Soldier Page 15

Riley sneered. “Don’t try to sell me a line now that the organization is gunning for you,” he said in a low voice. “This is what happens when you play both sides. Eventually, they both discover you can’t be trusted...except now you know too much.”

“No such thing.” Griffin sniffed and stared us down over the bridge of his nose. “It’s what I know that keeps me alive and makes everyone want what I have. Case in point, you’re here because I have information, and you’re willing to bargain for it.”

“Yeah? Don’t be so sure,” Riley said. He leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms. “Seems to me you’re getting exactly what you deserve. Give me one good reason not to walk away and let a Viper do me the favor of slitting your throat.”

“Two words.” Griffin put down his drink and laced ringed fingers under his chin. His eyes were hard as he said in a slow, clear voice, “Breeding facilities.”

“What?” Riley dropped his arms and leaned forward, his eyes intense. My stomach dropped. The “facilities” were the places where Talon sent female dragons who had either failed assimilation or were deemed unfit in other ways. They became breeder females whose only purpose was to produce fertile eggs for the organization. The breeders and their locations were some of Talon’s most jealously guarded secrets. Riley had been looking for the facilities for years, but had never been able to find them.

“You know where a facility is?” Riley asked, not quite able to hide the faint thread of hope in his tone.

A slow smile crept across Griffin’s face. “Not just one facility,” he said. “All three of them.”


Griffin shrugged, and Riley clenched a fist on the table. “Dammit, Griffin,” he said. “You have my attention, so stop being an asshole. What do you want already?”

“I’ll tell you what I want.” The human leaned forward, his jaw set. “I want your promise that you’ll protect me from Talon,” he said. “I want a new face, a new identity, a new career, the works. I want Wes to help me disappear, and when all of that is taken care of, I want you to forget you ever knew me. I walk away from this whole mess, and you don’t darken my doorstep, now or anytime in the future.” Griffin leaned back again and picked up his glass. “That’s my offer,” he said, watching us over the rim. “And you know you’re going to take it, Riley. You’ve been looking for those facilities for how long? Longer than I’ve known you, right?”

I heard the faint rumble of a growl in the back of Riley’s throat. “How do I know you’re not lying to me again?” he asked. “Or that you’re not still working for them, and I’m walking into a trap?”

“You don’t,” Griffin said easily. He smirked, and I wanted to fly across the table, grab his smug neck and shake him until he either gave us the info, or it snapped. “But you’re going to trust me, anyway, because this is too good to pass up. You can’t risk me being right and letting the facilities slip through your claws, can you? All those poor breeder females, slaves to Talon forever.” He spread his hands, palms up, on the table. “But, the choice is yours, of course. You know what I want. We have a deal or not?”

Riley’s jaw tightened, and I could sense the dragon surging in him, too, wanting to spring up and burn the self-satisfied triumph right off the human’s face. But his voice was carefully controlled as he answered. “Fine. Tell me where the facilities are, and you have a deal.”

“Your word,” Griffin replied, his expression serious now. “I want your word, Riley. I give you what you want, you help me disappear, and neither you—” he shot a quick glance in my direction “—nor anyone in your network, ever bothers me again.”

“Yes,” Riley growled. “You have my word. Now give me the damn information before I change my mind and rip that forked tongue out through your teeth.”

Griffin nodded. Fishing in his breast pocket, he withdrew a pen and pulled a napkin toward him across the table. After scribbling a few lines, he folded it again and shoved it toward Riley.

“GPS coordinates,” Griffin said as Riley grabbed the square and flipped it open. “Give that to Wes. He should be able to find it. Have him confirm that it’s there.”

Riley frowned. “This is just one location,” he said, holding up the napkin. “You told me you knew where the others were.”

“I do. And I’m certainly not stupid enough to hand them over all at once. What’s to stop you from running off and leaving me high and dry with Talon?”

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