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Our shower was hot and steamy, but not in that way. And while there was a whole lot of touching going on, we didn’t try and navigate the complexities of shower relations. Afterwards, in nothing but towels, we collapsed on the couch. We didn’t even make it up to our bed, totally spent, and the last thing I remembered was his warm breath in my ear as he said “Goodnight. I love you Mera.”
It was the knocking on the door that woke me. It took several knocks and several seconds to clear my head from the fog of sleep. I sat up on the couch and looked down, first at Talon totally zonked, naked, beside me. Then I looked around the cabin taking several more seconds to remember where I was. I could see the sun shining, even though the heavy curtains in the room. The knocks continued, grew louder. I jumped to my feet, catching my shin on the coffee table. And my abrupt movements were not only because I was nude, but also because I felt the presence of another shifter on our island. Not at my door, but still close enough to feel them. And it was unexpected and couldn’t be good.
“Just a minute!” I yelled towards the door.
“Take your time and put some clothes on!” said Malachi from the other side.
I tried to shake Talon awake and said his name. But he muttered something and turned his body away from me. I sighed and ran up the stairs. I threw open random drawers until I found myself some undergarments, shorts and t-shirt, and them some clothes for Talon too. I slipped into my clothes so fast, my bra was twisted but I didn’t stop to fix it.
Outside on the porch I could hear Mal whistling the jeopardy final question theme song. I noticed it was eight a.m. I made my way back to the couch and tried to rouse Talon again. It took several more seconds and he looked at me wide-eyed, and like he was hungover. It had been a long night. I actually started dressing him myself before he asked me what was going on.
“Rise and shine little brother! I come bearing coffee,” came Mal’s voice from the porch.
Talon moaned, pushed himself off the couch and pulled his shorts the rest of the way on. “I’m gonna kill him!”
I placed my hand on his arm, not out of fear that he was actually going to kill his brother, though the look on his face showed murderous intent.
“I can feel my grandmother Marta nearby,” I said.
That sobered him up. As we both thought over those implications. Atticus’s Shayle’s wife, the one who’d fled Valle Del Lagarto with her murdering husband to escape the long arm of the law. I couldn’t help but think of the last time I saw her, she was terrified, long grey hair unbound and clinging to her tear streaked face , bound up on her bedroom floor, room full of masked and armed Theron’s, Atticus tied and bleeding besides her, as I tried to explain to her how my presence in her life had been a lie concocted by a deceitful and murderous husband, but the way I cared about her had been real. Now I had to push those painful memories, and many more aside, as Mal knocked on the door again.
“Hey let me in. This is important.”
His voice seemed to pull Talon out of his thoughts too, and he walked over and let his brother in. Now angry in a different way. Malachi’s bleary eyes made a quick sweep of the place, and us, as he balanced a couple cups of coffee in his right hand. Talon immediately took one of the cups and took a long sip I knew must have burned his tongue.
“How was your night?” he asked with a sly grin. Then his eyes focused back on his brother “No details of course. Mera what did you do to my brother?”
I knew he was trying to release some of the tension, and I gave him a telling smile. But Talon wasn’t clearly amused or in the joking mood.
“Why is Marta Shayle here?” he asked sharply.
“Figured you guessed by now, as nothing gets passed our resident aura detector. But I think that question is better answered by Marta Shayle herself.”
His dark eyes found mine, and I was already slipping on some flip flops I found by the door. But Talon grabbed my wrist.
“No. She’s not going anywhere till I get some answers. So I will say it again. What. Is. Marta. Shayle. Doing. Here.”
I didn’t know wherever to be endeared or angry over Talon’s protectiveness and controlling moment. I placed my free arm on Talon’s wrist and met his eyes with softness instead of anger. “Talon.”
“No. I get it and I don’t blame you little brother. But do you honestly believe that me or Dad or anyone on this island would put Mera in harm’s way? Marta was searched thoroughly, and read by Granny before we even let her get off the boat she came here on. So was the man who’s boat she hired to bring her here.”
My breath caught in my throat. Talon asked the question I was dying too.
“Just how long has she been here?”
“Two hours give or take.”
Neither of us was happy with that answer, though I understood it more than Talon did. Talon sighed. Malachi just sipped at his coffee like it was a perfectly normal conversation.
“Then why in the hell are you just coming to get us now? Why weren’t we awoken first thing?” he demanded.
“Seriously? Why didn’t anyone wake you two up before dawn on your wedding night? I may do some crazy things but I don’t have a death wish.”
Talon looked at me, still clearly upset. But I also knew him well enough to know he was scared too. Truth was, so was I. He ran a hand through his bedhead and just shook his head. I grabbed his hands. Marta was a tie to a very bad time in both our lives, full of devastating and traumatic moments that climaxed when I cried over his dead body. I shook the images from my eyes.