I nodded agreement. “You first.” I followed them into the somewhat gaudy dinning room. Sharon had a Vegas sense of style when it came to decorating her house, with way too much marble and gold for my taste.
I sat across from Collin at Sharon’s glass dinning room table. I made a big stink when Walt tried to stand behind me, and they agreed to stay on their side of the room. Call me paranoid. Period. I’m paranoid, but with good reason. Of course, that’s what all the paranoid people say.
“I can’t keep this from Dom,” Collin began. It wasn’t a promising start to the conversation. “But I feel that it would be better, for everyone involved, if you pay him a visit yourself.”
“Sure, I’ll do that,” I said quickly.
He gave me a stern look. “You know I’m going to need more insurance than that. I can’t let you leave here without a guarantee of some kind that you plan to either register with us now, or go talk to the Arch.”
I sighed. I couldn’t get a break from anyone, it seemed. “What kind of insurance did you have in mind?”
He pulled a bracelet of bones out of his pocket. I recognized the item, and gave him an unfriendly look. “So I’m a prisoner.”
“I can set it for twenty-four hours. If you speak to Dom in that time, the geas will disappear.”
“I need at least two days.”
“Fine. Two days, then. But how about this. If you see him within twenty-four hours, I’ll let you in on one of the biggest battles we’ve planned in decades. We’re mounting a raid on one of the necro settlements. They took out a rather large human town a few weeks ago. We obviously need to remind them what it means to break druid law. It’s gonna be a big one.”
“How ‘bout this? You give me two days and let me in on it regardless. And I’ll let you put that thing on my wrist without killing any of you.”
His handsome face split into a grin thick with charm. “Deal. I have to say, it’s good to see you, Jillian. You haven’t changed a bit.”
I looked at him a little warily. “How is he?” I asked seriously. My question made the other druids shift with agitation and hostility. I really didn’t have the right to ask.
He had no doubt, of course, which he I meant. His mouth tightened, all good humor leaving his face. “He’s powerful. After you left, he reached his potential and it was even more than any of us bargained for. Killing Declan promoted him younger than any Arch in remembrance. My father couldn’t have been more pleased if it was his own son.”
“Is he happy?” My voice was more fragile than I preferred.
He shrugged. “He’s busy. He’s not as angry as he used to be, but I worry he’s just pushed all of that rage below the surface. He dates a new girl every night.” I tried not to wince visibly. “Though he’s been seeing Siobhan again.” I don’t think I hid the wince very well for that one. “No, I can’t say he’s happy, but who is?”
Well, that was a depressing question that I certainly didn’t have an answer for.
I stuck my wrist out grudgingly. “Get it over with. I hate those things.”
Collin chanted a surprisingly quick spell on the geas, then attached it to my wrist with the utmost courtesy not to lay so much as a finger on me. I appreciated his good manners. Politesse with an outsider was not a common druid trait.
The druids finally let me leave, and I beat it fast. Two days. So short a time before I had to face the man who’s memory I’d been running from for seven years.
I awoke to the smell of burning bed again, and started cursing before my eyes had opened. I had relocated to one of our guest rooms, on account of the bed I’d burned to cinders the night before.
I was relieved to find the damage was minimal when I examined the bed. I might even be able to sleep on it again. Maybe. Yippee. My bed burning rate wasn’t quite one a night.
I just stared at my reflection this time. There were no loud outbursts, I swear. The good news? It was straight and smooth like it was supposed to be. The bad news? It was a pale but vibrant purple. Violet? Lavender? I glared at my reflection and decided to just ignore the color until it went away, like the damned curls had.
I showered and dressed, trying to ignore the geas around my wrist. I strode downstairs with a bad attitude. Lynn and her entourage were having some sort of gathering in the living room. I was torn between curiosity (Lynn always kept things interesting) and a desire to avoid having to socialize in any way. I ate some of their party food before giving in to the curiosity.
“A party at ten in the morning?” I asked as I leaned into the doorway. A few dozen goths lounged in various stages of emo around the room. Lynn was in rare form today. She was reclining on a large, intricately carved, high-backed silver chair. Or rather, a throne. I’d never seen it before. When had Lynn picked up a throne? Gods only knew. “Some of you kiddos must have very early curfews indeed.”
“Madame Noir does not accept anyone under eighteen into her following,” one sniffed at me disdainfully.
“None of us have curfews,” another cried out.
“Madame Noir?” I looked in Lynn’s direction. She was decked out in full-on, black latex, dominatrix gear. “You’re french now?”
She nodded slightly, smiling just a little. “Oui. I was just telling my Adeptes about the horeur. Pardon, in english you say the french revolution. I was just telling them how my whole family went to the guillotine. When did you dye your hair cotton candy purple, ma soeur?”
“Don’t change the subject. Wow. Your whole family, huh?” I raised a brow at her ruefully. “I thought you were a viking.” Everyone in the room was glaring at me. Except for Lynn, of course. I was more than half convinced that she pulled this shit just to make me laugh.
“Oh, oui, I was a Viking before I was French,” she said, as though she’d forgotten. And as though it was perfectly natural to switch your nationality. “Memory can be a tricky thing, as the centuries pass you by.”
“Amen, sista.” Her last statement was actually pretty true, though I knew very well that she hadn’t forgotten that she had never been even a little french. Sure, she’d spent some time there, but certainly not during the revolution.
I was starting to notice that everyone in the room was a little more decked out than normal, even for them. “What’s the occasion? Did I miss my invitation to emo prom or something?”