The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(63) by J.R.Ward
And on that note, the executioner stalked off, his black robes undulating behind him.
It was so strange, iAm thought as he was left alone with the female. He was two feet from the escape he needed, but he couldn’t seem to move.
“Can I see your face,” he heard himself say. “Before I go.”
When she didn’t respond, he reached out and ran his hand down the fabric that covered her head and trailed down her shoulders. “I have to see what you look like or you’re going to haunt my days.”
He had a feeling she was going to do that anyway.
“I…” Her voice trembled. “I do not know.”
iAm nodded and felt like an asshole. “I’m sorry, it’s none of my business.” He gave in to an impulse and bowed at the waist to her, as if she were so much more than a servant. “Thank you again.”
Pivoting, he strode through the open doorway.
“Tomorrow night,” she blurted. “Will you meet me?”
He froze, one foot in and one foot out of the Territory. “Where.”
“I do not know. Somewhere. Some … how.”
iAm frowned, and thought of where he’d found Trez on the mountain between the s’Hisbe and the symphath colony. That cabin still had to be there; the damn thing had been a hundred years old when Trez had taken shelter in it.
And shit knew Rehv wasn’t using it anymore.
“Do you know Black Snake Mountain?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Halfway up the east side, on the Lightning Strike trailhead, there’s a cabin. I’ll get there first and light a fire inside. You can dematerialize from here and find the light. Meet me there at midnight.”
He could imagine her chewing on her lower lip as she hemmed and hawed.
“I will never hurt you,” he vowed.
“I have to go.” He stared at her so hard, trying to see under those robes. “Think about it. I’ll be there and I’ll wait an hour. If you don’t make it, I totally understand.”
She wasn’t “important” in the eyes of the s’Hisbe, but still, females were right to be cautious, no matter their station when it came to leaving the Territory.
Especially if they had no relative power.
“Good-bye,” he said before turning away and falling into a jog.
Moments later, when he dematerialized, he knew he was never going to see her again. And yet, even though that was all but a given, he was going to be at that place on the mountain tomorrow evening.
Guess even cynical virgins like him had romantic streaks.
When Trez and Selena finally made it out of the downstairs lavatory, it was a helluva lot later than midnight. In fact, as he checked his phone, he was surprised to find that it was three a.m. They’d blown a good three hours in there.
He couldn’t think of a better way to pass the damn time.
People had obviously started to come home for the day, voices drifting out of the billiards room.
“…rounds of bullets!” Hollywood was saying. “Like it was raining lead!”
“My poor mobile clinic.” Manny’s tone was less than enthusiastic. “Maiden voyage and look what happened to the goddamn thing.”
Well, at least those two had gotten home safely. Jesus, he hadn’t even thought about them, and how egocentric was that?
“And this asshole tells me there are no police,” V cut in. “For the evac. Unbelievable—I walked into a convention of those badges.”
Trez put his arm around Selena. “You want to join the party?”
“We need to tell our part!”
Kissing her on the forehead, he led her across the foyer and through the archway into the land of pool tables, sofas, and a wide-screen big enough to host a drive-in movie.
“Check it, we made CNN,” someone said as that TV flared to life.
Sure enough, up on the tremendous screen, security cam footage of the Mercedes going Die Hard through that lobby was on an endless loop. Then came a statement from a police officer who was involved in the chase. And a witness from somewhere or another.
Trez nodded a hello to Rhage and Manny. Lifted his palm to V and Butch. Sidled up with his female next to Z and Bella.
“Lot of coverage,” somebody else said ruefully.
“Shit,” someone else answered.
Even Selena’s excitement got dialed down quickly, as if seeing for herself what everything looked like made it all very real.
When the vestibule’s inner door was opened, Trez was dimly aware of a cold draft shooting into the room. And then a moment later, a hand landed on his shoulder.
As he twisted around, iAm was behind him.
“Oh, hey, man.” He went to embrace his brother, only to recoil. “What the fuck is that smell?”
“New hand wash at work.”
Trez followed through on the hug. “Get rid of it. Makes you smell like a little old lady—what is it? Lavender?”
“What happened to the Merc? The thing’s banged to shit.”
Trez pointed to the screen. “That happened.”
iAm focused on Selena instead, tracing her profile and dress with surprise that he covered quickly.
“We went on a date,” Trez blurted.
Selena glanced over, and when she saw who it was, she reached out her arms. “Hello,” she said as she embraced his brother. “I think we broke downtown Caldwell.”
Funny, iAm was the only male he didn’t feel like killing if there was contact with his female. Guess his bonded male recognized that iAm would never, ever cross any lines in thought, much less deed.
iAm smiled a little. “Least I know why the Benz needs fifty grand worth of body work. You want a drink while I help myself?”
Trez shook his head. “No, I’m good.”
Except as his brother went over to the bar, Trez excused himself and followed the guy. “Hey, listen, I just want to apologize for going radio silent—whoa!”
As the bottle iAm had picked up slid out of the male’s grasp, Trez caught the thing before it hit the floor—and that was when he saw how badly his brother’s hands were shaking.
“Jesus, iAm, are you all right?”
“Oh, yeah. Abso.”
“Here,” he said, giving the vodka back. “You sure you need to make your own drink?”
“Wait, lemme get you a glass.” He came around the bar and got a short-and-squat off the shelf as iAm popped the cap off the square bottle. “Cranberry juice, right?”
“Neat? You don’t usually drink vodka like that.”
“Efficiency, my brother. It’s all about efficiency tonight.”
Trez held the glass out and watched as iAm poured a healthy measure of the see-through, relax-o-matic in there. He kept expecting the level to stop rising, and when it didn’t, he found himself studiously ignoring the shock he felt.
iAm was the moderate of the two of them.
He drank all this and his blood alcohol level was going to be in coma territory. Then again, it had been a very fucking long twenty-four hours.
“How’s things at the restaurant?” Trez asked as he transferred ownership of the glass.
“Ah, good. Yeah. Fine.”
iAm drank the shit like it was water, downing the entire load in one long, open-throated sesh.
Trez cursed. “I’m so fucking sorry.”
“Why?” iAm muttered.
“You know why.”
The grunt that came in reply could have meant any number of things. “Listen, I have to go lie down. I’m done for.”
“Yeah, I think we’re going to do the same.”
“How is she?”
Trez glanced over and intended to look right back at his brother, but his eyes refused to move. Tracing the graceful curve of Selena’s back, he saw her naked in that loo, her legs spread, her heavy breasts bare to his mouth, his hands. Then he pictured her laughing wildly in the back of the Benz. Remembered her staring out at the night as they’d had dinner.
“She’s amazing,” he said hoarsely. “Absolutely amazing.”
“That’s good, brother. That’s good.” iAm recapped the CLIX and tucked it under his arm. “Listen, I gotta go lie down—but I’ll be right next door if you need anything, ’kay?”
As iAm turned away and didn’t look back, it was hard not to feel every ounce of the burden Trez was to that male.
Someday, he vowed, he was going to find a way to make up for all of it.
There was no getting away.
As Layla stood in the midst of the group in the billiards room, she was acutely aware that if she tried to sneak out and take her car for a little joyride, she was going to get hit with questions she couldn’t easily answer. But more to the point, Luchas remained in stable, though serious, condition down in the clinic. Qhuinn was still with him, with Blay by his side, and she had come up here only to get something to eat.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online