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She dropped her hand. “You have served such a lady?”

“I was not the one she used,” he said, bowing his head, “but yes.”

“Forgive me, Devan.” She might as well tell him everything. “It was suggested that you might have some romantic feeling for me. I did not believe it, but…”

“You had to be sure.” He nodded and stood. “I think this must be my fault. I was raised in a small and very intimate household, and our lord treated me and all the mortals under his rule with great care and concern. Of all that I have lost since the Brethren took my Kyn family from me, it is that affection that I miss most. Perhaps unconsciously I have been seeking the same from you, and I apologize for it.”

She reached out and took hold of his hand. “You have it already, Devan. If it still pleases you to serve such an inconstant mistress, I would ask for no one else.”

“We have two more weeks to sort this out.” He looked uncertain. “Should I speak to Lord Byrne, and explain myself to him?”

“No, let me deal with Aedan. Now that you have passed this damned test of his, he will come round.” She stood. “You should have the rest of the night for yourself. Go and spend it doing whatever you please. And thank you for not taking offense.”

“You are very kind, my lady.” He bowed. “I will not forget this.”

Farlae waited until Jayr left the study before he moved the ceiling panel back into place, closing the gap he’d used to watch her with Leeds. Silently he rolled over and stared at the top of the narrow crawl space. He was still holding his dagger, he discovered, which he slipped back into his forearm sheath. He would have to report the incident to Byrne, but that was better than slitting the mortal’s throat for daring to touch the suzeraina.

Farlae had known Jayr was putting on a performance from the moment she spoke of Rainer. Their suzeraina had endless affection for the great hulking fool; she alone could tolerate his nonsense better than anyone. She was also excessively protective of him.

Of us both, Farlae had to admit. While most of the warriors pretended not to notice their relationship, and Byrne had merely tolerated it, Jayr had shown her approval openly. Part of the renovations she had ordered was to create new quarters for them both away from the garrison; when construction was finished, they would have their own suite to share.

If Rain ever bothers to speak to me again. Farlae didn’t know why his lover had been so pointedly avoiding him, but after the night’s work was done, he intended to find out.

He left the crawl space to track the mortal, who had returned to his chambers. Farlae had already searched them several times in hopes of finding proof of his duplicity, but had found nothing but a few dull letters from another tresora in service.

Farlae moved past the mortal’s chamber and down the hall to the monitoring post he had arranged in one of the unused storage areas. By concealing a pair of video cameras, one in the air vent and another in a wall cache, Farlae was able to see every part of the room on a remote terminal. He sat down before it and switched on the monitor, which brought up twin images from the cameras, which showed the mortal pacing about his room in an agitated fashion, his hands fisted and his expression grim.

“Ah, you were not expecting to be tested, were you, human?” Farlae settled back in his chair. “They are on to you, Devan, as am I.”

On the screen Leeds stopped beside the bed, sitting down on it and propping his head in his hands. When he lifted his face a minute later, Farlae saw he was composed again, but then he nearly fell off his chair as the mortal tore open the front of his trousers.

“Well, now.” He grinned as Leeds shoved his clothing out of the way and exposed the swollen shaft of his erect cock. “What a lovely lad you have there. Will you give me a show, then?”

As if he heard him, Leeds gripped his shaft with an unsteady hand and began to pump it rhythmically.

Farlae turned on the audio feed, which allowed him to hear what the mortal was muttering.

“—pleasure you,” Leeds muttered, his fist stroking up and down his shaft. “Pleasure me first. However I wanted to be fucked.”

Perversely aroused by the mortal’s crisp, polite voice uttering such obscenities, Farlae reached for the buttons securing his own trousers and released them, easing his rigid penis out of the opening and wrapping the broad head in a handkerchief. “Yes, that’s it. Tell me all about it, darling.”

“Kiss you, indeed,” Leeds murmured, his hand stroking steadily. “I’d have you bound by wrist and ankle, on your knees in front of me. I’d take your pretty hair in my fist and shove my cock in that bloody gorgeous mouth of yours. You’d whimper as I fucked myself in and out of your lips.”

Farlae’s eyelids drooped as he imagined the same, Leeds on his knees in front of him, his hands chained behind his back, his mouth open and wet. But the mortal’s face quickly blurred in his mind, broadening into one dearly loved, as open and unpretentious as a summer’s day.

“Jayr,” Farlae heard Leeds panting, and squeezed his cock as he answered with, “Rain.”

The mortal took only another few minutes to bring himself off, and Farlae followed him, jerking as his body spasmed. He closed his eyes, letting the solitary pleasure ease to a sullen glow as he imagined kissing his seed from Rain’s lips. For all his talk of eventual damnation, his lover was as generous and passionate in bed as he was ridiculous and foolhardy out of it. After so many centuries of being together, Farlae had expected their mutual desire to cool, but if anything, it had grown more intense.

I will tell him that I love him, Farlae thought, that he is my sygkenis and I will have no other. And if it can be done, I will marry him.

The slam of a door startled him out of his reverie, and when Farlae glanced at the terminal, he saw Leeds’s room was empty again.

“God rot you,” he swore as he wiped himself with the handkerchief and buttoned up his trousers. “You’ll not spend another night under this roof, you randy little bastard.”

Farlae switched off the terminal and left the storage room, tracking the mortal’s scent through the corridors and out into the gardens. There he stayed in the shadows as he caught up with Leeds, who moved with purpose toward the potting shed.

Cursing himself for not thinking of searching the grounds, Farlae slipped around to the side window, where he watched Leeds unearth a plastic-wrapped satellite phone from a pot of soil.

Now I have you for certain, you fucking traitor. Farlae watched and listened as the mortal punched in a long string of numbers and began speaking in rapid Italian.

“I believe I have been compromised,” Leeds said. “I must move on to the next phase ahead of schedule.” As he listened, his shoulders stiffened. “Yes, I will kill her myself. I will contact you as soon as it is done.”

Jayr. Farlae drew his dagger, and moved around the shed to wait for Leeds to emerge.

Shortly after midnight Harlech burst into Jayr’s study.

“Captain?” She smelled the blood on his hands before she saw it, and jumped to her feet. “How are you injured?”

“It is not my blood, my lady.” He glanced over his shoulder. “We’ve a man down. Would you come, please?”

She hurried out after him, and followed him down to the end of the corridor. Three warriors with blades drawn stood guard as a fourth crouched over a blood-soaked body on the floor.

“One of the household patrols found him here,” Harlech told her as Jayr knelt down beside the body. “From the trail he left on the stones, he must have crawled in from the gardens.” He produced a dagger. “We found this lodged in his chest.”

“You have given him blood?” When Harlech nodded, she leaned over, brushing the hair back from the still face. “Can you hear me?” When he didn’t stir, she pressed her hands to his chest, finding no pulse. She concentrated, searching with her Kyn senses for any spark of life left in him, but only when she was about to give up did she find it. “He is still alive. Harlech, we will need a litter to carry him to the infirmary.”

“Yes, my lady.” He ran off.

A shadow fell across the stone, and Jayr looked up, feeling an intense relief. “Devan, thank God.”

“I heard the commotion.” He knelt down to look at the wound, which he examined closely. “My lady, this was no accident. This man was stabbed with copper. Who is he?”

“This is Farlae.” Despair swamped her as she rested her hand over his silent heart. “He is our wardrobe keeper.”

Chapter 11

The smell of honey made Alys frown, as did the warmth enveloping her. The bottom of the pit was cold. She should be freezing.

“You’re awake.”

She opened her eyes to see Beau standing beside her in the dark, a tray in his hands. “What time is it? Why are you here?”

“It is a little after six, and I sleep here.” He reached over and switched on a lantern. “How are you feeling?”

She sat up and rubbed the back of her head where there should have been a bump—and there wasn’t. “We’re back at the cloister.” As he set the tray of tea and food on her lap, she gazed up at him. “I was in the bottom of that borrow pit. You left me there.”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” he said. “I found you wandering about the native village just after sunrise this morning. You were sleepwalking again.”

And he was lying to her. Again. “I was?”

He nodded. “You must have had another nightmare. You were in a pit, you said?”

In the pit where he had done terribly intimate things to her, as he well knew, Alys thought. “Yes, I was.” She didn’t have to try to sound muddled; she was completely dumbfounded. “I fell into it and you came to rescue me.”

He smiled and poured a cup of tea for her. “How did I do that? Was it like that Raiders movie you spoke of, with all the snakes?”

“I don’t remember any snakes.” He was joking about it now. She wanted to hit him. “I saw you jump straight up in the air, and then…I must have blacked out.” To keep from screaming, she took a sip of the tea, which he’d laced liberally with honey. To cover the taste of the drugs? She set down the cup. “It was a very vivid dream.”

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