Born of ShadowsBy: Sherrilyn Kenyon
The League_ Nemisis Rising 5
Caillen Dagan barely got out of the way before three blaster shots whizzed past his head. His heart thumped wildly as he realized he and his father were trapped by what they assumed were loaners out to collect money. It wasn’t the first time his father’s debts had caused them to be chased. The men after them seemed to be everywhere. And they seemed to be multiplying…
Terror made his breathing ragged as tears welled in his young eyes.
What are we going to do?
His dad grabbed him by the front of his shirt and hauled him into the shadows to crouch down behind him.
Caillen looked around, his entire body shaking as he tried to find an escape for them. There didn’t seem to be one, but he had faith. No one was better at getting through tough situations than his dad.
His father shook him roughly to get his attention. “Listen to me, boy. I need you to take care of your sisters. You hear me?”
Even though he was the youngest of the Dagan children and only eight years old, it was something his dad always said to him. “Yeah, I know.”
“No, Cai, you don’t. You’re too young to comprehend what I’m trying to tell you, but you have to try.” There was a sadness in his father’s eyes that scared him. A resignation that had never been there before and it made him want to cry. But Dagans didn’t cry and he wasn’t about to let his dad see him act like one of his sisters.
His father cupped his face in his calloused palm. “It’ll be years before you understand what’s happening—if even then. But I ned you to listen to me and trust me. I won’t be here to protect you anymore.”
Caillen frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“Listen! Don’t speak. We only have a few more seconds. What I need is for you to make sure that you never get into any system for any government for any reason. Keep a low profile. Live off-grid. Don’t let anyone have a way to track you. Ever. Not your address. Your likeness. Nothing. Especially not your retina, fingerprints or DNA.”
His father’s insistence scared him almost as much as the men with blasters looking for them. “Why?”
“They’ll kill you. You understand? Governments use that to track people and they will hurt you if they find you.”
Those words terrified him even more. “Who will hurt me?”
“My enemies. They’ll come for you too. It’s why I’ve never treated you like a kid and why I’ve made you train so hard. I knew this day would come, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t be until you were older. Unfortunately they’ve found me. Just take what I’ve taught you and use it to stay alive. I need you to live, Cai. For me. I’ve risked everything to keep you breathing. Don’t let it be for nothing. Not after all I sacrificed for you. I know I did the right thing. I know it. Now run home. Let no one follow you and keep your sisters safe. Okay? I know it’s a lot of responsibility for a little boy, but I have faith in you.”
“Just do it, Cai.” His dad pulled him tightly to his chest and held him close. “I love you, boy. You’ve been a good son. Better than I ever deserved. Watch over your sisters, especially Shahara. She’d be lost without you. You’re the only one she’ll have to depend on now.” He kissed Caillen on the head before he released him. He pulled out his wallet and handed it to him. “There’s enough money in there to bribe the doctors. Tell them to say I died of pneumonia.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know, son. Just do exactly what I tell you. Okay? If anyone thinks I died of anything other than a natural cause, they’ll come for your sisters and hurt them. You can’t let that happen. Remember. Pneumonia. You have to keep my face off the news.”
Caillen hated the tears that started falling. He wiped them away with the dirty sleeve of his shirt. His father was right, he didn’t understand any of this, but he would obey. “Okay.”
His father kissed him again. “Now scurry like I showed you.”
“Don’t argue!” His voice shook as tears gathered in his eyes too. “Just stay alive, Caillen.”
Caillen nodded before he darted into a hole in the side of the building to their right. He’d just stood up to run when he heard voices that made him stop and listen.
“Dagan… you treacherous bastard. Where’s the money?”
“I never got the money.”
A blaster shot echoed.
Caillen heard his father cry out. Even though he’d promised not to stay, he crept back toward the hole in the wall to see his father on the ground, cursing the man who’d shot him as he tried to crawl away.
There was a group of men and women behind him who watched with an apathy that was sickening.
The man kicked his father over and held him in place with one foot planted solidly against his father’s bleeding chest. He angled the blaster at his heart. “You’re a crafty bastard. I’ll give you that. Spent six years of my life trying to find you. Now tell me what you did with our package.”