“Nothing I’ve heard will go any further, I assure you,” she said, but there was a hedging quality to her answer. She gave a vague shake of her head. “And I hope the Order can appreciate what both my discretion and trust—not to mention my active cooperation—may cost me, if things go wrong and JUSTIS were to find out I’m privy to any of this.”
“No one wants that to happen,” Tavia interjected.
Chase agreed. “The Order will tread carefully with Fielding, Brynne.”
“I hope so. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that willfully withholding information from my superiors at JUSTIS about possible GNC corruption could have career-wrecking consequences. If JUSTIS were to find out I’d confided in the Order instead of my own organization? I don’t even want to think what that could mean. It won’t be merely my career on the line.”
Chase could hardly argue any of that. “And if it turns out the London GNC director is dirty—if it turns out that he leads us to within striking distance of Opus and the rest of that sick cabal—then you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped bring down a terror group feared around the world. A victory like that could catapult you to the top of the heap at JUSTIS.”
She blew out a dismissive breath. “I’m not aiming for a higher office in the organization. I just want to do what’s right. And that means ridding the world of cancerous groups like Opus and all who serve them.”
“We appreciate that, Brynne. And your concerns are ours as well.”
She glanced between Mathias and him. “How soon do you anticipate Lucan will want to begin his reconnaissance on the director?”
“Soon,” Chase said. “Days at most. Right now, Fielding has no idea we’ll be watching. We want him to stay that way. We want him comfortable until the moment we’re ready to strike.”
Brynne nodded. “He won’t be paying much attention to anything this week. Fielding’s daughter got engaged. The director and his wife are hosting a party for her this weekend at their new home.”
Tavia arched a brow. “Their expensive new home they shouldn’t be able to afford?”
“That’s the one,” Brynne replied. “They’ve invited half of London, including many of us in JUSTIS.”
Mathias sent a sardonic look at Chase. “Nothing in my mailbox. I feel slighted.”
Chase smirked. “You should be getting used to it. The Order is never on the invitation list for these things.”
“More’s the pity,” Mathias drawled, chuckling. His phone chirped with an incoming call. “It’s Thane.”
Everyone fell silent as Mathias took the call from his operation’s team captain. He mostly listened, and from the expression on the London commander’s face, the news wasn’t good.
“What do you mean, he’s dead? Ah, fuck. Jesus Christ.” Mathias went silent again, then a violent curse exploded out of him. “No records at all? Damn it. Any idea where the box might be located?”
Chase didn’t like what he was hearing either. It sounded like the simple data recovery mission in Dublin had gone totally off the rails.
“All right, take what you’ve got and clear out of there,” Mathias ordered. “Leave the body. Let the damn place burn.”
Mathias ended the call and looked up grimly. “Hayden Ivers is dead. He popped some kind of poison pill just as my guys arrived and set his damn house on fire.”
Some unlucky lady was having a loud, ugly cry in the Darkhaven’s media room.
Since misery loved company, Carys left the kitchen and wandered that way, wearing an oversized T-shirt, baggy pajama bottoms and fluffy socks—the wardrobe of a woman in the midst of a good sulk.
She shuffled inside the room and found Jordana and Nova seated on the enormous sectional inside. Both women were riveted to the sappy sob-fest taking place on the large movie screen on the opposite wall.
Carys plopped down with them. “Who died?”
“No one,” Jordana answered without looking away from the screen. “Those are tears of joy. She just found out she’s pregnant with twins after years of trying, and her husband surprised her with a nursery he’d been building for her in secret with his own hands.”
Carys rolled her eyes. “In other words, total fantasy.”
“Totally romantic,” Jordana countered. “I like my happy endings. Since when don’t you?”
Carys blew out a short sigh and dug her spoon into the fresh pint of ice cream she’d confiscated from the freezer.
Now Jordana looked at her. “Is that chocolate?”
“Chocolate with fudge,” Carys said around a mouthful of it. “Plus more fudge. And caramel.”
Her friend made grabby hands for the container. When she took it from Carys, she peered inside and frowned. “It’s almost gone.”
Carys shrugged. “I’m using it for medicinal purposes.”
Jordana offered it to Nova, who declined with an emphatic toss of her blue-and-black hair. “Ordinarily, I’d be all over that. Right now, just the smell of it is enough for me, thanks.”
After Jordana took a big spoonful, she passed the pint back to Carys. “You’re not out with Rune tonight.”
“Nope. I’m not.” Carys stared into the container. “We had an argument today. I think I broke up with him.”
“What?” Jordana stared at her, confused and aghast. “No wonder you’re medicating with double fudge and caramel. What happened?”
“The thing everyone warned me about—that I was being a fool letting myself get tangled up with him. That I was going to get hurt.”
Jordana frowned. “This morning everything seemed fined between you two. What did he do, Car? Wait a minute. Does this have something to do with the club? You didn’t know he wanted to buy it, did you?”
Carys shook her head. “It’s not about the club itself. It’s the fact that he won’t let me into his life. Not all of it, anyway.” She looked around Jordana to include Nova in the conversation. “I’ve been seeing this guy for a while now. A Breed fighter in one of the cage arenas in the city. Of course, my family doesn’t approve.”
“Those are dangerous places,” Nova remarked. “A lot of dangerous people there.”
“Rune’s not one of them,” Carys said, feeling the need to defend him. A little. “I mean, he’s definitely dangerous, but only in the cage. Outside of it, with me, he is . . . amazing. He’s tender and kind and exciting. We’ve been practically inseparable these past several weeks. I’ve never felt more wanted, more alive, than when I’m with him.”
Nova listened, a smile at the edges of her mouth. “Doesn’t sound like a problem to me so far.”
No, it didn’t to Carys either. But that was part of the problem. “Everything is great between us, except he’s holding back. He’s been keeping me at arm’s length and I never saw that until today. I fell so fast and so deep for him, maybe I didn’t want to let myself see it.”
“It sounds like he cares about you,” Nova pointed out.
Carys nodded, but it was a weak effort. “I want to believe he does, but there’s a steep wall between us and I can’t reach him. I can’t help feeling that if I try to scale it, he might be the one waiting to push me off once I reach the top.”