Home > Nightbred (Lords of the Darkyn #2)(16)

Nightbred (Lords of the Darkyn #2)(16)
Author: Lynn Viehl

Ernesto Garcia stood waiting outside the lists. “Good evening, my lord.” He bowed and smiled a little. “I take it someone has just greatly impressed the garrison.”

“So it would seem.” He felt annoyed by how much the impromptu accolade had moved him. “Come, we will talk inside.”

Garcia accompanied him to the penthouse, where Lucan directed him to wait in the study. After looking in on Samantha, who had not stirred, he changed into more formal garments and rejoined Garcia, whom he found studying one of his bookshelves.

“You can borrow whatever you like,” he told the tresora, “but if you crease the spine, I’ll rip out yours.”

“I appreciate the offer, my lord, but I value my mobility slightly more than a first-edition Oscar Wilde.” Garcia handed him a typed report. “The flowers delivered to your sygkenis were purchased from a downtown exotic florist. The customer paid for them with cash and signed the receipt with an illegible scribble.”

Lucan held up the scanned image of the receipt. “Was he mortal?”

“I cannot say,” Garcia admitted. “The proprietor described him as a well-dressed man in his mid-thirties who spoke with a faint European accent. From the florist shop he took a taxi to Port Everglades, and was last seen boarding a private tour boat with black-painted windows.”

Lucan kept close monitor on all the major illegal activities conducted in his territory by humans, especially the more inventive operations. To date only a handful had eluded his detection, including one very private casino. “So this secret admirer frequents the Treasure Palace.” He walked over to his desk and studied the map of South Florida hanging behind it. “How very interesting.”

“Racketeering has never been able to locate the casino or positively identify the operators, as every victim has been found dead within days of filing a police report,” Garcia said. “However, in each case the victims who came in contact with the casino’s owner gave a description of him that matches that of the man who sent the flowers to your lady. The only name the casino owner used was ‘Dutch.’”

“My darling Samantha doesn’t gamble,” Lucan said as he took his sygkenis’s mobile phone out of his pocket, and began scrolling through her call history. “In fact, she refuses to purchase so much as a lottery ticket. Did she investigate the murders of any of the victims?”

“No. In each case, the medical examiner ruled out homicide,” Garcia told him, and reluctantly added, “They all committed suicide by hanging.”

A crack appeared in one of the windows as Lucan turned on him. “They hung themselves within days of making reports to the police, all of them, and this was not considered murder? Your colleagues are feeble idiots, Captain.”

“I am in agreement, my lord.” Garcia sounded just as disgusted. “But these cases were never sent over to my department, so I first learned of them only tonight.”

In no mood to replace every glass door in his study, Lucan forced back his anger. “So why does he pursue my sygkenis? Not to gain access to what the police know about his victims.”

“He could learn that by romancing any records clerk,” the tresora said. “I worry his intentions may be more personal in nature.” He nodded toward the mobile. “There is a text that came in for her an hour ago that you should perhaps read.”

“Oh, he texts, does he?” Lucan returned to the main menu and pulled up the text messages sent to Samantha’s phone. He found one from an unfamiliar number sent just after midnight, and opened it. “He writes, ‘The flowers are only the beginning, my lovely. Meet me tonight at the Turtle’s Nest, eight p.m.’ His lovely, is she? Does he think she’s some common tart to be had with a few posies?” He closed his fist, crushing the mobile into a handful of twisted components.

His fury ebbed as unexpectedly as it had come over him, and Lucan regarded the small heap of twisted components that had once been Samantha’s mobile. “Garcia?” He looked over the desk at the tresora, who had gone to his knees and held his arms over his head.

“My lord.” Garcia stood, shedding small showers of shattered glass as he did. He picked one dagger-shaped shard from the back of his hand and calmly wrapped a handkerchief over the wound. “This may have nothing to do with your lady at all. This Dutch could be using her to get to you.”

“Then it is working,” Lucan said flatly. “What more can you tell me?”

“The Turtle’s Nest was the name of a dockside café a mile south of Bahia Mar, but it went out of business some time ago. There are no other businesses operating from that pier.” He started to say something else, and then subsided into silence.

“Now is not the time for discretion, Captain.”

“Couples have been known to make use of the place,” Garcia admitted. “When they cannot afford or acquire a motel room.”

“Indeed. How very deliberate a choice.” Lucan went to his shelves, reaching through the shattered door to extract a book, which he handed to the tresora. “It is yours,” he insisted when Garcia hesitated. “You have more than earned it.”

“Thank you, my lord.” Garcia brushed some glass from the book before tucking it under his arm.

Lucan studied the ruins of his bookcases. “Ernesto, have you ever considered Samantha to be . . . fickle?”

“No, my lord.” The tresora sounded genuinely surprised. “Even when she was human, my lady was completely dependable. In fact I have never worked with so reliable or dedicated an officer.” His expression changed. “She would never trifle with this mortal, my lord, or any other male. You must know that. This Dutch means only to bait you, or do her harm. I can arrange to send a female decoy to meet him tomorrow night, and have men waiting to take him as soon as he shows.”

“No, Captain.” Lucan smiled. “You will leave this Dutch to me.”

Chapter 8

Despite the brightness of the morning sun, Jamys insisted on personally escorting Chris to the private car waiting to take her home for the day.

“For the record, this isn’t my idea,” she said as her driver, Melloy, came around to open the door for her. “Someone needed my parking spot for his new Ferrari.” She rolled her eyes up at the penthouse suite.

“You will return tonight?” The dark shades Jamys wore gave him a teen heartthrob look, but his voice rasped with weariness.

“Sure.” She climbed inside, a little startled when his hand supported her elbow. “See you later.”

Chris forced herself not to look back through the rear window at him, but as soon as the limo turned the corner, she slid over onto her side and thumped the soft leather seat cushions with her fist.

“You okay back there, Lang?” Melloy asked over the intercom.

“No. Yes. Not really.” She sat back up and lowered the partition window so they could talk without using buttons. “Melloy, why do we work for these people again?”

“Well, they pay us a ton of money, and we have all kinds of job security,” he suggested. “If you’re a night person, the hours are good. If someone wants your parking spot, they lend you me and the limo.”

“Anything else?”

He thought for a minute. “They don’t sparkle or get you pregnant with a life-sucking fetus.”

“Amen, brother.” Chris laughed.

Peter Melloy was one of the youngest tresori to serve Lucan, and had the unusual advantage of being born and raised in America. While he could behave with the same dreary formality as the European tresori, and was as fiercely loyal as any of them, he had a wry sense of humor and a much less slavish attitude toward the Kyn.

“So you and the new guy seem pretty tight.” Melloy, whose parents served the Atlanta jardin, had not pledged himself to Lucan until a year after Jamys’s prior visit. “Got some history going on there?”

“If a couple weeks count, which they don’t.” Chris rested her arms against the back of the front seat. “Did you hear about the high lord’s latest summons?”

“My parents called right after it was delivered to Suzerain Scarlet.” He grimaced at the rearview. “Can’t talk about it, though. Official tresori business.”

She waved a hand. “Don’t sweat it, Melloy. Padrone Ramas called me about it last night. I know the council doesn’t want the high lord to get his paws on the emeralds.”

Melloy perked up. “He told you that? Lang, you know what this means?”

I’m totally screwed. “I’m trustworthy?”

“No, you’re in. You’re going to be one of us.” He grinned. “So where are you getting your ink?”

“Haven’t decided yet.” She couldn’t confide in Pete, but she wondered what he would make of her dilemma. He’d tell her to follow the council’s orders, naturally; like all tresori, he took the secret side of his oath to keep the Darkyn from destroying the mortal world very seriously. “But if the paperwork goes through, I’ll probably do the back of my shoulder. If I can find an ink shop that offers general anesthesia.”

“How can you be afraid of needles?” Melloy sounded perplexed. “You volunteered to serve the Kyn.”

“Sam didn’t have the fangs when I met her.” Chris sat back and closed her eyes. “I was grandfathered in.”

As Melloy drove her across town, Chris thought through her impossible situation. She knew enough about Richard Tremayne to suspect the council was right on the money with their orders; once he had the emeralds, the high lord would definitely use them. As cold and ruthless as he was, he might even set up his own private immortal-army-making factory. From there the only thing that kept the Kyn in check—the fact that they couldn’t reproduce or otherwise make more Kyn—would be a nonissue. Then the mortal world would be in serious trouble, because Tremayne would be focused on things like wiping out the Brethren, establishing new territories, and taking control of governments. He wouldn’t worry about silly little details like who was going to feed his armies.

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