Other rooms branched off the main suite. A conference room with chairs for a dozen people. A huge library with towering bookcases and an elegant reading nook. Even an exercise room filled with gleaming equipment and floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the walls.
Carys headed straight for the councilman’s work area. “There’s a tablet on the desk,” she informed Gideon in a whisper as she opened the computer and woke it from sleep mode. “Dammit. It’s password-protected.”
“No problem,” Gideon replied. “I can get in later. That’s why you have the bugs.”
She reached into her pantsuit pocket to retrieve one of the wafer-thin, clear strips of technology Gideon had given her. Peeling off the backing, she stuck the bug on the underside of Fielding’s tablet. Once applied, the covert device all but disappeared against the metal casing.
“Done,” she said. “Checking paper files now.”
She mentally unlocked the credenza and began sifting through the files and folders inside. “I see some GNC contracts in here, three months’ of meeting minutes, committee membership lists . . .”
Her voice trailed off as she scanned the documents for names, appointment references—anything that might prove helpful to the Order in establishing the councilman’s activities and interests. Not to mention any associations that might give off a whiff of corruption.
Gideon’s voice sounded in her ear as she committed page after page to memory. “Better make it quick, Carys. We need to get the rest of those bugs planted in the other rooms in that suite. To play it safe, you can’t afford to be gone more than a few minutes.”
“Right.” She closed the file drawer and hurried to complete the rest of her assignment. With most of them placed in the meeting rooms and other antechambers, she stepped inside the exercise room. “Just one bug left. You want it on the treadmill or the ski simulator? I doubt Fielding gives either one much action.”
Gideon chuckled. “Take your pick.”
She looked for something that might get the most use. Something the human male might keep nearby if he was in the room. “How about the TV remote?”
“Perfect,” Gideon said. “Stick it and get the hell out of there.”
She flipped the small remote over and had just applied the bug when something odd caught her eye. She paused, watching the tiny red light from the remote reflect on one of the mirrored panels on the back wall.
Except it didn’t quite reflect . . .
No, it seemed to shoot right through the glass.
“Huh. That’s strange.”
“Talk to me, Carys. What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure,” she murmured, setting the remote down and walking over to have a closer look. “I think there’s something behind the glass . . .”
She reached up and felt around the edges of the panel. Her fingertips grazed a small bump along the right side—a button. She pressed it, and the mirror popped open.
“Oh, my God. There’s another room back here.”
Not much of a room. Nothing like the spacious, opulent chambers of the suite outside. This was more of a deep, hidden alcove.
Peering into the darkness, she saw a simple desk containing a computer workstation with a large monitor. If Neville Fielding had secrets, this was obviously where they’d find them.
“I’m going in.” She stepped over the threshold.
“Carys, for fuck’s sake, just be caref—”
“Gideon?” she whispered as she crept farther inside. “Gideon, are you there?”
Shit. Only silence answered. Their signal must have cut off, she guessed, taking in the soundproofed walls and ceiling that surrounded her.
She padded over to the desk. The computer on it was powered down, but still warm. Beside it was some kind of communications system.
What the hell was Fielding using this for? Who did he talk to on this secret workstation, hidden behind a concealed door in a house that only a man with ten times his wealth could possibly afford?
There was only one answer, of course. One explanation.
Dammit. She had to go back out and try to retrieve one of the bugs she’d placed elsewhere. This was the room the Order needed to monitor.
She spun around and started hurrying back toward the hidden door.
“Gideon,” she whispered. “Can you hear me?”
The transmitter in her ear was still utterly silent.
And in the quiet that engulfed her, she felt a queer prickling of her senses.
She wasn’t alone.
Someone was there with her now.
She started to gather the shadows around her, but it was already too late. No sooner had she realized the danger, she came face-to-face with the big body and threatening stance of a Breed male now blocking the portal to the exercise room.
Oh, God. It was him.
The leader of Riordan’s thugs who’d shown up at La Notte.
Now, he wore a tailored suit and a glossy silk tie, looking every bit the gentleman . . . except for the threatening twist of his mouth and the lethal coldness of his stare.
“Well, isn’t this a surprise,” he muttered. “The Breedmate bitch from Boston.”
Carys swallowed hard, even as the blood drained from her face. She had to will her Breed instincts to heel under the freezing blast of the deadly male’s glare.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, the only thing she could think to say.
“I think the better question is, what are you doing here? Snooping around in places you don’t belong.” He reached out and snatched the transmitter from her ear, moving so swiftly even her Breed senses could hardly track him. The tiny device disappeared into his clenched fist. “You’re involved in a dangerous business, my dear. A careless girl could get killed if she crosses the wrong people.”
Carys was smart enough to be afraid, but she couldn’t worry about herself in that moment. Not when this bastard had taken the man she loved. She hiked up her chin. “Where’s Rune? What have you and Fineas Riordan done with him?”
He grinned, fangs flashing in the semidarkness. “If you want to see him alive again—if you want to leave this house with your pretty throat intact—you’ll come with me now.”
Brynne smiled and nodded, not even half-listening as one of her human JUSTIS colleagues regaled her and a few other party attendees with a long-winded account of his recent golf holiday in Scotland. Holding her warm, untouched glass of champagne, Brynne scanned the gathering for any sign of Carys.
It had been more than an hour since she’s last seen her.
Brynne had watched her slip away from Simon Fielding to escape outside alone. When Carys hadn’t returned to the ballroom, Brynne had assumed she’d begun her reconnaissance mission in the councilman’s chambers upstairs.
But even if she had disappeared into the shadows at that time, Carys was taking much too long to finish. The absence was making Brynne more than a little nervous now.
And with each minute that passed, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
“Will you excuse me, please?” she murmured to her group of colleagues. “I just remembered I have to make a quick call.”
She ditched her glass on a passing server’s tray and already had her comm unit in hand to contact the Order’s headquarters when the phone buzzed with an incoming call. Gideon’s deep voice came on as soon as she picked up.