Tavia drew in a surprised breath. “You mean—”
Nova’s cheeks flooded with color. Mathias beamed like a son of a bitch and pulled his expectant Breedmate closer. “We’ve only known for a few days.”
“Oh, my God,” Tavia exclaimed. “We’re elated for you!”
Nova’s blush deepened as she murmured her shy thanks.
Mathias looked at Chase. “We’d like you and Tavia to be godparents. That’s why we wanted to stop in to see you before we headed on to D.C. to meet with Lucan.”
“It would be an honor,” Chase said, humbled by the gesture of trust and friendship. He rose to take Mathias’s hand, then decided the occasion merited more than the stiff gestures of his upbringing. He clasped the other male in a brief embrace. “You honor us well, my old friend.”
Tavia went to Nova and hugged her too, delight shining in her eyes. “A baby is the most wonderful news.”
Although Brynne’s smile was more reserved, her dark green gaze was warm as she reached out to grasp Nova’s tattooed hand. “Congratulations to you both.”
As they all resumed their seats, Tavia asked, “Have you told anyone else?”
“Only Eddie,” Nova said, referring to the nine-year-old human boy who’d worked in the tattoo shop with her when Mathias had first met her. The couple had taken Eddie in when they mated, and the boy now lived in the London command center with them.
There was a time when no human would have been permitted inside a Breed household. A lot had changed in the twenty years since First Dawn had brought the human and vampire worlds together.
Chase met Mathias’s gaze. “How’s the boy adjusting to life among the Breed?”
“Very well, actually. Thane and the other warriors have practically adopted him along with Nova and me. If they have their way, they’ll probably turn him into an honorary Order member in a few years.”
Nova tilted her head. “Not if I have anything to say about that.”
Mathias shrugged, chuckling as he stroked his Breedmate’s right hand.
Chase couldn’t help but notice the Egyptian eye symbol on the back of Nova’s hand. He’d been told that beneath that mark was another one—a black scarab forced on her when she’d been just a little girl, branding her as the property of Fineas Riordan, her adoptive father.
The Order was currently conspiring to take the bastard out for his apparent affiliation with Opus Nostrum.
Mathias seemed to follow Chase’s line of thought. His face turned grave as he met Chase’s look across the room. He wanted to discuss Order business, but there was a question in his eyes—one that Chase caught on to with the subtle flick of Mathias’s gaze toward Brynne.
She caught the glance too. “I should allow you all to speak privately. I’m sure you have much to catch up on.”
Tavia frowned when Brynne started to rise. “You’re not here on official JUSTIS business, Brynne. You’re my sister. I trust you the same as I would trust anyone else in this house.”
Chase nodded, completely comfortable in Brynne’s integrity and discretion. In fact, since he’d come to know Tavia’s sister, he considered her an ally the Order would be fortunate to call their own. “There’s no need for you to leave. Your word to treat anything you hear as confidential is guarantee enough for me.”
Brynne nodded. “Of course, you have my word.”
Mathias acknowledged her promise as well. “Lucan has told me to prepare my team to be called in to move on Riordan at a moment’s notice,” he told Chase. “I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that taking down that bastard and everyone loyal to him will be my personal pleasure.”
Chase grunted. “We all feel the same way. But we have to make sure every piece of intel is in place first. There can be no room for error. If we move too hastily, or miss the mark in taking Riordan out, we could drive the other Opus members to ground. The Order needs to unmask every last one of them first, if we have any hope of obliterating the organization.”
Brynne seemed twitchy at the mention of Opus’s other members. She started to say something, then stopped.
“What is it?” Chase demanded.
When she frowned and shook her head, Tavia held her pensive look. “Tell us what you’re thinking, Brynne. We’re trusting you, so you have to trust us now too.”
“I don’t have any actual proof, but . . .” She sighed and blew out a curse. “I’ve had a hunch for some time now. Nothing actionable. Nothing but a suspicion . . . about Neville Fielding.”
“The GNC director in London,” Chase murmured. “What kind of suspicion?”
Brynne tilted her head. “I have a feeling he’s on the take. It’s got to be someone with deep pockets, because a couple of weeks ago, Fielding moved into a pricey townhouse that’s way above his means.”
Seated on the sofa, Mathias leaned forward onto his elbows. “A couple of weeks ago, that container of Russian arms went missing from the Thames docks.”
“The container that was supposed to go to Riordan,” Chase added.
Mathias inclined his head. “Would have gone to him, if Gavin Sloane hadn’t double-crossed his and his gang of scarab-tattooed thugs.”
Brynne’s frown deepened. “Wait a minute. JUSTIS Officer Sloane was killed in the line of duty, according to the official reports.”
“He was killed in the line of duty,” Mathias said. “By me. After the son of a bitch came after Nova and would’ve killed me in the process too.”
Chase shrugged. “The Order has its own back channels, Brynne. We made sure the official reports didn’t shine inconvenient light on Riordan before we have the chance to take him out on our own terms.”
She swore under her breath. “I can’t say I’m happy to be hearing this. But it only makes my suspicion about Fielding all the stronger. Opus Nostrum is everyone’s problem, not just the Order’s. After the disaster they tried to unleash at the GNC peace summit a few weeks ago, they must be stopped.”
“Seeing that you’re family, maybe you and the Order can start sharing intel,” Chase suggested. “Even hunches can prove useful.”
Brynne nodded. “I can do that.”
“Speaking of family,” Mathias said. “Have we been able to get anything promising out of the Order’s interviews with Reginald Crowe’s ex-wives?”
Chase had to chuckle at the term interview. They’d brought in Crowe’s widow and all five of his former wives one by one, trancing each human female and culling everything they could from the women’s subconscious minds. Only one had provided anything helpful. “None of them had any knowledge of Crowe’s involvement with Opus, but one former missus did mention a mistress that Crowe seemed to spend a lot of time with in Ireland.”
“Ireland?” Brynne asked. “You don’t suppose there’s a connection to Riordan too?”
“We don’t know,” Chase said. “The lead on the woman hasn’t gone anywhere. We don’t even have a name yet.”
“If there’s anything JUSTIS can provide you on that—officially or otherwise—just say the word. Opus Nostrum is the biggest terror threat this world has ever known. Anything I can do to help defeat them, consider me in.”
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