?”

Winter couldn’t take her eyes of Kane’s enraged face. She was gonna die today, right here in the lair of the dark dragon. She pressed herself against the wall as flat as she could make herself, and for the first time in her life wished her tits were smaller.

“This is Ryder. And Winter. And”—Ryder gave Kane a significant look—“Dark Kane. Kane, you remember Ben.”

Kane’s face went completely slack as he took a step back as though he’d been hit. “Ben?” he asked.

Ryder had the phone on speaker and was holding it out in front of him. Slowly, Kane approached, limping only slightly now. “Is it really you?”

“Yeah, man. It’s me.” Ben sounded tired, defeated even. “It’s been a long time.”

“I looked for you after…after…”

“I know. I didn’t want to be found.”

Kane exhaled a shaky breath and ran his hands through his dark hair, smoothing the longer tresses on top away from his face.

“You’ll fight being alpha,” Ben said low. “I know you will, but it’s something you need that you don’t realize you need. I was the same way and wanted to push everyone away after I lost my animal, but when I got him back, he needed something to stay good for. Do you understand?”

“I have Rowan. I have the Bloodrunners.”

“You’ll watch Rowan wither without a crew, and it’ll make the dragon unmanageable. She’s a Gray Back, man.”

“No, she’s a Blackwing,” Kane gritted out, locking his arms on the desk and staring at a cork board of pinned, scribbled notes.

“But she was raised in Damon’s Mountains around other people. Around other shifters. And even if she could deal with the loneliness, you can’t. Your dragon needs anchors, Kane. He needs reasons to not burn the world to the ground when shit gets hard, and it will get hard. No more hiding, you’re out there now. A problem shifter with black marks on your permanent record, in the news, in the media, speculated heavily about. You didn’t want fame, I get that, but that little public dragon battle has landed you right at the top of everyone’s attention. Not only does a crew need you for protection, but if you and Rowan get to breeding, you’ll need them, too. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”

“Yes.” Kane’s voice broke on the word. He stood up straight and linked his hands behind his head. “Is Winter yours?”

“I’m hoping she’ll be a Blackwing if you find she fits. She’s good. A loyal one, but unpledged to any crew. This is me vouching for her.”

“You calling in a favor?” Kane asked.

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