“How long have we been waiting?” Keely whines, turning from the large window.
Brennan scowls at her from his post by the door.
“I don’t know . . . ” I reply, with a little more edge than I’d intended—I soften my tone—”three minutes longer than the last time you asked?” She drops her gaze.
But I’m not really annoyed at her. It has been nearly an hour since we arrived, and it’s going to be sundown soon.
Where the fuck is Torrin?
Keely returns to the view out into the forest twilight. Even through the glass, the river chortles noticeably in the near distance.
This trip is not going as planned.
Brennan leans casually against the ornate oak trim of the entry archway, but his foot is live—pressed firmly against the wall, ready to spring—and has been since we arrived. Expecting trouble.
And I know what he’s thinking: he wants us to screw Torrin—and anybody else in our way—and proceed posthaste to Carrigan’s. And who am I kidding, I’m feeling much the same way, too.
But we already have enough enemies. We can’t afford to make more.
“Brennan, give me your phone.”
“Huh?” he replies, but pushes himself off the wall.
“Your phone,” I reply, this time with exactly as much edge as I intend. “I want to call Faolan.”
He pulls his phone out of his pocket as he walks over and hands it to me. Keely turns back from the window, suddenly interested.
Probably never seen a cellphone up close before.
“It’s quick-dial one,” he adds, as he returns to his post by the door.
I key in the appropriate sequence and wait for it to connect.
“Hello?” comes Elish’s voice from the other end of the line.
“Hey, Elish. It’s Tiergan. Faolan around?”
There’s a pause—too long—before she answers, sympathetically, “Um . . . he’s . . . out right now.”
“Out?” I reply, with a sudden and intense feeling of dread in my chest. “Where is he?”
Another long pause. The sense of dread spreads to my stomach and shoulders.
“He’s at Aiden’s.”
Son of a bitch!
“Aiden’s?” I reply, and even I can hear the desperation in my voice. But I can’t help it.
And I don’t care.
“How long’s he been there?”
What the fuck is it with the pausing!?!
“Most of the day . . . ” she finally replies. Again, sympathetically. “He left about an hour after you did.”
That son of a bitch! That lazy, good for nothing, mother-fucking son of a bitch!
“Tiergan?” Elish asks, and I realize several breaths have passed.
“Okay,” I force myself to say into the receiver. “Thanks. I’ve got to go now.”
“Tiergan,” she asks, “are you sure you’re o—”
I snap the phone shut and squeeze it tightly in my hand. Harder. And harder still.
At my feet, Garvey barks sharply and pulls his head from under my legs. My heel smacks into the wooden trim on bottom of the couch.
Keely says something, but I can’t hear the words.
I want to hit something. I want to hit something. I want to throw the phone against the wall and watch it smash. I squeeze it more tightly in my hand, but it refuses to give me even a crack.
Goddamned quality construction. Goddamned Brennan who couldn’t buy a cheap phone.
SON OF A BITCH FAOLAN!
Screw it! I twist and hurl the phone with all my might into the open fireplace. It smashes hard against the stone and shatters into a dozen pieces, that scatter about the room.
But it isn’t enough.
I need to hit something. I need to hit something NOW.
“What the hell did you do that for?” Brennan yells, running over to examine the ruin of his phone.
The muscles in my right hand start to protest from the strain as I clench them harder. Harder. Harder still. But not enough. GODDAMN IT NOT ENOUGH.
“What is it, Tiergan?” Keely asks, with concern and fear in her voice. But I don’t care.
I can’t break anything here.
I need to break something, and I can’t break anything here.
I want to slam my fist into my thigh. Anything, to make this go away. But I can’t. I’m in charge here. My SON OF A BITCH brother saw to that. I can’t just let this out, I can’t.
Brennan is staring at me, pissed.
Did he know, that this was all an excuse? I’ll bet he fucking did. Son of a bitch has been laughing at me all fucking day!
My arm is shaking from the strain in my hand.
I surge up and cross the room. I feel Keely step toward me, but she hesitates before she gets too close.
I step over to the bar and pour myself a tumbler full of whiskey. I drain it—it scrapes down my throat and makes me want to puke—and pour another.
“You knew, didn’t you, you son of a bitch!” I growl, turning on Brennan with the full glass in my hand. It sloshes around, and some of the liquid spills down my hand and onto the hardwood below.
I raise the glass to my lips and drain it in three gulps. This time, it tears a strip off the back of my throat and it takes every ounce of will to keep from puking it right back up. The muscles of my face contort in protest, but I hold it in.
I consciously force myself to place the glass back on the bartop—gently—and release it unharmed.
“Know what?” he demands, feigning indignation like a pro.
And I almost believe him.
I smash my knuckles into the bartop, and the pain leaps gleefully up through my wrist.
“You son of a bitch!” I reply and stomp toward the doorway.
“Fuck you. And Faolan, too,” I growl as I step through.
“Where are you going?” he asks, as I take off down the hall.
“Out,” I yell, and drive my fist into a stone column as I turn the corner.
I hear Garvey’s nails on the floor behind me, but I don’t care. I slam the door open as I reach it and drive my feet into the ground with as much force as I can as I take off into the woods. Over the first hill, I tear my clothes from my body, and chuck them against a tree. One shoe bounces down the slope, but I don’t give a shit.
Faolan be damned. Brennan be damned.
Torrin be damned, too, for all I care.
I change, and take off into the trees. Garvey follows behind.