When Nathan said nothing, Carys spoke up. “Rune should know the truth. I trust him to know the truth.”
“That makes one of us,” Nathan muttered, his face impassive and forbidding.
Jordana lifted her chin, her cascade of long, platinum blonde hair shifting at her back. “I trust him too, Nathan. And Cass trusted Rune. He considered him a friend.”
Rune’s dark eyes narrowed on Jordana. “The three who came to La Notte after killing Cass . . . They said they were looking for his daughter, but as far as I knew—as far as anyone at the club knows—Cassian Gray didn’t have any family.”
“I was a secret he’d kept for almost twenty-five years,” Jordana said. “He wanted to protect me from the kind of men who came looking for him that night.”
“Immortals,” Rune guessed.
“Atlanteans,” Jordana said. “Like Cass. Like me.”
Rune shook his head. “Where did these Atlanteans come from? Where do they live now?”
“We don’t have all of those answers yet,” Nathan said. “The Order has evidence that suggests the Atlanteans have been in existence on this planet for at least as long as the Breed. Longer, in fact.”
“They’re linked to us,” Carys pointed out. “The Order has known for more than twenty years that Atlantean men fathered children with human women, and those female offspring were all born with the teardrop-and-crescent-moon birthmark.”
“Breedmates,” Rune said. He considered for a long moment, then let out a low curse. “So, if Atlantean daughters are mating with members of the Breed, why do I get the sense that most of these immortal fucks would like to kill us all?”
Nathan grunted. “That’s a discussion for another time. And a higher security clearance.”
Rune looked back to Jordana. “Cass never said a word. Never let on for a second that he was anything other than human. Everyone just assumed—”
“Which is how he intended it,” Carys added. “Jordana didn’t know any of this either, not until after he was killed by the Atlantean soldiers that day outside the club.”
Jordana nodded. “Cass smuggled me out of the realm as an infant, after my mother died. He arranged for me to live among the humans and the Breed.” She gestured to her Breedmate mark. “He hid me in plain sight as the adopted daughter of a Breed Darkhaven leader he trusted here in Boston.”
“Cass never reached out to her, never risked contacting her in any way,” Carys said. “Not until the day those men caught up to him.”
“He visited me at the museum that day, but even then he didn’t reveal himself to me as my father. I wish he had,” Jordana murmured wistfully. “Apparently, when he realized he couldn’t outrun his past any longer and that his enemies might find me, he contacted someone who could help.”
“Another Atlantean,” Rune guessed.
“Zael,” Carys said, having since been told the name of the Atlantean who’d left her unconscious from a powerful beam of light as he’d stolen Jordana away for her own protection.
Since Zael had helped Jordana escape Cass’s killers, and, together, the three of them had defeated the other Atlanteans who had pursued them, she and Nathan now considered Zael to be their friend.
“Zael wanted to bring me to a hidden colony of other Atlanteans who’d defected from the realm, where Cass’s enemies would never find me. But I said no.” She tilted her head up to meet Nathan’s tender gaze. “I chose to stay where my heart was.”
Rune cocked his head. “If others have defected to a safe colony as you said, then why were Cass’s pursuers so determined to kill him and find you?”
Jordana gave Carys a nod of permission. “Because Jordana’s grandmother is the Atlanteans’ queen.”
Rune’s brows rose. “Meaning you’re an Atlantean princess?”
Jordana nodded. Carys nodded too.
Nathan glowered and jabbed a finger toward Rune. “No one can know this. If you leak a word of it, I’ll kill you myself.”
“I’ll take the secret to my grave,” Rune vowed. “But . . . are you telling me that Cassian Gray was not only Atlantean, but royal blood too?”
Jordana shook her head. “His true name was Cassianus, and he wasn’t royal. He was one of Queen Selene’s legion. My mother, Soraya, was daughter of the queen.”
“Holy shit.” Rune fell silent for a minute, holding Carys’s gaze in an incredulous look. “This conversation will go no further. I give you my oath.”
Nathan and Jordana nodded. Carys snaked her arm around Rune’s muscled waist and held him close.
No one mentioned the other secret that came out of Jordana’s ordeal—the Atlantean crystal, which Cass had stolen out of the realm at the same time he had taken Jordana away from the royal court. Carys had seen the egg-sized, silvery crystal herself, when Jordana and Nathan presented it to all of the Order at a special meeting upon her return home to Boston.
It was safeguarded at the D.C. headquarters now, where Lucan and the others were trying to determine its powers and how it could be used in what they dreaded was soon to be a war with Selene and her immortal legion.
In the silence that fell over the room, Rune lifted Carys’s chin and met her gaze. “If I’d known any of this before, I would have delivered you home to the Order’s protection myself. Hell, I would’ve helped your father lock the door behind you.” His deep voice lowered to a private growl. “The dead last thing I ever want is for anything bad to touch you. Tell me you know that, Carys.”
She reached up to touch his stern, handsome face. “I know that—”
“Good.” He seized her hand in his warm grasp. “Then if you won’t do it for your parents or your friends, do it for me.”
She frowned and started to protest, but he wasn’t having any of it.
“Go home to your family. At least for now.” He brought her palm to his mouth and placed a kiss in its center. “Stay where I can know you’re safe.”
She smiled at him, her heart squeezing with emotion. “You’re a good man, Rune.”
He blew out a sharp breath. “No, love. I’m not. But I’m right. Your family needs to have you close to them now.”
She nodded, then glanced over at Jordana and Nathan. “I guess I’d better pack a few things before we go.”
Carys had only been gone for a week, but it felt like a year had passed since she had last walked into the Chase Darkhaven. Jordana and Nathan left her in the back vestibule of the large mansion while they headed down to the Order’s command center and Nathan’s quarters, which the couple now shared.
Carys missed them instantly, but it was at her request that they’d left her to face her parents alone. She adjusted the packed tote slung over her shoulder, then took a deep breath and headed through the back of the house to the main living areas. Her path took her toward the kitchen, where she heard her mother talking with two other females. Carys recognized her aunt’s voice. Brynne’s smooth London accent called to mind posh society galas and invitations to high tea.
The other feminine voice was also British, but more reserved, even though it carried an intriguing punk rock edge to it. Curious now, Carys stepped into the kitchen.