Home > How to Break an Undead Heart (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #3)(8)

How to Break an Undead Heart (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #3)(8)
Author: Hailey Edwards

A quiver tightened my stomach. “I am not a masochist.”

“Atramentous—”

“No.” I shoved at him. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“That’s the problem.” He captured my wrists. “Are you still confiding in Odette?”

“I’ve been busy.” Guilt if I kept Amelie waiting was driving me home earlier and earlier these days. “I don’t have to schedule weekly therapy sessions.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Squirt, but maybe you do.” His hands drifted higher until he held me by the shoulders. “Have you seen your face?”

Maybe Taz had once accused me of walking into punches I could have blocked, but I had been sick with the knowledge I was leading Linus into a trap set for the dybbuk at the time. Truthfully? I may have been jonesing for punishment then, but it’s not like I go around rubbing my hands with glee when I imagine all the pain I’ll be in during or after sparring with her.

And fine, yes, so I have a backlog of pent-up rage searching for a target. I could admit that much. There was something cathartic about striking another person as hard as you could when you knew they would deflect the blows to minimize the damage.

Life had been using me as a punching bag for so long, it felt good hitting back.

“I will consider scheduling regular head-shrinking sessions with Odette if you agree not to interfere with my self-defense classes.” I braced for a mantrum of epic proportions when I added, “Linus offered to set me up with an instructor he knows who can teach me the fundamentals before I pick back up with Taz.”

A muscle jumped in his jaw, but Boaz nodded. “I had my shot. Why not give him his?”

“It’s not like that.” I braced my forehead against his chest. “It’s not a competition between you two.”

“Feels that way sometimes,” he muttered under his breath.

“Mmm.” I linked my arms around his neck. “Whatever happened to trust?”

“This has nothing to do with trust.” His eyes met mine. “Or you, really.”

“Ah.” I nodded sagely. “This is one of those manly contests that involves the whipping out of—”

“Please finish that sentence.” He settled his arms around my waist. “I’ve never heard you say a dirty word in your life.”

“Hmph.” I jutted out my chin, wincing at the bite of discomfort. “I can be dirty.”

“I look forward to a demonstration—after you’re healed.” Pushing me back against the pillows, he shifted until his weight dented the mattress beside me. “You’re not going to tempt me into misbehaving when I came all the way here to make sure you were okay.”

I fluttered my eyelashes at him. “Came all the way from…?”

“Nice try.” He nudged me onto my side facing the wall then spooned behind me. “You sure talk a lot for someone with a missing tongue and a broken jaw.”

A snort escaped me. “It wasn’t that bad.”

“Do you know how lucky you are that you didn’t swallow it? That Linus found and reattached it?”

“Gack.” I tasted acid in the back of my throat. “Let’s not talk about self-cannibalism.”

“We don’t have to talk at all,” he murmured, lips pressing against my neck. “I’ll settle for cuddling.”

“I missed you,” I whispered into the darkened room. “You’ve been hiding from me.”

Using the same taunt he’d fired at me on his first night back in Savannah caused all that heat behind me to freeze. “I haven’t been hiding. I’ve been working.”

“You make time for Amelie.” Goddess, I hated sounding like a butthurt girlfriend.

Warm breath skated across my throat. “You’re jealous.”

A laugh escaped me. “No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.” His teeth closed over the tip of my ear. “It’s cute.”

“Given everything that’s happened, I get why you want to keep in closer touch with her.”

“The only person I wish was closer, so I could touch her, is you.” He rubbed his stubbly cheek over mine, and a delicious thrill coursed through me. “We’re all she’s got, Squirt. For now, it’s just you and me, and she knows she’s driving you crazy. You’ve shown the patience of a saint in dealing with this situation.” His lips plucked my earlobe. “Amelie needs me more than you do right now. That’s all. It won’t always be this way, but I have to prioritize her.”

Amelie did need him more than me, but it stung hearing him sweep my needs under the rug to address later. It’s not like he couldn’t alternate calls between us, giving us equal attention, or spot me one of her days every week. No, this felt like a shutout. But pointing that out would set him on edge, and I didn’t want to waste the hours left to us.

The thing was, I couldn’t tell how much of my annoyance stemmed from how he was treating me versus how she had treated me. Amelie and I still had wrinkles to iron out if our friendship was to survive. The lengths she had gone to in the name of acquiring magic left a bad taste in my mouth.

Though she claimed the deal she had struck with the dybbuk was to protect me, Ambrose must not have gotten the memo. He almost killed me to get at Oscar, and he had killed nine vampires. True, six of them had trespassed on my property with the intent to recapture me, but three of them had been innocents.

“Have you visited her yet?” I wriggled underneath the crisp sheet. “She must have heard us talking.”

“I said hi on my way in.” He made an appreciative noise in the back of his throat while I snuggled closer. “I’ll make time for her tomorrow. We can watch one of those cheesy movies while you’re in class.”

Amelie did enjoy a good B movie. Her running commentary was often better than watching MST3K.

“You can’t stay in here,” I said drowsily. “The dream…”

“Hush.” Warm lips blazed a trail down the column of my throat. “You just close your eyes and rest.”

Sleep never came on command for me, but I still lowered my eyes. “I’ve never slept with a man.”

“Are you trying to kill me here, Squirt?” Boaz adjusted his hips, but all he managed to do was emphasize the point where our bodies touched. “I’m trying to be good here.”

Bundled up in a Boaz blanket, I settled down to snatch a few winks from the jaws of the dream before it snapped closed over me.

Five

Boaz was gone, his side of the bed cold, by the time I woke with my heart lodged in my throat. A small mercy. I preferred keeping the nightmare to myself. As I made my way downstairs, I hunted for signs of the Siblings Pritchard. Though I suppose they technically weren’t that anymore. Their muted voices lured me downstairs, and I padded toward them, freezing on the staircase when I realized I was the topic of conversation.

“I was asleep down the hall,” Amelie was saying. “That’s way too close for that to be happening.”

“That didn’t happen,” Boaz countered. “I might be a dog, but I can resist leg humping an injured woman.”

Amelie burst out laughing. “Since when?”

“Since Grier,” he said with an edge that killed the conversation dead on the spot.

“I’m kidding. Sheesh.” A spoon clanged against the side of a bowl. “I tease Grier all the time. I used to anyway. Mostly we just tiptoe around each other and avoid topics more controversial than the weather.”

“You guys will be okay.”

“I almost killed her,” she rasped. “How can she forgive that?”

“She loves you. That’s how.” Chair legs raked across the tile, and she grunted. No doubt she was the unwitting recipient of one of his bear hugs. “I love you too. You know that, right?”

“Yeah.” Her voice came out muffled, and I had no problem imagining her face turned into his shoulder. “I wish you loved me less.”

“Nothing doing,” he murmured. “You’re my sister.”

With a great sigh, she resumed clicking her spoon. “Some choices can’t be forgiven.”

“I don’t expect absolution,” he said grimly. “I don’t want it, and I don’t deserve it.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“So am I,” he breathed. “So am I.”

A cold stone dropped into the pit of my stomach, but I had no way to ask what he meant without revealing I had been eavesdropping on them.

Amelie cleared her throat. “How is Macon?”

“He’s heartbroken. He doesn’t understand why you don’t live at home, why he can’t talk to you. Goddess only knows what those two told him.” Not Mom and Dad, but those two. “He called me after his first day back to school. The kids are…” A growl revved up his throat. “You know how cruel kids can be.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt him.” A hiccupping sob broke through her chest. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”

“But you did.” Gravel churned in his voice. “Now we have to live with the consequences.”

Feeling like a creeper, I backed off up the stairs then made a clomping entrance. Amelie didn’t glance up, she was too busy blotting her cheeks dry, but Boaz swept his gaze down my body and left me tingling down to my toes.

“Hello, gorgeous.” He puckered up and tapped his lips. “You gotta pay the toll.”

“This is my house.” I moseyed over, helpless to resist that teasing glint in his eyes. “Shouldn’t you be the one paying me?”

“Hmm.” He appeared to consider this. “Good point.”

Faster than I could squeak, he was out of his chair and gunning for me. I made it three steps into the living room before his arms banded around my waist, and he lifted me off my feet. He peppered the side of my neck with kisses while he swung me in a dizzying circle. Right when I was starting to be thankful for my empty stomach, he laid me on the couch then climbed over me, pinning my hands to either side of my head.

   
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