Sound of a Voice that is Still

Oberon: Book Three


“Marsha, what is this I’ve just heard about you?” Siobhan Quinn asked as she grabbed her sister by the arm. Clear September sunlight glinted on the bronze of Marsha’s hair and the shimmery Nile silk of her bridesmaid’s dress. The garden around them was a brilliant collage of flowers, and butterflies, and the equally colorful dresses worn by many of the guests.  But Siobhan was blind to the bright beauty of the scene.

“I don’t know,” Marsha answered cautiously.  “What did you hear?”

“That you almost got yourself killed?  Again?”

A low voice laughed mockingly behind her.  “Again?”

Siobhan turned quickly towards the voice, startled to realize that in her hurry to get to her sister she had brushed right past the speaker--a blond young man, his leg bandaged, seated in a wheelchair--without even noticing him.

His eyes flicked over her briefly and then his glance shifted once again to Marsha.  An expression of wry sympathy lit his face.  A look much warmer than the one he had just given her, Siobhan couldn’t help but notice.  “What does she mean again?  This something you make a habit of?” he asked.

“She does, actually,” Siobhan was stung into replying, even though the question had clearly not been addressed to her--earning her another look.  His eyes, a pale blue-green, cool as marble, and vaguely familiar, observed her steadily from beneath raised brows.

Had they met before?  She gazed back at him uncertainly for another long moment, but no memory surfaced.  She turned back to her sister.  “This is what, Marsha?  The fourth time, now?”

Marsha shifted uncomfortably.  “Yeah.  About that.  But, really, this time was totally different, Vonne. I didn’t even get hurt.”

“No, you left that to me,” the stranger interjected.  His voice held humor, but more than a trace of chagrin.

Siobhan looked at him in surprise. “You?  What happened to you?”

“That’s how Ryan got shot,” Marsha told her. “He was one of the cops who tried to rescue me.”

“Tried?”  He sounded affronted.  “Well, there’s gratitude for you.  I notice you’re still here.”

Siobhan surprised herself then by laughing.  His eyes met hers again, and this time they were undeniably warmer.  Like the sea on a sunny day.  When he grinned, suddenly, she surprised herself even more by returning his smile.

Bad idea, she told herself, still unable to account for the vague sense that she had seen him somewhere before.  Her sister deserved to find a nice guy, someone she could depend on.  Siobhan couldn’t imagine anything more dependable than a guy who’d take a bullet for you and be able to laugh about it only a few days later.  And here she was getting in their way.  She should go away now, before she found a way to mess things up; just ignore the disturbing flare of attraction she was feeling and disappear.  After all, even if her little sister didn’t happen to hook up with her fallen hero, she certainly didn’t want him.  The last thing Siobhan was looking for was to get involved with anyone.

“Hello, Siobhan.”  A familiar voice spoke up from behind her, and anger surged through her as she recognized its source.  Bob Jelaski.  Father Bob Jelaski, now.  Her ex-fiancé, turned priest.  Turned manipulative, self-righteous, insufferable creep.  “How are you?”  Bob asked, unctuously, his eyes agleam with a proprietary light that had no damn business being there.

“Busy,” she snapped.  She felt her own eyes narrow as she glared at him.  “What are you doing here?”

“Did you get everything squared away with Lucy, Bob?”  Marsha piped up anxiously. “Because if you’re looking for her, I think she’s over by the buffet.”

“I saw her,” Bob replied curtly, without turning.  “Didn’t Marsha tell you, Vonne?  She--”

“No, she didn’t,” Siobhan interrupted, really hating his use of her family’s nickname for her.  “But, how silly of me to forget. I don’t care why you’re here.  Now, if you’ll all excuse me?”

She turned on her heel without waiting for an answer, and strode off as fast as she could. Though not nearly fast enough.  Her spiked heels sank repeatedly into the sod, threatening, with each step she took, to turn her into a modern day Cinderella.

The thought was almost tempting--if it could be the guy in the wheelchair who’d retrieve her slipper for her.  With her luck, however, it would be Bob who’d try to play hero, as he had once before.  And she’d had just about as much of that kind of saving as she could possibly stand in one lifetime.

Ryan Henderson was conscious of a vague feeling of regret as he watched Siobhan go.  Her slim frame was swathed in a dress of some filmy material, smoke and gold, giving her the appearance of a small storm cloud hurrying away.  This was the second time he’d seen the woman and both times, within minutes, she’d gone off the rails over some damn thing or other.  It was too bad, too, because each time there’d been that one moment when she’d smiled at him, and given him a tiny, tantalizing glimpse of what she could be like if she’d ever just relax.

The priest sighed.  “Well, I tried.”

Ryan looked at him suspiciously.  He’d sounded almost more satisfied than disappointed, but he was turned towards Marsha, and Ryan couldn’t see his face.

“Any more advice, Marsha?”

“No, Bob.”  Marsha shook her head once, very firmly.  “I’m through giving you advice.”

“Right.”  He sighed again, still with that hint of a smile in his voice, and left.

“How about me?” Ryan asked softly.

She turned to him in surprise. “You want advice?”

He shrugged.  “Sure.  Why not?”  She was supposed to be a psychic, after all, wasn’t she? Not that she’d shown a whole lot of precognizance the other day, stumbling into that stake out like she had.  He thought about that for a moment.  As he understood it, she owned the cabin they’d been keeping under surveillance, and she and the guy who was supposed to have been staying there had been involved in some kind of lovers’ quarrel.  That kind of thing would probably dull anyone’s perceptions, he supposed.  And on the other hand, she wasn’t the one who’d ended up getting shot, was she?  “That sister of yours, is she always so tense?”

“Siobhan?  No, not always.”  But she sounded none too sure about it.  She stared at him pensively.  “I really am sorry about your leg, Ryan. If there’s ever anything I can do--”

He waved her concern away.  “Don’t worry about it.  A few weeks, and it’ll be as good as new.”

Marsha sighed.  “I hope you’re right.  But I think the rain might give you some trouble.” 

He glanced involuntarily at the sky.  It was bright blue, not a cloud to be seen.  It would probably be months before the winter storms set in and he was sure his leg would be fine long before then.  So much for psychic predictions.

And so much, too, for the funny feeling he got every time he looked at her sister.  The feeling that hers was the face he’d been searching his whole life to find.

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