Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….
When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.
Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.
“Say you needed a friend at Court,” he whispered when he was but a breath away from me. “Say you needed one desperately. What would you be willing to do to gain such a friend?”
I swallowed hard. “Depends.”
“Loads of things. How much I liked that person, how badly I needed their friendship, to what end.”
He chuckled. “I like your thinking, Bert. I find I like you, all in all. And you know what?”
He leaned in even closer, rubbing his lips against the shell of my ear. “I think you like me too. Do you?”
I nodded because I couldn’t help myself. And I was hard at this point, so there was no use in denying it.
“Good. I’m glad to hear that,” he said, stepping away. His hands had never left the small of his back. “Now a lot depends upon what’s written in that file. And upon my direct testimony. Should the file say there are traces of the drugs from last night in your blood, it would prove you’d been a victim of the attempt just like everyone else. My testimony would show just to what degree you were affected.”
“And why would that be relevant?”
“Events took place last night. Unfortunate events. Decidedly unfortunate.”
“You mean aside from the guests being drugged?”
He nodded. “Let’s say your life hung in the balance. And let’s assume how much of a friend I decide to be to you could either make or break your case.”
A cold chill went down my spine. “What the fuck are you saying?”
He smiled. “I think you know. Don’t you, Bert?”
“No, I fucking don’t!” I shouted and just made a go at him.
I’m not sure what I was thinking. I don’t think I was thinking. Rage just exploded inside me and then outward, controlling my body. I wanted to slap that smug look off his face. I wanted to mess up his hair, at least; I was almost convinced it would annoy him more than a slap to the face.
But I didn’t. He easily spun me around and planted me face-first against a wall, my arm twisted to keep me in place. I growled, the loud sound booming against the walls of his office.
“Yes,” he said directly against my ear. “This is the temper I expected of you. This is the intensity you were supposed to display. Yet I can’t read it in your emotional grid. So tell me, growling beauty, what is it that’s messing with my reading?”
I kept growling for a moment so I wouldn’t seem shocked silent by the question. I’d screwed up in two fucking days. In two fucking days I’d given away the fact I had some sort of antireading thing going on, which would mean I had something to hide. And this was most definitely not the right time to be discovered as a liar.
“What’s going on? What do you want?” I asked, trying to tone down the rising panic.
“I’m sad to say the Fey King is dead. He was assassinated sometime between last night and the early hours of this morning. Until matters are cleared up, everyone with opportunity is a suspect. Newcomers, and outsiders to boot, are at the top of everyone’s list, as you might imagine.”
The blood froze in my veins. “You’re shitting me. The King is dead?”
“Very much so.”
“Maybe it was natural causes,” I said halfheartedly.
“It wasn’t. Are you calm enough to discuss this like adults now?”
I nodded and he let go of me, stepping back. He walked over to the edge of his desk and perched on it.
“You’re telling me I’m a suspect in the Fey King’s assassination?” I asked in a faint voice.
“Exactly. So as I was saying earlier, you do need a friend right now. You need me as your friend. What are you willing to do in order to get that?”
My stomach tightened painfully. “What would you have in mind?”