Dance of the Gods Page 72

“You think you could have stopped him from sinking his teeth into this?” Cian skimmed a finger down the side of her throat, barely lifting an eyebrow when she slapped his hand aside. “Stop me then. You’ll need more than a peevish slap to manage it.”

He stepped back, picked up the sword she’d tossed down. Smiled grimly when she winced at the pull in her side as he threw it to her. “There, you have a sword, I don’t. Stop me.”

“I’ve no intention of—”

“Stop me,” he repeated, and moved quickly to give her a light shove back against the wall.

“You won’t put your hands on me.”

“Stop me.” He shoved her again, then simply batted the sword aside.

She slapped him, hard across the face before he gripped her shoulders, pressed her back against the wall. She felt something that might have been fear, that might have been, as his eyes held hers transfixed.

“For God’s sake, stop me.”

When his mouth crushed down on hers, she felt everything. Too much. It was dark and it was bright, it was hard, and unbearably soft. All that was inside her rushed toward it, reckless and crazed.

Then he was standing aside, a foot away from her, and it seemed all the breath had left her body.

“That’s not the way he’d have tasted you.”

Cian left her trembling against the wall before he compounded an already enormous mistake.

He scented rather than saw Glenna. “She needs to be seen to,” he said and continued away.

I nside, Blair sat in front of the fire in the family parlor, trying to get her bearings. “Just don’t start on me,” she warned Larkin. “She wheedled my word out of me, and the fact is, I understood why she needed to do it.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you weren’t there. Because she left it for the last minute. Ambushed me. Which was damn good strategy, if you want my opinion. I argued with her, and maybe I could have argued harder, but she was right. Mostly right. And, Jesus, she made her point, didn’t she? In spades.”

He handed her a cup of wine, crouched in front of her. “You think I’m angry with you. I’m not. With her, a bit. With her because she didn’t trust me with this. Because it wasn’t just her mother those things killed, but my aunt. And I loved her. It wasn’t just her people she sought to rally with this business tonight, but mine. And I can promise you, Moira and I will speak of it.”

“Okay. Okay.” She drank, looked at Hoyt. “Have you got two cents to put into this?”

“If you’re meaning do I have an opinion on it, I do. She shouldn’t have taken this on herself. She’s too valuable to risk, and we’re meant to be a circle. No one of us should make such important decisions without the others.”

“Well, if you’re going to be logical.” Blair sighed. “You’re not wrong, and if there’d been time, I’d have insisted she bring everyone in on it. We wouldn’t have stopped her, but we’d have all been prepared. She went all queen on me.” Sighing again, Blair rubbed at the tension at the base of her neck. “Man, she took some hits.”

“And Glenna will tend to her,” Hoyt answered. “She would have taken more if Cian hadn’t acted.”

“I wouldn’t have let it happen. I’m not going to kick at him for jumping in, grabbing the crossbow out of my hands, but I wouldn’t have let her take on number two. She was finished.” She drank again. “But I’m not sorry she’s tearing the skin off his hide instead of mine.”

“His is thick enough.” Idly Hoyt poked at the fire. “We’ll have our army now.”

“We will,” Larkin agreed. “None can doubt what we’ll come to face. We’re not a people of war, but we’re not cowards. We’ll have an army come Samhain.”

“Lilith will be here any day,” Blair pointed out. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’d better get some sleep, get an early start on it tomorrow.”

But as she started to get up, Dervil came to the doorway. “I beg your pardon, but I’m sent for the lady Blair. My mistress wishes to speak with her.”

“Another command performance,” Blair muttered.

“I’ll wait in your chambers.” Larkin laid a hand on her arm. “You’ll come, tell me how she is.”

“I’ll let you know.” Blair started out, glanced at Dervil. “I know the way now.”

“I’m asked to bring you.”

At the door of Moira’s chambers, Dervil knocked. It was Glenna who answered, let out a breath of relief when she saw Blair. “Good, thanks for coming.”

“My lady.” When Glenna lifted a brow, Dervil cleared her throat. “I would apologize for my poor behavior today, and ask at what time you wish to have the women gathered for instruction.”

“An hour past dawn.”

“Can you teach me to fight?”

“I will teach you,” Glenna corrected.

Dervil’s smile was hard and tight. “We’ll be ready.”

“Something I missed?” Blair asked Glenna when Dervil left them.

“Just part of a very long day. Something else you missed.” She kept her voice low. “I found Moira arguing with Cian at the edge of the courtyard.”

“Not a big surprise.”

“It was when he finished the argument with his lips.”

“Come again?”

“He kissed her. Hard, steamy, passionate.”

“Ho boy.”

“She was pretty shaken.” Glenna glanced over her shoulder. “And not, in my opinion, due to insult and outrage.”

“I repeat: Ho boy.”

“I’m telling you because I don’t want to be worried about this all by myself.”

“Thanks for sharing.”

“What are friends for?” Glenna stepped back. “Finish that potion, Moira,” she said, lifting her voice now to conversational level. “I mean it.”

“I am. I will. You’ve fussed enough.”

Moira sat near the fire. She wore robes now, with her hair loose down her back. The bruising on her face stood out against her pallor. “Blair, thank you for coming. I know you must be tired, but I didn’t want you to go to bed before I thanked you.”

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