Home > Fated (Relentless #6)(12)

Fated (Relentless #6)(12)
Author: Karen Lynch


I smiled to myself as I walked to my Harley. I’d killed my first vampire, and I’d been inside an actual vampire nest. The fact that Chris had been here didn’t even dim my excitement. I’d have to work with him eventually, so I might as well get used to it. As long as we kept our conversations about work, I could do this. I would.

Yeah, that’s why you’re sneaking away while he’s busy.

I was pulling on my helmet when I felt a small gust of air and Chris appeared in front of me. Startled, I dropped the helmet, and it rolled noisily across the pavement.

I scowled at him. “It’s not nice to sneak up on people.”

Chris smiled, not looking the least bit sorry as he retrieved my helmet. “You used to love it when I did that, Dove.”

I ignored the little thrill that went through me at hearing his old pet name for me. “No one calls me that anymore, and I haven’t played games since… in a long time.”

His smile dimmed, and regret filled his eyes. “Dove – Beth, I’m sorry.”

I said nothing.

“I’m sorry for everything, for hurting you, for the way I left. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. I never meant to hurt you, but you were so young and I was –”

“You don’t have to explain,” I said in a tight voice. “I was a silly girl, and it hurt for a little while, but I got over it. There’s nothing to apologize for.”

I looked away, swallowing around the lump forming in my throat. I was a warrior, damn it. I would not cry.

“If that were true, you wouldn’t be avoiding me and you’d be able to look at me now.” He came closer and rested a hand on the handlebar. “I’ve missed you, Dove. Tell me how to fix this and how we can be friends again.”

“I…” I wanted to say he’d known where to find me all these years if he’d missed me, but I was afraid my voice would crack before I got the words out.

“Look at me,” he ordered in a tender voice I was unable to refuse.

I lifted my eyes and instantly regretted it when I saw the sadness in his. No fair. He’d hurt me, not the other way around. He didn’t get to be the injured one here.

“I left because I thought it was best for you. It didn’t mean I stopped caring about you.” He ran a hand through his blond hair. “It just got…complicated. One day you were a little girl, and the next you were a young woman, and everything changed.”

I nodded mutely. He didn’t need to remind me of how things had changed between us. I’d wasted too many hours trying to figure out what I’d done wrong and how I’d driven him away. It had taken me a long time to admit it wasn’t my fault and to accept I couldn’t have done anything to make him stay.

“Did you get the things I sent you?” he asked.

“Yes. Thank you.”

Every birthday and Christmas, a package had arrived from Chris without fail. But it was hard to feel happy about gifts from someone who couldn’t be bothered to deliver them himself. As much as I’d wanted to get rid of them, I couldn’t, so they’d ended up in the back of my closet, along with every other gift he’d given me since I’d known him.

An uncomfortable silence fell between us, broken after a long moment by Chris’s barely perceptible sigh.

“I know we can’t go back to the way things were. Too much time has passed, and you’re not a little girl anymore. But I hope we can be friends.”

I should have avoided his gaze. One look into his beseeching green eyes and I couldn’t come right out and tell him no, even if the ache in my chest warned me against letting him in again.

As if he knew I was weakening, his smile returned, and my traitorous stomach fluttered. I needed to get away from him before I reverted to that naïve girl of four years ago. Like he’d said, there was no going back.

“Beth,” Mason called.

I caught the frustration in Chris’s eyes before I looked over my shoulder at Mason, who was walking toward us.

“You heading back to the house?” Mason asked, standing so close to me that our arms touched.

I had to stifle a laugh. I loved that Mason always had my back, but no one could ever accuse him of being ambiguous.

“Hey, Chris,” Mason said.

Mason wouldn’t admit it out of loyalty to me, but I knew he was conflicted about Chris. His anger at Chris for hurting me was tempered by Chris’s easy manner and a little bit of hero worship on Mason’s part. Chris was almost as well-known as Nikolas, and his fighting skills had been talked about just as much among the trainees back home.

Chris smiled. “Mason, how’d you like your first nest?”

“It was cleaner than I expected, except for the blood from your kills.”

Chris laughed. “That was a new nest, no more than a few weeks old by the look of it. I’ve seen some that would make you not want to eat for a week.”

Mason made a face. “I bet you’ve seen some crazy stuff.”

“You have no idea.” Chris’s gaze moved between Mason and me. “Remind me to tell you about it sometime.”

“That’d be great.”

My sigh was inaudible. It was like Chris knew exactly what to say to win over my best friend. Not that I didn’t want the two of them to be friends. Did I?

Mason looked at me. “Brock and I are heading back to Newport Beach. You want to patrol with us?”

“Raoul’s going to show me how to write up our recon report, so I have to go back to the house.” And then I was going to have a long shower and crawl into my very soft bed.

I extended my hand toward the helmet Chris was still holding, and he passed it to me. I donned it and started the Harley, raising a hand to Chris as he stepped aside to let me out.

I let out a long breath when I rounded the corner and headed down the next street. Okay, that wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. He’d said his piece, and I’d managed not to embarrass myself by crying. Now he could go about his business, and I could stop worrying about talking to him.

I hadn’t replied to his comment about us being friends because I didn’t think I could open myself up to him that way again. I’d work with him as long as he was here, but that was as far as I was willing to go. I’d let Chris in once, and he’d hurt me deeply. I wouldn’t give him the chance to do that a second time.



I nodded grimly at Nikolas. “That’s my first guess.”

We entered the living room where Sara, Jordan, Raoul, and several of the other warriors milled around. Upon our arrival, everyone found seats and waited for Nikolas to speak.

The door to the back terrace opened, and Beth and Mason hurried in.

“Are we late?” Beth asked.

Her gaze flicked to mine for a brief moment before going to Nikolas. It was like that every time she and I were in the same room. Since our talk two nights ago, she had stopped avoiding me, but little else had changed between us. I missed the easy relationship we used to have, but I couldn’t push her. I’d hurt her badly, and it would take time to earn her trust again.

It was because of Beth that I’d agreed to take command of the center from Nikolas when he left for New York. If she hadn’t been here, I probably would have decided to go with Nikolas and Sara. But Los Angeles had the most demon and vampire activity in the country, and Beth, though well-trained, was a new warrior on her first field assignment. She didn’t know yet that I was taking over for Nikolas, and I wasn’t sure how she’d react to the news. We planned to announce it once we got final approval from the Council.

“We’re just about to start.” Nikolas looked at me, and I glanced down at the report displayed on the tablet in my hand.

“In the last ten days, there have been eight missing person reports filed with the LAPD. That’s not unusual in a city like Los Angeles, but we’ve detected a pattern in three of the cases that suggests they are connected.”

“What kind of pattern?” Jordan asked.

“Three of the missing people are young women between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one. Two of the girls are seniors at Catholic schools in the area, and the third is a novice from a convent in New York who was visiting her family.”

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