Home > Gentry (Wolves of Winter's Edge #1)(10)

Gentry (Wolves of Winter's Edge #1)(10)
Author: T.S. Joyce

“Do you believe in magic?” she asked.

“No. I believe in survival, that’s all.” Gentry took the bag of food from her hand and led her to the hearth. He scooted a chair loudly across the floor and faced it to the flames, then gestured for her to take a seat. And after he’d done the same to a second chair, sat down, and propped his feet on the ledge of the hearth, he handed her the cold food she’d ordered.

“You want to talk about what happened to your face?”

“Nope,” he clipped out.

“Just making sure it wasn’t something you…you know…needed to get off your chest. For some people getting hit can be something hurtful. I mean, maybe it’s different for guys.” Blaire shrugged self-consciously.

He cast her an unreadable glance and then bit into a hamburger of his own. “You ever been hit?”

“Me? Oh, no, I wasn’t talking about me.” She ate a few fries and watched the flames for a bit. “My mom got hit a few times by my dad before she threw him out. The last time, she locked us in my room. I was sixteen, and I held her while she cried. I knew at the time she was in her own head saying goodbye to him. I held her until she fell asleep against me, and I hated him for what he did because I knew the pain she felt in her face was nothing compared to the pain and distrust that would be in her heart for a long time. We chased him out after that, and I never talked to him again. But I watched my mom’s recovery, and I just wanted to make sure those cuts on your face weren’t hurting your heart, too.”

“Your mom sounds like a tough lady.”

“She is.”

Gentry relaxed back into his chair and sighed. “Nothing touches my heart, Blaire. You don’t have to worry about me. Blood is a part of my life. Pain, too. I was used to it before I could even walk. It was just a barfight, nothing dramatic.”

“Okay,” she said, shutting down like he’d shut down.

They ate in silence for a few minutes before he sighed, which tapered into a feral sound as he leaned forward. He dropped his leftover food into the bag on the floor and clasped his hands, then slid her a narrow-eyed glance. “I used to live here. The dynamics have changed. The leadership in the town has shifted, and they don’t appreciate me being back. I’m a threat, so…” He gestured to his face.

“So they had to put you in your place.”

“Exactly.”

“That blows.”

He huffed a breath in an almost-laugh. “Everything about this place blows. My wo—” Gentry swallowed down whatever word he was going to say and tried again. “I’m ready to move on already, and I just got here. I like to roam.”

“Ramblin’ man.”

“Yep.”

“I’m the opposite of you, Gentry Striker. I will dig my roots so hard and so deep into a place I will grow stagnant and not move or breathe or think for years.”

“But you’re here.”

She gave him a tired smile. “I’m trying to break my roots.”

“Why?”

“Divorce.”

“Oh, shit. When?”

“A year ago.”

“So you’re still in the man-hating phase then,” he said with a baiting smile.

Blaire giggled. She couldn’t help it. This wasn’t funny at all, but… “Yeah, I guess I am. You suck less than the other boys, though.”

“So far.”

“Yeah, you still have a whole week to make me hate you. Better get to practicing.”

“What should I do?”

“Uuuuh, you could ignore me. You could slowly grow colder and more distant until you barely look at me. You could call me names. You could make me feel invisible.”

Gentry’s lip curled up in a terrifying grimace. Just a second, and then it was gone, as if it had never been there before. But she’d seen it, and the feral expression had lifted the hairs on the back of her neck.

“Is that what your ex did?”

Blaire inhaled deeply and nodded. “Pretty lame. I always thought the only way I would ever consider divorce was if he hit me or he cheated. Our break was quiet, though. No drama. He just gave me the papers one day, and after the shock wore off, we both just…left. We’d been together since we were kids, and married young. When we divorced, he told me he didn’t know if he ever loved me, or if he just needed someone to love him like I did when we were younger. He told me he didn’t need that anymore. Didn’t need me. He didn’t want kids, and that made it worse because I want to be a mom. We hugged goodbye the day he moved out of the house. No yelling, no name-calling. It was like two roommates going on with their lives. Only he moved on, and I grew my roots deeper. Clung to the house and all our pictures. All of our memories. I dug my claws into work so it would distract me from the ache, and at some point, I lost myself completely. So here I am in Rangeley…”

“Trying to find yourself again,” Gentry finished in a deep rumble.

She nodded and stared at the flickering fire. “Yep.”

“That’s why you said ‘no’ when I asked you to leave.”

“Yeah, I kind of need this week.”

Gentry cracked his knuckles and shook his head. He gave her a sideways glance, and she could’ve sworn his green eyes were brighter somehow. “There are things you don’t understand here. Things under the surface.”

“Danger?”

   
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