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Rusted veins, p.11
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       Rusted Veins, p.11

         Part #5. 5 of Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells
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Page 11


  “Really?” Maeve said, her tone shocked.

  “You didn’t think I’d agree?”

  “Not really. ” She sounded deflated, as if this addendum had been a ploy to make me refuse the agreement.

  “Have your people write up the documents and we’ll sign them at next month’s session. I just hope this won’t come back to bite both of you in the ass. ” After that, I got off the phone fast before I ranted at both of them and rescinded my approval. Sometimes dealing with dark race leaders was more frustrating than corralling Giguhl’s kids.

  Just then, Adam opened the door from inside the workroom. He scrubbed a hand through his hair, but he didn’t look as hopeless as he had earlier. “She’s awake. ”

  We all stood and I went to Adam. I gave him a hug, and the minute his arms came around me and I sniffed his sandalwood scent, I knew I’d been an idiot. This man was mine and I was his. “How are you?”

  “I’ve been less shitty, but I’ll live. ”

  “Can we go see her?” Brooks said from the doorway. I guess he’d heard us talking from down the hall.

  Adam nodded. “She was asking for you. ”

  Brooks didn’t need any further prompting. He practically ran across the room. Giguhl followed closely behind. Adam and I followed more slowly. When I crossed the threshold, I couldn’t see around Giguhl’s massive shoulders. Zen’s voice rose above the crowd, reminding everyone to take it easy because Cadence had been through a lot. A quieter female voice responded to Brooks in whispers.

  I pushed past Giguhl and pulled up next to Brooks. Cadence broke off and looked up at me. Her eyes were wide and I could tell she was nervous. But she looked fifty times better than she had when we pulled her out of that house. Her hair was long and brown with gold highlights. Her eyes were a bright, clear blue and her complexion was getting some glow back. The only sign of her ordeal were the large bandages on her wrists and throat.

  As much as I hated to admit it, I totally saw what attracted Adam to her. She had a classic, unthreatening beauty that a lot of men went for. But I also saw the shadows in her eyes. The ones that hinted at deep pain in her life. Of hard lessons and a lack of love. I recognized those shadows because I had them, too.

  I glanced back at Adam. Maybe he was attracted to troubled women, I realized with a jolt. But I pushed that thought aside. Everyone has shadows. It’s just, well, some of us have a harder time of disguising them. Turning back to the girl in the bed, I tried to smile.

  “Hi,” Cadence said.

  I waved lamely. “Hey. ”

  “You’re Sabina, right?” Her eyes flicked behind me, toward where Adam stood close to my back.

  I nodded and swallowed. Why was I nervous? “I’m glad you’re all right,” I mumbled for lack of anything brilliant to say.

  The corner of her mouth lifted like I’d made a joke. “Thank you. ” The gratitude was offered so easily and genuinely that I couldn’t continue to hold on to the negative feelings toward her I’d been trying to cling to. “Adam’s told me all about you. I’m”—she heaved a shaky sigh—“I’m glad he’s happy. You’ve been good for him. ”

  I frowned. It never occurred to me that they’d be talking about me in the room all that time. I shot my Mancy a smile. “He’s been good for me, too. ” I turned back to Cadence. “And I’m glad you’re all right. You had all of us worried. ”

  Her gaze hit the floor. “I know you won’t believe me, but I wasn’t using. At least, not before the Rev took me. ”

  “What happened that night?” Brooks said, his voice careful.

  She swallowed hard. “Damascus had been after me to meet him for a date. But when I got there, the Reverend was waiting instead. He tried to get me to go with him, but when I refused he—” She cut off and shuddered. Brooks patted her hand. “He shot me full of smack. ”

  She paused, as if trying to collect her thoughts. “Next thing I remember is waking up in that house. They kept me so drugged I didn’t even know how many days had passed before you guys arrived. ” She began to shake uncontrollably. “Thank the gods you found me. I was so—” She shook her head and started crying.

  My heart sank for her. I had no idea how she’d recover from the wounds she’d suffered in that hellhole. But looking around the room, I thought maybe Cadence had more friends than she realized.

  A throat cleared behind me. I turned to see Erron in the doorway. He wore huge, dark sunglasses that hinted at a bender the night before. “You’re still alive!” I teased, referring to the prediction his bassist had made about his heart stopping.

  “So far, so good. ” A line formed between his brows. “Weird, though, because Rocco is usually dead on with his predictions. ”

  Giguhl came to join us by the door. He and Erron high-fived. “Isn’t your show tonight?”

  “I just came from the sound check. Brooks called to say you found your friend, so I wanted to stop in. ”

  I nodded and turned to motion toward Cadence. Before I could say anything, though, Erron froze. I looked from him toward where Cadence lay in the bed. Her tear-stained face was a mask of shock, too.

  “Um…?” I said.

  Erron jerked out of stillness with a gasp and his hand went to his chest. “Ow. ”

  “Dude, are you okay?” Giguhl whispered.

  At that point, Brooks, Zen, and Adam had all clued in that something was going down. While Zen rushed to Erron to check on him, I kept my eyes on Cadence. She didn’t look worried about Erron’s health. Instead, she tilted her head and met his gaze across the room. The clouds behind her eyes cleared and a small, mysterious smile tilted up the corner of her mouth. “Oh,” she whispered, “it’s you. ”

  Erron pushed Zen and Giguhl away with a muttered, “I’m fine. ” He took a couple of steps toward Cadence, his hand still on his heart. “Do I know you?” he asked.

  She shook her head. “I’m Cadence. ”

  “Erron,” he said dumbly.

  That’s when I realized what was going on. Erron’s bandmate hadn’t seen the singer’s death. He’d seen that Erron was going to meet a special someone who made his heart stop.

  Cadence held out her hand, as if it were the most natural and normal thing in the world to reach for a man you’d only just met. While the rest of us looked on, flabbergasted, Erron walked directly toward her, took her hands in his, and leaned over to kiss them. “I think—” he began, and cut off.

  Cadence smiled, the expression making her look younger. “Don’t think,” she said. “Sit. ”

  With a look I can only describe as shell-shocked, Erron Zorn, lead singer of The Foreskins, Recreant mage, and all-around bad boy dropped onto the bed and gazed at Cadence McShane like she was his own personal goddess.

  The room fell awkwardly silent for a few beats before Zen took control. “All right, everyone. Let’s give her a chance to rest. ”

  Giguhl, Brooks, and Adam filed out as instructed, each looking more confused than the last. I turned to go just as Erron started to stand.

  “No,” Cadence said, “you’re staying. ”

  Zen covered her smile with a hand and came to guide me out the door. Just before the panel closed, I saw a look of such uncomplicated connection pass between them that my eyes got a little misty.

  When I turned away from the door, I found the hallway empty. I passed the living area and saw Brooks, Zen, and Giguhl chatting away and making a meal. “Where’s Adam?” I asked.

  Giguhl shrugged. “Said he needed some fresh air. ”

  I paused and glanced toward the stairs. Adam had been through a lot in the last twenty-four hours. First, having to see Cadence in that drug den and then helping her through the horrible detox. And after all that, witnessing her and Erron Zorn fall under each other’s spell like that.

  Talk about an ass-kick of a night.

  I found him leaning against a lamppost just in front of the store on B
ourbon Street. The crowd was thick as the annual Halloween parades crawled through the French Quarter. Beads and candy flew through the air, and every sense was assaulted by color and light and music and screams and the scent of spilled beer and the turned-soil-and-blood scent of humanity. Normally, I would have enjoyed the sensory overload, but that night it felt…too much.

  On one side of Adam was a man in a werewolf costume; a woman in faery wings stood on the other. I nudged Tinkerbell aside and put my arms around Adam. “You okay?” I whispered.

  His arms came around me, and instead of answering, he kissed me with a passion that robbed me of breath and left me dizzy. When he finally pulled away, he was smiling. I blew out a breath. “What was that for?”

  He put his forehead against mine. “I was just remembering the first time I saw you. ”

  I laughed. “In that bar in Los Angeles. ”

  He nodded. “I fell in love with you at that moment. ”

  I shook my head at him. “While you watched me kill that guy?”

  He kissed me again, too quickly for my liking. “No. The second you strutted in looking for a fight. I thought, ‘There she is. ’ And you know what?”

  “What?” I whispered.

  “I was right. The minute I saw you, there was never a chance I’d ever settle for another woman. ” He glanced back toward Zen’s building. “If I had to guess, that’s exactly what Erron just felt in there. ”

  I chose my words carefully. “So you’re not upset?”

  “About Erron and Cadence?” He chuckled. “Hell no. I’m relieved. I’ve felt guilty for a long time about breaking things off with her. ” I must have betrayed some emotion on my face because he caught my hand and squeezed. “Guilt isn’t the same thing as regretting it being over. We didn’t belong together. I just hated to know she was hurting. But now?” He took a deep breath. “I think she has a lot of work to do to get her life on track, but it’s headed in the right direction. ”
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