March 15th, 2006
Dakotah’s Reading

“Where is she?” Domino growled, whirling as his grandmother entered the travel trailer.


“I can see that.” He flashed his fangs. “The Believers are hunting her.”

Helki laughed. “What kind of a mate would she be for you if she couldn’t take care of herself against mere humans?”

Obsidian eyes gleamed with menace. “I have no mate.”

“The cards say otherwise.”

Helki nodded toward the bed, to what remained of Dakotah’s possessions, left there when the dresser and desk had been emptied. A tarot deck was set apart from the rest. Three cards were laid out on the blood-red comforter.

The past, the present, the future.

Death. Strength. The Emperor.

A fourth and fifth card lay on the trailer floor.

The Empress. The World.

They’d tumbled there when he’d handled Dakotah’s things, wishing he had the ability to pick up images from them, or some hint of her whereabouts. He scooped the two cards up and dropped them onto the comforter. “I don’t have time for this foolishness.”

His grandmother shrugged and stepped away from the door, putting herself closer to him and also leaving the exit clear. “Then go.”

Domino snarled. She knew how close he was to turning. He could read it in her eyes, but she tested him anyway.

“I could force you to tell me what I want to know,” he said, obsidian eyes meeting equally dark ones.

She reached up and smoothed calloused fingertips over his cheek. “So like your grandfather. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved you best. Accept my words. Accept your destiny. Both lead to Dakotah. The wolves have already made their choice.”

Domino scowled, bested by his mother’s mother. A woman who had managed to raise Sarael, a stolen kadine, without discovery. A woman who’d seen through the veil of his kind and peered into their world when her daughter, his mother, had been claimed and converted by his father.

“I don’t want a mate.”

Helki cackled. “Neither did your father that night he came to the carnival hunting enemies and was ensnared by my Giselle. What a chase she gave him! What a chase she still gives him!”

Domino grimaced, preferring not to be reminded of The Heat that surrounded his parents. His mother would probably get pregnant soon with another generation of sons, followed by more, two or three sons every quarter of a century for as long as she and his father were reproductively fertile.

“Have your say then,” Domino grumbled.

Helki stroked her calloused fingertips over his cheek again. Her expression turned serious. “I wouldn’t have you spend the future alone, Domino, dependent on the herbs to control The Hunger.” She grimaced with distaste. “Nor would I see you go to the padralls and have them create a kadine for you. You know I abhor the practice of raising a female who is given no freedom to choose her mate, who is allowed no sense of who she really is, and whose very existence is centered around becoming the perfect mate. Accept what the cards say, what the wolf has already told you.”

She stepped closer to the bed. He jammed his hands into his jacket pockets when she separated the third card of those lined up on the comforter and added it to the two he’d brushed against earlier and knocked to the floor. She positioned them in the shape of a V—The Emperor and The Empress connected to each other by The World.

“You see it?” Helki asked him, but he refused to be drawn into her game.

“I see nothing but deepening dusk and growing darkness.”

Helki cackled and tapped The Emperor. “Oh, he is a stubborn one! Forceful and dominating. But what a protector he can be, and a provider for those he cares about.”

Her finger moved to the corner of The Empress. “An interesting card for your mate. She wouldn’t see herself in it, but it contains her. Her life has been one of famine and drought instead of abundance. It’s been marked by harsh choices and betrayal, but her soul hasn’t been tarnished and her secret heart yearns for a man to prove that all men aren’t like those who have come before him.”

Her fingertips touched the comforter, underscoring The World. “The circle is complete. Two separate journeys now become one. The path will lead to pleasure and fulfillment, and produce the next generation of sons, soldiers to follow in their father’s footsteps.” She cackled. “And to be as challenging for their father as he was to his own! You’ll find your mate and those chasing her in the woods between here and the campground.”