Divided este o poveste scrisă de Kelley Armstrong pe care o puteți citi online în engleză de mai jos. Din această poveste aflați ce se întâmplă cu Derek și Simon când ei sunt despărțiți de Chloe în Revelația, cel de-al doilea volum al seriei Forțele Răului Absolut publicată și în română de editura Leda.
As Brad watched the three Cains devour their porterhouse steaks, he realized he should have added a couple hundred bucks to the cost of his information, just to cover dinner. They were outside a steakhouse in Dallas. The June heat meant they had the patio to themselves, which was good for privacy, but it also meant the Cains were on their second pitcher of beer—and only two of them were old enough to drink. Seventeen-year-old Carter had already gone through a pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade and looked ready for a second.
Brad was waiting until they’d eaten a little more before presenting his offer. It was never wise to interfere with a werewolf and his meal, and that went double for Cains. Brad was a werewolf himself, but at five-foot seven and a hundred and fifty pounds even the youngest Cain dwarfed him. The older two could eat him for dinner, then go looking for dessert.
It was Carter who slowed first. He was small for a Cain, barely over six feet tall, maybe two hundred pounds. Good-looking enough that the teen server had been eying him. Must take after his mother—the Cains weren’t known for their looks. Or for their brains, and in this regard, Carter was definitely part of the family.
“You said you’ve got information on some kid of Uncle Zack’s. But this here—” He pointed at the scrap of paper. “—says his last name is Souza, not Cain.”
“He wasn’t raised as a Cain,” the boy’s grandfather—Theo—said. “That’s why Brad here is offering to help us get him back.”
Theo was the clan patriarch. Also the brightest of the bunch, which wasn’t saying a lot, but it helped. Carter was the son of Theo’s youngest. The thirty-something guy between them was Nate, the son of Theo’s oldest. Zachary had been his middle child. Dead ten years now, when he got the damned fool idea to join an uprising against the Pack. Zack’s only known son had been killed by a rival werewolf a few years ago. The old man had taken that hard. Now Brad was offering him a replacement . . . with bonuses.
“You say the boy was part of an experiment?” Theo said as he finished his steak. “Making him into some kind of super-werewolf?”
“Exactly. The St. Cloud Cabal was running a secret experiment to genetically modify supernaturals in vitro, eliminating side effects and enhancing the powers of sorcerers, witches, necromancers, half-demons . . .” Three pairs of eyes glazed over. Brad wasn’t sure if they didn’t understand or they just didn’t care. Both equally likely. Most werewolves took no interest in either Cabals or other supernatural types. It was only when he added, “And, of course, werewolves,” that the Cains perked up again.
“How many of these super-werewolves are there?” Theo asked.
“Your grandson is the only subject left.”
“Were the others Zack’s boys?” Theo asked.
“I don’t know. I was hired to track four escaped subjects and bring them back to the study. They only told me the absolute basics.”
“I don’t get it,” Carter said. “If you’re taking all the kids back, how do we get this guy?”
“Brad isn’t returning them all,” Theo said. “He’s giving us the opportunity to take Zack’s boy first.”
Carter still sounded confused. To be honest, Brad didn’t blame him. It was confusing and it raised lots of questions, but Brad had known better than to ask them. As far as most supernaturals were concerned, the Cains were representative of the entire breed. Dumb brutes who couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Sometimes it was better not to disabuse them of that notion.
Brad was just glad Theo didn’t ask exactly what modifications they’d done to the boy. He didn’t know—it hadn’t seemed wise to take too much interest. Theo, though, seemed happy with “super-werewolf.”
“Are you sure he’ll Change?” Theo said. “That tinkering might have screwed him up. Nothing worse than a werewolf that can’t Change. Happened to a cousin of mine. Ripped him right apart.”
“He’s already Changing.”
“At sixteen?” Theo looked impressed.
Carter scowled. Obviously he hadn’t started shifting into a wolf yet. Sixteen wasn’t unheard of, but it was early.
“He’s smart, too,” Brad said. “Genius smart. Taking college math already.”
“That’s just book smart,” Carter said. “Don’t mean nothing.”
Only it did, and judging by Theo’s expression, he knew it. His clan had muscle and they had numbers. All they needed was brains. If this kid had that—in addition to other enhancements—he could be just the ticket to make the Cains serious contenders to the Pack.
“Are you sure he’s Zack’s boy? I can’t see my son getting mixed up in some mad science experiment.”
“He didn’t realize he was. He was seduced by a subject and seems to have died without realizing he had another son.”
“So are we sure he’s Zack’s then?” It was Carter asking now, and by his tone, he really hoped the answer was no.
Brad laid a photo on the table. “This was taken a few months ago.”
Like Theo and Nate, the boy in the picture was dark haired with green eyes. And he was big—over six feet already, with shoulders almost as broad at the doorway behind him. His hair was shaggy, hanging in his face, which wasn’t such a bad thing, considering the state of his skin. If all that didn’t confirm he was a Cain, the scowl did, a perfect match for the one now on Carter’s face.
“Uncle Zack had light hair,” Carter said. “I’ve seen photos.”
“He took after his mother,” Theo said. “The boy is Zack’s. He has his eyes.” The old man’s voice softened as he picked up the picture.
“You can keep that,” Brad said. “I also have some newer ones from my surveillance.” He laid those out. “I couldn’t get close enough for a good shot, even with a telephoto lens, but he’s had his hair cut and his skin is clearing, probably as his hormones settle after his Change. Still, he’s easy to spot.”
“And you know where he is? And that he’ll still be there when we arrive?”
“If he isn’t, come back and I’ll track him again. But he’s been living in this rented house for two months with his foster father, one of the doctors from the experiment and three other kids.”
Brad eased back and let them look at the photos. “So, all that’s needed now is a yes and a cash payment. I’ll give you the address right now. Plus a sure-fire way to catch him.”
“He’s sixteen,” Nate said. “We can catch him.”
“Don’t be so sure. He’s smart and he’s a good fighter. You know a werewolf named Liam? Runs with a guy named Ramon?”
“Heard of them,” Theo said.
“Some folks hired them to track down your grandson. That’s why the St. Clouds hired me—they knew Liam and Ramon managed it, so they figured another werewolf could do the same. And they can’t hire Liam again . . . because he’s dead. Your boy killed him. His first challenge and he took down an experienced werewolf, and made another one decide he didn’t want the job anymore.”
Now Theo was practically beaming. Too bad Brad already set the price. He probably could have doubled it.
“But you know a way to catch him?” Nate said.
Brad slapped another photo on the table. A smiling teenage girl with blue eyes and blond hair streaked with red.
“Cute,” Carter grunted. “Let me guess, this guy has a crush on her.”
“More than just a crush. It’s his girlfriend.”
They looked surprised. The cute smiling girl definitely did not seem like a romantic match for the scowling brute in the other photos. But Brad had done enough surveillance to be sure of his facts.
“She’s another subject, one who escaped with your grandson and his foster brother. She’s a necromancer.”
Carter’s face screwed up. “A what?”
“Someone who can speak to the dead,” Theo said. “Like the Alpha’s girlfriend. The one on TV.”
“She’s hot,” Nate said.
“Little young for you,” Carter said, still eying the photo.
“I meant the one on TV,” Nate said. “So the kid’s got it bad for this girl?”
“He does, and he already has a werewolf’s protective instinct in spades. He’s the same way with his foster brother, which would be the backup plan, but the brother is a sorcerer and knows self-defense. A necromancer has no defensive powers and this one’s a tiny thing. She’s his weakness. That’s how Liam and Ramon got close enough to fight him. They made a tactical mistake, though. They settled for teasing and threatening her, which only pissed the boy off enough to fight. If you want him, you just need to take her. He’ll come running.”
The Cains paid. Didn’t haggle over the price, either. They even covered dinner. As Brad watched them struggling to calculate the amount of the tip, he felt a little sorry for Derek Souza. Being handed over to the Cains wasn’t a fate he’d wish on anyone, especially a bright kid like that. But business was business, and family was family. A werewolf belonged with his kin, whoever they were.