“So when do you teach me how to change shape?”
His eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “Fallon, wearing a different skin is not possible for you.” Sundown blinked rapidly, looking more and more shocked. “You would wish it?”
I shook my head. “No, I do not wish it for myself. It’s not normal for a human, Sundown. Come sit on the couch with me.”
I picked up my coffee cup and eased down on the brightly colored scarves covering his sofa. I loved his room with its red and gold brocades, bead curtains, and bright cloths. It made me nostalgic for the days of Woodstock even though I’d not been born until nine months after the Summer of Love changed the world. I lifted my arm and Sundown nestled in against my side.
“Are you angry with me, Fallon?”
Was I? Some inner knowledge assured me he’d not harmed me in any way.
“I’m concerned. That’s different. What happens if I get hurt and some doctor discovers weird little cells dancing around inside me?”
Sundown sipped his coffee. He licked his full lips and took another drink. He was trying to stall me in the hopes I’d ask something else and give him the opportunity to bypass giving me an answer. I wasn’t going to allow him to get away with such a ploy, not this time. I waited. Sundown finally sighed.
“It hasn’t happened yet, Fallon.”
His answer didn’t surprise me. The Chal used every means at their disposal to protect themselves and the clan, whether or not we humans would approve their actions.
“Here’s a news flash for you, lover. Forensic medicine has come a long way in a short time, and it’s possible today’s technology can detect those cells now.”
Sundown sat up straight and twisted to stare at me. I saw Czun Dun Nhunfi, the pride of his clan, before me. His quick intelligence absorbed the information, considered the ramifications, and developed options. I stroked his smooth cheek with my knuckles, and gave his words back to him, gently.
“It hasn’t happened yet, darling. How many humans have you done this to?”
His chin lifted. “You once accused me of using you as my science project. In this, you’re correct. The knowledge handed down to me said it was indeed possible to blend with a human in this way and thus know their thoughts. I needed to know if this were true.”
“You’re avoiding giving me a number, Czun Dun Nhunfi.”
“What was handed down said it was possible for those like me. My ancestors who were catalysts did this to gain knowledge of their captors. It is said without doing this, the Chal could not have escaped slavery on this world thousands of years ago.”
If the folks at SETI only knew how right they were – and how late they were to the game.
“Many years ago, when I was a mere nestling and thus had no part in it, the Chal erred.”
I gnawed on a knuckle to keep from laughing at his apparent need to cover his ass over whatever the hell had happened. It wasn’t very respectful on my part, but I couldn’t help it. I pulled myself together and spoke formally to alleviate his concerns.
“I do not blame you for the actions of others, Czun Dun Nhunfi. Nor do I seek to impose sanctions over honest mistakes. Please, continue.”
“This reassures me, Fallon. And I forgive you your humor as you know me so well.” He leaned over and kissed between my shoulder blades. “It happened at Madison Park, along the river walk.”
“Oh, shit!” I rolled up and dumped him off me. Juny’s cold case file. He knew about it through me. “Either someone thinks they killed a Chal, or they really did manage to off one of you, and the Chal removed the body. Or the Chal killed a human and removed the body.”
“Why do you suspect this?” He blinked at me, rapidly, several times.
“I’m guessing because of what Juny told me this afternoon.”
Oh, fuck was right. I waved my hand in front of his glazed expression. “I told you, Sundown. Juny knows things. He’s got his hands on a cold case. This one.”
“Beir wsie qite emu tagu.”
I’d been with him long enough to learn a few words and phrases and knew the Chal words he uttered translated roughly to “can it get fucking worse?” I watched him square his shoulders. He was about to attempt damage control, but it was too late. I was a cop. I was trained to extrapolate facts and form theories, and I had.
“Yeah. What you said.”
“Very well, Fallon. I have not yet advised the Elders, but we will speak. The Chal are involved, but not because one was killed, or died. Some twenty or so of your years ago, Timothy Petrie witnessed a group of young Chal playing in Madison Park.”
Cold shock slammed my system. I’d arrested Petrie for the brutal murder of two young men and in the process Petrie dealt a blow rendering me deaf in my right ear. It was also the case where I’d met Sundown.
Petrie spun a fanatical tale of shapeshifters living among humans to anyone who’d listen, and one who had was Juny Mack. My temper spiked and I grabbed his arms.
“You should have told me this a long time ago, Sundown. The Chal had Petrie under surveillance for years, didn’t they? Something drove him to kill Michael Carlton and Allen Young. Was it some action of the Chal?”
His surprise at the strength of my grip on him gave way to anger. “I did nothing wrong! I put myself at great risk to resolve the situation, so much so the Elders discussed what needed to be done about you!”
I washed cold again, a second icy blast which quickly chilled my blood and sent my pulse racing.
“Are you telling me the Elders wanted me away from you so badly the discussed ‘removing’ me?”
Fear flickered in his emerald eyes. “Fallon. We must move on from this. The Elders did what they thought needed to be done to contain Timothy Petrie, and ultimately failed. They bear the guilt of this.”
His panic seeped into me through our connection. It was a blinding white light inside him but I couldn’t back off, not this time. He’d withheld important information from me time and time again, and it had to stop.
“I seek the truth, Czun Dun Nhunfi. The truth the Chal, and you, work so hard to hide.”
“We do what we must to protect ourselves. Selisei, please. Please.”
Beloved. Selisei. Had he played me for a fool? He gave me the hottest sex of my life. Had it blinded me to his real agenda?
“Tell me what happened in Madison Park and do not - do not - leave anything out.” I gave him a shake then released him.
Sundown stared at me. “Will you confide in me, Fallon? What does Sergeant Mack know of the Chal?”
I very carefully pictured a high, wide brick wall around my brain. “First things first. Now you talk, and I’ll consider what you should learn when you’re finished.”
He gave me a look full of cautious speculation. Did it say the barrier I’d erected worked? Something surprised him. He’d expected to be able to read my mind - and for me to waver because I always had before. Sundown arranged the pillows and beckoned to me to come to him.
We were as far apart from each other as we’d ever been since we met. Maybe he had it right and we needed to touch to find our way back from our sudden anger and mistrust. I nodded, eased down beside him. We shifted positions until we lay face-to-face. I offered him my hand and he slipped his palm beneath mine.
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-302-4 (Electronic)
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-905-7 (Paperback)
Gay romance with paranormal shift
available now at Amber Allure
Book three of the Sundown series
website at: http://www.kckendricks.com
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