Home > Oath Sworn (Jacky Leon #1)(13)

Oath Sworn (Jacky Leon #1)(13)
Author: Kristen Banet, K.N. Banet

I turned on the TV, ordered a pay-per-view movie for her, something Disney, and dropped the remote, yawning. I hadn’t watched a Disney movie in years, since I was human. Carey seemed interested and enjoying it, but there were shadows in her eyes. She was probably thinking about her family and what had just happened to us.

“We should talk,” I said about thirty minutes into the film.

“About?” She glanced at me, wary. I couldn’t blame her. Watching a werecat kill three werewolves and take a bite of one of those probably didn’t endear her to me.

“How you’re feeling. You can talk to me. I would understand—”

“Don’t. How could you possibly understand? My dad is missing and so are my brothers! Werewolves I was raised with are trying to take me prisoner!” She went from subdued to shouting in less than a sentence. “You probably have done this tons of times! How many werewolves have you killed before?”

“None. This was the first time I’ve ever fought another supernatural with the intention to kill them.” I didn’t let her anger penetrate my exterior calm. “This is the first time I’ve ever purposefully killed anyone, actually.”

“Really?” The disbelief on her face hurt.

“What do you think I am, a killer?” Suddenly insulted, I paused the movie. “Do you think your father would send you to a murderer for protection?”

She sniffed, holding back tears again. I closed my eyes, rubbing my face as I tried to find what to say. There was really nothing except telling her about myself, and I had to be careful about that. I didn’t want to expose this girl to my life and give her secrets and stories to carry that weren’t hers. I just couldn’t.

“Carey…”

“My dad said that werecats are solitary, but social. That when a werecat moves around, everyone hears about it, knows who they were Changed by. That you have all sorts of…politics, I guess. But no one knew where you came from. He said I needed to be careful, because you were the closest werecat but maybe not the safest, because no one knows anything about you. He said you would follow the rules of Duty, but…”

I started to chuckle darkly, my shoulders shaking. Tears threatened my own eyes now. Even the werewolves wondered where I came from. Wasn’t that something?

“I’m not going to hurt you. I could never…” I swallowed my own emotion for a moment. “No one knows where I come from because I don’t tell them, but it’s nowhere bad,” I promised softly. “I just don’t agree with some of the decisions my…father made. You know that part of our culture, right? A werecat that Changes a human becomes that person’s…parent. They teach us about our new life and world and introduce us to people and help us learn all the rules. I don’t tell anyone who that is because I don’t want much to do with him.”

“Oh. So you’ve, like…run away from home?”

I huffed, nodding. “That’s a good way of putting it. He didn’t want me to leave, but I did. Normally, a new werecat stays with their older ‘parent’ until they’re about a decade into their new life, then they slowly begin to separate. I left four years after I was Changed, and while I still talk to him, I don’t let him into my life anymore. He doesn’t even know this has happened.” Not yet. “I was an EMT when I was human. When I say this is the first time I’ve killed anyone intentionally, I mean it. I lost people when I was an EMT. I saw their life fade, and no matter how many times I defib’ed them...” I pantomimed a defibrillator, seeing recognition dawn in her eyes. “They were never coming back. So it’s not that I’m dangerous, though I understand why some think that. I’m private, Carey. Very private. I don’t like getting into things and generally want to stay out of them. I put my territory pretty far from your pack’s for a reason, and your father’s pack are the closest supernaturals to me that I know of.” Though maybe the fae and his little family were now. I would have to check a map.

She nodded and opened her mouth, pondered saying something, then closed it again. I resisted rolling my eyes.

“What?” I wanted her to feel like she could talk to me, and if this was going to be story time, I wanted her to get it all out.

“Are you lonely like that? I mean, there’s so many werewolves, and they say that pack is super-important. Isn’t living by yourself with no friends or family lonely?”

“Very, but it’s the life I chose, just like a lot of people choose to be Changed into werewolves or werecats. I chose this life of mine.”

“Did you choose to be a werecat?” She was tentative and curious now. “Dad says one day I’ll get to decide if I want to try and be Changed…it’s scary. It’s scarier now.”

“One out of ten people survive the Change, but you’ll have it a bit easier if you go that way. Human children of werewolves and werecats almost never fail. You should be fine if you decide to.” I reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her towards me. It was hard, ignoring the throb in my shoulder, but I figured the girl needed some physical comfort. I positioned her next to me, under my right arm. Thankfully, she scooted in and got comfortable, leaning in like I was her best friend.

“You didn’t answer my question,” she pointed out once I went to turn on the movie again.

I couldn’t hold back my groan and dropped the remote again, realizing I couldn’t distract her. “I didn’t. I was in a car accident and had no idea that werecats or werewolves or any of this was real. I thought witches were in movies and Harry Potter. I thought fae were the monsters in old fairy tales. A werecat found the accident. I had met him before and had struck up a casual friendship while I was on vacation, with no idea what or who he really was. He decided to Change me.”

“Do you ever regret it? My dad says I should think really hard because I might.”

“I didn’t have a choice like you will, sweetheart. At first, no, I didn’t. Things changed. They might change again. But for now, yeah, I regret it a little. Or at least I did, until you showed up at my door. I haven’t had the chance to consider it since.” I couldn’t leave it there, so I continued. “But if I was never Changed, who would be here protecting you?”

“Dad says fate is real,” she whispered.

When she yawned, I yawned with her. It was a sign that the movie needed to come back on. She was asleep in a few minutes, the fear and recent events finally putting her under again. I rubbed her hair and dared to even kiss the top of her head. I tucked her in, checked the locks on the door, then proceeded to pass out myself.

Chapter Seven

I woke up to the sun coming through the window. Carey was still asleep next to me, and I was thankful for it. It was safer that way, really. It would give me a chance to check my injuries, find some real breakfast, and get us ready for the day.

Not that there was anything to get ready for.

My plan was to stay low here at the motel until everything blew over. Over an hour away from home and out of my territory, there was no reason to think the wolves would have a way to track me or Carey here. It was concerning to know that they had abused Carey’s trust, something that really stuck a bone in my teeth. She had trusted that werewolf to respect her father’s plan to keep her out of harm’s way. He’d betrayed not only her father, but her, and I was the only line of defense she could probably trust now. Even that was tentative, unsure. I could smell it on her and see it the night before.

I stumbled into the bathroom with my first aid kit, did my business, then got busy looking over my shoulder. When I pulled off my shirt, it tore something, making me wince as I felt a small line of blood flow down my chest. Once I could see it, I sighed. It was angry red and scabbed over, but not healing, just like I knew it wouldn’t. I grabbed the kit and tore it open, frustrated. I couldn’t be injured while I was protecting her. It wasn’t fair. No one should have challenged my Duty the way those fucking wolves did last night.

After cleaning up my shoulder, I checked my thighs and calves. They weren’t healing well either, but the stitches were holding and that was something. I cleaned them up with peroxide, hissing at the sting, but didn’t let it deter me from the job. I had to keep them clean if I didn’t want to get an infection before the silver left my system.

Once I was done, I jumped into the shower for a quick clean, making sure I didn’t get shampoo or conditioner on them. It was tricky business.

When I was done, Carey was blessedly still asleep, so I left the room and went to the main office. Maybe I could catch the fae and finally grab his name and learn where breakfast might be. I was nearly there when he walked out of the main office, juggling a tray.

“Hi…” I slowed down, confused until I realized he was having a hard time. My manners kicked in and I grabbed the door so he had an easier time leaving the main office with whatever he was carrying. I was able to catch the scent of it on the air and frowned. “Food? Where did you get it?”

“My wife made it for you, and before you ask, she’s human and this isn’t fae food. You can eat it safely.” He looked up at me, lifting the tray to me. I didn’t take it, puzzled. I hadn’t realized I was taller than him the night before. Distraction at its best, which had to stop. There was another problem.

“Does your wife talk to werewolves?” I asked softly, dangerously.

“No, no!” That made him go stiff, the accusation sitting between us still. “She knows a lot about the supernatural world, but she doesn’t talk to anyone, not even her own human family. We have a nice quiet life here and don’t want any trouble.”

“Did you tell her who or what I was?”

“I told her some, but only because she already knows about the Law of the supernatural species and the Duty of the werecats. It’s why she made you both breakfast.”

I raised an eyebrow. I hadn’t told him who I was with.

“She’s the one who put it together. You asked for me to keep an eye out for werewolves. Dallas-Fort Worth area is having issues with their werewolves. Human daughter of a council Alpha goes missing, then is said to be safe, but her location isn’t publicly announced…” He frowned now, sniffing around. “Are you bleeding?”

   
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