Drip Drop Teardrop Page 16

She wiped her mouth with a napkin and smiled. “What were you like?”

He shrugged, smirking. “Not very nice.”

“Oh, come on, you have to give me more than that.”

Brennus nodded, his eyes twinkling. He lay down his slice and wiped his fingers with his napkin. “I was very arrogant.”

Avery snorted. “Tell me something I don’t know.”

He laughed and she could see people looking at them from the corner of her eye. She would be searching too for the source of that gorgeous, chocolate laughter. But she knew that wasn’t why they were looking. It startled her to realise that they had been sitting there all this time and until now she hadn’t felt the stares of the public who were intrigued and repulsed by Brennus’ shockingly scarred face. The more time she spent around him, the more the scar just became a part of him. It had stopped bothering her. And when she was with him, she didn’t panic when people stared.

“OK.” He chuckled. “I deserved that. But I mean I was a snob. Arrogant. Superior. Often unkind because of it. Saying it was a different time is no excuse. I believed myself above others and thus they were below my notice or my kindness.”

“Were you physically cruel?” she asked carefully, fearful of his answer.

Brennus shook his head. “I’m a very big man and aware of my physical prowess over others. I knew using it against them could be dangerous and unfair. I was arrogant but I had a little sense of honour. No, mostly I was condescending and curt. I had little patience for most people and very little sympathy for the plight of others.”

“What’s the worst thing you ever did?” It was such a morbid question but if she was to give this man a chance, if she was to have any chance of loving him, then she had to know this stuff. They didn’t have the luxury of time to figure it all out.

Nodding his head, Avery knew Brennus understood that. He sighed heavily and took a sip of his coffee. His face had grown a little stark, like his skin was stretched too tight over the bones of his face. “The worst thing I ever did… was to a friend. Caedmon. We grew up together. Both our families were well off, we were of an age. Very close. And stupid. We got into quite a tangle over women.”

Avery could just imagine them. Two good looking rich boys devastating the town. “What age were you?”

“Sixteen.”

Her jaw dropped and he laughed. It was dark and… roguish. She shivered. “Boys were men at sixteen. And Caedmon and I liked to prove we were the biggest men of our peer group.”

“What happened?”

Brennus exhaled. “His father died, leaving them with debts. His mother prostituted herself and Caedmon couldn’t find work. They were ostracised and I was afraid if I remained friends with Caedmon I would lose my own good standing. So I deserted him.”

“Brennus,” she whispered sympathetically, seeing the guilt he still carried after all these years.

“Caedmon joined auxilia, the corp of the Imperial Roman Army open to imperial subjects who weren’t Roman citizens. They were heavy infantry, did as much as a legionnaire. He left. I never saw him again. But when I became Ankou it was easy to discover truths. He died in action… only a year into his career as a soldier.” Brennus shook his head slowly. “He should have died a wealthy tradesman with a beautiful wife and ten children.”

Avery reached forward and touched his arm gently. “If he stayed he could have died in the plague. Or took a fever. Or drowned. Or-”

He held up his hand cutting her off, a cynical smile curving his lips. “You’re really going to try to rationalise for me?”

Remembering he hadn’t pushed her, she grimaced and pulled back. “You’re right. Sorry. You feel bad for abandoning your friend. I get it.”

He nodded solemnly. “Mayhap I would have grown into a better man… my father was a decent man. Instead I became an immortal and death changed me. I grew up fast.”

Avery nodded, understanding perfectly. “It has a tendency to do that to a person.”

Their gazes caught and her heart sped up. She felt that flush of heat all over.

Worse… she didn’t feel alone anymore.

It’s Gonna Cost You but

You Might Hurt Less

I feel like I’m fighting what I want because of what my world expects from me. My friends would call him creepy stalker guy; Aunt Caroline would say he was too old for me guy; pop culture would say he’s the devil guy; and the person I was five days ago would call him a blackmailing, ruthless son-of-a-bitch guy. And I guess that last part is still kind of true. But I’m not so sure about the other stuff. If he really is that guy that my world describes, shouldn’t I be deterred? Shouldn’t I want to run in the opposite direction? Shouldn’t I be terrified of him? Because I’m not. I’ve never felt safer. I’ve never felt more like a person who isn’t scared to make my own choices… and that in itself scares the crap out of – if that even makes sense.

Last night we took a walk around the estate. I let him hold me. Kiss me. I kissed him back. My lips gave to him what they never gave to Josh. I don’t even feel guilty for that. But I’m scared. Did I say that already? I wasn’t scared last night. Last night we lay on his incredibly comfortable bed… and we talked. I spoke about my mom and dad, which I never do. The kind of people they were. The way they lived. Loved. He told me about eternity. What he’d seen and done. He’s not perfect. He’s made choices maybe some people wouldn’t have but at the same time I don’t think I’ve met a man with more heart. He’s kind of hard to hate. Too easy to lov-

We held hands last night. I woke up entangled in him.

Have you ever had moments of absolute peace? Like nothing can touch you? Only moments, they never last long… but when they do it’s this sense of lightness of being; like you’re so relieved to be happy you kind of cry. Do you ever notice how you cry when you’re angry, frustrated, scared or happy? I rarely cry when I’m sad. I don’t know where that misconception came from. Sadness isn’t hot tears. It’s cold. Numb. Hard.

He’s out; checking things are OK with his spirits. See, I should totally be creeped out.

When he’s gone I lose my battle with my doubts. I’m doubting. Would Caroline really want me give up my life for hers?

She would be so mad if I did…

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