“Someone took her?” Chase knew the answer without asking it. He knew who, as well, and the ice that had settled in his blood turned arctic. “Riordan.”
Lucan’s stark gaze confirmed it. “Gideon’s tap on the security cameras showed her arriving there with Ennis Riordan. She hasn’t been there long.”
“One second in that place is too goddamn long,” Chase muttered. “And we’re how far from touching down in Dublin?”
“A couple of hours. I’ve already told the pilot to push this bird as hard as he can.”
Chase thought about his mate, who’d stayed behind at headquarters with the other women. “Has Tavia been told?”
“Gideon thought you’d want to be the one to break the news to her.”
“Yeah. He’s right.” And Chase should have known Tavia hadn’t yet been informed. He would have felt her anguish through their blood bond. The way she was most certainly feeling his now. “It’ll be best if she hears it from me.”
As he got up from the table to make the dreaded call, he put his hand on his son’s strong shoulder. He couldn’t imagine what Carys’s twin must be feeling. The siblings had been so close as children. There had been strains in their bond recently, but it was on the mend now and their love had never dimmed.
Aric looked at him with eyes the same green shade as Tavia’s. His gaze was stark, unblinking. When he spoke, his deep voice was firm with resolve. “We’re gonna bring her back. She’s going to be all right. And those fucks who took her are going to pay in blood.”
The other warriors murmured their support, but the assurances did little to numb the dread clawing at Chase. He’d never felt so helpless, realizing that he was hundreds of miles and too many damn hours away from reaching her.
He knew Carys was strong. God knew she was stubborn. His daughter had never backed down from any fight, but she’d never been tested by something like this.
She had never faced the kind of evil that Fineas Riordan was reputed to deal in, and the thought of his little girl being taken—being touched by filth like Riordan—was almost too much for him to bear.
As the jet’s engines roared and the agonizing wait until landing began, Chase found himself pinning his hopes on an unlikely ally.
With him and the Order too far away to help, her best chance of survival could be Riordan’s own son. The same Breed male Chase had been reluctant to accept and all too quick to condemn.
Now, he never prayed so hard to be proven wrong.
~ ~ ~
Rune’s panic flooded him like electricity in his veins.
Even though his mind knew she couldn’t be harmed by UV light, his heart had seized with horror when the invisible web overhead had exploded like a supernova.
His relief came just as swiftly as he watched Carys drop to the floor of the pit behind him, wholly intact. She landed on her feet with all the grace of a cat—and came out of her slight crouch with all the ferocity and power of a Breed female.
Her fangs glinted behind her parted lips. Her bright blue irises were devoured by crackling amber heat. She glanced past his shoulder in alarm.
His second of inattention cost him. The drugged vampire Riordan had released into the pit saw his chance to strike. He charged at Rune, taking him down to the floor on his back.
Carys roared. She grabbed at Rune’s opponent and tore the big male off as if he weighed nothing. Then she sent the snarling savage against the stone wall and pulled Rune to his feet.
Above them on the catwalk, Riordan gaped in shock. “What the fuck? She’s a goddamn daywalker!” He pointed into the pit and swung a furious look at his guard. “Shoot the bitch! Kill her!”
Bullets started hailing down in a rapid barrage.
Rune felt a round hit his side as he threw himself around Carys. The shot bit into him, but he leaned on his ability to absorb the pain and kept moving. He grabbed her hand, dragging her behind him so he could be her shield.
“Under the catwalk,” he shouted, racing for the scant cover with her.
The gunfire couldn’t reach them directly below Riordan and his guard, but they couldn’t hope to stay under the shelter forever.
Riordan bellowed in outrage. “Get her, you idiot!”
The bullets slowed as the guard ran from one side of the catwalk to the other, trying to get Carys in his sights.
Rune held her close, adjusting their position as the gunman fired off a handful of wasted shots. Damn, he wanted so badly to embrace her, kiss her. He wanted to hold her and never let her go. She needed to know how sorry he was that he failed to keep his father’s evil from touching her. Most of all, she needed to know how deeply he loved her.
But there was no time for any of that now. The gunfire kept coming, and Carys’s survival was his sole focus.
Rune knew the moment she scented his fresh injury. Her face lifted to his, alarm sparking in her transformed eyes. “Oh, shit. Rune, you’ve been shot?”
“I’ll live. Don’t worry about me.”
And he intended for her to live too, which meant he had to find a way to get her out of there.
But now, across the pit from them, Rune saw the vampire shaking off his daze. The big male got up from his sprawl where Carys had flung him. His feral eyes looked past the other dead in the pit, seeking out his prey.
Rune stepped in front of Carys, shielding her. The snarling Breed male prowled forward, fearless of the gunfire, his fangs dripping pink-tinted saliva from the powerful narcotic Riordan had fed him.
He couldn’t let the beast get close to her. On a snarl, Rune charged forward. He plowed into the center of the big vampire, driving him down onto the floor of the pit. They rolled and thrashed, Rune trying to avoid the snapping jaws and razor-sharp fangs.
“Over here!” Riordan’s shout to his guard alerted Rune that Carys was on the move again. “Don’t let her get away this time!”
As Rune struggled and fought with his out-of-control assailant, he caught a flash of movement in his peripheral vision.
A blur of shadows as Carys crossed the open floor of the pit at full Breed speed, then dashed back under the catwalk before his father’s gunman could lock on to her.
Rune and his opponent came up from the floor, both pounding each other. One of Rune’s blows connected under the vampire’s chin. The male staggered back a couple of paces.
Then all at once, he convulsed violently as a sudden, lethal barrage of bullets tore into his broad chest.
Rune swung his head in the direction the shots had come from.
There stood Carys beneath the catwalk, holding Ennis Riordan’s smoking pistol in her hands.
Carys didn’t let go of her breath until Rune was standing with her under the meager cover of the catwalk.
Once he was there, she sagged against his warmth and strength, her arms hanging limply at her sides. Emotion overwhelmed her. Most of all, she felt a profound relief to feel his arms wrapped around her and his voice murmuring tender words against her ear.
He lifted her chin on the tips of his battered, bloodstained fingers.
“Carys,” he whispered, his deep voice urgent and raw. Emotion stormed in his blazing eyes. “You’re the last person I ever wanted to see here, in this place. I wanted to handle this for myself . . . for us.”