The scent of the den welcomes me as we enter, an intoxicating mix of oak, leather, wood smoke, and old memories. Sunshine pours in through the leaded glass, and for an instant, I see Father’s shape silhouetted against it.
But it’s only a trick of the light.
Faolan is on the phone. His back is to the us, and he doesn’t turn. He just raises a finger over his shoulder and slowly—deliberately—points to a chair in the corner. His hand clenches into a fist as it drops back down.
Cormac shoves me toward the chair.
“This is not what we agreed, Rian!” Faolan growls into the receiver. “There were to be three jobs, not four, and you have yet to pay us for the last one!”
The familiar, worn leather of the chair does its best to put me at ease, but I can’t afford to be taken in. I sit down on the hard front edge and wait. I glance over to Cormac, then around the room. In a way, everything is exactly as it has always been. The chairs, the rug, the desk and tables, the lamps, the books—they have always seemed so much more permanent than anything else in my life. But, lately, more and more, I can’t help notice how tired they all look. It’s as if they are turning to dust, right in front of me.
Maybe that’s what happens when you try to stop time. You freeze everything in its place, but you only think it’s staying the same. In reality, it’s slowly falling apart from the inside out, and one day, you brush past it lightly and the whole thing just crumbles.
Is that what we’ve been doing? Is that what is happening to us?
“Fine!” Faolan yells into the phone, then turns and slams it down onto the cradle on the desk.
“Can you believe these fuckers?” he snarls to Cormac. “They give us bad information, bicker amongst themselves for weeks, and now are blaming us that Sullivan got away! And now they want us to do another job, instead. For the same money!”
I glance over to Cormac, but he stands silent. Definitely the smart choice.
“Sons of bitches!” Faolan yells and slams his fist into the desk. I flinch away from the force of it, and slide a little closer to the door side of the chair. I don’t stand a chance of getting past Cormac, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.
No doubt who that is directed to. I look back to Faolan.
“Tiergan, Tiergan . . . what am I going to do with you?” he says, his eyes narrowing sharply.
My heart rate jumps again, under his glare; but I’m caught, and there’s no changing it.
I drop my gaze to the floor and offer the only thing I’ve got.
“I did what you asked. She won’t be wanting to see me again.”