“I’m fine.” She nodded numbly, pulling her smartphone out of her pocket,
a quick glance around telling her they were still alone here. “Move the bodies into the cover of the trees.”
Cameron made a face at the decapitated head but began doing what she’d asked. She drew a breath, debating whether she should call Cyrus or Val. She should probably call Cyrus but she’d at least talked to Val since her outburst in the lounge. Plus… it was different with Cyrus. From the moment she’d met her mother’s husband she’d felt safe with him. Protected. She guessed it made sense that it would hurt more when he didn’t understand, when it appeared he’d put duty before protecting her. Chickening out, she pressed Val’s speed dial button.
“Eden, are you alright?” Val asked, the sound of traffic in the background muffling her voice.
“Cam and I were just jumped by Arcos’ people. They’re dead all but one –she’s unconscious. We can question her later.”
“Alright. I’ll call the mansion for a clean-up crew and come pick you two up. Neither of you are hurt?”
“Nope. Oh and Val?”
“I think Cam and I have come up with a plan to get Chris and Alison back.”
Eden could practically hear Val smiling down the other end of the phone. “I don’t know whether to be proud or appalled that danger, blood and death inspire you so.”
Eden snorted. “Be proud, Mama Bear, be proud.”
Her mentor was silent a moment. “I’m forgiven then?”
“I was never that mad at you, Val.”
She took a moment, collecting the pain and the energy fuelled by it. “I think I already made myself perfectly clear about those two scumballs.”
“Val… just effing drop it and get your ass over here.”
The phone clicked off and Eden sighed, following Cam into the darker part of the trees to await her. When Val turned up ten minutes later her eyes flicked down at the bodies. She snarled in disgust. “The clean-up is on its way.”
Eden nodded and made to step forward but Val stilled her with a look so deadly she swore her heart stopped.
“You ever talk to me like that again, Eden MacDouglas, and I’ll gladly demonstrate just how pissed off I can be too. You understand?”
Realizing she’d overstepped the mark with her mentor, Eden nodded. “I understand.”
“Good.” Val smiled now. “Now let’s hear the plan.”
I totally get you
“So… you’re not talking to me now either?” Noah slid Tobe a wary glance. She was sitting on the other end of the sofa in the lounge, her body bunched up against the arm of it as if she were trying to put as much distance between them as possible. It was dawn and they were all exhausted, having had little or no sleep. But Val had called ahead and told them Eden had something important to tell them. Noah was nervous. Anxious. Worried. All bad adjectives. They were gathered in the lounge. All except Romany who was still sleeping. They’d fill her in on what went down when she woke up. When Eden wasn’t around.
Tobe turned to look at him, her blue eyes boring into his. “Should I be? If you ask me you’re all being pretty crappy to Eden, and did I or did I not see you cozying up to your ex-girlfriend on the stairwell a few hours ago?”
Noah felt the blast of Cyrus’ glare. The Princeps sat on a stool at the bar, McLeish beside him. Noah’s parents had each taken one of the armchairs. Noah whipped his head up at Cyrus. “I wasn’t, I swear.”
Cyrus’ dark eyes were cold. “I would hope not.”
“We were just talking,” he explained, feeling panic building. If twisted rumors like that got back to Eden… Noah threw a venomous look at Tobe. The interfering little shrew. “We were just talking. She was apologizing.”
“She should be apologizing to Eden.”
“She wants to.” He narrowed his eyes on the Scot. “Since when are you and Eden all ‘buddy buddy’ again?”
“Since she let me punch her.”
He made a face. Those two had the weirdest friendship. He shrugged and decided to ignore her. October Douglas was one of the most unfathomable girls on the planet.
They all sat in tense silence for a while. Cyrus and Noah weren’t speaking to each other because Eden wasn’t speaking to either of them and they each blamed the other (how the hell was it Noah’s fault?!!). Tobe wasn’t speaking to him and she wasn’t talking to McLeish because of her loyalty to Cameron. And finally, Noah wasn’t talking to his dad who had only thirty minutes before told him that his and Eden’s break up was for the best considering how she’d been acting about the Romany situation. Alain was lucky Emma stepped between them because for the first time Noah had really felt like flooring his father. Instead he’d spat with uncertainty that they were NOT broken up and Alain didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. All and all the Ankh mansion was a fun place to be right then.
Anxiety was only increased by the knowledge that Darius was now in the picture. He was already on a plane heading for Texas where he’d break into Adam’s home and office and plant the bugs. He was also going to search the place for any physical evidence of Adam’s involvement as the leader of the rebel Neith.
The sound of Eden’s voice in the foyer jolted him out of his reverie. Noah’s heart began to pick up the pace at the thought of seeing her again. It felt like forever rather than a few strained hours. The door opened and Val entered all leggy beauty and dangerous confidence. At her back were Eden and Cameron. He’d been so busy staring at Eden with a burning longing in his eyes that he just couldn’t hide, that Noah missed the smear of blood on Cameron’s cheek, something Tobe noted immediately. Despite the weirdness between her and her boyfriend she shot off the couch towards him, touching his cheek. “What happened? Are you OK?”
Cameron looked a little confused by the concern. “I’m fine. We were attacked.”
Noah’s heart shuddered, his eyes flying to Eden. They ran the length of her, checking for injury. “You OK?” He could tell by the slight stiffening of her body that she’d heard his question. She chose to ignore it.
He clenched his hands into fists, a pang of pain echoing in his chest. For a moment he was surprised at the feeling. He didn’t know why. It wasn’t the first time Eden had been cold and distant with him. It didn’t hurt any less now than it did then.
“We were attacked by Cosmina’s people,” Eden addressed the room at large, careful to not really make eye contact with anyone. “Four of them. Three dead. The other’s unconscious. Terrence and Jack retrieved her and she’ll be questioned about Cosmina’s whereabouts.”
“Terrence said it was a clean job. Well done,” Cyrus told her softly. “To the both of you.”
Eden barely acknowledged him. “While we were on the job, Cameron confided something unusual to me.” She was checking Tobe for a reaction now.
“Unusual?” Tobe stepped back from Cameron, eyeing him suspiciously. “What?”
Cameron stared vacantly back at her. “I have a psychic link to Darwin Rice, the member of The Tribunal who took a piece of my soul.”
Shocked and confused. That’s how Noah felt and he was guessing he wasn’t the only one by the sudden stillness of the room. How was it possible for Cam to have a psychic link with Rice? He’d never heard of that happening to a victim of a soul eater attack before.
“The irregularity of that statement is something that can be discussed at length with your Councilman,” Cyrus responded quietly, gesturing to McLeish who watched Cameron with wide-eyed interest. “It suggests the Scottish Neith have another psychic in their midst. Congratulations. However, and I do not mean to sound dismissive, I would like to know… where is Rice?”
“He doesn’t know,” Eden answered, her ocean eyes finally meeting Cyrus’. Noah winced in sympathy at the blank apathy she directed towards her adopted father. “But what he does know is The Tribunal has no idea what Rice is up to.”
Noah leaned forward in excitement. “He’s gone
When Eden didn’t turn to look at him he felt hot with the humiliation of her rejection in front of his family and peers. OK. Now he was starting to get pissed off. As she continued, Noah began to plot how he was going to corner her. When he did, he was seriously going to give her a piece of his mind.
“I thought that might be something The Tribunal would want to know.” Eden shrugged at Cyrus. “I mean they’ve ordered these guys to stop coming after me. They clearly are not prepared for a war with us… and we’ve left them alone because they at least try to police themselves. But if we threaten them, tell them to give us Rice or face utter destruction, I think they might start talking.” Despite her chilly demeanor and earlier disrespect, Cyrus’ eyes were bright with pride. Anyone could see it. Even Eden. Perhaps that’s what prompted her next sentence. “I’d like to apologize in front of everyone for disrespectfully telling you to screw yourself.” Cyrus’ jaw flexed and Noah knew what he was thinking, hoping, because he was thinking and hoping it too. They were both to be bitterly disappointed. “Let’s be clear, Princeps, I in no way forgive you for bringing that bitch into what you assured me was my home. But you are my boss and in that I’ll respect you.”
It was the coldest apology anyone had ever received.
Noah didn’t even bother asking her if she was sorry for telling him to go screw himself. He already knew the answer to that and it would not be in his favor.
“Fine.” Cyrus sighed, suddenly looking exhausted.
Noah felt bad for the guy. For Noah’s entire immortal life, seventy years on this planet, he’d known Cyrus as this scary, in control guy, who had only ever softened around his wife, Merrit. That softer side had disappeared when Merrit died and was replaced with an even harder, colder Princeps. When Eden came into the picture it had changed Cyrus. He had trouble hiding what he was feeling now. Something he had always prided himself on before.