A ONE-WAY BRIDGE
“You're avoiding everyone," Ronan said, sliding through the curtain of my dressing room a few days later. He stopped in the entrance, staring at me where I was curled up on my chaise, my hands crossed over my stomach.
He was right too—I'd been leaving before dawn in the morning to avoid the police still drifting around the neighborhood and keeping to myself at the theater when I wasn't needed for rehearsals.
"You're nervous about the performance tomorrow," he guessed, frowning.
"Come here," I said, shifting in my spot and stretching out one arm to him.
He let me ignore his words for a moment, crossing the small room and sliding over me so his wings weren't crushed. I set my hands on his hips and he settled his weight on top of me, reassuring and heavy, careful too. With my only scene dedicated to Constantine, who maintained his course of not touching me, and Hunter out of town, it'd been a rare stretch of days since I'd had sex, and I was surprised by the immediate clench of need that rose from Ronan's weight and his familiar smell.
"What are you doing?" Ronan asked with a laugh as I wiggled beneath him, pulling my skirt up to my waist.
"What do you think?" I teased, bumping my nose against his and stealing a quick kiss.
He watched me, wings shrouding us, as I settled beneath him, wrapping my thighs around his hips.
"Are you in the mood?" I asked when he didn't move.
Ronan's smile was slow, but there was something restrained in his eyes. "I'm always in the mood for you, nut."
I smiled, arching and rubbing myself up against him, but when he didn't move at all I stopped. "But?"
His grin locked and then fell apart, even as his arms circled my back, holding me in a lovely bend that pressed our hips together. "But I'm worried about you, and I think you know that and are trying to distract me."
I rolled my eyes and Ronan huffed out a breath, head dipping and his lips stroking my jaw near my ear as he whispered, "Hell, Hazel, I'm tempted to let you. It's been weeks."
I opened my mouth to say it hadn't—we'd just had sex on the silks together—and then realized he knew as well as I did that it was different like this, just us alone in my dressing room for the fun of it.
"You don't need to worry, Ro," I answered, rubbing my cheek against his curling horn, sliding a hand up to ruffle his hair and then grip one of his longer twisting horns. He groaned at the touch, bucked against my hips, but then sat up slightly.
"He watches you," he said.
I pressed my lips together and shrugged. "I'm his partner. And anyways…you all watch us, don't you?"
"No, he only watches you," Ronan said, frowning.
"You said that about Nireas," I hissed, my thighs loosening their grip on him.
Ronan pulled away, sitting up and bringing me with him, and I couldn't decide if I was relieved not to be pinned under him for this conversation or annoyed that he was pushing it on me at all.
"That's different. Nireas and I, we've been here for years. And I mean, you know as well as I do that I didn't start out constant—"
"Constant?" I squawked.
Ronan scowled. "When's the last time you caught me fooling around with any of the other girls, Hazel? You haven't, because I'm not interested. I haven't been interested. Just like Nireas isn't interested."
"Nireas isn't interested in me," I said, trying to rise from the chaise, but Ronan still had his arms around me.
"He is, whether he's too stubborn to show it or not. And this…this new demon isn't looking at a single other member of the company, nut. He's staring at you. Any time you're near enough to be seen," Ronan whispered, eyes wide. "Tell me he doesn't frighten you."
"He doesn't…" I stalled and sighed. "He does a little, although maybe not in the way that you mean." I waved my hand between us at Ronan's frown and pushed against his grip on me until I was able to scoot back a few inches. "He's unusual. I am nervous about the performance tomorrow night. But I'm not frightened. And I don't need you trying to make me scared."
Ronan sat up, shock and frustration striking like lightning on his face. "I'm not!"
"Then why this, Ronan?" I asked, throwing my hands up. "Yes, I'm avoiding everyone. Not because of him or tomorrow. Just…things are complicated." It was a weak excuse, but I didn't want to tell Ronan that what really disturbed me about Constantine was how I couldn't seem to wait for the moment we finally were on stage together. Or that what was bothering me was the words of Detective Sergeant Piper.
Ronan pulled back, finally releasing his arms. "Things are complicated and you can't tell me why?"
"I don't want to," I snapped.
His face twitched away from me, almost as if I'd slapped him, and my hands clenched in my lap.
"I care about you, Hazel," he said, the words flat for such a tender admission.
"I know you do," I answered, sighing, trying to relax, about to reach for him.
"Do you want me to?"
No, I thought immediately. And then, almost just as quickly, Of course I do.
"Yes," I said softly, and Ronan didn't pull away when I reached for his hand. "But I want you to listen to me too, not just…decide you've sorted out who or what I should be afraid of—"
"Even Myra is afraid of him," Ronan said, and then stopped abruptly at my warning expression, my lips flat and eyes hard. But only for a second. "What happened when you were alone with him, nut?"
I growled and threw Ronan's hand back in his lap, rising from the chaise. "You're not listening."
"You're not saying anything! You never say anything!"
"What good would it do when you already seem to know everything?" I shouted, marching for the door.
The chaise creaked and Ronan's boots hit the floor, but his grip was gentle on my elbow as he reached for me, easy to tear myself free from.
I spun in place, fighting the urge to lash out and thump my fist against Ronan's chest, but he stumbled back from the force of my glare alone. "He made me come, Ro. A shocking number of times, actually. He made me lose my goddamned mind with a single touch," I spat out. Ronan's eyes widened, mouth gaping open. "And I can't wait for him to do it again. I'm going to scream so loud, and I hope Mr. Reddy has the charms in place because I think all of London might hear me when that demon absolutely masters me in front of everyone."