Return to the Darkness - Ripley Proserpina Page 0,1

lulled me closer to sleep. I focused only on the feel of him—not on what was ahead. Not on the stress of running into people who some demon had forced to hate me. Just the quiet sound of his breathing and the glide of his fingers over my scalp, and eventually, I fell asleep.

The plane touching down on the tarmac jerked me awake. Colton’s head was on my shoulder, but Aaron was stretching. “Hey,” he said. “I’m glad you slept. You needed it.”

Beyond him, the world was rainy and gray. We’d landed in Seattle. The first stop before we caught another flight to Santa Fe. Then from there, we drove.

“How long is the layover?” I asked.

Next to me, Colton stirred. “That wasn’t too bad.” He looked at me and smiled. Touching my face with his finger, he ran it along my cheekbone. “You have a sleep crease.”

Great. “It’s because I’m almost thirty,” I said. “Shut up.”

He only shook his head. “It’s adorable. You slept hard. I think my shoulder is wet.” My gaze immediately went to his shoulder, but it was fine.

“She just woke up,” Aaron said, “go easy on her.”

“Sorry, Lace.” He kissed me on my nose and then on my cheek. “I was just teasing.”

“It’s fine,” I replied, because I’d figure out a way to get him back later.

We found our next gate just fine. Colton and Aaron left for the bathroom while I found a spot at a table large enough for all of us at a nearby airport diner. I drank my coffee, lifting my gaze to stare at the lights that had started to flash when we’d sat down at the gate.

“Are we about to be visited by a ghost?” I asked Oliver as he plopped down next to me and handed me a danish he’d bought at the coffee shop.

He winced. “Airports are always a beacon for this kind of thing. We probably won’t see one. It’s one of those situations where we travel through here and maybe they do, too.”

Thorn took the seat on my other side. “We get you on the next flight. I had to content myself with watching the back of your head the whole time.”

Oliver laughed. “Don’t believe him, love. He conked out the second we took off and didn’t wake up until we landed.”

Thorn rolled his eyes. “Okay. So maybe it was more like longing for you in my sleep.”

“Now, that I get.” Oliver’s gaze suddenly hardened. “I can’t believe my father did this,” he muttered so low I barely made it out.

It was hard to hear him over the constant announcements, so we descended into silence, nibbling our food and sipping coffee. Each time someone spoke over the loudspeaker, I jumped. Were they talking about our flight? I hadn’t thought an airport would make me so anxious, but I was afraid I’d miss something. The guys, on the other hand, were relaxed. It struck me that this must be something they did all the time, whereas for me, the experience was brand new.

A lull came over the cafe, and for the first time, I could hear myself think. I turned toward Oliver. “We don’t know what your father did yet. For all we know, he went there to do something completely benign.”

“And ignore my mother? No way. She knows this is bad. It’s why she contacted us. Something is off. What is there to do back there except for Erdirg?”

Yuck. He was probably right. We’d been over and over this for the last two days, going mad with speculation as Aaron tried to reach their dad. “Maybe there is another creature.”

It was still everything I could do not to say monster. They really were that to me and likely always would be. Mara was one too, as far as I was concerned. I might be one—my darkness was certainly monstrous—though I was beginning to obsess about it a little less.

Not to mention, I’d had absolutely no time to deal with what we’d learned about me probably having pouque-slash-fae blood. Whatever that meant.

I scooted my chair closer to Thorn and leaned my head on his shoulder. This was a day for that, cuddling to alleviate discomfort. “Can you find out more about me and the pouque?”

He leaned his head on mine. “A gorgeous woman with eyes that call to me and long legs that go on forever? I’m not sure I can find out more than that, babe. Men have been trying to work out the secrets of