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       Slumber, p.12

         Part #1 of The Fade series by Samantha Young
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  “Why didn’t you tel anyone?”

  “I don’t want to talk about,” he dismissed me, getting up and taking coverings from the bed to make a palet on the floor.

  “Seriously?” I jumped to my feet. “You just destroyed an entire gypsy camp and you don’t want to talk about it?!”

  “No, I don’t.”

  How could he possibly expect me to just let something like this go? “How can you expect me to trust you when you’ve lied about this?” Wolfe snorted and finaly glanced over at me. “You don’t trust me anyway, Lady Rogan.” I ignored that, especialy because it might be true, and snapped, “I demand to know, Captain Stovia.”

  “I don’t give a rat’s ass what you demand to know. I’m tired and I’m going to get some sleep. You should too.” But I wasn’t quite ready to give up yet, so good at pressing people’s buttons. “The Princezna wil be so eager to hear that a mage was living in Silvera al this time and he didn’t see fit to tel us.”

  This time I stumbled back under the force of Wolfe’s severe look. “You better keep this to yourself, Rogan.” My eyes flashed at his tone, my hands going to my hips in a stance of defiance. “Are you threatening me?” I growled in disgust. The words were out before I could stop them, “Dear haven, you are just like your father!”

  I’d never seen Wolfe move so fast. One moment he was on the other side of the room, the next he was inches from me, his large hands gripping my upper arms, shaking me hard for what I had said. His eyes were white and his face mottled red with a rage I’d thought I’d only ever felt. “I’m nothing like my father!” He belowed.

  “Nothing! ”

  I flinched, terrified by this side of him, going pale under the fury directed at me. Seeing my startled and wary expression, Wolfe cursed and let me go, his hands visibly trembling as he stumbled away from me.

  Not knowing what to do, my heart pounding in my chest, my cheeks burning, I just stood there as he bedded down on the floor. The silence was so thick, so uneasy, I’m sure someone intruding in on us wouldn’t have been able to breathe under the weight of it.

  “You better get some sleep,” Wolfe broke the silence, in a quiet defeated voice that made me feel guilty for some strange inexplicable reason. Surprised that my legs could move after what had occurred, I ran over to the bed and slid under the sheet that he’d left me. At the sound of movement on the floor I turned and watched as Wolfe searched for something. His hands finaly found his trousers and he delved into the pocket and puled something out.

  “Here.” He turned to me and threw something white and papery up onto the bed. “Thought you might want those back.” Frowning, curious, I reached over and picked up the item.

  It was the paper bag with the bracelets for Haydyn and I.

  “How did you…?” I asked softly, unsure of the feeling constricting my throat.

  “You dropped them in the aley. I picked them up before they drugged me. They seemed important when you were buying them.” A sharp pain shot across my chest and I held in a noise of distress. Wolfe had been with me the entire time at the market. Why had he taken the time to rescue the cheap little bracelets that only meant something to me? How had he known that they were important? I shuddered and roled over, fighting back tears, wishing that the man on the floor could stay black and white… the way he had always been to me. He was the last man in Phaedra I should ever trust, should ever feel anything toward.

  But those shades of grey just kept creeping in.

  Chapter Fifteen

  It was an understatement to say I was sore, cranky and sleep deprived the next morning. My brain would not stop peddling as I lay in that bed listening to Wolfe shuffle about uncomfortably on the floor. There were moments I felt I couldn’t breathe, I was so confused, lost and afraid of what I might be feeling towards him.

  Suffice to say that come daylight we weren’t realy talking to one another, only grunting responses at each other. Wolfe had breakfast brought up to us, stil convinced I had the potential to cause trouble (I roled my eyes at that) and we shoveled down some horrible porridge as quickly as possible. We then solicited the help of the joly barkeep to get us a messenger. We had to wait in a dark corner of the nearly empty tavern (imagine al the trouble I could cause in an empty room, I snorted at Wolfe) looking anywhere but at each other. Finaly a surprisingly tidy, wel-put-together young man came in and spoke to the barkeep, who pointed at us. Turned out the young man was the best horseman in the rookery and made good money as a messenger. The barkeep swore we could trust him. So Wolfe handed over the sealed letter and money, and ordered the messenger to the Zanst’s home in the Factory District in Ryl. We received a few raised eyebrows at that, the barkeep and the messenger probably wondering who in haven we were acquainted with in the Factory District.

  “Can we leave now?” I asked quietly, not quite able to keep the petulance out of my voice. The messenger was already gone and on his way and Wolfe had just been staring across the barroom as if in a daydream.

  He flinched at the sound of my voice and I ignored a little pang in my chest that I refused to believe was hurt. “Yes,” he replied in a low scratchy voice and I took some satisfaction in the fact that he hadn’t slept either. “Let’s go.” He grabbed me by the elbow and got me to my feet.

  “You don’t need to manhandle me,” I hissed as he took me out of the room, waving goodbye to the barkeep.

  “Just stay by my side while we’re here, alright,” he snapped back.

  I sniffed, “I would have thought you’d be happy to see something happen to me.”

  “I’d be happy if you suddenly lost the wil to speak.”

  I made a face at him but he ignored me, stil holding me a bit too painfuly by the arm as he strode across the back yard to the stables. There was nothing and no one in sight.

  Including our horse.

  “What the…” Wolfe growled, letting go of my hand as he peered into the stables. My heart thudded in my chest as I spun around, scanning the back of the building.

  Nope. Our horse was gone.

  I drew in a shuddering breath. How on earth were we going to make it back to Ryl?

  A muffled thud sounded from over my shoulder.

  “Wolfe-” I spun around only to find him crumpled on the ground, unconscious, a trickle of blood running out from his hair onto his forehead. Standing over him were three of the dirtiest, creepiest looking thugs I had ever seen, each holding a disturbing-looking weapon. The talest leered at me, his yelowing teeth flashing menacingly as he bounced a malet off the heel of his palm. The second talest was an older man, not quite as grubby, his hand-me-down unwashed clothing that of a gentleman’s.

  His large hand sat on the hilt of an old but deadly looking sword. The third appeared to be the youngest and as he jabbed the air teasingly with a dagger, I thought perhaps he might be a little deranged. He had a wild look in his eyes that sent a shudder down my spine. I wanted to drop down next to Wolfe to check if he was alright, amazed that these ignorant looking thugs had crept up on us so quietly. Wolfe would never live it down if his men found out how easily he had been feled…

  again. The fact that I was the common denominator in his failed protection had not escaped me.

  A sound from the thugs drew my eyes back to them and I stiffened my spine at their leering regard. “What do you want?” I asked, proud that I kept tremors of fear out of my voice.

  The talest, and I was guessing the leader, quirked an eyebrow. “My, my, we are a haughty little thing, aren’t we?” Wolfe chose that moment to groan and my heart thudded in thankful relief.

  “Aw shit,” the older man spat, “We need to get them back to Boss, Jesper, before this ‘un wakes up.”

  “You two pick him up.” Jesper gestured to Wolfe and then his eyes devoured me. “I’l take care of her.” Oh dear haven, what the hel had Wolfe and I gotten ourselves into now?! I wanted to colapse and shriek and weep with exhaustion and fury. Didn’t these people know my friend was dying?! That if I didn’t s
ave her then we were al doomed! I was doomed! I couldn’t possibly live in a world without Haydyn! How dare they do this?!!

  I snapped.

  As he reached for me I kicked up between his legs as hard as I could. He let out a below of pain and dropped to his knees in shock. Before any of the others could make a move I slammed my booted foot into the hand that held the malet and Jesper cried out, the weapon tumbling from his hand as he clutched his injury to his chest.

  “Get her!” He snarled as I dove for the weapon. I came up brandishing it wildly as the two thugs crept towards me, the light of violence in their eyes.

  “I’l cut you up you little bitch if you don’t play nice,” the young one hissed at me, swiping the air with the dagger.

  “She’s not to be injured!” Jesper shouted, getting to his feet now.

  “I won’t harm her Jen-Jen,” the young thug sing-songed. “No, she’l like what I do to her, won’t you pretty pretty?” Revulsion hit my gag reflex as I realised exactly what he intended for me. But he didn’t know who he was trifling with. There was no way anyone was getting near me! I had a job to do. I had to get to Alvernia and no other son-of-a-bitch was slowing me down!

  Conjuring al the strength I had in the world I puled my arm back and launched the malet with al my worth at the young thug’s head. It made perfect aim, clocking him across his skul with a sickening thud. His eyes fluttered and he fel back with a dul sound, comicaly sprawled across the concrete in unconsciousness. I breathed a sigh of relief.

  The older of the thugs stared at his downed coleague in surprise and Jesper cursed. “For goodness sakes, lass.” He shook his head in disbelief and then glared at me. “Now you’ve downed Little Sin. We’l have to come back for him. You won’t get me or Dandy here, alright. We ain’t gonna hurt you, am under orders from Boss not to. So, Dandy here is going to take you and I’m going to take the boy here, alright? Now if you don’t make a fuss I won’t slit the boy’s throat.” He said it so calmly, as if he were talking about the weather rather than kiling Wolfe.

  “What do you want?” I whispered, wishing Wolfe would wake up.

  “That’s up to Boss to tel you, lass.”

  I had no choice but to walk with Dandy as Jesper carried Wolfe over his shoulder, an impressive feat considering how large Wolfe was. He grunted and groaned about Wolfe’s weight the whole time we walked. My outrage grew as we strode through the dul, dank streets of the rookery, my pleading eyes trying to catch those of the people passing by. They flinched under my regard, their eyes washing over my companions in fear, and they turned from me as quickly as possible, pretending they hadn’t seen a thing. I knew then that I was in the hands of one of the rookery gangs. Someone back at the tavern must have sold us out to them. Wolfe had been right al along. We spoke too wel, held ourselves like a lady and a gentleman. I could only imagine we were being kidnapped for possible ransom again.

  Jesper and Dandy slowed as we approached a large crumbling building, the glass panes of its windows broken and cracked, the wide double doors covered in splashed paint. Jesper banged on the door three times and it swung open immediately. A young man with two large knifes in his hand stood back and nodded at Jesper.

  “Got ‘em then, Jesper?”

  Jesper laughed and swatted Wolfe’s bottom. “Looks like it don’t it.”

  The boy eyed me as Dandy pushed me inside and as I gazed around the wide open space with the large ovens and broken glass, with the grains of sand littering the floor (among garbage, old food and even rats – I shuddered) I realised we were in a disused glass works. At the back of the room was a wal, the upper half blocked in with glass that was cracked and shattered in some places. A doorway led into darker places beyond. There were pieces of old furniture here and there, a dismal attempt to make the place look cosy. I froze as my eyes took in the flickering candlelight and the gang of men and women who lounged around the room, their beady eyes watching me. They were like a plague of rats. I shuddered again.

  “Take ‘em through the back to Boss’ room ‘e said.” The boy jerked his head towards the back of the room.

  “He in?”

  “Nah. ‘e won’t be long ‘e said.”

  Jesper grunted and shifted Wolfe up on his shoulder. I kept close to him as possible as we walked through the room, Jesper caling greetings to gang members who smirked and leered at me. I felt a tug on my skirts and turned to see a young, haggard looking woman clutching at me. She sat sprawled over an old chair and I stumbled back under her regard as she licked her lips at me. “Jesper, asks Boss if I can have this one.” She grinned up at the man before turning that wicked smile on me. I blushed in understanding which made her laugh throatily. Jesper clamped his hand down on my arm.

  “She’s for Boss, Nalia. Don’t get any ideas.”

  Nalia’s lips twisted into a pout. “But I wants her. She’s pretty, like silk. You knows how I likes silk, Jesper.” I shivered and hurried away as Jesper grunted and pushed me forward. We were silent as we made our way through steel grey halways, until Jesper came to a stop and thrust his foot against a door, shoving it open. My eyes widened even further when we entered what could pass for a normal room in this hovel. A brass framed bed sat in the corner covered with colourful quilts and cushions. A fireplace that was obviously used had a tin bathtub in front of it, a cosy armchair off to the side, little knick-knacks here and there on the mantelpiece. Other pieces of wel-made furniture scattered the room, men’s clothing haphazardly draped here and there. And it was clean. Surprisingly so.

  “Boss’ room,” Jesper grunted and then dropped Wolfe on the stone floor as if he were nothing more than a sack of potatoes. I cried out and rushed for Wolfe just as his eyes began to open. “Shit!” Jesper sighed and reached across the bed for something. In the next moments, I watched helplessly as he tied Wolfe - who was coming around far too slowly for my liking - up against the heavy brass bed.

  “You next.” Jesper strode towards me and I tried to kick out at him again. He dodged and clucked his tongue at me. “Not that again, you little bitch.” He lunged at me, trying to wrench my arms behind my back but I shrieked and punched and pummeled at him, vaguely aware of Wolfe now shouting and struggling from his prison on the floor. Then Jesper’s huge hand came towards my face and cracked it back with an almighty blow. I felt like I’d run into a brick wal. My legs gave way and I was barely aware of Jesper tying my hands behind my back and throwing me onto the bed. Water streamed out of my right eye and I hesitantly lifted my cheek, wincing at the throbbing pain.

  “Stay here, and behave!” Jesper cried. “Boss wil be in soon.”

  I struggled into a sitting position as the man slammed out of the door, a key turning in the lock.

  Feeling his eyes on me, I looked down at Wolfe whose eyes blazed back at me.

  “Are you alright?” He asked hoarsely, his gaze on my cheek, his jaw clenched so tight I thought it might shatter.

  I huffed and shimmied toward him, trying to get a look at the cut on his head. “Am I alright? Wolfe, they knocked you unconscious.” I hissed at his wound. “We need to get that cleaned up. Are you feeling wel?”

  He winced now, stretching his legs out before him and puling at the ropes. It was futile. He slumped wearily. “I feel a little dizzy.”

  “You were out a while.”

  “Noted. Where are we?” He glanced around the room.

  I sighed. “We’re in an abandoned glass works. We’ve been taken by what I assume is a rookery gang.” Wolfe cursed and then whipped around, vengeance burning in his blue gaze. “Did any of them touch you?” I grinned, thinking about Little Sin. “I knocked out the one who tried.”

  Wolfe quirked an eyebrow. “Knocked out?”

  I quickly told him how I had incapacitated Jesper and then launched the malet at Little Sin. Wolfe shook his head in amazement. “Perhaps I should let the men train you,” he murmured.

  Surprised, I smirked back at him. “I told you so.”

  He roled his eyes.
“Can you never take anything graciously?”

  I snorted. “Not from you.”

  Wolfe shook his head, hearing the teasing in my voice. He tugged at the ropes again. “We need to get out of here, Rogan.” Ignoring the shiver that rushed down my spine every time he said my name, I stumbled inelegantly onto the floor, trying to manoeuvre myself in front of him.

  “What are you doing?” I could hear the amusement in his voice.

  “I thought you could use your teeth to get the ropes off my wrists,” I explained over my shoulder, thrusting my arms backwards at him.

  “Rogan, please tel me your kidding. Have you seen how thick this rope is?”

  “Wel how else are we-”

  I hushed at the sound of a key turning in the lock, and barely registered as Wolfe brought a leg up, puling me back in towards him so I was sitting between his legs with a sense of being shielded. I felt his indrawn breath on the back of my neck, the tension from his body crackling against the tension in mine.

  We waited, hearts racing, and the door swung open. At first I couldn’t make out anything except a tal, strong figure of a man. And then he strode inside, slowly, leisurely… and I let go a yelp of surprise.

  I recognised those green eyes and jet black hair, that defiant smirk. They were just al now in a taler, older man with a harder face that was no less handsome than it had been as a young boy.

  “Kir!” I gasped.

  The smirk on his face fel as he came to a halt, his eyes drinking me and Wolfe in. “Rogan? Wolfe?”

  “Kir!” I laughed a little hystericaly, relief flooding through me.

  “Holy mother of-” he dropped to his knees and grasped my shoulders, his strange eyes wide on mine. “I can’t believe it’s you.”

  “Wel it is,” Wolfe grunted from behind me. “Fancy untying us?”

  Stunned, he sank back onto his heels, taking a moment. It was then realisation struck.

  “Your Boss?” I asked softly, trying to keep the condemnation out of my question.

  Kir must have heard the accusation anyway, for he flinched and looked away. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I’m Boss.” Wolfe struggled to be seen from behind me, so I moved out of the way, letting him peer around my shoulder, trying not to inhale that wonderful woody spice that was al Wolfe. “So, any intention of letting us go then?”

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