Shades of Blood(Warriors of Ankh 3) - Page 16

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“Do you?” Tobe wondered, incredulity in her voice.

Needing someone to upload on, to turn to, to finally talk about what was really going on, Eden cleared her throat, her heart pounding just at the thought of saying it out loud. “Do you remember me telling you about the girl, Romany, that killed Stellan?”

“Yeah. She was Noah’s ex-girlfriend, right?”

“Exactly. Well…” she blew out a breath, her hand sliding across her tummy unconsciously as butterflies awoke with a vengeance inside of her. “Cyrus has recruited her to help find the rebel Neith. She’s with your Councilman as we speak.”

Tobe was silent for so long Eden finally looked over at her. Her blue eyes were narrowed with confusion. “W

hy would he do that to you? Surely he knows you’ll kick her ass if you ever see her again?”

“If you could see Teagan again… wouldn’t you want to do more than kick his ass for what happened to Mhairi?”

“I’d want to kill him,” she clarified. And then her eyes widened at Eden’s implication. “Eden, you can’t. She’s Neith.”

“That’s what everyone keeps saying.”

“I can’t believe Cyrus is doing this to you. Tempting you like this.”

“I think it has more to do with Darius than Cyrus.”

Tobe’s eyes widened. “Jeezo. The big guns huh? Well… I get why you’d want to kill her but you can’t.”

Eden smirked at that. Tobe – ever so very straightforward. She’d missed her. “I’m glad you’re talking to me again.”

Tobe grunted. “You kill Romany and I might be the only one talking to you.”

A throat clearing had them twisting around to look behind them. Cyrus stood in the doorway, a frown wrinkling his forehead. Obviously he’d heard that last sentence. Well… he can take that anyway he wants, Eden thought bitterly.

“I came to tell you the news,” he said quietly.

Eden tensed and felt Tobe’s eyes on her, as if she knew too that Eden wasn’t going to like this news… whatever it was.

“McLeish and Romany are on their way to the mansion. Noah just picked them up from the airport.”

It was like a cannon ball had fired right through her knocking a massive hole in her gut. Her breath caught in her throat.

“Crap,” Tobe whispered hoarsely.

Chapter Eleven

I’ll Always Have You

Everyone was already in the room with her. Eden could hear the rumble of Cyrus’ rich, deep voice, McLeish’s distinctive Scottish brogue answering him. Adrenaline coursed through Eden and she glanced down at the dagger in her hand. When Cyrus had told her McLeish and Romany were on their way to the mansion, that Noah had been the one to pick them up, she’d felt something break inside. These people were supposed to care about her and yet they played nice with the person who had taken something so precious from her. The steel of the blade shone in the bright lights of the foyer, her thumb pressed against the now warm wooden handle. The knife was a punyal someone had left in the training room. Probably Emma. She had a thing for small daggers. Tobe had followed Cyrus out of the training room to join him waiting on her Councilman’s arrival and Eden had told them quietly that she’d be up in a minute. A minute had turned into forty minutes. Finally, pulling herself together, she’d moved to walk out of the training room. The punyal had caught her eye and without knowing what she had planned for it, Eden picked it up.

The sound of a familiar, hated voice caught hold of Eden and her chest constricted at the memories.

“Stellan!” She reached out for him, her eyes widening as the sword came towards the back of his head. “Stellan, noooo!” she screamed.

With only the memories controlling her, Eden yanked open the double doors to the main lounge, ignored the eyes that turned her way and searched the room for the owner of the voice. Like it was fated, Romany stood apart from everyone, her back pressed to the mini-bar. Eden flicked her wrist back, eyes blazing, and let loose the dagger. It spun with ferocious speed, whistling through the air, missing Romany by two inches before slicing through a bottle of scotch sitting on the shelves built into the walls behind her. The sound of breaking glass turned into yells and curses. Romany stood pale. But she hadn’t flinched.

Eden felt a tug on her upper arm and finally jerked her hate-filled eyes away from Romany to glare up into Cyrus’ face.

His features with tight with controlled anger. “An inch closer and I might have thought you meant that,” he hissed.

She wished she’d had the balls to kill her in front of everyone but the fear of what Cyrus and Noah would think had stopped her. Instead Eden had opted for trying to scare the utter crap out of the evil skank.

“Two inches more and I would have,” Eden snapped back, tugging her arm from his hold.

“That was awesome.” Tobe laughed, a tight, hard laugh that had everyone but Eden spinning around to glare at her. She lifted her hands in mock defense. “What? It was!”

Eden smirked unhappily at her, thankful for at least one ally in the room. She didn’t even dare to look at Noah. She was frightened she’d retrieve the dagger from the scotch just to throw it at him.

“Romany, are you alright?” Neil McLeish asked the young Neith, concern marring his features.

Eden snorted. Of course that snarky bastard would like Romany. It figured.

“I’m fine,” Romany replied evenly, straightening up to return Eden’s stare. However, she didn’t look mad. She just looked resigned. “She missed deliberately.”

“Aye, maybe.” Neil flicked a wary look at Eden. “But that doesn’t do anything for my confidence. I won’t have a Neith in danger around your daughter, Cyrus. I told you that before.”

“Eden is pivotal to this operation. Now that she has that out of her system you will find her reliable. Will they not, Eden?” Cyrus looked at her sternly. Absolute and cruel disappointment gripped her, the feeling bleeding into her eyes. She saw her guardian flinch from the look, a fleeting concern taking over his eyes before he brought himself back under control. “Eden?”

“Eden?” Noah stepped forward now. His brows were drawn together in worry and anxiety, his eyes pleading with her. “Romany and Councilman McLeish think they’ve tracked down the source of the rebel Neith. It could be Adam Lincoln, the Texas Councilman. That’s a big fish, Eden. We need you on this.”

Noah’s mom and dad stood behind him. Alain disapproving. Emma concerned. Near her by the door stood Tobe, her expression inscrutable. Cameron stood by his girlfriend’s side, his own face blank, unconcerned, bored. And then there was Val, sitting on the couch. Val, her friend, her mentor. The only one just like her. And even her dark eyes begged Eden to play nice.

Pain Eden hadn’t felt in a long time slithered into her, its laughing bitterness shaking its head at her as it stole inside. It laughed at her for believing she would never be alone again now that she was Ankh. It laughed at her because she had never felt this alone before. Not even when she was a soul eater. It was funny how having no one and being lonely was nowhere near as bad as having people who were supposed to care about her in her life but feeling isolated, adrift from them. She shook her head in horrified amazement as she glanced between Noah and Cyrus. “You really do expect me to work with her, don’t you?”

“Eden…” Noah warned softly and Cyrus’ expression matched her boyfriend’s tone.

She scoffed, making a noise of disgust. “You know what… screw you. The both of you.”

Cyrus tensed with surprise and then anger. Eden shifted her eyes to Noah and his own features were slack, his eyes disbelieving. With one last glare she turned on her heel and pulled the door open to leave.

“Eden, wait!” Romany called and she heard her footsteps moving closer.

Another voice cut through the room and Eden chanced a glance behind her before she turned away, shutting the door closed behind her. Tobe had intercepted Romany.

Eden sucked in a shaky breath, furious tears pooling in her eyes as she tried to catch her breath in the silent and empty foyer. Behind the door she heard Tobe say, “Take another step towards her, cow, and the next dagger will be mine.”

With angry satisfaction, Eden pushed off the doors and headed up the staircase towards her room. As she followed the runners up and up again, and along the quiet hallway to her bedroom, the anger began to dissipate and in its place grew grief. She shut the door behind her, praying no one would follow her, that Noah wouldn’t follow. She needed to be alone where she could remember without feeling guilty…

18 months ago…

A shriek of terror muffled by the floors above it jerked Eden back from her computer screen. She glanced down at her carpet, gulping hard, shame and guilt eating at her.

With her fantastic hearing she heard her father yell, “Teagan, shut the door!”

The two of them were at it again. The plastic computer mouse cracked in her hand she squeezed it so hard.

She should go down there. Or tell someone. Surely… one of dad’s security goons heard that this time?! How much was her father paying his men off? There’s no way they didn’t know about the torture chamber in the basement.

It sounded like a girl this time. Last week it had been a guy. Teagan had left the door open again. He was getting good at that. Celine was furious. Stellan disgusted. Eden… well she’d lost weight she’d been so sickened by it.

A soft knock on her door.

“Come in.”

Stellan’s head popped around the doorframe, his face cast in the shadows of her darkened room. His eyes were worried as they wandered over her face. “You feel like getting out of here for a while? Going for a walk?”

God, what would she do without him? She hoped she’d never have to know.

“Sure.” She smiled gratefully. “Let me just switch this off.” She turned back to the computer and began shutting down her programs.

Stellan waited quietly, his anxiety for her filling the air. Eden glanced up at him wryly as she stuck her feet into her DC’s. “Stel, I’m OK.”

“I hate that you have to hear that stuff, Paradise.”

“I know.” She strode over to him and grabbed his arm, hurrying him out of the room, down the stairs and through the house. A goon stopped them at the French doors onto the stone balcony that led down into the gardens.

“Where are you heading, kids?”

“We’re going for a walk,” Stel told him authoritatively and tried to brush past him. He was after all bigger than the guy.

But the guy stopped him with a gentle push. “Stick to the gardens.”

“Sure thing,” Stellan almost kind of growled.

Eden smirked at the security guy as they were passing. “Nice sunglasses, Bono,” she quipped, tipping a finger at them. “What, the glaring light from the moon too much for your fragile retinas?” He curled a lip at her and she grinned, hoping he’d retaliate. When he didn’t she shook her head in disappointment, turning to follow Stellan out onto the balcony. “That boy is Ryan Winslow whipped. I miss Jeff. He used to snark back.”

Tags: Samantha Young Warriors of Ankh Fantasy