...the only thing that had tethered her to the earth had been him and it was strange, but she felt welded to him on some core level now. He had seen her at her absolute worst, at her weakest and most insane, and he hadn't looked away. He hadn't judged and he hadn't been burned. It was as if in the heat of her meltdown they had melted together. This was more than emotion. It was a matter of soul.
A cold blast hit him and he laughed at the sting as he stepped outside, surveyed the night sky, and drank deeply. Such a good liar he was. Such a good one. Everyone thought he was fine because he'd camo'd his little problems. He wore a Sox hat to hide the eye twitch. Set his wristwatch to go off every half hour to beat back the dream. Ate though he wasn't angry. Laughed though he found nothing funny. And he'd always smoked like a chimney.
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He screamed for all he had lost...screamed for the half male he was...screamed for Jane...screamed for who his parents were and what he wished for his sister...screamed for what he had forced his best friend to do...He screamed, and screamed until there was no breath, no consciousness, no nothing. No past or present. Not even himself anymore. And in the midst of the chaos, in the strangest way, he became free.
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You're a good Irishman, right?" When Butch nodded, V said, "Irish, Irish... let me think. Yeah... " Vishous's eyes sobered, and in a voice that cracked, he said, "May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And... my dearest friend... until we meet again may the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.
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Layla brought her arms around herself, no doubt because she was remembering the feel of another, stronger set. "I have wanted to, but he holds back. I hope...I believe it is because he wishes to mate me properly first, in ceremony." Payne felt the awful weight of premonition. "Beware, sister. You are a gentle soul." Layla got to her feet, her smile now saddened. "Yes, I am. But I would rather my heart be broken than unopened and I know that one must ask if one is to receive.
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When he pulled back, Blay frowned. "You're shaking." Was it possible he wasn't imagining this? "Am I?" "Yes." "I don't care. I love you. I love you so damned much, and I"m sorry that I wasn't male enough to admit--" Blay stopped him with a kiss. "You're plenty male enough now--the rest of it's in the past." "I just...God, I really am shaking, aren't I? Yeah. But it's okay--I've got you." Qhuinn turned his face into one of the male's palms. "You always have. You've always had me...and my heart. My soul. Everything.
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I want to see the front of you.' 'That's what all the girls say.' 'Do you expect me to roll you over? 'Cuz I will.' 'Your mate's not going to like this.' 'As if that's going to bother you?' 'True. It actually makes it worth the effort.' With a groan, he shoved his palms into the shimmering silver pool of blood beneath him, and flopped over like the side of beef he was. 'Wow, ' she breathed. 'I know, right? Hung like a horse.' 'If you're really nice-and you live through this-I'll promise not to tell V.' 'About my size.' She laughed a little. 'No, that you assumed I'd look at you in any fashion other than professionally.
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Bottom line? As much as you wanted someone to change and believed they could, they were in control of their life. Not you. And you could throw yourself against the wall of their choices until you were black-and-blue and dizzy as hell, but unless they decided to take a different road, the outcome wasn't going to be what you wanted.
Or, God, maybe this was just life. For everyone on the planet. Maybe the Survivor's Club wasn't something you "earned," but simply what you were born into when you came out of your mother's womb. Your heartbeat put you on the roster and then the rest of it was just a question of vocabulary: the nouns and verbs used to describe the events that rocked your foundation and sent you flailing were not always the same as other people's, but the random cruelties of disease and accident, and the malicious focus of evil men and nasty deeds, and the heartbreak of loss with all its stinging whips and rattling chains... At the core, it was all the same.
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Someone put opera on inside the house. Someone changed it to hip-hop, thank God. Someone started a shower. Someone vacuumed. Again. Life. In all its mundane majesty. And you couldn't take advantage of it if you were sitting on your ass in the shadows... whether it was in actuality, or metaphorically because you were trapped in an attic's darkness.
When her blue-black eyes lifted to his, everything disappeared. Their bodies dematerialized. The room they were in ceased to exist. Time became nothing. And in the void, in the wormhold, Wrath's chest opened up sure as if he'd been shot, a piercing pain licking over his nerve endings. He knew then that there are many ways for a heart to break. Sometimes it's from the crowding of life, the compression of responsibility and birthright and burden that just squeezed you until you couldn't breathe anymore. Even though your lungs were working just fine. And sometimes it's from the casual cruelty of a fate that took you far from where you had thought you would end up. And sometimes it's age in the face of youth. Or sickness in the face of health. But sometimes it's just because you're looking into the eyes of your lover, and your gratitude for having them in your life overflows... because you showed them what was on the inside and they didn't run scared or turn away: they accepted you and loved you and held you in the midst of your passion or your fear... or your combination of both. Wrath closed his eyes and focused on the soft pulls at his wrist. God, they were just like the beat of his heart. Which made sense. Because she was the center of his chest. And the center of his world.
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This was hers and hers alone. Forevermore. Or at least so I thought... but shit didn't work out that way, and then you came along... and circle be damned, I don't want to be finished with you.' Now it was her turn to feel poleaxed, her body going numb as she struggled to comprehend what he was saying. 'Autumn, I'm in love with you-that's why I came here tonight. And we don't have to be together, and you don't have to get over what I said, but I wanted you to hear that from me. And I also want to tell you that I'm at peace with it, because... ' He took a deep breath. 'You want to know why Wellsie got pregnant? It wasn't because I wanted a young. It's because she knew that every night when I left the house I could get killed in the field, and as she said, she wanted something to keep on living for. If I had been the one to go? She would have carved out a life for herself, and... the strange thing is, I would have wanted her to do that. Even if it included someone else. I guess I've realized that... she wouldn't have wanted me to mourn her forever. She'd have wanted me to move on... and I have.
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That's you, " Wrath said. You shall be called the Black Dagger warrior Dhestroyer, descended of Wrath son of Wrath." "But you'll always be Butch to us, " Rhage cut in. "As well as hard-ass. Smart-ass. Royal pain in the ass. You know, whatever the situation calls for. I think as long as there's an ASS in there, it'll be accurate." "How about bASStard?" Z suggested. "Nice. I feel that.
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Just once" Blay said softly. "Do it just once. So I'll know what it's like." Qhuinn started to shake his head. "No... I don't think-" "Yes" After a moment, Qhuinn slid both his hands up Blay's thick neck and captured the male's sturdy jaw in his palms. "You sure?" When Blay nodded, Qhuinn titled his friend's head back and to the side and held it in place as he slowly closed the distance. Just before their mouths touched, Blay's eyelashes fluttered down and he trembled and- Oh, it was sweet. Blay's lips were incredibly sweet and soft. The tongue probably wasn't supposed to be part of it, but there was no helping that. Qhuinn licked inside and then sank deep as his arms slipped around Blay and held him hard. When he finally lifted his head, the look in Blay's eyes said he would let anything happen between them. Let it all happen.
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Rough times." Qhuinn shrugged. "And I'm not interested in saints." "Really? You're in love with one, " Layla chimed in. As Qhuinn glanced over at Blay, his mismatched eyes narrowed. "Damn straight I am, " he said softly. As the redhead turned red-natch-that connection between the two males became positively tangible. Love was such a beautiful thing.
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He had been aware of the distance traveled by his heart, similar to the way a hiker became lost in the wilderness. A half mile out and you could still see where you had started, could easily find the way back home. But ten miles and a number of forks in your trail later and there was no going back. At that point, you had no choice but to marshal the resources to build yourself a shelter and put down fresh roots.
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They don't fit you?" V asked his roommate. "Not the point. No offense, but these are wicked Village People." Butch held his heavy arms out and turned in a circle, his bare chest catching the light. "I mean, come on." "They're for fighting, not fashion." "So are kilts, but you don't see me rocking the tartan." "And thank God for that. You're too bowlegged to pull that shit off." Butch assumed a bored expression. "You can bite me.' I wish, V thought. Butch and Vishous
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His ears caught a sweet chiming noise, and a moment later a warm rush fell over his body. How we doing Rhage? Too hot? Butch's voice. Up close. The cop was in the shower with him. And he smelled Turkish tobacco. V must be in the bathroom too. Hollywood? This too hot for you? No. He reached around for the soap, fumbling. Can't see. Just as well. No reason for you to know what we look naked together. Frankly, I'm traumatized enough for the both of us. Rhage smiled a little as a washcloth scrubbed over his face, neck and chest.
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Love, he realized, was like the daggers he made in his forge: When you first got one it was shiny and new and the blade glinted bright in the light. Holding it against your palm, you were full of optimism for what it would be like in the field, and you couldn't wait to try it out. Except those first couple of nights out were usually awkward as you got used to it and it got used to you. Over time, the steel lost its brand-new gleam, and the hilt became stained, and maybe you nicked the shit out of the thing a couple of times. What you got in return, however, saved your life: Once the pair of you were well acquainted, it became such a part of you that it was an extension of your own arm. It protected you and gave you a means to protect your brothers; it provided you with the confidnece and the power to face whatever came out of the night; and wherever you went, it stayed with you, right over your heart, always there when you needed it. You had to keep the blade up, however. And rewrap the hilt from time to time. And double-check the weight. Funny... all of that was well, duh when it came to weapons. Why hadn't it dawned on him that matings were the same? (From the thoughts of Vishous)
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His thumb went back and forth over the satin, as if he were rubbing her hip as he had when they'd been together, and he moved his leg over so that it was on top of the skirting. It wasn't the same, though. There was no body underneath, and the fabric smelled like lemons, not her skin. And he was, after all, alone in this room that was not theirs. 'God, I miss you, ' he said in a voice that cracked. 'Every night. Every day...
There was something about the people you grew up around, the ones you'd seen throughout your childhood, the folks you couldn't remember not knowing. Even if the past was a complicated mess, as you aged, you were just glad the sons of bitches were still on the planet. It gave you the illusion that life wasn't as fragile as it actually was-and on occasion, that was the only thing that got you through the night.
After a moment, Wrath turned to John. "This is Lassiter, the fallen angel. One of the last times he was here on earth, there was a plague in central Europe-" "Okay, that was so not my fault-" "-which wiped out two-thirds of the human population." "I'd like to remind you that you don't like humans." "They smell bad when they're dead." "All you mortal types do.
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Sometimes in life, from out of a myriad of prosaic decisions like what to eat and where to sleep and how to dress, a true crossroads is revealed. In these moments, when the fog of relative irrelevancy lifts and fate rolls out a demand for free will, there is only left or right - no option of four-by-fouring into the underbrush between two paths, no negotiating with the choice that has been presented. You must answer the call and pick your way. And there is no reverse.
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When I picked up the bird and felt its light weight in my hands, I realized that carelessness was a form of cruelty. See, I'd always told myself that because I meant no harm, anything that happened wasn't my fault. At that moment, though, I knew I was wrong. If I hadn't given the female my gun, the bird wouldn't have been shot. I was responsible even though I didn't pull the trigger.
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Qhuinn's eyes shifted away from his buddy-and just happened to measure the distance down to the stone patio below. Hmm... doing a swan dive onto all that slate might just get the images of those two out of his head... of course, it would also turn his brain into scrambled eggs, but really, was that such a bad thing?
Phury knelt beside him and stroked his face. "I've only ever had you to live for. If you die I have nothing. I'm utterly lost. And you are needed here." Zsadist tried to reach out, but couldn't lift his arms as Phury stood up. "God, Z, I keep thinking this tragedy of ours is going to be over. But it just keeps going, doesn't it?" Zsadist blacked out to the sound of his twin's boots heading from the room.