Dance of the Gods Page 38

“Where Glenna lived. She showed me pictures of it. It’s a marvel. Maybe you’ll stay in Geall for a while. Like a holiday.”

“Holiday in Geall.” She shook her head. “Talk about marvels. Maybe. A few days anyway.” It wasn’t like she had anyone waiting for her to get back.

They walked to the cemetery, and the ruined chapel. Flowers still bloomed here, and the breeze whispered in the high grass.

“These are my people. It’s so weird to know that. If it had been traced back this far, no one ever told me.”

“Does it make you sad?”

“I don’t know. A little I guess. Hoyt brought me here to show me where I came from. That’s Nola’s grave.” She gestured to a stone where the flowers she’d laid days before were faded and dying. “She was the beginning of the family legacy. The start of it. One of her children would have been the first hunter. I don’t know which one, and guess I’ll never know. But at least one of them.”

“Would you change it, if you could?”

“No.” She looked over at him when he draped his arm over her shoulder. “Would you give up what you can do?”

“Not for all the gold in the Green Mountains. Especially now. Because it makes a difference now. When you have your holiday in Geall,” he said as they walked on, “I’ll take you to the FaerieFalls. We’ll have a picnic.”

“And back to food.” She dug out a cookie, stuffed it in his mouth.

“We’ll swim in the pool—the water’s clear as blue crystal, and warm as well. After I’ll make love to you on the soft grass while the water tumbles down beside us.”

“And on to sex.”

“Food and sex. What could be more pleasant to think about?”

She had to admit, he had a point. And couldn’t deny that the simplicity of an afternoon walk had been an unexpected gift, more precious than she would have imagined.

“It’s blue,” she said. “My favorite color’s blue.”

He shot her a grin, took her hand so they walked linked over the hill, and down. “Look there. That’s a pretty sight.”

She saw Glenna and Hoyt in the herb garden, caught in an embrace. The garden thrived around them; the sun showered down. Glenna held a basket of herbs she’d harvested, and her free hand lay on Hoyt’s cheek.

“Hear the mockingbird call?” Larkin asked, and she did, the happy little trill of it.

There was a quiet intimacy to the moment, something that couldn’t be captured and preserved yet was enduring and universal. A miracle to find this, she thought, this normality, this heart against heart in all the horror.

She realized until she’d come here, she hadn’t believed in miracles.

“This is why we’ll win,” Larkin said quietly.

“What?”

“This is why they can’t beat us. We’re stronger than they are.”

“Not to spoil the moment, but physically they’ve got it all over the average human.”

“Physically. But it’s not all about brute strength, is it? It never is. They look to destroy, and we to survive. Survival’s always stronger. And we have this.” He nodded toward Hoyt and Glenna. “Love and kindness, compassion. Hope. Why else would two people make promises to each other at such a time, and mean to keep them? We won’t give all this up, you see. We won’t have it taken from us. We’ll band together for this, and we’ll never stop.”

He heard Glenna laugh, and the sound of it reached into him, into that hope as she and Hoyt walked toward the house.

“You’re thinking neither will they. Neither will they stop, but that doesn’t change it, Blair. In the caves, I saw them in the cages. Some were beaten down, too tired, too frightened to do more than wait to die. But others rattled those cages and they cursed those bastards. And when I let them out, I saw more than fear, even more than hope in some of the faces. I saw bloody vengeance.”

When he turned to look at her, Blair saw all of that in his face.

“I saw the stronger helping the weaker,” he continued, “because that’s what humans do. Terrible times do one of two things to us, they bring out the worst or the best.”

“You’re counting on the best.”

“We’ve already started on that, haven’t we? We’re six of us.”

She let that play through her mind as they walked on. “The way I was trained,” she began, “was to depend on one thing. Yourself. No one else. You’re in the battle alone, beginning to end—and it never ends.”

“So you’re always alone? What would be the point, then?”

“Winning. Coming out of the battle alive, and your enemy dead. Black and white. No grandstanding, no mistakes, no distractions.”

“Who could live that way?”

“My father could. Did. Does. After he…after I was on my own, I spent some time with my aunt. She had a different philosophy. Sure it’s about winning, because if you don’t win you’re dead. But it’s also about living. Family, friends. Going to the movies, sitting on the beach.”

“Walking in the sun.”

“Yeah. It works for her, for her family.”

“You’re her family.”

“And she always made me feel that way. But it’s not the way I was trained. Maybe that’s why it’s never worked as well for me. I…there was someone once, and I loved him. We made some promises to each other, but we couldn’t keep them. He couldn’t be with me. I couldn’t make it work, because what I am didn’t just shock and frighten him. It disgusted him.”

“Then he wasn’t the man for you, or, in my thinking, any kind of a man at all.”

“He was just normal, Larkin. A normal, average guy, and I thought I wanted—thought I could have that. Normal, average.”

She was made for better, he thought. She was made for more.

“You could say Jeremy—that was his name—taught me I couldn’t have that. It’s not that I don’t have a life outside of what my father calls ‘the mission.’ I have some civilian friends. I like to shop, eat pizza, watch TV. But it’s always in there, the knowing what comes out after sundown. You can’t shake it. We’re not like other people.”

She looked up. “Sun’s getting low. Better go in, set up for a training session.” She gave him a quiet look. “Playtime’s over.”

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