Anthony’s eyes were penetrating as they met hers across the table. “Something is happening with the Arrow Squad.”
“Yes.” Ming was the official leader of the assassins who were the Council’s most lethal army, but Nikita’s spies had caught ripples that said things might well be changing. “If the leadership shifts, there are only two possible successors.”
“Kaleb and Vasic,” Anthony said. “But while Vasic is an Arrow and the single true teleporter in the Net, my information is that he doesn’t consider himself a candidate for the position.”
“However, with his support, someone else could take the leadership.” The squad was incredibly secretive, but Nikita wasn’t a Councilor because she gave up at the first hurdle. She’d unearthed enough data that she felt confident in saying, “There are rumors of another Arrow the squad may accept as a leader.”
Anthony took a moment to reply. “His name is Aden. I’m keeping an eye on affairs as they develop.”
It was, Nikita understood, a very deliberate sharing of information. “Good. But that situation, while important, isn’t the critical one as far as we are concerned.” Neither of them was in the fight to lead the Arrows.
Anthony made no pretense of not understanding her meaning. “Henry and Shoshanna,” he said. “They support the idea of Purity to the exclusion of all else, though it is clear that Silence is failing.”
“Divided, we have a high chance of falling to their stratagems,” she said, having made her decision the first time she called Anthony, “but together, we are a force to be reckoned with.” Then she asked the most important question. “Where do you stand, Anthony?”
Anthony took a drink from the glass of water at his elbow, answering only after almost ten seconds of thought. “I do not support any group or system that would erase my individuality, and the Scotts are determined to create a true hive mind in one form or another.” He put the glass on the table. “More importantly, they have interfered once too often in this territory—and in my business interests.”
Nikita wondered if the Scotts had attempted to meddle in Anthony’s subcontracting agreement with his daughter. Not that the details mattered; whatever they had done, it was to Nikita’s benefit. “If we are to work effectively together,” she said, “there is something else we need to discuss.” And then she spoke of death.
It had taken Judd more time than he’d expected to track down Xavier’s missing parishioner, Gloria. His mate, with her brilliant mind, had done most of the cyber-detective work, backtracking the phone number and digging through layers of security to unearth the address that went with it.
“No activity on her charge cards for the past four days,” Brenna had said, worry a dark shadow in her eyes when she gave him the information. “And it appears she’s given up her lease. She might not even be there.”
Now, in the chill quiet of the midnight hours, Judd picked the low-security lock on Gloria’s former apartment and slipped inside. If there was someone within, he’d teleport out before they ever saw him. But he felt only the cold emptiness of a place in which there had been no life for days.
Using a flashlight with its beam set on low, he checked both rooms. The furniture was still there, but from the looks of it, it might well have come with the apartment. There were no clothes in the wardrobe, no toiletries in the bathroom, and no food in the kitchen. More importantly, the apartment was clean.
Very, very clean.
The kind of clean that meant someone had been erased out of existence.
Gloria was dead.
His instincts told him someone—likely in the Council superstructure—had sent in a cleanup crew to ensure no trace remained of the woman who’d found herself in Xavier’s church. But Judd wasn’t going to give the priest that information until he was certain—because there was a slight chance Gloria had been rehabilitated instead.
A fate worse than death.
Deciding to work SnowDancer’s Psy contacts when morning broke, he focused on the image of the bedroom he shared with his mate, and then . . . he was home. Dressed in a strawberry satin and white lace slip, Brenna lay curled up on his side of the futon. She always did that when he wasn’t with her, as if she was holding him close even in sleep.
Taking off his clothes with a silent grace that came from a lifetime of training, he slipped in beside her, and then, bracing himself on one arm, leaned down to press a kiss to the silky warm curve of her neck.
She shivered, her body relaxing from its curled-up position as she turned to face him, her hands reaching out to press against his pectorals. “Judd.” It was a sleepy murmur of welcome, her wolf apparent in the brilliant night-glow he glimpsed between her barely parted lids.
Claiming her lips with his own, he moved his hand down over her pretty little nightdress until he found skin. Then he indulged in a pleasure that seemed to get ever more piercing, ever more intense. Once, he hadn’t been able to touch her without causing himself pain. Now, it only hurt when he didn’t touch her.
Though the day dawned clear and bright, the sun promising a brilliant show, Indigo was in a snippy mood and she knew it well enough to keep it under control. It wasn’t the fault of these poor teenagers milling in the White Zone that Drew was an idiot who’d changed everything between them with an imbecilic play for sex—then made the whole thing worse by refusing to face up to it.
Beating her snippiness into submission, she helped one of the juveniles tighten the straps of her small pack. “You looking forward to today, Silvia?”