The Paleo, the great oval space belowground that had for centuries been the Order's den of castration, where the sexual desires of Impure vampires were removed at a steady pace, hummed with the many sounds of blatant misery. Under the golden light of a thousand candles, Feeyan, the one who now led the Order, stilled over the wriggling Impure on the stone table, her fangs an inch deep within his vein. Information was bleeding into her mind at a frantic pace, and she suddenly ceased the bleeding of his body and lifted her snow-white head.
A few yards away, another member of the Order pulled his fangs from the groin of the Impure male he was castrating and glanced over his shoulder.
"The human politician has been found?" he queried, blood dripping from his bloodred fangs.
Feeyan nodded, a thread of anxiety moving through the already heavy feelings of irritation. It was what she had heard as well. "And our connection to him has been severed."
"How could that be?" the dark-haired Order member asked.
"I am not entirely certain," she told him. "He was well hidden, his location a secret within the Order."
"Perhaps someone inside the facility learned of his identity," the paven said tightly. "The Order would not betray itself."
Inside the Paleo, a hush had fallen. From those strapped on the stone tables to the many others locked inside the cages circumventing the arena, Feeyan noticed a keen interest in what was being said. This time she spoke to her colleague inside his mind. "Think of Cruen. All he has done and continues to do. We are not perfect beings with pure intentions, no matter how we wish we were. We are flawed."
The male Order member looked mildly insulted but didn't voice it. "Shall I speak to the other members?"
"Not yet. The senator's body is being brought to me. Along with the blood memories we've collected from his dead employees, we will piece together the truth."
"And the location of the mutore female who has killed those employees."
Feeyan nodded. The mutore female. The one called Dillon, who had somehow not only escaped death at birth, but had managed to live as a veana without detection. Still lived without detection. How had the Order not sensed her living among the vampire population? Perhaps they were truly flawed. It was a deeply humbling thought, but one that would serve as a reminder and as a fervent push to find this mutore and bring her in, comb her mind to see if there were more like her roaming free.
Feeyan glanced around at the faces of the Impures pressing through the bars of their cells. "Impures breeding is problem enough. But those mutants, those animals who made it past their first breath would sully our bloodlines like nothing else." Feeyan turned, her eyes narrowing on her fellow Order member. "If we allow even one mutore to live, to breed, to think, to decide, it may change the way the Impures view their role and their place in society. We cannot have that."
The paven nodded. "Let us see what the senator's brain has to offer. He gave us the mutore's name, her face, her Beast."
"Perhaps in death he can give us her location," Feeyan said aloud, returning to the Impure male before her-his puncture wounds calling to her razor-sharp fangs. "And the kind of bait we may need to draw her out."
Dillon the jaguar paced inside her cage. How could she have let this happen? How could she have allowed herself to get caught? Again?
Thirty minutes ago, she'd woken up in this same cage, Alexander's cage beneath his house in SoHo. A prisoner of the three Roman brothers, with a sore back leg and a knot the size of a penny on her neck from where the Pureblood Son of the Breeding Male had stabbed her with that needle.
Bastard. She hoped she'd granted him a few deep scratches with her claws before she'd passed the hell out. But the one she really wanted to see gutted was Gray Donohue. Without his meddling, Alexander wouldn't have even known she'd escaped her cage until the deal was done. He never had her checked on until morning hours.
Her growl came quick and feral from her throat. Oh...all the ways she was going to rip the skin from that Impure's tight and formidable body. Her teeth and claws would work wonders, but the image she was having of a chain saw and a guillotine really made her grin. Of course, she'd need to shift back into her veana form to accomplish such a task. Paws did not have the sufficient dexterity to wield a machine like that.
But she wasn't shifting anytime soon now, was she? She'd been stuck with this fur suit for days, and before that-since Senator Slimeball and his pals had messed her up-she'd been unable to control the shift at all. Vampire, jaguar, and back again-anywhere, anytime. She'd thought she was almost there. With every attacker she killed, she felt stronger, more in control, and she'd come to believe that once the last member of the assault team was dead, her control would return. She would be what she was before the attack. Able to shift from Beast to veana at will. After all, it was violence that had brought out her cat to begin with, violence that had sent it into chaos. It had to be violence to bring the control over her shift back again. Shit. It had to be, she'd thought-because if it wasn't, she might as well just follow those human bastards into death.
Right or wrong, she'd never know now.
In killing the senator, Gray had robbed her of not only revenge, but of the hope that she could retrieve the control over her life.
Evans, the Romans' servant and her new jailer, moved suddenly in his seat outside her cage, and without blinking, without breathing, Dillon whirled on him and let loose a ferocious growl.
Outside the door, Gray watched the golden cat snarl at poor Evans through a four-by-four square of two-way mirror. Even under all that fur and fangs, he could sense her ire, her fear, her desperation to get out, get free. But that wasn't going to happen. Not after she'd killed several of the senator's henchmen, not with the Order no doubt looking for the culprit-not with that jaguar costume she was continuously sporting now.
Gray had hoped that the news of the senator's death would bring her some modicum of peace-the final check on the to-kill list she was working from these days-but it seemed she was feeling anything but peaceful. Alexander's call an hour ago asking him to come to the SoHo house, that Dillon had demanded to see him, had Gray thinking she wasn't all that pleased with what he'd done.
That veana had never really been one for appreciation. Giving or getting, he thought darkly. Once upon a time, she'd pulled his nearly castrated ass out of the Paleo; then he'd scraped her nearly passed-out ass off the concrete. Neither event had elicited a thoughtful comment.