“Um…?” I said.
Erron jerked out of stillness with a gasp and his hand went to his chest. “Ow.”
“Dude, are you okay?” Giguhl whispered.
At that point, Brooks, Zen, and Adam had all clued in that something was going down. While Zen rushed to Erron to check on him, I kept my eyes on Cadence. She didn’t look worried about Erron’s health. Instead, she tilted her head and met his gaze across the room. The clouds behind her eyes cleared and a small, mysterious smile tilted up the corner of her mouth. “Oh,” she whispered, “it’s you.”
Erron pushed Zen and Giguhl away with a muttered, “I’m fine.” He took a couple of steps toward Cadence, his hand still on his heart. “Do I know you?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I’m Cadence.”
“Erron,” he said dumbly.
That’s when I realized what was going on. Erron’s bandmate hadn’t seen the singer’s death. He’d seen that Erron was going to meet a special someone who made his heart stop.
Cadence held out her hand, as if it were the most natural and normal thing in the world to reach for a man you’d only just met. While the rest of us looked on, flabbergasted, Erron walked directly toward her, took her hands in his, and leaned over to kiss them. “I think—” he began, and cut off.
Cadence smiled, the expression making her look younger. “Don’t think,” she said. “Sit.”
With a look I can only describe as shell-shocked, Erron Zorn, lead singer of The Foreskins, Recreant mage, and all-around bad boy dropped onto the bed and gazed at Cadence McShane like she was his own personal goddess.
The room fell awkwardly silent for a few beats before Zen took control. “All right, everyone. Let’s give her a chance to rest.”
Giguhl, Brooks, and Adam filed out as instructed, each looking more confused than the last. I turned to go just as Erron started to stand.
“No,” Cadence said, “you’re staying.”
Zen covered her smile with a hand and came to guide me out the door. Just before the panel closed, I saw a look of such uncomplicated connection pass between them that my eyes got a little misty.
When I turned away from the door, I found the hallway empty. I passed the living area and saw Brooks, Zen, and Giguhl chatting away and making a meal. “Where’s Adam?” I asked.
Giguhl shrugged. “Said he needed some fresh air.”
I paused and glanced toward the stairs. Adam had been through a lot in the last twenty-four hours. First, having to see Cadence in that drug den and then helping her through the horrible detox. And after all that, witnessing her and Erron Zorn fall under each other’s spell like that.
Talk about an ass-kick of a night.
I found him leaning against a lamppost just in front of the store on Bourbon Street. The crowd was thick as the annual Halloween parades crawled through the French Quarter. Beads and candy flew through the air, and every sense was assaulted by color and light and music and screams and the scent of spilled beer and the turned-soil-and-blood scent of humanity. Normally, I would have enjoyed the sensory overload, but that night it felt…too much.
On one side of Adam was a man in a werewolf costume; a woman in faery wings stood on the other. I nudged Tinkerbell aside and put my arms around Adam. “You okay?” I whispered.
His arms came around me, and instead of answering, he kissed me with a passion that robbed me of breath and left me dizzy. When he finally pulled away, he was smiling. I blew out a breath. “What was that for?”
He put his forehead against mine. “I was just remembering the first time I saw you.”
I laughed. “In that bar in Los Angeles.”
He nodded. “I fell in love with you at that moment.”
I shook my head at him. “While you watched me kill that guy?”
He kissed me again, too quickly for my liking. “No. The second you strutted in looking for a fight. I thought, ‘There she is.’ And you know what?”
“What?” I whispered.
“I was right. The minute I saw you, there was never a chance I’d ever settle for another woman.” He glanced back toward Zen’s building. “If I had to guess, that’s exactly what Erron just felt in there.”
I chose my words carefully. “So you’re not upset?”
“About Erron and Cadence?” He chuckled. “Hell no. I’m relieved. I’ve felt guilty for a long time about breaking things off with her.” I must have betrayed some emotion on my face because he caught my hand and squeezed. “Guilt isn’t the same thing as regretting it being over. We didn’t belong together. I just hated to know she was hurting. But now?” He took a deep breath. “I think she has a lot of work to do to get her life on track, but it’s headed in the right direction.”
I smiled at him. “You’re a good male, Mancy.”
He leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss to my lips. “I’m best when I’m with you.”
Now my eyes really did sting with tears. Maybe it was the exhaustion or the emotional stress, or maybe it was simply relief of being reminded that what we had was as real as I’d hoped it was. To dispel the tears, I glanced around at the celebrations surrounding us on all sides. After a couple of seconds, I realized something. “You know, it was on another Halloween that we finally admitted our feelings for each other.”
He smiled the same smile that had made me fall for him. “That year was the best trick-or-treat ever.”
I raised a brow. “How are we going to top it this year?”
With a wicked smile, he caught a handful of beads and candy from the air. “Depends on what you’re willing to do to earn these.” His expression took on a particularly roguish tilt.
And with that, Adam and I flashed out from the middle of the parade, for once not caring who witnessed our magical exit.
What started out as a crappy week had turned out to be one of the best Halloweens ever. A night when the lines between monsters and men were nonexistent. A night when the most hopeless beings could find a light in the darkest shadows. And it for damn sure was a night to believe that sometimes even monsters deserved happy endings.