"Dustin," came his low bark.
Laney, tell Dustin what's going on.
"Dustin says …" "… women are the true scourge of mankind.
If there's one thing that drives Dustin crazy, it's being kept in the dark.
Dustin was lean and handsome with clear, cool blue eyes and sharp, angular features.
"Better circumstances this time around," Dustin said with a glance at her.
"It's a pleasure, ikira," Dustin said and held out his hand to her, palm up.
Dustin assessed her in silence for a few seconds, and she had the feeling his sharp gaze missed nothing.
"Good. Looking forward to Christmas," Dustin replied.
"Good presents," Dustin clarified.
Dustin didn't look like the kind of man who would like anything, let alone presents.
Dustin began sorting through them.
"Oracles do many things, but this is one of them," Dustin responded.
"Then we take them out back and—" Dustin ran his finger across his throat.
Her eyes slid to Dustin as she tried to reconcile the executioner with the man who liked presents.
Damian and Dustin appeared deep in discussion as she approached.
"Ikira," Dustin said, breaking away.
"Only because of my efforts," Dustin said with an edge that warned her not to laugh.
Dustin looked at her then tossed a look over his shoulder at Damian before directing her away.
She stood beside Dustin on one side of the entrance while Damian and Claire assumed the other.
"Be strong, kiri," Dustin said without looking at her.
Dustin escorted the man into the mansion, and Pierre wrapped an arm around her as she sagged.
Dustin returned for her.
Dustin sat beside her.
She heard Dustin order Pierre out before he approached her.
He was accompanied by Dustin and two other men, one she knew as Sasha, a man who'd struck her with his devotedness to his family, and Levi, a man who'd been present in many of his pre-Schism memories.
He wasn't like Dustin, who seemed more likely to kill a stranger than talk to one.
"C'mon, kiri," Dustin said, poking his head into the library.
"It means, she doesn't eat," Dustin said, coming to her rescue.
"Don't worry about it," Dustin said, his eyes locked on the house.
Sofia glanced at Dustin and stood, concerned.
"Sofia," Dustin called as she stepped toward the house.
She saw glimpses of his shared history with Damian and Dustin and of a time before meeting them that was too dark for her to see clearly.
Let me guess, if you didn't like me, Dustin would take me out back and kill me.
Damian and Dustin awaited them.
Damian, Dustin, Jule, I'm an Oracle.
Dustin wrenched her to her feet.
Dustin released her, glowering.
"Got it," Dustin said, trotting towards the men.
"I take it he's dead," Dustin said.
Dustin looked at her, then at Jule.
"You think …" "Yes," Dustin said.
Jule and Dustin reached the building, and she looked at them.
Dustin met her gaze, and he froze.
Renewed by the blood, more sobs wracked her body as she thought of Damian and how badly she'd destroyed any plan Dustin or Jule could make.
Dustin, don't shoot him, please!
"Holy shit," Dustin breathed as the flashlight rose to Darian's face.
Dustin shouted, drawing his weapon again.
We'll run, Dustin said.
Darian placed her behind Dustin and climbed behind Rainy.
Sofia wrapped her arms around Dustin and squeezed her eyes closed as the engine roared to life.
Dustin braked hard and swung his leg over the handlebars.
She hesitated, sensing he would be angrier with her than Jule or Dustin had been.
She took the opportunity to escape, darting by Dustin to her room.
"I swear it," Dustin said.
He patted the seat beside him on the couch facing Dustin and Jule.
"I'll never have a woman, if they're this much trouble," Dustin declared.
Sofia couldn't help but say, "You'll both have women, and Dustin, when you're in trouble, she'll call me."