Oh, shit. The scent. Not her scent. Panic rushed her like a sudden wind. But instead of answering them, she backed up a step.

Gods, she was an idiot.

Sensing her reticence, knowing how she acted when holding onto a secret, her brothers pounced.

"Tell us now, Pets," Sasha said through gritted teeth, stalking toward her. "Has someone harmed you?"

"We will find out," added Valentin, beside him.

Nervous and worried about what it would mean if they managed to get this information for her, Petra had the urge to fight back, tell them to back off, to get out of her face-leave her the hell alone. After all, she'd managed to say those words at least once a day for the past twenty years.

"Hell, yes indeed," Sasha continued, his lion flickering in and out of his features. "And we will be obliged to rip out his heart and watch it cease beating."

But Petra didn't fight back, or couldn't. In fact, when she opened her mouth all that squeaked out were the two most ridiculous words on the planet.

"Too late."

Chapter Four

Synjon had been conscious for more than an hour, but he hadn't moved a muscle. Not outside his body at any rate. Inside, he was working his bloody ass off, running facts in his head, posing questions and possible outcomes, trying to reason his way out of the medical facility without drawing attention to himself and subsequently spilling any more blood they he needed to.

As he plotted, he woke each muscle, made sure every bone was strong and intact, and followed the flow of the blood running through his veins. His blood mixed with just a hint of hers. Petra. His fangs twitched beneath his lips. The pain in his face, though not gone entirely, had subsided, and it was due to that female's blood.

Her rich, powerful, and deliciously pure veana's blood.

He wanted more.

If he was going to leave this place, truly hunt the paven who had murdered his love and ruined his existence, he needed more.

He needed her.

For a solid five minutes, Synjon allowed his ears to work. He had superb hearing, and it traveled the clinic searching for sound-Shifter sound-all the while keeping himself calm, keeping himself still, as though the medicine that shite doctor had given him was still working. But though his nose still picked up the male's scent, his ears captured nothing more than the low-level drone of a few insects.

Doctor Brodan, it seemed, was elsewhere.

Syn opened his eyes, and with deft fingers quickly removed anything that was attached to his body. The room was pleasingly dark except for the machinery he'd been hooked up to and two small disk lights on the walls bracketing the door. The exit.

Time to take a walk, follow his nose, and see how much blood he had to get through before he found the one he needed.

* * *

She'd lied about the blood, used the oldest trick in the book and blamed her period. There was nothing that shut down Shifter males quicker than talking about the monthly curse, and she was pretty sure if she tried to go with a cut or something like that Sasha and Valentin would ask not only to see it, but for the details on how she got it.

Nobody was asking anything now. In fact, they seemed to be avoiding eye contact all together.

Pussy cats.

She grinned at them. Sasha and Valentin were sitting side by side across the table from her, the furs of their ancestors who had died in their animal states, on the walls behind them.

"Sandra's avoiding you because she's not interested in a mate right now," their mother was telling Valentin, who looked as though he'd rather be anywhere else. "Her mother told me. It's not that she doesn't find you attractive."

Sasha burst out laughing. "No, Val, you're very attractive."

"He is!" Wen said, touching her son's arm.

"Okay, please stop," Valentin ground out, grabbing another venison chop from the middle of the table. "I'm not even into that female. She's a friend."

"Right." Still laughing, Sasha reached for his own chop. "Friends is code for 'I tried and was totally shot down.'"

Valentin ripped a piece of meat from the bone. "You would know, Whiskers," he uttered, invoking Sasha's dreaded cub nickname. "Rejection has become your middle name this year."

"Boys, that's not nice," Wen said, giving each of them a pointed glare. "You're family."

"That's right," Petra remarked. "And the family that gets dumped together stays together."

"You're next, Pets," Sasha growled playfully.

"Seriously." Valentin grinned, his mouth stuffed with food. "That bear Shifter doctor friend of yours isn't going to wait around forever."

Petra rolled her eyes as she popped a grape in her mouth. Unlike the rest of her family, she consumed fruit, grains, and seeds-not raw meat.

"Watch it, Pets," Sasha said. "Or your eyeballs'll stay like that."

"In a state of perpetual annoyance, you mean?" She snorted. "Sounds about right."

Wen laughed, then jumped in to quickly break up a fight as the boys reached for the same chop and ended up in a shoving match.

"Don't go back to your office tonight, Petra dear," her mother said wistfully, sitting back down. "Take the night off."

"Yeah, sis," Sasha said, giving his brother one last shove as he did as his mother asked and relinquished the chop. "You can have my pallet."

"He'll wash the night drool off it first," Valentin said before taking an enormous bite of the raw meat.