It was six am when Milo and I returned to the farm from our twelve mile jog. We had discarded our shirts by mile 5 as we ran straight through Hartwell. We rounded the house and found Ryder on the porch, arms crossed over his chest, clearly waiting for us.
“Oh shit, you’re dead.” Milo’s voice came from behind me as I stood with my hands on my hips trying to catch my breath.
“You think I wouldn’t notice? You think I’m that stupid that I wouldn’t know what you and Alexis did?” Ryder’s glared cut straight through me.
“Dad, I can explain.” Who was I kidding? I couldn’t explain what had happened between us.
“Yeah please do. Tell me about you picked Alexis up from a party drunk and then waited for us to go to sleep before bringing her home.”
Milo clutched his chest over his heart as he breathed out. “Oh thank the gods.”
“Shut the hell up.” My whisper was harsh, even to my own ears.
Ryder fixed his gaze on Milo and I could see the lingering question in his eyes. “Thank the gods what Milo?”
“Nothing, had a cramp.” Ryder’s glare landed on me once again.
“I figured the rules hadn’t changed and I didn’t want her to get into trouble.” I ran a hand through my hair and hoped that he wouldn’t pick up on my nervousness.
“At least you got her out of there and back home safely.” He cleared his throat as Nova stepped out onto the porch and smiled at us.
“Are you really giving him a hard time?”
Ryder shifted on his feet. “No.”
Milo and I looked at each other and grinned. “Yes.”
“Really?” Ryder looked almost offended as Nova glared at him.
“Dad, she’s seventeen. We used to get wasted all the time when we were that age.” I glared at Milo as he shrugged.
“Now would be a good time to keep your damn mouth shut Milo.”
“She had a few drinks Ryder. It’s not like she took all her clothes off and ran naked down Main Street.” Nova shook her head at him and headed back inside the house.
“And I’m guessing you did that all the time as well.” I had to smile at Ryder’s words; we did so much more than just that.
“I only did it once.” I hit Milo behind his head and walked to the guest house.
“Breakfast’s at seven. You two can meet me at the stables afterwards.” The door shut behind Ryder and I heard Milo chuckle lowly.
I was in the shower when Milo walked into the bathroom and flipped the lid of the toilet up and started singing, very off-key. I smiled as I washed my hair and Echo flipped onto his side. “Milo needs to keep his damn mouth shut.”
I agreed with Echo on that one. “He’s not going to spill.” I was rinsing the shampoo off when Milo flushed the toilet.
“Son of a bitch!” The water had gone from hot to ice cold in a split second and Milo started laughing as he opened the shower’s door.
We switched places and I wrapped a towel around my waist and stood in front of the basin and started brushing my teeth and laughed when I opened the tap and Milo cursed me like he was getting paid for it.
“Idiot!” Milo started singing again like he just hadn’t called me every dirty name under the sun.
Alexis didn’t come down for breakfast and I assumed she had a wicked hangover. By noon Milo and I had stripped off our shirts as we worked with Ryder. We broke for lunch and Milo and I sat on the dock and ate the sandwiches that Nova had made for us.
“On your six.” Milo’s eyes glanced at me and then he dove into the lake.
I looked over my shoulder as Alexis walked down from the house towards the dock where I sat with my feet in the water. She looked better although still a bit pale and I hid my smile. She sat down next to me, dangling her legs over the dock and making the water ripple.
“What happened last night?” she asked me.
“You don’t remember?”
“I remember you picking me up and eating a burger and then nothing.” She was looking at me like I had all the answers.
“I’m to apologize for getting you into trouble for sneaking me into the house last night.” She gave me a smile and I felt like an even bigger asshole.
“Don’t mention it.”
“Can I tell you something? I have to tell someone.” Her voice was softer now and I turned my attention fully on her.
“I think I had sex last night.” She was whispering now and I looked down. I had to tell her that it was me, that it was us. It was too big to hide from her.
“Why do you think that?”
“I’m sore and there was blood on my sheets this morning and yeah you’re a guy but it’s not my time of the month.”
“You did have sex last night.”
“How the hell would you know that?” Her expression was one of horror.
“Because we had sex last night.”
She buried her head in her hands and then she started to laugh, really loud, maybe with a hint of hysteria. “No! But you’re my brother …”
“We’re only related through marriage.”
“Was it at least good?” I almost choked on my own saliva as she asked that and for a moment I couldn’t believe my ears.
“Shut up about that shit, you passed out right after.” She started laughing again and I felt my ears burn. I didn’t know what I expected to happen but it wasn’t her laughing at me.
“I don’t understand how this happened. I know I drank too much but you weren’t drunk.”
“You had me pulled in Ally, your eyes changed colour and I could feel the bond pushing at me. I don’t know what to tell you other than it didn’t feel wrong.”
“Can we never talk about this ever again?” She looked so young in that moment with her hair blowing in the breeze and I don’t know why but Echo was reaching out to her even though I was trying to push him back.
“Listen, did I say anything to you before we … ah … you know …”
“No.” I had no idea why I had just lied to her about that but I gathered that she hadn’t meant for me to know and I wanted to spare her any more humiliation.
Milo and I spent the rest of the afternoon repainting the barn. By four pm we were halfway done and put away the roller brushes and paint cans. We cooled off in the lake once more and then trudged up to the guest house.
“He’s trying to work us to death.” Milo had a valid point but Ryder had always been like this. Hard work kept you grounded, it was one of his beliefs. There were no free rides in this family and even Shae had chores.
Ryder was on the porch, typing out a message on his phone. “You go ahead,” I said to Milo and walked towards the house. Ryder saw me coming and put down his phone and stretched his legs out in front of him.
I stood in front of him for a few seconds before he looked up. “We need to talk.”
“Yeah we do.” His reply caught me off guard and his tone was serious.
“You first Dad.”
“I’m assuming you’re done with the Unit if all the boxes you brought with you are any indication. What are your plans for work?”
“The Unit’s been dissolved, that’s what I wanted to discuss with you. We should talk where there are no ears and when Milo’s here too, what we need to tell you can’t go any further than the three of us.” My tone was serious too because nothing was as serious as this shit.
“We can talk down at the dock, no ears there.”
I nodded my head and walked back to the guest house where I found Milo eating cold chicken from the fridge. His mouth was stuffed to the brim as I told him about the conversation we were about to have with Ryder.
Milo and I trudged over the green lawns past the large shed that hid the dock from view. Ryder was seated on a camping chair looking out over the water with a beer in his hand. Next to him stood a cooler that I knew held more.
We opened our own beers and got comfortable on the chairs and we sat in silence for a few minutes as Ryder seemed lost in thought. He finally turned towards us and I could physically feel his worry before he spoke.
“What have you heard?” Ryder glanced at me and then at Milo and I decided to answer him.
“Clark informed everyone that the Unit’s being disbanded. That was on Monday. He called us into his office and told us that the Supreme Councils want to start their own Units for every supernatural group. Vampires for covens and dragonkin for lairs and so on. He talked about people being called up for training or whatever they want to call it.”
“I’ve heard rumours about the training camps.” I was a bit surprised at that but I knew he had friends left over from his own Sire days before giving it all up.
“Have you ever heard of Ghost?” Milo leaned back in his seat and I wanted to hit that grin off his face.
“Ghost is a myth because in reality nobody can be that good, move unseen, unheard and strike so silently that his victims are killed with guards just outside their doors.” Ryder’s tone was low but he clearly didn’t believe that Ghost existed. He had been a hunter too and he used to be one of the best.
“There have been enquiries about Ghost. Whoever made them wants to know if Ghost worked for the Unit.” Milo sounded as relaxed as only Milo could.
“There’s only person that would enquire about Ghost. Are you saying that he exists?” Milo nodded his head and smiled at Ryder.
“Clark mentioned a handful of people that will fight for the right thing.” I was trying to steer the conversation away from Ghost.
“Shit, he told you to keep your phones, didn’t he?” Ryder was no idiot, that much was clear.
“Yeah, whatever’s going to happen will happen and he’ll want the inside info on it.” I was still slightly pissed off that Milo had brought Ghost up because that was shit nobody wanted to get involved in.
“Back up, if Ghost is real then he’s the person you want in there.” Ryder was right again but I didn’t want to talk about Ghost.
“What intel can you get on the Royal Family?” I asked him instead.
“Dragonkin will be called up to go to Romania. The King’s starting training camps, it’s not just a rumour. I’ve heard whispers about new King’s Guards, personal warriors and royal henchmen. There have been no other indications that the covens and packs are doing the same.”
“The High Council for Vampires have their own vamp army. They don’t need a Unit, they’ve been a step ahead of the rest for years. Felix and I used to talk about it a lot, why he had joined the Unit instead of joining their army.”
“Yeah, Dad didn’t want to be just a soldier. He wanted to be a hunter.” Milo smiled sadly before looking away.
“The King’s not a good man Wynter. He’s weak and greedy. He uses soldiers for his dirty deeds and covers it all up.” The anger in Ryder’s voice had me sitting up straighter trying to read through the lines.
“He’s the one, isn’t he?” My eyes were flashing yellow now.
“Don’t ask me questions that I can’t answer.” Ryder’s eyes were flashing yellow as well and I could feel the anger flow between us.
“My name’s on the list and I know I’ll be called up to go to Romania. I served in the Unit, they’ll want me and once I’m there, I’ll finish this!” I was beyond furious that he had kept this from us all this time because I knew now that the faceless men in my dreams were Royal Guards.
“They’ll kill you! You’ll never get close enough to kill him,” Ryder said in a low tone.
“You don’t know half of what I can do.”
I hadn’t earned the name Ghost because I was a good hunter. I earned it because I was the best. I could move so quietly that even Milo didn’t hear me and his hearing was better than mine. I didn’t feel pain and I healed faster than any species in existence. Ghost wasn’t just a myth, it was who I became.
“It’s time for Ghost to go to work.” Milo had said it softly but we both heard him. Ryder’s gaze landed on me and I could see his unease.
I didn’t answer him because he had already figured it out. If Milo had kept his mouth shut then it would still only be three people in the whole world who knew the identity of Ghost. Now it was four.
“I’m not afraid of the King.”
“I never wanted Typhon’s words to come true.”
“Let’s go.” Milo ruffled my hair and I swatted his hand away.“Piss off.”“Come on, we haven’t seen the three W’s in three years.” Milo’s face was inches from mine as he leaned over the couch.“You just want to get laid.” I looked at the grin on his face.“So? You need someone that doesn’t pass out on you.” He ducked his head as my fist aimed for his head.“Low blow asshole.” He chuckled as a smile finally appeared on my face and I knew he was right. We both needed to get out.Half an hour later we parked our bikes in front of G’s. Warner, Wilson and Winston were three brothers who had bought the dilapidated piece of land straight out of high school and opened a bar. They worked the bar themselves and named it G’s, short for their surname Gates.It was off a beaten down dirt road, basically in the middle of nowhere and the best place to hang out. They didn’t check ID’s since Warner bought it when he was eighteen and the liquor license was in their father’s name.I pulled out a chair f
My phone pinged and my eyes opened instantly. It was my Unit phone and that ping meant Clark was making contact. I accessed the messages and laughed softly.Clark – Up for a private?Wynter – SureClark – Sending location for pick up and eliminationWynter – Will confirm tonightClark – Ross Webber, Vampire, Webber Construction, AthensI looked at the two locations that Clark had sent and memorized them both before putting the phone away. I could hear Milo and Mallory in the room next to me and it was barely seven am. I heard the front door open and then Ally’s face appeared in my doorway.“Okay, this is awkward.” She laughed and then stifled it with her hand as Milo started spouting his ‘Daddy’ shit and I laughed.“You should learn to knock.” I stood up from the bed.“Dad sent me to tell you breakfast’s in ten minutes.” Ally’s face was reddening as Milo just got louder.“Hold on, I’ll walk out with you.”I pulled a t-shirt over my head and opened Milo’s door without knocking. Mallory
I knocked on the door of the hotel room that I had quietly left more than twelve hours earlier. Cali opened the door and looked at me for a few seconds. I saw anger and then hesitation in her eyes as I smiled. She finally opened it wider and granted me access.“You just left.”I didn’t really know what to say. “I’m sorry. Last night was … I don’t know …”“Well, I’m glad you’re here. I need to pack and so do you.” She was still talking but I had stopped listening at ‘so do you’.“What do you mean I need to pack?”“We’re bonded halves. Daddy has the King’s ear so you don’t have to worry about being called up. Daddy will find you something to do in the company. We’ll sort everything out once we get to France.” Disbelief were etched onto my features but she didn’t notice as she continued to pack.“Cali, I’m not going to France with you. My family’s here.”“Did you think I was going to stay in Hartwell with you? I can tell that you’re not even a future Sire. You should feel lucky that I ev
Two weeks had gone by too fast. Milo and I didn’t go out; I spent time with my family. Abigail was nervous and in the end Nova and Alexis had packed her suitcase for her. My duffel bag had been ready for six days. We couldn’t take any weapons on a commercial flight but Clark had already been in contact with me.He knew what I knew about Romania and he’d promised me that there would be a drop as soon as I knew where I would be staying. I had given Abigail a burner phone as well so that the two of us could share information if we were separated.I had everything under control and I wasn’t worried. Abigail though would have to calm down and stop acting so nervous. I understood her fear, not knowing what would happen, especially when they discovered her dragon, but Ryder had explained it to her.Three nights earlier we had all sat at the kitchen table after dinner. “They won’t kill you Abby.”“Your dragon is valuable.” She looked up at me as I spoke and I gripped her hand tightly.“The Ki
It was two am when we finally landed in Bucharest. We retrieved our luggage and walked towards the exit. Near the doors were a table with one man sitting behind it, there was a line of five people ahead of us. We had received instructions that we were to report to the man sitting by the ‘Winter Camp’ table.“Name?” The man spoke with a heavy accent and barely glanced at us.“Wynter and Abigail Grey.”He flipped over two pages before ticking off our names on his list. “There’s a bus marked Winter Camp just outside, it will take you to Sinaia and the camp. Keep these identity cards on you at all times. Good luck.”“Thanks.”It was a ten seater bus, very small in comparison to what I was used to seeing back home. Our identity cards were scanned and I led Abigail to the back and let her sit by the window. Twenty minutes later all ten seats were occupied and the bus started.“Hey. Gerard de Yong.” He had turned in his seat and offered his hand in greeting.“Wynter Grey.” I shook his hand a
“Good morning trainees! I trust you’ve all had sufficient rest and time to familiarize yourselves with this camp. As you will see behind us are tents with different coloured flags, please go to the tent that matches your bracelet.” The man standing in front of us was tall, muscular and had an air of authority.“Move! Now!” His voice was loud and everybody started to scatter towards the different tents. I headed towards the Violet tent. I kept to the back of the line as men scanned their bracelets to be admitted and be accounted for.Costin stood on the other side next to another man as they surveyed the group in front of them. My bracelet scanned and then flashed a blue light instead of green as with everyone else. Costin nodded his head and the second man took notice of me too.“These will be your instructors. On the far right we have Emil, Timo and Pavel. Each group will have one instructor. First group will be future Sires with Emil, the second group will be second in command with
Abigail was nervous and her hands trembled as she packed her suitcase. She hadn’t changed much in the weeks since we arrived but I could almost taste her fear. My duffel bag was on the floor near the room’s door and I pulled her into my arms as my hand smoothed over her hair and hugged her.“It’ll be okay, I promise.”“I trust you Wynter but I can’t help feeling like bait here.”“You’re not bait Abby. If I had a choice you’d never even meet the King. The plan was for you to meet him if I didn’t get a way in. I never thought he’d call for both of us at the same time.”“I’m just scared. Scylla doesn’t have a good feeling about this.”“It’s a request I can’t refuse. You don’t say no to the King. I’d die before I let anything happen to you.” I kissed her on top of her head as she squeezed her arms around my ribs once and finished packing.Two Royal Guards were waiting beside an SUV for us. Abigail held my hand all the way to the Country Palace that was a lavish estate. There were guards a
I handed Sorin the memory stick and he brought his laptop to the table nestled between the sofas. I leaned back into my seat, knowing that his life would never be the same again, not after this.The only sound in Sorin’s office was the clicking of his mouse as he looked through the files. I could see from his expression that the truth was beginning to dawn on him. “What the hell is all this?”“You’re looking at a kill order that King Florin sent to the Florida Elders. They reported me and my mother to the King. I merged with my dragon when I was five. When King Rex died my father was ordered to France. King Florin asked my father to remain as the King’s Assassin, which he declined, but the kill order had already been sent.”“That is the King’s signature.” Sorin confirmed what I already knew.“If the King ordered your deaths, how are you, your father and Abigail still alive?” Dorin was clenching and unclenching his hands.“My father was on a jet back to Florida when he realized somethi