Winter Rain, part 35

Chapter 4

“Morning, Faolan,” I say as I step into the den. He glances up from some papers on his desk and motions to a chair—our eyes barely meet before he is back to his work. Whatever happened between us last night seems to have been for one night only.

As expected.

I nod to Brennan by the fire as I sit down. He nods in response and salutes me casually, not even a hint of sarcasm. Wow. I guess he really was impressed. I smile, in spite of myself, but quickly suppress it and look away—back to Faolan.

“Cormac said you wanted to see me?” I ask. Any other day, I’d have waited for him to get around to me, but I’m feeling strangely brave, this morning. Or something.

He ignores me for a few moments more, scrawls a note on one of the papers and looks up.

“Sleep okay?” he asks. His apparent sincerity surprises me, almost enough to tell him the truth, but some deeper instinct jumps up to stop me. He wants strength from me. Anything less will piss him off.

“Yeah,” I say and nod. He watches me closely for a few moments, but I remain impassive. Like I kill people five times a day, and whenever I’m hungry.

“Feeling better about things?” he asks, again, oddly sincere. But that deeper instinct warns me again.

“It’s all good,” I add with a bit of a smirk. “Fucker got what he deserved.”

He watches me for a moment longer, then nods. “I’ve got a job for you,” he says, “you and Brennan.” I glance over to him, but he seems unsurprised. At least some things haven’t changed.

“Do you remember Aunt Aisling?” he asks.

Father’s sister. Carrigan’s mate. I nod.

“I need you to go talk to her, get an audience with Carrigan. He owed Father some favours. Tell him I’m calling them in.”

I blink at him a few times, unsure of what to say. “What specifically do you want me to ask him?” I reply.

He growls. “We’re going to wipe Rian out.

“We get his estate. Our allies can divide up everything else. Business included.”

Fuck. Trust Faolan to go for the throat. Even when he can’t make it.

“You’re aware Carrigan shares borders and a non-aggression treaty with Rian?” I ask. But I keep my opinion to myself.

“He’ll break it for us. He’ll break it for Father’s sake.

“Be sure to tell him about the girl.”

I nod. Because I know it’s a lost cause. Besides, I don’t know for how long my apparent new status will last. Maybe I can come up with something Carrigan will agree to, on the way.

Faolan eyes me for a moment, then glances over to Brennan and says, “Brennan’s your Second.”

“What?!” I hear myself cough. So much for staying cool. I look over to Brennan, but, again, he seems to have expected this. In fact, from his smile, I’d say he’s amused by the idea.

I look back—but Faolan isn’t grinning.

“But why?” I ask, and I know it’s a stupid thing to say, even as I say it.

His voice is low and quiet when he replies: “You’re an adult now, Tiergan. Don’t disappoint me.”

I look over to Brennan again. He’s still smiling. And both of us know that if it comes to it, I can’t take him.

I guess I’m screwed.

“When do we leave?” I ask, and try to smile. This time, it doesn’t work.

“Now,” he replies.

I get up. Brennan follows me out.