Kate Daniels 03 - Magic Strikes

Kate Daniels 03 - Magic Strikes by authors_sort Read Free Book Online

Book: Kate Daniels 03 - Magic Strikes by authors_sort Read Free Book Online
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you know how well my last attempt at a love life turned out. I think you were there, weren’t you?”
    “Yeah. I was the one with the shotgun.”
    I nodded. “I think we can agree that I’m the worst person you could ask about how to fix a romantic relationship. I don’t know what to tell you.”
    “You know Andrea.”
    “Not that well.”
    Raphael looked crestfallen. “It’s never taken me this long,” he said quietly.
    I sympathized. He had pined after Andrea for two months now. For a werehyena, or bouda as they were called, a courtship that long was unheard of. Boudas were adventurous. They enjoyed sex, a lot of it and with a variety of partners. Women dominated the bouda pack, and from what I understood, Raphael was rather popular, both because of his patience and his status as the son of Aunt B, the boudas’ alpha. And his looks guaranteed that he wouldn’t have to chase nonshapeshifter women for too long before they took him for a test-drive.
    Unfortunately, Andrea was not a nonshapeshifter woman, nor was she a bouda. Lyc-V, the virus responsible for the shapeshifter phenomenon, affected animals as well as humans. In very rare cases, the resulting creature was an animal-were, a being who started its life as an animal and gained the ability to turn into a human. Most animal-weres turned out to be sterile, mentally retarded, and violent, but occasionally one could function in a human society well enough not to be killed outright. And even more occasionally they could procreate.
    Andrea was a beastkin, a child of a hyenawere and a bouda. She hid it from everyone: from the shapeshifters, because some would kill her owing to an ancient deep-seated prejudice, and from the Order, because the moment they realized she was a shapeshifter, they would jettison her from the ranks. Technically, as a shapeshifter, Andrea was subject to Curran’s power, and the Order demanded absolute loyalty. So far Curran hadn’t pressed the issue, but he could change his mind any moment.
    As far as I knew, only the bouda clan within the Pack, Curran, Jim, Derek, Doolittle, and I knew what Andrea was. And we all quietly conspired to keep it that way without ever actually discussing the subject.
    “You really want some advice?” I asked.
    “Yes.”
    “Try to think less like a bouda and more like a man.”
    He bristled. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? Bouda is what I am.”
    I wiped the last smudge of tzatziki off my plate with my bread. “She’s a knight of the Order. Only one in eight who enroll into the Order’s Academy makes it to graduation. She’s worked very hard at being a human. Be her friend. Talk to her. Find out what books she reads, what guns she likes . . . Speaking of books, I can tell you something specific about Andrea, but it will cost you.”
    “What do you need?”
    “The Midnight Games. Everything you know.”
    “Easy enough.” Raphael grinned. “You go first.”
    “How do I know you’ll pay up?”
    “Andrea’s coming up the stairs. I can hear her. Please, Kate.” He did his version of puppy eyes, and I almost fell out of my chair.
    “Fine.” Kate Daniels, trained negotiator. When in possession of some valuable information, give it away to the first sexy man you see with no guarantee of return. “Lorna Sterling. She writes paranormal romances. Andrea loves her with unholy love. She has a stack of her books under her desk at work. She’s missing numbers four and six.”
    Raphael pulled a pen out of his backpack and scribbled on his forearm. “Lorna?”
    “Sterling. Books four and six. Andrea’s been haunting that bookstore on the corner for weeks looking for them.”
    Andrea emerged from the door, carrying a milk shake and a plate of sliced peaches. The pen vanished into Raphael’s backpack.
    I leveled my hard stare at Raphael. “Give.”
    “The Midnight Games are forbidden,” he said. “By the direct order of the Beast Lord, no member of the Pack may participate, aid, or bet on

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