Bound to Darkness(Midnight Breed,book 13)(55) by Lara Adrian
In the pit below, the combat had escalated. One of the Breed males was finally tiring. His shoulder was ripped wide open, the arm dangling uselessly at his side. His opponent flew at him on a bellow that shook the ancient rafters overhead. The two massive bodies crashed together, and the weakened vampire was slammed onto the dirt floor.
Fangs gleamed like daggers as the pair bit and gnashed at each other, powerful fists striking and connecting in a blur of speed and brutality. Blood sprayed from arteries torn open in the struggle. Howls of anguish and fury rose to a deafening level from the enclosure far below.
The male on the bottom couldn’t hope to hold off the other. Disabled, fatigued, he made the fatal error of leaving his throat open for attack. His opponent seized it, hitting as hard as a viper.
Fangs sank deep and shredded the other vampire’s neck in a single strike, all but severing the head from its body.
The victor lifted his head in a shout of triumph, blood and gore dripping from his enormous fangs. There was no humanity left in that face. Nothing but madness and savagery.
Beside Rune, his father and the other Riordan men hooted and applauded the finish. They were giddy with enthusiasm, avid in their enjoyment of the sadistic spectacle below.
The champion seemed to notice his audience for the first time now.
Lips parted, breath sawing out of him, he cocked his head and stared directly up at Rune and the others on the catwalk high above.
He gave no warning of what he was about to do.
One moment he was crouched atop his dead opponent, the next he was airborne—leaping up from the floor of the pit with a feral snarl.
Rune jumped back as the big male vaulted at them. His father and the other men didn’t so much as flinch.
Rune understood why less than a second later.
The fighter’s escape was stopped by an invisible barrier. The very instant his body connected with it, bright sparks exploded. Pungent smoke and blinding light made Rune avert his eyes—though not before he realized the vampire was dead.
Or, rather, ashed on the spot. Once the stench and sparks had dissipated, the massive body of the Breed male was nothing but a small cloud of floating dust.
Rune gaped. “What the fuck?”
“UV webbing.” His father grinned. “I’ve made some improvements to the pit since you’ve been here last.”
He waved Ennis away with a pointed nod, then started walking. Behind Rune, the guns at his back encouraged him to follow.
“Come, Aedan. I’d like to talk about your friends in the Order.”
More than a hundred people, Breed and human, filled the ballroom of Councilman Fielding’s mansion in London at nine o’clock that evening. A small orchestra played in the background as the arriving guests made their way along a receiving line toward the newly engaged couple and their beaming sets of parents.
Brynne made introductions for Carys to JUSTIS colleagues and other guests, explaining that she was the daughter of a friend back in the States, who was visiting London for a brief summer holiday. Carys, in an elegant black pantsuit and heels, smiled and shook hands as she and Brynne progressed down the line. All the while, she studied the layout of the house and its numerous archways and passages leading off to the foyer and other rooms from the bustling ballroom.
After a Breed dignitary from Africa and his mate stepped forward to greet the hosts, Brynne leaned close to Carys and spoke around a pleasant smile. “Stop touching your ear, darling. We don’t want to draw unwanted attention.”
Dammit. She wasn’t used to espionage, and it was damn hard to ignore the tiny transmitter and GPS tracker she carried in her left ear. “Sorry,” she whispered quietly.
Gideon’s voice replied, equally covert. “No worries. Just pretend I’m not here. You know what you need to do, right? Locate Fielding’s office, search for any kind of hard intel you can find—login IDs, passwords, calendar appointments, anything at all. Then scatter those bugs I gave you and get the hell out of there.”
“Mm-hmm.” Carys knew her instructions. She also knew to turn on her best smile as Brynne shook hands with Fielding’s wife.
“Such a beautiful night for this happy event,” Brynne was saying. She brought Carys forward to meet the GNC official and his wife. “Mr. and Mrs. Fielding, I’d like to introduce Carys Fairchild, the daughter of a dear friend of mine from Boston.”
Carys didn’t so much as blink at the use of her mother’s maiden name. She played along, extending her hand to the portly, middle-aged councilman and his wife.
“How nice to meet you,” Mrs. Fielding cooed. She turned and made further introductions to their daughter and her new fiancé, and to the Fieldings’ adult son, Simon.
The introverted twenty-something human had his father’s pear-shaped body and thinning tangle of curly brown hair, but his mother’s soft blue eyes. He blinked at Carys from behind thick-lensed glasses, and, with an awkward bob of his head, took her hand in a clammy, limp grasp.
“Carys is from Boston,” his mother informed him cheerfully. “Simon will be speaking at an economics seminar there next month. Perhaps he’ll tell you all about it. Would you like that, Carys?”
“Of course,” she replied, dreading the prospect already. “That sounds fascinating.”
Gideon’s quiet chuckle was a tickle in her ear. “Smoothly done. Welcome to the glamour of covert ops.”
“Hmm. Now you tell me,” she whispered, turning her face aside to mask the subtle movement of her lips.
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