Rogue Page 85

I smiled as the first traces of caffeine entered my system, and a groggy peace settled into place. “I think I’ve figured out who’s helping Andrew.”

My father sipped silently from his mug, calmly waiting for me to continue.

Damn him. I’d stayed up all night and probably lost Marc for al of eternity, though my father seemed to have slept through that part, thankful y. I deserved at least a little excitement from my Alpha, especially considering that the information I’d dug up was part of the job he’d assigned me.

Glowering, I turned my back on him and placed the first four soggy slices of bread on the griddle. My stomach growled as the toast sizzled, the combined scents of butter and vanil a sweetening the entire kitchen.

“It’s Luiz,” I said, poking angrily at the bread. Still miffed, I didn’t bother to turn around, and regretted my decision when my father choked on his coffee in surprise.

I whirled around to see him blotting at an undignified splatter across the front of his royal-blue robe. A grin snuck out from behind my scowl, and I hid it quickly with my own mug when he looked up.

“What on earth gave you that idea?” he asked, already recovering his usual poise.

“A leap of intuition.” I flipped the first slice of bread. “And I’m kind of surprised I didn’t think of it earlier. Here’s the thing. There were no other cats anywhere near the UNT campus. But we know Luiz was there, the very day I bit Andrew. He probably saw us together. Then, if he came back the next day, what would happen if he couldn’t find me? ”

My father sipped from his mug, unresponsive as he watched me.

I rolled my eyes, gesturing with the spatula. “He’d follow Andrew!

Right? To get to me? But I was already gone, and my boyfriend was newly infected. He’d be able to smell my scent on Andrew. In his blood.

That’d be pretty hard to ignore.”

He frowned, and I tried to hide my disappointment in his reaction. I should have known he wouldn’t get it. He made decisions based on facts, not fantastic leaps of logic, no matter how well founded they were.

“Faythe, that’s an awful lot of ifs, and no real evidence.” My father set his mug on the counter with a ceramic-onceramic clink, which somehow managed to convey his doubt. “It’s going to take something concrete to make me suspect someone who, by all indications, has been dead for a couple of months now.”

“He’s not dead.” I shoved hair from my face and lifted the first slice of toast from the griddle onto a serving platter.

“Everyone’s assuming he’s dead because he hasn’t shown up in a while. But they’re making asses out of us all, because he isn’t dead. He’s just been busy making sure Andrew survived scratch-fever.”

“Wait,” my father said, and I closed my eyes in dread, sure I knew what was coming. “You think Luiz—a serial-killing jungle stray—stopped slaughtering college girls so he could nurse your ex-boyfriend back to health? Do you understand how…absurd that sounds?”

My fist clenched the spatula. “Yes. Believe me, I know.”

“And we have no way of knowing that Luiz actually went back after you ran him off.”

I smiled to myself as I removed the last of the toast from the griddle.

Time to play the credibility card. “Actually, based on information from my source, I’m pretty sure he did.”

He arched one brow. “And your source would be…?”

“Ryan.”

My father blinked at me, and I grinned from ear to ear. “What did Ryan say, exactly?”

I really, really wanted to fudge a bit on the details, just to make them stronger, since Ryan hadn’t actually said anything but a few half-remembered Portuguese words. But my father would verify for himself anything I claimed to have gotten from my less-than-trustworthy brother, so I told the swear-on-my-own-life, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to be-declawed truth. “He told me what he understood of an argument Miguel and Luiz had the day I kicked his kidnapping ass.”

A brief smile slipped past his usual unreadable expression, so I continued, encouraged. “It sounded like Miguel wanted him to go back for me, and Luiz didn’t want to go, because I’d broken his nose.” I turned back to the stove and dropped a fresh slice of toast onto the griddle, accidental y slopping egg batter across the pristine stovetop. “Now, I spoke to Andrew on the phone the morning after Marc and I got home, and he was already getting sick. I wish I’d realized then that it was scratch-fever. But I didn’t.”

“You had no reason to,” my father said, and a flood of gratitude washed over me at his words.

“Thanks. Anyway, if Luiz went back for me that day, he’d have found Andrew instead.”

“But you don’t know for sure that he went back to UNT.”

I smiled sweetly at my father as I set his plate on the counter in front of him, along with a bottle of maple syrup.

“No. But you don’t know that he didn’t, either.”

My father and I ate side by side at the bar, chewing in near silence as he thought over everything I’d said. At ten minutes to six, Michael walked into the kitchen, already ful y dressed in jeans and a somber, dark blue polo shirt, no doubt his idea of the travel-friendly wardrobe of a man in mourning.

Ethan followed him five minutes later, wearing only a pair of gray jogging pants cinched at the waist. His thick black hair was still sleep-tousled, and his cheek bore a crisscross of pillow lines. He headed straight for the coffeepot, probably led by his nose, because he couldn’t possibly have seen anything through his half-closed eyes.

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