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Chapter 97 – It's Time – Raine's POV

Echo had spared no expense for our visit, from the luxury accommodations to the exquisite food, and eager staff on hand to meet our every need. Talon and Ivy had been amazed again and again, as they too, partook in the splendor of it all.  Bringing them along hadn't been a difficult decision. I always felt much more relaxed with Talon by my side, and since Ivy was not ready to be left alone, they both had accompanied us on our trip.

I tried to refocus my attention. Cage and I sat across from Echo and his men, most of whom had unconditional loyalty to me, courtesy of my glowing-blue-eyed thingy. The rest had looked at me a little warily at first, but soon warmed up, and had been extremely helpful and courteous over the past week.

My thoughts drifted again from the current topic at hand. Even though I enjoyed learning everything there was to know about my country, it felt like college all over again, and the daily studying was quite exhaustive. I envied Talon and Ivy, as they got to enjoy all of the perks without any of the work.

After the madness with Silas and resulting forced intimacy, Talon had eased a little in relationship to his physicality with Ivy. He held her hand and frequently hugged her now; however, I got the distinct impression that they had not fully consummated their relationship. Talon and I hadn't had a moment to discuss how he felt now about her, but I suspected he still resisted due to his personal history of abuse.

As the thoughts of that woman who had hurt him so deeply, washed over me, unbridled rage flowed steady and strong through my system. Once we were done with our trip with Echo, Talon and I would need to talk again, so that I could gather more details about her. I didn't even know which kingdom or province she was from. I hated to bring up such painful memories for him, but she was not going to escape my wrath.

I was pulled out of my revere when I noticed Cage's expression turn to concern as he stared down at his phone on the table. I could see the caller ID – General Raed.

I asked softly, "What's wrong?"

Everyone fell silent. Even though I had spoken quietly, every vampire in the room had heard me and waited for Cage's response. He murmured, "That is his third call. I kept letting them go to voicemail, until our meeting was adjourned, but now I think there may be a problem."

"Call him," Echo encouraged.

Before Cage could even key in the buttons to call General Raed, Echo's personal assistant interrupted, "I apologize Master Echo, however there is an incoming call on the conference phone from a 'General Raed'. He says it is urgent."

My blood ran cold. This could not be good if the General took drastic action to call Echo directly. Echo tapped the button on the phone to accept the call and put him on speaker. He spoke fluidly but his jaw was clenched;  he sensed the severity of the situation as well. "General, to what do we owe the pleasure of your call?"

General Raed bit out crisply, "Are Raine and Micage with you?"

Cage answered, "We are here, General. What is it?"

"Armand's health is steadily deteriorating. He had struggled before you left, however the pain has escalated drastically over the last few days."

Armand's health??

What ailment could possible afflict Armand??

I looked at Cage in confusion, trying to make sense out of the words.  Apparently, Cage had some idea because he guessed through gritted teeth, "Is it the Queen?"

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