“And now?” Jenna asked. “Haven’t you ever wanted to find a mate?”
He shrugged. “Life is a feast to be sampled and savored. Why would I want to restrict myself to a single course forever?”
Brock pulled Jenna a bit closer to him now. “Apparently, you haven’t met the right woman yet.”
“Perhaps not,” he agreed. But his thoughts spiraled back to a moment in time when he had known someone special. Someone who’d made him forget all other women during the handful of days they’d had together. “There was one woman, years ago. A mortal, so no matter how I felt about her, our time together would’ve been short. But she was also married to another man. We spent a couple of weeks together one summer in Greece, before she returned home to America. Home to him.”
Jenna had gone utterly silent. She was staring at him, her brows knit in a pensive frown. “You met her in Greece?”
Zael nodded. “One of the Cyclades islands . . .”
“They met in Mykonos.”
The feminine voice that said the word came from the open doorway behind him. Zael swiveled his head and found a lovely, flame-haired young woman—a Breedmate—standing there. At her side was a large Breed warrior with shaggy dark hair and a web of scars that marred the left side of his face.
“Yes,” Zael murmured. “It was Mykonos.”
Something about the young woman’s face made his breath catch in his lungs. Her eyes were somehow familiar. And the copper color of her hair . . . it was the same fiery shade as the strands that shot through his blond waves.
Jenna rushed over to bring the other female and her big mate inside the room. “Dylan and Rio, this is Zael.”
“I know,” said the woman named Dylan. “I knew who he was the moment I heard his name today.”
She had a piece of paper in her hand. As she held it out to Zael, he realized it was an old photograph.
He took it from her loose grasp and glanced down at his own smiling face. He could still recall the beach that day. Could still feel the warmth of the sun on his head and shoulders.
He could still hear the laughter of the young, vibrant woman who’d taken the picture of him that afternoon.
Zael glanced up from the photo to look at the Breedmate standing before him.
She met his astonished gaze with a sweet, uncertain smile. “My name is Dylan. The woman you knew in Mykonos that summer was Sharon Alexander. She was my mother.”
“I should’ve stayed with him. I shouldn’t have left him there alone with those men.”
Carys sat on the sofa in the Chase Darkhaven, flanked by her mother and Brynne. Also in the room with her were Jordana and Nova. Even Aric was there, no doubt to make sure she stayed put.
“You did the only thing you could’ve done,” her mother assured her. “You said yourself that Rune was the one who told you to leave. He didn’t want to see you get hurt.”
“I should’ve tried anyway,” she murmured, misery running through her veins like acid. “I should have stayed and helped him fight those bastards. I told him I would always stand by him, and I failed him tonight.”
She had regretted leaving La Notte as soon as she’d run out of the place. She should have gone back after she’d called her father for help, but his fear for her well-being had been nearly as palpable as Rune’s. He demanded she return home as quickly as possible. He’d promised her that he and his team were heading out to the club immediately to handle the situation.
She had been home nearly twenty minutes with no word from her father, Mathias, or any of the Boston warriors who’d gone with them.
“Why haven’t they called in yet? They must be there by now.” She pushed herself up from the sofa with a moan. “Dammit, I can’t sit here any longer. I need to know what’s going on.”
Aric’s strong hands were firm, but gentle, on her shoulders as he guided her back to her seat. “Listen to me, sister. You’re tough and you’re Breed, but it would’ve been suicide if you’d escalated things with those men. You saw the scarabs on them. You know what they mean.”
Nova’s gaze was as grim as Aric’s. “It would’ve been worse than death for you, if my father’s men had gotten their hands on you, Carys. Don’t think you would’ve been given any mercy.”
Aric hissed a curse. “No matter how I feel about you being with Rune, the best thing he did was make sure you got out of there safely. For that, I owe him. We all owe him.”
“I know he did it to save me. He let them believe I was a Breedmate, not Breed. He tried to make them think I worked in the club, instead of revealing who I really am.”
Beside her on the sofa, her mother blew out a shaky sigh and hugged Carys close. “My God . . . Knowing what we do about Fineas Riordan, do you realize how close you came to falling into Opus Nostrum’s hands tonight? I don’t even want to consider what they would do to a family member of the Order.”
Carys didn’t really want to think about that either, but what would they do to Rune?
“I never saw fear in his eyes until tonight. He knew those men and what they were capable of. They knew him too—apparently, they know more about him than I do.”
“You’re saying he’s one of them,” Aric said, not a question. “Rune is one of Riordan’s thugs.”
She gave a weak nod. “I think he might’ve been at one time, yes.”
She didn’t want to admit it, but after tonight it was hard to deny that it was possible. The realization was still cold inside her. It was hard to process the fact that some of the secrets Rune had kept from her had materialized as a pack of terrifying thugs bearing the mark of the very criminal the Order was trying to destroy.
“They knew him,” she murmured again. “They said his name was Aedan. He didn’t deny it.”
Nova went suddenly still, almost wooden, where she stood next to Jordana. Her face lost its color and her mouth fell slack. “Aedan?”
“What is it?” Jordana asked her. “Nova, what’s wrong?”
“Aedan is my brother’s name. Aedan Riordan.”
Carys’s stomach bottomed out at the airless revelation. “Oh, my God. He told me there was a little girl . . . that he had a sister. But he said her name was—”
“Kitty,” Nova said. “That’s what he called me. Not Catriona. Kitty.”
Gasps traveled the room. Aric ground out a harsh curse.
As for Carys, she could only close her eyes as the reality sank in.
Rune wasn’t merely one of Riordan’s men.
He was his son.
~ ~ ~
“Not counting the debris and the dead scarab behind the bar, there’s no lingering imprint of violence here,” Mathias said from beside Chase in the vacant arena area of La Notte. “My guess is that they took Rune out of here without a struggle.”
“What about duress?” Chase knew his old friend’s unique extrasensory ability would be able to pick up on psychic echoes of aggression the way other people would notice a bruise on flesh.
Mathias shook his head. “He went willingly from what I can tell.”
“Shit.” About the only thing worse than Carys’s all-too-close brush with some of Fineas Riordan’s men was the possibility that her lover was actually familiar with the son of a bitch too. Familiar enough that he’d walked out of this club with Riordan’s thugs on his own volition.