Mathias Rowan had been a welcome surprise as well. Rune and the London commander for the Order had been introduced when the group came down from the tower. He seemed to be a good man. A Breed male who loved Rune’s sister with the same depth of feeling that Rune felt for Carys.

He wanted that for Nova. God knew, she deserved some kindness and decency after the hell she had endured in this place.

He glanced at the bloodstained floors and bullet-pocked walls of the room. The battle was over at last. The monster was dead. The bodies of the fallen had been cleared away to the courtyard where the sun would claim them. Now all that was left to do was take stock of whatever intel Fineas Riordan might have left behind.

Rune told the Order where to find the storage chamber of UV weaponry and narcotics his father had showed him. The warriors were busy assessing that cache and combing through all the other chambers for further evidence of his Opus Nostrum ties.

“Are you okay with all of this, Rune?”

He glanced down at her, idly stroking her arm as he held her. “I am. I feel freer than I ever have, knowing my father is gone. His evil can’t touch me or anyone else I care about. Now, we need to make the same thing true of Opus Nostrum.”

He considered all of the terror the organization had caused. All of the misery they could still deliver if they had arms and chemicals like the ones his father was stockpiling. He considered the war his father had boasted about, yearned to make happen.

“I’m ready to fight that battle,” Rune murmured. “Whether it’s as a part of the Order, or in any other way they can use me. All my life, I’ve been fighting inside a cage. Fighting for survival, then fighting for nothing because it was the only thing I knew how to do. I can still fight. Now, I just want it to mean something.”

Carys’s gaze was soft on him, but lit with a shared fire. He felt her flare of agreement through his bond to her. It sparked bright, then burned hot and unwavering. “I want that too, Rune. I can’t walk away from this fight now either.”

God, he loved her. He was proud to have her at his side and in his arms. In his corner, fearless and ready to stand with him against anything or anyone.

He bent his head to hers and claimed her mouth in a hungry kiss. His body stirred on contact, his arousal impossible to hide. She sat up, taking in the sudden churning of his dermaglyphs, and in the crackling heat that warmed his irises.

When she glanced down to his rather obvious erection, her eyebrows rose and her cheeks flamed a sexy shade of pink.

He chuckled, unashamed. “I’m feeling stronger now.”

“So I noticed.” She shook her head and leaned in close, her lips teasing, barely brushing his. “I should thank Rafe for your speedy recovery. It’s amazing what he was able to do with his ability.”

“Yes, it is, but I can’t give the warrior all the credit.” Rune grabbed the back of her neck and ended her teasing. He kissed her again, then rested his forehead against hers and gazed into her eyes. “Your blood kept me alive. Your love kept me fighting, Carys. Now that I’m healed, I can’t wait to get you alone again and complete our bond. I want to lock you in forever, before you change your mind.”

“Never. I’m yours. I have been from the start.”

Their mouths met in a deeper joining, both of them relishing the closeness, the passion that ignited so swiftly and burned so strongly between them.

Things might have gotten embarrassing fast if not for the sound of approaching footsteps across the floor of the great hall.

Aric cleared his throat. “It’s going to take me a while to adjust to seeing this without feeling like I need to step in and defend my sister’s virtue.”

Smiling, Carys gave him an arch look. “My virtue is none of your business. And we’d rather not have you watching us, so we’re all learning to cope here.”

Her brother laughed. “Fair enough. We should be ready to roll out soon. The other warriors are wrapping up the sweep of the place now.” Frowning, Aric glanced to Rune. “I saw the fighting pit. We also located a medieval torture chamber that looks like it’s seen recent use. Some fucked up shit here, man. If Carys hadn’t ashed Riordan, I would’ve gladly done it myself.”

As he spoke, Chase, Lucan and Mathias entered the room.

“We took a look at the crates of UV weaponry and narcotics,” Chase said. “We’re collecting samples of everything to analyze and will try to trace them back to their manufacturers.”

Lucan glanced at Carys. “We can’t interrogate Riordan about Opus’s activities, but recovering this cache could be even more important. Lots of Breed lives will be saved by keeping this shit off the streets.”

Mathias nodded. “Unfortunately, there’s too much of it to haul away.”

“And we can’t leave it behind either,” Chase added. “The risk of any of this shit leaking out to the public is too big to chance.”

“What will you do?” Carys asked.

“Destroy it,” Lucan said. “We’ll take our samples, but I want the rest of it neutralized before we leave here. The UV cylinders, the drugs, all of it.”

“We also located a hidden room in back of the storage chamber,” Chase said. “Riordan’s got a workstation and a secured communications system in there. Gideon’s been unable to hack into it so far, so we’re packing it all up and taking it back to D.C. with us.”

Carys sat at full attention. “Fielding has one of those rooms too. I found it just before Ennis Riordan grabbed me.”

“Gideon doesn’t know about it?” Lucan asked.

She shook her head. “My connection to him broke off as soon as I entered the room. It had the same kind of equipment in it, and the room was hidden, just like Riordan’s.”

The three Order commanders exchanged a grave look.

“What is it?” Carys asked. “What’s wrong?”

Chase exhaled a sigh. “Fielding is dead. We got the word from Brynne as we were touching down in Dublin. He killed himself, just like Hayden Ivers, that human lawyer you led us to.”

Nathan and Rafe strode into the great hall at that same moment.

“We’re loading up the vehicles now,” Nathan announced. “Tegan and Hunter want you to know we can be ready to roll out within the hour.”

“Good,” Lucan said. He turned a glance on Rune. “Like we said, the cache downstairs is too dangerous to be left behind. We need to destroy it before we go. This was your home at one point, so if there’s anything you want to take away from here—”

Rune gave a firm shake of his head. “This was never a home, not to anyone. And I already have the only thing I need to take with me,” he said, drawing Carys further under his arm. “When I left Boston two nights ago, I promised myself I wouldn’t come back until my father was dead and this place was razed to the ground.”

Lucan held his gaze solemnly, then nodded. “Okay. That’s all I needed to know.”

~ ~ ~

Less than an hour later, Rune sat in the back of a UV-shielded vehicle with Carys. Chase occupied the seat facing them in the big SUV. Up front, Aric was behind the wheel with Nathan riding shotgun.

Theirs was the last car in the line of idling vehicles parked in the castle’s sunlit courtyard. The other warriors in their UV gear had just finished packing up what they needed to take back with them to headquarters and were preparing to depart for the Dublin airport.


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