Born of Night (Page 43)

Born of Night (The League #1)(43)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Darling reached out and touched Nykyrian’s arm. “Leave him alone.”

Nykyrian let fly a vicious curse.

Kiara couldn’t believe he was still conscious given the severity of his injuries.

Syn injected a painkiller into Darling’s arm, then moved to set the break. How did Darling stand it without crying out or at least cursing? He just lay there so quiet and still he didn’t look real. The only reason she knew he was still conscious was his open eyes that stared up at the ceiling.

Nykyrian looked at her. He crossed the floor, took her by the elbow and led her outside. “I think it best if you went upstairs and waited for me.”

Kiara nodded. “Is he going to be all right?”

Nykyrian brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. “He’ll be fine,” he said before giving her a quick kiss on the lips.

Kiara started to leave, then paused. “Nykyrian?” She waited until he turned around to look at her. “I hope you do beat Arturo.” And with that, she headed to their bedroom to wait for him.

It was an hour later when Nykyrian joined her in the bed. Without a word, he pulled her into his arms and held her close, his face buried in her neck. His warm breath caressed her nape through her hair.

Kiara wished for the words to make him feel better, to ease some of the tenseness in his muscles that surrounded her.

“How’s he doing?”

Nykyrian sighed and pulled back from her neck. He stroked her bare arm with his hand. “He’s asleep. He’ll be fine, all things considered.”

She bit her lip, her throat tight. “Do you know what I’ve been thinking about while I laid here?”

A short laugh rumbled behind her, bringing a tiny thrill to her body despite the seriousness of her mood. “I hope you were thinking about me and not another man.” He kissed the lobe of her ear.

She caught his hand in hers and brought it to her cheek. “The irony of life.”

She felt him stiffen around her.

Kiara closed her eyes and held his warm hand closer to her. “I’ve been thinking about how much I wanted to leave my father’s house growing up because he never respected me or my privacy.” She sighed, her thoughts tripping over each other. “I always thought he was so cruel to check up on me and intimidate and interrogate my friends like they were criminals. He’d never let me out of his sight without siccing one of his soldiers on me.” She winced as she remembered all the arguments they’d had about his restrictions for her. “I was so stupid. My mother used to tell me my life wasn’t so horrible. Now I fully understand what she meant. God, I’ve been so blind.”

His hand tightened around hers and he raised it to his lips where he placed a gentle kiss on her fingers. “I’m glad your father protected you. I wouldn’t want to have to kill him, too.”

Kiara gave a bittersweet laugh. “All I wanted growing up was to be free.” She rolled over onto her back and faced him. “Is that what you wanted, to be free of your father?”

His eyes darkened. “Truthfully?”

She nodded.

“All I wanted was to die like a man, without tears or pleading.”

That made her want to weep for him. “And now?” she whispered, afraid that he still wanted to die.

He kissed her heatedly. His lips trailed over her body with an insistence she couldn’t deny. Kiara welcomed him to her as he pulled her gown from her body and kissed his way from her lips, to her br**sts, then lower over her stomach until his lips were buried where she craved him most.

She cried out in pleasure as his tongue teased and tormented her until her body exploded. Still he licked and played until she’d had three more orgasms.

Only then did he take his own pleasure. He made love to her slowly, with the stars twinkling all around them.

When he was finally sated, he held her tightly in his arms, as if he were afraid to let her go.

It wasn’t until later when she was drifting off to sleep that she realized he’d never answered her question.

To Kiara’s amazement, Darling left his bed the next morning. His movements were slow and studied, but he was able to get about by himself. After seeing him the night before, she’d been certain Darling would be bedridden for days.

Darling sat at the kitchen table eating muffins with Kiara as Nykyrian joined them and made a cup of tea. “I always wondered where you lived. Now that I know how nice it is, I’ll be sure to pass the info on to the rest of the group. This’ll make a nice crash pad for us.”

Nykyrian looked up from his cup, a smile twitching the edges of his lips. “Finish your food before I finish what Arturo started.”

Syn checked the lorinas’ feeder in the kitchen. “Where are the mongrels?”

Nykyrian took a sip of tea before he answered. “They were confused by all the people. Last I saw of them, they were hiding out in my bed.”

Darling frowned. “They don’t bite, do they?”

Nykyrian scoffed. “I’m the only thing that bites in this house.”

Kiara had to stifle a laugh at his dry response. Her neck still tingled from the bite he’d given her last night after he’d joined her in bed. Though he tried to be careful with his fangs, every now and again he did catch a bit of her skin.

Darling scratched at his plaster cast. “What are we doing today?”

Syn crossed the room to join Nykyrian. “You’re going to rest.”

Nykyrian downed the last of his tea, put the cup in the sink, then donned his long black coat. “And since you’re here, you can keep Kiara company while we go after a couple of Aksel’s men.”

Kiara’s heart stopped beating as fear for him consumed her. “I wish you wouldn’t.”

“We have to.”

Gah, how she hated his stubbornness. She could argue, but in the end, she knew it wouldn’t do her a bit of good.

Syn grabbed his bag off the floor and gave Kiara a nasty glare. His glare intensified as Nykyrian pulled her into his arms to kiss her good-bye.

With a heated curse, Syn entered the bay.

“We’ll be back around dark,” Nykyrian said, squeezing her arm reassuringly.

Kiara watched him leave, her heart heavy with fear and worry. Be careful, baby.

“Should I ask about what I just saw?”

Darling’s voice distracted her from her thoughts. Kiara shrugged.

A tiny smile curved one corner of his mouth. “Now that I think about it, I slept in the room with Syn. Where did you sleep?” Darling stared at her with an intensity she found a bit disturbing. Then it faded to a teasing look as he wagged his brows at her.

Laughing at his expression, she took a seat across from him. “Why are you so interested?”

“I’ve had a severe crush on Nykyrian for years. If not for fear of my life, I would have made a pass at him long ago. But I know I’m too hairy for his tastes.”

She watched the way Darling cut up his food with one hand. “May I ask a personal question?”

He looked up at her. “Depends on the question.”

“How did you get the scar on your face?”

He went so still, Kiara wished she could take the question back. Self-consciously, Darling put his fork down and rubbed the cheek covered by his hair. “It’s disgusting, isn’t it?”

“No,” she answered honestly. “But it is deep.”

He sighed. “Yeah, you should have seen it sixteen operations ago.”

Her eyes widened in shock. “What happened?”

He shrugged as if the matter didn’t really bother him, but she knew better. “My eldest brother, Ryn. We got into a fight a few years ago and this,” he tucked his hair behind his ear to display the scar, “is what happened.”

“Your brother did that?” Kiara was aghast. Didn’t any of them have a happy childhood?

Darling nodded. “It was an accident. At least I think it was.”

Compassion welled up inside her as she surveyed the scar. While it was far more noticeable than Nykyrian’s, it really didn’t detract from his handsomeness. “You know, you’re still extremely good-looking.”

He gave her a look that told her he thought she’d lost her mind. “If only you were a man, love. Unfortunately, most people curl their lips and run.”

“Most people are idiots.”

He laughed. “No argument on that.” Then he turned serious. Draping his uninjured arm over the back of his chair, he studied her face for several minutes. “I want you to promise me something.”

Kiara glanced sideways, her mind thinking of several things he might want from her. “What?”

“I want you to take care of Nykyrian. I can’t explain it, but he’s different now that you’re here. Happier, I guess. He doesn’t seem so serious and emotionless anymore.” His eyes narrowed into an intense stare that probed her soul. “I want you to promise me you won’t hurt him.”

“I would never hurt him.”

Darling nodded. “Good, now let’s go digging around and see what kind of trouble we can find.”

She laughed, happy to find Darling such an easy person to befriend. Leading him to the library, she tried to keep her mind from worrying over Nykyrian and the trouble he might find. The last time he went out, he’d been shot on her behalf, and that was the last thing she wanted.

Hours later, Nykyrian and Syn sat in the backroom of the Bended Maiden sipping drinks. Nykyrian juice and Syn . . . he might as well be injecting alcohol straight into his bloodstream.

Nykyrian’s head pounded from a vicious headache. He hated when his vision screwed up like this. Damn his injuries. But there was nothing he could do except suffer with it.

They continued to review their findings for the afternoon, to little avail.

He growled at the time they’d wasted. Aksel beat his dogs well. They were all so afraid of him, none of them would betray him for fear of his retaliation.

Bloody bastards.

All he wanted was an end to this contract. So long as Aksel was on the hunt, Kiara wasn’t safe. And God help her if Aksel got his hands on her.

Agitated at the apparent futility of his day, he sifted through the sheets of printouts that lined the tabletop.

The bare, tan walls kept out the noise of the clientele in the bar area fairly well, but every now and again a loud laugh or shout would interrupt their quiet.

Antilles brought them another round of drinks. Nykyrian watched the elderman fight his way around all the boxes and barrels that stored his supplies.

The old man smiled at them, setting their drinks on the table. “It’s good to have the two of you back. It’s been too long.”

Nykyrian inclined his head in appreciation and handed him payment.

Syn sat back and cupped his hands around his head. “Has Ambassador Cruel arrived yet?” His tone was irritated. Like him, Syn had grown bored with the wait long ago.

Antilles offered Syn a look of apology. “He hasn’t yet, but I promise to send him back here as soon as he does.”

When they were alone again, Syn let out an aggravated growl. “Shahara is my main worry. Aksel comes in full force, blasters blazing. You can’t miss him. She slips up from behind and drives a blade into your lung. Lethal harita.”

Nykyrian agreed. Shahara was one of the best bounty hunters ever born. A fully trained Seax, she was to tracing what he was to the assassin’s guild. No one ever escaped her.

And Syn was right. She never acted out in the open. Had she been an assassin, she would have given even him a run for his money.

Nykyrian moved his drink out of the way. “I’ll go to Tondara tonight and try to find Driana at the club they told us about.” Aksel kept his address as guarded as they did—they couldn’t even pinpoint which planet the scab lived on. The only lead they had was that Driana went to the same Tondarian dive every weekend, which ironically was an old haunt of theirs. “If we can find her she’ll gladly give me Aksel’s plans, and knowing him, he’s run his mouth in front of her, thinking she’d never betray him.”

Syn swilled his drink. “From my reports, I’m surprised Aksel hasn’t killed her. Everything I have says they hate each other.”

“Aksel won’t kill her because of her trust fund. If they divorce or she dies under mysterious circumstances, all her money reverts to her family. Aksel’s too greedy to let something like hatred interfere with his wealth.”

“Why doesn’t she divorce him?”

“He’d kill her and her family. You have to remember, Aksel’s one psycho bastard.”

“Why are you talking about that scum?”

Nykyrian turned to see Ryn approaching them. Ryn’s red hair was a shade darker than his brother Darling’s, but his eyes were an identical shade of blue. Even though Ryn had a jaded past, he, like Darling, showed no traces of being anything other than a high-ranking aristocrat. Their past was completely shielded behind a mask of arrogant disdain.

Dressed in bright imperial robes, Ryn looked like he’d just left a council meeting.