“I’m sorry. Quinn, please believe me that I thought I was doing what was best for Ashling. What you asked of me!”
I kept my back to Bres, unwilling to look him in the eye. How could he think he could possibly know what was best for Ashling? She was my sister first. I’d been the one to chase away her nightmares, to sit at the table after school, and help her with her homework, and to comfort her on Darcy’s bad days. He’d only just found out she was his half sister; there was no way he could possibly care for her as much as I did.
We were waiting on the edge of the Banshee Queen’s bower while Fianna attended to Luke. My hands clenched, along with my stomach. It seemed that everyone around me was doomed to some horrible death or suffering, and the guilt sat heavy on me making me feel as though I was a plague on those I loved. The worst part was that I couldn’t save either Ashling or Luke, and there was nothing I could do to heal the wounds I was causing by being the “Chosen” one. I didn’t have the ability that Ashling did. Glancing at the entry way to the bower, I was grabbed by another twist of fear. The last view I’d had of Luke was one that left little doubt as to the deadliness of the poison coursing through his system. His blue eyes were dull, barely grey now, cheeks sunken, and he had skin the shade of bread dough.
I wished that Lir was with us. But he had gone, left me alone with Bres, and all those feelings swirling between us. I understood that Lir had a job to do, responsibilities that required his attention. Making an attempt to wake the old gods to face Chaos was no small task; it was one that had to be done. That didn’t mean I wasn’t still wishing Lir was at my side instead of Bres. At the very least, his presence would take the strain off me in trying to ignore Bres while secretly wanting to throttle him. Not to mention that I felt safe with Lir; for the first time in my life, I had a parent who cared for me. I snapped off a branch of huckleberries, the tiny red fruit vibrant against the all-green bush. Plucking them off one at a time, I popped them in my mouth, as if I had nothing better in the world to do
“I’m busy, leave me alone,” I said between bites of the tart, red fruit.
“Quinn, look at me.” His Irish brogue was more than a little tempting, my body swaying towards his voice, and I hated that it drew me in. I glanced over my shoulder.
“You made yourself very clear before.” I couldn’t stop the flush that lit up my face. No doubt I was bright red. Without knowing what I’d been doing, I had Called Bres in a dream, and all but thrown myself at him. To be fair, I thought he had feelings for me, but after what he’d said, I knew that I’d only been fooling myself.
His words reverberated through my head.
I can’t save you both.
It’s Ashling or you.
You’ll kill her.
Bres’ lips tightened and he looked straight up into the treetops, the muscles in his neck flexing. As he spoke, he looked away from the trees and back to me. “I said those things because of what I saw, what Chaos showed me. I saw ta battle between you and Ashling. I saw you take her head. I know it was in ta future, but I didn’t want to believe. That’s why I said what I said. How could I protect her from you if I . . .” He shook his head.
Anger, hurt, and more anger flared up. “If you what?” I stalked towards him, feeling my power rise up under my skin. “You thought you’d treat me like crap and that would make it easier for you? You thought that if you beat me down with your words I wouldn’t be able to stand against you?” He started to speak, but I went on, not giving him a chance. “You thought that I would be able to kill her? Yeah, awesome. Goes to show how well you know me, and her. Ashling knows I won’t hurt her. It’s the rest of the world that’s trying to kill us, not each other.”
Bres didn’t back up as I’d advanced on him, and I was toe to toe with him. “You know, you had a lot to say before.” I said, “What’s the matter now?”
“I was wrong. Chaos has fooled us all, and me. I’ve lost my chance with ta one person I wanted ta most.” His voice lowered, and with it, his head as if he was going to kiss me.
The slap seemed to surprise us both. His head snapped to the side, a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth spraying out. My hand stung, tingling all over.
You have to remember that you are stronger now, Quinn. Cora whispered to me from the back of my mind. My grandmother had been a five-foot-long snake when we’d met, because of a curse. She’d died protecting me; then I’d almost died, and when I’d come back from the other side it was with her as my guide. The whole relationship was weird, but it worked.