License to Kill (Balancing the Scales #2) - R.J. Blain

One

Too much had changed.

Within ten hours of arriving back in the United States, I went from hopeful of resuming my career to benched as a possible anchor. The edict pissed Jake off, Sebastian sighed, and something about Pauline’s expression implied the woman didn’t mind I’d be serving as an unarmed secretary, as the FBI refused to acknowledge England’s qualifications and wouldn’t allow me to qualify for a period of two months, the earliest an injury like mine would normally heal.

To add insult to injury, due to new information the FBI refused to share with me, they wanted me removed from anything that might even smell like the Greenwich case yesterday, if not sooner.

I held my temper, although the familiar weight of dread settled back onto my shoulders.

Some things I handled better than others. At least I understood the dread and the weariness. I had learned from carrying both around with me already. I could endure. I wouldn’t like it, my doubts would creep in and do their best to smother me, but I could endure.

For how long, I wasn’t sure. What I would do when I no longer wanted to endure, I couldn’t begin to guess.

Too much had changed.

“It will be fine,” Pauline said when we left the meeting, and her tone allowed no argument. “This is a good thing, although you probably don’t see it that way right now. In two months, you’ll be settled, you’ll qualify again, and you’ll be back to work. It benches us for the most part, too.”

Jake grunted, as the news had involved him being shifted back to violent crimes until I qualified again, and I’d be anchoring in one of the nicer subsections of CARD, which involved following up on cold cases.

I got the feeling I’d been swallowing a lot of lies without realizing it, and unlike the Fenerec, I couldn’t tell who was lying to me. “And that license to kill?”

“I’ll look the other way if you get a few shots off at any of those bastards involved in the Greenwich case,” Jake’s father muttered.

“Sebastian,” Pauline warned.

“What? It’s true. We all want that case taken care of, and they shot both of them trying to tie up loose ends. I had not been expecting the risk evaluation to backfire so dramatically, though, especially not when they told us we’d be teaming together for CARD until further notice.”

“CARD isn’t out of the picture; it’s just out of the picture until Karma qualifies again, and they won’t allow her to play the masquerade with the Normals due to inexperience. I was expecting a different result as well, but it is what it is, and we’ll just have to deal with it. They’ll issue our license to kill when she’s ready for full active duty. Until their scents are stronger, this is unlikely. They only want solidly bonded pairings in the field together.”

Scents? Solidly bonded pairings? “I thought there was no question of that?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at Jake’s mother.

“Until you pass the scent check, it is what it is,” Pauline replied in a terse voice.

I tugged on Jake’s sleeve. “Scent check?”

Jake looked to make certain no one was listening to our conversation. “It’s how we identify mated pairs. Until someone can readily detect your scent on me and vice versa, we’re both considered available for partners. Ignore their fussing. We’re fine.”

According to Pauline’s expression, she didn’t agree.

Great. Just what I needed on top of being pulled from duty. “But we’re married.”

“And that’s not sufficient for them most days of the week. They care more about the scent. My wolf views you as my mate, and that’s all I care about. They don’t agree, and they’re only putting up a fuss because they expect the scent to be stronger by now, and it’s not.”

I should have guessed some things were too good to be true. While I had no idea how the future would play out, I’d deal with it as needed. “So, what’s next?”

“I take you home, I get you settled, and we look into things for you to do to keep you from being bored while the interior staff find a placement for you,” Jake replied, parroting the briefing notes with disgusting accuracy. “You need time to settle, and you need time to get used to the house—and if you don’t like the house, we need time to buy a house.”

Having been to Jake’s home numerous times, I raised a brow. “Your house is fine.”

“Our house.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s your house, but

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