Bound to Darkness(Midnight Breed,book 13)(18) by Lara Adrian
He kept his answering grumble low, as if it took some effort for him not to demand she report to the Darkhaven because he said so. Instead he cleared his throat. “Very well. I’ll bring this to Lucan now, and we can talk some more tomorrow, then.”
“Okay. Goodnight, Daddy.”
He grunted. “I suppose one of these nights I’m going to have to meet this fighter of yours.”
“I’d like that,” she said. “And his name is Rune.”
Another grunt. “What kind of name is that, anyway?”
Carys smiled. “I’ll see you when I get home.”
She ended the call, then closed up her equipment and office and raced out of the museum to head for La Notte. Rune would already be in the cage, but she’d only miss the first couple of rounds.
Except when she got to the red-brick, former church that housed the underground club, instead of hearing the pulsing throb of music the place was quiet. Instead of seeing excited crowds bursting at the seams of the building and spilling out onto the street, people were leaving. Most didn’t look happy about it.
Carys wove her way through the thinning streams of exiting patrons at street level, then headed to the arena below. Only a handful of stragglers remained in the cavernous space, and even those were focused on making their way out.
The cage was empty too. And through the dark of the arena, she spotted Rune crouched in front of a sobbing blond woman seated on one of the couches in the lounge. He glanced Carys’s way as she came inside, a brief but intense look to say he knew she was there and that his business with the other woman was just that.
Carys recognized the human female—one of several who worked the BDSM dens. Tonight, Lexi wore a thick robe over her obviously torn leather outfit. Heavy black mascara ran down her cheeks with her tears. A nasty bruise was forming under her left eye, and dried blood caked the corner of her lipstick-smeared mouth.
Carys glanced toward the bar and saw Jagger and Vallan standing there. “What happened?”
Jagger pressed his lips together and shook his head. “Bunch of human punks thought they could come in here and get rough with some of the staff, now that Cass isn’t here to enforce his house rules. Rune stopped his match and shut the place down for the night, kicked everyone out.”
Carys was surprised, but then it wasn’t the first time Rune had stepped in as the de facto law of the place since Cass’s slaying. The other Breed fighters seemed to naturally look to him as their leader too, and not only because he was the most feared, most lethal of them all.
Rune commanded respect because in spite of how dangerous he was, he would be the first to defend someone weaker and the last to back down from a fight, even if it wasn’t his battle to win. He was a warrior at heart, a good man, even if few took the time to see it in him . . . including himself.
Carys watched him talk to the injured woman, trying not to feel the pang of jealousy that arced through her at the focused attention he was giving another female. Instead, she walked behind the bar and collected some clean cloths from the cabinet to help tend to the battered employee’s contusions.
As she wet the cloths at the sink and folded some ice into one of them, she scanned the arena for the other fighter. “Where’s Slade?”
The two Breed males exchanged a look. Vallan shrugged. “He and Rune had a disagreement last night. Slade’s been encouraged to look for employment elsewhere.”
“Rune threw him out too?” At their nods, she frowned. “Why? What did he do?”
Neither one of them seemed eager to answer. Finally, Jagger spoke up. “Maybe you’d better ask Rune about that.”
Rune murmured a gruff reassurance to the shaken woman that she would never get hurt in the club again. As he stood up, he sensed Carys drawing near.
His blood was still drumming hot and aggressive through his veins after the scuffle in the arena before she’d arrived. Now that she was there, his veins began to throb for an altogether different reason.
“Here, these should help.” She carried a couple of clean cloths and a cold compress, things he hadn’t thought to provide. Carys turned a concerned look on the woman and sat down beside her on the couch. “Are you all right, Lexi?”
“I think so. Asshole about knocked me out when he hit me, though.”
“Let me see your eye.” Carys gingerly inspected the injury. She put the makeshift ice pack against the purple bruise. “Does that feel a little better?”
The woman nodded, and Carys smiled. She took one of the cloths and gently dabbed the blood on the female’s split lip, then cleaned the dark streaks of makeup and tears from her cheeks.
Rune watched her work, relieved that she seemed to know exactly what needed to be said and done to comfort someone. His own nurturing skills were somewhere between pitiful and nonexistent. God knew, he’d had little experience with tenderness in his life. He’d survived his youth by being tough. Deadly. He’d made his living that way too. Softness and affection had never had a place in his life—until Carys had stepped into his orbit.
When she finished, Rune cleared his throat. “That’s gonna be a hell of a shiner in the morning. Why don’t you take the rest of the week off, Lexi, give yourself time to recover. Tell everyone else to go home for the night. I’ll see to it that you all get full pay.”
As she thanked him and got up to do as he asked, Rune glanced at Jagger and Vallan at the bar. “You both can clear out too. I’ll lock up.”
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