So much so in fact that when Ravyn’s phone rang two seconds later, it actually made her jump.
Ravyn scowled as he saw Cael’s number. Given their earlier words, he was rather amazed to have his friend calling him so soon again.
He flipped the phone open. "Yeah?"
"Hey, Rave. We have a serious problem."
"I’m aware of that."
"No, leopard, you’re not. I was just paid a visit by the chief of police, who dropped by with two Daimons."
Ravyn went cold with dread as he looked at Susan, who was watching him with a curious frown. "What?"
"You heard me. They busted up the place pretty badly and killed Amaranda’s sister."
Ravyn winced at the news. Granted protecting Apollites had never been a mandate of his, he still hated to see anyone killed so needlessly. "What about you? You okay?"
"I’m hurt, but I’ll live."
"And your wife?"
Cael paused. When he spoke, his voice actually broke. "Thanks, Rave."
"For the kindness of asking about her without having venom in your voice."
Ravyn glanced over to Susan. He was actually beginning to understand Cael’s stupidity. "Yeah, well, I might not like it. But we’ve been friends for a long time. "
"I know, which is why I’m calling. While they were here I learned some interesting things."
"Like I killed the chief’s wife who was also a Daimon?"
"Yeah," Cael said, his voice full of disbelief. "How did you know that?"
"Well, it gets better. He wants you like there’s no tomorrow. "
Ravyn had pretty much figured that one out, too. "Did you tell him where I was?"
"You know me better than that. I told him you were at the Last Supper Club. I assume he’s there now, looking for you. The man won’t stop until you’re dead. "
Ravyn scoffed at his dire tone. "I don’t think he’s going to stop until we’re all dead, Celt."
Ravyn pulled the phone away and checked the ID again as Nick’s words and their earlier encounter with the Daimons went through his mind. "Just out of curiosity. How do I know this is you?"
Cael paused before he answered. "Because I know you have three knitted gloves. It was the last pair your mother made for you, and on the night you took your vengeance, you found the third glove that she’d made to match the other two because she knew you were going to lose the left one soon. For some reason, the left one was always the one that got misplaced."
It was Cael. He was the only person who knew Ravyn still had them. "Hey, Celt?"
"Thanks for not ratting me out to the chief. I owe you."
"Don’t worry. Just make sure you kill the bastard before he kills anyone else." And with that he hung up.
Amaranda stared at her husband as fear held her close. "Are you sure that was the right thing to do?"
"Yeah. Ravyn needs to know who’s gunning for him. And we need the chief dead before he realizes we’re alive and tells someone that he killed us both."
Amaranda walked herself into his arms, where he felt her trembling against him. "I’m so sorry I did this to you, baby. I just didn’t want you to suffer. "
"I know." He leaned his head down so that he could rest his cheek against her hair and let her touch soothe the fear he felt, too, about a future that was even more uncertain than the one they’d had before.
All these centuries, he’d been the hunter. Now he was going to be the hunted.
Ravyn returned his phone to his pocket.
"That was Cael confirming our suspicion. It’s the chief and he busted Cael and his wife up, trying to find me."
"What do we do?" she asked, her voice thick with worry.
Ravyn rubbed her arm comfortingly. "We give him what he wants."
She looked aghast as she shrugged his touch off in a huff. "I don’t think I’m following this whole line of suicide that you’re planning. What are you talking about?"
"I’m going to face him once and for all and end this."
"Whoa," she said, matching his tone with an equal amount of determination. "Wait a minute, Clint Eastwood. This isn’t some spaghetti western with bad music playing in the background while you face off at high noon. We’re talking about the chief of police. A man who can arrest you. "
Susan ground her teeth. By his tone of voice she could tell he wasn’t listening to her.
So she whistled.
He cringed as if that caused him excruciating pain. "Don’t do that. Being both a leopard and a Dark-Hunter, I have doubly sensitive ears."
"Good. I now know how to get your attention. And back to what I was saying. What are you planning to do?"
"Go to his house."
"Oh, yeah. That’s a good plan. Want to fight him with a marshmallow gun while we’re at it?"
He gave her a pointed glare. "Lay off the sarcasm long enough to think about it. If I don’t go to him, he’s not going to rest until he finds me. I don’t want any more innocent people getting killed while I hide from him. I’m a trained fighter, Susan, with centuries of battle experience backing me. I somehow doubt I have much to worry about."
Uh-huh. Men and their egos . . . "And who was sitting in the cat cage when I found him?"
His features tightened in anger. "They caught me by surprise. This time the surprise will be on him. "
She let out an irritated breath. He was so stubborn. She wanted to choke him, but she could tell that she was fighting a losing battle. He was going to do this no matter what she argued. "Fine then. I’m going with you."
"No, you’re not."
"Why not?" she asked, feigning innocence. "Because maybe it’s a stupid idea?"
"Don’t Susan me, you’re not my father."
"No. I’m your mate."
She cocked her head with attitude. "Not till we do the deed, bud. And we haven’t done the deed and if you keep this up, we’re not going to do the deed, either, Mr. Limp. So if you go, I go. After all, between the two of us, I’m the one with the biggest ax to grind… upside that man’s head. He took from me all I had, and I’ll be damned if I don’t pay him back."
Ravyn wanted to argue, but he knew the determined gleam in those blue eyes. Besides, she was a damn good fighter. It would be nice to have her by his side even if the thought of losing her was crippling to him. "All right, but I want you to promise me that if something goes wrong, you’ll get out of there immediately and come back here for protection."
"You got it. ‘Super Susan Becomes Terrified Rabbit. Runs to Ground.’ "
"What is that?"
"A cheesy headline. I’m finally getting good at them, too. Leo’s going to be impressed."
Ravyn shook his head at her. They didn’t need a cheesy headline. What they needed now was one hell of a miracle.
And a cavalry.
Unfortunately, said cavalry had walked up the stairs and most likely out of the city.
But at any rate, one way or another, this was about to be over.
At least for him.
As they made their way upstairs, Ravyn paused as he came face-to-face with his father and Phoenix.
"Leaving?" his father sneered. "Dare I hope this is permanent?"
He didn’t respond as he pushed his way past them.
Susan paused as she watched Ravyn leave the room. Unable to stand it, she turned on his father. "You are such a rank bastard."
"How dare you!"
"Oh go ahead," she goaded. "Hit me, kill me. I really don’t care. But how can you stand there so sanctimonious and judge him when he didn’t do anything except try to find someone to love? How could you hate your own son for that?"
She turned her gaze to Phoenix. "Your own brother? My God, you killed him. And instead of hating you people for what you’ve done to him, he’s forgiven you. Why can’t you do the same? Don’t you think he hurt too? That every morning when he goes to sleep, he sees that night just as the rest of you do? I’ve listened to him talk about his mother and his sister, I’ve held him when the nightmares racked him, and I know how much he misses them. I’ve lost everyone who’s ever meant anything to me, and I don’t know how Ravyn has stood it all this time alone. He’s going out right now probably to die. I’m sure that means nothing to you, but it means something to me. You should be proud of the son you fathered. He’s more of a man than anyone I’ve ever known."
"What do you know, human?"
Susan shook her head as tears filled her eyes. She couldn’t stand the thought of Ravyn getting hurt. Of what might very well befall him in the next few hours. She’d already lost too much in this battle. "I don’t know anything, really. I just know that if I had a son… a brother, I would fight heaven and hell to keep him safe, and I would be damned grateful that, having lost so many in my family, I still had one more. Be damned if I’d lose him, too." Curling her lip at them, she followed after Ravyn.
Gareth narrowed his eyes as he watched the human leave. "Stupid, human."
"No, Dad," Dorian said behind him as he stepped out of the shadows. "I think she’s smarter than all of us put together."
Susan took a deep breath as they headed for the chief’s house on 18th Avenue South, not far from South Lucille Street. This time of night, it was totally peaceful as the moonlight dusted each house with becoming shadows.
"It’s hard to believe how tragic the world can be when it’s like this, isn’t it?"
"Yeah," Ravyn agreed. "It’s why I don’t mind being a Dark-Hunter. There’s something about the serenity of night that soothes the soul."
Susan gave him an amused smile. "I thought you didn’t have a soul."
He cut his eyes toward her as he drove. "I was speaking metaphorically."
"Ooo, there’s a big word for you."
By his face she could tell he enjoyed her teasing. "Be nice to me, or I might leave you here alone."
"Considering how close we are to dawn, I don’t think you should be antagonizing me, do you?"
He gave her a feigned sullen look that was positively gorgeous. She really liked the fact that he could take a joke and see her humor for what it was. Too many people mistook her sarcasm for scorn. But it was her defense mechanism. Ravyn not only understood that, he seemed to actually enjoy it.
Before she could say anything more, he stopped the car a block over from the house and turned the engine off. "I don’t think we should give them any warning."
Susan couldn’t agree more. Personally, she still didn’t even think they should be there. She glanced around the silent, dark upper-middle-class neighborhood. There wasn’t a single light on in any house. No movement. Nothing to say that she and Ravyn weren’t the last two people alive on earth.
It was a bit eerie.
"You think they’re home yet?" she asked.
"I don’t know. It’ll be dawn shortly. I’m sure the chief has to work, so if they’re not, I’m sure they’re not far away."
She nodded, then frowned as a thought crossed her mind. "This may be a stupid question, but could you humor me?"
"What exactly are we going to do here?"
He looked at her with an arched brow. "The plan is to fight it out with the bad guys and win the day."
She nodded at his dry tone. "Good concept, any idea on how to execute it?"
"Not a one." He got out of the car and slammed the door shut.
Gaping, Susan jumped out and caught up to him on the side of the road. "Wait a minute. You’re joking with me, right?"
"No," he said in all sincerity. "I’m going to break into his house and then confront him."
She let out several scoffing staccato laughs. "Can I tell you just how stupid I think this plan of yours is?"
"You just did." He placed the keys in her palm that held the mating mark and folded her fingers over them. "Feel free to head back at any time. In fact, I really wish you would." He started away from her.
She pulled him to a stop as fear tore through her. "You’re going to get yourself killed, Ravyn. Do you understand that?"
A tic worked in his jaw. "Fighting Daimons is what I do, Susan. It’s why I was created." He glanced up at the sky that was growing lighter by the minute. "Besides, it’s a moot point. I don’t have time to make it back to the Serengeti before dawn. This ends today. On my terms. Not his."
"At dawn. How cliche."
He shook his head at her as he turned and walked toward the chief’s house.
Susan stood there in indecision. Every part of her screamed at her to get into Phoenix’s car and just leave. To keep driving until all of this was behind her.
But as she glanced to Ravyn, who was making his way steadily toward the chief’s house, she knew she couldn’t do that. He’d been alone for all of these centuries. If he really was heading for his doom, then she would go with him.
You’re an idiot.
Yes, she was. And maybe she would die this morning, too. But at least she would have confronted the man who was responsible for Angie’s and Jimmy’s deaths. She owed them that much. And she wanted to look the man responsible for their fate in the eye and personally tell him what a scabbing bastard he was.