Home > My Champion (Bewitched and Bewildered #7)(9)

My Champion (Bewitched and Bewildered #7)(9)
Author: Alanea Alder

Adriel tapped his clipboard. "I do not care what Declan may say later to try and avoid trouble, I want Gerald DuBois prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I will not tolerate anyone hurting my warriors, much less hurting a man who is like a brother to me." He paused. "A bratty, insolent, annoying, and exasperating brother, but a brother just the same."

Kari watched Adriel closely. His voice was even, almost sardonic, his outward appearance cool and collected, but his knuckles were white where he gripped the clipboard nearly to a breaking point. "Thank you, Adriel, for speaking for Declan when he cannot."

Adriel met her gaze and nodded. "I understand that you are to work directly with our prince; however, if you need anything, anything at all, any warrior in this city would drop everything to help both you and your brother. You are one of ours now."

Kari could feel the enormity of his declaration. She understood why Avery had been so happy earlier. It had been a very long time since she felt like she had the support of a family.

"Dear gods! Please tell me no one told Meryn about what happened to Declan!" Bethy gasped.

Aiden stood and shot from the room, Gavriel chuckled with Adriel. Stefan laughed outright, collapsing to one side of his chair.

Kari looked at Bethy. "Why would that make him run?"

Bethy took a moment before she answered. "Since coming here, I have found myself relying on Declan heavily when working with the city's people. I was raised here, but I am still the prince's niece. Declan, on the other hand, is seen as somewhat of a champion of the people. He strives to remain neutral and will mediate between the Founding Families and the citizens. The people absolutely adore him; Meryn is no different. In Meryn's convoluted mind, the unit warriors belong to Aiden and Aiden belongs to her, so if anyone hurts the warriors, she hurts them."

"And she calls him Simba," Gavriel added, chuckling.

Bethy smiled. "She declared that as his walkie-talkie call sign. When she wasn't feeling well earlier this week, Declan took over guard duty, and they vegged out watching Disney movies and eating Cheetos. I think they watched Lion King six times. He spoils her rotten."

"But what could she possibly do that had the Unit Commander running out of here?" Kari asked.

Gavriel, Adriel, and Magnus winced, and Bethy winked at her. "What can't she do?"

"Now I really have to meet her." Kari strummed her fingers on her chair arm. "Is there a way to do interviews with all the mated couples in the city to determine how many of them are arranged and if anyone is being forced?"

Adriel exchanged glances with Magnus, and Magnus nodded. Adriel turned to her. "I think that is a wonderful idea, however, we may have to wait for your mate to heal."

"Why? I understand he is popular, but surely others could get this done."

Adriel tilted his head to one side. "You do not know who he is, do you?"

Kari began to get agitated. "You mean in the fifteen minutes I was with him, while he was drugged with his intestines hanging out? No, we did not really get a quality chit chat in."

"Oh, I like her!" Bethy said, her eyes dancing.

Adriel made a pained expression. "Forgive me, I did not mean it that way, more rhetorical, I guess," he paused. "Your mate is Declan Lionhart."

She nodded. "That surname sounds familiar; the doctor said something about a Lionhart being too strong to succumb to those type of wounds."

Bethy cocked her head to one side. "Are you familiar with the shifter ruling families?"

Kari shook her head. "I do business mainly with humans and vampires. I try to leave the politics of the Founding Families and on goings of the pillar cities alone."

Magnus leaned forward. "Kari, the Lionharts are as prestigious as the McKenzies. They are considered one of the few shifter Founding Families. His father, Jedrek Lionhart, is the shifter Elder in Eiré Danu. His older brother, Rex, is the shifter Elder here in Noctem Falls, and his younger brother, Ari, is second in command to Brennus Vi'Eirlea, Queen Aleksandra's mate and royal consort."

Kari felt her eyes bug out. "What is he doing here?"

"Ouch," Bethy winced, sneaking glances at Adriel and her uncle.

Kari wished the floor would swallow her whole. She had made more social faux pas this afternoon than she had in the past decade. "My apologies, I did not mean to offend."

Adriel surprised her by nodding. "I understand exactly what you mean. I asked him that myself the day he arrived to act as my second in command. Can you guess what he said?" Kari shook her head. "He told me, 'it looks fun'." Adriel leaned back in his chair. "I believe he appreciated the distance he got from his family."

"But I thought you said his older brother was the shifter Elder here?" she asked.

Adriel nodded. "Yes, but he arrived after Declan."

Kari was nodding her understanding when a thought struck her. "Why is he not here? His younger brother almost died."

Magnus paled and stood. Without saying a word, he left the small conference room.

"Oh dear," Bethy murmured.

"Rex is going to be a bear to deal with. He is very protective of his brothers." Adriel stood. "I will warn our prickly healer. If you will excuse me..." He hurried from the room.

Bethy looked between her and Gavriel. "I'll make an announcement that, starting tomorrow, Declan will be conducting interviews with all the mated couples."

"Will he be healed by then?" Kari asked worriedly.

Bethy nodded. "Lions tend to heal faster than most shifters." She looked around. "Uncle will be back soon. Did you want to wait here?"

Kari nodded. "Yes, that is fine. After he returns, we will head back to the office. I want to go over past reports to see if I can find anything that may indicate issues between couples."

Stefan stood when Bethy and Gavriel did. "Can I tell Rachelle and Peter that the wolves have the support of Prince Magnus?"

Bethy rubbed her temples. "Stefan, I'm so sorry, I completely forgot that this affects one of your pack members. Yes, of course, tell them my uncle supports them one hundred percent. If any of your people discover mates, please advise them to alert us immediately so that we may avoid another scene like today."

Stefan nodded. "Of course. If I may make a suggestion?" He hesitated, as if his opinion wouldn't be welcome.

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