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“I was sent to inform you of the opening of the position and to escort you to a meeting with our pride leader, Callan Lyons,” he said then. “I’ll then stay to help you get things in order before escorting you to Buffalo Gap.”
She really needed to sit down, but she had given the table and chairs to a distant cousin that had recently made the monumental mistake of getting married.
“How did I get the position?” She shook her head in confusion. “I was told there were thousands of applicants just waiting for one to open.”
His lips quirked. “I believe the pride leader, Callan Lyons, stated it was close to forty thousand applicants. You hit the short list on the first stage of the selection process and managed to gain the position by what I’m told was a very long, tedious, and exacting investigation into the backgrounds of those on that list. Congratulations, Miss Ricci. You’ll be the first teacher hired in the county in close to seven years.”
Natalie blinked back at him. He stood confidently, his arms held loosely at his sides, his eyes seeming to take in everything as she stared back at him, certain she must look like a complete lunatic.
“How soon can you be ready to leave?” He stared around the house once again. “Callan Lyons of the Breed Ruling Cabinet will be flying into the capital, Columbia, tomorrow evening, if this is convenient for you, to outline the position and discuss the specifics of the job, though we do need to arrive ahead of him to complete other matters and sign the endless forms, contracts, and so forth that will go with the job.”
Natalie shook her head in confusion. “I thought the Breeds didn’t interfere in Buffalo Gap? I heard that somewhere. Wouldn’t I be meeting with someone from the Board of Education instead?”
“Not if you’re being hired to teach Breed children. Those children are very well protected, and any hiring done in that regard comes under the sanction of the Breed Ruling Cabinet. Until that decision was made, the Board of Education has allowed the Breed Ruling Cabinet to select any additional staff required.” He tilted his head and watched as she gripped the small bar she stood beside to keep herself from falling. “You are still interested in the job, are you not?”
She nodded slowly. “Oh yeah,” she assured him. “I would say that’s an understatement.”
“Very well. I was hoping we could make arrangements to leave for Columbia this afternoon, if possible?” He stared around the kitchen, his gaze touching on the boxes. “Sanctuary’s heli-jet is waiting on the private airfield outside of town to escort us there. Is that agreeable—”
His words broke off at the sound of the front door slamming open, hitting the wall in the small foyer she had led Saban Broussard through and echoing through the near-empty house. Before she could do more than gasp, she was pushed behind the bar and within a blink Saban was across the room, weapon drawn from somewhere as he slammed her ex-husband’s body against the wall and jammed the muzzle of his weapon beneath Mike Claxton’s jaw. Mike’s pale blue eyes widened as his face blanched in terror. Saban’s lips were drawn back in a snarl, lethal canines flashing as a growl rumbled in his throat.
“Call him off,” Mike gasped, his gaze latching on Natalie in desperation as he wheezed out the plea.
“For God’s sake, let him go!” Natalie stalked across the room, glaring at the Breed. Obviously a Breed. Only they had the unique, terrifying, wickedly powerful canines such as this one had. “He’s not dangerous, he’s just stupid. Dammit, do I have to be plagued with stupid males?”
Saban drew his weapon back, but only reluctantly. He wanted to pull the trigger. He wanted to rip the bastard’s neck out and watch him bleed, taste his blood, feel the terror that filled him as he knew death was coming.
Because his scent was in this house and to a small extent, lingered around the woman. The reaction was an anomaly. It wasn’t a part of who or what he was. He cared for no woman, and he certainly didn’t care which male touched them. Until this one, this Natalie Ricci, whose brother called her Gnat. Whose mother laughed at her childhood antics with loving amusement. Until this woman, Saban had never known a time when he would have killed a man over his possession of a female. But this one, he knew he would kill man or beast over her. The possessiveness had grown over the past weeks, during his surveillance of her. He had seen her on her back porch shedding tears after this bastard had stalked from her home. He had heard the screaming, stood outside her back door and prayed for the control to restrain the violence that rose inside him. Brown-haired, weak, full of his own self-importance, Mike Claxton had no business near Saban’s Natalie, no reason to breathe her air, to be here in this house, as she attempted to leave the home he had stolen from her in the divorce.
“Let him go before I kick you both out of the house and end up costing myself a job I wanted. You won’t like me much if I have to do that.”
Saban glanced at her from the corner of his eye, aware of the weak-minded fool gasping for air, his hands clawing at Saban’s wrists as he was held securely to the wall. The feminine ire, frustration, and promise of retribution filled her gaze and did something council soldiers, scientists, or rabid Coyote assassins couldn’t do. It caused a small core of wariness inside him to awaken.
If he was going to charm her, tempt her, and steal her heart, then starting out with her upset with him, possibly frightened of him, may not be the wisest course of action. She looked furious and fierce, eyes the color of molasses, dark and gold swirling together as she glared up at him, demanding the release of a man whose scent of dishonor was cloying and offensive. He released Claxton slowly, uncertain why he did so when he wanted nothing more than to crush him, and reluctantly holstered his weapon.
“Consider it your lucky day,” he told the other man as he collapsed against the wall, fighting for breath.
“I’d leave if I were you. I’m not known for mercy or for my patience where fools are concerned. The next time you enter her home, I would suggest knocking.”
“You know,” Natalie commented, her tone stern and perhaps just the slightest bit concerned, “I have a feeling you and I are not going to get along if this is your normal attitude.”
Saban smiled. A flash of canines, the expression of innocence he had seen other males adopt around their mates when they had managed to test their women’s patience.