Shane jerked, both of surprise and the fact that he’d actually let himself be caught so off guard. That never happened to him. Or at least, it never used to.
He let out a sigh turning to study the annoyance that had dared to disturbed his daydreaming. While the rest of the coalition called the Fox shifter, Dr. North, Shane preferred to call him, the Devil, Mind-fucker or Dr. Evil. Of course, Shane never bothered to say any of those behind the guy. What fun would that be? No, he said it right to North’s face.
Damned it North had remained stoic through the whole thing and refused to show any emotion. Shane didn’t know whether to be pissed or impressed. In the past, he’d always managed to get everybody in his life to the pissing kittens stage of mad. Even Shane’s mate, Trevor, got angry at Shane and they were mates.
“Did you grow up in Japan?” Shane asked as he batted at a ball of yarn that was on the coffee table.
Other than that, the room was as bland as North’s personality. Hell, he didn’t even have the ink blobs pictures. Which would have been a nice way to break up the boring brown furniture, the burnt orange walls and the thick carpet that was…sigh…brown.
“We’re not here to talk about me,” North replied.
Shane went on as if he hadn’t heard. “The reason I ask is because it’s obvious that one of your parents was Japanese, while the other came from China.”
For the first time ever, a flicker of emotion passed over North’s face. It was so brief that had it been anybody else they would have missed it. But, then again, Shane wasn’t just anybody else. He’d been trained to notice things like that. In fact, the skill had saved his ass one more than one occasion.
“I gotta wonder how your grandparents felt about that.” Shane tilted his head to the side.
“I wouldn’t know. My father’s parents never contact us and my mother left right after I was born,” North replied.
While he may have been trying to keep his voice neutral, Shane could still hear the hurt. It made him feel bad. Again, something that never would have used to happen to him. Shit, while he loved having Trevor and Ava in his life, Shane hated how his new-found ability to love made him weaker.
He batted at the yarn as the guilt ate at him. Damn, it! When had he grown so soft? Next, he’d be saving starving kittens and crying that those Sarah McLachlan commercials.
“It could be worse, my mother sold me off to a sadistic monster,” Shane offered in way of repayment.
North sat forward, his forearms resting on his knees. Shane had to admit the guy was pretty hot, in the whole intellectual, I’m-smarter-than-you kind of way. The Fox even managed to make dress pants and a sweater look sexy. Not that Shane would ever make a move on anybody else. He had Trevor and there wasn’t anything that Shane would ever trade him away for. Shane just could see why certain members of the coalition had it so bad for the good doctor.
“How does it make you feel to know that your mother did that?” North asked.
Shane snorted. “I met the bitch, so I realize that I got the best side of the shitty, stick life threw at me. While my master may have been cruel and meaner than Gacey and Bundy together, it was still better than being with her. At least my master had invested in me, so it was in his best interest to keep me alive.”
“But, didn’t your mother save your life when she sold you in the first place? Otherwise, your father would have killed you before you were even a month old.”
“It was just a moment of softness on her part. I’m sure it was the first and only one she ever had in her short miserable life. I hold no delusions when it comes to her. Plus, there are some that would argue that killing me at birth would have been the more merciful option.”
“Do you believe that? That the world would be better off dead without you?”
Shane grinned down at the ball of yarn. “Have I ever told you about my first kill?”
It was really a hypothetical question, since Shane had never shared that story with anybody. Not even Trevor and Shane knew for a fact that nothing could ever make his mate turn on him.
“No,” North replied, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
Shane had to give the guy some credit. He knew that he was being set up for something, yet he still insisted on pushing on.
“It was a human. Although some would call him a monster. He dealt in the slave market, but unlike most of the others he didn’t deal exclusively in humans or shifters. He bought and sold both. He only had one requirement, that the slaves in question be as young as possible.”
Shane pause, but North didn’t say anything. Rolling the ball of yarn in his hands, Shane continued, “The slaver made the mistake of taking the wrong kid. Which was really stupid on his part. Even somebody who knows little about how the shifter world works, realizes that it’s a huge mistake to mess with the only son of a Raven leader.”
“So, the Raven hired you to get his son back?” North asked.
“No, he hired my master. I was just the one sent to do the job. It was soooo easy, too. Even for a first time. I managed to sneak in and I gutted the guy before he could even cry for his guards.”
“How were you able to sneak in?” North pressed.
“I disguised myself as one of the slaves.”
North swallowed hard, his face growing pale. “But, you said he only dealt in children.”
“Yes, I did.”
There was a long pause before North let out a soft curse. “How old were you?”
“Jesus, you were so young.”
Shane shrugged. “You want to know the really twisted thing about the whole thing. I didn’t feel bad about killing. In fact, I never have. I’ve been doing this for more than half my life, yet I never once gave a fuck.” He finally gave his full attention to the Fox. “Tell me, Doctor, how many session will it take to fix that?”
North just sat there, all deer-in-the-headlights. Shane got up and tossed the ball of yarn at him. North snapped out of it just in time to catch it.
Reaching for the door, Shane said, “Don’t feel bad. You’ve just realized something that I’ve known all along, I’m broken and there’s no fixing me. I’m a monster just like that human. Only I’m evil in other ways.”
Fixing him with a hard glare, North replied, “That’s not true.”
Shane smirked, “What makes you so sure of that?”
“Because a monster would never love Trevor and Ava. I see the way you look at them and I know they mean the world to you.”
Damn, how Shane wanted to believe that. Then he thought back to all the lives he’d taken. Sure, most of the victims had been evil in their own way, but they’d still had souls. So, Shane should feel at least a niggle of guilt. Yet as he searched himself, he found nothing.
Flashing his coldest smile, he said, “Well, as much fun as this chat was. I have a job.”
North shivered, no doubt realized what kind of duty Shane would be performing. Only this time instead of it being because of the orders of his former master, Shane would be doing it to protect the coalition.
“You do realize that you were around the same age,” North called.
When Shane cocked his head in confusion, North continued, “You and Ava. You were around her age when you first killed somebody.”
Letting out a small snarl, Shane snapped, “Ava is nothing like me and she never will be.”
Shane then slammed the door and walked away.