Home > Fated (Relentless #6)(10)

Fated (Relentless #6)(10)
Author: Karen Lynch

He chuckled. “I have something that might cheer you up. How would you like to go on a stakeout with me today?”

“A stakeout?” I asked a little breathlessly, because that could only mean one thing. Vampires. My stomach fluttered in anticipation.

“We have reason to believe there’s a new vampire nest in Long Beach. If you’re –”


Raoul and Nikolas laughed. Okay, maybe I was more than a little excited, but they were talking about a real vampire nest. New warriors never got to see a nest. This was exactly the reason I’d wanted to come to Los Angeles, to have opportunities like this one.

“When do you want to leave?” I asked, my coffee all but forgotten.

One corner of Raoul’s mouth lifted. “Can you be ready in an hour?”

“Ready for what?”

My body stiffened at Chris’s voice. Since his arrival two days ago, I’d managed to keep my distance from him, mostly thanks to Mason. My best friend had not been happy to see Chris, and the first thing he’d asked me was if I wanted to leave. When I said no, he’d stuck by my side whenever we were at the house, blocking Chris’s attempts to talk to me. The last thing I wanted was to dredge up the past, so I was grateful to Mason for running interference. I wasn’t too proud to hide behind my best friend, and I really wished he was here now.

I comforted myself with the reminder that Chris would leave again soon and my life could go back to normal. In a month or so, Sara and Nikolas were heading to New York City to oversee a new command center there. I fully expected Chris to go with them. Until then, I had to bide my time and do my best to avoid him. As far as I was concerned, we had nothing to talk about.

“Beth and I are going to recon a nest,” Raoul told Chris.

“How big a nest?” Chris asked.

“Small, maybe three or four vampires.”

I felt Chris’s eyes move to me, but I kept my gaze fixed squarely on Raoul until Chris spoke again.

“I can go with you if you need a backup.”

What? No. Anger and dismay flooded me, and I glared at Chris, only to find him looking at Raoul again. I opened my mouth to protest, but Nikolas spoke first.

“I think this would be a good learning experience for Beth, and she’ll be safe with Raoul.”

I could have hugged Nikolas at that moment. I turned hopeful eyes on Raoul, who gave me one of his familiar smirks.

“Beth and I can handle it. I’ll just have to make sure to get her some coffee on the way.”

I could barely contain my excitement. “I’ll be ready to go whenever you are.”

He came over and took two wrapped muffins from the basket on the counter. “See you back here in an hour.”

He and Nikolas headed back toward the control room, and I almost did a happy dance until I remembered I wasn’t alone. Chris was still there, and the look on his face said he was going to try to talk to me again.

Dread twisted my stomach. The logical part of my brain said I should just be an adult and get it over with. Let him have his say and move on. But the hurt sixteen-year-old in me wanted to run away and cry every time I saw his face. That part of me was frantically trying to think of a way to escape now.

“Beth, I –”

The door to the garage swung open, and Mason entered, followed by a laughing Brock. Mason came up short when he saw me alone with Chris, and my expression must have told him all he needed to know. He headed straight for me and wrapped me in a one-armed hug.

I immediately ducked out of his hold. “Ew! You stink of fish and seaweed.”

The two of them laughed. Mason and Brock had hit it off since we got here, and Brock had introduced Mason to his first love: surfing. Mason had taken to the sport like a…well, like a fish to water. If he wasn’t talking about watching Nikolas spar, he was telling me about the perfect wave he’d caught that morning.

I didn’t mind. I liked seeing his face light up when he talked about the things that made him happy. And it wasn’t as if I hadn’t made new friends here, too. I spent half my free time with Sara or Jordan, sometimes both. Mason and I would always be close, but we were getting to know new people, and that was a good thing.

His eyes lit up. “We caught some great waves this morning. Brock knows all the best places to go.”

“You should come with us. Give it a try,” Brock said.

I made a face, and he chuckled. I liked the ocean, but my idea of communing with nature involved a mountain trail and a sturdy pair of hiking boots. At home, I used to drag Mason along with me, before he’d discovered his love of surfing. Now I either went alone, or Sara joined me if she was free.

“No, thanks. I’ll stick to dry land, if you don’t mind.”

Brock looked behind me. “How about you, Chris? You still surf?”

“Not in a few years.”

Suddenly, I had an image of Chris’s wet muscled body walking out of the ocean, and warmth infused me. I swallowed and pushed the thought to the farthest recesses of my mind. So, I was still attracted to him. What female wouldn’t be? It didn’t change anything.

I clutched the milk carton I still held. “I’d love to stay and talk surfing with you boys, but I have to run. I’m going on a job with Raoul today.”

Mason’s eyes widened with interest. “Oh, yeah? What kind of job?”

I could barely contain my excitement. “We’re staking out a vampire nest.”

“No way. Are you messing with me?”

“Nope. He asked me right before you got here.”

“Ah, man.”

I shrugged, deciding a little payback was in order. “Just think. If you hadn’t drunk all the milk again, I’d be over at our place right now, enjoying my coffee in blissful ignorance, and Raoul might have asked you to go with him instead.”

Brock snorted, and I thought I heard Chris chuckle behind me. Mason looked like someone had taken away his surfboard.

“Later, boys.”

Smiling, I headed for the door to the garage to avoid walking past Chris. I heard footsteps behind me, and for a second, I thought he’d followed me. Then I caught the smell of salt water and knew it was Mason. I should have known he’d have my back, no matter what.

I slowed to let him catch up, smiling my thanks at him.

He gave me a devilish grin and laid an arm across my shoulders again. This time, I didn’t push him away. It was a small price to pay.

Chapter 4


I placed the tablet on the desk and sat back in my chair, rubbing the back of my neck. It had taken me several minutes to realize I’d read the same paragraph at least a dozen times. At this rate, I’d never get through these reports.

Closing my eyes, I saw the same image that had occupied my mind since yesterday morning – Beth standing barefoot in the kitchen and looking like she’d just crawled out of bed. The sight of her had sent heat through me, and my hands had itched to release her hair from the bun and run my fingers through its softness.

“Argh.” I got up to pace the office. I had to stop thinking about her like this.

A groan slipped out because I knew that was wishful thinking. I’d thought I had dealt with this, until coming here and seeing Beth again. The moment I saw her in the garage, I knew I’d been deluding myself.

Since the day I’d arrived, she’d gone out of her way not to talk to me, and the more she avoided me, the stronger my need to see her became. I kept telling myself I just wanted to clear the air between us and to repair the damage I’d done to our friendship. I was lying to myself. I wanted more than her forgiveness, but I knew that was all I could ask for.

A phone rang in the control room, yanking me from my thoughts, and I heard Will answer it. Before I could walk to the door of the office, he called out to me. My gut hardened instinctively. Beth was out with Raoul again, staking out the nest, and my first thought was that she was in trouble. Raoul would never allow her to enter a dangerous situation without backup, but vampires were unpredictable and anything could happen on a job.

“What’s up?” I asked, keeping my inner turmoil out of my voice.

Will hit the intercom button, and Raoul’s voice filled the speaker.

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