He lifted his head to look up at the catwalk and his blazing amber gaze lit on her.
The roar he let out when he saw her shook the stone walls and the rafters high above.
Carys’s hand flew to her mouth, tears stinging her eyes. “Rune!”
“Carys? No!” His outraged eyes went to his father. “How did you get her? Goddamn it, let her go!”
Ennis Riordan chuckled as he sent a sidelong glance at Rune’s father. “I told you the bitch we saw in Boston was more than just a fuck to our boy, Aedan.”
“Obviously something more than he wanted us to believe. But what was she doing in Fielding’s house tonight?”
“She hasn’t told me anything so far. Said she wanted to see him first.” He smirked at her. “I think we can persuade her to talk now.”
“Let her go,” Rune growled from in the pit. He ground out a low curse. “Don’t hurt her. You sick fuck!”
His father’s brows rose. “You haven’t seen sick yet. When we’re done with you, boyo? Oh, what fun we’re gonna have with her.”
And then, it all happened so fast.
Riordan glanced at his guard. In response, the male reached over to pull a lever mounted on the stone wall at the end of the catwalk. Down below, one of the iron-grated portals built into the wall of the fighting pit began to open.
Another feral Breed male sprang out like a lion set loose in a gladiator’s arena. Bigger than the last one, his massive body was unmarked and fresh for combat. And, like the other, he seemed too unhinged to be fully sane. Bloodthirsty and vicious, he circled Rune, prepared to lunge.
“Now, let’s make it more interesting.” Riordan nodded to his brother.
In a flash of motion, the other male drew his pistol and shot Rune in the shoulder.
The sound started out high-pitched and anguished, but quickly changed to something powerful and otherworldly. Her transformation from woman to Breed female was sudden, and unstoppable.
Her fangs punched out of her gums in an instant. Her vision burned red as her Breed nature took over and her pupils narrowed to vertical slits within her amber irises. She leapt at Riordan’s brother, seizing hold of him. Her body slammed against his, lifting him off his feet.
Her immense forward momentum sent them both airborne.
“Holy shit!” Rune’s father jumped back against his guard on a curse.
His brother shrieked in abject terror in Carys’s grasp, his eyes wide.
It took less than a second for Carys to understand why. As they sailed over the railing of the catwalk, into open air, sparks exploded as if they’d crashed into something.
The blast of light was blinding, filling her vision like the blast of a thousand suns.
Then her nostrils filled with the smoky stench of burning skin and hair.
What the hell?
The Breed male she’d held fast in her fists was gone. Disintegrated in her fingers.
Suddenly, she wasn’t holding anything anymore. The ashes of Ennis Riordan’s body rained down around her like snowflakes as she plummeted to the floor of the fighting pit.
Nova’s sketches of Riordan’s castle lay spread out on a work table in the rear of the Order’s private jet. Chase and the other warriors had been gathered around the diagrams for the past hour or so, reviewing entry points and running through possible infiltration plans.
He drummed his fingers on the table as he considered the confined chambers and limited exits on the drawings. “How many guards are we looking at once we get inside?”
“Could be a couple dozen,” Lucan said. “We can only guess, based on the security camera images that Gideon’s been collecting on the place.”
Dante smirked. “Well, shit. We’ve taken out nests of Rogues in bigger numbers than that.”
Chase and the Order’s other longtime members chuckled at the reminder. Two decades ago, missions like this one were commonplace, when they’d all worked together from the original compound in Boston. It wasn’t often they came together on a joint patrol now, but it was always easy to settle back into the old rhythm of the tight brotherhood they still shared.
Rio glanced over at Mathias, a smile stretching the scars that marred his left cheek. “What kind of party favors are we bringing these assholes tonight?”
“My team will have extra arms and ammunition waiting for us in Dublin. They’re also bringing explosives, should we need to blast our way in—or out.”
Kade gave a wolfish grin. “Show of hands. Who besides me wants to play with the fireworks?”
With the exception of Nathan, the team from Boston all thrust their hands up, along with Aric. Then Dante and Brock joined them too.
As the jokes and chuckles traveled the table, Lucan’s comm unit buzzed with an incoming call. He left to take it while the discussion continued.
“It’s going to be close to sunrise when we land,” Hunter said. “Even if Riordan anticipates that we’re on to him, I doubt he’ll be prepared for a full-scale attack in broad daylight.”
Chase nodded. “And we’ll be covered on that front. Mathias’s vehicles are equipped with light-blocking windows, and we’ll be storming Riordan’s gates wearing full UV tactical gear.”
“What about females or young children?” Tegan asked. Once the coldest member of the Order, having a mate and an adult son of his own had added a new, protective dimension to the lethal male. “We gonna have to sweep for civilians once we get inside?”
Mathias shook his head. “Not a concern. Riordan hasn’t been mated for years. Unfortunately, his Breedmates seem to have an unhealthy habit of dying under mysterious circumstances. He does have a brother, Ennis, whose reputation is almost as repulsive.” Mathias cleared his throat. “Then, of course, there is the matter of Riordan’s son.”
Chase grunted at the reminder. He wasn’t about to forget the delicate matter of potentially going into combat against the male Carys loved. Tavia had stressed to him that she and their daughter both expected him to reserve judgment, to do what he could to spare Riordan’s son if at all possible.
He’d given his word. But he couldn’t guarantee the male wouldn’t be caught in the crossfire if things went south inside the stronghold.
With those grim thoughts riding him, he nearly didn’t notice that Lucan had gone markedly quiet, still on his phone call at the other side of the jet’s cabin. But everyone else had stopped talking now too.
Lucan’s sober expression and silence drew more attention than if he’d been roaring vicious curses at the top of his lungs.
He ended the call and walked over, his grave eyes locked on Chase.
“What’s going on, Lucan?”
“It’s Carys.” Two words, spoken so seriously, it seemed to suck all the air out of the room. “She’s gone missing from the party in London.”
Chase felt his veins freeze over. At the table with him, Aric exploded with a shout of disbelief and worry.
“What do you mean, gone missing?” Chase murmured. “For how long? Where would she go? For fuck’s sake, tell me we’re turning that house upside down looking for her right now.”
“Brynne searched the house. Gideon had Carys’s GPS signal on site and active, but when they located her earpiece . . .” Lucan shook his head. “It appears she’s been gone for more than an hour.”