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Interesting. "What did you do?" I asked.

"I'd checked up on her. Her dad is some big alpha in the U.S., but her mom couldn't stand him so she took Lorelei and moved back to Belgium. There is only one major shapeshifter pack in Belgium, and Lorelei's grandparents are running it. They didn't really want her mother or her back, so they let them come back on one condition: neither of them can have anything to do with the running of the pack. There is some family money and they are not hurting, but neither of them can ever be an alpha. They didn't want them to compete with their son. So when Lorelei told me I was an embarrassment, I told her I was daughter of an alpha and wife to two future alphas, and that three packs were crossing the sea because of me. I asked her how fast did she think they would throw her into the sea if I asked them to do it."

"Ha!" Andrea grinned.

I wouldn't mind throwing Lorelei into the sea, but right now the need to punch Curran was much stronger. "What did she say?"

"She got all shocked, worked up some tears, told me I was a horrible person, and ran away. We were eating at the time, and nobody followed her, which probably spoiled her plan." Desandra leaned forward and winced. "Ow. I keep forgetting not to do that. Anyway, I grew up in a pack that was a minefield. I like that word, by the way. Very nice. I've seen her type before. Lorelei is intelligent, meaning she has some brains, but she's also young and inexperienced. She doesn't understand what makes people tick and she thinks that everyone is much stupider than her. She's a classic sociopath: she's charming and manipulative, she believes she's entitled, she never genuinely feels guilt, and when she offers an apology, it's superficial. She mimics happiness and she can probably mimic love. She isn't psychopathic-her temper is pretty even, she isn't necessarily predatory, and I can't see her trying suicide. Way too narcissistic."

"How the hell do you know all this?" Andrea asked.

Desandra sighed. "I've read a lot of psychology books. I started when I was a kid. I was trying to diagnose my father."

Well, that was a surprise. "What's the verdict?"

"He is a severe megalomaniac. He has intense narcissistic personality disorder, complete with occasional paranoia. He displays every one of Hotchkiss's seven deadly sins of narcissism. That's how I learned to manipulate him. Unfortunately, knowing that didn't help me with my mental health any, and he also knows which buttons to push."

"Why don't you . . ." Andrea struggled for words. "Act more sane?"

"Self-defense," I told her. Suddenly many things made sense.

"She's right," Desandra said. "How long do you think I would survive if they knew I had a brain? The only reason I'm not locked up is because they think I'm emotional and stupid. I am emotional-pregnancy hormones are no joke. But I'm not dumb. My mother was smart, and if you ask my father, he'll show you many spots where people who thought they were smarter than him are hidden six feet under the ground. If Gerardo's mother thought for a moment that I had more brains than a butterfly, she'd have kept me under lock and key the entire time I was married to him. When I told Gerardo we couldn't fight my father, I didn't do it because I was weak. I did it because I knew we couldn't win. I thought about it and I weighed the odds, and they were not in our favor. Personally I hope Jarek pisses Curran off. That would be about the only person here who could kill him. Anyway, did you see Lorelei's book?"

"What book?" I asked.

"Some fantasy book she carries around. Something about a princess on the throne in some kind of crystal. There is this older knight who has known her since she was a child, so he goes on some sort of journey to get a magical blue rose gem to rescue her. He gets the gem, frees her, and she makes him her king." Desandra stared at me. "Lorelei wants her throne. She knows in her heart she is entitled to it. In her head Curran is the only way she can get it. Kate, she will do anything to get it. It's so close, she can taste it. If I were you, I wouldn't stand near cliffs when she's around, because she will push you over."

"At this point she would have to get in line." What Lorelei did or didn't want mattered very little. Lorelei had promised me nothing. Curran, however, had promised me everything. If he was planning on pulling the plug on us, I wanted to know why.

I would sleep on it, and tomorrow morning, I'd get my answers, whatever they would be.

The sound of steps came from behind the door, followed by a knock. If it kept going this way, we'd have to invest in some iron bars and one of those sliding windows, so I could open it and yell at people to go away.

"Who is it?"

"It's me," Hugh said.

Andrea reached for her SIG-Sauer.

What the hell was he doing here? Just what I needed. I walked up to the door. "Whatever you're selling, we're not buying."

"Open the door, Kate. I'm not going to attack you in Desandra's room."

Fine. I unbarred the door and opened it. Hugh stood on the other side in all his glory: black boots, dark pants, dark leather jacket thrown over a blue T-shirt. His dangerously square jaw was freshly shaved. Well, well. Someone had dressed up for dinner.

He glanced at my shoulder. I looked out of the corner of my eye. Black streaks from Desandra's eyeliner stained the green fabric of my T-shirt. She must've brushed against me when she was crying. Considering that it was also smudged with dried blood from the ochokochi, my shirt was beginning to look tie-dyed.

"Can I help you?"

"You weren't at dinner," Hugh said, leaning one arm on the wall. "I came to see if all was well."

That was quite a pose. "Couldn't you just send another vampire instead? I haven't gotten my evening exercise."

"I'm sorry. Next time, I'll be sure to find some lambs for your slaughter."

He showed no signs of leaving.

"Did Hibla tell you that a djigit was killed on the tower? A woman. Her name was Tamara."

"She did."

"Are you behind these attacks?"

He smiled. "And if I were, wouldn't telling you defeat the purpose?"

"I don't know what your plan is, but if you interfere with my ability to do my job, you will regret it."

"Do I look scared to you?" he asked, his voice lazy.

He was trying to goad me into a pissing contest. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. "No, and that worries me. You're supposed to provide a safe environment for this pregnant woman. Instead your guards are dying and some creature tried to kill her two hundred yards from your dining hall. Why aren't you foaming at the mouth? Doesn't it bother you that someone's making a fool of you in your own castle?"