Brayden curled up on his side, his tears slid down his face to soak into the dirt floor below him. He hated being here. He hated being away from Quinlan and the boys, his family. To make matters worse Ormand had taken his father away, and Thayer had yet to be returned to their cell. He cried even harder as he felt the child within him move for the very first time. Quinlan should have been present for this moment. How was he supposed to protect his child if he couldn’t even look after himself? Things needed to change. He had to be stronger if he wanted to survive this hell he’d been thrust into.
Yesterday he’d listened as the guards and Ormand talked outside his door. Ormand was explaining to them just why they couldn’t kill Brayden—yet. His cousin also spoke of why the abomination he carried inside him was necessary to carry on with the rest of their plans. How the leaders of their little revolution had decided if they couldn’t destroy the race of ancient ones, then they would control them. Brayden's child was the key to not only ruling the new generation of the ancient ones, but it would also bring Quinlan and the whole of Panthea under their thumb.
Brayden had to make choices, he could give up and allow them to take his baby, or he could do the hardest thing he could think of. Something that would take him away from Quinlan forever, but would save the people from this new threat. Brayden just didn’t know whether he was strong enough to go through with such a choice. He didn’t know whether he could leave Quinlan all alone again, but there was no way Brayden would allow these people who kidnapped him, to use his child for reproduction with whoever was forced upon him to build an army of old world sentinels.
Brayden thoughts drifted to Quinlan as he slipped into a troubled sleep.
Quinlan woke with a start. His heart beat rapidly as he listened to the noises of the night surrounding him. He lay there trying to work out just what had woken him. Rubbing his eyes to rid them of any residual sleep he realised he’d been crying. His chest hurt, like his heart was breaking in two. Quinlan ran his fingertips over his skin as it slowly dawned on him that he could feel Brayden’s emotions inside of him. This must mean Brayden was still alive. Was the informant correct in giving the directions to the location of where Brayden was being held? If that was the case then he’d have his heart back within the next two days. He’d already been too long without his husband in his arms.
Something about this didn’t feel right. Quinlan winced, it was like Brayden was hurting deep down inside. Panic flooded his senses at the thought of something being wrong with either Brayden or the baby he carried within him. His fear deepened, knowing he needed to talk to someone about this, he got up and made his way over to where Fane was sleeping next to the camp fire.
Quinlan knelt beside the sleeping man and studied him for the first time. Fane Dalziel didn’t look as old as Quinlan knew the man should be. Honestly, thinking back Lord Dalziel looked exactly the same as he did when Quinlan was young. He wondered briefly why that was so, but had more pressing matters to attend to right then and there.
“Lord Dalziel,” Quinlan gently shook the sleeping man’s shoulder. Fane opened his eyes and Quinlan smiled down at him. “I need to ask you something about being bonded with an Ancient one.”
Fane pushed himself up into a sitting position and waited expectantly.
“This feeling we have for our mates—the bonding. Does it let you know what the other is thinking or feeling?”
Fanes eyes widened, “What are you feeling?”
“Despair. I feel like Brayden is giving up the will to live.” Quinlan pulled up a stalk of grass and held it between his teeth. “If I can feel him, can Brayden also feel me? What can I do to give him some kind of hope?”
Sadness filled Fane’s eyes, “I’m not sure. I’ve also been feeling Thayer, but how’s that even possible?”
“What do you mean?”
“It feels like Thayer is drowsy, as if his system is full of some sort of drug. I’m not sure I know how to explain. I just know he’s feeling sad.” Tears glistened in Fane’s eyes. Ï shouldn’t be feeling anything.”
“Have you ever felt this before?” Quinlan was trying to work out what it could all mean. There had to be an answer to what was going on with both him and Fane.
“Only when Thayer first went missing, at the time it just felt like he was really tired. Though, since starting on this rescue mission I could almost swear he is still alive and that he was drugged out of his mind.” Fane’s tears fell. “I miss him so much. I should have died right along with him. I shouldn’t have been able to survive the severing of our bond. A life bond binds us body, heart and soul. How did I survive?”
“I don’t know.”
“Perhaps,” a voice came from the darkness and Quinlan smiled as he recognised Javier’s voice, “is it possibly my father may still be alive? If the bond was never truly severed, then that could be the reason you are still alive?”
“What would be the purpose of keeping him alive all this time if they haven’t used that knowledge against us? Why hold him all these years?”
Javier shook frowned as if he was in deep thought. “What if they needed something from him? Maybe it was something they could only take if he was alive?”
“Like what?” Fane asked in disbelief.
“His seed,” Quinlan said in disgust as the implications of what Javier had said sunk in. “Whoever took him must know what he is. My guess is they want to make more of his kind.”
Talon came and sat beside Javier, “And now they have two of the ancient ones, plus the child Consort Brayden carries within him.”
Pain tore through Quinlan’s chest. “They can’t have my husband, or my child. I’ll see every last one of them dead before I allow that to happen.”
“Do you think it’s possible Thayer is still alive?” Hope filled Fane’s eyes.
“It’s possible. I mean you still feel the connection, right?” Talon answered.
Fane let out a shuddering sigh, “Yes.”
Brayden woke to someone standing over him, their toe nudged him hard in the ribs. “Eat—that thing inside you needs food.”
Brayden stared at the food being offered for but a moment before picking up the plate and throwing it against the wall. There was no way in hell he was eating another thing they gave him. He refused to live just because they wanted him too. This was his choice and he had made it—he was going to die rather than give in to his captor’s demands.
“Go to hell!” He managed to get out just before a fist collided with the side of his head and darkness came to claim him.