Though its wrath was for Barrons, it swung its head around and the last words it uttered were for me. “The Lord Master is back, you stupid bitch, and he’s going to do the same thing to you he did to the last pretty little sidhe-seer. You’ll wish you’d died at my hands. You’ll beg for death the same way she did.”
A few moments later, when Barrons gave me my purse back, even though I knew it was already dead, I pulled out the spear and stabbed it again anyway.
In the year since the day I got on a plane to fly to Dublin, determined to find my sister’s killer and bring him to justice, I’ve learned that you can discover just as much from what people don’t say to you, as what they do.
It’s not enough to listen to their words. You have to mine their silences for buried ore. It’s often only in the lies we refuse to speak that any truth can be heard at all.
Barrons disposed of the Gray Man’s body that night—I didn’t ask how. I just went back to the bookstore, took the longest, hottest shower of my life, and scrubbed my hair three times. Yes, I took the spear into the shower with me. I’d learned my lesson.
The next day, I finished up at the museum without incident. No V’lane, no old woman, and not a single OOP in the entire place.
For the first time since I’d been staying at the bookstore, Barrons didn’t make an appearance that night. I guessed he must have slipped out while I was upstairs, answering e-mails on my laptop. It was a Saturday, so I thought he might have a date and wondered where a man like him went on one. I couldn’t see him doing the movie-and-dinner routine. I wondered what kind of woman he went out with, then remembered the one from Casa Blanc. Out of sheer boredom, I imagined them having sex, but when the woman began looking more and more like me, I decided there were wiser ways to kill time.
I spent the evening watching old movies by myself on a small TV that Fiona kept behind the counter in the bookstore, trying not to stare at the phone, or think too much.
By Sunday morning, I was a wreck. Alone with too many questions and no one to talk to, I did what I’d sworn I wouldn’t do.
I called home.
Dad answered, as he had every time I’d called from Ireland. “Hi,” I said brightly, crossing my legs and twirling the phone cord around my finger. I was sitting on the comfy couch in the rear conversation area of the bookstore. “How’s it going?”
We chatted halfheartedly for several minutes about the weather in Georgia and the weather in Dublin, before moving on to comparing and contrasting the food in Georgia to the food in Dublin, then he launched into a rambling diatribe that supposedly linked climates with high per-annum rainfall to dour personalities and, just when I was thinking he’d surely exhausted his run of banality and we could begin a real conversation, he started in on one of his favorite filler topics about which he’d been known to pontificate for hours: the ever-fluctuating price of gas in America and the role the president was playing in our current economic woes.
I almost burst into tears.
Was this what we’d come to—stilted conversation between strangers? For twenty-two years this man had been my rock, my skinned-knee-kisser, my Little League coach, my fellow sports-car enthusiast, my teacher, and—although I knew I’d never been the most ambitious daughter—I hoped he counted me among his pride and joys. He’d lost a daughter and I’d lost a sister; couldn’t we manage to comfort each other somehow?
I fidgeted with the phone cord, hoping he’d wind down but he didn’t, and finally, I could wait no longer. I wasn’t going to get anywhere with him. “Dad, can I talk to Mom?” I interrupted.
I got his canned reply: She was sleeping and he didn’t want to disturb her because she so rarely did anything but toss and turn, despite all the medication she was on, and the doctor had said only time and rest could help her heal, and he wanted his wife back, and didn’t I want my mother? So we should both let her rest.
“I need to talk to Mom,” I insisted.
There was no budging him. I think I get my stubbornness from him. We both dig our heels in and sprout roots if somebody tries to push us. “Is something wrong with her that you’re not telling me?” I asked.
He sighed and it was such a sad, deeply exhausted sound that I suddenly knew if I saw him right now, he would look like he’d aged ten years in the two weeks since I’d left. “She’s a little out of her head with grief, Mac. She blames herself for what happened to Alina and there’s no reasoning with her about it,” he said.
“How could she possibly blame herself for Alina’s death?” I exclaimed.