Dark Hunger

Page 14

“Tell me his name,” Robin said, “and I shall release you.”

So she had been a part of this plot. “Let me have her, my lord,” Will said, removing one of his blades. “She will tell me what you wish to know.”

Chris eyed Will’s dagger and then addressed his master. “His name was Paul Sherwood. Now let go of me.”

“I said I would release you,” Robin advised her. “I did not say I would do it now.” As she began writhing against him, he said to Will, “Be aware that l’attrait has no affect on her whatsoever. I am none too sure that our talent does, either.”

“I could kill her,” he offered. “That would solve the problem.”

Robin frowned at him and then saw Chris’s expression. “He is only joking,” he told her. To Will, he said, “Take us back to the penthouse.”

On the journey back to the Armstrong building, Will kept the divider window down and listened, but the mortal female remained silent, and did not try to fight his master or free herself. When he felt sure she had acquiesced—for the moment, anyway—he placed calls to some of their human friends to confirm her claims.

“She told the truth,” he said to Robin after finishing his calls. “A Paul Sherwood left Atlanta International on a chartered flight for Rome. The charter was paid for by a Helen Moran. Our people at the airport are examining their security tapes to see if this Sherwood matches Guisbourne’s description.”

“He will,” Chris said, sounding resigned. “Helen Moran manages the clothing shop next to the gallery.”

“Thank you,” Robin said.

“If he’s left the country, there’s nothing you can do,” she said, changing her manner abruptly. “Let me go, and I’ll alert Interpol. They’ll arrest him as soon as he steps off the plane in Rome.” When his master said nothing, her voice grew sharp. “Robin, that book is priceless.”

So is Reese, Will thought.

Chris tried once more to run when Will stopped outside the building, but his master seized her up in his arms and carried her struggling form inside. He didn’t put her back on her feet until they were in the elevator and traveling up to the penthouse level.

“Were there any of our Kyn who were not at the stronghold when Salva’s men took over?” Robin asked as he pried the remains of the policeman’s manacles from his wrists and gave them to Will.

“Fazio, Mason, and Sullivan were on guard duty here.” The three warriors were good men, but Will would have traded them all for his castellan, who in his human life had besieged dozens of strongholds. “Sylas said to give his love to Rebecca, so I think his wife must have gotten some of the humans and the other women out before they could secure them.”

Robin nodded. “Rebecca will bring them to our friends in Marietta before she attempts to contact us. As soon as she reports in, I shall speak to her.”

“Should we not call on our allies for assistance, my lord?” Will shoved the twisted steel cuffs into his pocket. “Suzeraina Jayr could have her garrison here in a matter of hours.”

Robin’s face became a stony mask.

“No. I do not wish the suzeraina involved in this.” The elevator stopped and he stepped out into the corridor, frowning when Chris did not. “You cannot stay in the elevator all night, love. There is no place to sit but the floor.”

She didn’t join him. “You took those cuffs off like they were made of plastic. You can make cops—anyone—do anything. You’ve got fangs.” Her gaze skittered to Will’s face, and he saw the panic in her eyes. “What are you people?”

Had she been a Brethren operative, she would not have wasted her time feigning such innocence. She would save her energies to do whatever it took to kill or escape them.

Some of the ugly suspicion cleared from Will’s head as he said to Robin, “I shall prepare some tea.”

“Make it strong and sweet. Everything will be all right, Chris. Come.” Robin coaxed her out of the elevator and led her into his penthouse.

Will retreated to the kitchen. He stood over the sink, turning on the taps and splashing his face before he filled the kettle and put it on the stove. If they somehow survived this siege, and his master decided to install Chris in his city home, Will would have to look into purchasing a Teasmade.

Two, perhaps, if Reese survived.

Slowly he prepared a tray with a porcelain cup, saucer, cream, and sugar. He had no idea what the American took in her tea; they did so many barbaric things with it in this country that the possibilities were endless. To keep his hands busy, he took a lemon from the bowl of fruit he kept out for the mortal staff.

“There is nothing wrong with peach tea,” Reese had said to him one night after she’d raided his small larder to concoct the beverage. “It’s traditional.”

“No, tea is traditional,” he argued. “Squeezing peach juice into it is revolting.”

“You’re just jealous because I can drink it and you can’t,” she said, laughing as he took the glass from her. “Don’t do it,” she warned as he lifted it to his lips. “Remember what happened when you tried my favorite champagne?”

“I beg your pardon,” he said as he returned the glass to her hands. “Refresh my memory. Who was it who said champagne was simply fizzy wine?”

“I said to take a sip, like so.” She sipped the tea, her eyes smiling at him over the rim. “Not drink half the bottle.”

He gathered her against him. “Give me a taste.” When she lifted the glass to his lips, he took it and set it aside. “Not like that.”

The sharp smell of lemon made Will look down. He had crushed the lemon in his hand, and all that remained of it was a pulpy mess. He discarded the pulverized fruit, took another from the bowl, and sliced it before carrying the tray out to the front rooms.

His master lay on the floor with the mortal female atop him.

“All the way through, love,” Robin said. “Half measures don’t work on my kind.”

“I am through playing this game, Robin.”

“So am I.”

Will smelled blood and bergamot, and hurried forward. When he saw that Chris held a knife to his master’s throat, the tray dropped out of his hands and smashed to the floor. “Bloody hell.”

“Stay where you are, Will. Whatever she does to me, you will not touch her.” Robin didn’t look away from the mortal’s reddened face. “Kill me and it will be over. My seneschal will not harm you. But the contessa will see to it that hundreds will die—humans and Kyn, my entire jardin. One of them will be your partner.”

Her head turned from side to side. “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe any of this.”

“If I give you proof, will you help me get the book?”

Chris sat up and took the dagger away from Robin’s neck. Will caught his breath when he saw the shallow wound on his master’s throat, which promptly disappeared. The federal agent held herself rigid, and a strange look came over her face.

Will knew that look, and went to gently remove the blade from her fingers. She didn’t try to keep hold of it.

“It can’t be real.” Chris tottered to her feet, her arms hanging limp at her sides as she stared down at his master. “You can’t be.” She put out an arm, and her eyes rolled up into her head.

Will got to her before she collapsed, and lifted her into his arms. The paleness of her young face made him sigh. “I’ll make more tea.”

Robin got up from the floor. “Put her in my bedchamber,” he said. “And bolt the door.”

Will placed Chris on Robin’s bed, removing her heels and covering her with the linens before he straightened. She might be more interested in jailing his master than bedding him, but she was only human. The faint dark half circles under her eyes and a small gnaw mark on her lower lip tugged at his heart.

“Poor girl,” he murmured. “You’ve had a time of it tonight, you have.” He tucked the coverlet around her and turned off the bedside lamp before he left, carefully locking the door behind him.

He found Robin on the phone, talking to the contessa. “Nottingham will be landing in Italy in a few hours. He is beyond my reach now. I cannot retrieve the manuscript for you.”

Will went to pick up the broken crockery from the tray. As he cleaned up the mess, he listened to his master argue with Salvatora.

“She will be a hindrance to me,” Robin said at last, and looked at Will. “I shall leave her here with my seneschal. He will keep her sequestered until my return.”

When Will saw him look at the screen on the phone, he came over and saw that the contessa had sent a video of a black mortal being brutally beaten. Will recognized him as one of the federal agents working at the gallery—the one Dennis had called “Hutch.”

“I’ve seen enough,” Robin said. “Stop before you kill him.”

The image of the contessa’s satisfied face appeared on the screen. “I shall see you and your human lover, in Rome, in two days. Be sure you have the manuscript, my lord. If you do not, her partner dies, and you will revisit every one of the happy memories you have of the jardin war trials.”

The phone’s screen turned blank.

“She would not do this thing unless she felt sure she could get away with it,” Will said as he realized what she meant to do. “Once she has the manuscript, she will kill you and Agent Renshaw. Then she can blame your deaths on Nottingham, or make up any story she likes.”

Robin went over to the cabinet where he stored his personal weapons and removed his bow case. “Contact Jayr and Lucan, and tell them only that I am in Europe, and in my absence refugee Kyn have captured my stronghold. Ask them to send as many warriors as they can spare. Surround the keep, but do nothing for two days. If I do not call you by the end of the second, you must lead them in and save as many as you can.”

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