She’d worked seeking spells, and had the priceless reward from it.
To cap it, she’d had a meal with her cousins full of talk and laughter.
And tomorrow, she’d do whatever tomorrow brought her way.
To start on that balance, she cleaned the kitchen to a sparkle. The next time Branna walked in, she thought, giving it all a narrowed eye, it would damn near blind her.
Satisfied, she started to walk through to the workshop to begin her last task of the day, when the knock on the front door stopped her.
Normally, the prospect of company would have pleased her, but she really wanted to get started on her tools. Probably one of Connor’s mates or prospective lady friends, she thought. She’d yet to meet anyone who didn’t love Connor, or seek him out when they wanted a good time, or needed a shoulder for a bad one.
When she opened the door, her greeting smile faded, as there was Boyle standing there with a big, bright spring bouquet.
She managed an “Oh.”
He looked so sexy, so appealing, big, scarred hand around stems, his face just a bit flushed, his eyes full of embarrassed determination.
And he shifted his weight and nearly did her in.
“I’m sorry. I need to tell you I’m sorry. These are for you.”
“They’re beautiful.” Better, she thought, so much better for herself if she just sent him on his way. But she couldn’t do it, not when he’d brought her flowers and a sincere apology. “Thank you,” she said instead, and took the flowers. “They’re really beautiful.”
“Will they get me in the door, for a minute or two?”
“All right. Sure. I want to go back and put these in water.” She led the way back to the kitchen, using every trick she’d learned to keep her mind, her heart, quiet and steady.
“It shines in here,” he commented.
“I’ve been balancing some scales.” She found a large, pretty vase of mossy green, Branna’s kitchen flower scissors, and the flower food her cousin made herself. And set to work.
“I’m sorry, Iona, for upsetting you, for hurting you. I never would have meant to.”
“I know that.” The flowers, so lovely, the scents, so poignant, helped her with her own balance. “I’m not angry with you, Boyle. Not anymore.”
“You should be. I earned it.”
“Maybe. But you weren’t completely wrong in what you said to Fin. I did push, and I did get in your way.”
“I’m not one to be pushed if I’m not wanting to be. Iona—”
“You were attracted to me. I used that. I never used magick.”
“I know it. I know it.” Trying to find the words, he raked his fingers though his hair. “I’m not used to all this going on inside me. I lost my seat, and you happened to come in before I’d righted it again. Give me a chance, will you, to make it up?”
“It’s not that, or not only that.”
Balance, she thought again. She wouldn’t find it without being honest with herself, and with him.
“Everything about you came on me so fast, and I just went with it. Grabbed for it, and I think, held on too tight. I didn’t want it all to slip away. I always wanted to feel all this going on inside me. I’ve craved it like breath. So I got in your way, I got in your bed, and I didn’t let myself think what could go wrong.”
“It doesn’t have to be wrong. It’s not wrong,” he said, and took her shoulders.
“It’s not right either.” Cautious, she stepped to the side so he no longer touched her. “Do you want a beer? I didn’t even ask if you—”
“I don’t want a bloody beer. It’s you I want.”
Her eyes, blue and beautiful even touched with sadness, lifted to his. “But you don’t want to want me. That’s still true. And I can’t keep accepting that, keep settling for that just because I always have. It goes all the way back, Boyle. My parents never really noticed when I wasn’t there, or cared much when I was or I wasn’t. And more awful yet, didn’t notice that I knew.”