The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(45) by J.R.Ward
Unfortunately, the gesture did nothing for his suspicions. maichens were so far down the food chain, again, that even the word itself was paid little respect at the beginning of sentences. That she might be poisoned or compromised? No one would care.
His stomach, however, was seriously encouraged as she continued to breathe.
Before he could stop himself, he went over to her and the tray. maichen did not look up, but then again, she was afraid of him—for good reason.
The scent of her fear mixed nicely with that spicy soup.
So did the scent of her skin.
Inhaling through his nose, he felt another shock go through his system, his muscles twitching—as did his cock.
Which made no sense. Here he was, stuck in shit up to his chin, and his sex decided to get interested? Really?
No wonder they called the damn thing a dumb handle.
Standing above her, he put his hands on his hips and watched for signs that she was going to hit the floor. When she remained upright, he waited a little longer. She was trembling, but she had been ever since he’d gotten to his feet.
iAm knelt down on the hard stone floor, mirroring her pose. Almost immediately his knees began to ache—another reminder of how long it had been since he’d been around his people. Such manner of sitting was a commonplace here in the Territory.
Handy if you’re buck-ass naked, too. Didn’t put your altogether on as full a display.
He ate fast, but not sloppily, and it was a good call. His brain needed the calories—his body, too, if he were going to bust out of here.
Which was the plan.
“s’Ex,” he demanded when he’d finished. “Go get him.”
With that, he pushed the tray toward the female. As was custom, she bent forward in supplication, her covered forehead nearly ending up in the empty white bowl.
She picked up the tray, straightened her torso, and gracefully got to her feet without wobbling or dropping any of the dishes. Backing out of the cell, she triggered the door by putting the sole of her shoe against a section of the wall. A moment later, because the exit was clearly monitored, someone opened things up remotely—either that, or the exit was footprinted somehow.
And out she went.
As the panel closed with a Star Trek sound, he knew it would have done him no good to overpower her and try to use her as a bargaining chip. s’Ex and his guards would be more likely to negotiate to save a dog.
Pacing around, he pictured his brother beside Selena as she lay on that examination table, under that bright light, her body all contorted, a frozen expression on her face.
God, he should never have done this. Talk about a no-win situation: Trez was going to want to come get him out, but leaving that female when she was ill was going to kill him.
Nothing like throwing gasoline on a fire. Along with about a hundred pounds of dynamite.
Trez had meant every word he’d said about Selena and her freedom of choice.
As he strode through the underground tunnel, heading for the training center’s clinic, he was one hundred on pretty much one and only one thing—well, two, but the fact that he was in love with her was a rock-bottom given. The other thing he knew for sure was that Selena, and Selena alone, was going to decide how her condition was managed, and if anybody tried to strong-arm her in any way? He was going to butt-out them like you read about.
But that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to go see Doc Jane.
About his queen.
God, that pet name for Selena was so funny. The instant the sobriquet had come out of his mouth, it had locked in. As if his vocabulary had bonded to that word like his body had bonded to hers.
And she would be the only queen for him. No matter what happened to them, or where he ended up, she would be his reigning female, none other to supplant her place in his heart, his respect, or the utterance of that word.
Dragging his palm over his face, he forced his feet to stay at a walking stride even though a big part of him wanted to run at a full tilt to the clinic. There was no rush, however, at least as far as his female was concerned. Selena was up in his bedroom, naked in his tub, soaking her beautiful body in warm, scented water.
She was not completely pain-free. She hid the lingering stiffness and discomfort well, but the telltales were in the subtle winces of her face, and the jerky manner in which she moved her hands and arms. The bath and some OTC aspirin were going to help, though. And when she had had a good, long soak, she was going to get into his bed for a rest before their “date.”
Her joy at the prospect of their dinner together was contagious. He literally felt warm inside his skeleton, as if her happiness held a kinetic magic that, through his bonding, magnified within his own flesh. Hell, all he had to do was think of her at that breakfast table, grinning over their bowls of oatmeal, or think of the sound of her voice getting all excited about where they were going … and he was sublimely at peace.
There had never been anything close to it for him. Not even the love and commitment he had for his brother came near to the feeling.
In a sick way, he supposed her illness had been good for both him and Selena. He could not fathom how they would have wiped away the bullshit between them so efficiently or completely without …
Hell of a trade-off though, wasn’t it.
As he came up to the training center’s access point, he entered the proper codes, and then passed through the supply closet and into Tohr’s office. The Brother was not behind the desk, which was a good thing, and not a surprise. It was around five p.m., and Tohr was no doubt waking up in his mated bed with his Autumn, about to get ready for the night ahead.
What had been a surprise was that Doc Jane was willing to see him at this odd time of day. With the hours she’d been pulling lately between injuries and illness and Qhuinn’s brother, it seemed like she and Manny and Ehlena had been on shift constantly.
Made him respect the shit out of her.
Through the glass door. Down the concrete-block main corridor. Many doors down on the left.
Pushing his way into the examining room, he—
Leaping back out into the hall, he put the crook of his elbow up to his eyes, and prayed that what he’d just seen was not a permanent burn on his retinas.
There were some things that you didn’t need to know about the people you lived with, no matter how much you loved them.
A split second later, V opened the door, and the ziiiiiiiiip! as he did up the front of his leathers was loud.
“She’ll see you now,” he said matter-of-factly.
As if two seconds ago he hadn’t been banging the ever-loving shit out of his shellan as she sat on her desk.
“I can come back?” Trez asked.
“Nope, she’s ready. Selena okay?”
“I, ah … yes. She’s moving, she’s … well, I’m taking her out tonight.”
V took out a hand-rolled. “No shit. Where to?”
In all his ruminations, Trez had been studiously avoiding thinking about their precise destination. The date idea was great, the food was going to rock … there was just one problem that he was going to have to suck up and deal with.
“That restaurant.” He pointed to the ceiling. “You know the one downtown that, like, goes in circles?”
“Oh, yeah. Way up there.” The Brother exhaled. “Helluva view.”
Uh-huh. Fifty-plus stories. He’d gotten on the Web site to find out exactly how bad it was. “Yeah. Helluva view.”
“Lemme know if there’s anything I can do. For either of you.”
V gave him a clap on the shoulder, and started to stride off.
The Brother stopped, but did not turn around. And in the light above his head, the tendril of smoke from his hand-rolled struck an elegant swirl in the air.
“How much time do I have with her.”
The Brother turned his head so that his powerful goateed profile cut a pale slice out of that illumination, the tattoos at his temple seeming more sinister than usual.
“How much,” Trez repeated. “I know you saw it.”
There was a subtle hiss as the Brother inhaled, the tip of the cigarette glowing a vital orange. “What I get is not that specific. Sorry.”
That dark brow popped up. “I’ll forgive you that cheap shot. Once.”
With that, the male resumed striding off, those massive shoulders shifting with his hips, his warrior’s body not exactly the kind of thing anyone, even someone of Trez’s size and with his Shadow skills, would voluntarily take on.
Especially with that glowing hand of his.
But there wouldn’t be a brawl between the two of them. Not on this topic, at least.
They both knew he’d lied.
V was the Brother with the intelligence, the mystical visions, born directly of the Scribe Virgin’s body. He was also incapable of bullshitting anyone about anything. It was just not part of his hardwiring, that incredible brain of his too busy to care about whether or not he offended or postured properly or couched things in ways that were palatable to the inquirer.
So when he had refused to turn around? When all he had done was show his profile?
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