Mercy shifted, uncomfortable. She wasn’t even the one in the hot seat and she could feel the tension thick in the air. Oz was calm, though, relaxed back in his chair like there wasn’t a roomful of werewolves ready to eat him for breakfast.
Mercy tried again to explain to Adam, “He just needed me to fix his car.”
“He’s a werewolf wandering through my territory unannounced,” Adam said, lip curling unconsciously.
“He’s just a lone wolf traveling through,” she argued.
“Lone wolves without territory can be dangerous,” Adam said, attention shifting back to Oz when he cleared his throat.
“I’m not, actually,” he said, shrugging. “I have a pack. I’m just away on business.”
A little of the tension went out of the room.
“What pack are you from?” Adam asked, still not happy but less likely to lose his temper.
“Mr. Osbourne is a Council affiliate,” Bran said, appearing from the back of the room and making Mercy jump. “His pack is a human one. No need to officially register.”
Mercy watched Samuel give Bran a worried look, then, as Oz said, “Marrok,” Bran’s slow blink that showed his surprise.
She looked at Oz, only to see him fiddling with his doohickey. He found whatever he was looking for because he sat it on the coffee table and pushed it across towards Bran.
Most of the wolves in the room had gone still. Mercy shifted closer to Adam. It was strange, seeing the Marrok unsettled by a guy with blue hair.
“DNFW Database?” Bran asked, finally more amused than unsettled.
“Do Not Fuck With,” Oz said with a shrug. “People the Council would rather not engage but are aware of.”
“I wasn’t aware the Council was concerned about me and the way I run the North American pack,” Bran said lightly and the mood in the room turned oppressive.
“Oh, they’re not,” Oz said with a little smirk. “They’re interested in me.”
And…Mercy didn’t really know what to do with that.
Mercy didn’t know what Bran would have made of it, either, because the doohickey rung in his hands and the screen faded from whatever database he’d been looking at.
“Hey!” a girl chirped, then, “Hey. You-are not Oz.” she was silent a moment, then, “Damn it, I put you on the list.”
“Language, Dawn,” Oz sighed, eyes rolling a bit.
“English, Oz,” Dawn said tartly, making him smile and Mercy once again felt at ease with him. No homicidal maniac took teasing that lightly. “Didn’t you read the list? No offense or anything. You don’t look
like you eat babies or anything but I’d rather you didn’t turn Oz into a Borg-puppy or anything.”
Mercy stuffed her fist into her mouth to keep the hysterical laughter at bay when she realized the kid was talking to Bran
. Bran, who made some of the most Alpha wolves in the world wet themselves with a bland smile and the mildest rebuke.
,” Oz said, pinching his nose.
“Andrew made me watch Star Trek. Blame him,” she said lightly. “The list
“Baby broke down,” he said on a sigh.
“Oh,” she said and that one little word carried a world of melancholy in it. “I guess you won’t be making it home for the party.”
He glanced at Mercy, tucked under Adam’s arm, and she felt awful as he said, “Maybe. Depends on how things go.”
“Well,” Dawn said, pushing fake happiness into her voice. “We’ll be here when you get here.”
“I know,” he said solemnly and Mercy wondered exactly how often he was actually home. “Later, Dawnie.”
“Bye,” she said, voice gone soft.
Bran stared at the blank screen before setting the doohickey on the table as he said, “You’re daughter’s lovely.”
“Sister,” Oz said after a long, slow blink.
Bran raised an eyebrow. “You treat her like she’s your daughter.”
“We all do,” Oz said with a shrug. “Habit.” Bran likely would have questioned that, but Oz’s doohickey flew across the table and into his hand. “Thank you, Dennis. But I was kind of hoping you’d stay with the van.” A glass of water that was sitting on an end table tipped violently over, splashing Oz’s lap. Oz grimaced, brushing at the water as he said, “Apparently not.” He looked up at the silence and shrugged. “Overprotective ghost.”
Mercy jerked, then squinted just past Oz’s shoulder until a handsome young man appeared, his arms crossed over his chest. He nodded at her and she waved at him, a bit dumbfounded. She’d had a lot of experiences with ghosts and Oz’s Dennis was too aware, too normal
to be the normal kind.
“Mercy,” Bran said, snapping her out of her reverie. “Go fix Mr. Osbourne’s van. He has a party he needs to get to.”
Adam’s grip on her waist tightened as Oz nodded, standing as he said, “Thank you.”
Mercy patted Adam’s arm and wiggled away from him.
Oz turned back just before crossing through the door and looked at Bran as he said, “You should visit. We don’t bite.”
Bran studied him for a moment, then said, “We’ll see about that.”
Oz smirked as he walked out the door and Mercy had to marvel at him a bit. He’d just invited the Great Wolf into his den. He was either crazy or stupidly brave. Maybe both.