Read The Other Brother (Snow and Ash Book 3) Online

Authors: Heather Knight

Tags: #Dark Erotic Romance

The Other Brother (Snow and Ash Book 3) (6 page)

BOOK: The Other Brother (Snow and Ash Book 3)
3.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“What the fuck did you think you were doing?”

“Bringing you lunch. Surprise! How can you do that? Just walk up and shoot a guy with a bag over his head?”

He curls his hands into fists. “You had no business being there. What I do for the army and for this territory is no business of yours.”

“None of my business?” I huff. “You make like you’re this nice guy, but you’re not, are you? You can blow some guy’s head off and then go home and eat dinner. That’s sick, Kent. Sick!”

He lets a breath out through his nose. If he were a dragon, I’m pretty sure I’d see fire. “I do what needs to be done. It’s my job!”

“I don’t like it.”

“You don’t get to like it. You shouldn’t stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong. Your place is here at the house. Got it?”

“Good-bye women’s rights. Welcome to the Stone Age.” I swallow back the sour taste in my mouth.

“You married me, Bianca. Me, the whole man. Not just the one that fucks you. I’m a colonel and a Barry, and you’d better get used to it.”

I look away.

“Do not come out to the field again. Ever. Do you understand me?”

“Yeah, I won’t be back. Trust me.”

He reaches for me, and I recoil.

His eyes widen, then narrow as he goes white about the lips. I think he’s going to yell at me or grab me or roar or something. Instead, he spins on his heel and stalks back to the bathroom and slams the door shut.

I let out the breath I’ve been holding. That wasn’t so bad. I mean, he didn’t hit me or anything. So he’s pissed. Good. Let that be a lesson to him.

I go back to my desk and start a new letter to Letitia. My hands shake, though.

When Kent comes back several minutes later, he’s dressed in his sleep pants and droplets of water cling to his face. He still wears his scowl. “We have to talk.”

I sigh and fling down my pen. “What now?”

“Come over here,” he says, pointing to the bed.


He blinks slowly, then crosses the room, sweeps me up in his arms, and deposits me on the comforter.

“If you think I’m going to have sex with you after all this, you’re sadly mistaken.”

“You were wrong,” he says, his voice steady. There’s a furrow between his brows, but his eyes look troubled, not angry. “You had no place interfering with army business—”

“I didn’t interfere!”

“—where you don’t belong. But that’s my fault too, because I never told you that.”

That shuts me up. I cock my head.

“So from now on, I’m going to lay out some rules for you. I’ll give you a list tomorrow.”

A list of rules? He’s got to be kidding me!

“I’m disappointed,” he continues. “You lied to me.”

I suck in a breath. “I did not lie!”

“I asked you several times what was wrong, and you said everything was fine. You lied.”

I cross my arms over my chest. “I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk to you.”

“I don’t know if I can trust you now.”

I gape at him, and my hands drop to my sides. “You not trust me?”

“You should have told me right away you had a problem with me instead of lying and hiding it. How am I supposed to know how to help and protect you when you don’t let me know when something’s troubling you? If you’re mad and I don’t know it, how am I supposed to fix things?”

Heat tingles my face. I did try to hide it. I didn’t give him a chance.

“I thought you’d get mad at me for being down there,” I admit.

“And I would have been, but like I just told you, it’s partly my fault. That’s still not an excuse for deceiving me.”

What the eff?

“I told you. This can only work if you’re honest with me. What else have you lied about?”

“Nothing!” I scowl. I don’t like being treated like a ten-year-old.

He shakes his head. “I don’t know if I believe that. I thought you were ready to be my wife, not some silly little girl.”

Ice fills my veins, and I glare at him. “Don’t you dare expect me to act like some middle-aged mom. I’m nineteen, okay? And I’m not sorry.”

His lips thin.

“And don’t expect sex tonight, either,” I throw in. I’m so not doing him.

“Oh, I agree. In fact, tonight you can sleep on the floor.”



“You don’t deserve to sleep in my bed. You can sleep on the floor.”

I gawk at him. “I’ll sleep in another room.”

“No. You won’t. Don’t push me, Bianca. I’m in charge. You know that.”

“In charge? You suck, Kent. I hate you!”

“Oh yeah, you’re definitely on the floor tonight.” He flings a pillow. “I’ll think about what to do with you tomorrow.”

I pick it up and fling it back at him. He makes no attempt to catch it, so it bounces off his chest back onto the floor.

“Fine,” I say through gritted teeth. “Why don’t you sleep in that bed of yours and fuck yourself!”

I charge into the bathroom and shut the door. Hard. I brush my teeth longer than necessary, and I take my good old time washing my face, under my arms, my crotch. Not that he’s going to get anywhere near that, but I hate it that he’s freshly clean and I’m not.

Finally, there’s no more stalling, and I exit the bathroom. Again, there are no pajamas waiting for me, and I don’t know where they’re kept. Why don’t I know where my own clothes are? Seriously, is that weird or what?

A pallet of blankets and a pillow wait for me on the floor. I lie down fully clothed and shut my eyes. A few minutes later I hear slapping noises.

“What are you doing?”

“You told me to go fuck myself,” he pants. “Figured you wouldn’t mind.”

My blood boils as I turn onto my side and close my eyes. The throw rug that seems soft underfoot is like a concrete slab against my hip. Kent groans, then sighs. A few minutes later I hear a gentle snore.

I haven’t so much as dozed when someone pounds on the door.

“Damn it.” Kent throws back the covers and gets to his feet. Good thing, because I have no intention of meddling with his business.

He takes a deep breath and pulls the door open. “This better be important.”

“Sir, it’s the general. He’s been shot.”


Kent and I sit alone in a dimly lit hospital waiting room. He props his elbows on his knees, and at even the smallest sound, his eyes fly to the door. No one ever comes.

When someone finally does show, it’s Colonel Wagner. Kent rises to his feet. “Alex.”

“Kent,” the other man returns, and it hits me how different men and women are. No niceties, no words of comfort, just acknowledgment.

“What do we have so far?” Kent’s burned side remains motionless, but the furrow between his brows is deeper than the Grand Canyon.

“So far, not much. Your brother was working late in his office. He sat near enough to a lamp to make him an easy target. The shot came from outside, a sniper’s bullet judging by the damage to the window. Whoever it was hit him in the chest.”

Kent’s eyes narrow, and he clenches his jaw. “Any leads?”

Wagner shakes his head. “We’re searching for the sniper’s firing position. We’ll take up the trail from there.”

“I want to know if this was an inside job or if it came from one of the territories. If so, I want to know how this person got by security. I want a full update every six hours on the progress.”

Wagner nods. “On it.”

“Good.” Kent rubs his brow and flicks another look at the door.

“Any news?” the colonel asks.

Kent shakes his head and looks away.

Wagner lifts his head. “I’ll report back in a few hours.”

He nods once at me and retreats.

Kent takes a seat and rubs his hands down his face. “This should never have happened. Our security is tight.”

I feel like the spoiled brat he accused me of being only a few hours ago. I want to say something that would make him feel better, but I’ve got nothing. I can’t tell him how sorry I am about his brother. We left things angry and closed between us, and I’m not even sure he wants me here right now.

When I touch his arm, he stiffens, and I want to yank myself away and have a good pout. You know, like I’m nineteen or something. I can’t do that, though. Right now it’s about Kent, not me. Kent and his brother. I still don’t have anything to say that would help at all, but I know of a few things he’d appreciate.

Awkwardness closes my throat, and forming words is difficult. “I’m going to take care of some things. Be back in a couple minutes?”

He frowns. “Fine. Whatever.”

“Okay.” I try not to feel hurt. Doesn’t work.

That feeling of having a target in the middle of my back doesn’t disappear until I make it out the door and into the hallway. To my surprise, armed guards flank both sides of the door.

One steps to block me. “Sorry, ma’am. I’m going to have to ask you to stay in there for now.”

Heat stings my cheeks, and I smooth the neckline of my shirt.

“Security,” he explains. “Whoever did this might be out for more than one Barry.”

“Okay.” I hesitate. “Can you take care of a couple of things, then?”

He cocks his head, but like most soldiers his face shows little emotion.

I flick a glance at the door. “I think we’re going to be here awhile. Have someone bring the colonel some tea. Hot and plenty of it.” Coffee doesn’t exist anymore, but we have several tea trees in the gardens, and the elite still get to enjoy it.

He acknowledges my request with a terse nod. “Anything else?”

I try to think, but my mind goes blank. I feel like such an idiot because I have no idea what I’m doing. What if Kent resents all my butting in? Finally I rattle off a couple items and return to the room.

Kent glances up as I enter, and at his obvious disappointment I can’t help feeling a little sting.

It’s not about you, Bianca.

“That didn’t take long,” he says as I deliberately—and bravely, I might add—take a seat beside him. To my relief, he doesn’t fidget away.

I’m about to answer when the door opens again. This time it’s a man and a woman in scrubs, and Kent straightens. Without thinking, I grab his hand.

“Colonel Barry,” the woman says. “I’m Dr. Jin.”

“How is he?” Kent asks, getting to his feet.

“Your brother took a bullet to the upper lobe of his left lung. He’s lost a lot of blood.”

Lung! That’s really bad, isn’t it?

Kent lifts his chin. “Is he going to make it?”

Dr. Jin shakes her head. “It’s too soon to tell. He’s in surgery right now. I assume you won’t mind giving blood?”

The guy beside her steps forward.

Kent flicks him a brief glance. “No, that’s fine. Do whatever you need.”

I assume the guy’s not a doctor since he’s hauling the equipment. Would that make him a nurse or something else? I have no clue. He swiftly types us both. “Colonel, you’re a perfect match. We’ll start with you. Mrs. Barry, you’re O-positive, a universal donor. Do you mind?”

Finally I’m not useless. “That’s fine.”

They’re just finishing up with me when Sgt. Aguilar shuffles through the door hauling what looks like luggage. It’s the biggest briefcase I’ve ever seen, and it’s on wheels. Trailing behind him are two soldiers; one bears a covered dish and the other wheels in an urn of hot water and the makings for tea. I get to my feet and help them set up at the small round table next to a bright orange chair.

Kent stands and accepts the briefcase. “Thank you, Sergeant. Always one step ahead.”

“Just following orders, sir. The guards will let me know again if there’s anything else you need.”

The man salutes. Kent salutes back, and the man departs.

I spoon a healthy portion of tea into the strainer ball and hold the mug while a short, skinny private releases the spigot with shaking hands. I smile at him, and he blushes. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve seen someone my age. I stir in a little honey and approach Kent.

He accepts the mug with an absent thank you.

The skinny private and his companion retreat to the doorway. “Will that be all, sir?”

“Yes,” Kent answers. “Thank you.”

He sounds like he means it, and I’m glad at least something today wasn’t a disaster.

Skinny Private nods and turns to me. “Just let the guards know if you need anything else, ma’am.”

The soldiers salute Kent and leave. I wander over to the pitifully stocked bookcase and run my hands over the paperbacks.

“That was very kind,” Kent says quietly.

I swing around, expecting to see another person in the room, but he’s looking at me. I’m pinned to the spot. My chest goes heavy, and I don’t know what to say.

He holds up the tea and indicates the small table laden with food and drink. “I can smell the potatoes from here.”

His eyes crinkle, his burned side turns down a little, and my heart melts for him. I jerk my head in a nod.

Abandoning the books, I rejoin him on the small couch. I hold myself stiff as I take my seat, preparing myself for his recoil, but it never comes. Kent sets the tea down, takes my hand and holds it in his lap.

I rest my head on his shoulder.

~ ~ ~

By lunchtime they locate the position the sniper used. He’s long gone, and he left no traces other than a pair of boot tracks leading to the main drive. By dinnertime the doctors have removed the bullet, but they are no closer to knowing whether the general will make it. By bedtime the dogs lose the sniper’s scent and are returned to their kennels.

Throughout the day Kent’s face remained pale. In addition to directing the investigation, he spent every moment receiving personnel and giving orders for the daily tasks necessary to run the territory. He was still at it an hour ago when he insisted I go home and get some sleep.

When I enter our suite, the bed is made and the blankets on the floor are gone. There’s a tank top and a pair of sleep pants laid out on the bed. The fire warms the room perfectly, yet goose bumps erupt on my arms. For the first time since I got here, I’ll sleep alone.

Since I didn’t get a chance earlier, I pile my hair on top of my head and hop into the shower. I let the hot water loosen the tension between my shoulders. Twenty-four hours ago I told Kent to go fuck himself, and he did. Kind of funny now that I think about it. I’ve done the best I could to make up for yesterday. I had no idea what I was doing, really, so I did what I thought Mom would do: I made sure he had plenty of food, sent for people I thought might be of comfort or help to him, and the rest of the time I spent holding his hand and keeping my mouth shut.

BOOK: The Other Brother (Snow and Ash Book 3)
3.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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