”You’ve been exposed.”
The startling words halted Demetrius Mercer for only a moment before he threw himself onto the leather couch in the den, placing an arm over his eyes.
“Impossible,” he groaned. It had been a long damned night. He didn’t need this too.
“You know it is our custom to keep hidden. The last thing we need is for the Malachite to be able to trace a bloodline.”
“I know the rules,” Demetrius growled. Knew them and had them ingrained in his mind since the time he had been turned immortal. Damn, but his side ached. He lifted a free hand to run it beneath his blood spattered black cotton t-shirt, moving his fingers over his healing skin. Three long gouges. A gift from the Malachite bastard he battled in the alley on the south side. He ran his fingers over the cuts, inspecting. Not too deep. Even though his blood had saturated his shirt before his body began healing, there wasn’t enough blood to drip onto the street. Not even a drop. There was no way he could have been exposed.
“It’s right here. Your full name. Take a look.”
Demetrius lifted his arm to glare at Chip. Sitting behind his beloved large cherry wood desk, Chip’s face glowed in the white light of his computer screen. His blonde hair, pulled back tight and tied with a coif, seemed to form a halo around his face. No expression reached his black eyes. He was so computer-like that Demetrius’s family called him Chip, even though his true name was Adonis.
Demetrius stalked to the desk. He crossed his arms with an impatient sigh and began to read the words on the computer screen. Disbelief furrowed his brow, and by the time he finished reading the page he was leaning into the screen, devouring each word in utter astonishment. This was more than just his name. It was the story of his life, starting centuries ago in England when he had been a knight.
“How?” he gasped, staring raptly at the words.
“The author posted it to this website for reader comments. Apparently, she is some sort of writer.”
Demetrius couldn’t take his gaze from the screen. Damn it. His brow darkened. “Who is she? How does she know me?”
Chip shrugged. “I was hoping you could answer that.”
“The only ones who know my history are family.”
“Family would never endanger disclosure by doing something like this.”
Demetrius scowled, narrowing his eyes at the screen. “Do you think it’s a ploy to draw me out?” He was a powerful hunter, a killer. The Malachite wanted him dead more than anyone else in his family. It would not be beyond them to pull such a stunt to lure him into a trap.
Chip shrugged and stretched back in his chair. “These three chapters were posted to the internet this morning. It’s your history. How you met Rosaline.”
Rosaline. An ache of longing pierced his hard demeanor as her image came to mind. Dark wavy hair so lustrous as to rival moonlight; a smile that brightened his soul as only an angel could have. He walked across the room to the large windows lining the far wall of the den. The crescent moon dipped low in the night sky, thin clouds stretched across it.
Demetrius thought he had fully buried Rosaline’s image, hoping to ease the ache of missing her. But at the mere mention of her name, everything, every feeling, returned as if it had all happened yesterday, especially the pain that wrenched his heart when he realized he had been too late to save her life. He remembered holding her in his arms, feeling the warmth of her blood on his hands.
“You have to take care of this,” Chip said quietly. “Have no doubt the Malachite will have read this.”
Demetrius’s jaw clenched. “Can’t you delete it? Remove it?”
“I’ve already blocked it. But if my search engines found it, so have theirs. It won’t take them long to find her.”
Demetrius rubbed his side again. The lines carved in his skin were healed. The marks of the Malachite were gone.
“If the Malachite learn anything about you, you’ll be sent into hiding.”
“Like hell,” Demetrius snarled. He was a fighter and to be banished into hiding, even for his own good, was like a sentence of slow death by boredom. “I’ll take care of it. Keep it off the web for three days.”
Chip sighed. “She’ll try to post again.”
Demetrius took a breath to steady his impatience. They were immortal! How hard could keeping the post off the web be?
“Keep it off for three days.”
Chip shook his head, his gaze shifting back to his computer screen. “A good hacker could trace my block. You’re risking our family.”
Demetrius turned to him, his fists clenched at his side. He would not be denied. “Two days.”
“The Council still might send you into hiding.”
Demetrius ground his teeth. He was the best killer the de Nouviant had! And here he stood negotiating for time with a hacker. He turned away from Chip, staring out at the moon. Rage swirled in him like a whirling tornado. His lips thinned, his eyes narrowed. It took all his will to tame his anger.
“Demetrius?” Chip called.
“What is her name?”
“This girl, this Jade Smith, knows about me,” Demetrius whispered harshly. “Somehow. Someway, she knows. I have to find out how.”
Chip sighed and shook his head. “Two days, Demetrius. No more. After that, I go to the Council.”