Cloak and Silence (Page 3)

Cloak and Silence (The League #6)(3)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

That didn’t bode well for Maris’s mental stability. Which meant Ture would fall in love with him and then get his ass kicked for it.

A furious tic beat in Kyr’s jaw. “Do you know who I am?”

Nemesis snorted derisively. “We know. We just don’t give a shit.”

Curling his lip, Kyr raked him with a repugnant glare. “You have breached the sanctity of one of our prisons. Have you any idea the sentence you’ve brought down on your heads?”

Now it was Darling’s turn to scoff. “Add it to the other twelve dozen death sentences we carry.”

Kyr’s tic picked up speed. “I don’t think you truly understand the magnitude of what you’re doing. Return my prisoners to their cells or—”

“Fuck. You,” Darling snarled, punctuating each word.

Kyr’s nostrils flared. “Those prisoners do not belong to you. They are League property. You have absolutely no right to them.”

Before anyone realized what he was doing, Darling snatched his helmet off and threw it to the ground so hard, it bounced three feet high.

Maris’s grip on Ture tightened. “Damn his temper. How can you love someone so much and still want to put your foot up their sphincter?”

Ture had no idea, and Kyr held the same shocked expression he was pretty sure marked his own face. While everyone around them, including Kyr, was rendered speechless and spellbound by Kere’s real identity, Ture’s shock came from the stupidity of Darling revealing himself to the one person who could seriously screw up his life.

But what made Ture want to choke Darling most was the fact that Zarya had been tortured for a secret he’d just callously revealed. She should have saved herself the misery and given it up the first day they were taken.

Fearlessly stupid, Darling went straight to the wall on the right and leveled a killing glare at Kyr. “The hell you say. They are my people, not yours. You sent your army into my territory and took not just my citizens, but my consort. How dare you!”

Kyr gave Zarya a look that said she hadn’t bathed in a month or more. “She’s not your consort.”

Darling shook his head in denial. “She wears my ring and was officially bound to me when we were children—something sanctified and approved by your predecessor.”

Zarya gasped at his unexpected disclosure.

Ture gaped. Was any of that true?

“By all laws,” Darling continued, “she is my consort. And five minutes after I get her home, she will officially be my wife.”

Kyr arched a daring brow. “So you’re declaring war on us, then.”

Yeah, there was no going back now.

But Darling was nothing, if not a brilliant politician. “Interesting concept. I would say that you declared it on us when you marched your army into Our empire and destroyed Our property, and kidnapped Our citizens. And now We’re answering it. No one seizes my people. I don’t care who you are.”

“The League was invited in by your own council who wanted you removed from power.”

“Were you?” Darling asked with a hint of laughter in his voice. “That’s not what I heard. In fact, I have the entire CDS who will swear they never asked for you to intervene. That you took it upon yourself to attack us.”

Kyr slammed his hand down on his desk. “You have no idea what you’re unleashing right now, verikon.”

Ture had no idea what that word meant, or the language it belonged to, but from Darling’s reaction, it was obvious he knew it well.

And it wasn’t a compliment.

“And neither do you, ciratile. You ever try this shit again with me and mine, and I will rape and plunder the village, and burn the motherfucker to the ground…” He looked around at the bodies on the floor. “And as you’ve seen here today, there ain’t nothing you bitches can do to stop me. Talk is cheap. Pain is free. And I’m peddling the shit out of it. So you come on and get some.”

Kyr laughed as if he relished the thought. “War it is. Good luck, Your Majesty,” he sneered that title. “No one will ever support you in this. You’re about to find out what happens to nations that fight alone.”

Nemesis jerked his helmet off and moved to stand beside Darling. Ture’s jaw went slack. Nemesis was the Andarion prince and heir, Nykyrian Quiakides?

Get the hell out of town. Who would have ever guessed that?

Stunned even more, he held his breath as Nykyrian shook his head. “You would be wrong there, Zemen. Not only does he have the full backing of Nemesis and the Sentella, he has that of my people. From both sides. Human and Andarion.”

“And you can add mine to it, too,” another Sentella member said as he exposed his face. Again, Ture gaped at the sight of the Exterian prince, Caillen. “The Exterians fear nothing, and I’m pretty sure the Qillaqs will back us, too. After all, they love a good fight. The bigger, the bloodier, the better.”

None of the others exposed their faces, but they stood shoulder to shoulder behind Darling. “The Tavali will always fight for and back the Sentella, especially against the League.”

Oh yeah, this was going to be one bloody war these people were starting.

And all for a woman he’d called a fool for her belief that someone could love her enough to rescue her, never mind start a war over her capture.

Wow…

Kyr took a full minute before he spoke again. “All of you will regret this.”

Darling smirked. “The war is on. Can’t wait for our first dance.”

An instant later, the screens went dark.

“How rude!” a female soldier tsked. “It’s a good thing he’s on the other side of the Nine Systems, otherwise, I’d have to hunt him down and hurt him.”

The man who stood beside Nykyrian let out an evil laugh. “Yes, but not rude on his part.” He held up his wrist computer. “I killed the feed. Five more seconds of looking at him and I’d have puked.” He turned his attention to Darling. “Remind me later that we really need to send you to anger management therapy.”

Darling widened his eyes innocently at the man as he pulled Zarya against him. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Rit. I’m all good.”

“Yeah, but we’re not,” another insanely tall man said. “We just got busted.”

One of the Tavali soldiers draped an arm around his shoulders. “We’re not busted, brother. Only the morons who showed their faces.” He passed a pointed stare to Nykyrian, Darling and Caillen.

Caillen shrugged. “What the hell? I never liked feeling safe, anyway. That’s for old women.”

The female who’d spoken came down the stairs, holding another man against her. Darling rushed toward them. “What happened?”

“He protected me and got shot.”

“I’ll be fine,” the man said with a grimace.

“Thought you weren’t psychic?” Darling asked.

“I’m not. But I know my body and right now, my head really hates you, Dar.” He winced in pain as he met Zarya’s gaze. “Don’t worry. You’re both fine.”

Bursting into tears, she rushed to hug him. “Thank you! I’ve been so scared.”

Ture frowned at her reaction.

The man patted her on the back then stepped away. “Darling? You really should show her those papers you found.”

Darling sighed. “I hate it when you do that, Nero.”

“I know. Now I need to lie down.”

Ture felt the same way.

The tallest soldier among them went to take the man from the woman’s grasp. “Let’s all get out of here before reinforcements come. Kyr may be on the other side of the universe, but not all of his army is with him.”

Maris nodded before he picked Ture up and carried him out of the prison and into their waiting transport.

Just outside the door, Maris turned toward another soldier who was walking past. “Hey, Drake? Can you tow my ship out of here for me?”

Drake, who was completely covered by his battlesuit, launched himself up the ramp to stand beside them. “Are you hurt too badly to fly?” There was no missing the concern in his tone as he scanned Maris’s body and touched several of the injuries to inspect them. For some reason, Ture felt a vicious stab of jealousy. Drake must be Maris’s boyfriend.

“I’m fine, baby. I just have someone more important to take care of.”

“Okay.” Drake patted Maris on the shoulder. “Let me know if you need anything else.”

Ture stared at the hand that lingered on Maris’s body. And he wondered if Drake knew how lucky he was to have someone like Maris in his life.

All Ture had ever found were selfish dickheads who never hesitated to verbally stab him.

As Drake left, Maris carried Ture into the ship, to a small room where he could lay him down on a small bed in the infirmary. He moved to get a blanket.

“I hope I didn’t get you in trouble with your boyfriend.”

Maris froze as he tucked the blanket around his body. “Huh?”

“Drake…outside. I hope he’s not the jealous type.”

He burst out laughing. “Trust me, Drake is not my boyfriend. I’d have to murder myself if he were. He’s more like a kid brother I’ve known for most of his irritating life.” Stepping back from the bed, Maris hit the release for his helmet then pulled it off.

For a full minute, Ture couldn’t breathe as the full impact of Maris’s looks overwhelmed him. His face finely boned and well chiseled, Maris was male beauty personified. Deep, dark eyes held him captive as they betrayed the depth of Maris’s intelligence and zest for life. The sweat from battle had left his short dark hair plastered to his head, but it didn’t detract from his handsomeness at all. Rather, it made him even more appealing, more masculine. Yet it was those plump full lips that made Ture’s throat go dry. Lips he wanted to taste so badly that for a moment, it drove away all thoughts of pain.

Damn…

He should have let Zarya introduce him to Maris a long time ago. What had been his problem?

Obviously it was something called stupidity.

Maris hesitated as a fierce wave of nervousness tackled him to the ground. I should have left my helmet on. Because right now, for reasons he couldn’t fathom, he felt nak*d and exposed.

Vulnerable.

And he had no idea why.

Worse, he was sure he looked like crap, and he was lucky Ture wasn’t cringing in distaste of his sweating grotesqueness. Please don’t let me smell as bad as I fear I do… Though it would serve him right given how many times he’d mocked Darling for his stench whenever his friend had returned from missions.

Suddenly self-conscious, he ran his gloved hand over his hair, hoping to smooth it down and not make it stand up worse.

Really, was there anything uglier than helmet hair?

Uncertain, he went to the cabinet and searched for supplies to stop some of Ture’s bleeding. Gathering them together, he forced himself to think about tending wounds and not the fact that Zarya’s best friend was absolutely gorgeous. Sexy. Completely edible…

Even though Ture had been beaten and tortured, it couldn’t take away from his incredible good looks. His reddish brown hair was two shades lighter than Darling’s with highlighted tips that had grown out during his imprisonment. As had his beard. Something Maris had never found attractive on any man and yet…

Ture made it look good.

Damn good.

Worse, Maris had always been a sucker for a man in pain. It was probably why he’d fallen in love with Darling years ago. The little bugger had taken a beating for him on the first day they met in grade school. That heroic action coupled with the sight of Darling bleeding to protect him had won him over instantly.

But this was very different. Ture wasn’t a boy. He was a man full grown and totally delectable. Stupid hormones. Unlike him, they had no loyalty. And they were all standing at attention while he looked down at a man who was as gorgeous as anyone Maris had ever met.

Forcing his thoughts away from the fact that Ture’s muscles were well defined and hard, Maris set his supplies on the table next to the bed. He opened the cloth that was soaked in disinfectant then moved back to Ture. “I’m not sure what to give you in way of a painkiller so this is probably going to sting.”

“It’s fine. Pain I can take.”

Brave words. But as Maris set the cloth to the deepest wound on Ture’s cheek, he realized the man wasn’t bragging. He didn’t even flinch.

And that was sexier than hell.

As carefully as he could, Maris cleaned the blood, sweat and dirt from Ture’s face so that he could see how bad the injuries were. Yet all he really uncovered was a set of rugged features that did nothing for his sanity. And it didn’t help that he knew Ture was definitely on the menu…

His gaze burning into him, Ture reached up and covered Maris’s hand that was on Ture’s cheek with his own. “Thank you.”

Ture’s gratitude confused him. “For what?”