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Dangerous Games (Riley Jenson Guardian #4)(10)

By:Keri Arthur

We were protectors born, little wolf, and that instinct is hard to shake.
I raised an eyebrow. “Meaning Quinn is somehow connected to you? In more than an employer-employee mode, that is?”
That is a question I am not free to answer.
“Why not?”
Because you do not ask the right person.
“Well, it’s next to useless to ask Quinn. He never tells me anything.”
Vampires live a long time, and there is fun to be had in taking time to unravel the mystery.
“Sorry, but patience has never been a virtue of mine.”
Again the amusement swam around me, but this time it was accompanied by an odd sense of approval. Why was anyone’s guess.
“Okay, so if my first question was the wrong one, will you then tell me who you are?” What, who, where—the basic questions of interrogation, as defined by the Directorate. Of course, they rarely asked so politely.
The presence seemed to consider my question for an extremely long time. Or maybe wariness and fear just made it seem that way.
I am a high priest of the Aedh.
“I’ve never heard of them.” 
I am not surprised. Few of this time would know us.
This time? As in, this century? Or longer? Something in the way he said it suggested the latter rather than the former. “And you came here to talk to Quinn?”
Talk? No.
“Then what?”
That is for him to explain if he wishes.
“He says he was ordered not to explain.”
Given the Aedh died long ago, that rule no longer binds. Unless he wishes it.
Why I was surprised by that I had no idea. After all, Quinn had a long habit of keeping his secrets—and using fair means or foul to avoid answering questions about his past. “How could this Aedh of yours have died out if you’re a high priest of it?”
Again the amusement swirled, this time tinged with sadness. I am all that is left.
“Then what is Quinn’s connection to you and the Aedh?”
He once trained to be one of us.
Quinn had once trained to be a priest? The mere thought made me smile—and yet, it certainly explained his somewhat old-fashioned views when it came to sex. “And you were his priest teacher?”
No, I was not.
“Then what’s your connection to him?”
Once again, that is for him to explain. The presence paused. Do not get too curious in this matter, little wolf. You may find you do not like the answers.
Not liking answers hadn’t ever stopped me from asking the questions. And I had an odd feeling that he knew that—and that he was deliberately trying to provoke me into action I might later regret. “Did you tell him about the things in the car? Order him to hunt down the person who summoned them?”
I inform. I can no longer order.
So why was Quinn so angry? Why did he seem to think he’d been ordered? “And were the things in the car really demons, as he said?”
I take it from your tone you do not believe in demons?
“Frankly, no.”
He laughed, and it was suddenly such a creepy sound I backed up a step before I realized what I was doing and stopped. Up until that moment, I’d felt no real malevolence from whatever it was hiding in the mist, but right then it seemed like I was teetering on the precipice of an endless pit. And that he was behind me, ready to push.
You will believe in demons by the end of all this, little wolf. And you will learn that not all demons are creatures of myth or magic, but rather of flesh and blood.
And with that, he and the mist were gone.
As quickly and as suddenly as the things in the car.
With the mist and the presence gone, awareness of the night and the weather returned full force. The rain was falling harder, meaning I was soaked to the skin and shivering like a newborn pup. Though I wasn’t entirely sure the shivering was a result of the cold.
I scrubbed a hand across my face to wipe the rain away—uselessly, as it turned out—then turned around and splashed my way back to Karen Herbert’s car.
Thankfully, the keys were still in it. Maybe demons couldn’t carry them in wraith form—who knew? Certainly not me. Hell, I still wasn’t sure what to think when it came to that revelation.
I climbed in, started the car up, and turned the heater on full blast. But I didn’t go anywhere because I wasn’t entirely sure where to go. Part of me wanted to go home, get warm, and consume the coffee and chocolate I’d been anticipating earlier.
But the other half of my soul hungered for pleasures far more carnal. The full moon was near and the moon heat was rising. Quinn might be happy playing his games, but I wasn’t about to sit around waiting to discover the point of it all. I had base needs, just like he did.
So why was I not roaring off to one of the werewolf clubs right now?
Damned if I knew—except for the fact that I wanted him tonight, not some random encounter with a stranger.Which was probably the whole point of his “let’s frustrate Riley” mode of operation. He wanted me to want him, and only him.
Which meant he was aiming for exclusive, even though he knew well enough that exclusive wasn’t something I wanted with a vampire. Particularly seeing he could never fulfill the one desire that had been mine for as long as I could remember.
Kids. A family of my own.
I thumped the wheel in frustration, torn between wanting him and not wanting to want him. Between needing to ease the ache and wanting to undertake the journey with him even if the destination wasn’t where I wanted to go.
In the end, the ornery part of me won out. Whatever I might or might not desire, there was one thing I could never change. I was a werewolf and sex was part of our nature, part of my soul. Whatever else happened in my life, that was the one thing I could never change.
The one thing I didn’t want to change.
But even so, I didn’t immediately head to the clubs. Quinn might be the one I wanted right now, but he wasn’t the only man in my life. And if I didn’t want to play with strangers—which I didn’t—then I had only one other option.
So I picked up the phone and rang Kellen.
“Sinclair speaking.” His voice was gruff, and edged with a tiredness that had my eyebrows raising. I knew he’d been working hard of late, trying to get his freight business fully moved down to Melbourne so he and I could spend more time together, but right now, he sounded like he hadn’t slept in days.
“Kellen? It’s me.”
“Riley?” he said, and the tiredness in his voice was suddenly overrun by a warmth that had my heart doing odd little flip-flops. I might want Quinn more than could ever be good for me, but there was no denying my growing connection with this wolf. It might not have the same strength as the connection that Quinn and I shared, but we’d also had a whole lot less time together.
Something, I thought in sudden annoyance, Quinn had been doing his best to ensure. Something I’d done very little to fight, despite earlier intentions to see them both equally.
Which was odd, really.
“I didn’t expect to hear from you for a few more days,” he continued softly. “Thought you’d be out with O’Conor.”
The way he said Quinn’s name spoke volumes, but then, they’d been less than chummy long before I’d come on the scene.
“He’s got business to attend to. I thought I’d give you a call instead.” Which sounded like he was second choice, and I guess in some ways, that was nothing but the truth. Even if Kellen was more of a possibility when it came to fulfilling my dreams than Quinn could ever be.
He didn’t say anything for a moment, but I could almost taste the annoyance he was undoubtedly trying to control. Kellen liked being second about as much as Quinn did. 
“I’m not up to going to the clubs tonight,” he said. “I’ve been working for the last forty-eight hours, and the movers have only just left. The place is a mess and I need to get my office in working order for tomorrow.”
He’d bought an old five-story hotel on Spencer Street—just several doors down from the Southern Cross railway station—a few months ago, and had been busy renovating ever since. The last time I’d been there—which was only two weeks ago—the four office floors had been completed, but the fifth-floor living quarters were nothing short of a mess. But if he was finally moving in, then he must have finished them.
“I wasn’t suggesting a club. I thought I might buy some wine and pay you a visit.”
Again he paused. “Will you stay the night?”
“That depends.”
“On what?”
“On whether you intend to worship my body as it deserves to be worshipped.”
He laughed, a low, throaty sound that had my blood racing. “I did promise that last time, didn’t I?”
“Right before you fell asleep.”
“Riley, we had ten hours together.”
“And you couldn’t manage eleven?” I teased lightly. “Your stamina is sorely lacking, wolf.”
“Well, I doubt I could even manage ten hours in my current state, but I do promise suitable body worship and good sex. Will that do?”
“Nicely.” I glanced at my watch. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
I did. I pulled up in front of the grimy bluestone building in precisely seventeen minutes, and stopped my borrowed car right behind his gleaming new Mercedes. It was a four-door rather than a two-door—he apparently preferred the room in the back. It was room we’d put to good use on several mind-blowing occasions.