Wil woke feeling as if he’d been hit by a tank. His mouth was dry, his eyes hurt and his head felt swollen. The ringing in his ears had been replaced by a pounding like a pile driver.
As soon as he struggled to sit up, Penny was beside him, giving him a supporting hand. Her eyes held concern, not just on a professional level. She flung herself at his chest, grabbing him tightly as if her life depended upon this one embrace. Wil lost his balance, collapsing on the bed once more.
“Penny,” he said thickly. “What?”
“Oh, Wil, I was so worried! Don’t ever do that again!”
“Whadidido?” He could barely enunciate.
“Rashima?” His head was clearing. “What about her, where is she?”
He felt a burning in his loins, uncomfortable and evocative.
He sat up, pushing her roughly aside. “What? Who?” His movements were erratic, dangerous, as he swung his arms around wildly.
“She was shot, Wil.”
There was a long pause as Wil worked through this information. “Dead.” His voice sounded flat and emotionless.
“Yes. Wil, she was a siren.”
“Whazzat?” Blinking fast, he tried again to clear his wooly head.
The name conjured up an image, a definition began to take form in his mind. Smacking dry lips, he shook his head, trying to clear his eyes, but only made himself dizzier.
“Fuck me,” he groaned as he lay back down.
A glass pressed against his lips. He drank automatically, spilling a good bit on the bed. The pounding faded to a buzz like barber’s clippers. His mind was clearing gradually.
“Penny, start over, all I remember is this – Oh God! This woman, she was so beautiful, exotic.” He felt a burning sensation in his loins again. “Ow! Why do I hurt?”
“Wil, look at me.”
He focused on her face with difficulty. “Penny?”
“Wil, if you don’t focus for me, I’m going to hit you.”
He blinked slowly, tried to clear his head again and failed. “Feel like shit,” he mumbled. “There was this girl.” He mused again, rolling over, hoping to sleep and dream of the woman in white.
Smack! A sharp slap clipped him on the left cheek, snapping his head sideways. He caught her hand before she could get him with the back swing.
“What the hell was that for? Penny?”
She grinned at him, kissing his smarting cheek. “You’re back! Oh, thank God! What do you remember?”
“Lots of explosions, Aurialonus, and some woman. There was something about her.” His eyes glazed over again and Penny slapped him sharply once more. “Will you please stop doing that?”
“Not until you snap out of this!” She popped him again, but less hard. “She was a siren, Wil. Do you know what that is?”
“One of those women, Greek mythology, sang and lured sailors to their deaths?”
“Something like that, only this one is a telepath who lures men to her, controlling them, making them her tools. I thought she had you for awhile.” Her voice drifted off. “She’s been the problem, all along. She was sent to kill us.”
“In all these other operations, she’s turned the men against one another. Only Emory kept his head.”
“Why? What makes him special?”