These characters belong to Karen Marie Moning. I'm just playing with them.
I'd like to express my gratitude to my talented beta-reader and writing partner, Bontempscutie. It's been a long ride on this story, and I'm glad you were with me. Any remaining mistakes are all mine.
A huge thank you to all my readers, especially those who took the time to favorite or review. I'm so glad you've enjoyed the story. I'm both happy and sad to say this is the final chapter in our adventure and the story is now complete.
Lor and Ryodan looked up the moment we walked in and a flare of testosterone filled the room. One minute Barrons was dancing me across the floor, kissing me, and now he looked like he wanted to punch the fudge out of Lor and Ryodan. My head conjured up the image of the three of them rolling around on the floor, duking it out, and to my amazement that thought caused tingles in all the right places, especially when the fantasy in my head had them shirtless and sweaty. I might have even moaned a little.
Barrons looked at me with a face full of "what-the-fuck" and shook his head, as if he knew what I was thinking. I shrugged my shoulders, stepped back and waited for the explosion. Leave it to Ryodan to light the match.
"You two are looking mighty smug. Finally get laid, Barrons?" He snickered. His eyes went to Lor then they both looked at me. I braced myself. "And Mac. How about you? Have something to tell us? Lor tells me you've been a naughty girl. As usual."
"She doesn't have to tell you anything. Lor's the one who will be doing the explaining. Later." He gave Lor a headshake toward the door. His voice might have been controlled, but Barrons loomed over them in full-on alpha mode. There was no doubt of the top dog in his room, and another rush of heat throbbed in me. We really needed to finish this thing and get back to his bed. He was going to kill me between the sex in the alley and the pure, male heat that hung in the air in Ryodan's office.
Lor didn't look too happy as he left the office glaring at me. I think he was too angry to say anything. If we both played out cards right he might not ever have to watch me again, and wouldn't that just suit us both? The door clicked closed and Ryodan went back to the pile of papers in front of him, twisting his computer monitor over his desk. Multiple views of the club and the garages showed on the screen, including a center shot with a close up of that very pretty, black Mustang. He'd been watching us as we came into the club and saw Barrons lay me out on the hood. I flashed him a grin when he looked me in the eye. "Hope you enjoyed the show."
"Oh, I did, Mac. But I'm wondering what this little visit is about. Shouldn't you too be fucking by now?"
Barrons stretched out in a chair near Ryodan's desk, and I took a seat on the arm, my legs touching Barrons. Not exactly in his lap, but close enough. I didn't usually hang on him like that, but I'd missed him, and it felt right to be touching him. After all, we were about to get one over on Ryodan in a big way and we'd done it together. As a team. I wanted Ryodan to see how good Barrons and I were together – for him to know I brought my own skills to the table, too. It was about time Ryodan acknowledged that.
Ryodan said nothing, his eyes on the papers he shuffled on this desk, occasionally looking up at Barrons and me like we were bothering him. It was a nasty pile of paperwork, looking like no one had taken care of anything when Ryodan and Barrons had been recovering from their slice-and-dice with the new Unseelie monster. Didn't he have someone to take care of stuff like that while he was gone? Couldn't Jo help out? She was better suited for paperwork than working the bar. Then I caught myself. Thinking of Jo made me think of Dani, and that wrecked my mood in a major way, so I was grateful when Barrons spoke.
"I took Mac to Scattery. Guess what she found?" Barrons picked lint from his trousers while he waited for Ryodan to answer. I wanted to blurt out we had the amulet and I knew how to use it, but Barrons' hand at the small of back quieted me.
"You're bluffing," Ryodan said.
"You know better. I don't bluff."
Barrons held out his hand without taking his eyes off Ryodan, and I dug the amulet from my pocket. When I pressed it into Barrons hand, I watched his face to see if he felt the rise of the power as I did. Of course, he didn't let on that he felt anything, but he gave me a small smile as he lifted the amulet from his palm with his thumb and forefinger, and raised it into the light in front of Ryodan's face. The look Barrons gave him was pure win.
Ryodan pushed back his chair and stalked over to us. "Let me see it."
Barrons' laid it back in his own palm, forcing Ryodan to take it from his hand. There was a little tick of tension in his jaw, which I read as a sure giveaway that he'd figured out one of the secrets of using its magic. Cassiel had never come right out and said it, but when he kept calling it the "gift" of Kefitzat Haderech, I'd put two and two together and realized one of the secrets myself.
"Mac found this?" He looked at me. "Where exactly did you find it?" He took the amulet back to his desk where he pulled out a magnifying glass, turned on the desk light and examined the amulet closely. I wondered if he could feel it heating up. I didn't think so, but for some reason that worried me. Barrons' hand slid up my back again, and I tried to concentrate on how that felt rather than how I wanted to snatch the amulet back from Ryodan.
"In the coffin in St. Senan's bed, which really doesn't look like St. Senan's been there for some time. She sensed it just as I said she would. Go ahead, get out your book and verify it. Take one good look before you give it back to me, along with my keys and title to the Jaguar."
Ryodan snorted and muttered something under his breath. He took out a piece of paper and laid the amulet on it. After staring at it for a good long while, he drew a replica on the paper in front of him. Then he unlocked a drawer in his desk, and pulled out an old book from inside. He took his time flipping to a page. My curiosity got the best of me, and I rose from Barrons' lap to lean over the desk to look at the book in front of me. The yellowing pages had frayed edges and it looked very old. An illustration in the book caught my eye and I strained to see it. Ryodan shot me a look that said he didn't like me being so close, but I gave him the same smug smile that Barrons wore all night and didn't move.
He laid the amulet on the page opposite a picture of an old man with long hair and flowing white robes. White wings extended from his shoulders. The figure wore a necklace with a medallion that looked just like my amulet.
"It might be..." Ryodan said as he shook his head back and forth.
There was something written under the picture in words I didn't understand. "Can you read that?" I asked.
Ryodan looked over at Barrons, as if he needed permission. I was about to say something, when Ryodan must have received the secret signal it was okay to read it to me, because he started to read.
"Archangel Cassiel. Associated with Seventh Heaven. The Angel of Solititude. Once the sole controller of the power of Kefitzat Haderech, the ability to move from one location to another. He was banished from participating in or with any other race for bargaining with the Sin Siriche du, The Darkest Elf of the Fae, for its magic. The Fae then modified the magic into their own form called sifting. No one has seen Cassiel since, thereby verifying his banishment."
I twisted around and looked at Barrons. He'd known all along what we'd been looking for and how it was connected with the Fae. He shrugged his shoulders. "No one knows if that's true. The Fae were sifting long before we met up with the Sin Siriche du."
"But you forget about the cauldron, Barrons. Supposedly, the elf drank many times from it."
"I don't give a fuck about the elf. I can see from here the amulet matches. Pay up."
"Wait a minute. This is Cassiel?" I put my finger on the picture of the old man.
"Yes," they said in unison.
I turned around to Barrons. "How is this possible? That is not Cassiel."
"She's seen him?"
"We saw someone who called himself Cassiel, but he didn't look like that."
Barrons just sat in the chair, like he didn't have a care in the world, and gave Ryodan a smirk.
"Fuck, Barrons. Let me get this straight. You and Mac went grave digging, found the amulet and spent some undetermined time with Cassiel, that's what you're telling me." Ryodan smashed his hand down on the desk. "Did he teach her how to use it, too? That's how she gave Lor the slip."
I was still thinking about something he said earlier. "Wait a minute. Let's go back to the Sin Siriche du. You know him?"
"You've met him, Mac. Although he's not the Sin Siriche du any longer."
"Remember the man who came to I.D. the queen?"
I thought back for a minute, and remembered. Back when I didn't know who or what I was, I'd met him in the hallway on the way to see my parents. I'd meant to ask more questions, but I'd tripped the wards and everyone went on alert. Before I could open my mouth, Barrons had evidently had enough.
"I don't give a fuck. It's the amulet. We all know it. It belongs to Mac. She found it, just as I said she would. Pay up."
"What was the wager anyway?" I asked, playing dumb, wanting to get some reaction from Ryodan. It wasn't every day he lost. He fumbled around putting the old book back in his desk.
Ryodan growled. "The Mustang. That black number you two were sprawled out on."
"Nice try. And not even close. I can't wait to see Mac behind the wheel of the Jaguar."
Ryodan glared at Barrons. "Fine, the Jag," he snarled. "Are you happy now? You've wanted that car for years and now you finally have it. What will you go after next? My Spyder? The Bugatti? Isn't going to happen. I'm done with you."
"You know how I enjoy our little bets, Ryodan. You always say you are done with it and you always wager again. You know I'm going to win. One way or another, I always do."
"You know I love that Jag. How about I trade you for the '62 Ferrari and the GTO? Or maybe, you'd rather that black Mustang you seem to be so fond of. And no Mac, I'm not showing you my collection. No more car bets with either one of you." He wagged his finger for emphasis.
Barrons laughed. "Just give me the keys to the Jag. Mac and I have better things to do." He turned his head and gave me a look full of heat, and I knew he was thinking about how he was going to make good on his promises. I picked up the amulet from the desk. Ryodan reached out to grab my wrist and stopped before his hand made contact.
"What do you think you are doing with that?"
"I found it, didn't I? That makes it mine."
Ryodan scowled at me and threw the keys on the desk. I expected Barrons to pick it up, but he just looked at me and smiled.
"What will it be Mac? The Shelby or the Jag?"
"One of the cars belongs to you. Your pick."
Ryodan hissed behind me. Giving the car up was one thing, giving a car up to me, slightly different. But I didn't hesitate. "The Jag. And Ryodan, if you ever want to wager on that Mustang, you just let me know."
Barrons snatched up the keys and title while Ryodan looked between us, sighing in defeat. With a wave, he gestured to the door. "Get out of my club, both of you. I've seen enough of you two."
"Pleasure doing business with you, Ryodan."
Once we got outside the office, Barrons directed me to the back stairs, his hand on my back. I looked over at him. He was grinning.
You enjoyed that didn't you?
Any other bets involving me I should be aware of?
He snorted. No, none that you should be aware of.
Very funny. And what else do I get out of this?
He raised an eyebrow, as if to say. You have me.
To prove his point, he swung me around, my back to the wall, his mouth crashed on mine. We had started and stopped so many times tonight, I couldn't do it again. I needed him, right then and there.
"I can't wait." The words came out of my mouth in a rush. I didn't care who might discover us, or whether Ryodan was watching from some hidden camera. Maybe that just made it even more exciting. I dropped to my knees. My hands worked quickly to unbutton his pants, before they circled his waist and then down across his tight ass. I took as much of him in my mouth as I could, groaning with need as I cooled his hot shaft with long, wet strokes of my tongue.
His fingers curled into my hair, gently guiding. The noises he made only made me want more of him. His ass tightened under my hands as he rocked his hips toward my mouth, opening hot and wet and wide for him.
He stopped and a hiss escaped him when I ran my nails lightly underneath as I took him deep. When he strained toward me and made that sound that told me he was close, I was seized with the desire to push him over the edge. But he'd have none of that. The next thing I knew I was up off my knees. Barrons grabbed my jeans at the waistband, the sound of ripping material filling the empty hallway, followed by my cries as he pushed inside with one hard stroke.
My legs wrapped around his waist and my back hit against the wall as he moved inside me. The sounds of sex filled the air, and then we were both mindless of anything but satisfying our needs. We both came fast and hard in the hallway at Chester's. When I looked up at him, his eyes had filled with crimson, and his skin took on that darker tone. I held him close, willing him to get under control so we could leave. It felt good just to hold him, and I didn't want to let him go.
A little while later, he growled into my ear, in that same seductive voice he used at the car, "I'm not done with you yet."
"Hold that thought," I whispered back, repeating his words from earlier.
I slid down his body, my feet unsteady on the floor. Searching for whatever was left of my jeans, I pulled them around me as best as I could. Barrons grabbed the sides of my coat and wrapped it around me, covering me.
I took out the amulet and handed it Barrons. "Ready to go home?"
He flipped it over in his fingers. "You think I'm letting you sift me again? Not a chance."
"Hand it back to me." I knew it worked better that way. We'd be home in a jiffy.
He placed it in my outstretched palm and I turned the amulet over in my hand, thinking of Cassiel. How he was being punished for being tricked by the Fae. How I'd helped him break his punishment, just to drive a car and spend time with me. All for the wonderful gift he had given me and I didn't have to trick it out of him.
The amulet warmed in my hand as I called its magic. It didn't take long for it to be strong enough to transport us both and while I knew Barrons didn't want me to do this, I had other things on my mind. Just as I was about to send up on our way, something on the floor caught my eye. I bent over to pick it up.
A white feather. Cassiel. Still watching.
With a smile, I put it in my pocket. Throwing my arms around Barrons, I thought of home. Our adventure over, there were more pressing matters to attend to, which we took care of as soon as we landed in Jericho's bed, one amulet and a couple of cars richer.
The End…until our next adventure…