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“Or the trauma of having a man you thought was the devil hurt you made you suppress the memory,” she suggested. “You were only a little boy.” She shifted around to place a kiss on his spine.

“I have always wondered why the high lord chose me to protect you.” He pulled her on top of him so he could stroke the silky line of her back. “We know that we bear the same mark. The cross you wear was made by the priest who took me from Jerusalem. And we have both come here to find the Emeralds of Eternity.”

She frowned. “I’m looking for emeralds?”

Beau explained his mission to her. “Tremayne funded your project in hopes that you would find the emeralds for him, and sent me to take them from you when you did. I cannot say why he is so convinced you—or I—would find them.”

Alys thought for a moment. “Were you one of the Templars who came there?”

“I was not, love. I never knew of the mission until the high lord gave me orders to join the project.” Tremayne would have his head for revealing his schemes to a mortal, but Beau was determined to tell Alys everything. “Cristophe, the Kyn who guarded the emeralds—which I believe to be the same treasure that you seek—was a smith, and a mason. He abandoned the Templars and our kind to join a monastery in Aragon. When the order fell, he fled to the Spanish Main, and then to Florida. He has not been seen in these six hundred years since.”

“So I was right.” Alys wrapped her arms around herself as she grinned. “I knew it. I knew it.” She eyed him. “It’s possible that Cristophe came here to hide the emeralds. He fits the profile of the unnamed Templar in my research. But why bury them?”

“In my time there were no archaeologists digging up the earth, and none of my kind had yet come to the New World. Perhaps he thought they would be safe.” He told her everything he knew about the emeralds, and added, “In truth I cannot say if they are blessed or cursed. What I can tell you is that almost every mortal who has sought them has died.”

Alys shook her head. “Jewels can’t kill people. They’re simply very pretty rocks. Since he is Kyn, Cristophe is still around, trying to protect their location. Wait.” She propped herself up to study his face. “We have the same color eyes, and the same crooked finger. Both are recessive traits. Even if we were born seven hundred years apart, we could still be related.”

Beau wrapped his arms around her. “You agreed that you are not my sister.”

“No, but I could be one of your mortal descendants. A very distant…” She fell silent, and her expression blanked.

Beau cupped her face so he could kiss her mouth. “What do you see in that head of yours?”

“You never knew your father. Your mother sent for the robed man to take you to England. The robed man called you the last of his mortal seed. The crosses. His blood kin. Orphans. The tattoos. The emeralds.” She repeated the phrases over and over in a monotone as she stared blindly at him.

Beau could almost hear the thoughts racing through her head. “Yes, love, that’s it. Find the connections.”

Alys’s empty eyes fluttered and then refocused on his face as she smiled. “Out of the fourteen most apparent theoretical constructs, there is only one that maintains complete logical integrity.”

He kissed her mouth. “Tell me.”

“Cristophe was the robed man, and your biological father. He tattooed you to identify you as the last of his offspring for Tremayne. I am the last descendant of Cristophe’s mortal family, and I was tattooed for the same reason. Tremayne identified us by our tattoos and sent us to find the emeralds, probably in hopes that Cristophe would not try to kill us, as we are the end of his immortal and mortal bloodlines. Cristophe is also not finished with us.”

“Cristophe is still alive?”

Alys nodded solemnly. “He’s the ghost at the mission.”

Chapter 14

The sound of a beloved voice tugged at Farlae’s ears, luring him out of the haze of pain.

“Harlech said I should talk to you,” Rainer was saying. “He is watching me all the time now. If not for his penchant for Viviana, I should be worried.”

Farlae was puzzled. The last thing he remembered was going to speak with Jayr about…something. Costumes for the spring schedule, probably. With more than five hundred to make, he and his ladies would be cutting and fitting and sewing up until the very last second.

He wouldn’t be sewing anything if he couldn’t rouse himself from this torpid senselessness. Why do my bloody ribs feel as if they’re on fire?

“Jayr’s new mortal watches me as well,” Rainer continued. “He seems kind. I juggled eggs for him, you see, and when one slipped and landed on his shoe, he did not become even a little annoyed with me. If you still mean to have Leeds, I think he would be a good partner for you.”

Leeds. The name seemed to twist in Farlae’s chest like a knife, although he couldn’t fathom why. Jayr’s mortal. I saw him somewhere…through the glass.…

“You must wake up soon, Farlae,” Rain muttered. “I do not want you to take Leeds as your partner. I want you to keep me. I do not like sleeping or bathing by myself. I can’t even sin by myself. Well, yes, I can. Every man can. And of course I have. But I like it better when you do it. I am more handsome than Leeds.”

A soggy sniff dragged Farlae out of his patchwork memories. The feel of his limp hand being lifted and pressed to a wet cheek clawed at his heart.

“Do you hear me? You cannot go away and leave me alone,” Rain whispered, his breath soft against Farlae’s ear. “You promised you never would. Remember, the first time we were naked together, in that glade by the lake? You told me that immortals never die, so we would never burn in hell for it.”

Farlae wanted to turn his head and console his partner, but it remained impaled on the pike of his neck. Neither could he raise his eyelids or make the slightest sound. Only one thing could reduce a Kyn to such a state—copper poisoning—and the amount required to render him so helpless would be a lethal dose. But the pain in his ribs suggested an alternative.

Someone stabbed me in the chest with a copper blade.

Rain’s voice changed. “I know what a fool I am, and how often I vex you. If you will but wake, things will be different.” He pressed a kiss against the back of Farlae’s hand. “I will clear all of the toys out of my chamber. You will never again have to listen my wind-up chattering teeth, or sit upon my cushion that breaks wind, or watch my Monty Python DVDs. I will dress like a true warrior, in armor and leather and those things. You will never have to be ashamed of me again.”

The shame was his, Farlae thought as he felt the void dragging at him. His heart had been poisoned long before anyone had taken a copper blade to him, and if not for the endless, sunny love he’d been given, the darkness would have swallowed him whole. He’d been the fool all along, not Rain. He had to live, if only to tell his partner that he would always be proud of him, and grateful that he had saved him from the hell of his own making.

Farlae fought through the sludge of the void, forcing his will through the pain and the emptiness toward Rain’s voice. He hesitated only when he smelled another scent clouding his lover’s: that of mortal sweat and blood.

He knew that scent. It belonged to the hand that had struck him down.

“How is he?” That was the mortal’s voice, the one that came out of his memory in a whisper as loud as a shriek. You should not have followed me here.

“He has not awakened yet,” Rain said. “Harlech says it will be some time. You are hurt?”

Not by my hand. The mortal had attacked Farlae from behind, thrusting his blade in from the side and skewering him before he could turn.

“It’s nothing. I had an accident in the lists.” The mortal’s voice changed as he added, “Seneschal.”

“Tresora.” That came from Byrne, and with great reluctance. “I mistook what I saw in the lists. I would ask that you forgive me my harsh words to you.”

“There is no need for you to apologize.” Leeds sounded contrite. “I was hardly mannerly myself.”

Farlae wanted to scream for Byrne to kill the traitor, but all he could force from his lips was a sputter.

“Farlae?” Rain’s hands touched his face. “Farlae, can you hear me?”

It took every ounce of his will, and every shred of his strength, to open his eyes. The three men stood all around him, but he focused on the still, pale face of the mortal.

Byrne leaned over, resting a hand on his shoulder. “You took a copper blade to the ribs, lad. That is why you are here. It nearly touched your heart.”

Farlae moved his head slightly. “Hmmm.”

“What does he say, Byrne?” Rain asked. “And why does he look at Devan like that?”

“Him.” Farlae dragged in another breath and nodded once more at the mortal. “’Twas…him.”

“What he is trying to tell you,” Leeds said, almost kindly, “is that I am the one who stabbed him and left him for dead.”

Rain lunged across the bed, using his bulk to hold Byrne back as he shouted for the guard. “Please, Aedan, no. You will turn into Death again. I do not like you when you kill. You never wish to stop.” He burst into tears.

Byrne stopped trying to fend him off. “Why?” he snarled at Leeds.

The mortal shrugged. “Does it matter now?”

As the guards came in and flanked Leeds, Byrne wrapped his arms around Rain, embracing him like a wounded child.

“There will be no more monsters let loose in the Realm, my lad.” To the guards he said, “Take this piece of shit to the dungeons.”

Once he had compelled Taylor to forget them, Beau walked out of the resort to join Alys at the curb. “A pity we cannot stay another night,” he grumbled as he donned his eyeshades and linked hands with her. “The manager would have happily seen to our comfort.”

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