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My candidate for this week and for my second post I picked a scene from one of the Night Huntress books, a scene that I have gone back to and re-read for the intensity of emotion it provokes. But I must first set the scene. Kat has gone behind Bones’ back in order to eliminate a man from her past, a man she has no memory of but says she belongs to him. When she returns to Bones, what she finds is the last thing she expects. Bones is angry with her and her lack of trust in him to eliminate this rival. The book is Destined for an Early Grave (Book 4)
“You shouldn’t have left.”
I wasn’t about to get into it with Spade. Yeah, I had it coming, but there was only one person entitled to give it to me. The fact that Bones hadn’t come out when he heard me arrive spoke volumes. He must be really pissed.
Spade glanced to his left. “Follow the music.”
Piano music played in the general direction Spade indicated. Maybe Bones was listening to a relaxing CD. One could only hope it had improved his temperament.
“Thanks.” I headed past the next few rooms toward the sound.
When I entered what appeared to be a large library, I saw the music was coming from a piano, not a CD. Bones was bent over it, his back to me, pale fingers gliding expertly over the keys.
“Hi,” I said, after standing there several heartbeats without him even turning around. Going to ignore me, was he? Not if I could help it. I’d rather get this over with than prolong it.
“I didn’t know you could play,” I tried again, coming closer.
When I got near enough to feel his vibe, I stopped. Bones felt wound enough to explode, though the music coming from his hands was serene. Chopin, maybe. Or Mozart.
“Why are you here?”
He asked it with deceptive gentleness, not missing a note or looking up. The question startled me.
“B-because you are,” I said, cursing myself for stuttering like an intimidated teenager. I’d had enough of that.
Bones still didn’t look up. “If you’ve come to say goodbye, you needn’t bother. I don’t need a tearful explanation. Just walk out the same way you came in.”
A lump rocketed up in my throat. “Bones, that’s not–”
“Don’t touch me!”
I’d been about to smooth my hand across his back when he knocked my arm away so hard, it spun me. Now Bones was looking at me, and the rage in his gaze pinned me where I was.
“No. You don’t get to stroll in here stinking of Gregor, then lay your hands on me.” Each word was a measured, furious growl. “I’ve endured quite enough of being patronized. You treat me as if I was a feeble human who couldn’t survive without your help, but I am a Master bloody vampire.”
That last part was shouted. I flinched. Bones flexed his hands, seeming to get a handle on himself. Then he spoke the next part through gritted teeth.
“If it were my wish, I could rip you apart with my bare hands. Yes, you’re strong. You’re quick. But not strong enough or fast enough that I couldn’t kill you if I had a mind to. Yet despite this, you continue to treat me with the contempt you’d show an inferior. I’ve brushed it off. Told myself it didn’t matter, but no more. Yesterday, you believed in Gregor more than me. You left me to go to him, and there is no overlooking that, so I ask you again, why are you here?”
“I’m here because I love you and we’re…” I was about to say, we’re married, but the words choked me. No, I’d proven to myself that we weren’t, as far as vampires were concerned.
Bones let out a cold snort. “I won’t stand for this. I’m not going to hold you in my arms and wonder if I’m the one you’re really thinking about.”
“Bones, you know that isn’t true!” I was anguished at the accusation. “I love you, you know that. And if you didn’t know it, God, you could look for yourself and see–”
“Only shadows,” he ruthlessly interrupted. “Glimpses when your guard was down, when that bloody wall you hide behind wasn’t blocking me. I have been open with you about all of me, even the worst of me, because I thought you deserved no less, but you don’t hold me in the same regard. No, you reserved that for Gregor. You trusted him enough to leave everything at his word. Well, luv, I bow when I am beaten, and Gregor has defeated me in a grand style. He’s the one you respect. He’s who you trust, so if you’re not leaving, I am.”
Cold swept over me, and the lump in my throat grew reinforcements. This wasn’t a fight. This was something far worse.
“You’re leaving me?”
He sat back down on the piano bench. Almost idly, his fingers flicked the keys.
“I can stand many things.”
His voice was harsh in its emotionlessness. I recoiled from it. For a second, I was afraid of him.
“Many things,” he continued. “I can stand your affection for Tate, much as I despise him. Your repeated jealousies over other women, even when I have given you no cause, for I’d be the same way in your place. I can stand your insistence to participate in dangerous situations that are way over your head, for again, that is also my nature. All of these things ate at me, but for you, I chose to stand them.”
Now he stood. That calm, apathetic tone vanished, and his voice rose with each passing word.
“I also chose to stand the things you didn’t admit to, like when you secretly wondered if Gregor had made you happier than I had. I could even tolerate the real reason you didn’t want to change over, the real reason you clung to your heartbeat. I could stand to know that deep down, there’s a part of you that still believes all vampires are evil!”
Roared now. I backed up, never having seen Bones like this. His eyes were electric green, and the emotion in him had him shaking on his feet.
“Don’t think I don’t know it. Don’t think I haven’t always known it! And I could bear it, yes, even knowing the other reason for your hesitancy. Underneath your claims of devotion, past your love-and I do think you love me, despite it all-you don’t want to change over because you don’t think we’ll last. You believe we are only temporary, and becoming a vampire is such a permanent thing, isn’t it? Yes, I know this. I’ve known it since I met you, but I’ve been patient. I told myself that one day, you wouldn’t look at me with those guarded eyes. That one day, you’d love me the same way I loved you…”
The piano smashed into the wall across the room. It made a horrible keening noise, like it hurt from being destroyed. My hand pressed to my mouth while the emptiness in my stomach uncurled to fill my whole body.
“I’ve been a fool.”
His simple sentence shattered me more thoroughly than the furniture he’d just demolished. I made a gasp of pain that he ignored.
“But this, this is the one thing I cannot endure-your walking out on me. I would rather have died than seen that note you left me. Would have cheerfully tucked myself in my grave than to see that filthy piece of paper!”
“I didn’t walk out on you. I was trying to help, and I told you I was coming back-”
“Nothing you say matters.”
It struck me like a slap. He looked at me, no tenderness, love, or forgiveness on his face. It was as if he were a statue. My heart beat faster with fear, desperate fear at everything falling apart.
“No. Will it change anything? Will it turn back the clock so you won’t have left? It won’t, so don’t bother. You’ve only ever learned one way. Only one, and I should have remembered that. Perhaps this will finally penetrate into the armor you so relentlessly polish and shine.”
He turned on his heel and began to walk away. I stared in stupid transfixion before racing after him, catching him as he approached the now-deserted front entrance.
“Wait! God, let’s talk about this. We can work it out, I swear. Y-you can’t just go!”
I was sputtering in anguish, tears spilling down my cheeks. They blinded me, but I felt his hand as he reached out and softly touched my face.
“Kitten.” His voice was thick with something I couldn’t name. “This is the part…where you don’t have a choice.”
The door slamming behind him knocked me off my feet.
The End…or is it? Read Destined for an Early Grave (among the other books in the series) to find out what happens with Cat and Bones. Does she go back to Gregor? Who knows? You have to read to find out 🙂