Home > Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(8)

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(8)
Author: Ilona Andrews

   “Okay,” Derek said. “How does Nick fit into it?”

   “You remember when Hugh killed the knights in the Atlanta chapter of the Order, and Nick dropped his cover? Maxine called him Nick Feldman. When we got back to the Keep, I asked Jim to look into it. He did. Nick Feldman is Greg Feldman’s son.”

   Derek frowned. “You didn’t know he had a son?”

   “No. Greg took care of me for about ten years. Neither he nor Anna ever mentioned a child. There were no pictures and nobody ever said his name. So after Jim told me, I called Anna.”

   It had taken four phone calls and a promise to come find her in her country home in North Carolina before she finally called back.

   “I had always thought that Greg and Voron had been friends. I have a picture of the four of them, Greg and Anna and Voron and my mother, standing together. Apparently, all of that is bullshit. They knew each other, but they weren’t friends. My mother had worked for the Order for a short time before marrying Roland. She met Greg, and Greg fell in love with her. He told Anna, but Nick was two years old and they decided to stay together for his sake. My mother and Greg reconnected again when she and Voron were running from Roland. At the time, I was a baby. Greg left Anna the day he found out my mother died. Nick was six.”

   “I don’t get it,” Derek said. “Why leave when the other woman is dead?”

   “I don’t know. I have no idea what went on in Greg’s head. Maybe he thought he was betraying my mother’s memory somehow by staying with Anna.”

   Thinking about it put all those meetings between Voron and Greg in a new light. They weren’t two friends catching up. They were two men mourning the death of the same woman.

   “He and Anna shared custody, but when Nick was twelve, he applied to Squire’s Rest. It’s the Order’s preparatory boarding school, the place you go before the Academy makes you into a knight. Nick got in and they never saw him again. According to Anna, Nick hated both her and Greg. When he became part of the Crusader program, Greg was told to remove all traces of Nick, photos, documents, everything, for Nick’s safety and the safety of his family. Eventually Nick went undercover with Hugh for over two years. So my mother broke up his parents’ marriage and my father was the reason he had to do despicable shit for two years. I’m not his favorite person.”

   “I get being mad at his parents and at your mother, but you were a baby.”

   I sighed. “Maybe if I were the daughter of the other woman his father loved, or the child his dad took in instead of him, or Roland’s daughter, he could deal with it. But I’m all of those things. He will get over it or he won’t, Derek. I don’t really care.”

   I did a little bit. Nick was Greg’s older child, and Greg was my guardian and looked over me the way a father would, which meant that in my head Nick hovered perilously close to the “older brother” category. If he ever found out about it, he would probably choke on whatever he was drinking at the time.

   The trees pulled away from the road like two hands opening, giving way to a clear grassy plain, with the old highway rolling across it all the way to a short blocky tower. It looked like it was designed to be a good deal taller. A fortress was beginning to take shape around it, its walls three-quarters finished. Damn it.

   “I thought you said he agreed to stop building on our border,” Derek said.

   “He agreed to stop building the tower. We agreed that he’s allowed a residence.”

   “That’s not a residence. That’s a castle.”

   “I can see that,” I growled.

   And it had gone up fast, too. Three months ago, there was nothing except a foundation. Now there was a mostly finished wall, and the main building and smaller structures inside that wall, and long blood-red pennants streaming in the breeze from the parapets. Made himself comfortable, did he?

   A rider shot out of the copse of trees on our left, pushing hard at a full gallop and carrying a long sky-blue standard on a tall flagpole. I would’ve recognized that horse anywhere. Built like a small draft horse, black dappled with light gray, she pounded the road with her white-feathered hoofs. Her mane, long, white, and wavy, flared in the wind. Her rider, slender, blond hair tied back in a ponytail, sat like she was born on that horse. Julie and Peanut, heading straight for Roland’s castle.

   I’d told her where I was going this morning and told her to stay at Cutting Edge. Instead she came here and waited until she saw me so she could dramatically ride for the castle ahead of me. Why me? Why?

   “I’m going to kill her.”

   “She’s your Herald,” Derek said. “That’s your color. Blue for humanity.”

   My what?

   He made a big show of moving a few feet to the side.

   I looked at him.

   “In case your head explodes,” he said helpfully.

   “Not another word.”

   He chuckled under his breath, the rough lupine laugh of an amused wolf. Laugh it up, why don’t you?

   My father had had two warlords in the modern age. The first, Voron, left his service to save me, because my mother’s magic convinced him he hopelessly loved her. Hugh d’Ambray was the second, and during his training under Voron, Hugh served as Roland’s Herald. According to Voron, that was the way my father had done things thousands of years ago, before the magic disappeared from the world and his wizard empire collapsed. First, you became Herald, then you became Warlord. Now Julie had decided that she was my Herald. I never told her any of this. She must still be talking to Roland. I didn’t know how, and when I had asked her about it a few weeks ago, she denied it.

   Apparently, she’d lied.

   I gritted my teeth.

   Nothing good would come from Julie talking to Roland. He was poison. I had busted up one of their conversations before, and I did my best to keep more from happening. Logic, explanations, sincere requests, threats, groundings—none of it made any difference. Nothing short of a direct order would do, and I wasn’t ready to burn that bridge yet. Not only that, but that direct order would have to be worded in such a way as to prevent any loopholes. I would have to hire Barabas just to write it out.

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