As expected, his face was impassive.
Unshed tears blurred her vision as she remembered seeing him shot. The agony of that moment and the hatred she’d borne for her father over it . . . All the while Nykyrian could have called her and let her know he was fine. Her anger over that burned. “I thought you were dead because of me. You selfish bastard. How could you do such a thing?”
He looked away and brushed his hand through his unbound hair. “Don’t you think I’ve suffered, too?” His voice was a faint, unemotional whisper that barely reached her. “I almost did die.”
“I wish to God you had.”
His jaw ticced, but he showed no other reaction. Without a word, he disappeared through the open doors of the balcony.
Kiara told herself she was glad he was gone. She didn’t want to see him after what he’d done.
He had left her.
Her heart didn’t listen.
She ran to the balcony to call him back. “Nykyrian!”
But it was too late. He was already gone.
The street below was as empty as her soul, her life. There was no sign of him anywhere. He’d vanished into the night like he was part of it.
A light breeze rippled through her hair while she stood there trying to find him, reminding her of gentle fingers that used to play there instead.
“What have I done?”
But she already knew the answer. She’d ruined her life and there was no way to repair it.
Kiara took a deep breath, relieved to finally be finished with the talkshow interview that promoted the last week of her show’s run. Weak and nauseated, she just wanted to go home and rest. While she loved being pregnant, there were times when it was hard and debilitating.
Her father and Tiyana walked down the station’s glaring white hallway by her side, chatting away about the interview while three guards trailed them. Their feet tapped a solemn rhythm on the gray porcelain floor.
“I think you did great.” Tiyana smiled. “One of the best interviews ever.”
Her father nodded. “I’m just glad to have you back in the game. You look so happy.”
Funny, she didn’t feel that way. She couldn’t remember a time in her life when she was less so.
Kiara rubbed the chills from her arms. She hated being here. And at this point the only thing she was looking forward to was having her baby—something her father refused to even talk about.
“Are you all right?” her father asked, his voice warm with concern.
Her father had become much more understanding and loving since she’d returned to dancing, but he still refused to call the baby anything more personal than “it.”
She’d ceased to be angry with her father anymore—it was pointless, since he hadn’t killed Nykyrian. Now her impotent rage stayed focused on another source, one who had gorgeous blond hair and deep dimples.
One she would really like to kill.
“Just tired.” Kiara tightened her cloak around her shoulders.
As they rounded a corner, she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned just in time to see a blaster level at her chest.
A scream rippled up through her lungs as her father pushed her out of the way. Pain, intense and throbbing, burst across her arm as she fell on the floor.
More shots were fired, but she couldn’t tell what was going on from her position under her father. Shouts filled the hallway and someone ran past her.
“Kiara? Are you all right?”
She blinked at Nykyrian’s deep, worried voice, the pain of her arm forgotten.
Her father rolled off of her and attacked.
Nykyrian sent him headfirst into a wall before he seized her in an iron hold and pulled her to her feet.
“Release her!” her father roared, starting for them.
Nykyrian leveled his blaster at her father’s head. “Don’t.”
Her father froze. His gaze darted over them as he mentally calculated his options.
She struggled fiercely against Nykyrian’s hold until she saw the blood covering her upper body. Cold dread and fear consumed her.
“I’ve been shot?” she gasped, unable to comprehend why she didn’t feel more pain.
Nykyrian scooped her up in his arms and sprinted down the hallway.More shots were fired at them. In stunned disbelief at what was happening, she remained silent, praying her wound wouldn’t endanger her baby.
What was going on here?
Out of nowhere, Hauk appeared, firing his blaster at attackers she couldn’t see. “I’ve got you covered,” he shouted to Nykyrian. “Get her out of here.”
Nykyrian hesitated for only a second before he opened the stairwell and ran down it as fast as he could with her cradled in his arms.
She wanted to fight, but until she knew what was going on, or more to the point, who was threatening her, she remained as still as possible.
The most important thing was to get to safety and get help for her wound.
Nykyrian finally put her down next to his ship, but his right hand stayed firmly on her arm while he holstered his blaster with his left.
Fury descended over her as she realized he intended to take her with him.
Oh, hell no!
She wasn’t about to go anywhere with him ever again. She fought against him, striking out at his tight grip with all of her might. “Let go of me!”
He pulled her up against him so she couldn’t hit his hand anymore. “Aksel’s men have this place surrounded. Their mission is to capture you.”
She shook her head in denial. “You’re lying. There’s no contract on me. I’m safe.”
The venomous look in his eyes chilled her. “It’s me he’s after and you’re the bait he’s going to use to lure me with.”
Her blood left her cheeks. For a moment she thought he might be lying, but the cold seriousness of his face warned her of the truth. She was bait . . .
Numbed, she allowed him to push her up into his fighter and speed them away from Gouran.
Her head spun and for a moment, she thought she might pass out. A wave of nausea consumed her, but she managed to fight it down. “Where are you taking me?” She tried to staunch the blood coursing down her arm. “I need a doctor.”
His rough hands ripped her dress away from the wound on her shoulder. “It’s a flesh wound,” he said, pulling a piece of cloth out from under their seat. “Hold this on it. It’ll stop bleeding before we get home.”
Kiara’s lips trembled. He was furious at her, proof of it was in his hardened voice as he spoke.
What had she done to him?
“How dare you be mad at me. This isn’t my fault.”
He didn’t answer her.
Her vision dimming, she wiped at the blood. “I want to go home to Gouran.”
His hand tightened around the throttle. “You can’t. You won’t be safe there.”
Kiara didn’t bother arguing with him. She knew she’d get back home no matter what. She wasn’t about to stay with him, not after he’d abandoned her.
He was being an insensitive pig and . . .
“Don’t you dare get sick in my ship.”
“I don’t really have a choice.”
Nykyrian barely pulled out a bag for her before she unloaded the contents of her stomach.
Inwardly, he cursed. Not because she was sick, but because he’d upset her so much and he hated himself for that weakness. Why should he care after what she’d said to him?
For her, he’d almost died. More than that, he’d risked his life with the Probekiens and put his ass on the line with The League—just to keep her safe.
Meanwhile, she cursed him for it.
You should have told her you weren’t dead.
To what point? To have her cry for him?
It doesn’t matter.
He was used to people hating him. What difference did it really make if she was one more of them?
Pushing the thought aside, he focused on the trip back to his house.
Kiara wanted to lean back and rest. She felt so sick still. The stress of it all was more than she could bear right now. Leaning her head back, she felt Nykyrian jerk at the contact.
Serves you right for not having a bigger ship.
The hostile silence wore on her nerves, but she knew breaking it would be even worse than bearing it.
Not soon enough, they were finally in his bay. He released the hatch and let her climb down unassisted while he cleaned up her mess.
When he was done, he led the way into the house. He didn’t bother looking at her or helping her inside.
Kiara clenched her teeth in aggravation. She stood in the doorway between the bay and his house, her legs caressed by the lorinas.
Still not looking at her, Nykyrian opened a closet in the kitchen and retrieved a medical bag. He pulled out antiseptic and a white cloth. Completely silent, he cleaned and dressed her wound, then went upstairs.
He paused in the doorway of his bedroom and turned to face her. Not a single emotion was evident. “You’re to sleep in the back guest room. The bed’s already made up for you, and your clothes and personal items are there.” Then he went into his room and closed the door.
Kiara gripped the bottle of antiseptic, wanting to throw it at his head. How dare he treat her this way. Fuming, she went to her room to change her clothes and brush her teeth, all the while cursing him.
She paused in the doorway. One of her gowns was laying neatly on the turned-down bed. Even in anger, he watched out for her. Her throat tightened. It would be so easy to rush upstairs and pound on the door until he opened it, but she couldn’t.
Not after what he’d done.
Still she wanted him, burned for him. But he didn’t care for her at all. If he did, he’d have never allowed her to go through all those weeks of misery thinking he was dead.
Tears coursed down her cheeks as she sat on the edge of the bed. She wiped at them, despising the fact that her baby made her so weepy.
She looked down at her stomach. “If you ever act like your father, I swear I’ll beat you until you bleed.”
Nykyrian watched the stars above him. He tipped the almost empty bottle of alcohol back against his lips, letting the liquid burn down his throat.
Syn had been right, the stars were a hell of a lot more interesting when you were flagged than sober.
He sighed, aching for a friend he knew was dead, aching for a woman he knew he couldn’t have. If Driana hadn’t contacted Hauk this afternoon, Kiara would now be dead and it would have been all his fault.
God, if he’d been two seconds later this afternoon, she’d be captured or dead. His gut twisted. He took another swig of whisky.
What a life.
Before he could stop himself, he left the room and headed downstairs to Kiara’s room. He could tell by her breathing pattern through the door that she was asleep—a trick he’d learned courtesy of The League.
He pushed open the door, careful not to make a sound.
His heart rate intensified as desire pounded in his veins, demanding he do something more than just stand here like a gaping, lovesick fool. But he knew tonight he wouldn’t listen to the part of him that loved Kiara, that part of him that would die for her.
Keep your distance.
Bitter longing welled up inside him as he watched her chest rise and fall in peaceful slumber. She lay on her side, her curly hair fanning out behind her while one hand was tucked beneath her chin.
His hand tingled with the memory of what those strands felt like in his palm and he wanted to bury his face in the curve of her neck and just breathe her in until he was drunk from it. He clenched his teeth. His body throbbed and for a moment, he feared he might yield to the fire in his blood after all.
“Nykyrian?” Kiara whispered, opening her eyes to look up at him with a pitiful, sad face.
He gripped the doorframe in indecision. He had to let her go. Aksel was just one of a hundred assassins who would do anything to bring him down.
She was the one weakness he couldn’t afford to have.
“Go back to sleep,” he snarled and slammed the door.
Kiara stared at where he’d stood watching her, her heart breaking. Why had he come to her?
Why did she care?
She placed her hand over her stomach, tempted to tell him about the baby, but she couldn’t. With his present temperament, who knew how he would react. The last thing she needed was an even more irate assassin roaming around the house while she slept.
Besides, it was her child she nurtured. A remembrance of a happy time she doubted would ever return.
“Aren’t you ready yet?” Nykyrian snarled as Kiara plaited the last piece of her hair while she stood in his main room.
“Stop snapping at me.”
So he glared at her instead.
Wishing he’d put his shades on, Kiara ground her teeth in aggravation. All he’d done since he growled at her to get up this morning was snap and hiss. “Where are you taking me, anyway?”
Disgusted, Kiara sighed. “You’re such a font of information. Maybe you should consider a job in the media?”
By his face, she could tell her sarcasm struck home. “If you’re through making asinine comments, I’m supposed to be meeting someone.”