Excerpt from Wergild

Excerpt from Wergild

This passage is taken from Chapter 10 of Wergild, the first book of my Seer of the Sidhe series.

 

The dagger was long, about the same as my forearm, and beautiful. I guessed fairy-make, but it could have been anything from djinn to merfolk. The hilt seemed inlaid with a deep jade enamel, with an intricate scrollwork of silver over it. A straight blade, and nearly the same width as the handle. On one side of the steel, the stamp of a knotwork lizard or dragon was visible near the tip. On the other side, an hourglass. Memory stirred within my head, and I pursed my lips. Where had I seen these symbols before? A warm buzzing enveloped my injured hand like the softest glove.

“It’s just a dagger, Dana. It’s very old, and it’s a family heirloom,” Leif said behind me.

I started at the use of my name, and turned, an apology already on my lips. He shook his head, and held out a steaming pottery mug. I set the dagger down on his coffee table as gingerly as I could. With it out of my hand, the pleasant vibration dissipated, and I felt oddly bereft. The big man settled down on the other sofa, with his own mug. From the light scent that wafted, I could tell the tea was peppermint.

“So, are we gonna talk about last night? Er, this morning, rather. You still my assy bodyguard?” I asked, taking a sip of my Earl Grey. He’d added sugar and milk, and I felt slightly mollified. Leif grimaced at my question.

“If that cut is any indication, I might not be the best protection after all. But still, Matas wanted you at my apartment and in my care for the time being. So yes, I am still your assy bodyguard.”

I smirked at his use of my insult for him, and covered it with another sip.

“If it’s any consolation, fairy-girl, this situation is just as…disorienting for me. I’ve never had anyone here, either visiting or sleeping in my bed. I’m what many would call a lonely bachelor.”

I chuckled at that. Leif, lonely? No. Who would have guessed? I set my mug down on a coaster and leaned on my knees, nailing him with direct eye contact. “Wait, you’re telling me you’ve never ever ever had a girl here? What, do you just go over to their place for…well, y’know?”

He flushed and pursed his lip. “Ah…I haven’t had a relationship of that nature since Adele died. I bought this place just after. Couldn’t stay in our old apartment.”

After a moment of silence, I got up and closed the gap between our sofas. Then I made a loose fist and punched him in the shoulder. “You’re not getting your bed back. It’s waaay too comfy. You get the couch, Assy.”

He chuckled and slurped his tea, apparently nonplussed. I sat back down and we drank our tea in silence for a minute. From time to time, I’d take my gaze away from his array of world-weary artifacts and focus on his face. His eyes stayed glued to his mug, or his lap. A line of frustration flickered between his brows, appearing and disappearing from one moment to the next. His hair fell forward over his brow, and I fought against the memory that rose up unbidden: Ben at four years old with a scraped knee and palms. His hair had fallen over his eyes in the same way as he watched me scrub his kneecap clean.

Leif had snatched me from my home, dragged me to his super pseudo-mansion, slept on the sofa, and doctored me up the same way I’d doctored Ben. All without being too much of an ass. But so what if he felt like he needed to protect me? Did that mean that I owed him sympathy or even understanding? I gulped down the last of my tea and set it down with a thump. Leif’s eyes jumped from his mug to mine, but didn’t travel to me.

“Let’s assume that I forgive you for abducting me in the middle of the night for no discernable reason. I just want to know why.”

He didn’t turn away from my question, and drew his phone from his pocket. Still without looking at me, he brought up a text, and held it out to me. “Read this,” he said.

I obeyed.

Get Dana to your place. Maz likely hired. Someone’s out for blood.

“Shit.”

“Understand now?” he asked. “If Maz was hired, then what happened at the Cannery wasn’t a coincidence. Someone knew all of it before the raid.”

I nodded and handed the phone back with shaking hands. “Does this mean…my brother was a target?”

“Both of you.”

I sat back and absorbed this new information. My heart hammered in my chest as I imagined all the possible outcomes, had Leif and Bruno not interfered. “Figures,” I muttered. “Time to hole up and wait for the bad guys to come find us for a change. What about Ben? He’s in the hospital, with no other protection except doctors and nurses. They’re not fighters. What if someone tries to come in and hurt him? I can’t just wait around for that.”

“Matas is there. He’s not going to leave Ben alone for one minute. Not until we know for sure who is targeting you and why.”

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