Drip Drop Teardrop Page 18

Brennus growled angrily, “That’s none of your business.”

The woman’s dark eyes flashed just as angrily. “None of my business?! You’re contemplating cashing in this job, this life, this connection to me, for some silly little girl and it’s none of my business?! When are you going to forgive me, Brennus? When are you going to admit that you still love me? When are you going to forgive me and believe me when I tell you I truly love you?” her voice softened to a plea.

Oh my god, Avery felt sick.

“Anonna…” he breathed, his eyes closing as if in pain.

Anonna. The exotic Ankou was Anonna. Brennus had left out the part where Anonna had finally come to her senses and admitted her true love for him. Watching Anonna’s agony, Avery felt a vicious jealousy take hold. It burrowed its way under her skin, heating her blood, cutting off rationality, narrowing down her perspective. She hated this woman.

She didn’t know her.

But she hated her.

“Brennus please don’t do this,” Anonna whispered.

Avery waited, the blood pounding so hard in her ears she was afraid she wouldn’t hear his response.

“I don’t love you anymore, Anonna. I haven’t for a long time.” His eyes were sad, regretful. “I’m sorry. But I must ask you to leave.”

Anonna’s face hardened, like those Roman busts Avery had seen pictures of in history books, her eyes almost as opaque. “You choose her, Brennus… and you will regret it.”

“I’ve already chosen her.”

Anonna nodded, a brittle movement, as if unsure a more forceful gesture wouldn’t just cause her to shatter.

She vanished.

Avery sucked in her breath.

He’d chosen her.

And Avery had somehow chosen him.

Unlike Brennus, Avery had no intention of admitting it. It would cost too much.

The Bath that You Poured Me

has Drained, and it’s Gone

She didn’t tell him she knew about Anonna’s visit. And he didn’t tell her about Anonna’s visit. She didn’t pull away from him outwardly. Instead she embraced being with him. Living life to the full, they called it. He never asked it of her, but on the final night… she gave to him. Everything. She let him kiss her, touch her. She kissed him back, touched him back. She let him undress her and trail shivers across her over-heated skin. Now she understood what Sarah meant when she’d said she’d been to the stars and back. As Brennus showed her what sex could really be like, he didn’t stop with the stars. He hit the moon and the Milky Way and lit never-ending fireworks the entire way there and back. But it wasn’t just amazing sex, like Sarah had described. It was that allusive thing Aunt Caroline told her about. Connection.

Sex. Making love. She got the difference now.

So she wasn’t surprised at Brennus’ reaction the next morning as she slid out of his embrace and began getting dressed. He felt the chill in the air; the chill she had created. He’d asked her what was wrong and Avery had seen the panic in his eyes. Then she’d told him she was ready to go home.

He wrenched back the bed covers and pulled on his dark slacks. He turned to face her, all bristling angry male, the way he had been that first night. “What the hell are you talking about?” He seemed to struggle to keep his voice calm.

Avery gulped, willing her heart to stop racing. She trembled as she reached for a jacket she had left lying on the sofa. Then she realised it wasn’t her jacket. Brennus had bought it for her. She dropped it back down and drew on all her courage to face him. His lips were white with anticipatory rage but his eyes pleaded with her. “I’m sorry, Brennus. I like you.” She swallowed the lukewarm sentiment that didn’t even amount to a percent of what she felt for him. “I do. But Caroline wouldn’t want me to trade my mortality for her.”

“Caroline!” he shouted now, his scar stretched as tight as his emotions. “What the hell do you want, Avery?! Not Caroline. You!”

She shook her head. “I want my life back.”

The room seemed to darken, and a definite icy cold descended across the room as Brennus struggled for composure. “This is what you really want? To go back to her?”

She nodded, afraid to speak.

Brennus made a choking sound and covered his face with his hands.

Oh god, Avery felt like crying out to him, her hand reaching out of its own accord.

He drew his hands down his face. It was stark, and cold. Seemingly dead. Except for the bright shine of tears in his eyes. “I’ll kill her, Avery.”

A bucket of cold water. Like an unexpected slap to the face. She felt that jerk of shock slam her organs against her bones. “You bastard,” she whispered hoarsely.

He shrugged numbly. “I’d do anything to keep you.”

“What about our deal? You said if I stayed the week you wouldn’t take her before her time.”

“I lied.” His eyes were like ice chips. “Your choice. Me or her?”

She glared at him. “I choose her.”

The room spun around on her and she reached out, thinking it a fainting spell. Sick rushed up her throat in an acidic soup and she collapsed to the ground, vomiting up on the hardwood floor.

Wait. Hardwood? The bedroom was carpeted.

Avery raised her head and gazed around the room. It was her and Aunt Caroline’s sitting room. She wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her shirt.

He’d sent her back. Without saying goodbye.

***

True to Brennus’ word, Aunt Caroline had no memory of Avery being gone. Neither had Sarah or Jemima. Life quickly returned to normal. Well, as normal as it could be. Her aunt didn’t rapidly deteriorate, although Avery waited on tenterhooks for Brennus to make good on his promise. Every day he didn’t, she began to hate him a little less.

When a month passed and still no change, it crossed Avery’s mind that he may have lied. Was it just a desperate ruse to try and get her to stay? She wasn’t sure. There was a ruthless aspect to Brennus when it came to her. She had seen it that first night. She wasn’t sure that was a lie.

She hated that he crossed her mind every day. That when she lay in bed at night, she could still feel the press of his body against hers. She grieved for him. But Caroline would never have chosen someone like him for Avery. And Caroline always made the right choice.

Sometimes it was hard to remind herself of that fact. Like that first night out at 4.0. Avery had searched the crowds for him, praying she would see his severe face in the crowds. But he didn’t show.

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