Soldier Page 17

The first time I followed the Patriarch to this neighborhood just north of London, I’d been surprised, maybe even a little stunned. In the Order, prudence was commended and extravagance was frowned upon. Everyone, from the senior officers to the newest grunt, made do with what he had and did not reach beyond his station. Wealth and physical possessions were unimportant. We served a higher order and anything that could tempt or distract us from our holy mission was to be avoided.

But the Patriarch was certainly doing well for himself, considering the size of his home and the number of guards posted. I knew he also had a small apartment in London, because he’d spent the evening there once, entertaining what looked to be a pair of officers from the Order. Perhaps he kept the apartment to hide the fact that he really lived here, in this enormous mansion. Considering the mansion’s isolation, I suspected most of the Order didn’t know where their revered leader actually lived. I wondered what they would think if they did know. If the man really was receiving visions from God, it was definitely paying well.

Lowering the binoculars, I leaned back in the seat, trying to get comfortable and knowing that was impossible. This was the fourth evening I’d sat here, lurking around the home of my former leader, the head of the Order itself. So far, I’d seen nothing unusual. No suspicious activity, no strange guests arriving in the middle of the night. The downstairs window, where I assumed the Patriarch’s office was located, glowed softly with lamp and computer light, and would for another thirty-eight minutes.

I took a sip of bitter black coffee, trying to curb my restlessness. Stakeouts were not my forte. Sitting around, waiting for something to happen...that was what Tristan had been good at, what made him such a deadly sniper—his ability to wait as long as it took for the target to show itself. I was better at kicking down doors and charging in, guns blazing, to shoot everything that moved. That wasn’t an option here, but I was running out of time. If something didn’t happen in the next few nights, I was going to forgo the stakeout and try to sneak into the house itself. Given the amount of guards, dogs and security, such a plan would’ve horrified Tristan.

Tristan. Memories flickered, dark and unwelcome. That was another reason I didn’t like sitting around—my mind tended to dredge up things I’d rather forget. I wondered where Tristan was now, if he was still alive, fighting dragons in the never-ending war with Talon. I wondered if he ever told stories about his former partner the Perfect Soldier, before that soldier turned traitor and sided with the enemy.

A vehicle rolled up to the gates. I sat up quickly, grabbing for the binoculars, as it entered the driveway, then pulled to a stop outside the front door. It was the same dark SUV that drove the Patriarch to and from St. George headquarters. Until now, the Patriarch’s schedule could be timed to the minute. He left work at seventeen hundred on the dot. Barring traffic, he arrived home exactly twenty minutes later and immediately went to his office, where he remained until 7:00 p.m. At 9:30 p.m., his lights went out and wouldn’t click on again until five o’clock the following morning. No one bothered him or interrupted his schedule. Except for the guards, he lived alone—no wife, children, or pets. Everything he did was order, habit and routine.

But not tonight.

Gripping the binoculars, I focused on the front door just as a familiar figure emerged. He wasn’t a tall man, and his short brown hair was peppered with silver, but he was still powerful and imposing, and his gait was confident as he walked to the waiting car. This was not a man who sat in meetings or behind a desk all day; this was a warrior and a soldier. Nodding briskly to the man who opened the door for him, the Patriarch slipped into the backseat. The doors slammed, and the SUV began to move.

All right. Time to get some answers.

* * *

They didn’t go far. Ten minutes after I began discreetly trailing the SUV through a quiet neighborhood, the vehicle slowed and pulled up to the curb. The back door opened, and the Patriarch emerged, followed by two large men. Though they were dressed casually, I could tell they were armed—definitely his security detail. All three gazed calmly up and down the street before they crossed the road and entered the public park on the corner.

I shut off the engine, then grabbed the backpack on the floor and exited the car, watching the Patriarch’s vehicle turn the corner and drive away. Shouldering the bag, I hurried across the street and peeked around a tree, catching sight of my quarry as they strode purposefully through the short grass and deeper into the park.

I dug my earbuds out of my pocket, stuck them in my ears, then pulled out my throwaway phone, keeping my head down. I’d never met the Patriarch, but I could only assume he knew what I looked like. My photo had probably been circulated through the Order, and the Patriarch would certainly keep up with current affairs in St. George. Following him was a risk, but if he did happen to glance back, hopefully all he would see was an oblivious teenager listening to music while texting on his phone.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies