“Callan?” She stood in the doorway, dressed in his shirt again, concern etched across her face. He breathed out roughly, turning to her, opening his arms for her. She came to him as naturally as breathing. Her arms going around his waist as he held her close to his bare chest.

“How do I protect you, Merinus?” he whispered roughly against her hair. “I’m terrified of losing you. Terrified I can’t get you to D.C. safely.”

“How would you do it if I weren’t with you?” she asked him, raising her head to meet his gaze. “I can keep up, Callan. I’m not weak and I’ll try like hell not to slow you down. Do what you would do if you had only yourself to deal with while getting there.”

“There is safety in numbers,” he sighed. “Your family knows this, that’s why they are gathered together for you now. I just hope the Council isn’t willing to risk everything to stop them. A public massacre would only give credence to the proof your brother has and would serve them no purpose.”

“Then we need to keep this public,” she said with a frown. “Why try to sneak to D.C.? I’m certain Kane can arrange a public statement, and then Uncle Brian can arrange an escort to D.C. Why be covert about it?”

“Because—” Callan could go no further.

He stared down at her, tilting his head, her idea turning over in his head. Why hide? That only gave the

Council the opportunity to try to take them. He had hid for so long, fought covertly for so long, that he knew nothing else. Knew no other way to fight.

He grabbed the phone from the desk and hit Kane’s number. The light indicator flashed green.

“Callan?” Kane’s voice was questioning.


“Do you have contacts with the television stations around here?” Callan asked him quickly.

“Several are affiliated,” Kane answered him cautiously.

“Do you have any of the proof you gathered easily accessible?”

“Most of it.” Once again, the voice was cautious.

Quickly, Callan outlined the plan forming in his head. The bastards couldn’t touch them if the whole nation was watching their trip to D.C. It would be perfect.

“That would work,” Kane told him, his voice edging into excitement. “It will take a while to set up. I’ll call you back with the details. If you can bring yourself to answer the phone.”

“I’ll answer it,” Callan growled. “Get it set up. Have the reporters standing by for the location to meet us.”

“Callan, what about the others?” Kane’s voice was guttural now. “Sherra, Dawn, and the two men.”

“There are three other men,” Callan reminded him.

“Not for much longer, if I know as much about you as I think I do,” Kane bit out. “Will you reveal them as well?”

Callan took a deep breath. “This will be their decision. Have Sherra contact the others. They can stand with me, or I will do all I can to continue to hide them. Whatever they decide.”

There was a tense silence across the line.

“Is Merinus doing okay?” Kane finally asked.

Callan glanced at Merinus, seeing her worried expression.

“She’s fine. But I want to get off this line before you’re hacked. We’ve talked too long this evening already. Contact me when you have this set up and we’ll give you our location.”

Callan disconnected the phone.

“You’re really going to do this?” Merinus whispered hopefully. “You’ll really come forward and make them pay?”

Callan grunted. He had no illusions about this. The Council would never truly pay.

“I am going to go forward. I will submit to their questions and ultimately their exams, for a while,” he

promised her. “But the danger will never be over, Merinus, you must understand this. We’ll have to always be careful, always be within the Pride. Our strength is within our numbers.”

“And if the others don’t come forward?” Merinus asked.

“They will.” He knew them all well. They would stand beside him, no matter what. He pulled Merinus into his arms once again, holding onto her, praying for a miracle he didn’t really expect. Peace would be too much to ask for. So he prayed only for her safety with everything in his heart and soul. He prayed just for that.

Kane disconnected the phone then checked the indicator light carefully. It was still green. He breathed a long, tired sigh, then looked up at the others in the room. Sherra he found immediately. She was sitting in a far corner, lounging in one of the comfortable chairs that the suite afforded. His brothers were watching him expectantly, his father’s face, lined with worry and pain, was confident though.

“We set up a news conference. Caleb,” he addressed the second oldest brother. “Get on your line and pull in reporters from D.C. and New York. We want top names down here. I don’t want a shoddy affair.” He turned to Sherra then threw the phone he carried at her. She caught it gracefully, her lithe body never tensing or jerking in surprise. As though she had been expecting it all along. “Call your brothers and Doctor Martin. Get the others here where we’re all together. Callan wants the search for Dayan dropped. He also wants each of you to decide if you’re willing to reveal yourselves, or if you prefer to stay hidden.”

“Do we notify our Council contact?” Gray, the youngest brother, and the one that resembled Merinus the most, asked.

“No, let it come from their moles in the newspapers and stations.” Kane shrugged. “We’ll have enough fish to fry here. My unit is ready to move to provide security and protection to Callan and his family. Now let’s get things moving.”

The twelve-man group of ex-special forces followed Kane to each job he took, personal or business related. They were at present bunked in each room surrounding the two Kane and his family had taken.

“How much trouble do you expect?” John Tyler, Patriarch of the Tyler clan questioned him sternly. Kane breathed out roughly.

“I expect at least one attempt on them during the news conference,” he admitted. “I want Merinus in armor and all angles accessible to them covered. I’ll have my men take care of that. It could go easy, but I never expect easy.”

“The Council will want them dead if possible. If not, they’ll try damage control instead.” Sherra came to her feet as they turned to face her. “They won’t expect the proof Kane has on them, so we may all be safer than we think.”

That was what Kane was praying for. When the shit hit the fan it would smear more than one

government figure in several countries, as well as a handful of billionaires. Damage control wouldn’t be easy to provide by then.

“Okay, let’s get everything ready,” John said tensely. “I want this taken care of and I want my daughter home. Get moving.”

And of course they did. No one ignored John Tyler, or disobeyed him. They got moving. Everyone but Sherra. She had made her call, did her part, and Kane watched her as she moved restlessly around the room. She had been like this all day. Almost nervous, unwilling to stay in one place for long. Not that he expected her tension was the same as his own. Every muscle in his body was tight with arousal, and had been since she had stepped from the shadows the other night. He couldn’t forget the touch of her. The taste of her silken skin, those damned throaty growls she made while he pounded into her body. She liked her sex rough, her teeth to nip, hands to grip. She was no shrinking violet or weak-kneed virgin, even when she had been a virgin. She had been a temptress, a seductress, her body conforming to him, urging him on in heated demand. He wanted to fuck her again so badly he could barely stand it. Feel that hot pussy stretching around him, her cream soaking his cock and balls. Damn her. He hadn’t been this horny since his time at the labs. And that was why she hated him now. She never understood why he was there. And she wouldn’t listen when he tried to tell her why he hadn’t come back for her as he swore he would. Hard to rescue someone when you were half buried in a pit, fertilizing it with your blood. Bastards had known what he was up to somehow and nearly killed him for his efforts. The only thing that saved him was the fact that, at the time, they had no idea who he was. And by the time he healed, he had been forgotten. Only the scientists and lab soldiers had seen his face, and Kane was careful to stay out of any limelight, any public appearances. He had been working on this for ten years and he would, by God, see every bastard behind it destroyed. Just as they had destroyed.

He looked at Sherra again, pain striking his chest, guilt eating him alive. What had they done to her?

Callan had rescued her not long after the attempt made on Kane’s life. He had taken her out, saved her, but something else had marked her. It was there in her expression, the careful shift away from him when he got too close, the secrets that swirled in the shadows of those dark green eyes. She no longer trusted him and he couldn’t really blame her. She had waited for him, believed in him, and he had failed. It didn’t matter why.

“Sherra, what did your people say?” He moved closer to her, trying to control his anger as she backed away.

“They’ll be here in a matter of hours. Taber and Tanner were already on their way to Dawn. Dayan slipped away from them.”

He saw her fists clench. She had been enraged when they learned Taber had barely made it to the other girl in time to save her from the man’s brutal rape.

“Will they stand with him?” Kane questioned her, knowing that the group would make more of an impact than one man.

“We have always stood behind Callan. Just as he has always protected us.” She shot him a feral look. Another cut at him. Before she was finished he would be lying in figurative shreds at her feet.

“That’s all I needed to know.” He nodded, rather than trying to spar with her in front of the others. He turned to Caleb. “Caleb, we have a possible group, not just one. Let’s keep the information sketchy but impossible to resist.”

Caleb nodded as he made another call.

The Tyler men moved about the room performing their various assignments. Sherra watched it all with a half snarl on her lips.

“Chill out, baby, we’ll take care of everything,” he told her softly. Her eyes darkened, her expression tightened with fury.

“I am not your baby,” she sneered. “So stop with the cutesy shit, Kane. I know you and I know what you are, so stop trying to suck up to me.”

Kane felt his control begin to erode. Eight surprised expressions turned to them, watching the byplay carefully. His eyes narrowed on her, his fists clenching at the urge to jerk her into the next room and give her something to fight about.

“Baby, when I start sucking it won’t be an attempt,” he bit out in disgust, turning away from her. “Fuck it, I’ll deal with you later when I have time.”

“No, you will not deal with me period.” She brushed past him, heading for the door.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” He grabbed her arm as she headed for the exit, swinging her around to face him.

Fury outlined her body as she looked down at the hand gripping her arm, then looked up at him as though the touch sickened her.

“Take your hands off me.” Her voice vibrated with anger, but he was damned if he didn’t see need flaring in her eyes as well.

He jerked her across the room, pushing her roughly back into the chair. When she went to push her way back to her feet, he slammed his hands on the arms of the seat, forcing her back.

“You are not going anywhere,” he bit out furiously, watching her face flush now. “You can sit your ass here or you can run and hide in the bedroom, but you will not leave this suite. Do you fucking understand me?”

“Kane.” His father’s sharp voice protested behind him. For the first time in his life, Kane ignored his father.

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