Authors: Laura Wright
Arrogance fairly bled from Cruen’s ancient pores. “You don’t. Your seed belongs in her womb, and your
will be the pride of a new vampire regime—the beginnings of a new class of elite vampires.” As the female across from Lucian moaned, Cruen moved closer to their cage. “Know this. Until you send her into
, you will both remain where you are.”
Lucian glanced at the
, narrowed his eyes, then returned to the master. “You really are a fucking fool, Cruen. You think the Order will ever accept this new regime of yours? They want only the purest of blood—they think only the purest of blood is worthy.”
He sniffed. “As do I. And this
is pure—pure Breeding Male blood. And with me by its side, it will rule us all.”
“And anything not worthy of the new regime?” Lucian asked.
“Will be eliminated,” Cruen stated simply.
Lucian pressed his advantage before Cruen caught on. “And
“Of course.” Cruen froze, realized what he had said, and hurried to put a Band-Aid on the wound. “Not my children.” He turned and looked at the four Beasts. “I do not speak of you, you know that.”
Three of the
stood there, nostrils flared, eyes narrowed, while one remained expressionless.
The Beast Lucian knew as the
spoke first, his gaze hard on his father. “You would not eliminate us, but others like us?”
Cruen stared at him. “You and your brothers are special, Erion. You are my sons.”
Erion, Lucian mused. So the
had a name.
“I am your son,” Erion said tightly, “and yet you have lied to me.”
“You will not speak to me this way,” Cruen began with a low snarl.
“I have been told I have a
,” he said, the Beasts around him turning to stare at their brother with shocked expressions.
Baring his red fangs, Cruen spat, “By whom? Lucian Roman? You would believe the word of a stranger, of a nothing, over your own father?”
Erion walked toward him, his massive size and scarred face making him look like a demon in the electric lights. “You told me, told us all, that we cannot breed. We are incapable of it.”
Cruen was unafraid. “I did.”
“Is that the truth, Father?”
“You had all your needs met here, Erion. Every one of you has had your pick of females to bed—females
I blood castrated myself—and yet you would go outside these walls when I forbid it!” Tipping up his chin, Cruen added, “Breeding is not meant for ones like you.”
.” Erion’s eyes shuttered. “Neither is any real sense of living, I suppose.”
Crue’s eyes widened as he saw something, one of the cages—empty. “The
—Synjon Wise—he is gone, escaped.” Cruen raised his hand to one of the
. “Go. Go and find him.”
Not one of the Beasts moved.
“Don’t stand there, gaping!” Cruen raged. “Move, you fools!”
“So that is all we are truly meant for,” Erion pushed. “To be little more than your guard dogs?”
“To be lab rats, then?”
“Find that fucking
,” Cruen ordered, low and slow. “Or you will find yourselves caged and hungry and hurting like the rest of them.”
Lucian cursed. “Listen to him. Christ. He lied to you! Used you! All of you. Get it through your heads,
. You are not worthy of reproducing, of anything but remaining in the shadows like worthless pieces of shit.” He chuckled. “The last thing in the world this Pureblooded bastard—your
—wants is more freaks running around, and when he’s done using you, you’ll be eliminated right along—”
Cruen flew across the room within a second and hit the bars of Lucian’s cell. The Breeding Female cried out as Cruen’s hand shot through and curled around Lucian’s throat.
Barely able to breathe, Lucian grinned. “Do it. Take
the breath out of me, the life from me. It would be my pleasure.”
“If you weren’t such a perfect cock for hire, I would,” he snarled, his pale blue eyes flashing hatred. “I’d love every second of it.”
Lucian struggled to breathe when Cruen’s fingers suddenly slackened around his throat. Then he crumpled to the ground, revealing Erion behind him. The
eyed him. “That wasn’t for you.”
Gripping his bruised throat, Lucian nodded. “Good. Glad to see you have some balls, Brother. I was beginning to wonder if we really did share the same blood.”
Erion unlocked Juliet’s cell, but the other Beasts remained where they were. Lucian could tell by their eyes they weren’t going to trust anyone but themselves. Wise bastards.
Lucian hustled out of the cage as Erion carried the nude
, who continued to moan in pain. They left the lab and hurried out into the hallway. Lucian followed the Beast down several corridors, both of them moving as silently as they could manage.
“This way,” Erion called back, moving swiftly, the
’s legs bobbing against his forearms.
Then, from out of nowhere, it seemed, Synjon moved directly into their path. His face was a mask of death and the gun in his hand was expertly trained on Erion. “Hand her over, Beast.”
“Easy,” Lucian warned him. “This
just saved her life, Brit Boy.”
“Good,” Syn said flatly. “Maybe I won’t kill you, then.” He motioned to the floor with his gun. “Put her down and walk away.”
Erion did as the
asked. “Your lover is unharmed, but she needs care.”
“Lover?” Lucian hissed, his eyes flashing to Synjon. “What the hell?”
Synjon didn’t answer, but regarded Lucian with a hard stare. “Bronwyn?”
Goddamn, just hearing her name made his gut hurt like hell. “She’s fine,” he said, then added, “And she’s mine.”
For one brief second, Synjon held Lucian’s gaze, something silent and understood passing between them. Then Erion interrupted with a terse “You must go,” and Synjon scooped up the
“Follow this corridor to the right,” Erion continued. “When you reach the wall of windows, smash out the center one and you will be able to jump and flash.”
“Windows have already been smashed.”
The voice came from behind Syn, and Lucian nodded at the familiar faces, so goddamn welcome right now. Alexander and Nicholas jogged toward them, stopped at the semicircle of
. Nicholas stared at Erion, his gaze running the length of the
. “It’s true.”
The Beast nodded. “The
“No, that you exist, my brother.” Nicholas asked him curiously, “Are there others?”
Erion nodded, his eyes softening just a touch as he stared at his twin. “They are back in the lab.”
“You have a
,” Nicholas told him. “Did you know that?”
“My father swore to me I would not be able to father a
. It is the only reason…” He looked up, diamond
eyes gazing into black. “I dreamed of him. The boy. Once. But I was awake.”
“His name is Ladd,” Nicholas told him. “He’s been under my protection. Where he will remain until I can be sure…”
The Beast released a heavy breath, almost a pained one. “There is nothing to be sure of, nothing to change or alter or smooth. I have no
, and we are not brothers. My brothers are back in the lab.”
For a moment, Nicholas said nothing. Then he nodded, his eyes suddenly blank with feeling. “My brothers are here and I need to get them out.”
“No one is going anywhere.”
Cruen appeared behind them, the rest of the Beasts at his side. His gaze narrowed on Synjon and the female. “Release her.”
Syn snarled. “Never.”
“Then you will die.”
Cruen raised his hand, gave the order to attack, and the Beasts rushed forward, leaped at them in sudden attack.
Alexander slammed his fist into the face of the first one, the sound of cracking bone fueling his battle rage. Hyperaware, he saw Nicholas take down a male with a ball-busting groin kick, and on his other side, Lucian launched himself at Cruen, reaching for the ancient one’s weapon.
But the ex-Order piece of shit flashed away, vanishing before Lucian could even reach him.
Had to be trick. Nothing this dickhead liked better than a trick.
Every one of Alexander’s senses fired up to red alert. And a split second later, Cruen materialized in front of Syn, shoving his weapon against the
The Breeding Female, cradled in his arms, wailed in distress and jacked upright.
The sound of a gunshot exploded throughout the corridor.
As the echo died away, they were all shocked to see Syn still standing. And in his arms, he held the limp, bleeding form of the
. Alexander cursed into the blood-scented air. The
had taken the bullet meant for Syn.
They all fell silent, the only sound breathing and the
’s blood dripping on the floor.
And then a cry so wretched it ripped apart Alexander’s gut shot from Synjon Wise’s throat, making them all freeze, making them all stare at the beautiful
lying dead in his arms.
“Not her,” Cruen said from behind them, his voice hoarse with shock. “Not her.”
Before another breath was taken, Synjon shifted the
to one arm, snatched a dagger from one of the Beasts with the other, and flung it straight for Cruen’s neck.
The blade hit the wall with a deadly smack.
Cruen had vanished.
The aftermath of Cruen’s bloodletting clung to each of them, but to Lucian there had been something earth-shattering about watching Synjon Wise break into a million pieces over the dead body of the
he loved. An innocent had been killed, had been taken again
, and Lucian could see in the male’s eyes that he desperately wanted to follow her.
As Erion and the Beasts left them in the corridor, in search of the one who had betrayed them, Alexander, Nicholas, and Lucian moved down one hallway into another until they reached the wall of windows.
Synjon stared into the black night, quiet as he held his dead
in his arms.
Alexander touched the
’s shoulder, but Synjon snarled at him.
“What can we do?” Alexander asked him.
“Anything,” Nicholas said, the weight of the
’s devastation hanging in the air oppressive and contagious.
The blood of his beloved
infused into his skin, into his clothing, Synjon moved toward the window, the
crumpled against his chest. Then he stopped and without turning said, “There will be a day when I will come to you. There will be a day when I ask you to help me find and dispose of the garbage that stole her life from me.”
It was all he said, and Lucian was the one who answered him, who stepped forward and said in the clearest and most resolute voice he could manage, “We will wait for that day, Brother.”
Lucian watched him move through the window, watched him disappear in a flash, the remaining shreds of life, of devastation and horror following along behind him. There were many things Lucian was capable of in this life, many things he didn’t give a shit about that maybe he should have, but one thing he knew for certain, he was not going to allow Bronwyn to feel
what Synjon Wise was feeling. She would not cry over his dead body or bury him in the ground, pine for him for years, then settle into a life of regrets.
He was going to lose the battle he had waged with his Breeding Male self—it was just a matter of time.
He turned to his brothers. He forced emotion out of his voice and infused practicality and immobility into it.
“I can’t return with you.”
Nicholas’s nostrils flared, but he said nothing.
“We have a cage,
,” Alexander said firmly. “You will come home and we will care for you.”
Lucian shook his head, his chest tightening. “I won’t be anywhere near her. Can’t.”
“Then send her home,” Nicholas spat out. “She doesn’t belong to us, to you—”
“She carries my
Nicholas paled. “What?”
“And I believe I love her.”
Both his brothers just stared at him, as if neither one of his admissions could be possible.
“Where are you going to go?” Alexander asked, finding his voice. “Run away somewhere, get lost—never see us, never see your family again? Your child…?”
Lucian’s lip curled, but inside him the turbulent emotions and hopes and wants of a father churned. “I won’t be able to control myself much longer. Even now, I feel it coming over me, like having my insides filled up with paint. Soon I will be blind to my actions. Do you think I will ever allow myself within a foot of my daughter?”
Nicky looked like he was going to lose his shit. “A
“Swear to me you will treat Bron as my mate should be treated, and my
“Stop,” Alexander said harshly. “There is no need for your request. You know our hearts, unbeating though they are.”
Lucian nodded. He took one final look at them, knowing it could be the last time, and jumped from the window.
Six months later
ronwyn felt the sudden jerk in her belly and groaned into the lens of her microscope. “Easy there, little
,” she said, giving her stomach a pat. “Let’s wait until you come out for the soccer game kicks, all right?”
Laughing, Sara set a seedcake down beside her on the desk. “I think she’s trying to tell you something, Mama.”
Studying the blood samples, Bronwyn didn’t even raise her head to ask, “What’s that?”
“That maybe you should give the microscope and yourself a rest.”
Bronwyn narrowed her eyes on the sample, cursed, then switched it with another slide.