The night grows suddenly brighter and Garvey snaps upright at the sound of the kitchen door banging open. It slams shut again, hard, as I turn.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Brennan shouts.
Garvey leaps to his feet, snarling, and I grab at him to pull him back. A shock of pain rolls through my head, and I cringe away from it. Brennan freezes, just out of Garvey’s range.
“Please lower your voice,” I plead.
“Or what,” he sneers, “you’ll set your dog on me?”
I squeeze my eyes shut against the ache, but it doesn’t help. “Brennan . . . what do you want?”
“Where the fuck have you been?” he demands, no quieter than the first time.
Garvey strains forward again, against my grip. I tighten down on a handful of his hair, just in case.
“Finding Torrin,” I lie—but it comes out too plainly in my voice. There’s no way he falls for it.
“Bullshit!” he spits. “He’s in there now, talking like we are staying the night.”
Well, that was nice of him. Though apparently not everyone thinks so.
I open my eyes and look up. “We are.”
Even in the dim light cast from the kitchen windows, I can see his mouth hanging open. Like that was the last answer he was expecting.
“Are you out of your mind?” he snarls, at last. “We’ve got to get to Carrigan’s now! I fucking told you we shouldn’t have come here!”
I sigh, and reach up to rub my neck with my free hand.
“Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but that’s darkness above us, up there between the stars.
“We aren’t getting to Carrigan’s today.”
He doesn’t reply, but his silhouette seems to contract, to grow tighter. His breathing grows louder, too. Sharper.
Seething, unless I miss my guess. What a dickhead.
“We are not staying here tonight,” he growls.
I pull back on Garvey again. “Shhh, boy,” I say softly. “It’s okay. Just relax.” He glances back at me for just a moment, and eases off a bit, then returns to watching Brennan.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Brennan. The decision’s made. We’re staying the night.”
“You worthless little pup!” he snarls, and stomps a step closer. I almost jerk back, away from him, but Garvey’s instant reaction gives me something more to worry about. Brennan stops short again, as I pull Garvey back.
“What the fuck are you doing with that dog?” he snarls. It’s hard to tell, but I’m pretty sure his eyes aren’t on me.
I almost want to smile.
“Brennan . . . go inside and have some dinner. I’m too worn out to deal with your shit, right now.”
“My shit? My shit? Faolan gave you the simplest little job to do and you’ve managed to fuck it up. At every turn! First bringing that Keely twit—and nearly getting us fucked up—and now this!
“You always were worthless! Now get the fuck up and let’s go!”
Garvey strains away from my hand again, and the pain in my head needles me, like the incessant whine of a mosquito . . . like a screaming baby . . . like a jackhammer. I rub my neck harder, but the pain is deeper than I can reach.
A worthless little pup.
A worthless . . . fucking . . . pup.
Well, that didn’t last long.
I close my eyes.
“Are you done?” I ask quietly.
“Not even close,” he snarls, and my breath catches in my chest. “But it’ll wait. We’re going. Now!”
A vise starts to tighten, somewhere inside, deep. I can feel it. My breathing grows shallow, tight, and all the hairs on my head stand. The throbbing in my skull grows louder, heavier.
A worthless little pup.
A worthless little pup.
So, nothing’s changed.
You know what?
“You seem to have forgotten who’s in charge here,” I growl, through my teeth, as the anger leaps up into my brain. I open my eyes again and glare up at him. “So, unless you’re going to do something about it, asshole”—the pain in my head flares with the tension in my face, flares into something screaming . . . violent . . . consuming. I want to hit something. I want to hit something. I want to hit something—“go, the fuck inside and leave me the FUCK alone!”
I push to my feet, still holding Garvey, but he wants me to let him go, and I’m starting to want to let him.
“If Faolan were here—” he snarls, but I cut him off.
“If Faolan were here? If Faolan were here?”
Was that fear in his voice? The thought makes me giddy.
I pull Garvey back behind me and let him go. He stays put, at my side, but I can feel him, still taut. Ready to back my play. I almost smile, but Brennan’s impotent little snarl drives me on. I stalk a step toward him. Garvey follows, growling.
“I don’t give a flying fuck what Faolan would do if he were here.”—Another step.—“He’s not here. I am.”—And another.—“I’m in charge. Me. And this is my call.”
I reach him, and I must really be drunk, because I jab a finger at him, into his chest. Hard.
“So do something about it,” I yell, into his face, “or shut the fuck up!”
So close, I can feel the tension in him. He is shaking with it. The fucker so wants to take me. He so wants to try. He wants to beat me to a bloody pulp.
But he won’t. He won’t! Because he’s afraid of being on the hook for what happens!
I feel the smile spreading on my face. I’m daring him to do something. I’m fucking daring him.
And if he does?
Fuck him! Let him try. Come on, Brennan. Fucking try.
You stupid son of a bitch. It’ll be fun to wrap my hands around your neck.
Hit me. See if I fucking care.
Fucking pup, my ass. You might win, asshole, but you won’t like the price.
Faolan can take his leash and shove it.
I lean in closer. Maybe he’s right—maybe I am out of my mind. But he’s not getting the option, this time. We decide this, right fucking here, right fucking now.
“I’m done with your bullshit!”
His eyes dart from me to Garvey, and back again.
I lean in, closer still.
And he stumbles back.
“Fine, Tiergan,” he spits, and backs off another step. “Fine.”
He backs toward the door.
He pauses. “I’m going to enjoy watching Faolan tear you apart.”
“Yeah, whatever. You fucking coward,” I spit back. “My whole life! My whole fucking life, you’ve been pushing me around. And it turns out, without Faolan at your back, you’re nothing.
“Get the fuck out of my sight.”
He glares at me, on a knife’s edge. Shaking visibly. Torn between his pride and his future.
The smile on my face spreads wider.
“Come on, Brennan,” I say, and the glee in my voice scares even me. “Fucking try. Let’s find out. You know you want to.”
I laugh out loud. Even I can hear the maniacal edge to it.
I hope I’m not just drunk. Things could get bad.
Oh, well. I giggle again at the thought.
“Fuck you, Tiergan,” he snarls and stomps off to the kitchen door. He yanks it open, stomps through, and slams it shut behind him again.
Garvey yips at my side, and starts skittering around, tail wagging. Nervous, but happy.
Or is it relief?
Whatever. I won.
“Go to hell.”