Born of Ice (Page 22)

Born of Ice (The League #3)(22)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

She cocked her head. “Has your father done anything to him?”

“No. In fact, it’s just the opposite. He’s taken care of Paden his whole life. That little bastard has his own trust fund from my father. Paden, on the other hand, hates his guts and won’t have anything to do with him.”

“Why?”

“In my opinion, it’s because he’s a selfish idiot. But honestly, I don’t know. It’s not really something my father talks about with me. I only have the one picture, and that just to remind me that I do have a brother out there. I kept thinking one day we’d meet, but not because he was coming after me to arrest me.”

“Are you going to tell your father?”

Devyn considered it, but knew he couldn’t. “Nothing good could come of that. Paden’s hurt him enough by rejecting him. To hear this… it would kill my father.”

She didn’t know about that, but she took him at his word. “Well, I can tell you this—your brother’s not a nice man.”

“No shit? I would have thought he was a sweetheart of a guy.”

His sarcasm amused her. Strange how he could make her smile no matter how dire the moment. “So what are you planning to do?”

“No offense, but I’m not going to confide that in you. I’m still not sure I can trust you.”

Those words hurt, but she understood them. He had no reason to trust her, especially given what he’d learned about her today. “All right. I’ll go back to my room, then, and sulk.”

Devyn didn’t speak as she left him. Part of him wanted to go after her, but why? Had his father not uncovered her deception, she’d still be after him.

To protect her family.

Yeah, but—

You would do the same and you know it.

He wanted to argue that he wouldn’t, but in the end he knew the truth.

And right now, he had another enemy to investigate.

* * *

Alix made her way to the galley to restock the water in her room. She paused as she found Omari in there, feeding Manashe. But that wasn’t what stunned her.

It was when he held his hand out and opened the door to the cooling unit without touching it. More than that, a bottle of soda lifted itself up and …

Slammed to the floor.

Omari cursed. “I’m never going to get the hang of this. It kills me that Nero makes it look so easy.”

Manashe barked in her direction, which made Omari look straight at her. The startled look on his face probably mirrored the same one on hers.

“You’re Trisani, too?”

A tic worked in his jaw as he went to the soda and picked it up with his cyber arm. She could see the panic in his eyes.

“It’s all right, Omari. I won’t tell anyone your secret. Does your father know about it?”

“Yeah.” He returned the soda to the cooler. “It’s why I stay with Dad instead of at home with my grandparents. It’s harder for the Chillers to find me.”

Chillers—a term for those who were trained to hunt, enslave and kill the Trisani. They were a part of The League that was second only to the assassins when it came to brutality.

“Did your father know that when he saved you?”

“No. I didn’t even know it when he saved me. My powers didn’t manifest until I hit puberty. I had no idea why my family was so transitory. My mom always said that my birth dad’s job kept us on the move. It wasn’t until I was older and looking back on it that I started piecing together why half of our moves were in the middle of the night, and that my mom was human while my dad wasn’t.”

They’d been running from those out to enslave them. Poor kid. She couldn’t imagine how hard that must have been for him.

“You miss your parents, don’t you?”

He shrugged as he fed Manashe a treat. “Not too much. My real dad was an angry ass**le who hated the entire universe. He was eaten alive with resentment. But I do miss my mom… and my brother and sister. My mom was the kind of woman who could make the worst day better. No matter how bad things seemed, she could find something good in it.”

“I’m sorry, Omari.”

“It’s all right. I’m really lucky Dad threw his military career away for me, and I never forget that. It may have cost me an arm and a leg, but it was worth it. I really couldn’t ask for a better family than what I have now. I know Dad doesn’t like living out here in space all the time. Like my mom, he makes the most of it with our humanitarian runs, but I see the way he looks at pictures of home and I know how much he misses it.”

Her heart went out to both of them. “Doesn’t he visit?”

“Not really. He won’t stay stationary for more than a few hours because he doesn’t want the Chillers to find me. By the way, don’t tell Dad you know about my powers. He wigs whenever someone finds out.”

“I won’t. And you can trust me, Omari.”

“Believe me, this is the one crew that gets trust. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for each other.”

Alix moved to grab water out of the cooling unit for her room. “Thanks, sweetie.”

He gave her a devilish grin. “You know, you’re really nothing like Clotilde. But it is weird to hear your voice coming out of her face.”

His words made her pause. “You knew her?”

“Yeah.” He pulled a box of sweets out of the cabinet beside her. “She was a nasty piece of work. She’d be all nice to me whenever Dad was around and then the moment he left, she’d go psycho. Her head would spin around and she’d turn into this insulting, domineering bitch.”

“Did you ever tell him that?”

“No. He loved her and she treated him all right. I figured it wasn’t my place to ruin what he had with her.”

“I don’t think your dad would want his happiness bought at the expense of yours.”

“I know that now, but as a kid… I was stupid.”

“No.” She gave him a smile. “You were decent. Most kids wouldn’t be that caring or altruistic.”

“I wouldn’t say it was entirely selfless. There was still a part of me back then that kept waiting for Dad to abandon me, and so I didn’t want to say anything against her in case it made him leave.”

“Except for that one comment about him not being your real father?”

He laughed. “Yeah, that was really harsh. Right before he met Clotilde, I told him he wasn’t my real dad and that I didn’t have to listen to him. That he had no right to tell me what to do.”

She patted him on the arm. “We’ve all said similar things to our parents.”

“Yeah, but he looked so hurt when I did it. Like I’d kneed him in the crotch. I don’t ever want to make him look like that again.”

“I’m sure you won’t. You can see it in his eyes how much you mean to him and how proud he is of you.”

“Thanks. By the way, just so you know, Dad never looked at Clotilde the way he looks at you.”

“Excuse me?”

He opened the box of candy and grabbed a handful of sugared squares. “I’m not stupid, Alix. I’m pretty sure you two have been together. There’s… something different about my dad when he looks at you. It’s like he sees you. Not what he wants you to be, but what you really are. He never did that with Clotilde. What he saw in her was a fantasy.”

“That’s not making me feel better.”

He laughed. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean fantasy like he wanted to strip her clothes off and ride her around the room. He saw the life he wanted for himself, but she wasn’t the one.”

“And what life is that?”

“He wants what my grandparents have. A partner who will stand at his back while all hell rains down on him.”

“You know, Omari, the sad thing is I think that’s what we all want.”

Too bad it was a myth made up by dreamers and idiots.

Devyn sat alone. He’d made sure he had Vik banned from his room as he worked. What he was doing… He wanted no reports going back to his father.

It was time to get down to business, and he wanted no witnesses. What no one knew, and what he’d never admit to, was that he had every one of his father’s skills when it came to hacking.

And he wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. So, in the solitude of his private chambers, he used the tracing signal the Rits had on the back chip embedded in Alix’s arm to locate the source of it .

It wasn’t from Ritadaria. It led back to a transmitter using a subspace frequency that was only a few ticks from them.

The bastard was using it to trace their location.

“That’s all right.” Devyn was going to use it to trace Paden. Narrowing his gaze, he broke through until he was able to grab audio from it.

Great. Paden was hav**g s*x. Not what he wanted to listen to.

Turning the volume down, he took advantage of that distraction to breach Paden’s computer. Since his brother was preoccupied, he wouldn’t notice that someone else was poking around his files.

Within a few seconds, he had located Paden’s simple encrypted orders that had come straight from Merjack himself. Get Kell at any cost.

Sickening, really. But what else had he expected after what Alix had told him? It still pained him that the brother he’d never known would hate him and his father so much as to try and destroy them both.

What a f**king bastard. Little did Paden know that if he succeeded, he’d have to contend with Devyn’s mother. May the gods help him then. There would be no mercy for him.

But that was all right. Paden didn’t know just how deadly and determined Devyn was. And those orders gave him the fingerprint he needed to trace the file back to its originator.

Merjack.

He lost track of time as he searched through Merjack’s records. The frustrating part was that everything looked aboveboard.

Everything.

“Come on, you bastard. I know there has to be something…”

His link buzzed.

He picked it up and answered without looking at the ID.

“We have a problem, buddy.”

It took him a second to catch the voice over the static. “Sphinx?”

“Yeah. Guess where Taryn is?”

“Some woman’s bed.”

“You wish… No. He’s in jail.”

Devyn’s eyebrows shot up at that highly unexpected answer. “What?”

“I think our ship is bugged and someone knew we were coming to help you guys out. It’s a bullshit charge they’re holding Taryn on, but it’s enough to detain us until his father’s admins get here. Meanwhile, Starla’s being detained over a ship malfunction that has her locked down by the authorities who won’t allow her to launch until it’s repaired. Now, one of us having misfortune… possible. Both? I don’t think so. This is bad shit, my brother. Bad shit.”

He couldn’t agree more. “Are you guys all right?”

“Other than being stuck with Zarina, yeah. Taryn wants me to head out to you in a fighter so that you have at least one of us at your back.”

“No.” He glanced around, wondering if someone was listening in on them right now. If they were, he wasn’t about to give them anything they could use. “I don’t need any more supplies. We’re doing good on groceries.”

“You conniving little bastard. I gotcha. We can still send someone else in.”

“That’s all right. We don’t eat that much. We’re really careful with the garbage, and I have more than one compactor on board to take care of it.”

“I get it. But you need us… you have Nero get word out, preferably in time for us to actually help you, and as soon as we can, we’ll rendezvous.”

“Yeah, takeout works. It’s been awhile, but I could use some.” Sphinx laughed. “All right. Watch your back.”

“You, too.” Devyn clicked off the link and ground his teeth in anger. This was getting fugly.

He switched his console on to record Paden’s current  p**n  channel before he went to inform his crew that they might be bugged, too. Which made sense. What better evidence than to have them in their own voices chatting about illegal activities. And as he walked, worry set in. What had he said to Alix? Had he admitted to doing anything illegal?

Dammit, he was always so careful about that. But had he f**ked up?

He was sure he had. The only question was, who had heard it and had they recorded it?

Your luck… you know they did.

I am such an idiot.

He knew it was always a possibility and yet… in the comfort of his own ship, it was easy to forget that anyone could theoretically access their audio. Because of the complexities of it, most people didn’t.

But they could…

Disgusted with his carelessness, he found Sway on the bridge, sexing with his wife over the audio. Great. Everyone was hav**g s*x tonight but him.