The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(48) by J.R.Ward
“You just go and enjoy your woman. That’s all I care about.”
As Doc Jane put her hand on his shoulder, Trez was humbled by the support. And hopeful, too, that maybe Rehvenge would come up with something from the symphath side of things.
After thanking both of them again, he went back into the training center, Doc Jane staying behind with her partner as if she knew he needed a minute to get his shit together.
God, his head was spinning.
And it was funny, he had no impulse to drink away the angst. At all. He didn’t feel the need to go out and bang a hundred random chicks, either. He also didn’t have any interest in checking in with Big Rob and Silent Tom about the club and its opening night, or following through about those packs of drugs they’d found on that lesser. He didn’t even want to go upstairs to the mansion’s third floor, wake up his brother, and give iAm an update.
He was curiously hollow. And that scared him.
Tonight was supposed to a special one for his queen.
Had to be.
It was around six in the evening when Selena stepped out of the shower in Trez’s bathroom. She had slept like a young all day long and into the night, aware only of Trez coming in and checking on her from time to time. As a result, she felt better than she had for …
Dearest Virgin Scribe, she didn’t know how long.
Toweling herself off, she wrapped up her hair and put on Trez’s black robe. The voluminous weight dwarfed her body, falling to the floor, the tie so long the ends nearly tangled in her feet. But it felt so good to have the thing on her, his scent wrapping around her as an embrace, the folds offering warmth.
Over at the double sinks, she picked up a hand towel and wiped free the condensation on the mirror. Under the lights, her skin was glowing, a flush to her cheeks and a blush to her mouth—all the result of the sex they’d shared.
And there would be more tonight. She knew that because every time Trez had entered the room, that dark spice of his had been an intense promise of what was to come.
Unraveling the towel on her head, she let her dark hair loose, the wet strands flopping down her back. She did the best she could to get the lengths pre-dried, rubbing the terry cloth over everything she could reach without straining too much. Then it was hair-dryer time—except …
Looking around, she checked the cupboards under the sinks, but only found a whole load of backup toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Razors. Hand towels and bath towels. Moving over to the storage area on the wall, she found … more towels. Which smelled expensive and were as soft as fresh-baked bread, but would not get her where she needed to be.
Bone-dry was the ultimate goal. Ever so slightly damp was her second choice.
Okay, she could be in trouble here. The two of them were leaving at seven-thirty and her hair, unaided, took about eight hundred hours to dry—
A knock on the outside door brought her head up. “Hello?”
“Is that a ‘come in’?” a female voice asked from in the hall.
“Yes? Please?” Tucking Trez’s robe in tighter, she went out into the bedroom proper—then stopped as the heavy panels opened. “Oh, hello … ah…”
Beth, the Queen, walked into Trez’s room. And with her were Marissa … Autumn, Mary … Ehlena and Cormia. Bella. Payne. Also Xhex, who, with her short hair and her leathers, seemed a little out of place in the group.
Or maybe that was because of her awkward stance, as if she were unsure what she was doing with the pack of them.
“Is there something you needed?” she asked the Queen. The others.
Even though she had been aware of just Cormia and Layla coming to see her, it was a fair guess that everyone in the house had been told about her difficulties—she really hoped the females hadn’t made the trip to offer condolences before she actually died.
Fortunately, Beth smiled—as opposed to break out the tissues. “We need you to let us do you up.”
Selena popped her brows and looked at her feet. “I’m sorry. Am I down and don’t know it?”
“Well, we heard through the grapevine—”
Marissa spoke up. “My hellren told me, actually. And he heard it through Vishous.”
“That you’re going on a date,” Beth finished. “And we thought you might like some beautification.”
Cormia put her palms out. “Not that you aren’t beautiful enough.”
At that point, there were lots of oh, no’s, totally beautiful’s, and only if you wanna’s—and all Selena could do was put her hands up to her cheeks. “I was just going to put on robing and do my hair as prescribed.”
“Boring,” Xhex said. As all the girls sent her looks, she threw up her hands. “I told you I’m not good at this stuff! God, why did you make me come up here?”
Beth turned back around. “Selena, you always look lovely, but we have some contemporary clothes for you to consider, ones that are maybe a little more—”
“You’ll look like something other than a window drape.” Xhex rolled her eyes. “I know, I know, I’ll shut up from now on. But it’s the truth.”
“I look like a drapery?” Selena said, glancing over to the swaths by the windows that had just un-shuttered themselves. “Is that bad?”
Beth came forward and took her hands, squeezing them. “Do you trust us?”
“Oh, of course, my Queen, it’s just … I don’t know—I can’t find a hair-dryer, and—”
Marissa stepped forward with a canvas tote full of … every conceivable makeup and hairstyling whatever. “Worry not, I have you covered!”
And that was how Selena ended up sitting on a stool in the middle of Trez’s bathroom with a bunch of females circling her with hair-dryers, hairbrushes, something called mousse, and curling irons.
In the midst of the makeover, her eyes watered.
“Oh, am I too close,” Autumn said over the din of the dryers.
Selena brought a hand up, hoping to hide her tears. The kindness was so unexpected; she literally felt as though the entire house was getting behind her and her male.
Xhex, the hard-ass, was the one who brought over the Kleenex box. And when Selena’s hand was shaking so badly she dropped the tissue she took, Xhex was the one who did the duty, snapping another soft white square free and dabbing under eyes that leaked.
Selena looked up into that gunmetal stare and mouthed, Thank you.
Xhex just nodded and kept discreetly mopping up, her gentle touch at odds with that harsh face and masculine dress—and the gun she wore holstered at her waist in spite of the fact that they were all safe in the compound.
Selena had no thoughts in her head, only emotions too big to hold in her heart.
As the dryers were finally silenced, she knew it was time to pull herself together. All that sound and fury as her hair was blown around had offered a kind of buffering to hide behind, even if they had all seen her cry.
“Your hair is so lovely,” Cormia said as she ran her fingers through the waves. “I think we should leave it down—”
“Thank you all,” Selena blurted. “Thank you for this.”
Beth knelt in front of her. “It’s our pleasure.”
A hand landed on Selena’s shoulder. Another on her forearm. More on her back. And Xhex was right next to her with that Kleenex box.
Looking in the mirror, she saw herself surrounded by the females of the house, and none of them were pitying her—for which she was so very grateful. Instead, they were standing with her, doing what they could to show her that she mattered.
And for some reason, that seemed indescribably important.
Probably because it dawned on her, for the first time, that she would be remembered by these people after she was gone—and to be mourned by good folks was the best legacy anyone could leave behind.
“Down?” she heard herself say. “Really? You think I should wear my hair down?”
“Allow me to introduce my little friend.” With that, Marissa held up a silver wand that was plugged into the wall via a black cord. “And now the warfare shall begin.”
Selena had to laugh. Glancing up at Xhex, she said, “Have you ever—”
“Used one of those?” The female yanked at her short hair. “As if. But I think you should do what they say. You’re looking at the species’ brain trust here when it comes to being hot.”
“Then submit I will.” Selena found herself lightening up at the idea of a transformation. “Do with me what you wish.”
Beth grinned. “You think this is gonna be good? Wait’ll you see the dress.”
“I’m sorry. I tried.”
As Rehvenge apologized for nothing that was his fault—and nothing that was actually a surprise, Trez shook his head. The pair of them were standing in the grand foyer of the mansion, their feet planted on the mosaic depiction of an apple tree in bloom.
He put his hand on the male’s fur-clad shoulder. “Seriously, Rehv. Thank you for giving it a shot.”
Rehv plugged his red cane into the floor and walked around. “I looked everywhere in our records. Asked people—”
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