No, you've got it all wrong, John." Reading his emotions, she shook her head. "You're not half the male you could be because of what was done to you. You're twice what anyone else is because you survived.
The essential truth of life, he was coming to realize, wasn't romantic and took only two words to label: Shit. Happens. But the thing was, you kept going. You kept your friends and your family and your mate as safe as you were able. And you kept fighting even after you were knocked down.
...the only thing that had tethered her to the earth had been him and it was strange, but she felt welded to him on some core level now. He had seen her at her absolute worst, at her weakest and most insane, and he hadn't looked away. He hadn't judged and he hadn't been burned. It was as if in the heat of her meltdown they had melted together. This was more than emotion. It was a matter of soul.
Closing his eyes, he sent up a prayer to anyone who was listening, asking please, for God's sake, stop sending him signals that they were right for each other. He'd read that book, seen the movie, bought the soundtrack, the DVD, the T-shirt, the mug, the bobble-head, and the insider's guide. He knew every reason they could have been lock and key. But just as he was aware of all that aligned them, he was even clearer on how they were damned to be ever apart.
I want you to know...that you can trust me." John locked eyes with her and was instantly transported to a different plane of existence. Mighta been heaven again. Who the fuck knew or cared. All he knew was that there was only her and him together, the rest of the world drifting away into fog. Was it possible to fall in love with someone twice, he wondered dimly.
She wanted to say something smart and kind, put together some combination of words to reach him where he'd reached her with his. But the thing was, there was more courage in these revelations of his than she had ever shown anyone, and in a world that was full of taking and cruelty, he was fucking breaking her heart with what he was giving her.
When he turned back around, his characteristic smart-ass smile was back in place. "Your wish is my command, prince of mine."
Don't call me that. "How about good ol'-fashioned 'master'?" When John just glared over his shoulder, Quinn shrugged. "Fine. I'll go with fathead then. But that's your damage, I gave you options." [John & Qhuinn]
In a quiet voice, he said, "How long's this been going on for you? With her." John took out a small pad he'd brought with him and wrote: Since the moment I first met her. After Rehv read the scribble, he frowned. "She feel the same way?" John did not drop his eyes as he shook his head. No sense hiding shit. Not with a symphath. Rehv nodded once. "That's so like her. Goddamn it...okay, let's do this.
When he heard light, rushing footfalls, he turned his head. Someone was racing along the second-floor balcony. Then laughter drifted down from above. Glorious feminine laughter. He leaned out the archway and glanced at the grand staircase. Bella appeared on the landing above, breathless, smiling, a black satin robe gathered in her hands. As she slowed at the head of the stairs, she looked over her shoulder, her thick dark hair swinging like a mane. The pounding that came next was heavy and distant, growing louder until it was like boulders hitting the ground. Obviously, it was what she was waiting for. She let out a laugh, yanked her robe up even higher, and started down the stairs, bare feet skirting the steps as if she were floating. At the bottom, she hit the mosaic floor of the foyer and wheeled around just as Zsadist appeared in second-story hallway. The Brother spotted her and went straight for the balcony, pegging his hands into the rail, swinging his legs up and pushing himself straight off into thin air. He flew outward, body in a perfect swan dive--except he wasn't over water, he was two floors up over hard stone. John's cry for help came out as a mute, sustained rush of air-- Which was cut off as Zsadist dematerialized at the height of the dive. He took form twenty feet in front of Bella, who watched the show with glowing happiness. Meanwhile, John's heart pounded from shock...then pumped fast for a different reason. Bella smiled up at her mate, her breath still hard, her hands still gripping the robe, her eyes heavy with invitation. And Zsadist came forward to answer her call, seeming to get even bigger as he stalked over to her. The Brother's bonding scent filled the foyer, just as his low, lionlike growl did. The male was all animal at the moment....a very sexual animal. "You like to be chased, nalla , " Z said in a voice so deep it distorted. Bella's smile got even wider as she backed up into a corner. "Maybe." "So run some more, why don't you." The words were dark and even John caught the erotic threat in them. Bella took off, darting around her mate, going for the billiards room. Z tracked her like prey, pivoting around, his eyes leveled on the female's streaming hair and graceful body. As his lips peeled off his fangs, the white canines elongated, protruding from his mouth. And they weren't the only response he had to his shellan . At his hips, pressing into the front of his leathers, was an erection the size of a tree trunk. Z shot John a quick glance and then went back to his hunt, disappearing into the room, the pumping growl getting louder. From out of the open doors, there was a delighted squeal, a scramble, a female's gasp, and then....nothing. He'd caught her. ......When Zsadist came out a moment later, he had Bella in his arms, her dark hair trailing down his shoulder as she lounged in the strength that held her. Her eyes locked on Z's face while he looked where he was going, her hand stroking his chest, her lips curved in a private smile. There was a bite mark on her neck, one that had very definitely not been there before, and Bella's satisfaction as she stared at the hunger in her hellren 's face was utterly compelling. John knew instinctively that Zsadist was going to finish two things upstairs: the mating and the feeding. The Brother was going to be at her throat and in between her legs. Probably at the same time. God, John wanted that kind of connection.
As his ears rang and his heart broke for her, he stayed strong against the gale force she let loose. After all, there was a reason why here and hear were seperated by so little and sounded one like the other. Bearing witness to her, he heard her and was there for her because that was all you could do during a fall apart. But God, it pained him to see how she suffered.
And what do you know, John's hands flew through the positions of ASL in various l-got-this combinations. "Is he deaf" the guy behind the cash register asked in a stage whisper. As if someone using American Sign Language was some kind of freak. "No. Blind." "Oh." As the man kept staring, Qhuinn wanted to pop him. "You going to help us out here or what?" "Oh ... yeah. Hey, you got a tattoo on your face." Mr. Observant moved slowly, like the bar codes on those bags were creating some kind of wind resistance under his laser reader. "Did you know that?" Really. "I wouldn't know." ''Are you blind, too?" No filter on this guy. None. "Yeah, I am." "Oh, so that's why your eyes are all weird." "Yeah. That's right." Qhuinn took out a twenty and didn't wait for change-murder was just a liiiiiittle too tempting. Nodding to John, who was also measuring the dear boy for a shroud, Qhuinn went to walk off. "What about your change ?" the man called out. "I'm deaf, too. I can't hear you." The guy yelled more loudly, "I'll just keep it then, yeah?" "Sounds good," Qhuinn shouted over his shoulder. Idiot was stage-five stupid. Straight up.
When they got to thew bottom of the stairwell, they stopped dead. Blay's father was facing off with a lesser, a Civil War sword in one hand, a dagger in the other. Behind his Joe Friday glasses, his eyes were lit like torches, and they flicked over for a split second. "Stay out of this. This one's mine." The shit was done faster than you can say, Ninja Dad . Blay's father went Ginsu on the slayer, carving the thing up like a turkey, then stabbing it back to the Omega.
Up ahead about two blocks, a massive figure stepped out into her path. She halted. Took a deep breath. Felt a prickling in her eyes. On the breeze drifting down to her, John's unmistakable bonding scent was a dark spice that wiped out the stink of the city and the wretched sting of her unhappiness. She started walking toward him. Fast. Faster... Now she was running. He met her halfway, falling into a jog as soon as he saw her pick up the pace, and they slammed into each other. Hard to know whose mouth found whose, or whose arms were cinched tighter, or who was the desperate one. But then, in this they were equals.
It was hard to explain. But what was between them went further than a mating ceremony or a back carving or a witnessed exchange of commitment. He couldn't put his finger on the why of it...but she was his missing puzzle piece, the twelfth in his dozen, the first and last pages of his book.