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I stalked into Chester’s in a shit of a mood, leaving Christian at the Sinatra club with yet another whiskey in his hand. He’d declined my invitation to join our meeting. Said he had more immediate problems than the fate of the world and he was sure we’d figure it out, considering how controlling and micromanaging Ryodan was about everything he owned—and as he believed he owned the entire world and everything in it, and could play with it all like his personal chess set—the bastard would surely find a way to patch things up to his liking. He’d added that at least we were now both in the same boat, with missing corpses, and maybe I should ask Ryodan about mine.

I wasn’t sure who was pissier, him or me. He was certainly more loquacious about it.

I pushed through the crowd, grateful for the first time that Chester’s was off the grid in terms of morality and legality. Although many eyes in the crowd observed me with shock and a good bit of fear, no one tried to mess with me.

I was almost sorry about that.

My sister’s casket was empty.

I knew for a fact that I’d buried her.

I knew for a fact it was her.

I knew every inch of my sister. The barely-there stretch marks on the sides of her hips that she’d hated whenever she wore a bathing suit after having lost twenty-five pounds rapidly when she caught mono, then gaining it back again. The birthmark so similar to mine. The funny shape of her second toe, longer than the big one. The fingernail on her right hand that never grew right because she’d gotten her finger slammed in a car door and the nail had darkened with a blood blister and fallen off.

I’d buried Alina.

If I hadn’t, nothing in my entire existence was certain.

I slapped my palm to the wall of Ryodan’s office and stormed in.

“Ms. Lane,” Barrons said.

“I need to talk to you,” I snapped. “Alone. Now.”

Ryodan said, “We’re having a meeting—”

“I. Don’t. Give a damn.” I said to Barrons, “Now.” I forced myself to add, “Please?”

He was on his feet before I even added the please. I turned and stormed back out, down the stairs, through the club, feeling him behind me all the way. I stopped only when I reached the corridor that led to the server’s wing. Then I spun sharply to face him. “Do you know where there’s a private closet?” I demanded with a touch of hysteria.

“I’m not sure I know the difference between a private closet and a public one, Ms. Lane,” he said dryly.

“Someplace there are no bloody cameras!”

He went motionless, swept my body with that dark, inscrutable gaze, and the shape of his mouth changed. “Ah, Ms. Lane, did you pull me out of there to fuck?”

“You bet your ass I did.”

“Bloody hell. I don’t know what happened to you—”

“I don’t want to talk about it! Are you going to cooperate or not?” I snarled.

“—but goddamn woman. I like you this way.”

He shoved me back against a wall, palmed open a door I hadn’t even noticed, backed me in, spun me around, and crushed me against the wall, kicking the door shut behind us.

Then my jeans were down and he was inside me with a rough growl, and I was ready for him because I’m always ready for him, pushing deep and hard, and I was flattened against the wall with my hands over my head, shoving back with my ass, and that was all I needed to find a lifeline, to connect, to remain sane.

When we returned to Ryodan’s office, I felt remarkably better. I could think again. I wasn’t a raw mass of pain and confusion and fear. I’d dumped all that on Barrons’s big hard body. I’d turned the savagery I was feeling toward myself and the world on him. I’d nipped and fought and fucked and cleansed.

God, I love that man.

He’d understood exactly what I was doing. No words. No discussion. No pointless questions or offering of empty platitudes about whatever was bothering me.

He’d assessed.

I was pain and violence.

He’d given his body as a Band-Aid for the wound.

I suspected there would be times he would seek the same from me, and I made a promise to myself in that wonderful, fantastic, lovely closet that if I ever sensed in him what I felt myself tonight, I’d rise to his need as willingly and intensely as he’d risen to mine.

He’d taken and given, encouraged and incited…and finally soothed my wildness.

Sex is so damned healing.

“Better?” Ryodan said dryly after we walked back in.

My hair was a mess. Barrons’s shirt collar was askew. And Ryodan never missed a trick.

“Much, thanks. You?” I said just as dryly.

“Not as good as you,” he murmured, silver gaze cool.

“Where’s Da—Jada and Dancer?” I said, looking around. I could smell that they’d recently been there. We must have just missed them.

“I saw no reason to waste their time simply because you were wasting mine.”

I arched a brow. “And that means?”

“That he sent them off to do something else because he wants to talk to you without them around,” Barrons said.

I stiffened, dropping my leg from the arm of the chair where I’d tossed myself in a fairly relaxed position. Sat up straight and folded my arms. Ryodan wanting to talk to me in semiprivate is never a good thing. Private would worry the hell out of me.

“We need to talk about the Sinsar Dubh, Mac,” said Ryodan.

I blew out a gusty sigh. Recent sex aside, this was not turning out to be a banner day in Dublin. “What about it?” I was irritable all over again.

“Dancer has a theory. He thinks the Hoar Frost King inadvertently deposited the components of a Song of Destruction. He thinks the only thing that will stop the black holes from taking over this world entirely is a Song of Making.”

That made two of us. I said nothing.

“The Sinsar Dubh allegedly contains parts of that song.”

“Allegedly,” I underscored. “The truth is, none of us know a damn thing about the Book. It’s all legend and myth and supposition.”

“Which is precisely why we need you to tell us what’s actually in it. Unless you’d rather we try Cruce,” Ryodan said evenly.

Surely not even Ryodan was arrogant enough to try to interrogate Cruce in his prison. “You think you could question a psychopathic Book?”