The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(49) by J.R.Ward
“Rehv, listen, I appreciate your going up to the colony. But honestly, I didn’t expect some magical answer.” Shit knew he was used to bad news at this point. “So don’t beat yourself up about it.”
That floor-length mink flared out behind the huge male as he continued to stride about. Eventually, he stopped dead. “Do you remember the night we met?”
“How could I forget.”
“Always felt like that was supposed to happen.” The male stared down at his ostrich-skin shoes. “I don’t want … this for you. Especially considering what else is waiting for you.”
Rehv was one of the few who knew about his being the Anointed One back in the s’Hisbe.
God, Trez thought. That mess at the Territory wasn’t on his radar in the slightest. Selena was the great sanitizer of all his other concerns, not just wiping his slate clean, but scrubbing the shit raw.
“I’m going to see this through with Selena,” he heard himself say. “I’m not going anywhere else while she’s … you know.”
“Anything you need, you got it.” Rehv came over. “I just…”
It was unsettling to see such a great male, who was known for his brash arrogance, appear so defeated.
Trez had to cut off the commiseration or it was going to take him down. “Look, you don’t have to say anything else. Frankly, I’d rather you didn’t. Not for nothing, I gotta stay focused on where I’m at right now—Selena is going to come down those stairs and I can’t be all up in my head for tonight.”
“Understood. But I’m going to hug ya.”
“Please don’t—oh, no, come on, man—”
As he was enveloped in mink, he stiffened—and felt like an asshole. For fuck’s sake, the guy was just being real, but damn, all Trez wanted to do was run into the billiards room. Maybe hit himself over the head with a cue stick.
Until the damn thing broke.
His head, not the stick.
“Wow, this stuff is soft,” he said, stroking the coat.
Rehv stepped back. “I’m gonna go crash upstairs in the guest room. I’m whipped and Ehlena has been up all day with Luchas. I think we’re going to go sleep for the whole night.”
“Sounds like heaven to me.”
“You gotta stop looking at me like that.” Trez rubbed his face. “She’s not dead yet.”
“I know, I know. Sorry. I’ll leave you alone.”
Rehv clapped him on the back and then hit the grand staircase, ascending with the help of that cane. And as Trez stayed where he was, he realized why he had not hunted down his brother to talk about things. Usually, he and iAm would have spoken eight times already—and it was only seven o’clock in the evening.
But if Rehv being a good guy got under his skin, Trez really wouldn’t be able to handle that shit with his blooded brother right now. He was barely holding on to himself—one look into iAm’s black stare?
He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to put things back together from the rubble.
Sometimes, the honesty was too much—
Oh, fuck him. Was he seriously quoting seventies Muzak now?
Pacing, pacing, pacing. He and Selena were set to leave at seven-thirty, and he’d planned to help her down to the car. That had been a big-ass no-go, however: a good hour ago, he’d headed to the third floor to check on her, but Xhex had barred his entry and informed him he wasn’t welcome in his own bedroom. Then the fighter had thrown one of his black suits at him, along with a black button-down, black tuxedo loafers and silk socks, and his black-on-black Audemars Piguet watch.
And slammed the door in his face.
But he had changed into the clothes. Like a good boy. And come down here to wait.
As Rehv’s draped figure disappeared up above, Trez took out his phone and checked his texts. He expected to find something from iAm, but, typical of his brother, the guy knew when he needed space and was giving it to him.
He fired off a quick update to the male, telling him that he was going out with Selena and that he’d touch base later on when they came back. Then he reached out to Big Rob and Silent Tom, and informed them to route everything that had to do with the clubs through Xhex—assuming she could get herself free of the extreme makeover stuff going down in his room. He was about to put the phone away, when he saw he’d missed a text.
The Brother had reached out and—
“Hey, we ready to go? Where’s your female?”
Speak of the Hollywood. The Brother in question came jogging down the main staircase, weapons jangling like human Christmas bells off various holsters that he had yet to strap on his body.
“Just got your text,” Trez said. “Sorry I didn’t respond.”
“You got shit on your mind. It’s cool.”
The two clapped palms. Clinched up. Pounded shoulders. Stepped back.
“Check you out.” Rhage did a walk around. “Lookin’ fine.”
Trez snapped out both of his French cuffs. “I can’t embarrass the female.”
“Lookin’ like that, she’ll be lucky to stand next to you.” Rhage stopped in front of him. “See, this is what I’m telling my Mary. She wants me to add color to my wardrobe—it’s been a thing, like, for the last couple of years.”
As the Brother shuddered as if his shellan had suggested he wear women’s panties under his leathers, Trez started to smile.
“You’re into the black, Hollywood?” he said.
“She wants to match my eyes.” Rhage pointed to his unbelievably teal peepers. “Like, seriously. I say, I’ve already got aqua on me all the time with these things. Why do we need redundancy.”
“So how much color is in your closet?”
“I don’t want to talk about it. Too depressing—”
Lassiter poked his head out of the billiards room. “Hey! Dragon boy—Project Runway’s on if you wanna come watch. Maybe pick up some pointers on your threads.”
Rhage’s stare narrowed, but he refused to look at the angel. “Isn’t there a Saved by the Bell marathon you have to go watch?”
“Don’t hate on Zack. He’s like your little fucking brother, beauty queen.” Lassiter wandered over, the gold he had on creating an aura around his blond-and-black head and his long body—or maybe the glow actually was an aura. “So, where are we off to? Your club, Shadow?”
“An embalmer’s ball then? With all that black on, it’s like you’re getting into the funereal arts—”
Rhage moved so fast it was impossible to track. One moment, he was gritting his teeth beside Trez; the next, he was nose-to-nose with the angel, his hand locked on Lassiter’s throat.
Words were spoken so softly, Trez couldn’t track them, but a moment later the smart-ass drained out of the angel’s face and attitude.
Rhage dropped the vise grip and stepped off. “So that happened,” he muttered as he came back over and started strapping up. “Might as well get this shit on. I’m riding shotgun with Manny tonight.”
“Oh, yeah.” Trez took a deep breath. “Hey, thanks for doing—”
“But only because he promised me steak.”
Trez popped a brow. “I’m sorry?”
“Steak? You know, cow? Meat? Heaven on a plate? I know you’ve had some before.”
“I’m familiar with it, yes. But you’re coming to help with—”
“The steak consumption. That’s why I’m going.”
There was an awkward pause. During which Rhage simply stared at him, as if making the statement that he was not going to be a drama zone.
And Jesus, that was probably the most helpful thing the Brother could have done. It was like a lifeline out of the emotional suck zone, and Trez grabbed on.
“Steak, huh. You going to order takeout from Circle the World?”
Rhage recoiled as if he’d been slapped. “So, okay, clearly you are not aware of this, which is a stunning lapse in your formal education, but the best steakhouse in Caldie, 518, is right across the street from the skyscraper your restaurant is in. My plan? While you and your girl are up there getting your jollies on and going around in circles, I’ma be down at the ground floor eating, like, a filet mignon, a roast beef end cut, a Kobe beef burger, a New York strip.”
“Sounds good. Which one are you having? You decide yet?”
Rhage frowned. “All of them. With thirds on the mashed potatoes. See, you gotta get your mashed-to-meat proportion right. Makes all the difference. And then there are the rolls. I’ma get three baskets delivered out.”
Trez put up his forefinger. “You know what you need? A meal at Sal’s. You should come eat at my brother’s joint.”
“Is that Italian?”
“Yup. Talk about best in the city—”
“Shit, why haven’t I—”
“Holy … motherfucker…”
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