The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(80) by J.R.Ward
God, he was rather pathetic, wasn’t he.
More to the point, what was he going to do?
With the cocaine sizzling in his veins, his brain made a sudden A + B = C calculation that was based on a totally … preposterous idea.
Which nonetheless offered him a rather stunning solution to all this.
Straightening in his seat, he frowned and looked around the room, his eyes going on a wander as his brain pick, pick, picked apart the plan. When he could find no fault, he cleared Sola’s digits from the screen of his phone and dialed Ehric. When he got voice mail, he figured they were probably still dematerialized.
A second later, his phone rang and he answered, not bothering with a greeting. “Have you left the symbol for him yet?”
Ehric’s reply was muffled by the wind down by the river. “We’ve just arrived.”
“Wait for him. Do not reveal yourself.”
Assail continued to give instructions, and at the end of it all, Ehric’s response was perfect: “As you wish.”
Assail ended the call and sank back into the chair. Taking a deep breath, he cursed. This was going to be a lot of work. But it was the only solution he seemed to have.
Plus, the fact that this would consume him for the appreciable future? Was exactly what he wanted. And if it didn’t work? Well, then he’d be dead and he wouldn’t care about anything anymore.
Not even the woman he longed for with every inch of his body and all of his black, misbegotten heart.
Her mother had gotten it right with that name of hers.
Marisol had indeed stolen his soul.
iAm had not intended for Trez’s words to sink in any more than the cold breeze had when they’d been standing in the courtyard. He had planned to go inside, eat something fast, and forget that whole interaction had occurred. Go about his night. Head over to the clubs and the restaurant. Push papers, take control, make some decisions that were concrete and solid.
Instead, he was stuck in the foyer, staring up at the three-story-high ceiling that had been painted by some great artist. The subject matter was, he supposed, inspirational: heroes on venerable steeds, fighting in the clouds, heavenly warriors who were brave and strong and on the side of the righteous.
But all that glory wasn’t why he’d gone into pause mode.
Trez’s destiny was a house of cards, a delicate, tricky thing that had had to be managed all of both their lives. Every move iAm took had to be careful, deliberate, and calculated with the goal of survival.
He was a centuries-old virgin because of it.
Hell, he hadn’t even looked at a female, like, ever.
Whether Trez had been banging them in the clubs, or throwing porn up on the TV, or talking about what he’d done all over his desk, in the back of his car, outside in the fucking parking lot, iAm had never had any interest in any of it.
He’d been a flatline motherfucker.
Mother-not-fucker, as it were.
And yeah, he’d tried on the whole gay thing for size, wondering if maybe he was attracted to men and males.
It had gotten to the point where, if it weren’t for the fact that he washed them every night, he’d have wondered whether or not he had any balls.
Ask yourself what’s going to be left for you after I’m gone. If you’re honest, I don’t think you’re going to like the answer any more than I do.
Without being aware of having come to a decision, iAm turned on his heel and went out through the vestibule. On the front stoop of the massive gray mansion, he stood in the wind …
… and then took flight.
On the journey to his destination, flashes of the past battered at him: Trez escaping from the palace. iAm being held until he promised to bring the male back—which had been the last thing he’d actually intended on doing. The mad hunt.
The cabin on Black Snake Mountain.
As iAm resumed his form, he had a moment of straight-up nausea as he took in the ragged, weathered structure with its rough vertical siding and its cedar shingles and that rock chimney which extruded from the roofline like a bad tooth. It was … exactly the same. Not even kind of the same, with different windows or shrubbery growing or trees that had fallen or overgrown.
No, for a split second he wasn’t sure whether this was years ago or right now.
Shaking himself, he walked to the front door. The hinges creaked as he opened things up, and at least he was better prepared for what he saw.
Precisely the same. From the placement of the no-frills furniture, to the old-fire smell, to the drafts that wheedled their way through the walls.
He closed the door behind him and walked around, his boots making the rough-cut floorboards clap and groan. Over by the river-rock hearth, he found a generous supply of wood—guess the last hunters who had used the place had been good little helpers and ready to pay shit forward.
His hands shook as he laid logs on the andirons and shoved pine needles underneath. Taking out the lighter he kept on him thanks to having worked with a lot of temperamental gas cooktops, he lit things, fanned them, got the flames up and rolling.
He told himself it was a waste of time and heat. She wasn’t going to come. There was no way she was going to come.
He was just going to hang here for a half hour or so, play witness to his brain sinking into some dark, dangerous territory, and then put out the fire and head back to Caldie.
The clubs. He would go to the clubs first, and then—
The sound of that creaky door opening made him stiffen.
maichen’s scent flooded the interior.
Cranking his head around, he lifted his eyes. There in the doorway, she stood in the flesh, her robes flapping in the cold wind rushing in from behind her.
She was both a ghost … and soul-shatteringly vital.
And as he looked at her, he knew exactly why they had both come.
Selena took the long underground tunnel to the training center slowly. It was a case of one foot after the other, from the base of the short stairs that led into the subterranean passageway to the door that opened into the office closet. Every time she had to enter a passcode or push her way through a jamb, she waited for the reconsideration to hit her. The turnaround to happen. The back-upstairs to be made manifest.
Instead, she ended up not just emerging into Tohr’s work space, but going through its glass door and coming out into the concrete corridor beyond.
The clinic was about thirty yards down, that collection of doors coming after all kinds of alternate destinations presented themselves: weight rooms, gyms, locker rooms.
Her feet didn’t stop at any of those.
No, they took her right to the one place she had resolved never to return to voluntarily.
Her knock was quiet, an opportunity for a no-reply either because nobody was there (score!) or they were busy helping someone else (sad, but a relief, too) or so engrossed in work they didn’t hear her (which was like leaving a voice mail for someone you didn’t really want to speak with anyway).
Doc Jane opened up. And did a whoa-hey! recoil. “Selena, hi.”
She lifted her palm up lamely. “Hi.”
There was a pause. And then the doctor said, “Is this a social thing or do you need…”
“You’re probably pretty busy, right.”
“Actually, after having been slammed for about three days straight, I’ve just been catching up on medical records.” The female eased back. “Come on in if you like.”
Selena braced herself. Stepped over the threshold. Tried desperately not to look at that exam table.
Meanwhile, Doc Jane went over and sat down on a rolling stool, folding her white coat around herself and crossing her legs. The scrubs she had on underneath were blue. Her Crocs were red.
Her eyes were forest green. And grave.
Selena started to walk around, but everywhere she looked, all she saw were glass-fronted stainless-steel cabinets with torture instruments in them. Rattled, she eyed the door to the corridor, which was shutting slowly, silently, on its own.
Like the lid of a coffin.
“Hey,” Doc Jane said, “I was just going to go stretch my legs. You want to join me for a couple of laps around the gym?”
“Oh, God, yes. Thank you.”
The pair of them went out together, heading down passed a number of doors and many, many yards of corridor. When they got to their destination, Doc Jane opened the heavy steel panel and turned on the caged ceiling lights.
“I know it’s weird, but I love this place,” Jane said. “The wood with that beautiful honey-yellow color and everything smells like floor cleaner. Which is kinda nuts, because I hate chemicals in the air or on things.”
As the doctor started them walking around the far edge of the basketball courts, Selena was pretty sure that the pace was kept slow on purpose.
They’d made it down the short side, under the hoop, and through the left turn to head along the bleachers before Selena said anything.
“I think…” Tears came to her eyes and she realized she was terrified.
“We have all the time you need,” Doc Jane said softly.
Selena wiped under both eyes. “I’m afraid to talk about it. Like if I do…”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online