Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy 1) - Page 79

“Nor is it what I was saying or meaning. It’s you who have to tell her he’s hers. You and Boyle, as you brought him here, and you’re keeping him for her. I only meant that.”

“Even without any magick to it, the horse was hers the minute they set eyes on each other.” Boyle lifted his hands, let them fall. “And Fin’s the right of it. You’ve no place here to keep him as he needs to be. We spoke of it the very night Fin came home again.”

“I’m grateful to you, both.” Branna’s tone softened. “And I’m sorry, truly, if it seemed I wasn’t.”

“I’ve never wanted your gratitude or your apologies,” Fin told her.

“You have them, wanted or not, and can do what you please with them.” Setting the spoon aside, Branna came back to the table.

Iona, like Fin, remained standing.

“Thank you.”

“You’re entirely welcome,” Fin told her.

“And thank you,” she said to Boyle. “Since he’s mine, I’ll pay for his food and lodging. And that’s the end of it,” she said as Boyle opened his mouth in obvious protest. “I haven’t had much that was mine that mattered, but I take care of what belongs to me.”

“Fine then. We’ll work it out.”

“Good. I also know what it’s like to be held outside. There’s no colder place than right outside the warmth. None of you know what that’s like but me, and Fin. All of you have always been a part of something, even the center of it,” she added, looking at Branna. “So you don’t know what it is to feel you’re not wanted or accepted or understood. I think what’s between you and Fin, and what stands between you is personal. But there’s a lot more here to consider. You said I’m part of this, that this is family and it’s mine. So I want to say that Fin’s my family, too.”

On impulse she picked up the wine, and though he’d barely touched his, added a few drops to his glass. “You should come sit down,” she told him.

He murmured something in Irish before he came back, took his seat. And lifted his wine to drink.

“He said his heart and hand are yours,” Branna told her.

“Oh. Back at you, and that’s why we’ll win.”

“You’ve shamed me in my own house.”

“Oh, oh, Branna, I didn’t mean to—”

“And it’s good you did. I earned it, and it seems needed, the same sort of unfiltered thoughts and feelings you gave Boyle. We’re a circle or we’re not, and a circle with chinks in it is easily breached. So a circle we are, from here till it’s done.” She lifted her glass, held it toward Fin. After a moment, he tapped his to it.

“Sláinte.” Connor tapped his own to Fin’s, then his sister’s, then around the table. “Or better yet, may all the gods who ever were bless us, and help us send the bloody bastard to hell.”

“I’m good with that.” A little exhausted from the emotion, Iona sat again. Under the table Boyle took her hand in his. Surprised, she looked at him, met his quiet, steady gaze.

She all but felt something spill into her heart, something full of warmth and light, and hope.

“Well,” Meara said from across the table, “now that we’ve settled all that, what the hell do we do next?”

Plenty of ideas shot around the table with arguments for and against. At some point Meara got up and, obviously at home, put together a plate of crackers and cheese and olives to keep hunger at bay as the stew simmered.

“We’re not ready to confront.” Connor popped an olive as he ticked off reasons against Boyle’s push for a frontal attack. “We don’t have a solid plan, with the contingencies we’d surely need as yet, and more, Iona isn’t as well armed as she needs to be.”

“I’m not going to be responsible for holding anyone back.”

“Then study and practice more,” Branna ordered.

“Nag, nag. Didn’t I stop the rain?”

Brows lifted, Boyle pointed to the window where it lashed in wet whips.

“Temporarily and in a limited location. I’m better with fire.”

“It controls you more than you controlling it,” Branna corrected.

Tags: Nora Roberts The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy Fantasy
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