“Nobody looks good in their darkest hours. But it's those hours that make us what we are.”
“It's just that in the Deep South, women learn at a young age that when the world is falling apart around you, it's time to take down the drapes and make a new dress.”
“Barrons was powerful, broodingly good-looking, insanely wealthy, frighteningly intelligent, and had exquisite taste, not to mention a hard body that emitted some kind of constant low-level charge. Bottom line: He was the stuff of heroes.
And psychotic killers.”
“I moistened my lips. His gaze fixed on them. I think I stopped breathing.
He jerked so sharply away that his long dark coat sliced air, and turned his back to me. “Was that an invitation, Ms.Lane?”
“If it was?” I asked, astonishing myself. What did I think I was doing?
“I don’t do hypotheticals. Little girl.”
“As I moved deeper into the room, his gaze dropped to my feet, and worked its way back to my face. I was wearing faded jeans, boots, and a snug pink Juicy T-shirt I got on sale at TJ Maxx last summer that said I’m a Juicy girl.
“I bet you are,” he murmured.”
“Truth hurts. But lies can kill.”
“The key to resisting Voice," Barrons instructed, "is finding that place inside you no one else can touch.
"You mean the sidhe-seer place?" I said, hopping like a one-legged chicken.
"No, a different place. All people have it. Not just sidhe-seers. We're born alone and we die alone. That place."
"I don't get it."
"I know. That's why you're hopping.”
“I didn’t hear him behind me. I felt him. Electric. Wild. One foot in the swamp. Never going to crawl all the way out.
And I wanted to have sex with whatever he was. Where was I supposed to put that in my head?”
“Then why was his tongue in your mouth? Was he conducting a clinical test of your gag reflex?" He smiled, but not nicely. "How is your gag reflex, Ms. Lane? Are you a hair trigger?"
Barrons likes to use sexual innuendo to try to shut me up. I think he expects the well-raised southern belle in me will think eew and back off. Sometimes, I do think eew, but I don't back off. "I'm a spitter, if that's what you're asking." I flashed him a too-sweet smile.
"Didn't look that way to me. I think you're a swallower. His tongue was halfway to China and you were still taking it."
“Barrons’ lips twitched. I’d almost made him smile. Barrons smiles about as often as the sun comes out in Dublin, and it has the same effect on me; makes me feel warm and stupid.”
“I have your word?”
“You trust my word?”
“You’re an idealistic fool. Of course.”
“When Barrons looks at me like that, it rattles me. Lust, in those ancient, obsidian eyes, offers no trace of humanity. Doesn’t even bother trying. Savage Mac wants to invite it to come out and play. I think she’s nuts. Nuts, I tell you.”
“Hey, I thought you wanted to know about the Sinsar Dubh!” I was so startled by his abrupt departure that I spoke without thinking. I regretted it immediately.
I had no idea where Vlane had gone, or why he‟d disappeared so suddenly, but I decided Id be wise to do the same myself.
Before I could move, a hand closed on my shoulder. “I do, Ms. Lane,” Barrons said grimly. “But first I‟d like to know what the fuck you were doing kissing him.”
“Barrons stood inside the front door, dripping cool old-world elegance.
I hadn’t heard him come in over the music. He was leaning, shoulder against the wall, arms folded, watching me.
“ ‘One eye is taken for an eye . . .’ ” I trailed off, deflating. I didn’t need a mirror to know how stupid I looked. I regarded him sourly for a moment, then moved for the sound dock to turn it off. When I heard a choked sound behind me I spun, and shot him a hostile glare.
He wore his usual expression of arrogance and boredom. I resumed my path for the sound dock, and heard it again. This time when I turned back, the corners of his mouth were twitching. I stared at him until they stopped.
I’d reached the sound dock, and just turned it off, when he exploded.
I whirled. “I didn’t look that funny,” I snapped.
His shoulders shook.
“Oh, come on! Stop it!”
He cleared his throat and stopped laughing. Then his gaze took a quick dart upward, fixed on my blazing MacHalo, and he lost it again. I don’t know, maybe it was the brackets sticking out from the sides. Or maybe I should have gotten a black bike helmet,
not a hot pink one.
I unfastened it and yanked it off my head. I stomped over to the door, flipped the interior lights back on, slammed him in the chest with my brilliant invention, and stomped upstairs.
“You’d better have stopped laughing by the time I come back down,” I shouted over my shoulder.
I wasn’t sure he even heard me, he was laughing so hard.”
“I'm a bartender. I like recipes. They're concretes. Was the drink recipe for seduction one shot charm and two shots self-deception, shaken, not stirred?”
“What are you?” I said irritably.
“In the Serengeti, Ms. Lane, I would be the cheetah. I’m stronger, smarter, faster, and hungrier than everything else out there. And I don’t apologize to the gazelle when I take it down.”
“What a strange word.
‘Night’ I get.
But ‘fall’ is a gentle word.
Autumn leaves fall, swirling with languid grace
To carpet the earth with their dying blaze.
Tears fall, like liquid diamonds
Shimmering softly, before they melt away.
Night doesn’t fall here.
It comes slamming down.”
“I began to cry.
Barrons looked horrified. "Stop that immediately, Ms. Lane."
"I can't." I sniffeled into my cup pf cocoa so he couldn't see my face.
I gave a great sniff and shudder, and turned it off.
"I have not been her lover for...some time," he offered, watching me carefully.
"Oh, get over yourself!”
“Nobody looks good in their darkest hour. But it's those hours that make us what we are. We stand strong, or we cower. We emerge victorious, tempered by our trails, or fracture by a permanent, damning fault line.”
“What is the greater good but tyranny’s chameleon?”
“He’s so beautiful,” she said wistfully. “He’s like an angel.”
“Yep,” I agreed flatly. “The one that fell.”
“You've mistaken me for someone else. Do not wait on me, Ms. Lane. Do not construct your world around mine. I'm not that man."
"Screw you, Barrons."
"I'm not that man, either.”
“How does it feel, MacKayla? You have a piece of me in your mouth. Would you like another?”
“If V’lane were a signpost, it would read Abandon All Personal Will, Ye Who Tread Here.”
“Driving a hot car is a lot like sex to me, or a lot like I keep thinking sex should be: A total body experience, overwhelming, to all the senses, taking you places you've never been, packing a punch that leaves you breathless and touches your soul. The Viper was way more satisfying then my last boyfriend.”
“The inspector ate only two of my tiny sandwiches: the first because he hadn't expected it to taste so awful; the second, I think, because he'd thought surely the first must have been a mistake.”
“He looked blank. “He’s the one who’s been doing the magic against us?”
“Duh,” I said.
“Doona be ‘duh’ing me, lass,” he growled, his burr thickening.”
“I think sex with him might undo my essential cellular cohesion.”
“Barrons knows virtually everything about me. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere he has a little file that encompasses my entire life to date, with neatly mounted, acerbically captioned photos—see Mac sunbathe, see Mac paint her nails, see Mac almost die.”
“I can smell you, Ms. Lane," he said, even more softly. "The only blood on you is from your veins, not your womb."
My head whipped to the left and I stared at him. Ok, that was one of the more disturbing things he'd ever said to me.”
“Imagination is more important than information. Einstein said that, and he should know. And they come. And they look. And we push. And they fly. We to stay and die on our beds. They to go and die howsoever, yet inspiring those who come after them to find their own edge. And fly.”
“Watching my father plan and strategize for the resistance has taught me about trust.” She leaned forward. “Personal trust is very different from political trust, my lady. The first thrives on faith. The second requires proof, whether it be upfront or covert.” Awkwardly, she patted my hand. “His Majesty has always been a powerful man. Perhaps he has never had to distinguish between the two.”
“Seth moved behind me, his presence steady and reassuring. Waiting to catch me, even though I refused to fall just yet.”
“The brave man, the real hero, quakes with terror, sweats, feels his very bowels betray him, and in spite of this moves forward to do the act he dreads.”
“I always feel a little guilty when I break bad news to someone, because that energy, of knowing something others don’t, sort of puffs you up.”
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