She glances at the display before answering. She mouths the word “Faolan” as she lifts the phone to her ear, and turns away from me.
I suck in a deep breath and hold it. The shaking gets immediately worse, but I clench my teeth and force things to still. The last thing I need, right now, is to talk to Faolan, and with my luck, he’ll insist if he knows I’m here.
“Hi Faolan,” Tara says into the receiver. “Tonight? Yeah, no problem. Eight? I’ll be there.
“Tiergan?” She glances at me. I shake my head vigorously. Her eyes narrow, but she nods. “Ahhh, no, I haven’t seen him, sorry. Okay, yeah, if I see him I’ll tell him. Okay, bye.”
I wait for her to close the phone before releasing my breath.
“Work tonight?” I ask. My voice isn’t steady, and my breathing’s uneven. Deal with it! I yell silently at myself.
I’ve had enough of this bullshit!
I’m tempted to drive my nails into my palms again, to try and gain control, but I’m not sure where it will lead. I go without.
“Rian wants somebody followed,” she replies. She raises her eyebrows. “Your presence is requested, too.”
“Requested?” I ask. I’m quite certain Faolan wasn’t making a “request”.
She ignores the comment and sizes me up. “Now, how are we going to get you home?”
I follow her gaze down to see the damage for myself. I can move my arm, although it feels like it is starting to swell. It’s not bleeding much, but there’s a sheen of clear liquid on it. It’s not going to heal quickly, that’s for sure. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to hurt too much when I’m not touching it.
The cuts on my hands are of more immediate concern. They’re deep, and still bleeding. But it’s slowing, and seems to be starting to clot. It’s going make running hard, for a while, though.
Still, I’ve done worse. I’ll probably do worse again. I’ll deal.
“I’ll just wait until it’s a bit darker, then run home.”
“With that arm?” Her tone implies she thinks I’m crazy.
“I’ll be okay,” I reply. To prove it, I start to push off the ground. With my good arm.
“No!” she barks and jumps at to me. She pushes me back down. “You’ve beaten the hell out of the soft tissue. It’s going to take weeks to heal, and you might not be feeling it much now, but you will soon.
“And if you change too soon, you could make it a lot worse.”
She’s probably right. But it doesn’t change much. “Yeah, well, staying in this form isn’t really an option, is it. Faolan’s already pissed at me. I have to show up, and I have to work.”
She shakes her head slowly. “Tiergan, for one of the smartest people I know, you sure know how to be stupid.”
“I know . . . . I’m sorry.”
She smiles at me. A worried smile. “Look, stay here. I’ll go get your clothes.”
“No, no, it’s okay, I’ll just—”
She cuts me off. “Promise me you won’t change.” For emphasis, she grabs my bad arm and squeezes. The joint explodes in agony.
“Okay, okay, okay!” I gasp. She releases me and I jerk my good hand over it for cover. “Okay, I’ll stay put.” The pain starts to fade, slowly, but she’s definitely made her point.
She gets up to go. I want to ask her if she’s okay. If we’re okay.
But I guess I know the answer already.
She pauses at the door and turns. “And Tiergan?” she says, very serious. “Don’t worry. We’ll figure out something to do about Keaira.”
She doesn’t wait for a reply. And I’m alone.