Home > Tall, Silent & Lethal (Pyte/Sentinel #4)

Tall, Silent & Lethal (Pyte/Sentinel #4)
Author: R.L. Mathewson

Prologue

Herrmann Manor

Mainz, Germany

1941

“Your sister tells me that you’ve been fighting again.”

Christofer’s hand stilled in mid-slash over the backside of the parchment that he’d been forced to reuse, the fresh charcoal lines blurred by the stains seeping through the thin material from the other side. After a slight hesitation, he continued making the line, duplicating it from the image seared in his mind, only making the jawline longer than befitted a six year old girl’s face.

“There’s nothing much to tell, Father,” he said, shifting slightly closer to the fireplace so that he could see better, but far enough away so that the heat wouldn’t curl the parchment in his hands.

“I see,” his father mused as Christofer registered the sounds of one of the crystal decanters on the side table being picked up. “Did you at least win?” his father asked, sounding thoughtful as he poured whiskey into a crystal glass.

“No, Father,” Christofer answered, not bothering to look up as he reached for the glass that he knew was waiting for him.

“But you didn’t run,” his father clarified as he lowered himself to sit by Christofer in front of the fire.

Chuckling, Christofer looked up as he took a sip of whiskey, welcoming the soothing amber fire down his throat as he studied his father, still in his well-tailored suit, sitting by him on the unforgiving stone floor of the great hall. In any other castle it would have been an unusual sight to see the lord of the manor sitting in his finest on the cold stone floor, but not here.

His earliest memory was of his father with an indulgent smile, sitting down by his side late one night after he’d sneaked out of the nursery to draw horrible chalk figures on the smooth gray stones that made up the great hall’s floor. Since that night, his father and he had created a tradition of sorts. He would sneak out of his room when the need to rip the images that haunted his thoughts out of his head and place them onto parchment became too much. For his part, his father would sit by him, quietly watching him work while he pretended that the most taxing responsibility in his life was to sit by his son and watch him make the images inside his head come to life.

“No, Father, I certainly didn’t run,” he said, shifting a bit and trying not to wince when the movement tugged at his sore ribs.

“Good,” was all his father said as he took a small, satisfying sip from his glass.

Christofer didn’t bother to tell his father that the boys had all been younger than him by a good five years, or that they’d taken great pleasure in tormenting the great Lord’s son, the village freak as they liked to call him when his father wasn’t around to hear them, and he never would. His father liked to pretend that he was a normal sixteen-year old boy on the cusp of manhood and Christofer cherished that feeling too much to give it up even if it meant that his father would put an end to his daily torment.

Moments like this, late at night when the only sounds came from the crackling fire, the parchment shifting on his lap, and the occasional sounds of a servant making his way through the halls lighting candles and adding wood to the fires that burned low throughout the house, they could pretend that Christofer had his entire future waiting for him. They could pretend that he would be leaving for University soon and that it would be time to talk to him about all those things that young men needed to know before they started to make their way into the world, but that time would never come for them.

Christofer was a sixteen-year-old man stuck in the body of a ten-year-old boy, a weak ten-year-old boy. There would be no discussions of which University to send him to, what he should study so that he could ensure the continued survival of his family’s wealth. There would be no talks about women, serious or teasing, because no woman in her right mind would have anything to do with a man that was destined to remain a boy for the rest of his life, no matter how rich and powerful his family was.

He was nothing more than a burden to his family. His birthright passed down to him from his mother would be the only thing that would remain in his grasp. Everything else would go to the babe in his stepmother’s womb, God willing this one was a boy. Otherwise all their hopes to carry on his father’s line would rest with six-year-old Marta and the man that she would one day marry.

It was a humiliating existence for a first son, for any son for that matter. He honestly couldn’t imagine anything more humiliating than knowing that one day he would be able to pass for his younger sister’s child. He would never be a man and they all knew it….

“Is this Marta?” his father asked, undoubtedly knowing where his self-pitying thoughts were taking him.

“Yes,” Christofer said, placing his glass carefully on the stone floor before he continued drawing, needing an escape more than ever even if it only came from drawing on a piece of used parchment.

“She’s going to be beautiful,” his father said with a fond smile as he shifted slightly to the side so that he could get a better look.

“Yes, she is,” Christofer agreed with a bittersweet smile as he gazed down at the woman with kind eyes and a sweet smile, relieved that this curse, whatever it was, had passed his sister over completely.

One day she would have the life that she deserved, be the woman that she was meant to be, and not stuck frozen in time like him. He was sure of it. She was growing at a normal rate, appearing to be a healthy six year old girl that loved to follow her older brother everywhere and bug him at every opportunity for stories, drawings and tea time with dolls. She was, much to his relief and to the relief of his father, normal.

“What’s on the other side?” his father asked, making everything in him go still and making him wish that he’d chosen any other parchment than the one on his lap.

“It’s nothing,” Christofer answered, but it was too late. His father, always curious about his work, was already reaching out and taking the parchment out of his trembling fingers and turning it over.

For a moment his father didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to, the resemblance to Christofer’s mother and her father was unmistakable. Unwilling to look at the man that he would never be, Christofer picked up his glass and finished off his drink, wishing that his body wasn’t so damn small so that he could handle more than one glass of whiskey.

“This will be you one day,” his father said, his tone firm as though he truly believed it.

“No,” Christofer said, shaking his head as he looked at the fire, “it won’t.”

“The doctors could be wrong,” his father quickly explained, repeating an old argument that was better left off dead. “Once the war is over we could bring you to Berlin, Austria, London and maybe to America to-”

“To what, Father?” Christofer asked, wishing that his father would finally give up the dream that he would one day wake up and be normal like everyone else. “To spend a fortune? To get poked and prodded and called a freak in a dozen new languages before they finally turn us away with the news that there is nothing that they can do?” he asked, hating the bitter edge to his voice.

“They could-” his father pushed, his tone as desperate as Christofer’s was bitter.

“They can make me grow?” he asked, chuckling coldly as he reached over and took the parchment from his father’s hands and flipped the image over so that he didn’t have to see what should have been and continued to work on Marta’s image.

“Maybe,” his father said softly although they both knew that he wasn’t bringing up traveling because of his deformity.

His father wanted to send him away with his sister and stepmother before Hitler’s men finally came knocking on their door. It was only a matter of time now before that knock came and when it did, they could only hope that his father had managed to get enough of the women and children from the village sent off before it was too late.

They’d all heard the rumors and even though they prayed that was all they were, rumors, they couldn’t behave as though they were blind to the truth. They’d seen the soldiers marching past their village, seen the arm bands marking Jews, communists and traitors. They knew something was going on and they knew that it was only a matter of time before this war and Hitler’s cause plowed through their town, leaving it in shambles.

For the past year, his father had been carefully, and as quietly as possible, sending villagers out of Germany. It was a slow process, but by the end of the year they should have the village deserted and when that time came, they would leave under the guise of visiting relatives in London. Only they most likely would never be coming back, not while a tyrant like Hitler ruled them.

“I think it would be best if I sent you and your sister to stay in London,” his father said quietly.

The charcoal in Christofer’s hand stilled once again. “It’s not necessary,” he said, dreading leaving his father behind as much as he dreaded being called a freak somewhere new.

“I believe it is very necessary, Christofer,” his father said with a sad smile marking his tone.

“But, Father-” he started to argue even though he knew that it was pointless. His father might be tolerant of him and his condition, but he was still his father and his word would be obeyed.

“I’m off to bed,” his father said, carefully getting to his feet. “Try not to fall asleep in front of the fire,” his father said with a forced smile.

“I’m almost done,” he lied, knowing that he’d rather work until exhaustion took over instead of lying in his bed, forced to think about all the things that were out of his control.

“Just promise me one thing,” his father said quietly as he stood over him, forcing Christofer to look up and meet the eyes that once held a great deal of humor and now only held sorrow.

“Anything, Father,” he swore without a moment’s hesitation.

“Promise me that you’ll always watch over your sister.”

Christofer forced a smile, because he knew that his father wouldn’t be asking this of him unless he’d already settled the plans to send them away.

“Even when she’s being a brat and in desperate need of a spanking,” he promised, earning a chuckle from his father, the last sound of amusement that his father would ever make as it turned out.

Chapter 1

New York

Williams Mansion

Present Day…..

“Izzy, he’s going to find out,” Kale said, sighing as the woman in the bed next to him pulled the sheet off her head so that she could give him what she probably thought was a murderous glare, but really, the woman was just too damn cute to pull it off.

“Are you planning on telling him?” she demanded as she took a big bite out of a chocolate caramel candy bar that actually looked pretty tasty so he snatched it away from her.

When she opened her mouth, no doubt to demand that he give it back to her, he took a huge bite out of the candy bar as he glared right back at her, silently reminding her of their agreement. She could either share or go find herself a new hiding spot. In the end, she simply muttered as she pulled the sheet back over her head and continued getting her sugar fix.

“I knew you’d see it my way,” Kale mumbled smugly as he settled back against the extra firm pillows that he’d demanded the women in this family buy for him.

At first they’d simply rolled their eyes at him and told him to get his own goddamn pillows. So, that’s exactly what he did. Since he didn’t like to shop or spend his own money if he didn’t have to, he decided to save some time and money and just grab a pillow or two from one of the other rooms.

Once he’d helped himself to the pillows on Ephraim and Madison’s bed, he couldn’t help but notice just how big and comfortable their bed was, so of course he took that. He would have taken their comforter and sheets too, but they just didn’t do anything for him so he helped himself to the comforter on Caine and Danni’s bed and the sheets from Izzy and Chris’ bed. After his bed was all set up, he couldn’t help but notice that the rest of his room looked pretty bare.

It took him a good five hours of ransacking the rest of the mansion before he had his room the way that he liked it. Not even an hour after he’d finished, the banging on his door started right along with the demands to return their stuff. He ignored them until the women of the house got pissed, gave up and offered to shop for whatever he wanted as long as he returned their stuff. Since that deal worked in his favor, he allowed the women the privilege of shopping for his needs. It really was the least that he could do.

“I want a Coke,” Izzy mumbled pathetically from beneath the sheet, which reminded him that he needed to ask her something.

“Why exactly are you hiding under that sheet?”

The sounds of candy wrappers crinkling was accompanied by the large mound that was Izzy shifting beneath the sheet as she explained, “Because this is the last place that he’d look for me.”

Well, that was probably true, Kale had to admit. The large Sentinel male probably wouldn’t expect his adorable pregnant mate to be hiding out in another man’s bed, especially a shifter’s bed. He was supposed to be the enemy since he didn’t work for the Sentinel Council. Technically, he shouldn’t even be allowed in this house since it was under the Council’s protection. If it wasn’t for the small woman devouring a shit load of junk food in his bed he’d probably be holed up in some hotel room, planning his next job instead of checking in to make sure that everything was okay.

“Does the sheet provide you with added protection?” he asked distractedly as a fresh wave of exhaustion hit him.

He was so f**king tired. That wasn’t anything new. He was always tired, but over the past couple of months it seemed as though exhaustion was hitting him harder than ever before. He needed a break, some rest, but he’d come too far to stop now. He was so close, so damn close, to his goal.

   
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