Storm of Reckoning
The Reckoners series, Book 2
"Apply your skills with precision.
"Love me a good pointy-toed shoe.
Lisa McGarrity stuck to the shade.
Never mind the strong Arizona sun, never mind the summer heat beating down at the Sunset Point rest stop heading north out of Phoenix, or the fact that she wasn't wearing sun screen.
It was the reflective shimmer of her skin that concerned her.
Nope, she still hadn't gotten used to it. And shoot, who'd even known the consequences she'd face from those moments in San Jose? Blown through a dimensional pocket, buffeted by the tsunami of energy channeled through her body, and hey, presto! Permanent starlet shimmer in strong light. Not to mention that the funky electric blue streaks once dyed into her gamine-short hair now grew a permanent silvery-blue from the root out.
Yeah. Lisa McGarrity stuck to the shade.
Lucia Reyes, on the other hand...a creature of the sun. Basking in it, her exquisite features and model-perfect body--not to mention that damned J-Lo ass--drawing stares from travelers who until that moment had thought themselves weary.
Right. What's the worry? As long as Garrie was with Lucia, no one would notice a little shimmer.
And then she bit her lip on a sudden smile, because what had she even been thinking? Once Trevarr strode down the sidewalk to ponder the sundial memorial with them, no one would be looking at Garrie or Lucia at all.
There'd been a reason Garrie had gone into that portal.
That reason now stood in the full heat of the sun, deep blue shirt slightly iridescent where it wasn't inset with leather panels, crossover bib front making him look like both a trend-setter and a exile from someone else's past century.
That last wasn't so far from the truth. Although Garrie wasn't sure if he was an exile so much as a rebel waiting to return. She knew only that things unspoken still rode him--needs and obligation and intent. That he carried himself tensely when he thought she wasn't looking; that he held himself wary when there was no evident need.
His out-of-place, out-of-time theme carried on through, just as the first time she'd met him--fall-front leather pants, high boots with enough buckles along the outside to satisfy any biker wannabe, wide leather belt riding lean hips, black leather half-finger gloves. There'd be a caped leather duster over it all if Garrie hadn't informed him it would draw serious attention in this heat.
Trevarr was used to a warmer clime. A much warmer clime.
Sunglasses added a little bit of Terminator to the mix. He'd pulled back deep brown-unto-black hair; myriad silvered braids were completely obscured within the mass of it, but Garrie knew of them. Likewise obscured, the tattoo-like marks at his wrists and torso...the ones that sometimes changed. He still owed Garrie a good explanation about those.
She wasn't holding her breath.
And when he strode out toward that sundial after Lucia, the Bradshaw Mountains stretching stalwart and picturesque before them--the rest of the overlook platform mysteriously emptied of other visitors.
"Pikers," Garrie muttered, and went out to join him. No one left to see her shimmer, after all.
"Good," Lucia said in response to Garrie's arrival, her face still tipped to the summer sun. "You have to get used to it sometime, yes? They all think it's makeup, anyway. I'd use it, if I could get it."
"You should know better than to want it," Garrie said, maybe just a tad bitter. Things lost, things changed...things still confusing.
For when they'd originally departed Albuquerque for San Jose, they'd been a team. A little ragged at the edges, with Quinn Rossiter staying behind to run the research, but nonetheless--not just Lucia by her side, but Drew Ely. Drew, whom they'd just left back in San Jose--his choice. No longer part of the team. No longer one of Garrie's reckoners.
Trevarr wasn't anybody's anything. Not then, not now.
He gave away nothing as he looked down at the sundial memorial. "This celebrates life lost."
"Commemorates," Garrie told him, aware all over again of how his indefinable accent edged his words--crisp here, inflection slightly misplaced there...a little bit Russian, a little bit German, a whole lot Trevarr. "What, they don't do that on Kehar?"
"Kehar," Lucia said, a dreamy tone in her voice. "A whole 'nother world. You still owe me details."
"Seriously...not," Garrie told her. "Not safe."
"That's what you said about him." Lucia lowered her face to give Garrie a brief if pointed glance. "Look how that ended up."
Right. Reckoner power mingling with the power from another world. Shimmering skin, streaky hair...and other changes, not yet truly known. Drew, opting out.
But that's not what Lucia was talking about. Not really.
"On Kehar," Trevarr said, without concern for their byplay, "they set warnings."
"Of course they do," Garrie muttered, tugging at the hair just behind her ear.
But she believed it.
Left in the farking car, as if he couldn't be trusted out at the rest stop.
As if he might be tempted by someone's little foo-foo dog.
::O fine snack!::
Maybe not such a bad idea, staying here.
It wasn't as if the car could keep him in. Not with locks, not with closed windows. Trevarr knew that; the Garrie knew it. The Lucia person had yet to learn it. The Lucia person understood not-cat...but she didn't yet know all that not-cat could encompass.
Not-cat was as big as the world. As small as the crack where the car window met the door. As solid as he wished, or pure energy and flow. Appearing as cat merely because it pleased him, as Abyssinian because it was what he had seen first.
Perhaps because it suited Trevarr. Atrevo. Bonded.
Just as they were here because it suited Trevarr. Never mind that healing was best done in the sweet woods of Kehar, the safe warded cave lair where they'd never been found and never would be. Stubborn Trevarr. Never mind that the food here lacked the vital spirit that fed Trevarr's other. O, stubborn. Never mind that Kehar was the only place he and Trevarr could overturn what had been done. O foolish stubborn.
Because of the Garrie. All her fault. Because she knew nothing of the tribunal or its ways or its wants.
Or its threats.
Sklayne experimented with disliking the Garrie. Small person of much power, the Garrie. Experimented with mean thoughts and making himself bristly.
No. Maybe not.
But he still wanted to go home. To be home.
Trevarr's self-voice rolled into his head, not far away at all. We cannot leave her unprotected. Hunted.
"Mrrp!" Sklayne made a surprised noise into the stuffy, muffled silence of the car interior. Thinking too loud. Not my fault. Bored. Homesick and bored and...
He eyed a small mahogany dog with a long body and pointy snout and wagging, whip thin little tail. Tasteeeee.
No. Trevarr. Implacable. Paying attention.
Sklayne growled to himself. He knocked the cigarette lighter aside, sipping at the hot power that gathered in its wake and eavesdropping--ever eavesdropping, listening through the lightest thread to Trevarr.
Listening...and watching over.