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“He’s harmless,” Diane stated as Cullen’s soft voice faded away.
Oh, what was coming in behind the other woman was far from harmless.
Swallowing tightly, Liza stared back at the other woman. “We have to get out of here.”
“Thor’s not going to hurt you.” Exasperation and impatience filled Diane’s voice as well as her expression, as though she were dealing with a nervous debutante or nearly hysterical woman.
“Honey, I’ve seen that hot-assed Thor of yours, and he makes one. Not four,” Liza assured her.
Diane swung around, her hand whipping to her back, where her weapon was holstered. She merely gripped it as though needing the reassurance that it was there.
Adrenaline flowed like a river racing through Liza’s bloodstream as she and Diane now faced four Coyote Breeds, their gazes amused, weapons held at the ready.
And if Liza wasn’t mistaken, she and the Bureau of Breed Affairs agent were now in a hell of a lot of trouble, because they didn’t look like the good guys.
Neither did what appeared to be a human male who stepped from the shadows of a heavy oak several feet from the other woman. He didn’t seem the least bit friendly either.
Liza recognized him. She’d seen him jogging past the house several times. Hell, he’d even stopped to talk to her when Cullen had accompanied her to the grocery store in the past few weeks.
John Malcolm, he’d called himself, yet she and Cullen both had been certain it wasn’t his real name, despite the fact that the background check Reever had run on him—and the tags of his vehicle—had checked out.
Now she knew why she hadn’t been comfortable during those brief meetings. It hadn’t been his flirting or his blatant sexual interest in her. It was because he was the enemy.
“Malcolm.” Diane Broen whispered the name with an edge of pain.
She obviously knew him, and it was more than apparent he’d somehow betrayed her.
Liza swore she could feel the pain pouring from the other woman. It was in her voice and in her expression as she stared at the man as he stepped forward.
“I thought it was Brick,” Diane whispered when he smirked back at her.
Brick was another member of the four-man team Diane commanded since her uncle’s death, Liza knew. Cullen had managed to uncover the identities of most of the men on her team; unfortunately, he’d still had one to go.
This one, she guessed.
Malcolm chuckled, a cruel, vicious sound. “Good ole Gideon would have gotten me if I hadn’t managed to find a way to trip that dumb bastard Brick and throw him in the way. Son of a bitch never figured it out either.”
He had to be talking about the attack Gideon Cross had made on the team in D.C.
“Where’s Thor?” The rasp of fear in Diane’s voice warned Liza that the hulking Viking should have been close by.
The fact that he wasn’t obviously didn’t bode well.
The sudden disconnected feeling of watching rather than participating in life overwhelmed Liza at that moment. All of her senses seemed centered on taking in each iota of information, every expression, every feature.
The unique qualities of her photographic memory would take care of the rest.
“He’s a bit under the weather, boss.” Malcolm mocked Diane. “It might have something to do with the knife I shoved in his chest. I do believe I even managed to pierce that bastard’s icy little heart.”
“The Bureau’s moving in.” Cullen’s voice was barely a whisper as he alerted her to the cavalry’s arrival. “Thorsson is wounded but breathing. But these aren’t the soldiers we were targeting. We have another group moving in.”
As Cullen spoke, Liza watched as Diane pulled the laser pistol from her back and pointed it at Malcolm’s heart while activating it.
“Liza, run,” she ordered, her voice heavy, resigned.
Diane was going to kill him; Liza could sense it. Unfortunately, Malcolm wasn’t the only one there and that laser pistol would only get perhaps one shot off before those Coyote soldiers descended on her like rabid dogs.
The link in her ear activated again with a soft, electronic hiss.
“Stay in place.” Cullen spoke softly, warningly. “Keep her there.”
“Run where?” Liza forced disbelief to fill her voice as she protested Diane’s order. “Have you noticed there are four Coyotes here, lady? Does it look like I have a chance?”
One of those Coyotes grinned.
A tilt of his lips, which covered the curved canines, had her gaze sharpening on him.
There was something in his gaze as it met hers. Amusement, definitely, but perhaps also a hint of a wink? Was he flirting?
Or was there something more there?
“The first one who moves will die,” Diane snapped as she spared a glance back at Liza. “Now get the hell out of here.”
“If she runs, one of us will chase,” the lead Coyote murmured with an irrepressible grin. “We can’t resist. It’s like a dog with a ball. We just have to fetch.” He wagged his brows playfully.
He was definitely flirting. But there was also a slight edge of reassurance.
What the hell was going on here?
For a moment, Liza could only stare at the flirtatious Breed, aware that the woman standing in front of her was doing the same. It was obvious she was just as astonished as Liza, if the expression Liza glimpsed on her profile was anything to go by. Of course, all Breeds had the ability to make most women consider escaping in the opposite direction from them more often than not.
“Malcolm, where did you find your Coyotes?” Diane asked with insulting disbelief. “They’re f**king crazy.”
“They’re f**king effective,” Malcolm snapped back. “They caught your ass, didn’t they?”
Liza wondered just how true that was.
“Where is your mate, little warrior?” the Coyote murmured silkily as his dark gray eyes danced with laughter as he glanced at Malcolm then back to her. “I can smell his mark on you and it’s fresh. You know when he gets his hands on you he’s gonna show you exactly how a Breed punishes disobedient little mates, right?”
The mating mark?
Liza had seen it on her friend Isabelle’s lower neck. So the information Cullen had that Diane Broen was Lawe Justice’s mate was evidently true.
“Go to hell!” Diane rasped furiously.