Despite the colorful background Barrons had given me on our soon-to-be third host—and unsuspecting victim, as I was coming to think of them—I would still find myself unprepared for the dichotomies that were Rocky O’Bannion.
“Uh, Barrons,” I said. “I really don’t think stealing from this guy is a very good idea.” I’d seen my share of mafia movies. You didn’t march up to the Godfather and rip him off—and expect to survive for very long afterward, anyway. I already had too many scary things after me.
“We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it, Ms. Lane,” he replied.
I glanced over at him. My life was so surreal. Tonight Barrons had selected a 1975 Lamborghini Countach, one of only three “Wolf” Countachs ever made, from his absurd collection.
“I think the expression is cross that bridge, Barrons, not torch it. What do you want—every freak, vampire, Fae, and mafia don in the city hunting me down? How many different ways do you think I can do my hair? I refuse to be a redhead. I draw the line there. As much as I like color, I have no desire to paint my head orange.”
He laughed. Unguarded humor was such a rare expression to see on that chiseled, urbane face that I blinked, staring.
“Funny, Ms. Lane,” he said. Then he added, “Would you like to drive?”
“Huh?” I gaped. What was wrong with him? Ever since I’d come down at shortly after eleven, wearing Fiona’s disturbing dress—when I’d first slipped it over my head I’d waited a few seconds to see if it was laced with some awful poison that would make me itch my skin off—he’d been acting like this, and I just didn’t get it. He seemed . . . well . . . playful, for lack of a better word. In high spirits. Almost drunk, though with a clear head. If he were any other man, I might have suspected him of substance abuse, of being coked up or something. But Barrons was too much a purist for that; his drugs were money, power, and control.
Still, he was so electrically alive tonight that the air around him seemed to crackle and hiss.
“Just kidding,” he said.
And that was out of character, too. Jericho Barrons didn’t indulge in humor. “That wasn’t nice. I’ve dreamed of driving a C-c—Lamborghini.”
“Can’t say Countach, Ms. Lane?” With his unplaceable accent, Kuhn-tah came out sounding even more foreign.
“Can,” I said irritably. “Won’t. Mom taught me better.”
He slanted me a sideways look. “And why is that, Ms. Lane?”
“Cussing in any language is still cussing,” I said primly. I knew what Countach meant. My dad was the one that got me addicted to fast cars. I’d been a little girl of seven when he’d begun dragging me from one Exotic Car Show to the next, in lieu of a son to share his passion with. Over the years we’d developed a deep bond over our love of all things fast and shiny. The Italian Countach was the near equivalent of “holy fucking cow” in English, which was exactly how I felt every time I saw one, but that was still no reason to say it out loud. If I managed to hold on to nothing else in the midst of the insanity my life had become, at least I could maintain my dignity and decorum.
“You seem to know your cars, Ms. Lane,” Barrons murmured.
“Some,” I said modestly. It was the only thing modest about me at the moment. We’d just begun crossing the first of two sets of railroad tracks and my bosom jiggled in—or rather mostly out—of my revealing dress like it was made of molded Jell-O. Okay, so sometimes I could maintain my dignity and decorum. At other times, it seemed half of Dublin was going to see my breasts up close and personal; although I did derive some comfort from the thought that when I’d done my impromptu strip for the death-by-sex Fae yesterday, I was pretty certain no one else had seen me, thanks to the glamour it had been throwing.
We were about to hit the second set of tracks, so I folded my arms in an attempt to hold myself still. As we crossed them, I could feel the weight of Barrons’ gaze on my bosom, the heat of it, and I knew without even looking that he had that raw, hungry look on his face again. I refused to glance his way, and we rode for several miles in silence, with him using up entirely too much room in the car, and a weird tension eating up what little space there was between us.
“Seen the new Gallardo Spyder?” I blurted finally.
“No,” he said instantly. “Why don’t you tell me about it, Ms. Lane?” The playful edge in his voice was gone; it was guttural, tight.
I pretended not to notice and began waxing poetical about the V-10 with its razor-sharp lines and 512 horses that, although it couldn’t beat the Porsche 911 turbo in a zero-to-sixty speed test, it still packed a flashy, muscular punch, and before I knew it, we were pulling up in front of O’Bannion’s and waiting while valets cleared space for us between a Maybach sedan and a limo. They were human, not Rhino-boys, which made for a nice change.