She waved to her family and pulled Robert out of the room and down the corridor.
“What’s wrong?” she asked him.
He sighed and shook his head slightly. He was silent for so long that Beth thought he wasn’t going to answer.
As they stepped into the outside world, he said, “Thorn’s gone AWOL. Nobody knows where he is.”
Beth gasped. “Oh my God, I’m sorry.”
“I told them this would happen. He’s been out of it for years and it’s only been getting worse, especially recently. Everyone on rotation this week is going out to look for him. Mark’s sick with worry.”
“Why Mark specifically?”
“He and Thorn are together. They can’t get mated but it doesn’t matter to them.”
“Isabella and Lucius are coming too.”
“Isabella’s favourite child.”
“She had more than one?”
“She’s had five. The other three are dead.”
“Oh... I never really expected her to have any other children.”
“Lucius is an... interesting person, I think you two will get on well. He gets on well with everyone except Onyx.”
“Why not Onyx?”
“Lucius has views that disagree with the views of his uncle.”
“Jay is Lucius’ father.”
“Oh, wow. You know, all these family ties are really confusing.”
A slight smile touched his lips but his eyes didn’t change.
“When will you be going out?” Beth asked.
“As soon as we get back.”
“You could go now and I can drive myself home.”
“I need to grab my stuff and change anyway,” he said quietly.
They reached the car and got in silently. She handed Robert the keys he’d given her earlier. He took them and started the engine. The drive was quiet, the only noise being the rumble of the car.
Beth looked at Robert. He was preoccupied and worried; his eyes dark and his lips pressed into a thin line. She sighed internally. He was so closed-off like this.
“You finished with the I-am-an-island stuff yet?” she whispered, aiming for a joke.
When he looked at her, his eyes were a dark shade of red. In fact, they were so dark she wasn’t sure they were really red.
“If Emily went missing without a word, how would you feel?” he said quietly before turning his eyes back to the road. “They’re my ceremonial brothers, Beth; losing one of them is like losing an arm. We’ve laughed, and fought, and killed together. We’re much more than just a bunch of assassins.”
“I’m sorry, I was just trying to cheer you up,” she said quietly.
He sighed. “Don’t worry.”
She turned to the window, realising just how much it mattered to Robert that Thorn was missing.
The next thing she knew, they were pulling into the driveway. Beth got out when the engine stopped, as did Robert. She opened the front door and went in.
Robert walked past her and headed up the stairs. After a moment, she followed him. He was in the bedroom, pulling things out of the wardrobe. He dropped a pair of leather trousers onto the bed, and a long black leather trench coat. A pair of military boots sat on the floor, waiting to be worn.