Most Wanted Page 19

“Go ahead. But pleasedon’t lie to me again, Ryan.”

“I’ve known Blaine since we were just kids. We were in the same foster home for three cycles until the state took us out.” He looked up at Blayde pleadingly.“You have to realize how it was for us. The woman there abused both of us, but mostly Blaine. When the state took us out, I got lucky and was sent to a nice family, but Blainewasn’t so lucky. He was abused again and again until he turned eighteen and got out of the system.That’s what he told me, and I believed him.”

“Did the two of you keep in touch?” Lucas asked.

“No, we met again by chance in New York, when we were both doing the films. We couldn’t believe it at first. Who would have thought we’d wind up back together again, and making movies? It seemed like fate, and we made a promise to always try to take care of each other.” Ryan grabbed Blayde’s hand. “I could never hurt him, Blayde. You have to believe me.”

“Go ahead, baby. Tell us.” Blayde still looked stern, but began rubbing his arm to comfort him.

“After a while, Blaine got a new boyfriend, he told me, and he was somebody important. When he finally told me it was Judge Partland, I was worried, because I’d heard other boys say he was abusive.I tried to warn him, but he said Partland loved him, and he wouldn’t listen to reason.”

“On the night he died, he asked me to come with him to the Judge Partland’s house, and make the film I told you about.I didn’t go with him; I had to work late. By the time I got there he was acting funny. He was drunk, messed up on something.I think they’d put something in his drink, butI didn’t understand that then. I got mad at him, tried to get him to leave with me, but he wouldn’t go. He yelled at me. Said I was trying to take Partland away from him. He was acting crazy, doing and saying things he never would have done in his right mind. I left, but I couldn’t stand it and I went back for him. When I got there, the judge had him on his knees in front of him, and he was ready to do a scene in front of all those men. Blaine would never have done that if he hadn’t been messed up.”

“Is that when you attacked him?” Nikolai asked.

“I didn’t! I went over to him and jerked him away, and he fell on his back. They just kept filming.I yelled at them to stop, but they wouldn’t. I admit I pulled him away from the judge and got on top of him to keep him there, andI might have been too rough, but I didn’t mean to hurt him. He hit his head, but he was alive—I know he was! He was breathing hard and his face was all red, but he looked up at me and told me to go away. I begged them to call for an ambulance, but they wouldn’t. They just stood there looking at me. They told me to get out and not come back. I was angry and I justleft. I shouldn’t have left him there, no matter how angry I was. But I didn’t kill him, Blayde! I know youdon’t have any reason to believe me, but…”

Kyle made a short sound of exasperation and glared down at him.“Ryan we saw you on film smashing his head on the floor several times.”

“But I didn’t! Yes, I was there, I admit it.But I didn’t do that! The judge must have faked the film.”

Blayde shook his head.“I don’t know what to believe anymore.” He passed his hand over his face and looked totally exhausted.“We’ll be landing later today at the Omega 9 moon. I need to think about all this. You have to hide for the rest of the day, anyway. Nikolai will take you, and I’ll talk to you after we transfer the prisoners.”

Nikolai came over to him and jerked him to his feet. Blayde frowned, but never said a word about his rough treatment. Ryan felt suddenly all alone in this thing. Abandoned by the one person he thought really might love him.

“Blayde, you have to believe me.”

Blayde turned away, shaking his head.“Please take him to his hiding place for the landing, Nikolai.Make sure he’s comfortable. I’ll be in to check on him after we get through with this.”

“No!” Ryan jerked his arm away from Nikolai. “Let go of me. I want to go to Omega 9. I don’t want to stay here with you! None of you believe me? Well, fine.I’ll go to prison—it’s better than staying here with you.”

“I don’t remember giving you that option,” Blayde said grimly. “Take him, Nikolai. I’ll be in to see you, Ryan, when I get back from Omega 9.We’ll talk then.”

Nikolai pulled him along, and Ryan went with him, defiantly casting resentful, accusing glances back at Blayde and the others. He allowed Nikolai to take him to the tiny storage bin and lock the door. It was warm inside and there was a small light he could turn on and off. He had a soft mattress to sit on, magazines to read, even a portable toilet set up in the side of the small room. Water and food packets and even snacks were stacked up for him near the door, in case he got thirsty or hungry. Everything had been done to ensure his comfort, but Ryan was still locked in, and he was sunk in misery.

He felt as if Blayde hated him now, and wassorry he’d ever met him. Who could blame him?Now that he’d had a little time to process what felt like Blayde’s rejection, he knew he had no one to blame but himself. Ryan had done nothing but lie to Blayde since the beginning. He was telling the truth now, but Blayde didn’t believe him. It was simply too late.

Why had he told such a stupid lie to begin with?He’d been afraid to admit he was even there that night, that’s why. He hadn’t trusted Blayde with the truth, and now he had to pay the price.Of course, he hadn’t really known Blayde then, and Blayde had played him at the auction. He didn’t, at that time, have any real reason to trust Blayde. There had been time, since then, when he should have confessed, though, and he was kicking himself because he hadn’t. His mind in turmoil, he didn’t even know how he should feel about the situation anymore.

Somehow the judge had faked the file. Ryan was sure of it. He had enough money to do pretty much anything he wanted to do, but Ryan despaired of ever getting Blayde and the others to believe him at this point. Ryan closed his eyes. No use fighting it. Just like when he was a kid. He may as well stop trying, less chance of getting hurt that way. He had a long history of beginning to trust people with his heart, only to have it flung back in his face. Just like when he was a kid in all those foster homes. He sat with his back against the wall, curled into himself and quietly went to pieces.

* * * * Blayde looked over at Lucas as Nikolai took an unresisting Ryan out of the room. How could he still love the beautiful little human so much? He was a murderer, a liar.Wasn’t he? Blaydedidn’t know, but he did love him, and it seemed there was no way around it.“Did you have the lie detector on him as he spoke?”

“Yes,” Lucas said.“It was tracking him the entire time he told his story. He was telling the truth, so far as he believes it.”

“Then Partland somehow faked the film.”

Lucas sighed.“Hard to know what the hell is going on.It’s just possible that Ryan was drugged too, so heavily drugged that he doesn’t even know what happened. We have to get the film the court sent us to an expert to see if it was faked. In the meantime, we have to assume that either Ryan was drugged or he has something wrong withhis brain or his mind.”

Blayde felt alarm and cold fear race through him.“You think he could be sick?”

“I don’t know, Blayde. I think it’s a possibility. We’ll have doctors check him out when we get him home.”

“All right. Good. Do you think I should go with Nikolai? Maybe I should just check on him?”

Lucas smiled sympathetically.“Nikolai will be back in a minute. No need to get Ryan upset again.Let him rest and let’s go take care of the prisoners before we arrive.”

Blayde nodded uneasily and went with Lucas to get the prisoners ready for transfer. The next hours were taken up with the arrival on the planet, the transfer of the prisoners and endless paperwork on the death of the prisoner en route. When he finally made it back to the ship, it was the next day.Worried he’d left his mate alone too long, even though Lucas had remained behind and was monitoring him, he told Nikolai and Kyle to get the ship in flight and hurried to the concealed storage room where they’d hidden Ryan.

Blayde unlocked the door and found Ryan sitting on the mattress, leaning against the wall. He had dark circles under his eyes, and he needed a shave. He looked tired and sick, his eyes burned out, yet he was still achingly beautiful, like a debauched angel.

Blayde forced himself to keep his voice calm and even.“I’ve come to take you to my quarters.We’re leaving the prison moon and are on our way back to Lycanus 3.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

A spark of irritation lit Blayde’s anger, but he leaned casually against the door frame.“Now that’s where you’re wrong, Ryan. You can walk on your own two feet, or I can carry you. But make no mistake, you’re going to my quarters and to my bed.”

“So you’re just like this great-grandfather Nikolai told me about. You take whatever you want and the hell with what I want. No wonder his matecursed him and all his descendants.”

“That’s right. The sins of the fathers…for my own sins, I guess I get to have you as my mate.”

Ryan’s eyes widened in pain. The cruel remark had hurt him, and Blayde felt a sharp jab of remorse. His mate could be ill. Or he could be telling the truth. Ryan was only striking out because he felt insecure and abandoned. What was his excuse? Blayde had made Ryan feel abandoned, and he knew he had to fix things between them.

“What do you want from me?” Ryan asked quietly, his voice full of anguish. He dropped his head into his hands.

“I thought I made that clear, baby. I want you in my bed. Now. We have something to settle between us.”

Ryan got to his feet and came slowly toward him, his gaze rebellious. For a long moment he stared defiantlyinto Blayde’s eyes. Blayde knew it was just bravado, to hide the hurt he was feeling. He also knew Ryan was about to fly apart, and he had to find a way to help him.

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