He smiled sheepishly. “Thanks, Sabina. Sorry if I was a little cranky in New York.”
When he’d moved to the Big Apple to launch his singing career, Brooks had adopted his female drag persona full-time, going so far as insisting we call “her” Pussy Willow. But he’d taken the diva routine a bit too far. It’d taken everything in me not to drop-kick the drama queen into the Hudson.
“A little?” Giguhl said. “Bitch, please. You turned into Joan Crawford with PMS there for a while.”
The Changeling shot the demon a mock-serious scowl. “Anyway”—he performed an impressive neck swivel—“Zen helped me realize that I was hiding my pain behind all the makeup and fabulous accessories. She encouraged me to let my Brooks flag fly.” He executed a Z-shaped snap through the air.
“And by that he means, I threatened to kick his ass to the curb if he didn’t stop throwing diva fits in my store.”
Brooks pursed him lips. “That too.”
“Either way,” Giguhl said, “Sabina’s right. We all missed you.”
“I missed you, too, Gigi,” Brooks said quietly.
It was good to see the demon and the faery had made amends. Back in New York, Giguhl had grown as tired of Pussy Willow’s attitude as the rest of us and had called her on it, which resulted in a nasty argument. But it looked like they’d dealt with their issues and were back to being BFFs.
“When do you head to Rome?” Zen asked me.
“Good idea.” She nodded approvingly. “Give you guys a chance to catch up on your rest. Sounds like you’ll need it. In the meantime, I’m going to whip up some amulets and potions for you guys to take with you.”
“Thanks, Zen,” I said.
Brooks rose. “Giguhl and I will get started on getting the ingredients together.”
The demon shot the fae a look. “We will?”
Brooks nodded in the exaggerated way of someone with mischief on their minds. Giguhl’s eyes widened. “We will!”
The pair ran off without another word. Adam, Zen, and I exchanged worried glances. “How much trouble can they get into, really?” Zen said, sounding unsure.
I sighed. “We’ll go check on them on our way up.” I leaned back. “In the meantime, I need you to promise me something.”
Zen’s head tilted. “Sure, anything.”
“Can you check on Georgia? I tried to talk to her tonight but she wouldn’t even open her door.”
Zen sighed and leaned back. “Yes, she’s been avoiding all of us.”
Adam leaned forward. “Even Brooks?”
The voodoo priestess nodded. “Yeah. The minute they got back to New Orleans, she just kind of retreated into herself. Living in that apartment probably isn’t helping matters since she’s surrounded by memories of Mac.”
“I went to give her a message Mac asked me to deliver. I’m not sure if it will help or make things worse.”
Zen nodded. “I’ll check on her. The sooner she accepts that Mac isn’t coming back, the easier it will be for her to move on.”
My stomach cramped. I didn’t want to argue with Zen, but I wasn’t sure she was right. If Adam had been taken from me like that, it would take a hell of a lot more than a few weeks to get over it. Heartbreak takes on a whole new dimension when you’re immortal. But I couldn’t expect Zen—a human—to understand that. “Yes, well, I appreciate it.”
Adam clapped his hands on his thighs. “On that note, I’m exhausted.”
I nodded. “Me too. Getting up in the morning is going to be harsh.”
Unlike full-blooded vampires, I could actually be in the sun without dying, but the UV rays depleted my energy quickly. That meant we’d have to move fast in the morning to get out of town and into Italy’s later time zone before the sun sapped my strength.
“Check on Brooks and Giguhl on your way up, please. I need to do a quick thing here.” She motioned to the altar on the other side of the room. As usual, it was covered with an assortment of liquor bottles, old bones, scraps of cloth, and old keys—offerings to the Catholic saints and voodoo gods she worshiped. She didn’t say as much, but I assumed she wanted to hang back to make an offering to them so they’d watch over us.
I nodded. “Okay. Thanks, Zen.”
“Sleep well, my friends.” She smiled and held my gaze. “You’re going to need it.”
After we’d made our way into the hall, Adam took my hand and squeezed. I forced a wan smile at him. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy his touch. I just had so much on my mind, I felt like I was going a little crazy.
“Hey,” he said. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”
I shook my head, but I knew he wouldn’t let me get away without an explanation. “Honestly? Ever since I left Georgia’s door, I’ve thinking about our fight—fights—in New York. How close we were to…” I paused, unable to put into words how afraid I’d been of losing him. Before Adam and I were officially together, I’d been on a sort of self-sabotage kick that included sleeping with an ex-boyfriend. When the truth finally came out, Adam was more hurt by the betrayal of keeping the secret than the act itself. And I’d reacted by accusing him of not being able to love all of me—vampire nature and all. In short, it was a total painful clusterfuck.
“I don’t ever want to go through a fight like that again,” I said.
He blew out a breath and pulled me in for a hug. “Oh that,” he said.
I looked up. “What did you think I was going to say?”
He shot me a sidelong look. I tensed. Begged him with my eyes not to bring up my sister. I just… couldn’t. Not yet. That particular wound was too fresh and raw. He opened his mouth but thought better of whatever he was going to say. “Anyway,” he said finally, “I don’t want to go through that again either. I think I did some permanent damage to my liver.”
I pulled back. “Really? You too?” I asked, thinking of the night Giguhl and I had drowned our sorrows in a gallon of ice cream and a bottle of tequila.
“When I thought I’d lost you, I was a wreck. That night Mac got mated and we had our huge fight?” I nodded, remembering. “I killed two bottles of whisky. Luckily, I’d locked myself in the room or gods only knew what I’d have done.”
I frowned at him. I had no idea he’d been that bad off. Although, given my own pain, I guess I should have known he’d have been hurting, too. I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed. “I was terrified I’d lost you.”