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I thought about my sister Meg during the entire train ride to Buffalo. Not so much about her involvement in not one but two deaths out where she lived in California, nor her subsequent exoneration as the cause of said deaths by a tribunal of grand leaders. No, despite the absence of Meg herself from the family festivities in Albany, those subjects had been the main topic of discussion during my Thanksgiving weekend at home, and I was thoroughly over it.
I was intrigued by her sex life. My little sister had leashed two shapeshifters, a rare feat in and of itself. But even more amazing was that, by all accounts, these men were not only gorgeous, but they had been lovers before she leashed them. I'd spoken to Meg myself on the phone on Thanksgiving before the family sat down to dinner. Although my sister was notoriously close-mouthed about her personal life--when she had one--I'd gotten enough to know that yes, the men were not only involved but that now all three of them were in a sexual relationship. Two men. My little sister had two men.
If she could, could I?
Despite a strong urge to do so, I didn't call her from the train. I wasn't sure she could really help in my situation. I wasn't entirely sure I had a situation.
But I had to try.
I waited until I arrived at the Depew station before I called the ones who I'd come to see. Timing was key. I'd carefully plotted my route from Albany so that there was no train headed back east after my arrival, figuring that they couldn't turn me away when I'd come so far. I stood at the window, staring out at the lightly falling snow, with my bags at my feet and my parka bunched over my arm,wondering who would pick up the landline.
"Hello?" Deep, rumbling bass. It was Jake.
I put on my "bright smile" tone. "Hi there!"
"Hey, Noelle." My heart warmed at the genuine affection in his voice. "How's things upstate?"
"It was okay." My voice was far more casual than I felt. I hoped. "But I'm back in Buffalo. Can you pick me up?"
"Back in Buffalo? Huh?"
"I'm at the Depew station."
"Can you come pick me up?"
"I, uh, well, sure. Sure thing. Uh..."
There was a pause, and I shut my eyes, knowing what was happening. Sure enough, there were mutters off the phone.
The next voice that spoke was not Jake's. "You're in Buffalo?" I swallowed at the sound. Jake's soothing rumble was a welcome warmth, but Daniel's smooth tenor was a hot knife straight in my belly. A hot knife disguised in sumptuous black silk and velvet that popped something deep inside me and let it ooze out warm and wet between my legs. I closed my eyes and took a breath, keeping check on my emotions. "Yes."
"I came back to see you guys."
I need you. Both of you. "I was worried about you."
I drew pictures with my finger in the dust on the little ledge before me. "You still don't have things under control, Daniel. You're my responsibility until you do."
"We decided that I'd be fine until after the New Year."
"I know." Darn it! "But there's all this time between Thanksgiving and Yule anyway. I figured I'd come back."
"I'd think your family would have a million, what did you call them, 'functions' between now and then."
"They do--" Darn you for throwing my words back at me! "--but I've decided to opt out."
"To help you."
I grimaced at the slight reflection of my face in the window. "So you're not going to come pick me up? It's too late to go back." I sighed dramatically. "I'll have to get a room in town."
He let the silence hang for agonizing moments. I hated it. Daniel might very well send me away, and I couldn't come up with a better reason to be there. Well, other than the real reason, which I wasn't ready to tell him. Yet.
"Jake will be there soon. You hang tight."