High Voltage

Page 51


“Why are you here, if she’s in the White Mansion?” I asked. Barrons would never leave Mac alone, unguarded.

“She’s not. She moved things. I was in the White Mansion, outside the chamber, keeping guard. Abruptly, I found myself in the bookstore with her chamber connected to it by a door that didn’t exist before.” He gestured over his shoulder, at a door to the right of the enameled fireplace in the rear conversation area. “Perhaps she sensed a threat approaching and moved us. Then things began to appear, change. Be glad you didn’t come the day she turned everything pink. If you never see a bloody, tufted pink Chesterfield, count yourself lucky. She’s testing her powers. Seeing what she can do. The lemur should vanish soon. Most of it does.”

“Is she eating, drinking? Doing anything?” I asked. God, I just wanted to see her. So many times over the past few years, I’d hungered to talk to her. Now especially, with Ryodan back. Me and Mac are a lot alike yet at the same time couldn’t be more different. She gets emotion but doesn’t always get logic. We’re yin-yang and good for each other that way.

“No. Not only does time pass very differently there, I doubt she needs to anymore. She’s turning Fae. I opened the door. Once. The temporal clash nearly killed me.”

“When’s the last time you ate?” Ryodan demanded.

“Too long.”

“Go. I’ll remain.”

Barrons sliced his head in negation.

“You don’t look good.”

“We make our own choices, don’t we? We don’t listen to the counsel of others. How did that work out for you?”

“For fuck’s sake, let it go. We argued about it then. It seemed the wisest option at the time and you know it,” Ryodan said coolly.

“Time. That’s always the problem, isn’t it?”

I had no idea what they were talking about once again, but silently I agreed. Not enough time with Dancer. Now, not enough with Ryodan before my body had become lethal to the touch.

Ryodan glanced at me. I didn’t even need him to open his mouth to know what he was going to say. “Just go,” I said irritably, “have your alpha Nine catch-up time. I need to do some research anyway.” To Barrons, I said, “Books on the old Earth gods, point me to them.”

He did, and as they headed back to Barrons’s office, I loped upstairs in the general direction of the lemur who’d just swung up over the balustrade, to educate myself on our new, ancient enemies.

* * *


They say that those who forget their past are condemned to repeat it. What, then, are those who erase their past condemned to do?

Be devoured by it?

Destroy all hope of a future?

Because that’s pretty much what had happened to our past—a giant eraser had been taken to it.

The Celts were known for not writing things down, ours was an ancient, oral tradition.

Then the Romans had come along and plastered their god names over ours, and if that hadn’t obfuscated our origins enough, Christianity stormed in and pasted yet more names, images, and legends over our gods until we were left with little more than the likes of leprechauns, diminutive, mischievous fairies, and trolls.

We’re a stubborn people, we Irish. We don’t go down easily. The only way Christianity had been able to eradicate our history so completely was by erecting churches on our sacred sites, obscuring their origin and purpose, and renaming our pagan feast days, transforming them into Christian celebrations with none of our traditions behind them.

Our gods were a hot mess of slanted, rewritten press.

I read for hours and instead of discovering answers, found yet more questions. The Fomorians had been stirred in with the Fae, blended with deities from all over Western Europe, and many allegedly defeated or converted by various saints. Saint Patrick was credited not only with driving all snakes out of Ireland, when scientific study conclusively supported that Ireland had never even had snakes to begin with, but meeting with gods from our past and after long discourse converting even them to Christianity.

In other words, our history was shit.

God names and the Tuatha De Danaan names had become largely interchangeable.

Oh yeah, erase that monument to whatever we did that was terrible, so it can bite us in the ass in the future. What goes around comes around, if you’re foolish enough to let it. That’s why I remember every single thing I’ve done, stare at myself in a mirror and meet those eyes that have screwed up, fully aware of my failings, because the day I let myself forget them is the day I could start doing them all over again.

Never. Going. To. Happen.

I pilfered Barrons’s bookstore, gathering up tomes for further reading, jotting names in my notepad on my phone from Abhartach to Balor, Morrigan to Lugh, Dagda and Aine, Medb and Daire, sketchy scant notes about each.

I couldn’t find a single mention of AOZ or a human-abducting god anywhere.

As I was scowling down at my phone, it abruptly turned pink, exploded in sparkling hearts all over the screen, obliterating my notepad, replacing it with a flowery script:

I’m getting there, Dani. Be back soon. Miss you. Love you so much!!! Mac.

I smiled from ear to ear then burst out laughing. Pink and hearts. Mac was still Mac, despite turning Fae. Mac would always be Mac. She’d been through so much, survived possession by the greatest evil known to man or Fae, defeated the enormous psychopathic sentience that had consumed her. Fae knowledge and power would never obliterate Barrons’s Rainbow Girl.

There was no way to text her back and the note vanished, but I was quick enough to snap a screen shot of the message before it disappeared. A memento.

A promise. Right up there with a pinky swear.

I glanced out the window at the darkening sky, gathered up the books I was taking with me, and went downstairs to find bags to toss them in. I was rummaging behind the cash register when Barrons and Ryodan walked in.

Barrons took one look at my books and growled, “Those were in a locked case.”

Duh. “I’m the one that took them out.”

Dark eyes bored into mine. “No way you picked that lock.”

“I know, right?” I replied crossly. I’m a superb lock picker. It’s one of my specialties and the damn thing had defeated me. “I broke the glass with the hilt of my sword.”

“You. Broke. The glass.”

Good grief, Mac told me Barrons got pissy when you messed with his stuff. “You may as well know I took your bike and Land Rover, too, before the garage disappeared,” I informed him, just to clear the air between us.

He stared at me as if I were a specimen on a slide.

“Mac texted,” I said to distract him. “She’s okay.”

He went preternaturally still, so motionless he vanished from my sight for a moment, melting into the wallpaper behind him. Then he was back, saying softly, “She texted. You. Let me see it.”

Ow, I guess she hadn’t bothered to text him. Just sent him Christmas trees and lemurs. I handed him my phone, with the screen shot thumbed up.

He stared at it a long moment, shadows swirling in his dark eyes, and I saw a flash of such pure, unguarded hunger in them that it staggered me. Theirs is unity, a symbiosis, a partnership I dream of, wolves that chose to pack up and hunt together, soldiers who will always have each other’s backs, no matter what, no sin, no transgression too great.

He ran his thumb over the screen as if he might somehow touch Mac through it. And I thought, Holy hell, Jericho Barrons has a…not a vulnerability but yes, that. A weakness, a need. Mac. I’d seen it in her, too. It was what bothered me about love. Wanting someone so much that you felt like you couldn’t breathe when they went away, so intensely that your world lost half its colors and you were oddly suspended until they returned. Like my past two years. Vulnerability any way you looked at it. I glanced uneasily at Ryodan then quickly away. Losing Shazam had nearly destroyed me. Losing Dancer had taken me down again.

Then Barrons’s face was remote, cool and unreadable. He pivoted sharply, stalked to the rear fireplace, rummaged about on the mantel then returned and handed me my phone back, along with an envelope. “Mac asked me to give you this when I next saw you.”

I took it, a sealed white envelope with no writing on it. “What is it?”

“I have no idea. She merely asked me to make sure you got it.”

I wanted to tear it open right then. I didn’t. I would look at it later, in private.

“Aren’t you going to open it?” he demanded.

“If it’s anything to do with Mac, I’ll text you.”

He inclined his head. “And the moment she comes out, I’ll let you know. Until then, give the bookstore a wide berth. Draw no attention to us. The Fae haven’t found her yet and I intend to keep it that way.”

Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between pages.