Authors: Jenna Black
“Because you’ve never …” I let my voice trail off, realizing how foolish it was to make any kind of sweeping generalization about Adam. The fact was, I knew almost nothing about him other than what had happened since Lugh had joined me.
“Remember for a moment that there are basically two people in this body,” he said. “I suspect my host has dealt with more betrayals and disillusionment than you can possibly imagine.”
I knew next to nothing about Adam’s host, although I had met him briefly when Adam had— highly illegally—transferred to Dom’s body to heal what would have been a fatal gunshot wound. I’d decided from that brief meeting that Adam and his host were more alike than not, but I had no good way to justify that conclusion.
“What happened to your host?” I asked.
Adam was silent for a moment, perhaps consulting with his host to confirm it was all right for him to share.
“He came out when he was eighteen,” Adam said, “though by that time he’d already experimented with
both men and women. He likes women just fine, but he prefers men. His entire family disowned him— mom, dad, two brothers, and a sister. His dad gave him a bunch of money, in exchange for which he was never to call or otherwise contact any member of the family again.”
I’d always wondered how Adam could afford his impressive house on a cop’s salary—even on the salary of a high-ranked cop. I guess this explained it. I swallowed hard, regretting that I’d insinuated he’d always had it easy. Adam and his host were obviously fond of one another, and assuming Adam had as much ability to read and understand his host as Lugh did, then he probably did understand exactly what it was like to be betrayed by the ones you counted on.
“I’m sorry,” I said, even though it was a lame, generic thing to say. Seriously, though, what else can you say to a confession like that?
“I’m sure in the end that my host is better off having no contact with his family. Such a toxic environment would have turned him inside out. But believe me, that doesn’t make it easy.”
I’m not sure if it was because I was so shaken up by the hand, or if it was because Adam and I were suddenly so in sympathy with one another, but I said, “I’ll see what I can do about staying with Brian for a while. And Saul can house-sit while I’m away if it works out.”
I shook my head. “Don’t be too sure.”
“Don’t tell me you two are fighting again.”
I winced. “Not exactly. We just had … an awkward moment, let’s say. We’re going to talk again today, and we’ll probably get it all hashed out and
settled.” Wishful thinking, perhaps, but what else could I do? “I’ll let you know what happens.”
Adam nodded his agreement, then proceeded to call in his brothers-in-arms to investigate the hand.
men in blue were called in, I no longer had to worry about how to while away the hours of the day. If I’d called them about the death threats, they might have brushed me off, but it seemed like a hand in the mail made a definite impression.
At this point in my life, I had
too much experience being interviewed by the police. I knew that the questions would get repetitive, and that the repetition would irritate the crap out of me. I would then proceed to irritate the crap out of whoever was interviewing me, which would make the whole thing last longer.
Color me shocked, but the process went just about like I expected. As an extra giggle in this already fun-filled afternoon, I was lectured by some pimple-faced rookie with Dumbo ears about how I should have called the police sooner. I managed to refrain from lecturing
about the wonders of Clearasil.
The cops found a bunch of fingerprints on the bubble wrap, but I had a hunch they would all turn out to be mine. Adam was right—whoever was after me wasn’t stupid or careless enough to leave fingerprints.
The cops would check the fingerprints they found anyway. Conveniently, my prints were already on file from when I’d been arrested for illegal exorcism. Lucky me.
It was well past my usual dinnertime, and the cops were just packing up to leave, when Brian showed up. This, of course, meant I couldn’t get away with any delay tactics—I had to tell him right away about the lovely gift I’d received. At least the police were gone by the time I finished giving Brian the details, though they had left plenty of fingerprint powder behind. Yay, an excuse to do some more cleaning!
When I’d finished telling Brian about my day, he leaned back into the cushions of the sofa and let out a heartfelt sigh.
“You’re just unbelievable,” he muttered.
“Hey!” I said, punching him in the shoulder. “It’s not my fault some wacko decided to send me a hand in the mail.”
He smiled faintly as he rubbed his shoulder. “I’m just saying that your life is too eventful to believe. I’m not saying it’s your fault.”
I couldn’t disagree with his assessment.
Since my day was already shot to hell anyway, I decided to add a little more stress and misery to my plate and forge ahead with the conversation I usually would have done my best to put off.
“So, are you still pissed at me?”
Another sigh. “I’m not pissed at you. I never was.”
“Your nose is growing, Pinocchio.”
He propped his elbow on the back of the couch and half turned to face me. “I wish you had told me what was going on before last night. I wish you could be a quarter, or even an eighth as open with me as you are with Lugh.”
I started to say something indignant, but Brian cut me off.
“I know you don’t have a choice with Lugh. But you
have a choice with me.”
“Let me finish.” He took my hand, giving it a firm squeeze. “You’re probably the most frustrating person I’ve ever met, but I’ve known that for a long time, and I still love you.” His lips quirked in a half smile. “Even though you drive me crazy.” The smile faded. “But I need you to trust me every once in a while.”
“I do!” I responded instantly. I’d loved Brian from the first moment I’d met him, even though logic had insisted—and still continued to insist—that we were all wrong for each other. And I trusted him more than I’d ever trusted anyone else in my life—not that that’s a ringing endorsement.
He quirked an eyebrow at me and looked skeptical.
“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about what Lugh was up to earlier. I just thought things between us were complicated enough without adding that to the mix.”
“And that’s the perfect example of what I mean when I say you don’t trust me enough. What bad thing would have happened if you’d told me as soon as you knew Lugh was interested?”
I crossed my arms and gritted my teeth. “You’d have gone all macho-man on me and gotten jealous.” I had to admit, I was surprised he seemed so much more upset about my failure to communicate than about the thought of Lugh trying to seduce me.
“Okay. I’m a normal guy. I don’t like finding out that some other guy is making moves on my woman.” He suddenly looked me straight in the eye while seeming to look right through me. “You hear
me, Lugh? Morgan’s taken, and I’m not willing to share!” His eyes focused on me once more. “So I’m annoyed at Lugh. Big deal. You don’t think I’m going to dump you just because someone else wants you, do you?”
Reluctantly, I shook my head, because he was making way more sense than I liked.
“As long as you didn’t actually sleep with him, there’s only so upset I can get,” he concluded.
There he went with his impeccable logic again. “I still didn’t want to upset you.”
“So you’re never going to tell me anything that might upset me?” He was starting to get all pissed again. “You’re going to keep me in the dark, packed in cotton like some fragile glass ornament you only bring out at Christmas? How would you feel if I treated
Once again, he had a point. My internal defense mechanisms wanted me to attack right back—I’m one of those “offense is the best defense” people—but I fought that instinct, taking a deep breath to calm myself down before I spoke.
“You’re right,” I admitted.
Brian looked startled.
“I’d hate it if you did that to me. And I’ll try my best not to do it again.”
His look was one of classic skepticism. “You’re going to stop hiding things from me ‘for my own good’?”
I grimaced. “I’ll try,” I promised. I thought of the big secret I was
keeping about what I’d let Adam do to me. But that was an
secret, and I was only promising not to keep
ones, right? “I’m probably going to screw up now and again, because it’s second nature to me. But I’ll try
. Can you live with that?”
He regarded me for a long time before he answered, and I got the feeling he was searching every nuance of my expression for hidden clues. Finally, he sighed.
“I can live with that,” he said guardedly, “as long as your attempts meet with some success. Consider yourself on romantic probation and be on your best behavior for a while, okay?”
I didn’t like the way he’d phrased that—it sounded suspiciously like an ultimatum—but he was being pretty reasonable under the circumstances, so I nodded my acceptance.
I was still trying to figure out whether I should ask Brian about staying with him for a little while, just until we discovered who my secret admirer was, when the phone rang. I grabbed the phone and glanced at the caller ID. Jack Hillerman.
The name sounded vaguely familiar, but it took me a moment to place it. Then I remembered that Hillerman was Maguire’s attorney, the one Laura thought was trying to make a name for himself at my expense. Just who I wanted to talk to right now.
“Who is it?” Brian asked as I sat there stupidly staring at the phone.
“Maguire’s lawyer.” The phone rang for a fourth time, and my answering machine picked up. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to hear whatever Hillerman had to say. I noticed Brian wasn’t bugging me to answer it, so I figured I was making the right decision.
The answering machine beeped, then started to record.
“Ms. Kingsley,” said a deep male voice with an upper-crust accent that immediately made me think “pretentious snob.” “This is Jack Hillerman. I am
Jordan Maguire’s attorney. It is my understanding that you made an attempt to contact my client this afternoon.”
Brian raised an eyebrow at me. I held up a hand in a “wait a minute” gesture.
“From now on,” Hillerman continued, “I must insist that any attempts to speak to my client be made through me. If you call him or speak to him again, I will have a restraining order put on you. My client has been through enough trauma without having to be harrassed by the author of his troubles.”
The answering machine beeped again, and I realized Hillerman had hung up. Brian was still giving me the eyebrow arch, so I answered his unspoken question.
“I thought maybe if I talked to Maguire, we could work something out without having to go through all this lawsuit bullshit. I knew it was a long shot, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. I just left a message with his daughter asking him to call. I certainly didn’t
“Have you hired an attorney yet?”
I didn’t answer, which was answer enough.
“Morgan, hire an attorney. Tomorrow. I mean it.”
“These guys are obviously planning to play hardball, and you’ve never exactly been Miss Congeniality.”
I gave him a dirty look.
“Well, you haven’t!” he insisted. “It’s probably a good thing you didn’t reach Maguire or you might have said something he could have used against you.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, all my defensive reflexes coming to life at once. “Your faith in me is just overwhelming.”
He gave me a pointed look, and I pulled back on the reins of my temper.
“I got the message, okay?” I said. “I’ll call a lawyer tomorrow, and I won’t try to talk to Maguire again. Promise.”
Brian didn’t look entirely convinced, but thankfully, he let the subject drop.
Brian stayed the night, so I never got around to asking him if I could stay at his place for a while. Just as well, since I still couldn’t decide whether I wanted to. As always, the longer I could put off a decision, the happier I was.
I’m not sure if you could call our discussion of this afternoon a fight, but the sex that night sure had the feeling of make-up sex. Nothing I was going to complain about, that’s for sure.
Brian was gone by the time I woke up in the morning. Being currently unemployed gave me the leeway to sleep as late as I wanted. Of course, even when I
employed, I pretty much got to make my own hours. I really loved being an exorcist, and I hoped this suspension wouldn’t last much longer. But with the lawsuit hanging over my head, I suspected that was a pretty vain hope.
I did my zombie walk to the kitchen and had grabbed the coffee cannister and a filter before it registered in my sleep-addled mind that a full pot of coffee already awaited me. Have I mentioned how much I love Brian?
The coffee sucked as badly as ever, but I still smiled as I drank it, thinking of Brian thoughtfully setting the pot to brew before he headed home to get ready for work. I wandered out of the kitchen and saw that he had left me a note on the dining room table.
My happy little glow dimmed a bit when I saw
that he’d made me an appointment with one of the lawyers he’d recommended. I know I’d been procrastinating about it, but I truly had been planning to make the call today. I guess Brian hadn’t believed me. My contrary nature immediately urged me not to show up for the appointment, but good sense prevailed over irritation.
My appointment wasn’t until two, so I spent the remaining hours of the morning cleaning up fingerprint dust and trying not to speculate too much about the package and its origins.
After a lunch of PB&J with a bad coffee chaser, I headed out to meet with my new lawyer.
As a general rule, I have a pretty low opinion of lawyers, Brian being a big exception. So I was prepared to despise Brandon Cook, Esq., long before I set foot in the offices of Beacham, Carrey, and Cook. And when I stepped into the ritzy, stuffy-looking lobby with its mahogany furniture and cigar-club decor, I mentally docked him another point. You may have noticed I’m not much for pomp and circumstance, and there was a hell of a lot of pomp on display. I was tempted to do an about-face and march right back out, but I resisted the impulse. I needed a lawyer, and this guy was someone Brian respected. The least I could do was give him a test drive.