* * * *
Chase’s only way to save Zach was to force a painful conversion. It hadn’t been done in years and the last time, the creature that had emerged had to be put down.
This was different. This was Chase’s mate.
After the change is over, Zach doesn’t recognize Chase on anything but a molecular level. Could he rein in his mate’s anger and help Zach past this…
Or would he have to fight the man who was his savior?
Chase wiped off the remaining water that sluiced down his body as he stepped closer to the mirror. With a free hand, he smeared away the steam from the glass and stared at his reflection. His injuries had faded as he knew they would.
Beads of water gathered on his skin before rolling over his muscles. He turned his back to the mirror and reached for his pants. Once he’d tugged them on, he padded silently from the bathroom to the main part of the suite.
Zach continued to sleep on the massive bed. His body still needed to heal. Chase scratched at his chest and struggled with the urge to go over to his mate and wake him slowly with drugging kisses and touches.
Instead, he reached for a clean Henley and tugged it on over his head. After he finished dressing, he opened the door to his room. Treymont was by the door.
“You know you don’t have to stand guard while we’re here, right?”
“I know I will always protect you.”
“Have you eaten?”
“No, Victor went to grab a bite. Harry is healed and in our room, sleeping.”
“Want me to bring you something?”
“I’ll get something after you come back to your mate.”
“Keep an eye out although I’m inclined to believe we’re safe here for the time being.”
“I hope so. But there have been times that we weren’t safe with the Krylo Lynxes, you know this. I believe with Leni we are safe now. She’s not of the old school like our parents.”
Treymont shrugged and crossed his arms. Chase let it go, aware his right-hand man wouldn’t be going anywhere for the time being. He continued down the hall, making his way through the palace to the formal dining room. Pushing open the door, he spied a large spread on the tables but only the queen was there.
Yurilenska “Leni” Torov lifted her head when he stepped in but didn’t speak. Beyond her, he spied her guards.
She had feline features which helped her beauty increase. Her long sable hair had streaks of gray and silver in it, all colors which she portrayed when she shifted.
He’d only seen it once. Back when he was a pup there had been a dispute and she’d not yet been queen. However, when she shifted and beat the shit out of the insolent wolf cub, he’d garnered a healthy respect for her and the rest of the lynxes. They weren’t to be trifled with just because they were smaller cats.
“How are you feeling, Prince?”
“Fine, Your Majesty. Thank you for allowing us sanctuary.”
She waved a hand and the sentries vanished without a sound. Only once they were truly alone did she approach him.
He watched her, cautiously but with respect. They’d been friends, but he wasn’t sure where he stood now that she was the ruling force of this clan.
“No need for the formality.” She paused about five feet away.
Chase stared at the golden flakes in her eyes. She was a shrewd ruler and while he had an instinctive need to distrust those of the feline kind, he harnessed it.
“Very well, Leni.” He reverted to the name he’d heard her called during childhood. “How are you?”
“Fine. Got rid of the old useless male king so this is now my kingdom.” She raked her gaze up and down his form. “We women should rule anyway. We’re better at it than anyone with a swinging dick could be.”
He smiled. “I’m not getting into a pissing match with you on which sex is better. I, for one, happen to think we would do wonderfully as a ruling couple.”
She returned his grin. “If only I liked men and you preferred women. But you’re right, we are the most levelheaded of our kind. Your father is psychotic.”
She dragged her finger down between full breasts, for anyone else it would be an invitation. For him it wasn’t anything other than a movement on her end. She could strip naked and he wouldn’t give a damn one way or the other.
He blinked at her, not deigning that comment with a response. She laughed.
“Ever the good son, even when he wants you dead.”
That comment grabbed his attention. “Who wants me dead? I already know the one who attacked was Larkin who is working with Gooddard.”
She strolled to her throne and spread out in the deep seat, not at all sitting like a princess or a queen, but like the feline she truly was. Loose-limbed and sprawled over the arms, her long hair trailed on the floor.
Krylo tradition was to have the throne in the dining room as much of what they did revolved around eating and socializing. This way the ruler could be part of it all.
“Sweetie, you’re so naïve it’s almost cute.” She swung one leg back and forth, her heeled shoe falling to the marble floor with a thump. “Your father put them onto you. He doesn’t want you to take the throne. And if you’re so busy running and fighting for your life and that of your mate, you won’t be home for the ceremony to take over the rule.”
“It’s not like he dies when I take over. He was the one who pushed me to go.”
“And he isn’t ready to give up all his power. Your father, that fucking asshole of a king, is enjoying terrorizing his subjects. And more than that, he’s alienating your kind from the humans, allowing the wolves to take what they will without any consequences.”
Had he truly been away so long that his father was a man he wouldn’t recognize anymore? Sourness piled in his gut.
“How do you know this?”
“We all have our spies.” She rolled her body back to her feet in a lithe, sensual move. “Mine are just better than others.”
“How did he know where I was?”
Another laugh as she bent forward to fasten her shoe back on her foot. He watched her, the purple dress cupping her full breasts yet barely keeping them from popping free.
She tossed her hair and headed for the door. “Follow.”
He listened, ignoring that his stomach rumbled at the large spread of food he walked away from. Food wasn’t at the top of his list, not when he had the chance to find out what his father had planned for him. Or how he was managing to get this done.