Born of Fury (Page 50)

Born of Fury (The League #7)(50)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Fain looked up from the game he was playing against Caillen and Darling. There was another man with them she hadn’t met. Tall and blond, he held an ethereal essence to him. Even seated and dressed in dark green, he had an aura about him that said he was every bit as lethal, if not more so, than the rest of the males in the room.

“I’m Nero,” he said as if he heard her thoughts.

“Hi. Sumi.”

In those few seconds, Fain had gone back to playing. Grimacing, he twisted the small tablet in his hand to control his character.

“Fain,” Nero said in a tone a parent usually reserved for dealing with their errant children. “She really needs your attention.”

He sat back, but kept playing. “What’s up?”

“I have information about the tracker that was embedded in Dancer.”

The game forgotten, all four pairs of male eyes turned to her then. Something punctuated by the quick deaths of their onscreen avatars.

She’d underestimated how scary it would be to have all their undivided attention on her. She swallowed nervously. “It was originally Keris’s service chip.”

Scowling, Fain shook his head. “It’s not possible. I was there when he was cremated. It should have been destroyed with his body.”

“Was it removed during autopsy?” Darling asked.

“I doubt it. They didn’t do much of one. Some blood and tissue samples. Nothing really on the body itself.”

Caillen took a drink of his ale. “You sure?”

His eyes haunted and filled with grief and pain, Fain nodded. “He hit the ground hard. Basically his organs disintegrated on impact. His bones shattered. It was grisly.” A tic started in his jaw. “I still can’t imagine how Dancer, as young as he was, kept it together enough to wrap up his body, and carry it through that desert to get him home. For that alone, he deserved a lot better homecoming than what he got. If anyone ever earned a f**king feather for their Ascension, it’s him.”

Darling flinched at what he described. “How the hell did Hauk survive his fall?”

Wincing, Fain grabbed Caillen’s ale and took a drink before he answered. “Didn’t fall as far or as hard. Only a few hundred feet. Keris took a six-thousand-foot free fall straight down to the bottom. Dancer was able to grab the wall and some vegetation and slow himself as he fell and he slammed into a ledge. Even so, he was busted up pretty good. Some broken ribs. Broken collarbone and arm. Some internal damage. It’s a miracle he didn’t die, too.”

“What exactly happened?” Darling asked. “Hauk won’t ever talk about it.”

Fain growled deep in his throat. “Keris was a minsid idiot. He thought himself this invincible supersoldier and he was always pushing us to be like him. He hazed the shit out of us growing up. Our father thought it was funny and that we needed to be hardened. You know? We were such pusses in his eyes. And our mother yelled at us if we ever dared to complain about it. ‘Suck it up,’” he said in a nasal, mock feminine falsetto. “And the punk bastard loved explosives. He was always throwing shit at us, and laughing when it blew up in our faces.”

Darling went pale. “Is that why Hauk hates explosives?”

“Probably. Keris started throwing crap at him in the crib, before he could even walk. He almost blew Dancer’s hand off when he was only two. More than that, the sick bastard had gone in and wired the mountain for our Endurances. Every other time we put our hand or foot in a hole, it exploded on us, knocking us down. Reckless idiot. By the time I was finished with mine, I was ready to kill him. It pissed me off so badly that I never really spoke to him again after it. And he used even more with Dancer. Worse, when Keris fell and hit the ground, it detonated every charge he’d set. The entire mountainside blew up on Dancer and sent him flying. That’s what caused his fall.”

Darling covered his face with his hands. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this before now? Have you any idea how many times we’ve mocked Hauk for his fear of explosives?”

Nero patted him on the back. “It’s all right, Darling. Hauk never held it against you.”

“Not helping. I still feel like an ass. Gah… why didn’t I ever shut up about it?”

Fain let out a heavy sigh. “It’s okay, Darling. Nero’s right. If Dancer had really minded, you wouldn’t be breathing. If he likes you, he takes most things in stride.” He looked back to Sumi and continued their conversation. “Anyway, while Keris was never brother of the year, he wasn’t so bad until Dariana got him hooked on experimental drugs. Those brought out the absolute worst in him.”

She remembered Dancer and Darice talking about that. “What exactly did she give him?”

A sad, tormented light darkened his gaze. “Like Dancer, he was stralen. Though his came and went. Probably because he was so bipolar. Keris and Dari didn’t sleep together until unification so she didn’t know what she was getting herself into, in that regard.”

“Dancer says it doesn’t really do anything to his personality, other than make him hyperprotective… right?”

Fain snorted. “Yeah, and as long as he trusts you, that’s not a problem at all.”

Fear pierced her as she tried not to remember Avin’s viciousness. “What do you mean?”

The expression on Fain’s face was cold and pain-filled. “Dariana wasn’t faithful to my brother. She lied under pledge, and when you’re stralen, your senses are even higher than normal.”

“Meaning?”

“Keris could tell whenever she’d screwed someone else, and it drove him into severe rage-mode.”

Sumi covered her mouth with her hand as the horror of that washed through her. Poor Keris. No wonder it tore Fain up so much. It was one thing he could definitely relate to. “Why didn’t she stop cheating on him?”

His gaze filled with agony, Fain twisted Omira’s ring on his finger. “I don’t know, Sumi. I’ve never understood infidelity. But I understand why it made Keris crazy and accusatory. Terrified he would kill her for it, Dariana started spiking his food with different things, trying to keep him calm and lower his adrenaline, vasopressin, and testosterone levels. It’s why she never conceived a baby while he was alive. The drugs had him too messed up. Half the time, he couldn’t even get an erection.”

Nero sucked his breath in sharply.

Sumi frowned at him. “What?”

Nero winced. “Sorry. Involuntary reaction. You do not want to sexually frustrate an Andarion male.”

“Why?”

Fain let out an evil laugh. “It causes a form of rabid insanity with us. Once we hit puberty, we need a regular chemical release.”

“Which is why they’re good at handling things themselves,” Darling added with a snicker.

Fain threw his controller at him.

“What?” Darling asked innocently as he knocked the controller to the floor. “We all know the stories about you guys.”

“Shut up, human.”

Caillen, who obviously had as much self-preservation as Darice, looked over to Fain. “So here’s my question. Can an Andarion go stralen with his hand?”

Fain slapped him with a sofa cushion so hard it sounded like he broke a bone. “No. Asshole. Gah! Humans! You disgust me!”

“Ow!” Caillen held his arm against his body. “Damn, Fain. What’s in that cushion? A rock?”

“Wah, wah.”

While they argued, Sumi fell silent as she considered what they’d just told her. “So Dancer isn’t dangerous to me, right?”

Nero tsked at her. “Let that fear go, Sumi. Hauk isn’t Avin or Darnell. As Fain said, so long as you don’t cheat – which I know you won’t – you’ll have a long, happy marriage with him. It really is that simple. Andarions treasure their females in a way few races do. Their males are frighteningly loyal and giving.”

She frowned at his use of her ex-boyfriends’ names when she hadn’t breathed a word of them. There was only one way Nero could know that. “You’re Trisani?” They were an almost extinct race that was renowned for its extreme psychic abilities. Because of that, most of them had been enslaved or murdered by those who were afraid of them or who craved their powers.

He nodded.

“Then do you know about Keris’s chip?”

“Sorry. My powers don’t work that way. There are too many variables. But if we can tie that chip to Dariana, it will be a death sentence for her. Not just by Andarion law, but there’s not a member of The Sentella who wouldn’t hunt down and tear apart anyone who had a hand in implanting that on Hauk.”

Fain, Caillen, and Darling lifted their drinks in salute to his words.

“Speak it, drey,” Darling said. “The only challenge will be getting to decide which of us has first dibs on the death blow.”

As Sumi started back to Dancer’s bedroom, Fain followed her to the living room and pulled her to a stop. She arched a curious brow at him. “Is something wrong?”

Her gaze dropped to his pinkie, where he kept Omira’s ring. “I didn’t want to ask around the others and wasn’t sure when I’d have you alone again, but…”

“You want to know about Omira?”

He nodded. Then he spoke in a hurry. “I’m not trying to stalk her, or check up on her. I told her I wouldn’t do that to her and I won’t. It’s just… having you here. I just wanted to know if she’s finally happy. If she ever found someone she could love.”

Those sincere words, combined with the earnest love on his face, wrung a sob from her. Damn you, Omira. How could her sister have hurt someone who loved her so much? Even after what her sister had done to him, he still cared. What had Omira been thinking?

His own tears gathered steam as he saw hers. “No, Sumi… she’s okay, right?”

She couldn’t look at him and that sweet, desperate childlike hope. How could she tell him what Omira had done? She couldn’t think of a single way to break it to him.

All she could do was shake her head.

“Please don’t tell me she’s dead.”

She pressed the back of her hand to her lips as her sobs came more forcefully. “I’m sorry, Fain.”

He pulled her against him and held her close as she cried. She felt his hot tears on her neck as he let out his own anguished grief. “Did she suffer?”

“No. She died in her sleep.” At least, that was what the doctors had told her. And she liked to believe them.

His arms tightened around her as his shoulders shook. She rubbed his back, wishing she could make it better for him, and knowing she couldn’t. Nothing helped this kind of pain, and anyone who said that time dulled the loss of a loved one was a total idiot. Even now, she would sell her soul to have her sister with her again. If for no other reason than to beat her for being so selfish and stupid.

She wasn’t sure how long they stood like that. But Fain finally pulled back. He wiped his tears and then hers.

“Whatever happened to her baby? Was it a boy or girl?”

Sumi winced as she remembered Omira terminating her pregnancy. She’d told her at the time that it would be an Andarion monster, but now she knew better. “She lost it,” she whispered, not wanting to hurt him any worse.

Wrapping his arms around himself, he cleared his throat. “I know you probably hate me, Sumi, but I swear to the gods of all planets that I never wanted to hurt her or cause her any harm.”

“I know.” She patted his arm. “Dancer told me that she cheated on you.”

He flinched and nodded. “I didn’t react very well to the news. I probably could have done better had I at least suspected it. But it came out of the blue. Until I caught her, I had no idea she was sleeping with a human male, too.”

“You didn’t kill her, Fain. Or hit her. How bad could it have been?”

Fain glanced away from her. “Words are harsher than blows.”

He was right about that. Though her experience said she’d rather be called names than deal with a busted jaw.

Licking her lips, she tried to let go of the past. To not let it overshadow what was in front of her now. “I’m sorry Omira wasn’t the wife you deserved, Fain. And I’m really sorry that I allowed her bitterness to taint you in my eyes. Most of all, I’m glad I didn’t kill you like Kyr wanted me to do.”

He arched a brow at her. “Seriously?”

“You were the carrot he dangled to get me to go after Dancer.” She playfully slapped at his arm. “Ha! Joke’s on him now.”

He snorted. “We’re sick beings to find humor in that.”

“Yeah, well, I accepted my weirdness a long time ago.”

Shaking his head at her, he took her hand into his. “I’m glad to have you back as my sister again, Sumi. I’ve missed you.”