Bryce Quinlan sat at her kitchen counter, absently clicking her nails against the screen of her cell phone.
No messages from Hunt. No messages from Ruhn. No messages from Juniper. Definitely no messages from Fury. And, just a text message with two leg emojis and the sweat droplet emoji from the mer Tharion Ketos. Gross.
Her first thought was that she needed more friends. Her second thought was that she was bored out of her gods-damned mind.
You would think that three months after the events of the Summit she would be busier than ... this. She had finally solved the murder of her best friend, got revenge on the killer -- who happened to be a powerful archangel, revealed her Starborn gift, made the Drop, saved the fucking city, told Hunt how she felt, let Ruhn back into her life and what did she get for all of that? Alone on a Friday night. Typical.
She looked resignedly across the kitchen counter at Syrinx, who was busy cleaning his chimera bits. A rerun of a reality show blared in the background. Half-eaten take-out was strewn across the counter-top, abandoned.
The phone vibrated. Her mother. Bryce wasn’t that desperate. Yet.
Hunt had left, mid-dinner, half-heartedly protesting all the while, to assist Isaiah Tiberian on some matter in the hopes of keeping the tenuous peace of the city. With no archangel sent to replace Micah, Isaiah, if not explicitly filling the role of governor, was certainly acting as sheriff. And, with the city’s factions jockeying for power, there was a restless energy coursing through Lunathion. Isaiah had found that nothing seemed to de-escalate tension better than the presence of Hunt Athalar, lightning contained in human form.
However, Isaiah wasn’t asking Hunt to resume any of his previous assassin duties or resume the mantel that had earned him the nickname, the Shadow of Death. Isaiah was instead relying on the former general’s counsel, as well as Hunt’s connections throughout the city. Contributing in this way gave Hunt a sense of pride and Bryce could see his self-worth, long reduced to just a kernel buried so deep and for so long out of self-preservation, unfurling and reaching for the light. Hunt was again appreciated for more than his brutal effectiveness at killing and able to use his considerable power, or at least the threat of it, to protect those that were weaker, valued as Shahar had once valued him. Bryce grabbed Hunt’s unfinished glass of wine and gulped it down, trying to avoid falling down that mental rabbit hole. Hunt may be sharing her apartment, sharing her bed, but why pick at the scab when the wound was so freshly healed?
Bryce turned her thoughts to her brother, Ruhn. Ruhn was on Aux duty tonight. One of Isaiah’s first adjustments had been to disband the Aux divisions that had long been organized as either strictly fae or strictly shifter units and integrate the different groups. Now, Ruhn headed an Aux division with shifters, malakim and even witches training and fighting alongside the fae. While the Autumn King and Sabine Fendyr had raged at the idea, Ruhn had confessed to Bryce and Hunt that the potential benefit of creating some sort of coalition between the groups far outweighed any pains of adjustment.
“It feels like the beginning of a new Lunathian,” said Ruhn.
When Ruhn had told them, Bryce could see Hunt’s eyes shining as he looked down at his wrist, which formerly bore a tattoo that had marked him as a slave and was now stamped over with a “C,” indicating his freedom. Any plan that strengthened the city’s defenses against the might of the archangels and Asteri was something Hunt could get behind.
Bryce could see the logic as well, but a dark seed had taken root in her mind. In fact it had been planted there three months prior during her phone call with Rigelus, the Bright Hand of the Asteri, when he had given her and Hunt the Asteri’s blessing, on the condition that they live out their life quietly and normally and in Hunt’s words, “keep their mouths shut.”
Each time Hunt left to help Isaiah or leaned in closer to hear Ruhn’s dreams of a new Lunathian, Bryce could hear Rigelus’s bright voice chirping deadly threats in her ear. Against her. Against Hunt. Against her mother. But, each passing day seemed to pull Hunt closer and closer to whatever the opposite of living their life quietly or normally was.
Another rabbit hole Bryce was trying to avoid. What other mental mine fields could Bryce stumble into tonight? Her continuing employment with Jesiba Roga? Didn’t want to touch that one. The ache in her heart for Lehabah? No gods-damned way. Her refusal to explore the depths of the powers she had inherited during her Drop? Cthona’s tits.
She looked around for more wine. She was out. After discovering the truth about Danika’s murder, Bryce had relaxed. A little. She wasn’t planning on resuming her party girl ways any time soon, but she wasn’t opposed to a nice glass of wine. Or two.
“Fuck this,” said Bryce. Syrinx stopped cleaning and looked up at her. “Fuck this straight to Hel.”
Bryce snatched her phone, purse and Danika’s leather jacket, texting as she went out the door, slamming it behind her. Syrinx went back to licking his bits.
To: Hypaxia Enador
Message: Hey witch, up for a hang sesh tonight?