High Voltage

Page 36

“I’d pegged you more as ‘that woman.’?”

I nearly preened. That woman was badass; sexy and lethal and one of the few to ever give the epic detective a run for his money. She’d stormed into conflict with the penultimate deductive brain wearing the most daring and formidable battle dress of all—nudity, from which he’d been able to draw not a single clue about her person or intentions. My near-preen turned into a scowl as I considered the rest of her story. “No way. Sherlock broke her code. You be ‘that woman.’?”

“Sherlock broke her code because she refused to admit that she wanted him. If she’d been honest about it, if she’d acted on it, there’d have been a different code—one he might not have been able to break. Instead of ‘Sherlocked,’ it would have been wisely nonsensical and undecipherable.”

That he had a valid point pissed me off even more. “Your point is that if she fucked him she might have been thinking more clearly? Do you know how insulting that is?”

“If the shoe fits.”

“Implying not fucking you makes me stupid.”

“Not quite what I was saying,” he said dryly.

“You do not in any way affect or dilute a single cell of my magnificent brain.”

“Merely observing that we deny, at our own peril, that which we desire.”

His words were eerily similar to what Shazam had said before I’d left the flat. “I. Am. Not. That. Woman.”

“Hit a nerve, did I?”

“And if I was, I’m bloody well entitled to be. Sherlock wouldn’t even return a single one of her bloody texts. Not one.” And the alert tone she’d programmed into his phone for her texts should have melted him, at least from the waist down.

“Am I missing something? Did you text me?”

I was not ready for this argument. “Your timing sucks.”

“Time has always been the problem with us.”

“Am I missing something?” I mocked. “Did you text me? I’m not the one that left. The person that leaves bears the onus. Period.” God, I sounded just like Dancer, when I’d finally come back from the White Mansion with Christian. I thought, My love, I’m sorry, I get it now. I get it in spades.

“I’m not the one that never called. You had a phone. You didn’t call once. You were just out there having—” He terminated the sentence abruptly.

“What? What was I having that you want to throw in my face? Because I wasn’t having much of a good time, I can tell you that.”

“Define ‘good time.’?”

“Fuck, you, Ryodan.” And here we were again. I don’t think I ever once said those words to Dancer. I never felt the need.

“There’s no reason not to. I’m here. You’re here. We both want to.”

I gaped at him. Christ, he’d just put it baldly on the table.

“You think I won’t put it baldly on the table?”

I said with acid sweetness, “I rather thought you’d try to put it on a desk. Isn’t that where you usually put it?”

He flinched imperceptibly and I regretted the words instantly.


As if summoned from a grave, her ghost was there, standing between us. I could almost see her shaking her head with sorrow, telling me Ryodan was a good man and I wasn’t seeing him clearly. Her gravestone loomed in the air, a solid concrete wall separating me from him. The heat of innuendo died and his gaze shuttered.

“Mac carried that one hard,” he said. “I suppose I carry it, too.”

I gaped again, it seemed like all I was doing tonight. “Mac ate Jo?” I practically shouted.

“When she was possessed by the Sinsar Dubh.”

I ached for her, understanding too well the pain she carried. Bridget, all the others, my ghosts for the rest of my life. “Why the bloody hell did no one tell me? Why am I always the last to know things?”

“I’m doing everything in my power to make sure you’re not,” he clipped, driving his point home.

Ryodan wanted me. And he wasn’t going to conceal that fact. What did he think? That he could just stroll back when I was grown up, have sex with me, then one day saunter up and tell me he was leaving again?

“When you fuck a man,” I said with quiet venom, “you’re giving him a motherfucking gift.”

He went motionless, waiting. When I didn’t continue, he goaded, eyes glittering, “Come on, Dani, say it. You know you want to. You’re dying to. Fling that fucking gauntlet at me.”

“You. Don’t. Deserve. Me,” I said with icy satisfaction.

He smiled with some unfathomable, feral light in his eyes. The bastard actually smiled. Who does that when you insult them? Then he completely changed the subject.

“No one told you because you had a great deal on your plate at the time.” He didn’t say a word about Dancer but he didn’t have to because instantly, another ghost popped into filmy existence between us.

Dancer. Jo. Fog tendrils curling about their transparent, forever-lost-to-us bodies.

So much loss.

I wasn’t in the mood for any more.

I’m all about the things that stay.

My city. My people who need me. Shazam. Kat. Enyo. The ones who don’t go tearing off on lengthy walkabouts without you, without a word of explanation.

I pulled a Ryodan and completely changed the subject. “Have you heard from Barrons?”

He didn’t say anything for a long moment and I was perversely pleased to see him having as hard a time shifting gears as I’d been having. Then, “Not a word in two bloody years. I have no fucking idea where he is.”

I looked at him, stunned. He’d been as cut off from news of them as me? He didn’t know where Barrons was? I’d imagined Ryodan sitting somewhere, receiving constant updates from everyone. In control as always, monitoring the world. Where the hell had he been?

“What else, Dani?”

“The old gods are back. No idea how many or who. Humans are abducting adults, paralyzing them and taking them through mirrors to an unknown location for reasons unknown.” He’d said “nutshell” version so I was keeping it brief.

“While you save the children left behind,” he murmured. “Getting them settled into new homes. Lor told me that part.”

“Where was Lor watching me from when AOZ and Jayne tried to take my sword?”

“Across the street. He couldn’t hear a bloody word of the conversation. Fill me in.”

I gave him the highlights, omitting the wish part because that was my business, not his, and I was still trying to figure out which wish AOZ had decided to grant that hadn’t yet bit me in the ass.

“Rumor is, Jayne’s being hunted,” Ryodan told me when I’d finished, “the Fae put a steep bounty on his head. He hadn’t been seen in a long time until he showed up in your flat. Some say he’s gone into deep hiding with his mortal family, trying to protect them. Perhaps he wanted your sword for Mac, perhaps for himself.”

“What does Lor say about the Fae?” Despite his claim that he wasn’t getting laid, I had no doubt he’d been at Elyreum, unable to resist a party or seducing blondes with his lethally effective caveman charm.

Ryodan cut me a dark look. “Mac gave us the same mandate she gave you: no interference. We obeyed. He’s not been inside Elyreum, and from what he says, the Fae don’t come out.”

“The Nine obeyed Mac?” I said incredulously.

“Barrons. Motherfucking shield.”

I laughed softly. “Oh, how that must chafe.”

“Which is why,” he said, as we finally pulled away from the curb and began to drive through Dublin, “two years later, we don’t know a single thing about our enemy. According to Lor, those humans that enter the club are tampered with. He interrogated a few, said they come out either unwilling or unable to discuss anything they’ve seen. Her mandate should have come with an expiration date. It didn’t. Now that the bookstore is missing, along with Mac and Barrons, we’re enforcing an expiration date. Tonight.”

Surely, he didn’t mean…“Where are you taking me?”

He flashed me a wolf smile, all teeth and hunger. “Elyreum.”

Yes! Adrenaline cold-cocked my heart! This wasn’t a date. It was a mission. I’d been aching to do this for a small eternity. Dying to stalk into their club and rattle their world. Let those bastards know we were watching and waiting, and it wasn’t over.

“You do realize, I’m carrying the sword they all want.”

“Bloody hell, yes, I do,” he said, with unconcealed relish.

We drove in silence for a time and he turned the music back up right as Miley Cyrus was singing, Don’t you ever say, I just walked away, I will always want you.

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