“Aha! So I’m not crazy.”
“You are most definitely crazy,” Derek said. “But in a deranged, endearing way.”
“You’re taking a nap? Come on, Kate, I need you for this fight. Stop lying around.”
“You must think you’re funny.”
“Just saying, you have to pull your own weight. A hot body and flirting will only get you so far.”
“Everything I do, I learned from you, boy toy.”
“Boy toy?” Curran asked.
“Would you prefer man candy?”
“Outside the windows the day was bright: golden sunshine, blue sky, pleasant wind . . . I wanted to punch the happy day in the face, grab it by the hair, and beat it until it told me what the hell it was so happy about.”
“You want me to level, here it is: I need you. I need you because I love you. Three months without you will be hell. But even if we weren’t together, I would still need you. You’re a good fighter, you’ve worked as a bodyguard, and you know magic. We may not have many magic users, but we don’t know if those packs do, and if they hit us with magic, we have no way to counter.” He spread his arms. “But I love you and I don’t want you to be hurt. I’m not going to ask you to come with me. That would be like stepping in front of a moving train and saying, ‘Hey, honey, come stand next to me.’”
I hopped off the wall and stood next to him. “Anytime.”
He just looked at me.
“I’ve never killed a train before. It might be fun to try.”
“Are you sure?”
“One time I was dying in a cage inside a palace that was flying over a magic jungle. And some idiot went in there, chased the palace down, fought his way through hundreds of rakshasas, and rescued me.”
“I remember,” he said.
“That’s when I realized you loved me,” I said. “I was in the cage and I heard you roar.”
“I tried to picture a female version of Jim and got Jim in a dress instead. The image was disturbing.”
“Barabas placed a stack on the table and held the chair out for me. “For you.”
“I’m hungry and I don’t have time for this.”
Barabas’s eyes held no mercy. “Make time, Alpha. You have two hands. You can eat and sign simultaneously.”
“Enjoying my suffering?” I asked.
“I find it hilarious that you’ll run into a gunfight with nothing but your sword, but paperwork makes you panic.”
Barabas put a thicker stack in front of him.
“This is yours, m’lord.”
“Do you have spies in Clan Heavy?”
“I have spies everywhere.”
I looked at Andrea, who was hoarding bacon on her plate.
“She had tea with Mahon’s wife.” Andrea said.
Aunt B looked at her. “You and I need to work on your air of mystery.”
“« Are you hungry, baby?” Curran asked.
“I think we should go to dinner.”
“What are you going to wear?”
“My badass face.”
“Good choice,” he said. »”
“Five minutes later, we were rolling around on the helipad as he tried to muscle his way out of my armlock, after slamming me onto the helipad.
“I finally realized the source of your mutual attraction,” Saiman said, his voice dry.
I looked up. He was standing a few feet away.
“Do enlighten us.” Curran tried to roll into me to break the lock. Oh no you don’t.
“You both think violence is foreplay.”
“Would you care for something to drink?”
“Is it poisoned?”
“It’s Saturday,” I said. “We only serve poison during the week.”
“You want to get married? I'll marry you right now. Is the gnome a preacher, because I'll do it."
"That's a hell of a proposal."
"What did he say?" Astamur asked.
"He wants me to marry him."
Astamur relayed it. Atsany waved his pipe and Astamur translated back. Ha!
"What?" Curran Snarled.
"Atsany says you're not ready for marriage. You don't have the right temperament for it."
Curran struggled with that for a second
"Let me know if your head's going to explode, so I can duck.”
“« Barabas pulled Christopher out of the cage. The man stared up at him. “I died, didn’t I? Are you an angel?”
“Sure,” Barabas said. “Follow me to the Heavenly Shower »”
“Curran snarled and hurled the rock against the mountain. The boulder flew, hit like a cannon ball, and rolled back down. Curran chased it, pulled another smaller rock out of the dirt, and smashed it against the first one.
Wow. He was really pissed.
Astamur's eyes were as big as plates.
"I can get him to put those back after he's done," I told him.
"No," Astamur said slowly. "It's fine."
Curran picked up the smaller rock with both hands and threw it onto the larger boulder. The boulder cracked and fell apart. Oops.
"Sorry we broke your rock."
Atsany took the pipe out of his mouth and said something.
"Mrrrhhhm," Astamur said.
"What did he say?"
"He said that the man must be your husband, because only someone we love very much can make us this crazy.”
“Curran's whore comes to visit us," Jarek said in accented English.
The three men laughed as if on cue. I glanced at Mahon. "You really shouldn't let him talk to you like that.”
“Anger - a better alternative to caffeine.”
“Andrea turned her back to Desandra and rolled her eyes. Raphael grimaced. They both looked scandalized. Dear God, what could she have said to scandalize a bouda...
“No, really!” Desandra nodded. “Okay, so most guys don’t have a nice ball sack, right? It looks all hairy and wrinkled like some small animal died between their legs, but Gerardo’s is like two plums in a velvet bag...”
Derek, who’d been lingering in the doorway, took a careful step to the left behind the wall and disappeared from my view.
Kill me, somebody. I raised my hand. “Hold that thought. I need to borrow Andrea for a minute.”
I grabbed her arm and pulled her into the hallway. Behind us Raphael growled, “Don’t leave me!”
Andrea leaned towards me. “Plums.”
Andrea raised her hands, imitating holding plums the size of small coconuts, and moved them up and down.”
“So this is what it's about? This is your mature response to go off into the mountains rather than talking about it and have s'mores with a gnome and a mountain man."
"What's your plan for tomorrow? Brunch with a unicorn?”
“Aunt B walked out onto the helipad wearing loose yoga pants. “I’m just here to stretch. Kate, want to help?”
Thirty seconds later, as I was flying through the air, I decided that this wasn’t the best idea.”
“Were you watching me sleep? Because I thought we agreed that's creepy.”
“Isn’t that why you have that gun mounted on the front? Or is it for other reasons, because I would’ve thought that a man with your powers would be past the urge to compensate.”
“I had forgotten that talking to you is like trying to pet a cactus,” Saiman said dryly. “Thank you for reminding me.”
“Always happy to oblige.”
“Other pirates leaped over the railing. One, two... seven... thirteen. A baker’s dozen. Wait, fifteen. Eighteen... Twenty-one. The odds weren’t in our favor.
“Maybe they just came over to borrow a cup of sugar,” I said.
Andrea barked a short laugh. Curran put his hand on my shoulder. “That’s a lot of sugar. Must be a big cake.”
“I’d signed six things and my stack wasn’t getting any smaller. It was like the paperwork was breeding while I worked.”
“« He squeezed his hands into fists. I picked up a grapefruit-sized rock and handed it to him. It went flying. Home run, Beast Lord style. ”
“A massive beast dashed along the mountain apex.
Astamur reached for his rifle. “A demon?”
“No, not a demon.” I might have preferred one . “That’s my boyfriend.”
Atsany and the shepherd turned to look at me. “Boyfriend?” Astamur said.
Curran saw us. He paused on a stone crag and roared. The raw declaration of strength cracked through the mountains, rolling down the cliffs like a rockslide. “Yep. Don’t worry. He’s harmless.”
“Go to the Black Sea, meet new people, see beautiful places, get killed by a mutant carnivorous kangaroo goat. One item off my bucket list.”
“I had forgotten that talking to you is like trying to pet a cactus." Saiman said dryly. "Thank you for reminding me."
"Always happy to oblige.”
“I finally realized the source of your mutual attraction," Saiman said, his voice dry.
"You both think violence is foreplay.”
“You’re lying to yourself. Voron made us into serial killers. We can be okay without violence for a few weeks, but after a couple of months, the hand starts itching for the sword. You start looking for that rush. You get irritable, life turns stale, and then one day some fool crosses your path, attacks, and as you cut him down, you feel that short moment of struggle when he leverages his life against yours. If you’re lucky, he’s very good and the fight lasts a few seconds. But even if it doesn’t, that short moment of triumph is like getting an adrenaline shot. Suddenly color comes back into life, food tastes better, sleep is deeper, and sex is rapture.”
I knew exactly what he was talking about. I lived it and I felt it.”
“In the whole world, there was no better place than being wrapped in him.”
“... That would be like stepping in front of a moving train and saying, 'Hey, honey, come stand next to me.'"
I hopped off the wall and stood next to him. "Anytime."
He just looked at me.
"I've never killed a train before. It might be fun to try.”
“Claudius knew a good deal about Etruscan history. Among his many learned researches he had written a twenty-volume study of the Etruscans, in Greek, as well as compiling an Etruscan dictionary.”
“was why Bear went on high alert. There”
“there was something new happening, a wheel inside my heart I’d never noticed before, and it was spinning so fast it made me dizzy. And the farther away she got, the faster it spun, like there was an invisible cord unreeling from it that stretched between us, and if she went too far it would snap—and kill me. I wondered if this strange, sweet pain was love.”
“It’s tempting to wish for the perfect boss, the perfect parent, or the perfect outfit. But maybe the best any of us can do is not to quit, play the hand we’ve been dealt, and accessorize what we’ve got.”
“THREE YEARS. One month. Twenty-six days.”
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