"What army?" Kat asked.
"A strong one."
Well, that was helpful, not at all. Kat stepped around the pulled-out bed to stand beside Kytara. "I don’t understand."
Kytara took a deep breath before she spoke again. "I was only in contact with Kessar for a brief time. You weren’t kidding about his powers-they are unbelievable. We need some serious muscle in the dream realm for you two whenever you sleep. They know how to find you now and they will weaken you there, then swoop in here for the kill."
Her face paling, Kytara placed the heel of her hand over her eyes. "I wish I could burn the images I’ve seen tonight out of my memory. It’s enough to make me want to be Oneroi again." She lowered her hand so that they could see the tears in her eyes. "I wish to Zeus that I could go back to feeling nothing. It was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen and now I’m scarred by it. You have to kill him, Sin. Trust me."
"No," he said emphatically.
"Then I’ll do it for you." Kytara pulled out a knife and headed for Zakar.
Sin grabbed her and pushed her back, away from the bed. "Hell, no. You want to hurt him, you’ll have to come through me. I’ll be damned if I ever let anyone hurt him again."
The cold look on her face as she raked him with a sneer could have made glaciers. "Fine then, I’ll make sure and mark that on your grave." She moved to stand beside Kat. "Do yourself a favor. Get out of here before that one"-she indicated Zakar-"wakes up. Trust me. You’ll thank me for it later."
Kat ignored her words. She wasn’t about to leave Sin alone in this. "Can you speak to the Oneroi and see what can be done about the gallu in our dreams?"
"I can try. I’m sure M’Adoc, M’Ordant, and D’Alerian would love a chance to be able to keep someone else in line."
Kat thought about the three Oneroi leaders Kytara had mentioned. She was speaking out of turn and had no idea how right her prediction was. Kat was one of the few people who knew that the Oneroi’s emotions were coming back to them. Because of that, it meant they had emotional outbursts that were sometimes hard to disguise. A mission like this could very well help the Oneroi leaders maintain control of themselves. It would definitely be something they’d relish.
"Tell D’Alerian he owes me and I need to collect my favor."
Kytara cocked her head at that. "D’Alerian owes you a favor?"
Kat nodded. "From years ago, and I know he hasn’t forgotten it."
A mischievous glint entered Kytara’s pale eyes. "What did you do?"
"It’s between us. Now go."
Curling her lip in response, Kytara dissolved.
Feeling Sin’s concern and sadness, Kat went to Sin’s side as he pulled the blanket up higher on his brother’s body.
As soon as Sin’s hand neared Zakar’s neck, Zakar came awake with a curse. He reached for Sin’s throat, but he caught Zakar’s wrist in his hand.
Time seemed suspended as their identical gazes met. Neither moved, and like them, Kat was held transfixed by the tenseness of the moment. The only difference between them was their hair. Sin’s was well-groomed and fell just to his collar, while Zakar’s was long and gnarled.
But other than that, it was like watching someone stare at himself in a mirror.
How extremely unnerving.
"Zakar?" Sin whispered, finally breaking the tense silence. "It’s me. Sin."
Zakar let go and leaned back. He looked around as if dazed by his surroundings. "Where am I?"
"My place. We rescued you from the cavern."
Even though he’d been with them in their dreams, Zakar seemed unable to believe what he heard, what he saw.
An odd twinge went through Kat as she watched him. She sensed something inside him… something cold and evil. Something powerful. She wanted to warn Sin, but by the look of affection on his face as he watched his brother, she knew he wouldn’t listen to her any more than he had to Kytara. And why should he? This was his family.
All Kat could do was stand by and be ready should Zakar attack.
Zakar’s golden gaze met hers. "You’re the Atlantean."
"Half Atlantean," she corrected, wondering why that was important to him.
His gaze went back to Sin. "How did you heal me?"
"I didn’t." He indicated her with a tilt of his head. "Kat did."
Zakar turned back toward her. "Thank you."
She inclined her head to him. "Anytime. How do you feel?"
He gave a short laugh, but the smile on his face didn’t reach his eyes. "Free."
That could be a good thing or a really bad thing. If Kytara was to be believed, it was really, really bad.
"Are you hungry?" Sin asked.
"No, but I’d kill for something to drink."
That wasn’t exactly something Kat wanted to hear coming out of his mouth given the nature of the gallu and the warnings of Kytara.
"Wine?" Sin asked as if unfazed by his brother’s words.
Kat stepped forward as Sin went to the bar to get his brother a glass. Not moving from his bed, Zakar turned toward her with a taunting grin. "You have a problem with me?"
"Nope. I’m just thinking."
She narrowed her eyes on his neck, which, courtesy of her, no longer held a single trace of the bite marks that had once marred the tanned flesh. "Blood exchanges."
"And what do you know about them?" His tone couldn’t have been more patronizing had the man been a militant kindergarten teacher asking a student to define the Hobbesian State of Nature.
"A lot more than I care to," she said, duplicating his snotty tone. "For one thing, they usually link the participants together."
"What are you saying, Kat?" Sin asked as he rejoined them.
She didn’t know why, but she took comfort in his presence. "It’s never the enemy without that destroys. It’s the one from within."
She expected Sin to argue, but he didn’t. He simply handed the glass to Zakar and remained uncharacteristically quiet. There was something in his demeanor that made her think he might have used that phrase himself a time or two.
Zakar sat up and downed all the contents in a single gulp. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before returning the glass to Sin.
Zakar then cast that gimlet glare back at her. "You don’t trust me."
"I don’t know you."
He smiled a smile that was so familiar and at the same time alien. Looking at him, he was identical to Sin, except for the scars that marred Sin’s body. Yet she didn’t react to Zakar’s presence at all. There was no heart racing, no clammy hands. No desire to jump on top of him… nothing. It was just like looking at any handsome nak*d man. It left her cold and reminded her why the other handmaidens had often called her frigid.
Zakar tilted his head to look around her to where Sin was standing. "I don’t believe your woman thinks much of me, Brother."
Sin gave her a devilish wink that managed to warm her. "Don’t feel bad, she doesn’t think much of anyone including me most days."
"True," she agreed. "People are basically irritating. Myself included."
Sin’s cell phone started ringing. He excused himself and went to answer it.
Zakar leaned back against the back of the sofa and draped an arm along the top. His gaze stayed focused on Kat, who didn’t flinch under his intense scrutiny. Rather, she duplicated it, letting him know that she wasn’t the least bit intimidated by him.
Finally he broke the silence. "You want to say something to me, don’t you?"
"Not really. Just chillin’." She glanced over to where Sin was moving to stand outside on the balcony while he talked. What was going on?
No doubt, she’d find out soon enough. So she turned her attention back to Zakar. "You must be relieved to be away from the gallu."
"You’ve no idea."
"Seeing how you were pinned down, I wouldn’t go that far. I imagine it was pretty gruesome for you."
That succeeded in making him look away from her. "I need clothes."
She frowned at the odd note in his voice. "You going somewhere?"
He didn’t answer. He merely got up, completely bare assed, and headed for the bedroom like there was nothing wrong with streaking through his brother’s penthouse in front of her. Kat would have gaped, but then she knew ancient men hadn’t been modest…
Then again, there weren’t many modern men afflicted with modesty, either.
Sin stepped back in from the balcony and swept the room with his dark gaze. "Where’s Zakar?"
"Said he needed clothes."
Sin frowned. "My bedroom?"
"That’s where he went, so that would be my best guess."
Sin headed toward the room with her right behind him. When they got there, the room was completely empty. Dumbfounded, she kept waiting for Zakar to reappear before them.
Sin went to the closet and opened it, but there was no sign of Zakar anywhere. They even checked the bathroom. The man had flashed himself out of the room and gone… who knew where.
"Where do you think he went?"
Sin shrugged. "I have no idea. But something with him wasn’t right."
"I thought it was just me."
"No, I felt it, too." He slammed the bathroom door shut. "Damn it. What have we unleashed?"
She sighed. "Doom, destruction… at least he’s not nuclear, right?"
A smile toyed at the edges of Sin’s lips. "At this point, who knows?"
Kat beamed. "Oh look, Mr. Positive has come out to play again. Welcome back, Mr. Positive. All the boys and girls have missed you so."
Sin smiled in spite of himself. Her humor should irritate him, but instead he found it a refreshing relief from the seriousness of the situation. Honestly, he couldn’t remember any time in his life he’d enjoyed more than this time with her. And all things considered, this had to be the worst part of his existence, since they were only days away from Armageddon.
The only thing that made any of this bearable was her wit and courage. "You’re really not right, are you?"
She scoffed. "With my background and genetic makeup, buddy, you’re lucky I’m as normal as I am."
"Point well taken." He let out a tired breath as he tried to locate Zakar, but nothing would come to him. It was as if his brother had vanished into a black hole. "Can you locate him?"
"Not even a buzz. What about you?"
He shook his head. "As much as I hate to say this, I guess we’ll have to wait for him to return."
By her face he could tell the idea appealed as much to her as it did to him. But what choice did they have? Without a bearing, they had no idea where to even begin searching for Zakar. Sin could kill his brother for this.
Kat moved over to him and rubbed his back. "Who was on the phone?"
"Damien. He said a gallu tried to get in, but the mirrors repelled him."
Her smile warmed him before she rested her chin on his shoulder and wrapped her arm around his waist. Yeah, a man could get used to this. There was something not only comforting but highly unsettling about the way her innocent touch set him on fire.
"Maybe we ought to get mirrored armor," she said. "You know, like they had in the Brothers Grimm movie?"
"That was just metal they wore."
"But we could make it out of mirrors. Then they’d be repelled any time they came near us… you know, we could start like a whole fashion line of mirrored clothing. One that could save humanity. Just think about it."
He laughed at her train of thought. Oddly enough, he appreciated it, but it was highly impractical. "And when we broke one of the mirrors while trying to fight them off we’d have seven years’ bad luck."
She didn’t miss a bit before she retorted, "Ah, we’re immortal. What’s seven years to us?"
"An eternity when it’s bad."
She stuck her tongue out at him in a playful gesture that somehow managed to be adorable on her.
What was wrong with him?
"Just be a spoilsport, why don’t you?"
He supposed he was. He wanted to be playful like her, but he wasn’t. At the end of the day, he was all about doom and gloom and he couldn’t help wondering what his brother was up to. Where Zakar had gone…
Sin raked his hands through his hair as guilt gnawed at him. "What have I done?"
Kat tightened her grip around him. "You saved your brother."
He leaned his head against hers and inhaled the sweet scent of her hair and skin. "What if I haven’t? What if Kytara is right and we should have killed him while we had the chance?"
"Is that really what you think?"
"At this point, I don’t know."
Kat laid a gentle kiss to his shoulder blade that seared him. "I do know, Sin. I believe in you and your judgment. I know you’ve done the right thing."
Sin was stunned by her conviction, and it meant more to him than he could even begin to put into words. "Thanks. I just wish I shared your faith."
"Don’t worry, I’ve got enough for both of us."
Sin smiled even though he was worried about what Zakar was doing. He felt like he should be searching for Zakar. But he didn’t know where to begin. Like Kat, he wasn’t picking up anything from his brother. Not even a small trace.