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|Shadowed(Dark Protectors #6) by Rebecca Zanetti|
Janie blinked. “Now that sounds like fun.”
Jase chuckled and turned toward the far offices, glad he wasn’t Janie. “Good luck, sweetheart.” He strode through the hallway and shoved open the door to Dage’s aboveground office.
The king stood staring out the window.
Jase faltered. “What’s up?”
“I failed to see any of this happening.”
Jase stepped inside and shut the door. “You can’t control your visions.”
“I should be able to at least harness them,” Dage said thoughtfully. Too thoughtfully. “I didn’t see you being taken, Garrett being taken, or Janie giving the fucking Kurjans the blueprints to my fortress.”
Jase’s gut swirled. Dage in an unpredictable mood never boded well for Dage. For anybody, really. “Janie only gave them intel on the two tunnels you were planning on closing down.”
Dage turned around. “How the hell did she know that?”
Jase shrugged. “She’s always around and hears everything.”
“True.” Anger flashed hot and bright in the king’s eyes. “So she was willing to give herself to the Kurjan butcher in order to save her brother. As if Garrett would want to live with that.”
“She wants her baby brother safe,” Jase said softly. “I don’t think she thought the rest through.”
“No. She thought the plan all through.” Dage yanked a knife from his back pocket to toss on the desk. The blade clattered across the wood. “She’s not stupid.”
“You should probably get this anger out before seeing Janie.” Which explained why the king had been staring at the ocean.
“No shit.” Dage’s gaze narrowed. “You’re so great with anger.”
Jase flashed his most smart-assed grin. If Dage needed to pick on Jase in order to keep from yelling at Janie, then so be it. “I’m a rock star when it comes to anger, now, aren’t I?”
Dage growled low. “You sure you want to do this here?”
Why the hell not? “I’m sure.” Adrenaline and anticipation lit through Jase’s veins. He and his older brother had been circling each other for months, and it was time.
Talen shoved open the door. “The last Kurjan didn’t have a line on Garrett.” He glanced from Dage to Jase and then back to Dage. “Now is not the time.”
“Then get the hell out.” Jase kept his gaze on Dage.
Thus he didn’t see Talen lunge for him. The air moved, and Talen lifted him against the wall. He impacted with the sound of bricks hitting together. Pain lanced down his spine.
Talen leaned his furious face in close. “My son is probably being tortured by the enemy right now. So if you wouldn’t mind forgetting your own problems temporarily, I sure could use some help.”
Jase swallowed. He’d tried to convince himself Garrett was fine, but that was unlikely. Reality was a sucker punch tinged with shame. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
Talen dropped him.
His feet hit the hard tile, and he tightened his knees to keep his balance. “Do you want me to try with the remaining Kurjan?”
“He’s dead.” Talen eyed Dage. “You all right now?”
“Yes.” Dage rubbed a hand down his face. “I have messages out to every contact we have—even those not aligned with our people. If anybody has a line on Garrett, we’ll hear about it.”
Jase’s hands shook, so he shoved them in his pockets. He’d been lost for five years, regardless of the king’s contacts. “Our only good contact is Janie. She can reach Kalin in that weird dreamworld of hers.”
Talen rounded on him. “You’re not suggesting we trade her?”
“Of course not.” Jase glanced at Dage, his mind spinning. Dage was one of the few people on the planet who could maneuver between space and time to end up somewhere else. “You can teleport. Is there any way you could get into Janie’s world and find Garrett?”
Thoughts chased across Dage’s face before he finally shook his head. “I could probably get into the dream, but I have to know where I’m going to teleport. If Kalin doesn’t tell Janie where he is, I won’t know where to go.”
If Kalin would tell Janie, they didn’t need a teleporter. They could go and attack. Jase sighed. “I’m out of ideas.”
A quiet knock sounded on the door, and Janie poked her head inside. “I have an idea.”
“No.” Talen grabbed his daughter for a hug. “Whatever it is, the answer is no.”
She leaned back. “We need to do an exchange. Me for Garrett. I’m more valuable to the Kurjans than he is.”
Talen shook his head. “You want me to exchange one of my children for the other? I can’t do that.”
“They won’t hurt me.” Janie looked toward Dage for support. “We can set a trap for them—as soon as we find Garrett.”
“No.” Dage backed up Talen. “A trap would still result in gunfire. It’s too risky and not only for you. It’s too risky for Garrett. The second Kalin suspects a trap, he’ll kill Garrett.”
Jase rubbed his chin. “I have a crazy thought.”
“We could use crazy,” Talen muttered.
“What do you know about Brenna and the winter solstice?” Jase asked Dage.
Dage shrugged. “Just that the Pagurus Comet will be close enough to mess with the atmosphere on a molecular level. Legend has it Brenna will be able to stop time during that moment.”
“Stop time?” Jase asked. “Is that possible?”
“Don’t know. There are a lot of myths about Brenna, the comet, and the solstice. One says she’ll be able to harness the power of the sun and blow up the universe.” Dage sighed. “I’m not sure any of them are true.”
“Wouldn’t she have a clue?” Talen asked.
“Not necessarily,” Dage said. “Since she’s been so ill, any hints of additional power remained latent. She’s been slowly dying for ten years. So who the hell knows?”
“If she’s that powerful, do you think she could find Garrett?” Jase asked.
Dage’s forehead wrinkled. “I don’t know.” He grimaced. “In fact, I don’t see how. But maybe you two should start working on the possibility. See what she can do now that she’s healing.”
Jase nodded and headed for the hallway. So far all she could do was blow things up. Even if she couldn’t find Garrett, they needed to get her skills under control before her powers expanded.
Maybe she would be able to blow up the universe.
Brenna searched for a portion of undamaged tile to spread out the papers. Sitting in Jase’s smoldering living room, she punched in keys on the laptop. Who knew there were so many websites dedicated to the comet? And to her?
She should’ve paid closer attention to Henry about Brenna’s Warriors. His website didn’t mention her by name, but he was otherwise thorough. With a sigh, she pressed her cell phone to her ear.
“Brenna?” Hope filled his crackly voice.
“Hi, Henry.” Not in a million years would she have thought she’d ever call him. “I suppose it’d be silly for me to ask you how you recognized this as my phone number.”
“Very silly.” Henry snorted. “I’ve been studying you for over three months—ever since we discovered the comet was coming back. Early belief dictated a millennium would pass before Pagurus flew close enough to mess with matter, and we were wrong. Way wrong.”
“I should’ve paid closer attention to your research.” But seriously? A comet?
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.” His voice rose in pitch. “But don’t worry, I’m prepared. We still have time to mate so I can save you.”
She stilled. “Save me? Save me from what?”
“Brenna, for Pete’s sake, don’t you ever listen?” He huffed out a breath. “The power unleashed will overload you. Your only chance is for your mate to counter the effects, which is why you need to mate a witch. A powerful one.”
Panic had her hands seeking some of the papers. “Not true. Conn can counter Moira’s powers sometimes. He’s a vampire.”
“They’ve been mated for over a hundred years. It took that long for a vampire to learn how to alter matter. You don’t have a hundred years.” The sound of a computer keyboard tapping filtered across the line. “I’ll come to you.”
“I mated a vampire.” She’d thought it was to save her life. Irony sucked.
Henry gasped like an old man losing at poker. “Tell me you’re joking.”
“No. I mated Jase Kayrs.” Just saying his name spiraled heat into her abdomen.
“Bugger that.” Henry sighed loudly. “Well, your only hope now is not to allow the power in. It would’ve been fun to discover your abilities.”
Hope lifted her chin. “I can block the overload?”
“Sure. Especially since you’re probably already gaining strength from mating a Kayrs. You have to block the power now. So sad.”
“Wait a minute. My sister is an enforcer—she contained my errant plasma balls yesterday.” Brenna wondered where Moira had gone—they needed to talk.
“One witch won’t be able to help you. Either a mate who can quickly sync with your powers, or a whole barn of witches . . . maybe. That might not even be enough.” Henry clicked more keys. “I’m emailing you all the research I’ve done on the comet and your birth. I wish you had listened to me. Who knows what we could’ve done on the solstice.” The phone clicked.
“Henry?” The damn witch had hung up on her. A second later, her email dinged. Figured he’d have her email address. Her private email address. She opened the document and started scanning.
The front door opened and Jase stepped inside. He glanced down and then stomped out a smoldering tile. “How’s it going?”
“Great.” She perched her glasses up her nose, irritation swirling through her that she still needed them. When would her eyesight return? “I’m learning about the comet and the solstice.” Now was not the time to talk about the amazing orgasm he’d forced on her before deserting her.
His eyebrows rose. “Great minds think alike, apparently.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not sure, but if you’re going to have incredible powers for a night, I thought we could find a way to locate Garrett.” Jase frowned at the ocean as dawn slowly arrived. “What happened to my window?”
“You pissed me off.” Old news. They had more pressing matters to deal with. “How might I locate Garrett?”
“I’m still working the idea out. What have you learned?”
She’d learned that if she tried to harness the comet’s powers, she’d probably short-circuit her heart and die, and that was the best-case scenario. Worst case—she’d let off an atomic bomb wherever she stood. “I’m still compiling data.”
“Good.” Jase sat on the floor and popped his neck. “Can I help?”
“Maybe.” The guy was strong and used to have amazing powers. Perhaps he could help her contain the altering matter. She held out her hand and re-formed the oxygen into fiery plasma. She trembled with the effort of containing the matter, but she was finally relearning control. “Can you snuff this out?”
Jase frowned and eyed the weapon. “With my hands?”
“No. With either your own plasma ball or by harnessing the oxygen in the room.” If her powers were returning, it seemed likely his would, as well.
He shrugged and zeroed in on the ball.
He grunted. “Guess not.” Irritation showed in his copper eyes. “There’s a chance I’ll never regain the ability, Bren. Sad but true.”
Yeah, but she needed him to regain it soon. “I won’t be able to contain all the power from the comet.”
His eyebrows rose. “How so?”
“Too much, too fast.” She sighed.
“There wasn’t a problem when you were born.”
“I know. But I didn’t try to harness the comet’s power when I was born. I’d like to try now.” Without safeguards, she couldn’t put the entire world in jeopardy. Who knew? A month ago she was frailer than a human, and soon she might hold humankind in her hand.
The plasma ball zinged toward Jase.
The fire left a fist-sized hole in the front door.
Brenna gulped air. “Oops.” Humankind was in for a burning if she failed to learn to control her powers. “Some of the research I read makes it seem like my lack of control isn’t merely due to being without power for a decade. Some of this craziness is because the comet is coming closer.”
Jase eyed his damaged door. “That makes an ironic kind of sense. Does the research say how you’re supposed to contain this new power?”
“Only that my mate should be able to help, if my mate is a witch.” She frowned, wanting to give him the full truth. He deserved honesty. “You’re not a witch.”
“No shit.” He pushed off from the floor. “I’ll go talk to Conn to find out if he has any tips.”
Good plan. “If we can’t figure something out, I’ll need to go home for the solstice.”
“You are home.”
She shook her head. “No, I mean closer to the members of the Coven Nine. They’re the most powerful witches in existence, and if anybody can help me contain the power, they can.” That way maybe she could still try to find Garrett before it was too late.