Born of Betrayal(5)

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Young and stupid didn’t quite cover it. But then, there’d been extenuating circumstances that had forced his hand. Things that had made staying with her completely out of the question. Maybe I should have fought harder to stay.

Yeah, right. It hadn’t been that simple.

A fight, he could have won. What they held over his head had been totally out of his control and beyond his young abilities to stop.

She looked up and met his gaze. His throat went dry as his body hardened even more and he remembered the way she used to look at him.

Like he was her cherished hero.

And I fucked her over. Badly.

Yeah, he’d earned the hell that had been his life. How he wished things could have been different. Especially between the two of them. While he’d been enamored of Omira, it was nothing compared to what he’d felt for Galene when they were kids. This was his first and only real love.

The one who’d gotten away and had haunted him every minute of his life.

His one true regret.

The worst decisions in life are always the ones we make out of fear. He hated to admit how right his father had been whenever the old bastard had quoted that. But life had shown him just how wise his father was.

At first, her gaze swept past him, to the other Tavali trailing in his wake. She had no idea who he was.

Not until he pulled his Tavali mask down and exposed his face.

Galene was impressed by the military formation and discipline of the Tavali crew – something she’d never expected from outlaw pirates who were as famed for their blatant disregard of rules and social conventions as they were for their savagery. While they each wore different uniforms and styles of battlesuits, they conducted themselves like any disciplined army.

She’d been told that they had their own set of laws they strictly adhered to, but she hadn’t believed it.

Until now.

This was impressive. And the one leading them was a huge, massive warrior. One equal in size to Talyn, which was quite a feat for any species. Tall and broad-shouldered with braided hair laced with bleached blond stripes, he was even more muscular than an average Andarion male.

And that swagger…

It was masculine and mouthwatering. Confident. She had no idea of his species, but whatever it was, he did credit to it.

That was her thought until he stopped and stood with all of his weight on his left leg. She almost smiled at a commanding stance that was identical to one Talyn preferred, especially whenever he was uncomfortable with his surroundings.

The Tavali’s gaze held hers hostage as he slowly reached up with one hand to lower the black and red mask that concealed his war-painted face.

Andarion. That explained his white eyes.

Just as she was sucking her breath in, in appreciation of his rugged handsomeness, recognition slammed into her. Yes, he was older and now sported three days’ growth of his beard, but she knew that proud jawline. Knew those perfect, gorgeous features and caramel skin that had once set her on fire.

Actually, they still did. Only instead of lust, they filled her with raw, unmitigated rage.

Reacting on pure instinct, she pulled her blaster out and fired. The shot landed straight in his chest where his missing heart should have been.

Total chaos erupted as he fell to the ground and the other Tavali pulled their blasters out and took aim. As did the Andarion soldiers with her.

Throwing himself in front of her, Talyn pulled the weapon from her hand. He and the ten Andarions he’d chosen as her personal guard formed a wall between her and the others.

“Medic!” a human Tavali called out in Andarion.

“Arrest them!” a Sentella soldier demanded.

Galene looked past Talyn’s shoulder to see Dancer Hauk, Fain’s younger brother, calling out for the soldiers to secure her and her team.

Talyn moved in closer, to protect her.

“No!” She grabbed her son’s arm to keep him from doing something even more rash than her stupidity. “Stand down!”

Talyn did, until a soldier went to cuff her wrists. “Get your hands off her!”

Before she could catch him again, Talyn had eight Tavali and two of their own bleeding on the ground at his feet. With a blaster in each hand, Talyn held the others at bay as he kept himself in front of her. “Anyone else want a free trip to the hospital and paid leave?”

“Talyn!” she snapped, placing her hand on his shoulder. “Enough! Everyone calm down.”

Dancer held his blaster angled at Talyn’s head. “I believe you started this, Commander, when you shot my brother.”

“And now I’m ending it. Everyone, arms down!”

They all hesitated.

“Dancer!” Fain growled as he rose to his feet. “Drop your weapon.” Biting his lip, he grimaced and glared a hole through her. “I deserved it.”