Born of Fire (Page 9)

Born of Fire (The League #2)(9)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

She’d risked a great deal to come after him and time was running out for Tessa. She’d botched this mission and needed something to get the money for her sister before it was too late. “So how long are you going to keep me here?”

Syn tucked his clean shirt into his pants. “Until you recant your contract on me and swear that you’ll never again stalk me.”

“Is that it?”

“That’s it.”

Crossing her arms over her chest, she frowned at him. “You’d trust me that easily?”

“Hell no,” he said with a sneer. “The only thing I trust in life is to get f**ked over by everyone around me. But if I ever hear of you coming after me again, I’ll deliver your brother to you in a box.”

Shahara went cold in dread. All too well she could see her brother’s lifeless form—it was a vision that had haunted her most of her life. “You wouldn’t dare!”

“Wouldn’t I?” He moved to tower over her. He put one arm up on each side of her, pinning her back against the wall. She trembled at his nearness, at the raw male power that emanated from every pore of his body.

“I’m a cold-blooded murderer. Remember?” He raked her with an evil grin. “Believe me, baby, I am ruthless and I love nothing more than the taste of blood. Yours. His. Anyone’s. I’m not particular.”

Outraged, she lunged for him.

No one threatened her family! No one!

Syn caught her hands and pushed her back against the wall, his chest pressing against hers. She stared up at him, wishing she could break his hold and tear him apart. Even so, she refused to be intimated or threatened by something like him. “So help me, convict, if you ever touch a member of my family, I’ll come for you. There’s no hole in hell you can find that would be deep enough to hide you from my wrath.”

He scoffed, then released her. “Take a number.”

She rubbed her numb wrists and glared at him. No matter the personal cost, she would protect her family. Oaths and morals be damned.

“When are you going to free me?”

He shrugged. “Now’s as good as any time.”

Her anger drained from her. She blinked, not really sure it’d be that easy to leave.

C.I. Syn, Ruthless and Calculating. Was this a trick of his to get her out of his apartment so that he could kill her and dump her body more easily?

The thought was sobering.

“I can go right now?” she asked suspiciously.

“Yep. I’ll take you home, and as soon as I see you recant the contract, you’re free.”

Oh yeah, right . . . like she’d make that mistake. “Take you to my home so that you can see where I live? How stupid do you think I am?”

He gave her a deadpan stare. “You have a rundown, piece of shit condo at 3642 Chiton Road, in Gareth Square on Boudran. Your ship, which is older than I am, is licensed through Guidry and Associates and has two liens against it. You pay nine hundred credits a month to keep them from seizing it for back taxes and you’re still paying off your father’s debts, including his funeral cost.”

He paused to give her a mocking glare. “You want I should go on? Remember, I’m one of the best filches to ever live. There’s not a damned thing I can’t find out online about you or anyone else no matter how off the grid you think you are. And I learned all that about you without even trying hard. I can also give you your social and that for all three of your siblings as well as most of the passwords and codes you use to login to everything in your life and theirs.”

A chill went down her spine. What had she gotten herself into? With that kind of information, he could ruin and kill her.

She only had one hope even if it did grate her nerves. “I’m supposed to believe that you’ll take me home and leave me there without killing me?”

Again that taunting, evil smile. “I would swear on it, but I have a feeling you wouldn’t take me at my word. Believe what you will, but really you have no choice. So answer quick before I reconsider.”

She ground her teeth at his offer, hating the fact that he was right. She couldn’t stand being manipulated, especially by a convict. But what choice did she have other than to believe him?

Don’t be stupid, girl. The only thing you can trust is that people will screw you over if given the chance. It’s every man for himself.

Everyone lies.

Even her own father . . .

“What about my weapons?” she asked at last.

“Wait for me in the front room, and I’ll get them. You can have them back once we get to your place.”

Shahara wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of having him in her home.

If only she had another way to get free . . . But, unfortunately, he had her trapped fully, and even when she’d shot him he hadn’t budged.

Time was running out for Tessa. She had to get out of here. She’d already wasted an entire day. Only two were left. Would that be enough time to find another bounty that would cover the cost?

Well, if you hand him in, he won’t be able to hurt Caillen.

Or would he?

He’d escaped prison before. What would keep him from doing it again? Vengeance was a strong motivator. She of all people knew that. And every molecule in her body warned her that Syn was capable of extracting a painful revenge.

First, she needed her weapons. Second, her freedom.

Without a word, she turned around and left him.

Syn sighed at her stormy exit. He didn’t really care whether or not she hated him, only that she give up her quest to see him incarcerated. He’d spent enough time in prison, he had no desire to spend another second of his life like that.

He winced as old memories stung deep. So what do we do with him? No one will take him into foster care. Not after his father’s crimes. They’re all scared of him.

Put him in prison with the rest of the criminals. He might as well get used to it as it’s mostly likely where he’ll spend the rest of his life anyway.

The kicker was, they hadn’t even put him in a juvenile facility. At age ten, and for no other crime than the fact he’d been born his father’s son, he’d been thrown in maximum security with adults.

All because his father was a bastard and people were so afraid of him that Syn was every bit as guilty because he shared a genetic link to a monster.

Yeah, he was tired of being judged for something he couldn’t help.

Shahara was as guilty as the rest and right now, he couldn’t think of anything sweeter than getting her the hell out of his home so that he could get some well-deserved sleep.

He opened the safe, his arm throbbing in protest. She was a lethal lorina and the sooner he expelled her from his life, the better off he’d be.

Shahara spun about as the door opened. A smile of relief curved her lips as she recognized her gear in Syn’s arms.

Could it be possible that he really intended to let her go? She couldn’t believe it.

Don’t get excited yet. It could still be a trick.

Stiffening her spine, she promised herself to stay alert and, if he did try something, she’d be ready for it.

“Here.” He tossed her a worn, leather jacket.

She caught it against her body and frowned. “What’s this?”

He shrugged. “It’s cold outside. You’ll need it.”

Shahara frowned at the dichotomy of the man. How could he be so cruel one moment, then thoughtful the next?

Not caring about that answer, she was going home and that was all that mattered.

Soon Tessa would be safe, too.

Syn stifled his disgust at Shahara’s condo. Though clean, it was as rundown as anything he’d ever seen. The locks on the door were about a hundred years old and he was sure they’d collapse under the stress of even a medium breeze. A faded, old sofa had been set against one overly patched gray wall, and a tattered blue blanket covered the numerous tears in its upholstery. It looked like she’d recycled it from a landfill.

Nothing but a sheet strung up on a line separated the bedroom from the rest of the place. He hated that anyone had to live this way, but then, he remembered a time when he would have sold his soul to have this much to call home.

Ignoring him, Shahara moved to the chipped kitchen counter along the wall opposite of the sofa and turned on her laptop. Before she could type in her code, her link buzzed.

At first, she ignored it.

“Shay, this is Kasen. Please pick up if you’re home.”

Syn frowned at Kasen’s anxious voice, wondering what trouble she was in now.

Shahara glanced up at him sheepishly before opening the channel. “Hey Kase, what do you need?”

Syn acted like he was fascinated by the spots on the ceiling, which said she had a long-term leak there, and not interested in her call in the least.

“Have you heard from Caillen? We had a fight last night after my run and he took off again. I don’t know where he is. I’m worried.”

“Hang on, I’ll check my messages.” Shahara switched the mute on, then hit the button on her voice mail.

Syn saw her watching him from the corner of his eye. He looked at her and she quickly turned her back to him. He sighed at her coldness. It was too bad they were enemies. Half of her family actually liked him.

As he listened to her calls, pain hit him square in the chest. The first three messages were bill collectors threatening her with legal suit. The fourth message was the most disturbing.

“Fria Dagan, we cannot accept your ship as collateral for your sister’s bill. You already have not one, but two liens against it. If we don’t have the money by the end of the day, we will have no choice but to turn her out of the hospital. I suggest you contact us immediately to make arrangements for payment or to pick her up.”

Syn clenched his teeth in anger. He’d fought that kind of crap with hospital administration on more than one account and lost. For an establishment sworn to help the needy, it never ceased to amaze him how often they refused to help the people who needed care the most.

How could anyone put a price on human life? The very idea sickened him. It was one thing to hunt and kill the corrupt who preyed on others, another to go after decent people whose only crime was being poor.

He looked at Shahara and saw the defeated slump in her shoulders. Now he understood what had motivated her to come after him. He couldn’t blame her in the least.

“Hey, Trisa.”

Caillen’s voice. There was a tenderness in it as he spoke that Syn had never heard him use before. That told him all he needed to know about their relationship, cause in all the times he’d been around Caillen and Kasen, he’d never known Caillen to use it with her.

Shahara was particularly precious to her brother.

“Look, I’m making a last minute run for the Blairus Company to get some quick cash and I’ll be gone for a bit. If Kasen calls, don’t tell her where I am. They paid me extra to run through the Solaras System and it’s too dangerous for her to follow me—you know what an idiot she can be and I don’t want to deal with it.

“I borrowed some money from a friend and paid off Tessa’s debt with those loaners—you should have told me what happened. I hate learning shit like this from her boyfriend of all people. You know, I am a grown-up. Really. I can even pull my boots on by myself and everything nowadays. But don’t worry. I promise I’ll think up some way to pay the hospital and transfer you the money as soon as I can. I also left a few credits in Mom’s trinket box for you. Don’t pay no bills with it. Buy some food. You’re too damned skinny. I’ll see you when I get back. Love you much.”

Shahara glanced over her shoulder. Syn quickly looked away. She turned off her machine and opened the channel. “Kase, he’s off on sabbatical to pout.”

“That’s what I figured. As long as I know he’s all right, I guess I’m not too upset. I’ll see you later.”

Shahara turned off the link and moved back to the laptop. “Did you get an earful?” she asked testily.

Syn sighed. No wonder Caillen had needed almost six thousand credits. “Look, if you need a loan—”

She curled her lip. “Not from the likes of you. If you want a prostitute you can—”

He held his hand up in disgust. “It was an offer made in good faith.” Gods, she was impossible. “I wouldn’t expect any payment other than cash when you have it.”

Her eyes snapped golden flames at him. Her breast heaved with the fury of her temper. Damn, she was beautiful when pissed . . .

Syn took a step back, afraid of the thoughts in his head. He must be crazy. She wanted no part of him, and most especially not that part of him, and he was damned glad of it.

“Just recant the contract and I’m out of here.”

“Fine.” She pulled up the bounty lists. With the swipe of her stylus, she deleted her name.

Syn’s temper cooled a bit as he saw that one of his threats had been removed. He handed her the Seax dagger. “Now I want you to swear on this that you’ll never stalk me again.”