Forged by Desire Page 34

Garrett caught the other man by the lapels, dragging him close and snarling in his face. “Get. Out. Of. My. Way.”

Byrnes’s fingers wrapped around his wrists. “Not when you’re like this.”

Suddenly the other man was flying through the air, hitting the desk and rolling across the top of it, papers scattering everywhere. The inkwell rolled, black ink dripping like viscous blood from the edge of the desk. Garrett’s gaze focused on it. Blood. He wanted blood. And he knew where to get it.

The world faded. The next thing he knew, he had Byrnes by the throat, forcing his chin up. The other man kicked out, legs wrapping around Garrett’s hips, twisting, flinging him off balance. Then they were rolling across the timber floor, smashing into a chair and sending pieces of it flying.

“What the hell—?” Doyle’s voice reverberated through the roaring in Garrett’s head.

He turned, tracking the man. If he wanted human blood, it was right there in front of him.

“Get Lynch!” Byrnes hit him hard, his shoulder driving into Garrett’s midriff. They went over the desk, Byrnes snarling down at him as Doyle fled. “I’m doing you a bloody favor!”

Garrett drew his arm back and punched him. Blood spattered across the wall and Byrnes shook his head, his fists tightening on Garrett’s shirt.

“Is that the best…you can do?” Byrnes spat blood, laughing down at him.

He wanted to kill. Wanted to tear someone apart and Byrnes was there. Byrnes, who’d been the thorn in his side for the past month. Byrnes, who’d taunted him for years in the ring because Garrett refused to push himself to the edge, refused to hurt his comrades in what he considered sport. Perry flashed through his mind. Gone. He had to get to her, take her back. Lock her in the f**king cells if he needed to, so that she could never escape him again.

But first…

He smashed Byrnes across the face again. And again. Blood painted his knuckles, some of it his, some of it Byrnes’s. It felt so damned good, he kept going, until Byrnes’s hands weakened on his shirt and suddenly Garrett was on top, his fingers digging into the other man’s throat—

Something hit him with the force of a train, driving him straight into the wall, his arm yanked up behind his shoulder and his face ground against the embossed wallpaper. The ringing in his ears got louder, his entire vision washing with darkness. He was going to kill whoever thought they could stop him from getting to Perry—

“Breathe.” The voice was shockingly familiar. “Breathe through it, damn you.”


Garrett’s body jerked, heat and shame flushing furiously through his face. He bucked hard, but Lynch pinned him ruthlessly, forcing his arm higher until the screaming pain in his shoulder cut through even the black haze that blinded him.

“You’re not alone,” Lynch whispered in his ear. “I’m here. And I know how you feel. You need to breathe through it. Nice and slow. Let it in. And out again.”

A hiss of breath escaped Garrett. He shoved against the wall but Lynch held him firm. No escape. Not from this, or from the black haze in his mind.

“That time that the humanists drugged me into a blood frenzy and you had to chain me to the bed, I remember you sat beside me the whole time,” the voice said in his ear. “You wouldn’t let Doyle or Byrnes kill me, because you knew that I could come back, that you could hold me there until I did.” Lynch’s grip shifted on Garrett’s arm. “I’ve got you, lad. I’ve got you now. I won’t let you lose control.” He squeezed again. “She needs you to hold on. Perry needs you.”

Not alone. Garrett collapsed against the wall, Lynch’s body pressed against his. He sucked in a huge breath, feeling it expand against the tightness there until he felt like he could breathe again. Heat flushed behind his eyes, bringing with it a surge of shame.

“Don’t fight it. Just breathe.”

He could hear Byrnes getting slowly to his feet, could smell the blood in the air. His body tightened and Lynch felt it.

“Get out of here,” Lynch ordered, “and clean yourself up. I want you back here in ten minutes.”

Garrett tracked Byrnes through the room by sound, relaxing only when he was gone. He slumped again and opened his eyes, blinking through the shades of gray.

Lynch’s harsh face came into view, examining him for a moment. Then the pressure was gone and Garrett collapsed to his knees, pressing his forehead against the wall. There was blood on his hands, his knuckles split. He had to get rid of it. Had to stop breathing in the scent of it. Garrett wiped his hands on the carpets, again and again, until his hands were crusted with dried blood. They shook.

A hand came out of nowhere, an offer of help.

“Why are you doing this?” Garrett asked hoarsely.

A considering look flashed through those gray eyes. Something he thought he’d never see in his master’s eyes. “Because I abandoned you when you needed me,” Lynch replied quietly, “and someone we both know reminded me of that fact.”

Perry. Garrett stole another slow, steady breath, trying to fight the urge to descend back into the pit. They were words he’d hungered for, knowing that he didn’t deserve them. That didn’t stop the sound of them from aching like a knife to the chest. Lynch had turned his back on him, and he was right. Garrett had needed him. He was the only man Garrett had ever trusted—someone Garrett thought of as the father he’d never had—and he hadn’t been there.

“You doctored her case file,” he said, instead of everything he wanted to say. “You knew who she was when you declared the case unsolvable. You removed the photograph of Octavia Morrow so that no one would ever realize who she was.”

“Ah.” Lynch caught Garrett’s hand, knowing he wouldn’t take it. He hauled Garrett to his feet. “I wondered how much you knew.”

“Not enough.” Christ, the room was a mess. The desk was cracked right down the middle, the splintered remains of a chair scattered across the floor. He couldn’t recall doing any of it. Garrett raked a shaky hand over his face. “I don’t know why she fled from him or why she was so frightened.” His voice cracked. “I don’t know where she is.”

“She’s gone back.”

Back. There was a hand on his arm and Garrett looked down, blinking through the sudden rage. Lynch’s grip was a reminder. He needed to control himself right now.

“She’s gone back to Moncrieff,” he echoed. “Why would she do that?”

“That’s what we need to discover,” Lynch replied. “I never asked her about what happened all those years ago. I never let her know that I’d realized who she was. I should have.”

“Perry wouldn’t have answered anyway.”

“No. Probably not. And she would have never completely trusted me again.” Lynch frowned. “But how do we find out?”

Garrett stared at the destruction in the room. “We go to the source.” His voice hardened. “Perry owes me a damned good-bye.”


The one thing the Duke of Moncrieff couldn’t control was the weather.

Lightning lashed the stormy skies over the city, and rain dripped down the window, obscuring Perry’s view. She stared at it, watching each drop coagulate and streak toward the bottom of the pane, not allowing herself to think of anything else.

Behind her, an abigail silently arranged the blond curls of her wig over her shoulder. Every so often she’d catch a glimpse of herself in the mirror of the vanity, and the sight always made her gaze jerk back to stare at the young woman in red.

The Moncrieff had arranged for everything. The red silk dress had been laid across the bed for her when she arrived, with a note from the duke. He thought the color would suit her, a sign of what she’d become.

All it did was remind her of Garrett—of that night at the opera when she’d worn red silk and this whole mess had begun.

“There we are, miss. You look beautiful,” the abigail murmured shyly.

Perry didn’t even have the heart to ask her name. She simply stared at her own reflection, at the clear, crystalline gray of her eyes and the blondness of her wig. A stranger. One who looked slightly uncomfortable in her borrowed finery, as though she’d almost forgotten what it was like to wear silk gowns and diamond chokers.

Or perhaps she’d changed so much that it was no longer her. In a way, she’d buried Octavia so completely that the foolish young girl no longer seemed to exist, even within herself.

“Thank you. That will be all.”

The abigail bobbed a curtsy. “As you wish, miss.”

Perry waited until the door shut. A sudden sense of restlessness washed through her. She couldn’t stand to be trapped in this room any longer, with its wash of pale-pink Chinese wallpaper and lacy cushions piled on the canopy bed.

Your room, my dear.

She despised pink. She always had.

Perry crossed to the door and eased the handle around. It turned, but the door wouldn’t open.

The abigail must have been under orders to lock her in. For a moment she was furious, and then an unwilling smile crossed her lips. If the Moncrieff thought that a simple lock could trap her, then he truly did not understand who he was dealing with anymore.

She tried the windows and found them latched too. A jest, really. Perry slid one of the pins from her hair and swiftly picked the lock. The window slid up, rain spattering across her skin as she breathed in the London air. Not enough to assuage the feeling of restlessness. She glanced out. The rain was beginning to soften, large fat drops instead of a steady downpour. Perry looked down at the silk dress and realized she truly didn’t care about it.

Grabbing a fistful of her skirts, she eased out of the window and crouched on the narrow ledge. The heeled slippers impeded her enough for her to remove them and throw them back into her pink jail. Then, with wind whipping through her hair and skirts, she swiftly leaped from window ledge to window ledge, until she reached the upper terrace.

Say what she would about the Moncrieff, he had impeccable taste in housing. The view from the terrace stretched out over Hyde Park, a hint of greenery among the denseness of London. On a better day, she might almost be able to see the prince consort’s Exhibition Building from here.

Potted oranges were pruned into exact shape, and chairs rested neatly around a wrought iron table. The glass doors to the orangery ran along the entire terrace, a veritable jungle beckoning from within. Perry’s skirts began to cling wetly to her legs. In the distance, thunder rumbled.

It was exactly what she needed. Some chaos amid all of this ruthless order. A reminder that not everything in life could be controlled. A reminder that she still lived. That in itself was victory.

The shower of rain came down heavier, wetting her through in seconds. She ought to go back in. Her dress and hair were ruined. The duke would be furious if he saw her, and his guests would begin to arrive on the hour.

Still…as Perry twisted the glass door to the orangery, a part of her resisted the thought. She didn’t want to go back.

Lightning flickered, its reflection dancing through the glass doors. Perry bowed her head and pressed her forehead against the door, rain spattering across her bare shoulders and her fingers splaying wide on the glass.

Something splashed in the puddle behind her. Perry froze, her eyes slowly opening and water dripping off her lashes. A nervous twist in her stomach reminded her that she hadn’t caught sight of Hague yet. But a quick glance in the glass showed a reflection too tall to be that vile monster. Not Hague. Her heartbeat sped up. For a moment she almost wished it were.

“You forgot to say good-bye.” Garrett. She pushed herself away from the door in surprise, her mouth dropping open.

He didn’t look happy to see her. He looked furious. Raw. Rain dripped from his lashes and his chestnut hair turned dark as it clung to his scalp. Droplets of water slid down the molded leather carapace covering his chest.

It was everything she’d spent the last twelve hours hoping for.

And her worst nightmare come to life.

“Garrett,” she whispered, pressing back against the glass door. “What are you doing here?”


What are you doing here?

She had the nerve to ask him that? Garrett scraped a hand across his mouth, feeling the roughness of his stubble. He’d forgotten to shave that morning. A brief glance in the mirror earlier had shown that he looked just as savage as he felt.

Perry stared at him with wide eyes, the silk of her dress clinging wetly to her body. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. Here she was. Again. Running from him. Pushing him away when he could damn well help her. His. His heart wrenched at the thought. The idea of losing her was more than he could bear. Shadows flickered through his vision.

“Perry,” he murmured. “Or should I call you Octavia?”

Her head jerked a little and she took a half step back. “You know then?”

Know? Hell, he almost laughed. He knew barely more about her than he had before he learned the truth. Only that she had once been born to the Echelon, to a man who still grieved for her loss; that she’d let the world believe she’d died; and that she’d been running from the Duke of Moncrieff all this time, only to return to him.

“I don’t have a bloody clue,” Garrett snapped. “All I know is that you couldn’t trust me with the truth.”

“I didn’t want anyone to know—”

“I’m not anyone, damn you.” How dare she? “I’ve told you everything about my life and I knew that you didn’t want to speak about your past, but I respected that. I thought there was little to tell.”

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