Isa…Isa? Are you there? Are you hurt? Did they hurt you?” The honest concern in the stranger’s voice entered her private area inside where she had locked down her emotions a decade ago.
“No…yes, but that’s okay. Who are you?” she held her breath and waited for his response.
A long whistling sound came through her link; she assumed it was a sigh. “I was afraid of this…not only did they betray me, but they tampered with you. I am Gunnolf… your teacher. I have been imprisoned for over fifty years waiting for word of you and the others.”
Others? She frowned as a mist rose in her mind and cleared with an image of a tall male with long black hair, stood tall giving a young girl instruction.
“Do it again, this time watch your hands…they must remain in position to protect your face.”
The child, who couldn’t be more than ten years old, executed a perfect drop kick against a stuffed bag. “Gunnolf… you taught me? When I was younger? You know me? My family? Where I am from?”
“I swear to the Goddess those bastards will pay for what they have done to you…yes. You are Isa. Your parents met the Goddess when you were a young child; you were placed in an orphanage. That is where I found you.”
Her heart beat so hard she thought it would leave her chest. Tidbits of light penetrated the darkness and she saw herself as a child. Tears ran down her face, she didn’t bother to wipe them, she had been weeping on the inside for decades.
“Asia, are you okay?” Angus asked.
“No. Not really.” She faced him, her heart beat with fear and excitement which was more than she had felt in a long time. Was it possible? Could Gunnolf truly fill the gaping holes in her memory?
He frowned. “Is it the bracelet?” … “Give me your hand.” She extended it to him hoping he would not take the bracelet; it could help her get in and out of places.
He placed his palm over her wrist. The bracelet warmed and then normalized. “I have given you full control of your bracelet. No one can use it but you. No one can see it but you. Also, I gave you one of the most powerful ones; it should last for years without maintenance. Perhaps this is the next assignment the Goddess meant for you.”
“I still haven’t heard from Asia,” Jasmine said. “I know she feels she needs to trace her past, but I’m still worried. She has no back-up and no pack over there to help. We should send someone.”
“No.” He released a breath.
She placed her hand on his arm and squeezed. Would he remember their conversation from yesterday? She would see if he meant what he said about listening to her feelings. “I’m really worried about her.”
“According to Angus she is determined to release Gunnolf. That’s a good thing; the full-blood is older than me and very strong.” He frowned at her raised brow. “He was. I’m not sure I understand how they’ve kept him all this time. The point is, she is in the backyard of one of the Liege Lords. The moment unknown full-bloods start showing up, it’ll put her in more danger.” He touched her lip. “You and I can help her from here, better than sending others to get in her way. Besides, Gunnolf trained hundreds of orphaned full-bloods. Once he is released, he could probably call an army together.”
Disappointment in his response laced her chest. He still didn’t get it; apologies were fine, but didn’t change the outcome. He needed to change and take her “suggestions” seriously. “I don’t know Silas; he has been a prisoner a long time. They could have a chip in his head and know he’s calling her. This could be a trap.”
“When she contacts you, tell her what you feel and offer to send someone, if she accepts, I’ll send Brix and Leon.”
That made her feel slightly better, although she’d rather Asia come home where she’d be safe. Silas grabbed her around the shoulder and pulled her back against him.
“You can’t coddle them, Sweet Bitch. Asia, Rese, Rone, Cam… they have their own destinies to fulfill. They’ll probably get hurt, but they’ll be living their lives and carving their histories. Let her go… be there for her when she needs you, that’s the best you can do.”
It was noon with overcast skies and a bit of chill in the September air. A custom made day designed to send a man looking for companionship. This time he would choose her. She had worked in this old, two-storied, converted mansion a week, waiting and changing her appearance to catch his eye. From all she heard, today she hit all of his preferences on the head.
Dressed in a charcoal gray tight skirt, matching jacket and a wide black belt, she shook her head so that the soft curls would settle around her shoulders as she strutted across the tiled floor in Madame’s Boudoir. It had been a long time since part of her assignment included seduction and she was out of practice. Give her a gun or blade instead of makeup and fancy clothes and she’d make a clean kill without blinking. In this place she had to play nice, civilized.
She added an extra swing to her hips, prepared to catch her prey. In the dim light of the small parlor her red lipstick added a layer of drama while she paraded around the room with a can’t-touch-this-attitude. Bored and tired of waiting she searched the other rooms for him.
Greggor preferred tall females, muscular, flat chested, long black hair and any color but brown eyes. She’d used her chameleon bracelet to create the perfect tease. Ignoring every other request, her heart beat raced in anticipation. Earlier that week she made her preferences clear to the Madam of the house, earning praise and gratitude for taking on that particular client.
The air in the room stilled. She sensed him before she saw him. Without turning, their eyes met in the mirror she faced. His gaze roamed down her back and remained on her long legs and the curve of her barely covered hips. She turned and walked toward the opposite side of the room. He stepped forward halting her, threw more bills than necessary on the table and motioned for her to follow him up the stairs.
A grin of satisfaction crossed her lips.
Jacket and belt removed, he slapped hard, cold metal around her wrists, holding her arms securely in place against the rough fabric of the bench. While his back was turned, she gave her arms a quick tug, and relaxed, satisfied that she could break free if necessary. He glanced over his shoulder with a wicked grin and then showed her the blade. Her gaze flicked across his slender arms and then remained on the glint of the steel as he moved closer.
She looked up. Their gazes clashed.
He held the blade over her chest and then sliced through the lightweight material of her blouse to the hem of her skirt with a steady downward arc, never touching her flesh. Remnants of her outfit pooled on the floor as he snapped his blade shut, looked at her and grinned. The gap between his two front teeth was more pronounced because of their unevenness.
“You want to play with Greggor, my dark pretty one. We shall play.” He spoke in broken, choppy English, but she understood his hand gestures. Some things were universal. He dropped to one knee and secured her ankles with silky materials, stretching them far apart.
The heat in the small room escalated, sweat beaded across her brow and ran down her face and then chest. Two hulking men remained by the door blocking any air that might seep through the cracks as well as the one exit. Clothed in a skimpy bra and panties she ignored the heat and remembered her purpose for being in this room.
“Oooh, Greggor likes to play rough,” she said in a husky tone playing her role as instructed.
He looked up at her, his dark brown eyes filled with cruel intent. “I paid many grivna for you tonight and you will obey me.”
She stared down at the whiplash thin man and smiled. “Yes, Master. I will please you.”
He stood, pulled his shirt over his head and tossed the shirt to one of the men. He caught it mid-air. She grinned, as she had been instructed, at his mastery over the much larger males.
“You are strong. I like that about you,” she purred, pouring it on thick for the egomaniac. He pushed out his chest, placed a finger in his waistband and smiled. “Yes, yes I am.” He pulled the belt from his pants.
Her eyes rounded.
“Bend over,” he demanded slapping the belt across his palm.
She frowned, trying to inject some fear into her response and played the role the house Madam instructed her to play. “Please don’t hurt me.”
The sting of the leather across her ass pissed her off more than caused any pain. “Ouch, that hurts,” she said as the leather strap landed again and again across her ass and thighs.
“You ignore me, turn to others. I hate you,” he said swinging the strap harder.
She turned aside, her long black hair covered her eye roll. Everybody had issues, even the manager of the castle. But she needed to play the game to complete the mission. Greggor needed to get on with it, preferably in silence.
“I said I hate you,” he said again prompting her.
Damn, she missed her cue. “But I love you. I love you, Greggor.” She said infusing a hint of regret, and hurt.
“Yes, I love you and want only you. The others mean nothing, they are just a job. But you, are my everything.” She met his gaze, surprised when his eyes softened. The man was really into this shit.
He dropped the belt, untied her ankles and unlocked her cuffs. The next moment underscored the past four days of seeking information, watching him and seeking to be in this room. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed.
Asia stroked his head, and activated her chameleon bracelet. Tingling sensations raced through her and with each touch she stole information on a new employee. Information she needed to break into Lord Boris’ castle and rescue Gunnolf.