Home > Key of Knowledge (Key Trilogy #2)(7)

Key of Knowledge (Key Trilogy #2)(7)
Author: Nora Roberts

“Nothing. Just can’t see you assuming the dragonfly position or whatever.” He narrowed his eyes, and something appealingly wicked moved into the blue. “On second thought . . .”

“Haven’t you got anything better to do than skulking around the library waiting to accost and annoy me?”

“I wasn’t skulking, and hauling your books isn’t accosting.” He matched his stride to hers with the ease of long familiarity. “It’s not the first time I’ve walked you home.”

“Somehow I’ve managed to find my way without you the last several years.”

“You’ve managed a lot of things. How’s your dad doing?”

She bit back a vicious remark because she knew, for all his many flaws, that Jordan asked the question out of a sincere concern. Joe Steele and Jordan Hawke had gotten on like white on rice.

“He’s good. He’s doing good. The move to Arizona was what he needed. He and Liz have a nice place, a nice life. He’s taken up baking.”

“Baking? Like cakes? Joe bakes cakes?”

“And scones and fancy bread.” She couldn’t stop the smile. The thought of her father, big, macho Joe, in an apron whipping up cake batter got her every time. “I get a care package every couple of months. First few contributions made excellent doorstops, but in the last year or so he’s found his rhythm. He makes good stuff.”

“Give him my best next time you talk to him.”

She shrugged. She didn’t intend to mention Jordan Hawke’s name, unless it was in a curse. “End of the road,” she said when they reached the door of her apartment building.

“I want to come in.”

“Not in this or any other lifetime.” She reached for the books, he swung them out of reach. “Cut it out, Jordan. We’re not ten.”

“We have things to talk about.”

“No, we don’t.”

“Yes, we do. And stop making me feel like I’m ten.” He hissed out a breath, prayed for patience. “Look, Dana, we’ve got a history. Let’s deal with it like grown-ups.”

Damn if he would so much as hint that she was being immature. The pinhead. “Okay, here’s how we’ll deal with it. Give me my books and go away.”

“Did you listen to what Rowena said last night?” There was an edge in the tone now, one that warned her a good, sweaty argument was brewing. “Did you pay any attention? Your past, present, and future. I’m part of your past. I’m part of this.”

“In my past is just where you’re going to stay. I wasted two years of my life on you. But that’s done. Can’t you stand it, Jordan? Can’t your enormous ego handle the fact that I got over you? Way over you.”

“This isn’t about my ego, Dana.” He handed her back her books. “But it sure as hell seems to be about yours. You know where to find me when you’re ready.”

“I don’t want to find you,” she murmured when he strode away.

Damn it, it wasn’t like him to walk away from a fight. She’d seen the temper on his face, heard it in his voice. Since when had he yanked the snarling beast back and hauled it off?

She had been primed for the argument, and now she had nowhere to vent her spleen. That was very, very nasty.

Inside her apartment, she dumped her books on the table and headed straight for the Ben and Jerry’s. Soon she was soothing her ruffled feathers with a pint of cookie dough straight out of the carton.

“Bastard. Sneaky bastard, getting me all riled up and skulking off. These calories are his fault.”

She licked the spoon, dug for more. “But, damn, they’re really good.”

Refreshed, she changed into sweats, brewed a pot of coffee, then settled into her favorite chair with the new book on Celtic lore.

She couldn’t count the number of books on the subject she’d read in the last month. But then again, to Dana, reading was every bit as pleasurable as Ben and Jerry’s and as essential to life as the next breath of air.

She surrounded herself with books at work and at home. Her living space was a testament to her first and abiding love, with shelves jammed with books, tables crowded with them. She saw them not only as knowledge, entertainment, comfort, even sanity, but as a kind of artful decoration.

To the casual eye, the books that streamed and flowed over shelves in nooks, on tabletops, might look like a haphazard, even disordered, jumble. But the librarian in Dana insisted on a system.

She could, on her whim or on request, put her hand on any title in any room in the apartment.

She couldn’t live without books, without the stories, the information, the worlds that lived inside them. Even now, with the task ahead of her and the clock already ticking, she fell into the words on the pages in her hands, and into the lives, the loves, the wars, the petty grievances of the gods.

Absorbed, she jumped at the knock on her door. Blinking, she came back to reality, noted that the sun had set while she’d been visiting with Dagda, Epona, and Lug.

Book in hand, she went to answer, then lifted her eyebrows at Malory. “What’s up?”

“I thought I’d swing by and see what you were up to before I headed home. I’ve spent the day talking to some local artists and craftspeople. I think I’ve got a good start on pieces for my gallery.”

“Cool. Got any food on you? I’m starved.”

“A tin of Altoids and half a roll of Life Savers.”

“That’s not going to work,” Dana decided. “I’m going to forage. You hungry?”

“No, go ahead. Any brilliant ideas? Anything you want Zoe and me to do?” Malory asked as she followed Dana into the kitchen.

“I don’t know how brilliant. Spaghetti! Hot damn.” Dana came out of the refrigerator with a bowl of leftover pasta. “You want?”

“Nope.”

“Got some Cabernet to go with it.”

“That I’ll have. One glass.” At home in Dana’s kitchen, Malory got out wineglasses. “What’s the idea, brilliant or not?”

“Books. You know, the whole knowledge thing. And the past, present, future. If we’re talking about mine, it’s all about the books.” She dug out a fork and began to eat the pasta straight out of the bowl. “The trick is which book, or what kind of book.”

   
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