SHADOW’S SOUL – scene from Gavin’s point of view

The exhaustion pulling at him was making it difficult to follow the conversation between the two women sharing the room with him. For the first time in a long time, the unrelenting anger and confusion of his internal war was numbingly quiet. It was a nice break. He rubbed his aching eyes, and tried to tune in to the conversation between Tala Whiteriver and Xander.

No matter how tired he was, he wasn’t in the mood to sit here and talk in useless circles. The sooner they could figure out the why behind the what, the sooner they might be able to find Cheveyo.

Tala didn’t immediately answer, and Gavin turned to focus on the witch when a slight movement caught his eye. He was out of his chair and striding across the room before his mind could catch up. Raine was leaning against the arch between the hall and the living room.

She was so pale it caused his breath to catch. He wasn’t use to seeing her so fragile. She was probably the strongest woman he knew. Her raven hair was tangled down her back, and her silver eyes were outlined in deep bruises. The t-shirt she wore, one of his, fell halfway down her thighs. She had a warrior’s body, scarred but toned. Though right now, it was leaner than he remembered. He felt the flare of heat that always roared to life when he saw her. He fought it back, forcing his body under control.

“Raine?” He reached out and when she stepped back slightly, he felt a sharp ache dart through his chest. He dropped his hand, and stepped back. That she had flinched from him was added fuel to the rage that now lived in him. Did she think he was that changed? Was that why she had been avoiding him? He stiffened, stepped back and felt his normal indifferent mask slip over his face.

Maybe he should throw her back into bed. He might have to sit on her and tie her down, but he’d do it. She was so damn stubborn, and this latest little trip had taken her too close to a permanent vacation. It had shaken him, more than he wanted to realize, how close she had come to dying. And if he was to believe Xander, it was the second time in the last few months that she had courted death. It almost made him want to shake her or… he wouldn’t complete that thought. God save him from independent females, Gavin thought with exasperation. They were more than he could handle right now.

“I know that intellectually, it’s just when I listen to them talk…” she faltered. “I knew Tomas, and to see him reduced to nothing more than meat, it horrifies me.”

“It should.” Raine answered her, sympathy lying under her tone. It surprised Gavin to hear the softer side of her that she kept so well hidden. “He was your friend, Tala. However, you need to put aside the guilt that you’ve piled on yourself. You can’t always protect the ones you love, no matter how hard you try. Now is when you need to be the Magi head and focus on the threat to your community.”

Gavin narrowed his eyes on the dark haired woman sitting on the couch. She wouldn’t meet his gaze, keeping her focus on the blond next to her. He wondered how much of this conversation was pulling at her. Considering three months ago her best friend, Alex Savarti, a demon halfling, had manage to kill a fellow Wraith, turn Gavin over to a demented scientist to be pumped full of drugs he still was reeling from, and then tried to destroy Raine.

From what Xander had told him, Raine had shredded Alex into so much meat as repayment for her betrayal.

 

SHADOW’S MOON – initially Xander’s brother was suppose to be married with kids.

“Are you and Ethan mated?” Warrick asked, his attention focused on the brunette standing in the middle of the living room.

Irina gave a shaky nod.

“Can you reach out and check on him?”

Irina mustered up a small smile, “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.”

Xander watched as her attention turned inward. Her face went sheet white and her eyes widened with terror. “Ethan!”

Warrick was the closest one to her and he caught her before she hit the floor. He gathered her limp body and took her to the living room, laying her on the couch. Xander was out of her chair, her parents right behind her. Irina’s hand clutched at Warrick, keeping him next to her.

“I can’t feel him,” she whispered. “Oh gods, I can’t find him!”

Fallon’s frantic gasp was lost amid the panic weakening Xander’s legs as fear gripped her. Irina and Ethan were mates, so if she couldn’t feel him, something horrible had happened. But he was pack, so Warrick would have known.

“Warrick?” she asked.

His face was grim as he held Irina’s trembling hands. “I can’t find him among the pack links.”

“What the hell happened?” Xander kept her voice low, knowing the boys would be back in moments.

“I don’t know, but I didn’t feel anything.” Warrick’s voice was edging to a growl.

Kneeling next to Warrick, Xander brushed a gentle hand through Irina’s hair. “Irina, you have to tell us what happened.” Irina curled into a ball, her arms wrapped around her stomach.

“Irina!” Xander’s voice was a sharp whip of command. “Look at me.”

Her tear drenched gaze met Xander’s. “I can’t find him.”

“Okay,” Xander struggled to keep her voice level, hiding her panic. She took a deep breath and turned to her mom who stood trembling in her dad’s arms. “Mom, dad, can you deal with the boys?”

Her mom fought back tears and nodded turning to head down the hall.

Her dad’s fists clenched and unclenched, his jaw tight. Fury and grief burned in his eyes. “You find him.” He directed his comment to Warrick.

Warrick gave a solemn nod. Trevor turned and followed his wife down the hall.

“Irina, who was Ethan meeting?”

 

SHADOW’S CURSE – cut scene with a Fey triumvirate instead of Head of House

Twenty minutes later, Natasha sat at the head of the seventh floor conference room table surrounded by some of the most powerful Kyn in the Northwest. It wasn’t just Cheveyo, Vidis, and Gavin in the room. Carys sat to her left, Niall and Gideon were standing as unobtrusively as possible against the wall behind her. On the other side, Vidis’s mate, Xander, and his second in command, Ryuu Kern, mimicked Carys’s men. Gavin and Cheveyo sat next to each other, leaving Jamie alone on the other side. Only Zayn and Darius were missing, but they would be arriving shortly. A deliberate move on her part. Her goal for the first half of this meeting was to ensure the Northwest Kyn were a united front against whichever or whatever foe they faced. Which meant, outsiders could wait.

The murmur of conversation was a wash of sound, but as soon as she cleared her throat, silence rippled over the room.

“Ryan’s death has left holes in our community, holes we can’t afford to leave unfilled,” she stated, meeting each person’s gaze. “It’s time to set our houses in order.” She gave Niall a small nod.

With the unmistakable grace of the Fey, he stepped forward garnering the group’s attention. “The three ruling sinnsireil of Light, Mists and Shadows have decreed, in accordance with the wishes of Tighearna nan Failean Ryan Mulcahy ap NAME, the sole representative voice of the Northwest Fey in all matters, shall be Tighearan nan Céo Carys Iver ap NAME, so heard, witnessed and sworn.” Out of apparently thin air, he produced a piece of paper, which he handed to Natasha with a subtle flourish.

Taking it from him, Natasha did a quick scan, noting each distinctive signature of the three Fey leaders. “So witnessed,” she murmured, handing the document to Cheveyo. The room remained quiet except each Northwest leader’s verbal confirmation of Carys’s new position. Only when Vidis had handed back the paper, did Niall step back next to Gideon.

“Let me be the first to congratulate you,” Natasha offered Carys.

“Thank you,” the redhead said.

“Now that all four houses are represented, we need to address the situations that have brought the Council to our door.” Although no one moved, the atmosphere in the room tightened. “Before our esteemed visitors join us, let’s ensure we’re all on the same page. The series of incidents in the last few months have made it clear that the Northwest is under attack. Ryan’s death only solidifies that assumption.”

“We’ve discussed this before, Natasha,” Vidis broke in. “Mulcahy may not have been the target.”

“True,” she agreed. “However, there is no denying his death has shaken us.”

“Shaken, but not broken,” Cheveyo murmured. “Carys steps up, you take on the CEO position at Taliesin, and the Wraiths…” here he trailed off, sliding a glance to Gavin.

“Answer to me,” Gavin provided.

His statement gave Natasha a hum of satisfaction. At least one thing turned out the way she had planned. Now, time to see if she could get her pieces in order for the rest. “Ryan’s holes are now officially filled. Now, we need to focus on uncovering who is behind these intrusions.”

“That should be obvious,” Vidis growled. “This stinks of the Council.”

“The Council would not be so rash as to kill Mulcahy,” this came from Carys. “I remained convinced the true target was Vidis, and Ryan’s death was simply a…” she grimaced, “…convenient happenstance.”

Cheveyo joined in, “The problem is the spell used on Sebastian was not one easily mastered. It would require a great deal of power and control.”

“Neither of which my late brother, Dmitri, ever had,” Vidis added. He slid a glance towards Xander and when she gave a small nod, he frowned, and took a deep breath. “The information I gathered, suggests that Dmitri was working in tandem, lending credence to Cheveyo’s conclusion.”

“And the mess with the Southwest Alpha, Tomas Chavez?” She wasn’t trying to egg Vidis, but perhaps she could get the rest to see the emerging pattern if they put the pieces together themselves.

“He’s crazy.” The flat statement came from Xander.

Natasha held up her hand. “That’s besides the point.” Dropping her hand, she looked between the shifter couple. “His claim of you invading his territory and causing his wife’s death holds enough weight to be of use by the Council. Which is probably one of the reasons they sent in Darius.”

“Darius?” Cheveyo’s question was sharp.

Damn, she had forgotten Vidis and the witch hadn’t been around for Darius’s appearance. “It seems Councilman Aimeric brought along a friend, Darius Abazi.”

Cheveyo’s face darkened. “Why?”

“To police the police,” Gavin repeated Xander’s earlier observation.

The news did not go over well with the two male, Northwest leaders. Before Cheveyo could spit out his anger, Vidis snapped, “More like they were hoping for a in.”

Gavin shrugged. “Perhaps, but they were doom to disappointment.” His smile was all teeth. “There is no ‘in’.”