Born of Night (Page 23)

Born of Night (The League #1)(23)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

How could such a man not be missed by anyone? It made her want to hold him close and show him that not everyone was callous.

Kiara drew a trembling breath, wishing for the nerve it would take to strip her clothes from her body and go out to the main room where Nykyrian stayed. Shera had done that to gain her last lover and had told Kiara it was a never-fail ploy to be used when she really wanted someone.

But she could never do anything so bold.

She was a coward.

Sighing, she leaned back on her bed, imagining what it would be like to have Nykyrian by her side, making love to her, soothing her fears all night long while he kept her safe.

He was still on her mind when she finally drifted off into a fitful sleep.

* * *

When Kiara awoke, she knew instantly something had changed, but she wasn’t sure what. She grabbed her robe and belted it before she went to see what made her feel so strange.

As soon as she entered her main room, she understood. Nykyrian was gone and Hauk sat on her couch munching what was left of her friggles.

He gave her the most menacing glare she’d ever received. “Something wrong?” he barked.

How could anyone look so fierce while relaxing? Was there some course they all had taken to tell them how to do that?

Or did it just come naturally?

“No.” She gave him a shy smile, then lots of space as she went to dress.

Kiara took her time, wishing she’d stayed in bed and slept through the hulking Andarion’s guardianship. The last thing she wanted was to spend a day with his threats and taunts.

Oh well. She’d suffered worse.

Maybe.

When she returned to the main room, Hauk had a plate of muffins waiting for her. She lifted a questioning brow, shocked by the gesture.

“They’re not as good as Nykyrian’s, but they won’t kill you either,” he said gruffly as if being friendly with her embarrassed him.

She picked one up. “I thought you hated me.”

He shrugged and flipped stations on her viewer. “I hate over-privileged people in general. You just happen to fall into that category. No offense. But Nykyrian said you weren’t a total bitch so I’ll trust him until you make him out a liar.”

Kiara shook her head. “You seriously lack social skills, don’t you?”

“Basically. Kind of pride myself on that, too.”

Because it weeded out those who didn’t care about him. Kiara paused as she remembered her therapist telling her that when she’d gone through a nasty period of repelling anyone who came near her.

You’re so afraid of being hurt that you attack first. Only those who really care about you will weather the assault of your verbal attacks and stay. The rest will fall away.

After a time, Kiara had put her anger aside and realized that her loved ones deserved something more from her than her anger and hostility.

Knowing what she did about Nykyrian and his crew, she understood their need to deploy all defense systems. It wasn’t personal.

It was a grudge they all carried against the entire universe and she just happened to be a part of that outer group.

She smiled at Hauk. “Nykyrian doesn’t strike me as being exactly poor. As the son of a wealthy, respected commander I would think he falls into your despised category as well.”

A harumph was all that answered her.

After a moment, he tossed the remote aside in anger. “I don’t suppose you have a better way of occupying our time? There’s nothing on that’s even good enough to rot my brain with.”

Kiara laughed as she remembered her own tantrum over that very fact. “Other than eat friggles and humans, what do you like to do?”

Hauk stood and towered over her. “Anything beats talking.”

“I have some games.” She pulled the console out of her media armoire and blew the dust off the keyboard and controllers. The console had been a gift, but she didn’t really play games so it’d never been used.

Without a word, Hauk moved to the closet and began rummaging through her small collection of discs. He emerged with a wide smile, his long fangs flashing. “Tareba. Now there’s a game I haven’t seen in years.” He pulled out the classic strategy game. “Would you mind playing? It sucks to be solo.”

Kiara smiled in disbelief at his unexpected exuberance. “I’m probably not very good at it, but sure.”

He reminded her of a kid as he attached the console to her viewer and set up the program. She was actually beginning to warm up to him.

“Where’d Nykyrian go?”

He looked up from the keyboard with a stern frown. “Did you ask him?”

“Didn’t have time.”

The frown lessened. “He went to get information about the people after you.”

She finished off her muffin, trying to bolster her courage enough to ask the next question. “Why is Aksel Bredeh so important to Nykyrian?”

“What do you care?”

The hostility in that tone was biting. How in the world could the answer to that threaten any of them? “You guys have to be the most defensive group alive. Mia kitana, can’t I ever get a simple answer out of any of you?”

Hauk laughed deep in his throat, a sound that she found far from comforting. “You’re right. We live for evasiveness. You should play Questions with them sometime. I’ve never seen anyone hedge better than Nykyrian or Syn.” It was magical the way his personality changed from coarse to friendly as he set up the controllers for them. “As for Aksel. I don’t really know. Bad blood from the beginning I think.”

“Why do you say that?”

He shrugged. “They were always at each other’s throats. I think most of it stemmed from Aksel not being able to pass the League Academy tests while Nykyrian was always the high scorer on anything he did.”

She should have figured that. Nykyrian didn’t strike her as someone who’d accept second best on anything.

“So how long have you known Nykyrian?”

Hauk gave her a cold stare before he answered. “I was thirteen when we met.”

“How old was he?”

“No idea.”

She stared at him. “You don’t know Nykyrian’s age?”

“Nope. No one does.”

“I’m sure Nykyrian does.”

“Nah, I don’t think so. The rumors in school said that he was sent to a human orphanage when he was a toddler or infant and raised there. Hell, he didn’t even have a name when we met.”

She had to force herself not to roll her eyes. “You’re joking now.”

He shook his head, his eyes burning with deadly earnest. “No. He didn’t have a name until he’d been commissioned as an officer into The League—they require a name for all officers and so he picked one then. His academy records only held an approximate age range and his name was listed as Unknown Andarion Hybrid.”

Kiara felt sick. “Are you serious?”

“I saw the file myself. Everything in it was listed as unknown. Parents. Planet of origin. Name. Age. It was pathetic, really.”

She was ill with the thought of not knowing anything about herself or her parents. No wonder Nykyrian was so cold. “You met him after he joined the academy?”

He nodded.

“What did you call him if he had no name?”

“We didn’t. None of us interacted with him at all . . . well, not entirely true. There were a lot of kids who picked on him because he came to the academy with a training collar already in place. But what they called him isn’t fit for mixed company and doesn’t bear repeating. Stupid f**kheads.”

If that was his idea of an acceptable insult for mixed company, she had to hear what they’d called Nykyrian that he wouldn’t repeat.

But it said a lot for Hauk that he’d broken from the pack and become friends with someone the others had alienated. Most kids, herself included, didn’t have that strength of character at that age when peer acceptance was so important. She’d like to think better of herself, but it would be a lie.

She was better now, but as a kid . . .

“How did you two become friends?”

There was shame in his eyes before he answered. “The rotten bastard saved my life. One of the pods we were practicing in malfunctioned. It crashed and caught fire. I was trapped inside and my leg was pinned by the wreckage. No one would help me—they were too afraid of getting hurt. Even the instructors. They were too busy keeping everyone back while I baked and burned. Nykyrian shoved past them and broke me out, then carried me to safety just before the pod exploded. He still has scars from where the glass tore into his back and the gash he took to his right forearm when he pulled me out.”

She knew that scar. “And you were friends after that?”

“Not really. Nykyrian refused to speak to anyone in those days. I tried to thank him, but he just ignored me.”

“Then how did you become friends?”

He untangled the controllers. “Syn. Nykyrian got into The League. I washed out. So I ended up in private sector IT. There was this one hacker son of a bitch who kept breaching my security no matter how good I made it and I had to meet him. It turned out to be Syn. And Syn, for a human, is a hard man not to like, especially back then when he was sober. His humor was infectious and it wasn’t until I’d known him for about two years that I found out Nykyrian was his best friend.”

She wondered why Nykyrian had let Syn into his life when he seemed so determined to keep everyone else out. “So he talked to Syn?”

“Like I said, Syn is a hard man not to like.”

There had to be a lot more to this story, especially given how reclusive Nykyrian was. “How did they meet?”

“I have no idea. They’re not real big on sharing.”

He definitely wasn’t kidding about that. She was actually stunned that Hauk was being so chatty.

Which made her wonder what other personal tidbits he might give her and there was one in particular she was dying to know about . . .

“So, have you ever seen Nykyrian’s eyes?”

“Yes.”

“Do they look like yours?”

He froze, then shook his head. “Look, I’ve already spoken too much. Nykyrian is an extremely private person and I owe my life to him. He’s saved it more than that one time so I’d rather we play the game and pass the time with only meaningless bullshit until they get back.”

Kiara nodded even though her mind spun at what she’d learned. Nykyrian had been abandoned without even a name to call his own.

What kind of parents could have done that to him? No wonder he didn’t like being touched. What was that called? Disassociation? She’d have to look it up later to make sure. It was something about infants who were refused by their mothers. Infants who weren’t held and nurtured. They never felt connected to anyone else and it left a lifetime of scars on them.

She couldn’t imagine the horror of what Nykyrian had been through. And her heart ached at the past Hauk described. She wondered if Nykyrian knew answers about his past that he preferred not to share.

Hauk held the controller out to her. She took it and remembered what Nykyrian had told her about himself the night before.

No family.

No friends.

Nothing.

Even though she suspected Hauk would die for him, Nykyrian still felt alone in the world. Isolated. Abandoned by everyone. And that broke her heart.

What do you care? He’s just a bodyguard . . .

But it wasn’t that simple. She’d seen inside his heart and knew Nykyrian to be so much more. Like Hauk, she owed her life to him. And somehow she was going to give him a life, too.

One filled with trust and kindness. Surely he deserved that after all he’d done for them?

Nemesis might not care about him, but she was learning to and somehow she wanted to give him the friend he deserved to have. Any man who could accept a callous lover could surely accept a well-meaning friend who only wanted to help him.

But the real question was, would Nykyrian ever allow someone that close to him?

CHAPTER 13

Kiara and Hauk were watching a comedy when Nykyrian returned. She looked up at him with a welcoming smile, but he didn’t even bother to glance in her direction. He dropped his backpack by the door and just stood there like he was dazed or thinking heavily about something.

Disappointed, she shifted her gaze to Hauk, who offered her an apologetic shrug before standing.

“Well, I guess it’s time for this babysitter to evaporate.” He picked up his own bag and slung it over his shoulder. “Beware of her roast. It’s killer.” He gave Nykyrian a mocking salute before he took his leave.

Nykyrian finally looked at her. “What was that about?”

Kiara shrugged in confusion. “He told me he liked it. Would you care for any? I left a warmer on the stove.” She tossed the pillow from her lap and uncurled her legs so that she could get up from the couch.

“I’ll get it.” He headed down the hallway.

Kiara frowned. He was acting strange, even for him. His movements were missing their usual grace and fluidity, and his tone had seemed odd.