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There are many paths

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Chapter Two: There are Many Paths

Harsh fingers gripped my sister's arm tight as I hauled her under the overhanging porch of one of the nearby buildings. Music and laughter echoed from the buildings along the narrow street, masking my tight hiss. Jenna didn't resist and under my fingers, I felt the tone of her muscles.

Her hood slipped back, revealing thick hair braided ornately against her scalp. Her skin was rich and smooth, glowing like I had never seen it before, but her lilac eyes were masked by contacts.

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

Her mouth curled into a wry smile. "Wow, Neely. You could say that you missed me."

Aware of the people moving down the street, I dropped her arm and tried to force the anger from my face. Even so, panic thundered in my veins at the thought of Jenna alone in the human realm. She was the future fecking Queen of the Lycan race and she was flouncing through the streets of London without a bother.

"I am surprised that Kalan let you leave," I said quietly.

Her eyes flashed. "Kalan does not tell me what to do. I am his equal, and it is not worth his time to upset me."

That made me smile. "Your moods are quite legendary. Poor Kalan."

She paused and her whole face softened as she began to talk about him. "Yeah – poor Kalan. He's so sweet, I almost can't believe sometimes that he's mine."

"I get that way about Nethore sometimes," I said quietly.

Jenna glanced up at me before looking down the street wryly. "Of course, he let me go, but I'm betting that he put some of the Luna-guard on me to watch over me."

"The Luna-guard?" I watched the darkness, my shadows searching for the hiding Lycans.

"They are elite female warriors tasked with being the Luna's guard. They're great women and also very intimidating."

"You should have someone watching out for you," I said firmly. "Times are not good."

Shadow curled around the booted feet of four Lycans, whose heartbeats were strong and steady and whose inner animal strained with a viciousness that I knew would be strong enough to defend my sister. I curled my fingers around her wrist again, turning an eye to the street that Eli Ireli had disappeared down. "How did you know we were alive?"

She tapped beside her eye with a scoff. "I saw you. But it isn't safe to talk here."

Surprised at her cautiousness, I could only raise an eyebrow. "Valaxain life has changed you."

Jenna gave me a long and appraising look. "Valaxia has changed us both."

Thinking about that naïve girl who first came to Valaxia only made my heart clench painfully. That felt like a lifetime ago, where my biggest worries seemed to inconsequential now. That Neely never would have done half the things I do now, but that Neely hadn't been desensitised to the suffering of others in Naughton like I had. Nethore hadn't been ripped from her.

"We need to go." My eyes flashed to where I could feel the Lycans watching and waiting for their charge. Did they recognise me? This was dangerous – I couldn't afford word getting out. Not when we were so close.

"You could have jeopardised everything by coming to see me, Jenna." I pulled her out into the rain. "Follow me and keep your head down."

I linked my arms through hers like we were two friends taking a stroll after a night on the town, our heads bent against the wind and the rain. My grip on her was tight and my expression was tense as I scanned every face, every person for a threat. The price on the Lycan ruler's mate was a high one, or at least I thought it to be, and I hoped she realised the risk she was putting on herself and Kalan by coming here.

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