“I was dead until you found me, though I breathed. I was sightless, though I could see. And then you came...and I was awakened.”
“Z: "You know, this was a hell of a lot easier when you were out cold in the back of that truck."
Phury: "That was you?"
Z:"You think it was Santa Claus or some shit?”
“He knew he was being overbearing as hell, but he couldn't help it. He was a bonded male. With his pregnant female. There were few things on the planet more aggressive or dangerous. And those bastards were called hurricanes and tornadoes.”
“I… What are you saying, Zsadist?" she stammered, even though she'd heard every word.
He glanced back down at the pencil in his hand and then turned to the table. Flipping the spiral notebook to a new page, he bent way over and labored on top of the paper for quite a while. Then he ripped the sheet free.
His hand was shaking as he held it out. "It's messy."
Bella took the paper. In a child's uneven block letters there were three words: I LOVE YOU
Her lips flattened tight as her eyes stung. The handwriting got wavy and then disappeared.
"Maybe you can't read it," he said in a small voice. "I can do it over."
She shook her head. "I can read it just fine. It's… beautiful."
"I don't expect anything back. I mean… I know that you don't… feel that for me anymore. But I wanted you to know. It's important that you knew.”
“Bella: "Then why are you wearing that bandage like a sash?"
Phury: "It makes my ass look smaller.”
“Besides, you think I'm not used to hurting? For me, it's home sweet home, my brother.”
“The necklace was a good excuse," he murmured.
"I thought maybe I could go to Charleston and show up at your front door to give this back and maybe… you might let me in. Or something. I was worried that another male would court you, so I've been trying to go as fast as I could. I mean, I figured maybe if I could read, and if I took a little better care of myself, and if I tried to stop being such a mean-ass motherfucker…" He shook his head. "But don't misunderstand. It's not like I expected you to be happy to see me. I was just… you know, hoping… coffee. Tea. Chance to talk. Or some shit. Friends, maybe. Except if you had a male, he wouldn't allow that. So, yeah, that's why I've been hurrying."
His yellow eyes lifted to hers. He was wincing, as if he were afraid of what might be showing on her face.
"Friends?" she said.
"Yeah… I mean, I wouldn't disgrace you by asking for more than that. I know that you regret… Anyway, I just couldn't let you go without… Yeah, so… friends.”
“Tohrment spoke. "Bella's brother called. He's tabled the sehelusion request and asked that she stay here for a couple of days."
Z jacked his head up. "Why?"
"He didn't give a reason-" Tohr's eye's narrowed on Z's face. "Oh... my God."
"What the fuck are you looking at?"
Phury pointed to the antique mirror hanging on the wall next to the double doors. "See for yourself."
Zsadist marched across the room, ready to give them all hell. Bella was what mattered-
His mouth went lax at his reflection. With a shaky hand he reached out to the eyes in the old-fashioned leaded glass. His irises were no longer black. They were yellow. Just like his twin's.
"Phury?" he said softly. "Phury... what happened to me?"
As the male came up behind him, his brother's face appeared right beside Z's. And then Wrath's dark reflection showed up in the mirror, all long hair and sunglasses. Then Rhage's star-fallen beauty. And Vishous's Sox cap. And Tohrment's brush cut. And Butch's busted nose.
One by one they reached out and touched him, their big hands gently on his shoulders.
"Welcome back, my brother," Phury whispered.
Zsadist stared at the males who were behind him. And the oddest thought that if he were to let himself go limp and fall backward... they would catch him.”
“She is more beautiful than I have words for. And last night, I was blessed beyond measure to serve her.”
“Your hands on a gun butt right now, isn't it? Afraid of me?”
“Just want to make sure I can take care of you.”
“Yeah, in case you need Glock-to-mouth-resuscitation.”
“Sometimes your whole life could hinge on a fraction of an inch. Or the beat of a nanosecond. Or the knock on a door.”
“You are in a prison with no bars. I worry about you.”
“I love you."
Z squeezed his eyes shut. "Don't be a tragedy, Bella.”
“[...]you know what they say about messengers, right"?
Too much bad news will get you shot."[...]”
“Phury glanced at John and thought that sometimes it took only a hairbreadth between cars to avoid a mortal accident. Sometimes your whole life could hinge on a fraction of an inch. Or the beat of a nanosecond. Or the knock on a door. Kind of made a male believe in the divine.”
“What happened to you?" she asked.
"I got hit in the side."
“The trainee knew he should leave, but he was unable to look away. He'd never seen anything snap out so fast or strike so hard as the male's fists. Obviously, the rumours about the instructor were all true. He was a flat-out killer.
With a metal clank, a door opened at the other end of the gym, and the sound of a newborn's cries echoed up into the high ceiling. The warrior stopped in midpunch and wheeled around as a lovely female carrying young in a pink blanket came over to him. His face softened, positively melted.”
“I'm not broken, I'm ruined. Do you understand the difference? With broken maybe you can fix things. Ruined? All you can do is wait to bury me.”
“How sweetly he came to her, she thought. Even with his bulk and power, he came to her...sweetly.”
“Phury lit a blunt and eyed the sixteen cans of Aqua Net that were lined up on Butch and V's coffee table.
"What's doing with the hair spray? You boys going drag on us?"
Butch held up the lenght of PVC pipe he was punching a hole in.
"Potato launcher, my man. Big fun."
"Excuse me ?"
"Didn't you ever go to summer camp ?"
"Basket weaving and woodcarving are for humans. No offense, but we have better things to teach our youngs.”
“Well . . . in the words of Vishous, want in one hand, shit in the other? See what you get most of.”
“Phury knelt beside him and stroked his face. "I've only ever had you to live for. If you die I have nothing.
I'm utterly lost. And you are needed here."
Zsadist tried to reach out, but couldn't lift his arms as Phury stood up.
"God, Z, I keep thinking this tragedy of ours is going to be over. But it just keeps going, doesn't it?"
Zsadist blacked out to the sound of his twin's boots heading from the room.”
“Too late Bella. Now, it's too late. Show me.”
“Dedicated to: You.
There will never be another like you.
For me...you are the one.
Yeah, I don't have enough words for this....”
“As she shuffled back, he glanced down at the tent between his legs. Christ, that goddamn thing in there was huge; he looked like he had another arm in his pants.”
“Tohr laughed softly. "Yeah, I'm not much for the emotive crap either-Ouch! Wellsie, what the he*l?”
“Leaning down onto his arms, he prowled up the bed to her body, his eyes fixated on her secret skin as if he'd never seen anything like it. When he got in range, wide hands smoothed their way up the insides of her thighs, opening them even farther.
But then he frowned and looked up at her. "Wait, I'm supposed to kiss you on the mouth first, aren't I? I mean, males start at the top and work their way down, don't they?"
What and odd question... like he'd never done this at all?
Before she could reply he began to move back, so she sat up and captured his face in her hands.
"You can do whatever you like to me."
His eyes flashed and he held his position for a split second.
Then he lunged at her, taking her down onto the bed. His tongue shot into her mouth and his hands tangled in her hair, pulling on her, arching her, trapping her head. The hunger in him was ferocious, a warrior's thick-blooded need for sex. He was going to take her with all the strength he had, and she was going to be sore when he was through using her. Sore and utterly blissed out. She couldn't wait.”
“Man, it was a good thing he fought like a nasty bastard or he might have been taken for a nancy.”
“Uh-huh, right. Let me count all the ways you and I aren't going there.”
“Wellsie frowned. "I'd like you to stay away from him, okay? He's...not right in a lot of ways. Do you know what I mean?"
Actually, John wasn't so sure about that. Yeah, the guy was enough to make you think fondly of the boogeyman sometimes, but clearly he wasn't all bad.”
“No atheists at sea, Drake. When the waves are the size of mountains even the godless kneel.”
“Religion, it must be understood, is not faith. Religion is the story of faith.”
“I know what the fear is.
The fear is not for what is lost.
What is lost is already in the wall.
What is lost is already behind the locked doors.
The fear is for what is still to be lost.”
“Great minds defend values—like justice in the case of Victor Hugo, and equality for Emile Zola.”
“Life is like a foot race, Marcus: There will always be people who are faster than you, and there will always be those who are slower than you. What matters, in the end, is how you ran your race.”
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