Fans of Lyndsay Sands will love this fiery paranormal romance from a New York Times best-selling author about a dragon shifter who finds his soul mate in the most unlikely place.
With dragons like him, who needs enemies?
Real scholars know that supernatural beings don't exist. But the moment I meet Archer Andras of the Storm Dragons, all my academic training goes out the window. Thanks to Mr. Tall, Dark, and Infuriating, I'm learning that I really should worry about those things that go bump in the night... and that dragons like Archer are 100 percent pure trouble.
Now I'm caught in the middle of a war. On one side is Archer. On the other is his twin brother. And I am the key to translating an ancient text that could bring balance - or deadly ruin - to our world. But none of that is as dangerous as the seriously sexy sparks between Archer and me. He's too tempting to be real. Too gorgeous to trust. And when it comes to dragons, there's no smoke without deadly fire.
Includes the novel Wolf's Mate by Celia Kyle: When Abby Carter is threatened by an anti-shifter organization, werewolf shifter Declan Reed will have to convince her that there's no safer place in the world than in the arms of a big bad werewolf.
Release date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Print pages: 672
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Day of the Dragon
ARCHER ANDRAS WAS NOT HAVING A DAY THAT WOULD be awarded any gold stars for excellence.
It started off bad and gradually went downhill from there.
“Who is it?” Miles asked that morning when, squatting next to a shallow tide pool, Archer turned over a waterlogged body and looked down into a face he knew.
“Davide.” His lips tightened as he touched the gray powder that ringed the man’s eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. He didn’t have to smell the residue to know what it was.
“Christus Rex,” Miles said softly. “Has he been—”
“Yes.” Archer stood up and gestured to the other four storm dragons who stood awkwardly holding a canvas stretcher. “Someone blasted dark power through him.”
“Someone?” Miles’s jaw worked for a few seconds while the four men laid a blanket over their dead tribemate, then lifted him onto the stretcher. “I think we all know who is responsible for this, just as he’s been responsible for the others. The question is, what are you going to do about it?”
“The same thing I’ve been doing,” Archer said, the grimness in his voice originating from the cold fury that gripped his soul. Not even his fire warmed him—he felt as icy as the gray-green water that lapped at the tide pool. “Try to protect my tribe. Find those who attack us. Build more defenses.” He gestured toward the house that sat on a slight rise above the narrow strip of beach. “Take him to the basement,” he told the men. “We’ll hold the pyre after his family has been contacted.”
“The shadow dragons have much to answer for.” Ioan, one of the stretcher bearers, watched Archer, his eyes filled with anger. “They must pay for this murder.”
“They must pay for all the murders,” Miles responded automatically. He waited until Ioan followed the men to the basement before grabbing Archer’s arm as he headed toward the house. “How many more members are we going to lose before you get off your ass to do something?”
Archer’s dragon fire rose, but he kept it leashed, simply pausing to give the man next to him a long look. “You forget yourself, cousin.”
Miles’s jaw worked again. They were alone now, the other members out of earshot. “You have to do something,” he said at last, his voice gritty. “You have to draw him out. This is intolerable.”
“Do you think I’m not aware that my own tribe is being decimated, slowly but surely, one dragon at a time?” Archer snarled, slamming his cousin up against the white stone wall of the house. “They are my family, Miles, as surely as you are. It is my family that is being killed, my family’s homes that are being destroyed, their businesses ruined, their protections smashed. I feel every indignation suffered by all the members of my tribe, from you, my oldest friend, on down to the newest dragon to find solace in our numbers. I am doing everything I can to keep them safe and happy, but I can’t work miracles.”
“If you can just lure him out—”
“How?” Archer released Miles, frustration heightening the sense of impotence that followed such attacks. “I have tried for over a hundred years, and to what end? I can’t fight someone who hides in the shadows.”
“Then perhaps you shouldn’t be master of the tribe.” Miles spat the words out, giving Archer a hard shove on the shoulder, making him stagger back a couple of feet.
Heat flashed through Archer, and for a moment he considered teaching his cousin a lesson, but he ended up shaking his head to himself, feeling that there had been enough death. Miles was obviously just as frustrated as he was.
“You have done little enough to stop the wholesale slaughter of our tribe. If I were master of the storm dragons—”
“But you are not,” Archer said slowly, the note of warning clearly evident in his voice. His eyes were narrowed, the icy cold of grief not even touching the dragon fire that always burned inside him. “Do you lodge a formal protest against me?”
He held Miles’s gaze until the younger man dropped his eyes in an act of submission. He knew just how much it cost Miles, but he had little choice. The storm dragons had been together for a relatively short time, only slightly over a hundred years, and as their first master, Archer had to be firm to those who would gainsay him. Without a strong hand to lead the often fractious dragons, they would devolve to a lawless band who scraped by on the fringes of both the mortal and immortal worlds.
He’d be damned if they returned to that.
“No, I do not wish to protest against you,” Miles said, holding the subservient demeanor for the required length of time before looking Archer in the eyes. “I don’t have designs on your job.”
“Good.” Archer smiled suddenly and punched Miles lightly on the arm. “Because it’s a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and certainly not on a cousin of my blood.”
The corner of Miles’s mouth curled, acknowledging the affection in Archer’s voice. “There has to be something else we can do. Someone, somewhere must have a way we can defeat him. Maybe if we parlay again?”
Archer walked toward the house, feeling unusually defeated. “We can try setting up another parlay with Hunter, although I don’t expect it to go any different than the past ones.”
“Perhaps this time—”
Two dragon patrols approached.
“It will be no different than before,” Archer said, his eyes on the dragons. “The shadow dragons will profess innocence in the deaths of our members. Hunter will deny any charge I level against him. We will go away from the parlay dissatisfied and frustrated, with no resolution.”
The patrols bowed and moved on, leaving the two men to enter Archer’s house. They strode along the stone tile until Archer reached the second-floor room he called his office. The entire side of the house facing the ocean was made up of floor-to-ceiling retractable glass doors, allowing him to drink in both the light and the salty tang of the sea air. He loved this house, loved the view, loved the way the light seemed to lift everything to a brightness that filled him with joy. That was his blue dragon sire’s blood in him, making him crave days spent surrounded by glorious sunshine, while the heritage of his green dragon mother ensured that he loved the endlessly restless sea just as much.
Miles’s phone gave a chirp when Archer sat down at his laptop, pulling up the tribe records to locate Davide’s family so that he could tell them of the tragic loss, noting Davide had been a member for only two years. His heart was sick with the knowledge that there was little he could do to avenge the death, at least nothing that he could do that would not bring more heartache and death to the tribe.
“This is interesting,” Miles said slowly, looking at something on his phone. “And it might be just what we’re looking for. You remember that manuscript that surfaced in Venice late last year?”
“No.” Archer pulled up Davide’s record and was relieved to see he had listed no family members, not that he believed Davide was truly without kin. So many ouroboros dragons had cut ties with families when they went outlaw and were removed from the family records and shunned by all.
Except the tribes. Archer glanced at the database count and took a small amount of pride that seventy-eight lost dragons had found their way to him.
“I told you about it around Christmas. A parchment had been slipped into the lining of an old sixteenth-century grimoire. It’s mostly indecipherable, but a note at the top of the manuscript leaf was written in Latin, claiming it was the true telling of the Raisa Medallion.” Miles’s gaze was full of unspoken comments as he looked pointedly at Archer.
“There is no Raisa Medallion,” Archer said, turning back to his laptop. “The manuscript is either a recent fake or an antique fake.”
“You don’t know that for certain,” Miles pointed out.
“I’d know if my mother created a dragon artifact imbued with unimaginable powers and bestowed it upon me, making me the first dragon hunter,” Archer said. “In case it escaped your notice, I am not a dragon hunter. I am a dragon. Nothing more.”
“Your mother gave only half of the artifact to you,” Miles said, still reading his phone. “According to lore—”
“I don’t need to hear fairy tales, thank you,” Archer said, trying to forestall the inevitable, but once Miles got a bit in his teeth, he didn’t let go.
“Raisa, daughter of the green wyvern, was cast out from the sept when she declared she was mated to a blue dragon. Namely, your father.”
Archer flipped browser windows to check on some of the tribe-held businesses. “I know who my parents are. You don’t need to remind me of that.”
“You may know who they are, but you weren’t raised by them, and you refuse to even look at any of the mentions I’ve found about the Raisa Medallion.”
“I have no need to concern myself with something so distant in the past. The present is what matters.”
“And yet the past is what drives the present. If your father hadn’t been cursed at the behest of the green wyvern, he wouldn’t have become part demon. And, of course, you wouldn’t be what you are without him being what he was…”
Archer tried to stop listening. “How the sire came to be has nothing to do with it.”
“He was a brilliant alchemist,” Miles pointed out. “If he hadn’t been, he couldn’t have made the Raisa Medallion, which is what we’re talking about. I don’t argue with you simply to hear my own voice, Archer—this history is important to us. Not just the dragon hunters that your father created, but also us. Storm dragons.”
Archer sighed before saying, “The difference between us is that you believe the tales about the medallion, whereas I know they are nothing but vague references to events that never happened.”
“You’re just being stubborn,” Miles answered, clearly annoyed that Archer wasn’t rising to his bait.
“No, I’m being realistic. This is a fantasy, Miles, nothing more than the imaginings of a deranged maniac’s mind, one determined to rewrite history to satisfy his ego. I am not a dragon hunter!”
“You’re awfully good with a sword,” Miles said with a smile.
“My father was an insane, homicidal blue dragon who stole my mother from her family, impregnated her, and then slaughtered her when she swore she’d take her own life before submitting to him again. Those are the only important facts about my parents,” Archer said, pushing down deep the little kernel of pain that never failed to manifest when he thought of his blood family.
Much better to focus on the one he had made.
Miles continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “Well, that and the fact that your mom gave you and your brother pieces of the medallion.”
“And then promptly abandoned those sons while they were still babes, leaving them without protection, family, or anyone who gave a damn about them.” Archer closed the lid of the laptop, stood up, and gazed out the retractable door, now open so that the room seemed to extend seamlessly onto a wide balcony. He wriggled his shoulders to loosen them up and thought briefly of taking a swim in the infinity pool before he had to deliver tribe justice to two newer members who didn’t understand that his word was now their law. He sighed, wondering if the day would come when the tribe members would settle down into a peaceful existence. He had a horrible premonition it wouldn’t be in his lifetime. “There were no medallion pieces, Miles. Whatever you think you’ve learned is just a story, nothing more.”
Archer closed his mind to the sorrow that was his family. He’d worked hard over the centuries to reach the point where he could think about his twin without raging, although the fact that just as soon as he had started the storm tribe, Hunter had formed a tribe of shadow dragons—and quickly became the most feared of all the ouroboros dragons—still rankled.
“It’s time you opened yourself to the truth about your parents,” Miles said, glancing over to where Archer stood, arms crossed, leaning against the edge of the open door while looking out to sea. “You may not believe any of this is real, but the facts speak for themselves. You and Hunter should be the first dragon hunters, but you’re not. There’s a reason for that, and this Venetian manuscript could tell us what happened all those centuries ago. Why you and Hunter were separated. What happened to your parents. We need the manuscript so we can have it translated. It might give us the edge we need.”
“Even if it did contain a true history, it can be of no use to me. The medallion wouldn’t have any power over our enemies,” Archer said, rubbing the tension in the back of his neck before turning to go down the hall his bedroom. If he had to mete out justice, he’d do it in something other than jeans and a T-shirt that had seen better days. “It’s all just history of long-dead dragons.”
“Ah, but you don’t know that for sure, and that’s where things get interesting,” Miles said, still reading from the phone as he followed his cousin. “The manuscript is here. In California, Santa Mar to be exact. A local bookseller bought it at auction and smuggled it out of Italy and into the U.S. last week.”
“And what do you expect me to do?” Archer asked, peeling off his grubby clothes and marching nude into the bathroom to shave the day’s stubble from his face. “Buy the damned thing? I told you that it’s fiction. Not real.”
“You don’t know what it says.” Miles smiled. “And, yes, I thought you could buy it. Then we’d have it translated, and we’d be able to find the Raisa Medallion.”
Archer didn’t like to roll his eyes when faced with things he thought unworthy of attention, but he did so this time, lifting his chin so he could shave around his Adam’s apple. “What the hell would we do with the medallion even if it was real?”
Miles was silent for so long that Archer lowered his chin and caught his cousin’s gaze in the mirror. “Can you think of a better way to bring him to heel? To make him pay for the deaths?”
Archer considered that for a moment but shook his head and rinsed off the wickedly sharp straight-edge razor. “You forget one important point.”
Miles made an annoyed gesture. “I know, I know, there’s no proof it’s real, but if we can just get our hands on it and translate it—”
“No.” Archer finished shaving, then wiped his face clean of any errant bits of shaving cream. “You forget that if it is real, and if it has as much power as you believe, then nothing in this world or the next will stop every dragon in existence from trying to get their hands on it.”
“It has importance only to dragon hunters,” Miles said, dismissing Archer’s comment. “Hunter will lust for it, to be sure, but others? I don’t see what good it would do them.”
Archer’s shoulders twitched as he donned clean clothing. “Do you really think that the Raisa Medallion, if such a thing exists, will be allowed to remain untainted by those who would use it for dark purposes?”
“Only a demon hunter could wield it,” Miles objected.
“Or a demon.”
Their gazes met.
“Then we have to be the ones to acquire it,” Miles said, his eyes somber.
Archer hesitated, wondering if it was worth the effort to continue fighting the idea. What was the worst thing that could happen if he agreed to Miles’s suggestion to buy the manuscript? He would be removing it from the grasp of those who might seek to abuse it. There was also a certain amount of satisfaction to be drawn from the knowledge that he was keeping for himself an item Hunter was sure to covet. “Very well. I’ll buy the damned thing.”
“As a matter of fact, you already have,” Miles replied, grinning. “I came to an agreement in your name a few minutes ago, while you were waffling over the idea. I expect a call from the bookseller about when we can collect it. Are you free this evening? We could run into Santa Mar and pick it up.”
“I suppose, although I ought to be working on rebuilding some of the tribe businesses that are failing—”
“You know how the saying goes: all work and no play makes the dragon as dull as a mortal. We’ll have dinner, find a few females, and let them feel the beast inside of us.”
Archer came perilously close to rolling his eyes again, but agreed to meet his cousin in town later in the day. After all, he mused to himself as he took his seat in the living room, now used to hold tribal meetings, it wasn’t as if anything was going to come of Miles’s grand plans.
The Raisa Medallion was a piece of fiction. It was just that simple.
Anything else would be unthinkable.
“GIRL, WE NEED TO FIND YOU A MAN, STAT.”
The words danced around me, not penetrating the dark wall of my thoughts for a few beats. The second they did, though, I looked over at my friend Laura. “What? Me?”
“Yup.” She fanned herself with a flattened Junior Mints box as we trailed the last of a late-night crowd out of the movie theater and stood for a moment on the sidewalk. The air was downright turgid, with no breeze, making me feel like an invisible beast was licking me with a thick, sticky tongue.
Sweat started between my shoulder blades and trickled its way down my back. “What are you talking about? Why would I need a man?”
Laura arched an eyebrow at me. Beyond her, Bree, the third member of our party, watched her closely, then arched her brow as well. “Dude,” she said.
I hadn’t known Bree long, unlike my bestie-since-grade-school Laura, but she seemed pleasant enough, if a bit…eccentric.
Luckily, I’m all over eccentric.
“You clearly need a man because you didn’t once drool during the movie.” Laura fanned herself harder and pulled out her phone. “Thus, you are out of practice. Where’s that ride? He should be here by now.”
“I try to make a habit against drooling in public,” I said calmly, but backed up when a group of men stumbled out of a bar next to the theater, heading toward us with steps that were none too steady.
“We just sat through an hour and a half of the most gorgeous manflesh alive today, and you didn’t sigh once. Or squirm in your seat. Or even make a single risqué comment,” Laura said, snapping when one of the drunk men bumped into her. “For chrissake! You don’t own the sidewalk, asshat!”
“Asshat!” Bree repeated, shaking a fist at them. The man gestured rudely before staggering after his buddies. “I like that. Hats of asses. I’m going to remember that one.”
“So far as I’m concerned, Hollywood can take their policy of inflicting story arcs and plot twists and emotional depth on superhero movies, and dump it all in favor of ninety minutes of buff, shirtless men parading around flexing at things. Damn. Evidently the driver was in a minor fender bender.” She looked up and down the street. “We can try to get someone else, or we can go to Pemm Square and pick up a cab at one of the fancy hotels.”
“I don’t mind a walk,” I said, hoping no one heard the lie in my voice. Since I had made a promise to myself that I would work at tackling my fears, I added in a voice filled with false confidence, “It would probably be faster to walk.”
“Smart thinking,” Bree said, nodding. She had two round blobs of long blond hair wound onto the top of her head like little anime animal ears. “Plus, if we walk, we can find a place that has booze. I like booze. Booze is good.”
“Booze is very good,” Laura agreed, and marched determinedly up the street.
“Uh…you do know you have to be twenty-one to legally drink, right?” I asked Bree. She looked like she was about eighteen. Nineteen, tops.
“I’m older than I look,” she answered, then flashed a huge smile at me before whirling on her heel and dashing after Laura.
I pushed down the little wriggle of uneasiness that we’d be out and vulnerable to comments by the uninhibited folks who frequented the area at night. My stomach felt like it had twisted upon itself.
A couple of women stood together kissing, breaking apart when I hurried past to catch up to my friends, one of them saying to the other, “Holy jebus, did you see that girl?”
I shut my ears to it and caught up just as I heard Laura saying, “—you had a bad experience with your ex, who I completely agree was an asshat—”
“Hat of asses!” Bree interrupted, grinning again. “Lots of hats. More asses. What did he do?”
“Cheated on her royally,” Laura answered before I could.
“Cards?” Bree asked, her nose wrinkling as she slid an arm through mine. “Or sexually?”
I sighed. Evidently tonight was going to be one of those nights where everything made me uncomfortable. “He two-timed me with someone he worked with, but that was a long time ago, and we weren’t really that…together.”
“Rat bastard still broke your heart,” Laura tossed back over her shoulder to us.
I said nothing. There wasn’t anything to deny.
“Wow. What did you do to him?” Bree asked me.
“Do to him?” I shot her a curious look. “You mean revenge? If so, nothing. I was pretty…well, devastated, to be honest, because I trusted him, and he broke that trust.”
“She cried for weeks,” Laura said, pausing to wait for a light to change. “He really did a number on her psyche. I wanted to geld him, but alas, the California Bar doesn’t look kindly on its members emasculating the general public. No matter how much they deserve it.”
“I know a curse to make pubic hair grow really heavy,” Bree offered, giving my arm a squeeze. “I’ll teach it to you if you want.”
I slid her another look, unsure if she was joking or not. Her expression was filled with concern. “Er…thanks, but as I said, this was all a long time ago. Eight years, as a matter of fact.”
“Eight years in which you haven’t dated at all,” Laura pointed out.
“There’s nothing wrong with being by yourself,” I protested, trotting across the street with Bree still glued to my side.
“Nothing wrong with it if you are truly happy, but you aren’t, and don’t tell me you are because I’ve known you for more than twenty years, and I know sad when I see it.”
“I’ll know the right man when I find him,” I said with much dignity. “I’ve always been a fall-in-love-at-first-sight sort of girl. I just haven’t found someone to fall for yet.”
“Out of all the men in Northern California? Methinks the lady protests too much.”
“Methinks so, too,” Bree agreed.
“Bah,” I said, trying to dismiss her comments.
Before I could dredge up a suitable topic to change the subject, Laura continued. “Good Lord, woman, we just saw the most delectable men in skimpy superhero costumes, so you can’t tell me your motor isn’t running at least a little bit. I had to shift into third gear when the Hemsworth guy had that water scene. Mmrowr.”
“Mmrowr,” repeated Bree, who nudged me, clearly expecting me to reply in kind.
“Rowr. The difference is that those sort of men aren’t realistic,” I objected as we turned a corner, a fetid smell of rotting garbage wafting up from side yards. The night being as hot and muggy as it was, people sat on the steps of the houses, smoking, laughing, kissing, and in one instance, barbecuing. We climbed the hill that led to a popular area that housed two of the most prestigious hotels in Santa Mar, a growing suburb along the northern California coast. The air seemed to get thicker and moister with every step we took. I plucked the damp gauze of my dress from my sweaty chest, wishing I’d turned down Laura’s offer to see a movie and meet her new neighbor.
“Superheroes? Of course they aren’t real,” Laura said.
Bree looked thoughtful. “I liked the one who wore that plastic suit and flew around shooting people. If I could do that, I’d get so much more done every day.”
We laughed, but there was a note in her voice that had me sliding her a questioning look before saying, “Actually, the superhero part was what I found the least unreasonable. What doesn’t ring true at all is the idea that men who look like those actors, with their perfect hair, and six-packs, and general drop-dead-gorgeousness gave the time of day to the common people on the street. That just doesn’t happen in real life.”
Laura, who was still walking slightly in front of Bree and me, cast a glance back as we rounded another corner. Ahead of us was the first of the exclusive hotels, the Merit, in all its art deco glory. In front of the curved drive sat a long row of cars, everything from a stretch limo to a couple of sleek, expensive sports cars, and even a handful of more mundane cars and taxicabs. “Why wouldn’t they talk to people? That’s who they were saving, silly—the people in Metropolis. Or whatever town they were supposed to be in. I didn’t hear much of the actual dialogue since I was too busy drooling over the eye candy.”
I shook my head. “Men who look like that—like actors or models or just guys blessed with really good genes—aren’t interested in people like us.”
Bree watched me with bright eyes but said nothing. I had a feeling that since Laura and I were in our early thirties, and she was obviously much younger, she was feeling her lack of experience with men and dating.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course they do! Handsome men pay attention to me all the time.”
I was silent, feeling even more like I was an outsider looking in. Laura was lovely—of course it made sense that the sort of man who wouldn’t give me a second glance would still notice her.
“Oy. Now the app says the nearest driver is forty minutes away.” Laura slipped her phone into her purse and waved a hand at the hotel. “Let’s go in and have a drink while we wait. The bar is bound to have AC.”
Bree clapped her hands happily and did a little hopping skip as she followed Laura. My stomach tightened even more when I followed my friends, hesitation making my steps lag. There were beautiful people everywhere—women who were dressed in club wear, all glittery short dresses that exposed a lot of boob and leg, with gorgeous hair, perfect makeup, and impossibly high heels. The men swaggered next to them, clad in equally elegant attire, reeking of money and expensive cologne. They were very aware of themselves and each other, clearly entranced by their partners, their faces showing both satisfaction at the eye candy on their respective arms and a smooth self-confidence that made my stomach drop.
And then there was me. Sweaty, odd me, standing out like a thumb at a toe convention.
Behind me, a car purred to a stop, no doubt about to disgorge another gorgeous couple. I took a step forward, rallying my courage and telling myself to just go into the hotel and not worry about anyone else.
A sudden sharp blow to my back had me stumbling forward a couple of steps, knocking my purse out of my hand.
A man who was a couple inches taller than me, with shoulder-length reddish brown hair, stood with his back to me as he helped an elegant woman out of the car. She had the long legs and poise of a model or actress, her thigh-high slit dress moving around her like it was made of water. Another long leg emerged from the car, causing the man who’d obviously bumped into me to help out a second lovely example of what I could never be, followed by a second man.
The first woman flicked an annoyed glance my way before slapping a smile on her face and clinging to the first man’s arm as they glided past me. I bit back a testy comment about people who didn’t have the decency to apologize when they bumped into someone, and bent down to pick up my purse, but another hand was there already.
“Oh. Thank you,” I murmured, taking my bag from where it was offered by the second man’s hand. He was taller than the first, with shoulders that seemed impossibly broad. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even look my way, just nodded and allowed the second woman to latch on to his arm before they, too, glided their way into the hotel.
“At least that one had some manners,” I murmured to myself, irritated at my moment of weakness.
So what if I didn’t have a man who treated me like I was the best thing in the world? I didn’t need adoration. I might have an appearance that kept me from swanning into expensive hotels like the two women I’d just seen, but that didn’t mean I was dirt under their feet.
With my chin held high, I entered the hotel lobby.
“The glamorous people are going to do their thing no matter what I think. Although I would like to point out that I couldn’t have predicted their reaction to me any more accurately,” I told Laura and Bree ten minutes later as we sat at a small table in the emptiest of the three hotel bars. Bright neon blue light that traced down the bar cast a weird glow on everyone, but the noise was of a volume that would allow us to converse without having to yell. I took a sip of my gin and tonic. “It proves my point exactly.”
“What, that some guy who bumped into you didn’t stop to chat?” Laura gave a one-shouldered shrug. “He probably didn’t realize he’d done it.”
I remembered the strength of the blow to my back. I had no doubt he’d felt the collision.
“Plus, and I’m not excusing his rudeness in not apologizing and picking up your bag, because politeness costs nothing, but you have to admit that sometimes you aren’t aware of where you are. Spatially, I
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