Dark Hunger


Page 42



“Alys?”


“Beau.” Something roared in her ears as black spots danced in front of her eyes. “I think I’m going to faint again.”


Beau came over to her, cradling her face in his hands as he put his mouth on hers. The gentleness of his kiss made Alys’s knees buckle, but he held her up, reaching behind her to snap the plastic tie with a flick of his fingers.


Alys groaned as her aching arms fell to her sides, and dragged them up to rest her numb hands against his chest. “I wasn’t going to tell them where the emeralds are. I was going to trick the guard into killing me.”


Beau smoothed the hair back from her face. “Do you have such little faith in your husband?”


“No, I thought my husband dead.” She swallowed a sob as she huddled against him. “Thank you for being immortal.”


“I’ve never been so glad of it myself.” Beau held her tightly, stroking her back with a soothing gesture before he set her at arm’s length and examined the bruises on her wrists. “Did they hurt you?”


“I’m all right. They’re more interested in getting the jewels, and they believe that I took them to the Realm. They’ve gone to attack it.” As his expression darkened, she put her hand on his arm. “It’s okay. I know how to stop them.”


“The jewels.”


She nodded. “I know where they are.”


Chapter 18


“That is excellent news, Dr. Stuart.”


They both turned, and Beau bared his fangs at the man standing over the unconscious guard.


Leeds held up his empty hands. “My name is Devan Leeds. I was sent here by the tresoran council to recover the jewels, and protect the Kyn.” He added something in an archaic language. At the same time, he dug his fingers into the back of his right hand, peeling away what appeared to be the scarred outer layer of his skin. He discarded the prosthesis, and showed Beau his hand, which had been tattooed with an elaborate compass.


Alys felt her lover’s tension ebb, and looked up at him. “Is it the mark, or what he said?”


“It is both. Mr. Leeds is a sentinel, one of an elite group who serve the tresoran council. They are our most trusted mortal allies.” Beau gave the other man a skeptical look. “My lady named you a traitor.”


“I was sent by the council to infiltrate the tresoran traitors, assess their intentions, and, if possible, recover the Emeralds of Eternity,” Leeds said. “They in turn sent me to the Realm to spy on your suzeraina.”


“You nearly killed Farlae.”


“Nearly being the operative word. I’m a sentinel, warrior. You know if I’d wanted him dead, I’d have finished him.” Leeds sounded tired. “Dr. Stuart, I owe you an apology. I knew my brother, Robert, was still alive, and that he was the leader of the traitors. I even discovered how he planned to use the emeralds to take his vengeance on the Kyn. But I never knew about you, or what he has done to bring you under his control.”


“Robert is your brother.” When he nodded, Alys felt a surge of bitterness. “I thought you looked familiar. And thank you for the apology, but that isn’t going to bring back my mother.”


“Nor will it restore to me the family my brother murdered,” he told her. “My parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins—all of them died at the hands of the Brethren, thanks to Robert’s betrayal.”


“Is that why they sent you?” Beau asked. “To redeem your bloodline?”


“My bloodline burned to death with my lord Marietto, and I volunteered,” Leeds corrected. “I’d hoped to persuade Robert to end this quest for immortality, and to surrender himself and his followers to the council, but the death of his lady cemented his hatred for the Kyn.” He looked at Alys. “I know it cannot serve as an excuse for his actions, but my brother is quite insane.”


“Aye, and he is a dead man,” Beau said flatly.


“By now Lord Alenfar has summoned his men from the south,” Leeds said. “You needn’t worry, warrior. In a few hours your wish will be granted.”


“They may come too late to save my jardin,” Beau said. “We must do something now.”


“The three of us can’t stop the siege,” Alys said. “Not unless we offer Robert what he wants.”


Leeds shook his head. “As much as I wish I could save my brother, and end this private war of his, I cannot allow you to give him the emeralds.”


Beau studied her face. “But we can use them as a lure, to draw him and his army away from the Realm.”


“Especially if he thinks his brother is the one who has them,” Alys said. “We don’t have to move them. We just need a time-stamped photo of them, one we can send to his mobile. Devan, you’ll tell him that you’ll give him the jewels in exchange for ending the siege—and you’ll have to be convincing.”


“As often as I have tried to talk him out of this madness, I believe I can do that.” He sighed. “But once we lure him and his men away from the castle, what then? We are still three against an army.”


“We put an end to this. Permanently.” Alys watched both men’s faces. “As soon as we recover the jewels, we destroy them.”


Leeds bent to take the gun from the unconscious guard while Beau looped the broken tie around Alys’s wrists. “Stay behind her,” the tresora said, “and keep your head down. If I’m challenged, take your lady and run.”


Beau kept his hand on Alys’s waist as they walked out of the tent and headed for the car Leeds had stolen from the Realm. Although there were only a handful of guards, they all looked at Leeds, and two moved to intercept them.


“We have orders to keep her here,” one of the guards said, resting his hand on his sidearm.


“My brother sent me to bring her to the castle.” Leeds sounded bored. “You can call him to confirm, of course, if you want to be held responsible for keeping him waiting.”


Fear spiked through the guard’s scent as he nodded and quickly retreated.


“Put her in the back,” Leeds told Beau before he climbed in behind the wheel. Once they were inside, he started the engine. “I’ll have to take the road out and drive until we’re out of their sight, and then double back with the lights off. You’re sure about the location of the emeralds, Dr. Stuart?”


“Yes.” Alys watched the rearview mirror. “You’d better go now, Mr. Leeds. One of those guards is making a call on his mobile.”


Leeds drove quickly out of the camp, taking the shortest route across the fields to the road. Just before they reached it, the back window shattered. As more gunfire struck the back of the car, Beau pushed Alys down and covered her with his body. “They know.”


“Stay down.” Leeds began driving in an evasive pattern until he reached the road, where he shut off the lights and accelerated, racing into the dark until he slowed and eased the vehicle back off the road, pulling beneath a row of trees and shutting off the motor.


“What are you doing?” Beau demanded. “Keep going.”


“Wait. My brother’s thugs are not that imaginative.” Leeds’s voice sounded oddly strained.


Beau detected the scent of fresh blood. “You’ve been wounded.”


“Yes, but the round didn’t hit anything significant,” the tresora assured him.


Beau turned to watch the road, and after another minute every vehicle that had been left at the camp sped past them. Only when the last car disappeared from sight did Leeds restart the engine and pull back out onto the road, heading back toward Alys’s camp.


Beau helped Alys up and checked her over for new wounds. “We won’t have very long to do this, love, and no tools with which to dig. Leeds is wounded.”


“We won’t need to dig. They’re not buried. They’re submerged.” Alys curled up against him. “The source of the spring isn’t under the pond. It’s under the village, and I know how to get to it.”


Once they reached the mission, Leeds drove the car into the stables and shut off the engine. Beau helped Alys out, and then frowned as he looked at the tresora, who still sat behind the wheel. “Come, man. Let me have a look at it.”


Leeds grimaced and reached into his shirt pocket, removing his mobile and handing it to Beau. “I won’t be accompanying you, I’m afraid. You’ll also have to handle the negotiations with Robert.”


Beau glanced at the amount of blood smeared on the phone and yanked open the driver’s door as Leeds slumped over against it. He eased the man out and placed him on the ground. The moonlight gleamed on the exit wound in the center of his chest.


Leeds opened his eyes to give Alys a rueful look. “Tell Lady Jayr that everything I said was a lie.” He coughed up some blood. “Thank God, that will be the last I tell.” He let out a final breath and went still.


Beau checked for a pulse, and then looked up at Alys and shook his head before he gently closed Leeds’s eyes.


Alys picked up one of the packing quilts that hadn’t burned and draped it over the tresora’s body. “Be at peace, Mr. Leeds.”


Beau pocketed the mobile and put his arm around her. “Come away now, love.”


As they crossed the camp toward the village trail, Alys paused to wipe at her face with her sleeve, and then tugged at Beau’s hand.


“Look.” She pointed to the ground, which showed two sets of fresh footprints darkening the frosted grass. “Someone just came through here.”


Beau breathed in, frowning as he recognized the scents left behind in the air. “They are Kyn, not mortal.” He eyed the size and shape of the tracks. “Both of them are women, but unfamiliar to me.”


“Simone and Christian.” Alys peered ahead. “But how did they get out of the castle, and why would they come here?”


“We will have to ask when we find them.” Beau picked her up in his arms. “Hold on to me, love.”



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