SUDDENLY THE tension in the room spiked. A beautiful woman walked among the tables toward the center of where they were all clustered.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Isadora Ocho. Welcome to my restaurant, Beau Monde. As a favor to the King of the Fire Court of San DeLain, I have opened what I consider my territory to you. Act accordingly or else.”
Austin swallowed. The woman standing in the middle the room was breathtaking. But then, all paranormals seem to be incredibly good-looking. Every last person in this room, outside of him, looked as if they deserved to be on the cover of a fashion magazine.
She was dressed in a formfitting gold evening gown that showed off every curve and suited her Mediterranean skin tone. Her dark hair was piled on top of her head with a few wisps hanging around her face.
She might be beautiful, but she definitely gave off a ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe. This was the arachne Kage had mentioned earlier—the one who shifted into a spider. Or had spider-like features at least. Austin fought the shudder that threatened to wrack his body.
“Hudson? I turn the floor over to you.” Isadora glided to the bar at the back of the restaurant where a wine glass waited for her.
Hudson strode forward, taking her place . “As you know, a corporation called Illuminacon is funding a group of hunters. The name Nighthawk was thrown around. We don’t know if that’s a person or a group of people.”
Kage quickly relayed how he come about that information.
“The goal is a hybrid soldier that can be controlled. I’ve given you all the details of this,” Hudson said. “This organization has a compound set up in the Bitterroot Mountains, Montana. I have verified this.”
“How?” Li Li asked. “Surely you don’t expect us to just take your word.”
“Of course not. This was verified by synthetic-aperture radar, or SAR. It’s a form of radar that’s used to create two-dimensional images or three-dimensional reconstructions of objects, such as landscapes. 3D SAR can enable localization in all spatial directions—even giving the potential to resolve, or separate, the target from surface clutter.”
“In plain English, James Bond,” Kage tossed out.
A few of the paranormals in the room laughed.
Hudson simplified the explanation. “Now, the base has an underground bunker. Images show what looks to be inhabited cells and possible labs. But it’s a few miles down into the ground. I’m in the process of trying to get an up-to-date blueprint of the base.”
Raven leaned back in his chair. “Yes, yes, we know about the werewolf who’s being held there. A wolf who isn’t even from San DeLain. We all know you want us to help you attack this place to save this wolf.”
“Don’t be an ass, Raven.” Li Li glared at the vampire. “There’s no telling who else is being held. Tell me, Master of the City, are you missing any vampires?”
Raven’s lips tightened.
“Exactly.” Li Li slammed her hand on the table. “The werewolf being held there is not one of mine, and I don’t care that he isn’t. I care that paranormals are being hunted.”
“But to be clear, I am missing two of my pack members,” Li Li added. “It’s the weres, vampires, and mers who are being taken and experimented on, Raven.”
Fenton spoke up. “I have a mermaid missing from my colony.”
“I’m missing a gargoyle,” Ward said. “My clan member is most likely dead since gargoyles also cannot change humans. Yet here I am.”
“Raven?” Li Li asked.
“Fine. Yes. I have two of my coven missing,” Raven admitted.
“It’s not just about attacking for this one wolf, and you damn well know it. They’re experimenting on us. What’s your problem?” Li Li asked.
“There is no problem,” Hudson said. “Raven just likes to stir shit up.”
“Too true.” Raven sprawled in his chair. “But that isn’t what I was trying to do. If I’m going to commit my people to this endeavor, I will make sure everybody is equally willing to sacrifice.”
Hudson cleared his throat. “They killed one of mine and attacked me. They cannot use my kind in their experiments because we’re unable to turn humans, but I’m dedicating people to help deal with this.”
“Same. We gargoyles can’t change humans either, so we’re useless to them, but I will do what I can to help,” Ward said.
“As will I,” Kage said. “I’ve been attacked. My mate has been attacked. They’re not interested in my kind either since we can’t turn humans, but here I am.”
Austin sat straighter in his chair when every eye in the room turned toward him.
“Ah yes, the human among us,” Raven commented lazily. He licked his finger then stared at Austin. “He’s a pretty little morsel. Congratulations, Elder.”
Austin raised an eyebrow. Pretty little morsel? And did that vampire really think licking his finger was sexy? There was no telling where that thing had been.
“Thank you, Master of the City . But Austin isn’t fully human anymore. He’s my bonded mate, and he takes my blood. But yes, he is pretty. And he can go out in the sun, too, unlike you,” Kage replied calmly.
Eyes wide, Austin’s head whipped around. He looked at Kage. Oh dear. Kage’s eyes were completely black.
Raven bared his fangs at Kage’s not so subtle threat.
Hands on his hips, Hudson glared at Raven. “You do know it’s daytime somewhere in the world, right?”
The three other vampires with Raven hissed at Hudson.
Hudson hissed back, the power of his dragon behind him. It was a much meaner sound than the three vampires managed to make together.