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.And it wasn’t working.It never did.“Let’s get out of here,” Dan said and slid across the booth’s seat.“Dan, wait,” Miranda said, grabbing his arm.“I’m not judging you.”Dan pulled himself free.“Of course not.Who would judge this crap?”As he stood up, he nearly collected a waitress.She was suddenly right there in front of him.He started to apologize but then saw who it was, and stopped.“Hello Dan,” she said.Her face was porcelain or ice, and he could feel the coldness cascading off her.They were too close, and she stepped back, her face remaining politely impassive.“Her name’s Lily,” Halo said, his arm draped over Miranda’s shoulders in the booth.“We go way back.Sometimes Danny forgets about that, forgets about who he is, where he comes from.”“Come with me, please,” she said softly, bowing so that her sleek black hair fell to the sides of her face.She raised her head again and turned, walking back through the club, her black dress swishing elegantly in her wake.Dan shrugged his way into the crowd after her.“Don’t worry,” Halo called out.“I’ll look after your celebrity girlfriend.”Chapter 21HaloHalo was older than Dan, so he knew how the world worked and wasn’t blinded by optimism.It wasn’t that he’d sunk into a grey world of helplessness and despair – no, he had more self-respect than that.Instead of optimism, Halo employed an active self-interested view of the world.He worked hard to get what he wanted, and didn’t worry too much about the journey.Sometimes though, the journey was interesting.Like with Miranda Brody.The fact that Dan was obviously crushing on her made it all the more satisfying.The kid needed to harden up and fast.The future had no time for a Dan Galkin who was afraid to unleash his birth right.The Mad Russian would either have his version of Dan or there would be no version of Dan.The fact that the kid remained clueless was slightly amusing, although the amusement would only last a few more minutes.Fate was waiting in Chinatown.Halo pulled Miranda to her feet and led her to the floor, the girl’s body already shifting to the beat.Miranda squeezed his hand and he let it go so she could surge forward and show him her moves.She was a professional, he had to admit.Probably been taking lessons since she was born.Behind the whirl of Miranda, Halo watched Dan and Lily.The quiet girl had always been a stranger to him, but with Dan it was different.He grinned.Somehow Dan was able to melt the ice princess’s heart.He watched them disappear through a door on the other side of the club.As the door closed behind them he let out a low whistle.Things were closing.“What are you thinking about?” Miranda asked, smiling.She probably thought the whistle was for her, and in a way it was.Her whole life was about to come to an explosive end.It’d probably increase her sales, make her an icon for the ages.Halo reached his hands around her waist and pulled her closer, noticing the eagerness in her eyes and the shuffle of her pumps.“No thinking here,” he said.Their eyes met and he pushed himself into her, pressing his lips and body against hers, even as he pushed past the paper-thin barriers of her mind, plundering her surface thoughts, her various numbers and psychic knickknacks.She had a nice mind, he noticed, his excitement building.It wasn’t nearly as vague as her celebrity image suggested.She loved music, loved her home and family, the sunshine, the mountains.Dan… Dan… where are you?He slipped around her annoying pleas and picked the bank account details from her mind, storing them safely away for later use.He parted her thoughts a little to glimpse her childhood.A father and daughter riding through mountains on motorbikes; young Miranda singing in a cubby house with her sister.He paged through them with bored ease.It was a rush slipping into someone else’s life, enjoying the emotions, the fractured essence of a person, but he’d never found pleasure in the family flashbacks.Halo sought drama, weakness, dark secrets which he could twist and turn back on the person in the real world.He pushed aside the memories of Miranda’s childhood.And then there was a burst of fire.It was so sudden and so complete that he stumbled.His mind withdrew a little, nearly forced out entirely.But he recovered and focused on the flames.There was death.He could sense it, taste it, feel it, smell it.Miranda was hurting, he could tell, and the details of the boy’s face would stay with her forever.I am fire.The voice was there too, small and bright.Her memory would have altered it, shaped it to suit her torment.Everyone made things out to be worse than they were.He hesitated before withdrawing.With a little pressure he could wipe the memory away, or dilute it, perhaps let it fade a little so she would be more able to live with herself.Time seemed to stand still.I am fire.I am fire.The words would stay.She wasn’t his responsibility.He pushed her against the bar, kissing her deeper as he let go of her mind, allowing the music and half light of the club to reclaim him.She seemed surprised.Pleased, but a little unsure of what was going on.“You want another drink?” he asked.He knew she was marked – a necessary sacrifice for everything else to come together.But she was attractive, in a manufactured American kind of way, and while she was his he didn’t really care about what the Russian’s plans were.Miranda turned her head and stumbled away from him.He wondered whether she had felt the telepathic intrusion, but there was no need to worry even if she had.What was she going to do about it? She was only human.Halo smiled.She moved well.Like she had practice.“What was that?” Halo asked, watching her stumble back.“You forget something?”“Where’s Dan?”Her concern was a surprise.Halo’s fingers hardened around the edge of the bar and he wondered how the Russian was going to kill her.“Where’s Dan?” she asked again [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]