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He nodded once. “Sweet dreams, kitten. Try not to ruin the furniture with those claws.”
It was all she could do not to purr at the way his deep voice stroked across her senses.
A second later, his phone rang, playing an old Duran Duran tune.
Instantly, he went on alert, heading for the door as he answered the call. “What’s up?”
She could hear a man’s voice on the other end of the line. It was her brother, Andreas. She couldn’t distinguish the words, but she knew that tone. There was trouble.
“Are they on your heels now?” asked Joseph.
A string of four-letter words filled the line. Those were easy enough to hear.
Joseph shook his head. “I’m sorry, but you can’t come here. We have too many humans to protect, not to mention several pregnant Theronai women. We can’t risk their safety. You know that.”
Andreas’s tinny voice rose as he issued commands to whoever was with him. Then he spoke again to Joseph, and the Theronai’s face went pale.
“You brought her with you?” asked Joseph. “Is she hurt?”
Her brother said something else, and she could see Joseph’s mind change before her eyes. Whatever Andreas had told him was bad news all the way through.
“I get it. You’re coming in hot. We’ll be ready. Just hang on.” Joseph hung up, turning to her as he pressed buttons on his phone.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“Trouble. You stay here, understand?”
She didn’t so much as nod. Instead, she stood there, her face blank, letting him interpret that as he wanted. Whatever got him out of her way the fastest.
The second he was out of her suite, she flung the closet door open and started strapping on leather and weapons. Her big brother was in trouble, and there wasn’t a thing Joseph or anyone else could do to stop her from going to his aid.
This was so not good.
Hell was screaming Joseph’s way, and he couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t even keep it out, not with his adopted daughter out there, too.
Madoc met Joseph on his way toward the gates of Dabyr. The rest of the warriors he’d summoned were on their way.
“What the fuck is going on?” asked Madoc, his perma-scowl in place.
“Andreas and his men fell under attack. I don’t know all the details, but they have several wounded men. Synestryn may be on their tail.”
“And you’re letting them come here? We’ve got pregnant fucking women here, including my wife.”
Joseph refused to let the man’s ire upset him. “I’m aware.”
“Tell him to veer off. We’ll come find him.”
“I can’t. He’s got kids with him. And Carmen. There’s no way I’m letting my daughter sit outside the walls with demons nipping at her heels.”
“We need to go intercept them,” said Madoc. “It’s too fucking dangerous to open the gates.”
“I didn’t ask for your opinion,” said Joseph. Headlights bobbed in the distance. “Besides, it’s too late. They’re here. Now stop bitching and draw your sword.”
“Fuck!” spat Madoc, but he rolled his shoulders and drew his sword.
Joseph’s phone began singing again about hungry wolves. He answered to Andreas’s voice. “There’s no sign of any demons on our tail. Will you open the gate?”
“I’d rather make sure you’re right about not being followed before I do that.”
“I understand, but the kids are scared to death.” Andreas’s voice lowered to a whisper. “And my cousin is about to bleed out. He doesn’t have much time.”
Joseph scanned the area, searching for Tynan. He was nowhere to be found, but Logan and Hope were jogging across the lawn toward the commotion.
“Head toward the gate,” ordered Joseph. “Incoming wounded.”
The couple moved so fast they seemed to blur. Joseph still wasn’t entirely sure how the two of them remained so powerful without Athanasian blood, but so far their luck seemed to be holding out.
Joseph addressed the rest of the men who had gathered. “You three go outside the walls and make sure there are no nasty surprises trailing behind Andreas. If there are, shut them down. You three go to the back of the compound and make sure this isn’t a distraction for something worse. The rest of you stay near the gate. We may need muscle to move the wounded.”
The men hurried off to take their places. Joseph put the phone back to his ear. “We’re ready for you. The gate will be open. Don’t slow down. Got it?”
Tires squealed in the distance. “Yeah. Not slowing down won’t be a problem.”
Joseph hung up and called Morgan, who was manning the control room that operated the giant mechanized gate at the main entrance. “Get ready to open it.”
“On your go,” said Morgan.
Joseph calculated the time it would take Andreas to reach the gate at top speed. As soon as he was within range, he told Morgan, “Now.”
The heavy metal bars rolled open slowly. The engines of several trucks growled at top speed. They flew through the opening, kicking up a cloud of dust in their wake.
“Lock us down,” said Joseph. “Check the perimeter cameras. Everyone stays on high alert until I say otherwise. If you see anything at all, call me.”
“Will do,” said Morgan.
Hope and Logan were already at one of the trucks. He’d crawled inside with whoever was wounded. Hope stood nearby, her hand on his ankle.
Blood dripped onto the pavement beneath the truck, proving Andreas hadn’t been exaggerating. His cousin was bleeding out.
Joseph hoped it wasn’t too late for Logan to save him.
Andreas got out of the truck and limped across the lawn toward Joseph. He was a tall, muscular man with a brawny build and tawny coloring, much like Lyka’s. His jeans were shredded and bloody. The leather coat he wore hung in tatters where claws had ripped it apart. One sleeve had three long slits slashed through it, revealing more blood beneath. His arm swayed from his shoulder, limp and lifeless. The fingers dangling there were turning blue.
Joseph hurried over to save the man the obvious pain of walking. “What happened?”
“Our settlement was ambushed by Synestryn. We have no idea how they slipped past our patrols. We didn’t so much as smell them coming. We still don’t know how they managed that.”