“This news is all the more reason we can’t delay any longer,” Lucan said. “Riordan’s our best lead on the Opus brotherhood right now. We may have already tipped our hand by going after that lawyer in Dublin. We can’t give Riordan any more time to prepare for a strike.”

He glanced to Gideon. “We’re going to need all of your recon data on Riordan’s stronghold. Start monitoring who’s coming and going, how many men he has. We need assessments of his security setup, possible arms, all of it.”

Gideon nodded. “I can be ready to brief everyone within the hour.”

“Good. I want us mobilized and ready to crash his fucking gates tomorrow night.”

Mathias met Lucan’s gaze. “I can have my team on the ground in Dublin and ready to meet us with vehicles and any other arms and equipment we’ll need. Just tell me what you want, and it’ll be there waiting.”

“Excellent,” Lucan said.

On the third video monitor, Nikolai, the Order’s commander of the Montreal team, started to chuckle beside his very pregnant Breedmate, Renata, a formidable warrior in her own right. “It’s been a while since we all went out on a mission together. Gotta tell ya, I’m feeling kind of left out over here.”

Renata pinned him with a widened stare. “Oh, no, you don’t. If I’m grounded from this mission because of your son’s pending arrival, so are you, vampire. You’re the one who put us in this position, after all.”

Niko grinned. “And once he’s finally here, I can’t wait to get us in a whole bunch of other positions.”

Amid the laughter circling the room, Chase turned a serious look on Lucan. “Getting our hands on Riordan is key, but we also need to consider the lead Brynne’s given us on the GNC member in London, Neville Fielding. If the human is connected to Opus, then as soon as Riordan is compromised, Fielding and the rest of the organization is going to batten down their hatches. We could drive them all to ground, and lose a prime advantage.”

Lucan agreed. “Ideally, we should go after both men at the same time. Our investigation into Fielding will need to be totally covert. He can’t know we’re on to him.”

“He’s going to be preoccupied with other things for the next couple of days,” Tavia said. “Brynne mentioned that his daughter is engaged. Fielding is hosting a reception for her at his home tomorrow night.”

Lucan grunted. “As much as I’d like to, we can’t storm the party with a team of heavily armed warriors.”

“No,” Chase said. “But Brynne will be there.”

Tavia eyed him cautiously. “She’s JUSTIS, Sterling. We can’t ask her to do the Order’s work, even if she would be willing to defy her own organization to help us. She’d be risking her entire career.”

“So, we send someone in with her instead. Someone who can slip away during the event and collect whatever intel or evidence there is to find onsite.”

Lucan shook his head. “All of the warriors are too recognizable, even in civilian clothes. So are our mates. For that matter, any uninvited Breed male will be conspicuous. They’ll be noted by Fielding and all of his security as soon as they arrive.”

Tavia exhaled a short breath. “All of this assumes my sister will be open to having an Order presence there with her at all.”

“We may not be able to give her that choice,” Lucan replied. “She’s given us her word that she’s allied with us on getting rid of Opus Nostrum. We’re going to need her full cooperation on this if we want to get to Fielding before the shit hits the fan with Riordan.”

“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.


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