Born of Fire (Page 38)

Born of Fire (The League #2)(38)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

“Did they get the map?”

When he looked up, her breath caught in her throat. Primal, evil hatred blazed in the stormy blackness of his eyes. He looked like a wild lorina about to attack.

Shahara swallowed. How had she ever forgotten just how dangerous this man was?

“You want the f**king map,” he snarled. “You can have it.”

He charged at her so fast she half expected him to hit her. Instead, he stepped around her and lifted his enormous ebony-wood dresser with one brutal shove. Glass shattered as the mirror hit the floor and broke into a million pieces.

After flipping the dresser on its side, he kicked one of the intricately carved legs off of it. He handed it to her.

Shahara looked down to see a folded piece of paper and a disc concealed inside a hollowed-out space.

He returned to searching the floor.

Okay . . . the map wasn’t what had him upset.

She pulled it out and put it in her pack, then knelt down beside him. “What are we looking for?”

Again he turned on her with a snarl. “Get out!” he shouted. “Just get the hell out of my sight!”

His fury stunned her. Not that she blamed him. What they’d done here was uncalled for. And he must blame her for this.

After all, she was the one who gave them his address.

How could I have been so stupid?

She had destroyed his life. Caused him to be beaten, chased.

And now this.

The one and only thing he valued.

Clearing her throat, she gathered as much dignity as she could and went back to the main room. She pulled the hood off her head and sighed as she surveyed the utter destruction around her.

What had she done?

It had all seemed so simple at first. Hand over a convict and save the four of them. How much simpler could it be?

Only it wasn’t simple. She’d destroyed an innocent man.

No, not entirely innocent, but he didn’t deserve this. No one deserved to have their home ripped to pieces.

Over and over she saw his beaten body, heard the thump of him hitting the prison floor. The sight of his young, battered face in the photograph.

He’d been amply punished for anything he’d ever done. He surely didn’t deserve any more.

At the moment, she hated herself for her part in it all.

He saved my life, took my fear away, and I repaid him by kicking him in the teeth.

Shaking her head to clear her blurry vision, she gazed down at the mess surrounding her and saw a fragment of one of the photos he’d kept inside his prayer box. She knelt down and picked it up. It was his sister. Though the lower half that contained him had been torn off, Talia’s face still remained untouched. Maybe she could find more.

With that thought, she began to hunt frantically through the debris. Granted, it wouldn’t rectify what he’d lost. But at least it would give him something to hold on to.

Just as she found several more pieces, a loud shattering sound came from the bedroom.

What the . . . ?

Terrified that a sniper had shot through the window, she entered the room and saw Syn standing just inside a large gaping hole in the windows, where he’d thrown his office chair through them. The wind rushed in, billowing the white curtains toward him. Papers whirled and danced while he just stared out into the darkness with his hair whipping around his handsome face. He looked primal. Fierce.

Lethal.

A statue of a man ready to take on the universe and destroy it.

Thinking about the trackers below, she rushed to the window. She looked out to see five people running toward the building. “They’re coming for us,” she warned him.

“Let them.” His tone was as sinister as his stance.

She stared at him in disbelief. “What?”

Ebony strands of hair whipped around his face, some catching in his whiskers.

When he looked at her, his eyes were brittle obsidian. Bereft. “I don’t care what they do. I’m tired of running. Fuck them. Let’s fight.”

She was aghast. “Well, you picked a fine time for that attitude, buddy. You know, you could have at least consulted me before you turned suicidal. Especially since my life is currently tied to yours. Thanks a lot, ass**le.” Her heart racing, she glared at him. “Stay here and die, then. I’m at least going to try to live through this.”

Syn watched her leave. He tried to tell himself that it was good riddance. Let her find her own way.

But even in his feral and furious state, he knew she wouldn’t get far on her own. And for some insane, stupid reason, it mattered to him whether she lived or died.

Let her go.

He couldn’t. Too weak to fight his conscience anymore, he chased after her.

Shahara heard her pursuer pulling himself up on the rope next to her. Expecting the worst, she looked down ready to fight. Instead of a tracker, she saw Syn climbing up behind her.

As he drew even with her, he grabbed her by the waist and swung her over to another balcony.

“What are you doing?”

“Saving our asses.” With that, he shot the grappling hook toward the roof. She wrapped her arms and legs around him an instant before they shot upward.

She stared at his stern features. “Thank you for not disappointing me.”

His answer was a grunt as he helped her over the lip of the building. Once he was safely beside her, he scanned the rooftop. A strange, throbbing beat echoed around them, shaking the roof under their feet.

Shahara frowned at the noise.

Whatever could it be?

Before she could ask, Syn grabbed her arm savagely and pulled her down to squat behind the building’s atmospheric control unit. He shielded her body with his own and, in spite of the danger, she trembled with the familiarity of his body pressing against hers.

Suddenly, a bright light exploded across the rooftop. Her breath caught in her throat and in an instant, she knew the source of the noise.

They had a rover after them.

CHAPTER 14

Harsh bright searchlights crisscrossed the rooftop, turning the darkness almost as light as if it were the middle of the day. It would be only a few minutes before the craft located them.

Her heart sliding into her stomach, she looked up at Syn. “What now?”

“I’m thinking.”

“Could you think a little quicker?”

He cast her a dark glare. “You’re not helping.”

Not helping? She wanted to choke him. “You’re lucky you’re still breathing and not limping.”

Vik swooped down and literally crawled into Syn’s pack like it was a mother’s cocoon.

Shahara scowled at him. “What are you doing?”

He poked his beak out. “I don’t wanna die, man. They’re not playing. Have you seen how many of them are out there?” He shivered. “One just took a shot at me, so unlike you morons, I’m hiding. Hiding is nice.”

She huffed at him. “You can’t die, Vik. You’re a mechbot.”

He vanished completely into the pack. “They can pull me apart and reprogram me. Trust me, that’s death. Now shush before they find us. Remember—hide, people, hide.”

Syn growled low in his throat, then he loosened his hold on her arm. “Okay, I have an idea. Do what I do and step where I step. And no matter what, don’t fall behind. I won’t wait for you.”

Her heart thundered in her ears. They were dead. No ifs, ands or buts about it. All they were doing right now was delaying the inevitable.

Inclining her head to Syn to acknowledge the fact that she was an idiot to follow him anywhere, she whispered a silent prayer.

Syn stepped around the unit and opened fire on the rover with his blaster. She bit her tongue to keep from protesting his stupidity.

That was not going to help. It was like swatting a three-ton vorna with a shoe.

“No!” Vik screamed as he rummaged through the backpack while Syn ran at the rover. “Lemme out! Lemme out! I picked the wrong pack. I wanna be with the nonsuicidal bonebag!” He stuck his head out, then quickly vanished inside again. “For the record, Sheridan, you weren’t this stupid when you were young.”

While Syn continued shooting, the rover’s lights swung about them in a crazy frenzy as the pilot tried to dodge Syn’s blasts.

They opened fire on Syn.

I am a complete and utter moron. Taking a deep breath, she pulled out her blaster and did just what he did. She opened fire on the rover.

Like this is going to help . . .

But unlike Syn, she aimed for the lights to keep them from blinding Syn.

Syn paused as the lights went out and Vik finally stopped shouting profanities at him. A slow smile spread across his face as Shahara joined him. “Nice shooting, love.”

The dim light played in her hair, making it look even softer than he knew it to be. She was beautiful. “Again, it’s what I’m good at.”

And she topped him for accuracy.

But the reprieve didn’t last as the gunners returned to shoot at them again.

“Move!” he shouted, running directly toward the rover as it lifted up to come at them one more time.

Shahara did as ordered, and with every step that took them closer to their pursuers, all she could think was that they were absolutely nuts for even attempting this.

Or worse. It could be the last mistake either of them ever made.

The trackers’ blasts scattered wildly as they tried to kill the two of them while keeping them from shooting something they needed to fly the craft. If only she could get one good shot at their fuel lines . . .

Syn continued to fire at them, and the rover finally dove back below the top of the building.

Kneeling down on the roof, he pried open a small trapdoor. He lowered himself through the hole, then popped his head up to look at her. “C’mon.”

Shahara glanced down into the dark, narrow crawl space. It looked far from hospitable, and she really hated cramped spaces. But any desire she had to argue died the instant she heard the rover’s engines approaching again.

She jumped into the hole.

Gah, it was unbearably tight even for her. How he stood it, she had no idea. “Where are we?”

“How would I know? I’ve never been here before.” He latched the door closed behind her by reaching over her shoulder.

“Then how did you know this was here?”

“I saw the opening and decided this was a better place to be than on top of the roof, in plain sight.” He pulled out sealant and pushed it into the crevices to keep the Rits from coming in on top of them.

“So which way do we go?”

He pulled Vik out. The mechbot dangled in his hand like an angry pet. “Go scout, buddy.”

“Screw you, Syn. Really.” Turning into a large rat, Vik scurried off, but not before calling back over his shoulder. “Bet you’re wishing you’d made me bigger . . . and with weapons.”

Ignoring him, Syn, on all fours, headed to the right at a much slower pace.

She hissed as her back scraped against the tight walls and bit into her flesh. “You know, I’m getting really tired of following after you like a lost puppy.”

Pausing, he laughed evilly. “Feel free to stop any time you want to.”

She heard clicking sounds across the roof that she was sure were hundreds of feet. Well, okay, maybe not hundreds, but it was certainly more people than she wanted to confront on her own.

Quickening her crawling, she muttered, “I think I’ll wait until after our friends go home to cut you loose.”

“Here.” He placed her hands on each side of his hips. “Hold on to me and don’t worry about where we’re going.”

Grateful for his eyesight that didn’t need any noticeable light, she did as ordered.

Beneath her hands, Shahara felt the hardness of his body as he led her through the endless, winding duct until she was hopelessly lost. Still, his presence comforted her and gave her hope that they would survive.

It amazed her that she’d given him her trust. Something she’d sworn long ago that she’d never do with anyone outside her family. But then, she’d found herself doing a lot of things with him that she’d sworn she’d never do.

And thank the gods that he had yet to betray her.

At last, he opened a small vent and led them into a rundown, empty office. Cobwebs and debris littered the floor, while off in the darkness, she heard animals scurrying. A foul odor assaulted her nostrils. Pressing her hand to her nose so that she could breathe, she looked at Syn. “What is this place?”

“I think it’s the condemned building a few blocks away from my apartment.”

That would certainly explain the decaying mess and the lovely dank, moldy odors.

Syn went to look out the windows. The blinds crackled from their brittle state as he spread them open ever so slightly. “I think we lost the ones chasing us from the roof. At least I don’t hear them any more.”

“Neither do I.”

He tapped his ear, and she waited while he listened to whatever Vik reported.

“Pull on your hood.” He put his own on his head.

Good idea, she thought as she complied. The Rits would scan the building soon and it would be easy to trace two large targets.