What's up next?
The silver-eyed shifter from Portugal was up to something.
Ula slid a look at where he was eating dinner at a plank table with some of the warriors. Big and broad-shouldered with long dark hair, Nisio do Rio stood out among her Irish sea fada clan like an outsize black wolf.
One cheek was slashed by a scar—and the fada didn’t scar easily. They were shapeshifters, a mix of animal, human, and fae along with a touch of the god Dionysus himself. That mix of god and magic meant that fada healed quickly and cleanly. But Nisio had a jagged white scar streaking from the corner of his eye to his jaw.
It was a wonder her da had extended him clan hospitality, but then, as alpha of the Shannon Sea Fada, her da didn’t scare easily. And to be fair, her da hadn’t had much choice. Water fada were the wanderers of the shifter world. Their animals were dolphins, sharks, seals—water lovers who roamed the world’s oceans and rivers. Tradition held that these travelers were treated as honored guests, and to the fada, tradition had the force of law.
Ula turned her attention back to her dinner. She ate slowly, savoring the fresh, wild taste of the salmon and the last greens of autumn. With winter coming, fresh fish and vegetables would be rare for the next few months. Not that Ula took any meal for granted. Ireland’s famine had eased from last year’s near starvation, but no one who’d lived through it would ever forget it.
But she couldn’t help worrying at the mystery of Nisio. As the alpha’s only daughter, it was her job to make sure guests had everything they needed.
The Portuguese shifter had been polite but close-mouthed, but he’d admitted he was a Douro River Fada. When she’d blinked, his mouth had twisted. “Sim, senhorita. I see you know of us.”
“I do.” The Douro men had a bad reputation even among the fada. They were mercenaries and assassins, hard, ruthless males who made a living by hiring themselves out to the highest bidder. Men like that didn’t aimlessly ride the waves.
And her da knew that as well as her—Chas Gallagan was nobody’s fool. But he seemed content to allow Nisio the run of the place.
“He’s a guest, love. I won’t be frightened of a man on my own territory. Besides,” he’d added with a toothy grin, “if he tries anything, I’ll carve his heart out and throw him to the fishes.”
Ula stole another look in the Portuguese fada’s direction.
Thick black lashes lifted and his silver eyes heated into something bright, molten. They were in the great hall, the big limestone cavern at the heart of the Shannon Base. The sounds of her large and sociable clan eating dinner around them faded as she stared at him, mesmerized. She found herself swaying in his direction.
It was an effort to drag her gaze from his.
She could feel him eyeing her even as she stared resolutely at her plate. Her heart smacked against her rib cage, fast and hard, until he turned his attention back to his food.
She sagged and expelled a breath.
“Ula.” Her aunt Janette elbowed her in the ribs. “You haven’t heard a word I said.”
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