Chapter 80 – Scars – Cage's POV

I knew something was very wrong the instant I got Kieran's text: Council room now!

Fuck!

I jerked on a pair of jeans and boots, but didn't bother with a shirt. Traveling at a run, it took me less than a few minutes to arrive. When I burst through the door, I was completely confused at the scene in front of me.

Across the room, there was an enormous tiger lying down on the floor!

For a moment, I thought this was Kieran's idea of a joke. But then several things caught my attention. First, Alaric  turned around to face me.  There was absolutely no reason he should be here! The expression in his eyes was hard...And something else  I couldn't quite put my finger on.

I didn't linger on him. Instead, my glance cut to the woman standing next to him, Talia. She was one of my closest friends and confidants. I had known her for many, many years; enough time for me to immediately see the telltale signs that she had been crying – a lot.

And to top it all of, in my peripheral vision, General Raed's grim expression only solidified my wildly growing sense of panic.

But the thing that confused and alarmed me the most was I smelled her  scent – Raine! She was in the room, so why didn't I see her?!

And then my eyes zeroed in on her limp form.

In the middle of the chaos, my brain had not immediately picked up on her location, because it was the very last place I expected – she was lying on the back of the giant cat!

Without another thought, I blurred across the room.

When I reached her, I felt as if I had been punched hard in my gut. The position of the cat and her body had not immediately revealed the devastation, but I could plainly see it now as I crouched over her. Her back had been ravaged, slashed open, by a weapon I was more than familiar with. Someone had whipped  her – repeatedly!

And given the severity of the punishment, I knew the bastard vampire who beat her, had not held back. Unbridled rage, like I had never felt before, slammed through me. The stunning force of it left me breathless and vibrating with fury.

Someone was going to die tonight!!

Before this night was over, I was going to exact my revenge on the motherfucker who presumed he could hurt her and get away with it!

I whispered urgently, "Who did this to you, Tigru?!"

Her eyelids fluttered. With great difficulty, she rasped, "It doesn't matter."

I rocked back on my heels in confusion.

It doesn't matter??!!

What the fuck did she mean by that?!

It sure as hell, fucking mattered!

I studied her. The only reason she would refuse to tell me, would be to protect  someone else. And then the pieces clicked into place. Now I understood Alaric's strange expression – he felt guilt!

I exploded from my crouched position, twisting just slightly to alter my trajectory, so that my fist collided directly with his face. The impact was fierce.

He hadn't been prepared for my attack and flew back several feet, crashing into the couches. He recovered almost instantly, agilely jumping to his feet to face me. His lack of surprise, that I was stalking toward him with lethal intent, was all the confirmation I needed. I had been right!

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