Dance of the Gods Page 47

“She killed him,” Larkin corrected. “Who you are didn’t kill him.” He waited until she shifted her gaze, met his eyes. “She wants, very much wants, you to blame yourself. Will you give her that victory?”

“She won’t win anything from me.” Tears stung her eyes again, but she willed them back. “I’m sorry, all around. This messes me up, and I have to live with it awhile on my own before I can put it away.”

“We’ll put off the meeting.” Glenna glanced around at the others for agreement. “You can take some time.”

“Appreciate it, but work’s better. Thinking’s better.” If she went upstairs now, were alone now, Blair knew she’d just fall apart again. “So okay. If we’re going to set traps on the other side, we’ll need to calculate the best locations, and determine how many we’ll need on those details.”

“We have more immediate concerns,” Hoyt interrupted. “The transportation to Geall itself. If Cian’s barred from the Dance, he can’t reach the portal.”

“There must be an exception.” Moira laid a hand on Blair’s shoulder, gave it one hard squeeze before moving aside. “Morrigan chose us, all of us.”

“Maybe she’s finished with me.” Cian shrugged. “Gods are fickle creatures.”

“You’re one of the six,” Moira insisted. “Without you in Geall, the circle’s broken.”

“I could go back to the caves. From the air.” Larkin paced in front of the windows. How could he sit at such a time? “Scout. I might be able to find where they’re going through.”

“We can’t separate. Not this close to deadline. We stick together now.” Glenna scanned faces, lingering on Blair’s. “We stay whole.”

“There’s another thing, I think I should mention.” Moira glanced toward Cian. “When Larkin and I went to the Dance in Geall, it was barely midday. It seemed to happen so quickly, the way we were swept up and away. But when we came out here, it was night. I don’t think we can know how long it takes, or if time’s the same. Or…or if we leave at night as we planned, if it would still be night when we come to Geall.”

“Or high bloody noon.” Cian cast his eyes up. “Isn’t that just perfect?”

“There has to be a way to protect him if there’s sunlight.”

“Easy for you to say, Red.” Cian rose to get a glass of whiskey. “Your delicate skin may burn a bit in strong sunlight, but you don’t go to ash, do you?”

“Some sort of block, Hoyt,” Glenna began.

“I don’t think SPF-forty will do the trick,” Cian countered.

“We’ll figure it out,” she snapped back. “We’ll find a way. We haven’t come this far to give up, to leave you behind.”

Blair let them talk, argue, debate. The voices just buzzed around her. She didn’t comment, didn’t contribute. When Hoyt finally harangued Cian into giving him a sample of blood, she left them to their magic.

H e didn’t try to sleep. A half dozen times he started to go to her room. To offer what? he wondered. Comfort she didn’t want, anger she didn’t need?

She had suffered a terrible loss, and a hard, hard shock to her heart. She hadn’t, perhaps couldn’t turn to him. Not even, he thought now, as a fellow warrior.

He couldn’t soothe hurts she refused to let him see, or reach wounds she closed in to herself.

She had loved the man, that much was clear. And there was a small part of himself, an ugliness he could despise, that was jealous of the brutalized dead.

So he stood at the window, watching the sun rise on his last day in Ireland.

When someone knocked, he assumed it was Moira. “Bi istigh.”

He didn’t turn when the door opened, not until Blair spoke. “My Gaelic’s pretty crappy, so if that was go to hell, too bad.” She hefted the bottle of whiskey she held in one hand. “I raided Cian’s supply. Going to get a little drunk, have a wake for an old friend. Want to join me?”

Without waiting for an answer, she walked over to sit on the floor at the foot of the bed, resting her back against it. She opened the bottle, poured a generous two fingers into each of the glasses she’d brought in.

“Here’s to just being dead.” She lifted the glass, tossed back the contents. “Come on, have a drink, Larkin. You can be pissed at me and still have a drink.”

He walked over, lowered to the floor to sit across from her. “I’m sorry you’re hurting.”

“I’ll get over it.” She handed him the second glass, poured more whiskey in her own. “Sláinte.” She tapped the glasses together, but this time she sipped instead of gulped. “Attachments, my father taught me, were weapons the enemy could use against you.”

“That’s a hard and cold way to live.”

“Oh, he’s good at hard and cold. He walked out on me on my eighteenth birthday. Done.” She leaned her head back and drank. “You know, he’d hurt me so many times before, cut my heart out, I thought, just by not loving me. But it was nothing, nothing that happened—didn’t happen—before came close to what it did to me when he walked away. That’s how I got this.”

She turned her wrist over, examined the scar. “Going out while I was still reeling, trying to prove I didn’t need him. I did need him. Too bad for me.”

“He didn’t deserve you.”

She smiled a little. “He’d completely agree with that, but not the way you mean. I wasn’t what he wanted, and even if I had been, he wouldn’t have loved me. Took me a long time to come around to that. Maybe he’d have been proud. Maybe he’d have been satisfied. But he never would’ve loved me.”

“And still you loved him.”

“Worshiped him.” For a moment, Blair closed her eyes as she let that part of her go. That part was over. “I just couldn’t rip that out and turn it to dust. So I worked, really hard, until I was better than he’d ever been. But I still had that need inside me. To love somebody, to have them love me back. Then there was Jeremy.”

She poured more whiskey for both of them. “I was working at my uncle’s pub. My aunt, my cousins and I took shifts. Hunting, or working the bar, waiting tables, just taking the night off. My aunt called it having a life. Work as a family, share the burden, have some normal.”

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