Born of Night(10)

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

His body was so hard it was all he could do not to limp. And to think, he’d mistakenly believed he’d survived real torture in his past.

That had nothing on this.

Get a grip . . .

Honestly, he’d rather she get a grip on a certain piece of his anatomy that was draining all the blood from his brain before he lost what little reasoning he had left.

You are in control.

Yeah, tell that to his cock. It wasn’t exactly listening to him at the moment.

Forcing his mind to other thoughts, he removed the hot helmet so that he could breathe in and try to relax. He freed his damp, blond hair from the tie holding it at the nape of his neck and let it fall over his shoulders.

With a tired sigh, he chucked the alcohol into a garbage chute, then pulled his dark shades from his pocket and moved to join the rest of his crew in the control room at the front of the ship.

Dancer Hauk and Darling Cruel—and yes, those were their real names, which showed that even loving parents could be sick and twisted—were joking with each other when he entered.

“Hey, Cruel,” Hauk said snidely. “Check it . . . the man is without his guise. You think he wants to be found out or is he looking for a reason to kill the woman? What odds are you taking?”

Darling snorted. “I’m not betting shit, troll. I already owe you two weeks’ pay. Anymore and I’ll be working only to pay you.”

Hauk let out an evil laugh. But then, at almost seven feet in height, he could be obnoxious to most people and get away with it. Especially those like Darling, who only came up to just past his waist.

A typical Andarion male, Hauk belonged to the most brutal of all known races. One that valued physical beauty only second to physical strength. With long black hair that he wore in tiny braids, his features were perfect and sharp. His white irises were ringed by a band of blood red. But Nykyrian didn’t care what he looked like. Hauk was raw, savage strength and a brilliant techspert.

Darling, on the other hand, looked almost frail in comparison. Where Hauk was built solid and huge like a tree, Darling was lean and finely boned. His straight red hair fell across the left side of his face, covering a vicious scar that they never talked about.

Ignoring them while they exchanged barbs, Nykyrian dropped his helmet on the floor and took the pilot’s chair. He ran over their settings, knowing there’d be no corrections. Hauk and Darling were the best. Otherwise they wouldn’t be here.

They’d be dead.

“Did you bathe in Chenz’s and Petiri’s blood?” Darling asked him.

Nykyrian gave Darling a condemning stare. “I would have, had someone not detonated their charges prematurely.”

“Yeah, Cruel. You have to watch that premature detonation problem of yours.”

Darling tossed a throwing knife at Hauk’s head.

Hauk caught it and laughed before he tossed it back at Darling who caught it just as easily. “You keep doing that, human, and you’re going to hurt my feelings.”

“You don’t have feelings, Andarion.”

“Not true. Compared to Nykyrian, I’m as sensitive as a woman.”

“God knows you’re beginning to whine like one.” Nykyrian rubbed at his right eye under his shades as his thoughts returned to the mission they’d just completed.

Justice had been served swiftly and coldly. Tomorrow Syn would inform their client about Chenz’s death. Granted it wouldn’t bring back the senator’s son, but it would ensure that Chenz never decapitated another child and delivered his head to his mother.

That alone made him wish he’d had more time with the bastard.

But there was nothing more to be done. Chenz was dead and they would be paid.

Aching for the poor senator and a grief he couldn’t even begin to comprehend, Nykyrian stared out the window at the blackness swirling around them. The senator’s pain over the loss still haunted him as he tried to imagine a parent who cared so much for her son. The gods knew none of his parents, either real or adoptive, had ever given two shits about him.

It comforted him on some level to know that not everyone was as cold and unfeeling as he’d learned to be. That there were people like Sheridan and the senator who could love and who could cry over the loss of the child they’d brought into the world.

In the lightless void he was staring at, an image of Kiara dancing in her last ballet floated before his eyes, which didn’t help him calm his arousal at all.

Damn it, why did he feel like this?

But then she’d always been able to stir his senses. Every time he’d seen her dance, she’d touched a part of his soul—a part of him he preferred to think was long dead and damned. She, alone, had made him see beauty in a universe he normally despised. Had made him feel something other than cold, corrupt emptiness.

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