tempest reborn (jane true #6) Page 1
‘It’s not in me all the time, and it isn’t me, as the Red is Morrigan. It’s like we have a permanent line of communication, an exclusive line, but we’re still totally separate. And sometimes we’re in more communication than others. Sometimes it’s like we haven’t bothered to pick up the Bat Phone at all for a while, and it’s like it’s not even there. But then if I need it, voilà! Bat Phone.’
Everyone still looked confused, but less alarmed, which was good. I gave it one more go.
‘So don’t worry about me going all Morrigan, and being taken over by the creature. It needs me to have my own agency,’ I said, startled by that realization. I think the creature had fed that fact to me. ‘It needs me to be Jane and it wants me to be Jane. I think we did become sort of like the Red and Morrigan in Whitby, but as soon as I was okay, it backed away. But I can pick up that Bat Phone whenever I need it.’
‘Good,’ Nell said, nodding brusquely to end that conversation. ‘That explains everything.’ Caleb and Iris looked less convinced, but I hoped I’d made some sense. The creature was a part of me, yes, but it wasn’t me. And we weren’t always in direct communication by any means. It was busy doing its own creaturely thing, plus it wanted me to be independent.
The gnome, meanwhile, kept talking, moving swiftly on. ‘So, we have manpower, brainpower, and, er, creaturepower. Now, what’s our goal?’
‘Get Anyan back,’ Iris said immediately.
‘Kill the White and the Red,’ Caleb said.
‘But for good this time,’ my dad added.
Tears really did well up in my eyes when I didn’t have to answer that one.
‘Great. We have clear goals,’ Nell said, nodding excitedly. ‘So, where do we start?’
We all looked from one to the other. Facing ancient evils was bad enough, but facing an ancient evil that, for all intents and purposes, was holding your boyfriend’s body hostage while using him as a barghest shield was really bad.
Iris leaned forward, her pretty mouth in a moue of concentration.
‘I think,’ she said, ‘that we’ve got to figure out what, exactly, the Red and the White are.’
I cocked my head at her, unsure what she meant.
‘Like, are they things we can touch, hold, et cetera. Or are they more like … souls, or spirits?’
My mind did a little explosion as I realized what she was saying.
‘That’s brilliant, Iris,’ I said breathlessly. ‘They’ve always had their own bodies to recreate, through their bones. We never thought they were anything but physical. But after what happened with Morrigan and Anyan, they’re clearly not. So what are they, if they’re not bodies?’
‘It’s totally like Supernatural,’ Grizzie said, and my dad started nodding like crazy.
I’d seen the show, but my supernatural brethren clearly hadn’t. My dad explained what they needed to hear. ‘In the show, ghosts will be tied to their bones,’ he said.
‘Or in something super personal, like a doll,’ Grizzie added.
‘Creepy dolls,’ said my dad, then he and Grizzie both shuddered exaggeratedly. They’d obviously been watching a lot of TV together.
‘The ghost idea is interesting. Maybe that means the Red and the White can be exorcised?’ Caleb mused.
‘That’s a great place to start,’ I said, just as my back pocket buzzed. When I took my phone out, it had gone blank, the battery dead.
Almost immediately, Caleb’s phone started buzzing from the table in front of him. He snapped it open.
‘Yes, boss? … Yes, she’s here … Okay, I’ll put her on.’ Caleb held out his phone toward me.
‘It’s Ryu. He wants to talk to you.’
I blinked at the phone in surprise. What could Ryu want?
With hesitant fingers I took the phone from Caleb and raised it to my ear.
‘Yes, it’s me.’
‘Good. I heard what happened.’
I waited, having no idea what my former lover was going to say. When he spoke again, his voice was deep and serious.
‘I want to help.’
Ryu, of course, looked fabulous. He was wearing a beautifully tailored button-up in a bright, jewel-like blue that made his gold-flecked hazel eyes glow. Not a hair was out of place, and his strong jaw had an artful smattering of stubble.
He was sitting across from me at the Pig Sty, the place where we’d had our first date. I’d wanted to meet Ryu in public, but alone, rather than back at Anyan’s with everyone listening. We had a lot to talk about, and I needed to understand his motivations.
I also needed to make sure he wasn’t working for someone else – namely, the Alfar – and was only interested in getting the champion back onside to kill Anyan.
‘You look great, Jane,’ he said, his eyes on mine.
I snorted indelicately. The fact was I looked a mess. My long black hair was completely out of control, my bangs hanging in my eyes. Said eyes were rimmed with almost purple bags of exhaustion, making my black gaze look like it came out of a pit. I also resembled someone who’d just come out of a coma, which in some ways I had. The creature’s intervention had meant I hadn’t gone completely bat-caca, but it had also meant I hadn’t slept or eaten for a few weeks.
‘I look like shit, Ryu,’ I told him, cutting to the chase. ‘I think my makeup is still somewhere in England, along with my underwear. We had to send a gwyllion over to my house to rescue me some clean clothes. I did shower, though. Just for you.’
‘Is your house still being watched?’
I nodded. After I’d shown myself to the media as a representative of some ‘helpful forces’ that would take care of the problem at hand – the problem at hand being a rampaging, motherfucking dragon – human authorities were naturally very interested in me.
‘Oh, yeah. Thanks for getting my dad and Griz and Tracy out, by the way.’
‘No problem, it was the least I could do.’
Our order came.
‘Tuna melt, ma’am,’ Amy said, winking at me as she set down my plate. I was heavily glamoured so as not to be recognized as Jane True, but our nahual waitress – a shapeshifter and an old friend of mine – could see through it.
‘Rare steak,’ she said, setting down Ryu’s food and walking away. I knew we’d see her back at Anyan’s that night.
Maybe I can have her bring another tuna melt, I thought as the smell of hot buttered bread, melted cheese, and a whiff of tuna fish rose to my nostrils, causing my mouth to water.
‘So, how are things back at the ranch?’ I asked, meaning the Alfar compound. After Morrigan had stabbed her husband, Orin, and run off with Jarl, Ryu and his nemesis, Nyx, had become co-leaders of our territory.
Ryu took a moment to gather his thoughts while I paid close attention to his every reaction. I had to try to figure out where he was politically in all of this mess.
‘They’re great, actually. Nyx, believe it or not, has turned out to be a wonderful leader. I guess she just needed some actual responsibility to propel her into maturity.’
I chewed a fry thoughtfully before swallowing. ‘Really? I find that hard to believe.’
‘I know. I did, too. But it’s true.’
‘And you? How are you doing with all that power?’
Ryu took a moment to answer. He pushed his food around on his plate, and he wiped his mouth with his napkin. He took a drink. Eventually, he looked up.
‘That’s why I’m here, Jane. I want to apologize.’
‘For what?’ I said cautiously. I had no idea where this conversation was going.
There was another awkward pause as Ryu struggled to find the best way to say whatever he had to say.
‘Because I haven’t thought about you at all,’ he said finally, looking chagrined.
‘Okay?’ I said questioningly, having no idea what he meant by that.
‘What I mean is that I really did think I loved you, Jane. I really did. I really meant what I said back in Boston.’
‘But,’ he said, ‘ever since I took over this position, I’ve been … I’ve been…’
‘You’ve been happy,’ I said with a small smile.
‘Yes.’ He looked relieved. ‘I’ve been happy.’
‘I’m glad, Ryu,’ I said. ‘But you know I would have hated it.’
He smiled. ‘Yes, you would have. And that’s what I realized. There was the Jane I wanted you to be, and the Jane you really are. The Jane you are would have hated my new life. And it wasn’t fair of me to want to remake you.’
Part of me was stunned at Ryu’s admission, but part of me wasn’t. He’d always been willing to admit when he was wrong. It’s one of the reasons I’d liked him so much.
He was a good almost-vampire, if not the almost-vampire for me.
In my response I tried to acknowledge all I was feeling, but with a joke.