He kicked back the covers and tried to rise.
“Syn! You need to lie down.”
He shook his head. “I have to get to Nykyrian. I have to warn him.”
Nykyrian . . . he was the other person listed on the Gourish contract for raping and murdering Kiara Zamir. “Warn him about what?”
“Kiara’s using him. She’s going to get him killed. Stupid idiot. She doesn’t love him. She’s lying. Why won’t he listen to me?”
“You killed her to protect him?”
He looked at her. “Who are you?”
“Did you kill Kiara Zamir?”
He didn’t answer as he tried to push past her.
Shahara held tight. “You can’t get up. You need to stay here.”
He looked around her condo. “Where am I?”
“Where do you think you are?”
“I want my sister.” The anguish in his voice brought a lump to her chest. “Why did she have to leave me?” A tic worked in his jaw. “Because I’m not worthy,” his tone was deep as if he were quoting someone. “She couldn’t stand looking at me anymore.”
Finally, he closed his eyes.
Shahara sighed in relief, hoping he didn’t have anymore of these episodes.
Thanks for the drug, Traysen . . .
She stayed awake all night, bathing him in serin gel, trying to get his fever down. While she maintained her lonely vigil, she kept thinking over his words.
Who was this man? He had so many secrets, so many demons that they made hers appear weak in comparison. Why had his wife taken his son?
That explained why Syn wasn’t in the more recent photos. He must be keeping up with his family from a distance. Which meant he still loved them.
I can’t believe how badly I’ve screwed all this up . . . Closing her eyes, she wished she could take away the pain she’d caused him. It was obvious he had enough to bear without the misery she’d added to his life.
She stretched to ease the aching muscles of her back. In the end, she’d done what she had to and there was no going back. All she could do for now was see to it that he suffered no more than he had to.
As a seax, she owed him that much.
Just before dawn, his fever broke. Shahara drew a thick blanket over him, before finding her way to the sofa.
As soon as she closed her eyes, she drifted off to sleep.
Shahara awoke with a start. She glanced around her home, trying to figure out what had startled her. When her gaze fell to the empty bed, she had a moment of severe panic.
Where was Syn?
In answer, the door to her bathroom opened. In all his nak*d glory, Syn leaned heavily against the door-frame. Even weakened, he filled the room with an aura of raw, masculine power.
As he moved toward the bed, every muscle in his body rippled like a symphony for the eyes. Never in her life had she seen a man with a better body and if things were different . . .
Yeah, right. You wouldn’t do anything.
His cheeks were grizzled with the beginnings of a beard and the cuts on his cheeks and lips made a mockery of the handsomeness she knew he possessed.
Her gaze swept over him and she couldn’t suppress the chill that spread through her. He made an imposing figure and she had to agree with Kasen. Even beaten and bedraggled he was gorgeous.
From the expression on his face, she could tell how much pain he was in.
She went to offer her help, but he greeted her with a fierce snarl.
She took a step back, realizing he was lucid and angry.
“What am I doing here?” he growled.
She disregarded his question. “You need to get back in bed and rest.”
Though his eyes were still swollen, she could see the hard glare he pinned on her. “Why? So you can heal me, then turn me back over to the Rits?”
Her throat tightened, then she fell into the lie she’d created. “I’m sorry about that. It was a mistake. But as you can see, I fixed it.”
“You have my undying gratitude.” The sarcasm in his voice cut her deep.
She deserved that. After all, how would she feel if she were in his place?
At least he wasn’t rushing for her throat. That was an improvement.
“Can I get you anything?” She moved toward the kitchen. “Something to drink. Eat?”
He let out a sound she assumed was an aggravated snort before he pulled a blanket off her bed and limped toward her sofa. “Yeah, I need a drink of something so potent it’ll inebriate me in one shot and a painkiller chaser.” Draping the blanket around him, he took a seat, then rubbed his hands over the whiskers on his face.
Syn cursed as he accidentally bumped his swollen lips with his hand. Damn Merjack. He was going to kill him for this.
And with that thought, he glanced to Shahara who eyed him nervously.
Yeah, you ought to be nervous, babe.
He should kill her too. But at the moment it took all his strength just to move. He’d forgotten how much a beating hurt.
He took a deep breath. Severe pain sliced across his chest. You know better than to breathe like that, you idiot! How in the hell had he ever forgotten that pain?
Shahara watched him warily, still not sure if she was out of danger. Once again he turned that dark, probing stare to her while he raked his fingers through his thick, black hair to comb it out. Oddly, her own fingers ached with the memory of how soft his hair had been.
“Why did you free me?” he asked at last.
“You helped my sister. Thank you, by the way.”
Good, he seemed to accept her explanation. After a long minute, he looked up at her. “How’d you do it?”
Transfixed by the play of steely muscles, it took a moment for his question to register. She paused. “Do what?”
“Get me out.”
She fetched her hairbrush for his hair. As she handed it to him, his fingertips brushed hers, sending a strange tickle to her stomach.
Attributing it to the fact that she’d never before conversed with a nak*d man in her flat, she stepped back and cleared her throat. “I forged transfer papers for you.”
The look on his face made her insides shrivel. “What name did you use on the release?”
The curse he snarled caused her cheeks flame. He immediately rose, then quickly sat back down with a groan.
She put a safer distance between them.
“How long have we been here?” he asked between clenched teeth.
“How many questions are you going to ask?”
Even from her distance, she could feel the heat from his stare. “If you used your real name on the papers, how long do you think it’ll be before the Rits come knocking on your door to question you about my whereabouts? Merjack isn’t going to just blithely let me go.”
“Oh my God,” she breathed. She hadn’t even thought about that. What an oversight. If she wasn’t careful, she’d tip her hand and be caught for sure.
Syn rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. “Jeez, woman, couldn’t you at least think it through?”
“Well, excuse me. I don’t normally pull people out of jail. I’m the one who puts them there.”
With a grimace, Syn pushed himself off her sofa. “We’ve got to get out of here before they find us.”
“And go where?”
Crossing the room, she was aghast at his suggestion. “I don’t want to leave my home. I have things to take care of. People to take care of.”
He grabbed her by the arm, his gaze branding her with heat. “Well, how do you propose to take care of them from a hole similar to the one you found me in?”
He looked her up and down with that evil grin she was learning to despise. “And believe me, sweetie, they’re a lot harder on a woman than they were on me. The guards don’t normally rape male prisoners. But they would sure get their jollies passing around a little thing like you.”
Her stomach dropped at his words and for a moment, she thought she might vomit.
Syn grimaced as if pain cut through him. “We have to get out of here. Now!”
Rushing toward her nightstand, she pulled out her weapons and module for her fighter. “Let’s go.”
“Just one problem.” He dropped the blanket and stood in her room completely nak*d. “I need something to wear.”
Once again heat suffused her cheeks. How in the universe could she have forgotten his nudity in such a short time?
Stepping around him, she rummaged through her closet and pulled out some of Caillen’s clothes that he left here for those nights when he stayed over. She handed them to Syn then stepped into her living room and pulled the sheet closed to give him privacy while she waited by the sofa.
“Damn it, Caillen,” Syn growled several minutes later. “You must wear the same size boot as your sisters.”
He gave a fierce groan and she couldn’t help laughing. Poor Caillen.
“If my injuries don’t kill me, these tight boots will.” Just as he opened her makeshift curtain, a knock on her door startled her.
She went cold. “Oh God, they’re here . . .”
Syn grabbed her blaster.
Suddenly, a familiar voice called out through the door. “Shay? You home?”
Relief coursed through her at her sister’s voice. Opening the door, she pulled Kasen in. “What is it?”
“I just heard over Caillen’s scanner that the Ritadarion government is sending agents over here to find you. And I was . . .” Her voice trailed off as she looked past Shahara and saw Syn by the sofa.
“Oh,” Kasen mouthed.
“We’ve got to go.” Syn handed the blaster to Shahara. “Have they gone by my place yet?”
Kasen shrugged. “It sounded like they had, but I’m not sure.”
He growled deep in his throat. “I think I know a place where they won’t find us.”
Kasen scowled. “Where are we going?”
Syn gave her a sincere, charming smile. “You, my nosy friend, are going home to wait on Caillen while I take Shahara to a safe zone.”
Kasen let out little puffs of breaths in aggravation. “Where are you two going?”
“If I told you, it wouldn’t be safe.”
Syn lost patience with her. “Not enough time to explain. Go home, Kasen. Now.”
Shahara lifted a brow at the fierce voice he used and for the first time in her life, her sister actually obeyed.
Syn jerked her out the door of her condo and around the side of her building.
She tried to break free. “You could loosen your hold on my arm. It’s not like I’m likely to run off anywhere.”
“Sorry.” He released her.
An instant later, the pain returned as he again seized her arm.
“Shh.” He pulled her down beside a group of hedges. “Lean against the wall,” he whispered.
Without question, she obeyed.
Just as she was about to ask him what was wrong, she saw the Ritadarion enforcers.
Her heart pounded. They’d found them. And worse, they blocked the entrance to the landing bay she shared with two of her neighbors.
Her throat dry, she wanted to curse.
We’re so caught.
As soon as the enforcers passed their hiding place, Syn pulled her up and in the opposite direction of the bay.
Shahara was aghast. “What are you doing? We need my fighter.”
He looked back over his shoulder to where the men had vanished, then shook his head. “Not today, we don’t.”
“Then how are we going to get out of here?”
The smile he gave her sent a chill down her spine. “We’ll get out of here my way.”
“But what about Kasen? She’s still in my house.” She started back to help her sister, but the grip on her arm was steel.
“Go back and they will make you wish you were treated as well as I was. Kasen can handle herself. Trust me, I’ve seen her get out of much worse situations than this. And I promise I’d never let anyone harm her. Caillen would beat my ass if I did. She’ll be okay. We, on the other hand, are going to be dog meat if they see us.”
Okay, Syn was definitely nuts she decided as he pulled her down the street, away from the landing bay. Otherwise how could he remain so calm while the people who wanted him dead and had beaten him to within an inch of his life were just a few yards away?
How could he even move, for that matter, given the beating he’d received? Granted he was limping, but to the casual observer, he gave almost no indication of how badly they’d hurt him.
“Does anything get to you?”
“Yeah,” he said snidely. “Women who turn me over to my enemies.”
As nonchalant as any average passerby, he stopped at the corner and hailed a transport. The electronic car pulled up to the curb and opened its door with a pop and hiss. He took one last look at the enforcers before he entered, pulling her in behind him.
She couldn’t believe they hadn’t seen them.
Obviously he’d done this enough to know they would escape.