Summary: A bouda told Kate about the way shapeshifters woo potential lovers. Curran takes a leaf from his book. Because, really, if anyone could be called an expert on Kate Daniels, it would be Andrea.

A/N: Because I'm suffering through Kate withdrawal. And because I should be studying. And because I love Curran. Feedback appreciated.

Warnings: Some language. Nothing you haven't heard on TV. Still, stay away if you're under thirteen please.

Disclaimer: All characters property of Ilona Andrews.


The Lord of the Southern Shapshifter Faction

requests your presence on this day June 30

at the Keep at 14:00

It was less of an invitation, Andrea decided, glancing at the stern-faced were-jaguar on her left, and the loping werewolf on her right, and more of a summons. She sighed and folded the paper, sticking it into her back pocket.

"Did he also give you a reason why?"

They both stared at her, blank faced. She frowned. "Derek, go tell Curran I'll meet with him. Here, at the house. Same time. If he wants to talk to me, we'll do it on my turf."

The werewolf's blank face cracked slightly, and he grinned at her. Though no longer heart-stoppingly beautiful, it was still enough to make her stomach quiver. The were-jaguar she knew as Jim looked frustrated. Probably she was throwing all sorts of wrenches into His Majesty's plans for the day, and complicating security as well.

His problem.

"Sure, Andrea." Derek agreed, glancing over at Jim. Jim shook his head and tossed his hands up in a 'why me?' sort of gesture she'd seen from Kate many times before, when dealing with idiots or small children. She wondered which one of them had copied the motion from the other.

They left quickly, and she closed the door gently behind them. Then she pulled out the letter and contemplated it. What business would the Beast Lord have with her?

The possible answers chilled her. Beastkin. So far, Curran had endorsed a no-action policy. As in, a "don't cause trouble and we'll pretend you don't exist" attitude. It worked for Andrea. But maybe he'd changed his mind.

Maybe she should call Kate. Having Kate there was sure to scatter His Majesty's concentration. Andrea smiled a little. They were obviously attracted to each other…

There was a knock on the door. Andrea glanced at the clock. It was only one forty-five! She grabbed her gun off the counter, and went to answer the door. Sure enough, Curran stood on the doorstep, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans, looking impatient.

He stared at the barrel of the gun pointed into his face, and shot her an offended look. She lowered the firearm, and stepped aside to allow him to enter. He moved past her without a sound and settled down onto her couch.

She closed the door and took a moment to examine him. He was handsome, she supposed, if arrogant, far-too-powerful blondes were her thing. But there was something about him, some quality that was attractive to women…

She made her way over into the living room, and plopped down on an armchair across from the couch. "How can I help you, Your Majesty?"

He was watching her with assessing eyes, taking her measure, and she was tempted to wrinkle her nose and stick out her tongue at him. However, since she hadn't been two years old for quite a while now, she doubted it would go over well.

"You are Kate's best friend."

It was a statement more than a question, but she answered it anyway. "Yes." And then it clicked into place. He wanted the dirt on Kate, not to execute her for being beastkin. She was relived for all of five seconds.

"If you've come here to ask me to divulge private information concerning Agent Daniels, I'm afraid I will have to ask you to leave." Mentally, she weighed the odds. There was no way she could take him in a fistfight, but with the gun? Maybe. She also had a crossbow under the coffee table next to her chair, masked by a blanket.

"Fair enough," he said, leaning back. Apparently he'd finished his examination. "What I'm looking for won't fall under the category of classified."

Another piece of the puzzle came together. "I see. You're having trouble impres---connecting with her."

Nice save. Curran raised his eyebrows and looked at her. The urge to duck her head and apologize hit her so quickly she had to bite her tongue to stop the words from escaping.

Andrea exhaled. What harm could it do? It's not like Kate hadn't helped Raphael out (because there was no way the Lorna Sterling books were a coincidence!) before. This would just be evening the score.

All right, fine. So the Beast Lord terrified her.

"Okay," she told him. "Just this once."

He leaned forward, an expression of polite interest on his face. She wasn't fooled. "I'm all ears."

She wracked her brain for harmless tidbits. "Green is her favorite color. She likes swords, knives, daggers—not guns, so much. She's an awful shot." Which was a pity, Andrea thought, since guns were so fascinating.

"She likes challenges, and crossword puzzles. The Princess Bride is her favorite novel."

Curran smiled slightly. "I know."

Andrea gave him her hard stare. "She has some deep-seated trust issues. What I'm about to tell you, I tell you in confidence. Its personal."

He nodded, and she continued. "Her father" Voron, not the real one, she added mentally, "raised her to rely only on herself. He taught her never to form emotional attachments, they would distract her from her purpose and get her killed. She's always tried to be careful about making friends, and has been wildly unsuccessful. There's me, Derek, Julie, Jim, Raphael…you."

Curran's face was inscrutable, but his eyes were blazing. She plowed on. "There are things in her past she is afraid will come back to haunt her. Things more powerful than she is. Friends try to protect friends in need. I would die fighting alongside her, and that frightens her. She doesn't want anyone to die for her. That would be why she's fighting you so hard.

"That, and" Andrea glared at him, "she's convinced you aren't serious. You don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to long-term. When Kate takes the leap and enters a relationship, she goes all in. She's not the type for casual sex and a fling. If that's what you're looking for, back off. She doesn't need that kind of shit right now. Let her find someone else."

Curran snarled, low in his throat. Andrea raised her chin defiantly. She wasn't going to take it back, it was the truth.

"Anything else?" Curran's blank face was back in action.

"She loves information about the supernatural. I think she's memorized the Almanac. Three-headed dogs, gods, demigods, witches, mythology. She crazy about that stuff."

Curran rose and headed to the door. "Your cooperation is appreciated, Miss Nash. Should you need a favor, do not hesitate to ask."

Andrea blinked. Damn. She hadn't given him much; nothing that was worth an open-ended favor. He opened the door, and she stood up.


He turned his head and met her eyes.

"If you break her heart, I will shoot you. Where it hurts."

"Understood." His eyes gleamed golden, and he left without another word.

With a huff of frustration, she tossed her gun onto the couch and stormed into the kitchen. She dialed Raphael's number from memory (when had that happened?) and sat down to wait.

His voice, when he answered, was sleepy. Napping? At three in the afternoon? "Hello?"

"Raphael, it's me."

"Andrea." Suddenly he sounded much more alert.

"Do you think you could come over? I need some interpretations."

As in, what the hell had she just unleashed?