Bound to Darkness(Midnight Breed,book 13)(51) by Lara Adrian
“Speaking of allies,” Dante put in now. “Am I the only one just a bit freaked out that we have an Atlantean in the headquarters with us tonight?”
“I doubt anyone’s more taken aback by Zael than my Dylan,” Rio said, as he wrapped an arm around his mate.
Dylan frowned. A quiet wonder was written across her pretty, freckled face. “I still can’t believe it’s him—my birth father—after all this time. For the past twenty years, he was only a photo I’d been saving. He was just an intriguing mystery that my mom took to her grave. Now, he’s real.”
On the other side of Lucan, Gabrielle leaned forward, smiling warmly at the other woman. “It looked like the two of you had a nice reunion today.”
“We did,” Dylan said. “We talked for hours, about everything. I think I could’ve talked to him for a week and I’d still have a thousand questions.”
“We all have more questions for Zael,” Lucan said. “We need to know more about everything. The queen. The colony. The crystals.”
Jenna smirked. “Well, he doesn’t seem in a hurry to leave. He’s been camped out in the archive room most of the day. I think he plans to read the entire library before he goes.”
Brock grunted. “I’m sure it didn’t hurt that you were in there with him. That immortal has an eye for the ladies. He could hardly keep his tongue in his mouth around you.”
Jenna’s brows lifted. “You sound jealous, lover. I like it.”
Brock grumbled something under his breath, but his gaze was smoldering on his mate.
The meeting started to dissolve into side conversations and chatter. With the rising din of voices, the soft rap on the conference room door was barely audible. It came again, more determined this time.
“Enter.” Lucan raised his head, expecting to see Darion or one of the other Boston team members not included in the Order’s meeting of elders.
But it was Carys Chase.
She stepped into the room, her head held high with purpose. With a troubling resolve.
Her mother was the first to speak. “Is everything okay, sweetheart?”
“Nothing is okay,” she said. “I can’t take another second of waiting. I can’t take the not knowing. I’m scared for Rune, and I can’t sit here doing nothing.”
Tavia frowned. “What do you want to do?”
“I want to help.” Carys glanced past her parents, directly at Lucan. “I’m not a warrior. I don’t have any training. I know that. But I’m Breed. I can do something useful, can’t I?”
“Out of the question,” Chase interjected. “I won’t allow it, Carys.”
She turned a pained look on him and slowly shook her head. “I’m not here to ask for your permission. I’m asking to be taken seriously. To be given a chance—”
Her father’s gaze narrowed. “Like hell you don’t need my permission.”
“Would you be saying this to me if I were Aric?”
It was a direct hit, and everyone in the room felt it hit the mark. Chase said nothing, simmering in a dark silence.
For a long while, no one said anything.
Then Tavia reached over and put her hand on Chase’s. Her bright gaze traveled to Lucan and all of the other Order members and mates in the room. “Maybe there is something Carys can do to help us.”
The assignment hadn’t been what Carys expected, but after sleeping on the idea of the Order’s proposed mission, she’d woken up in her guest room that next morning in the D.C. headquarters feeling energized and ready to prove her worth.
Knowing that whatever intel she helped to collect from the London GNC official’s house this evening could be used to bring the Order closer to defeating Opus Nostrum only made her all the more eager to get started.
“Someone’s up early.” Brynne sailed into the kitchen, already dressed for travel in a crisp button-down and dark slacks. “Usually I’m the only one awake and walking around before sunrise.”
Carys swiveled her head away from her coffee and toast to smile at the other daywalker. “I couldn’t sleep.”
“Anxious about the party tonight, or about the Order’s mission in Dublin?”
“Both,” Carys admitted, watching Brynne walk over and put a kettle on for tea. “What I’m worried about most of all is Rune.”
And worry was only part of what she felt for him. She ached without him.
She felt marrow-chilling fear and unbearable dread to think that he was back in the company of the father who’d hurt him, betrayed him. Abused him so hideously.
Brynne leaned against the counter and faced her. “You really care about this male, don’t you?” She tilted her head, frowning as if she was trying to make sense of the idea. “You can forgive him even though he lied to you?”
Carys let out a sigh. “I forgave him as soon as it happened. I understand why he lied, and it doesn’t make me care any less. Haven’t you ever loved someone, Brynne?”
“No. I haven’t.” She blinked, then lifted her shoulder in a shrug. “Like your mother, for the first twenty years of my life, I didn’t even really know who, or what, I was. My handler controlled everything I did, everyone I came in contact with. I grew up thinking I was unwell, some kind of freak. After the truth came out—after the manufactured life I’d been living was exposed as a lie—I felt I needed to start my life all over again. After wasting all of those years, I wanted to do something purposeful, something real. Most of all, I never wanted to allow anyone to control me ever again. I don’t ask for permission. And I don’t let anyone tell me no.”
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