Dark Angel's Surrender
Sometimes, the best of things happened at the worst of times, Anandur mused as he hoisted the body up, looping the noose fashioned from the guy’s leather belt around the corpse’s neck.
Mortal danger had a way of bringing out the worst or the best in people.
Love could flourish even when surrounded by pain, blood, and death. But then this was no news to him. Anandur had always been a romantic, and today’s events had just proven what he’d already known.
But it was no doubt shocking news to Brundar. Poor guy was completely out of his element. The love part, that was. Brundar was no stranger to blood, pain, or death.
Taking one last look at the body swinging from the noose, Anandur admired his handiwork. An excellent job if he said so himself. The angle was consistent with the way he’d snapped the ex-husband’s neck.
I wonder how long it will take until he’s found.
Did the psychopath have friends? A family that gave a shit?
Calypso should know.
To spare her the gory sight, Anandur had loaded the girl and his brother into Brundar’s Escalade. Later, he would drop Callie at her home, deposit Brundar into the capable hands of Doctor Bridget, and then take an Uber back to the scene of the crime for his Thunderbird.
The neighborhood seemed safe enough to leave a car overnight. Besides, he had one hell of an alarm system, and a tracker he’d installed himself on top of the LoJack. Whoever dared to steal his baby wouldn’t get far with her.
His next task was to clean the blood off the tiled floor. A roll of paper towels in hand, Anandur got down on his knees, not an easy feat given the protective suiting he was still wearing, and got to work. It was a good thing Brundar hadn’t made it past the entry and onto the carpet before getting shot. Nothing save torching the place would’ve eliminated all traces of his blood if any of it had gotten on the carpet.
He finished the job with a thorough wipe down, using up an entire container of bleach. When the cleaning was done, including the ex’s guns, Anandur put the empty bleach container into a large trash bag, then filled it with the wadded paper towels.
The guns went into a dresser drawer in the bedroom.
Trash bag in hand, he walked out the door. The fireplace in his and Brundar’s apartment would finally be put to good use.
Dropping the bag in the trunk, Anandur glanced at the back seat, where Brundar was lying propped against the door with his legs resting in Calypso’s lap. Apparently, the girl wasn’t scared of a little blood. As badly bruised as she was, her main concern was to keep Brundar as comfortable as possible throughout the drive.
The thing was, after dropping her off at her apartment, Brundar would have to manage without her support for the rest of the ride.
“How are you holding up?” he asked his brother.
“I’ll live,” Brundar said. “The bleeding’s stopped.”
“That’s good. I don’t think you could’ve gone any paler.” Anandur turned to the girl. “I need your address, Callie.”
“What for?” She lifted her chin and threw him a challenging look. “I’m not going home. Wherever Brundar goes, I go.”
With a slight tilt of his head, Anandur signaled Brundar to take it from there and explain why it wasn’t possible.
Instead of doing the smart thing, Brundar did the opposite. “Bridget should take a look at her bruises.”
“I can take Calypso to a hum—” Anandur stopped himself in time “—hospital before I take you to Bridget.”
Brundar shook his head. “They will ask questions.”
“So what are you suggesting we do? If we bring an outsider in, Kian is going to tear us new asses.”
“I have clean strips of fabric in the glove compartment that I can use to blindfold her.”
Calypso snorted. “Aren’t you guys going a little overboard with this? I’m sure your cousin is not that mean.”
“He is,” Anandur and Brundar said simultaneously.
“Maybe we can sneak her in to see Bridget and then I’ll take her home.”
“I’m here, guys. Don’t talk about me as if I’m not.”
“Sorry,” Anandur said.
Brundar shifted, a pained groan escaping his throat. “Call Bridget and tell her we’re coming in.”
To make that sound, Brundar must’ve been in unbearable pain. Anandur punched the glove compartment open and pulled out one of the soft white cloths. “I don’t want to know why you keep this in your car.” He tossed the fabric to Brundar.
“To clean my weapons. What do you think I use it for?”
“Never mind.” Anandur turned the engine on and eased into the street, then called Bridget once he reached the freeway.
“What’s the emergency?” She sounded tired.
“I’m bringing Brundar and his lady friend in. He was shot in both knees, and his friend is badly bruised. They are both in the car with me, and you’re on speakerphone.”
Smart woman. Not that he’d left much room for misinterpretation. “Fifteen minutes or less.”
“I’ll bring a gurney.”
“Much obliged.” He ended the call.
In the back, Calypso took the cloth from Brundar’s hands, folded it on the diagonal to fashion a blindfold, and then tied it loosely around her eyes.
“Everything hurts too much for me to tie it securely, but I promise not to peek.”
“It’s fine. I trust you.” Brundar took her hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss.
Anandur barely managed to stifle a shocked gasp, forcing himself to look at the road instead of spying on his brother in the rearview mirror. But what he’d just witnessed had been a fucking miracle. Brundar acting affectionate?
Anandur had thought he would never live to see the day.
The woman deserved sainthood for pulling that off.
It was imperative that he kept her safe from Kian and anyone else who might think to separate her from Brundar. Given what she’d accomplished, her humanity was almost irrelevant.
Brundar needed her.
“Listen, Calypso. When we get there, don’t wander away from us. You stay glued to either Brundar or me, and you do exactly what we tell you. Understood?”
“Yeah. I got that. I have to hide from the big bad wolf.”
“You have no idea.”
The blindfold kept sliding down Callie’s nose, and even though the fabric was incredibly soft, it hurt every time she had to move it back up. Pushing it into position one last time, she leaned against the headrest, hoping to anchor it in place.
The guys were most likely exaggerating their cousin’s hostile predisposition. Either that or he was indeed a terror of a man.
She couldn’t imagine those two cowering before anyone.
On the other hand, it might have not been fear. The brothers held their boss in the highest esteem, and breaking his rules didn’t sit well with them.
As long as she got to be with Brundar, she didn’t care what she had to do.
Besides, a blindfold was nothing new. Except, she associated it with hot sex and not clandestine operations. Callie was almost grateful for the all-consuming pain she was in, which prevented the Pavlov-like sexual response to the blindfold. Under the circumstances, getting horny would’ve been grossly inappropriate.
She wondered how come she was so calm. Everything hurt, from her bruised face to her scraped wrists to her arms and legs and everything in between. But she was alive and free, which less than an hour ago seemed like an impossible dream.
Oh God, Shawn was dead.
Callie still couldn’t wrap her head around it, nor could she summon even a smidgen of sorrow or regret. After all, she had some memories with him that weren’t horrible. She should’ve felt something. But there was nothing, not even shock. Not even horror at what had transpired over the last couple of hours.
Maybe it was a typical response for survivors—feeling euphoric for the simple reason that they were alive. Especially when that survival was nothing short of miraculous.
Brundar’s cold hand closed around hers, reminding her that they weren’t out of the woods yet. Her injuries were superficial, and the most she had to worry about was some scarring. But, despite his and Anandur’s reassurances, Brundar might never walk again.
If he ended up crippled because of her, she would never forgive herself for getting him involved in her crap.
“Are you okay, sweetling? Are you in pain?” Brundar asked.
Her injuries were nothing compared to his, and yet he was concerned about her. God, she loved this man. The thing was, if she told him that, he would run off, or crawl away as was the case.
Hey, maybe this was the perfect opportunity to spring it on him.
In his condition, he couldn’t get far.
“If you’re smiling, I assume it’s not so bad. Want to tell me about it? I could use a distraction.”
If he only knew.
“I’m worried about you. I would never forgive myself if your injuries crippled you. But as shameful as it is to admit, I smiled thinking that there is one advantage to you being in this state. You can’t run away from me. You can try crawling away, but I will have no problem catching you.”
He squeezed her hand. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m done running.”
Anandur sighed. “Oh, man. We are in a shitload of trouble.”
It made her angry to think that what she and Brundar shared could be considered a problem. It was like they were stuck in a story from a different age or place, where social status and other crap like that stood in the way of love. “Why do you work for a tyrant like that? You can quit and find better employment, where you are free to be with whomever you choose.”
“It's complicated,” Anandur said.
Did their cousin hold something over their heads? Or did they owe him a debt of gratitude? It had to be something huge to justify such sacrifice on their part.
She wondered what on earth could merit such loyalty to a guy who didn’t allow them to have a life. The thing that bothered her most, though, was that Kian was happily married, meaning the rules against relationships didn’t apply to him. That wasn’t fair. If he demanded it from those in his employ, he should at least abide by the same rules.
The car slowed and turned, then went through a series of downward spirals until it stopped. Callie heard what sounded like the pneumatic hiss of a mechanism, then the screech of a heavy door sliding on rails. When the noise stopped, Anandur pulled forward, driving for a few feet before coming to a full stop.
Brundar patted her thigh. “You can remove the blindfold.”
“Thank God.” She untied the loose knot at the back of her head and let the cloth drop to her lap. A blindfold wasn’t fun when it had nothing to do with sex.
As she’d guessed, they were in an underground parking lot. It was dimly lit, and even though her eyes had been closed throughout the drive and therefore accustomed to the dark, it took Callie a moment to notice the small form standing next to the entry to the building proper.
The shadowy figure detached from the wall she’d been leaning against and headed their way, pushing a wheeled gurney in front of her. As she got closer, Callie saw more details. The woman was young, mid to late twenties at the most, and was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. And yet, Callie had no doubt that the woman was the doctor Anandur had spoken to before. She had that unmistakable air of confidence and competence about her.
Anandur got out, and after exchanging a few words with the doctor, he opened the back door. “I’m going to lift you up and place you on the gurney,” he told Brundar.
“Wait, can’t the doctor give him something for the pain before you move him?” Callie asked.
Anandur hesitated for a moment, looking from the petite doctor to Brundar and back.
“Just do it.” Brundar leaned forward, then groaned and fell back against the door.
“Let me.” The doctor put her hand on Anandur’s bicep, motioning for him to move aside.
“Hello, I’m Doctor Bridget.” She offered her hand to Callie as if there was no injured man in the vehicle, waiting for her to alleviate his pain.
“Callie,” she said as she offered the doctor her hand, which the woman shook quickly. “I’m going to squeeze by you, okay?”
“Sure.” Callie cast the woman a puzzled look. Was she going to get inside and give Brundar a shot for the pain?
“Anandur, push the gurney up to the seat and adjust the height until it’s level with it. We are going to slide Brundar over.”
Callie lifted her hand. “Aren’t you going to give him a shot first?”
“No.” The doctor snaked her arm under Brundar’s back. “When I say go, Callie, scoot as gently as you can toward the gurney, one inch at a time. I’m going to push Brundar at the same rate, so there is no pressure on his knees. When you reach the end, Anandur is going to lift you together with Brundar’s legs. You’ll provide the support while I lift his torso from behind.”
Callie cast her an incredulous look. “How are you going to lift him?” The woman looked to be no more than an inch or two over five feet, if that, and delicately built. She could never lift a big guy like Brundar.
“Don’t worry about that. I’m stronger than I look. Just do exactly as I say, and we will have him on that gurney with minimal pain. Understood?”
Neither guy had argued with the doctor about her plan, so they must’ve known something Callie didn’t. Like maybe Bridget was moonlighting as a bodybuilder.
“Small movements, Callie. On three. One, two, three!”
Brundar gritted his teeth as Bridget moistened his pants and then cut them off him, all without giving him anything for the pain. Was she punishing him for involving her in harboring a human?
“What?” She didn’t look up from her task of examining his knees.
“Can I trust you to keep Calypso a secret?”
“Anandur said he is taking her home as soon as I’m done treating her.”
“Then it’s all I’m going to say if asked. As a doctor, it is my obligation to treat her. But nothing more.”
“I need to knock you out to reset your knees, which I will have to do without the help of a nurse because there is a human here I can’t allow her to see. The bones are already mending, but not in the right way.”
“Can I have a local shot? I don’t want to be out completely.”
“Fine,” she grumbled. “You’re lucky that I just discharged Roni and no new patients have come in. I don’t know what possessed you to bring her in here. You’re aware that you can’t hide her for long. Even if she is hidden from sight, her scent and her heartbeat are going to give her away.”
“I know. But I couldn’t leave her alone after what she’s been through.”
“I’m still waiting to hear all about it, like how the hell the clan’s best fighter got both of his knees shot by a human. It’s not very confidence inspiring.”
He had never heard Bridget talk so nastily to anyone, let alone a patient.
“Why are you angry?”
She waved a hand. “I don’t have all night. Talk to me.”
By the time Brundar had finished telling Bridget a very condensed version of the night’s events and what had led up to them, the anger in the doctor’s eyes had subsided.
“Callie must be traumatized. Even if she hated the guy, his violent death must have been difficult for her. After I’m done with you, I’ll see if she needs anything for the shock.”
As always, Bridget worked quickly and efficiently. It had taken her about thirty minutes to administer the local epidural, reset his knees, and put them in braces to keep him from accidentally moving them.
When she was done, Bridget put her hands on her hips and glared at him. “Don’t even think about putting pressure on your knees until I tell you it’s okay. Your brother will have to carry you to the bathroom and back for a couple of days. After that, you can use a wheelchair, and crutches to the bathroom.”
“As long as it takes.”
Bridget was still in a nasty mood.
He rephrased his question. “When can I go back to work?”
“After your knees are fully mended, which should take about two weeks. I don’t want to have to re-break and reset them again because you didn’t listen to me.” She looked evilly at him. “I will do it the old-fashioned way, with a belt between your teeth to bite on and no painkillers.”
Fuck, he’d been there, done that. It was easy to forget how bad it used to be.
“I promise you that I’m going to follow your instructions to the letter. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not into pain.”
That got a smile out of her. “Good boy.” She patted his shoulder. “Rest here while I treat your girlfriend.” Bridget stepped out of the room and closed the door.
A moment later it opened again, the irate redhead letting Calypso and Anandur in. “She wants to check on you first.” Bridget grimaced.
Calypso’s face looked bad. Splotches of purple and yellow and black covered most of it.
Had it gotten worse, or had he been in too much pain to notice it before?
“You need to let the doctor treat you, Calypso.”
“I will in a minute.” She walked up to his bed. “What’s the prognosis?”
“He is going to be as good as new in a few weeks,” Bridget said from behind her.
Callie lifted a brow. “I’m not a doctor, but even I know it’s impossible to heal from such severe injuries so quickly.”
Bridget put her hands on her hips and glared at the three of them. “I used a new experimental procedure that speeds up the healing process significantly. You have my word. In a few weeks, there will be no sign of the injury.”
Calypso smiled for the first time that night. “Thank you, Doctor. That’s the best news I’ve ever gotten.” She leaned to kiss Brundar’s cheek. “Now I’m ready to get treated.”
Behind her back, Bridget rolled her eyes and mouthed, “You owe me big time.”
He nodded. Bridget had lied for him. She sure as hell hadn’t enjoyed it.
Calypso pushed up and turned to the doctor. “Any chance you can pull a miracle treatment like that for me? Something to get rid of those bruises overnight so I can go back to work?”
“Sorry. That procedure works only on bones and tendons and cuts, not bruises.”
To Bridget’s credit, she handled Calypso with way more care than she had him, touching as gently as she could and apologizing for hurting her every time Calypso winced.
“Nothing is broken. I’ll give you something for the pain. How are you holding up emotionally?”
Calypso shrugged. “Surprisingly fine.” She tugged her T-shirt down. “Is there something wrong with me? Shouldn’t I feel something?”
“I’m not a psychologist. I guess that you didn’t have time to internalize what happened yet and that it will hit you later. I’ll give you some mild relaxant in case it does.”
The doctor walked out, returning a few moments later with three containers of pills. “The instructions are right here.” She showed them to Calypso, then waved her hand in Brundar’s direction. “Okay, people. It’s late, and I want to get some sleep tonight. You’re free to go.”
Anandur pointed at the gurney. “Am I taking him up with that?”
“Unless you want to carry him in your arms, then the answer is yes.”
“I’ll take the gurney.”
“Smart move. Goodnight, guys. Call me if you need me.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Calypso said.
As soon as Bridget had left, Anandur closed the door behind her and walked over to the bed. “Am I taking Calypso home now, or is she staying the night?”
“Is that an option?” She looked hopefully at Brundar.
He didn’t want her to go. Not now, not ever. But that wasn’t on the table. The next twenty-four hours was the best bargain he was going to get. “She comes with us. You can sneak her out tomorrow night.”
“That’s what I thought.” Anandur leaned over him, lifting him an inch off the bed and repositioning him as far as he could go to the right.
“Up you go.” He motioned for Calypso to get on.
Brundar extended his arm, pulling her to him as soon as she climbed up. With Calypso pressed against him, he inhaled her scent, taking his first deep breath of the day.
Anandur grabbed a blanket, shook it out, and covered them both with it. “Not much of a plan, but that’s all I got.”
“There are no cameras in the clan’s elevators,” Brundar offered.
“True. This is just in case we bump into someone.”
As if a blanket would help.
Even if they managed somehow to mask Calypso’s scent, an immortal would immediately pick up on the additional heartbeat. But Anandur was right that there wasn’t much to be done about it. They were taking a risk.
His brother opened the door and then took up position behind the gurney. “Let’s roll, kids. May the odds be ever in our favor.”
Thank you for reading the Children Of The gods Series.
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