Dusty glanced at his watch.
It was dusty and so hot that on passing near water one longed to bathe.
It took her mind back to childhood memories of barefoot strolls down dusty lanes.
Dusty looked at his adopted sister again.
A spinning wheel stood in one corner, partially covered by a dusty sheet, and beside it, a mahogany rocker with a cobbler seat.
As they watched, the figures in the dusty heat waves finally became recognizable as cavalry - even to the naked eye.
"You've got five seconds," Dusty said, unruffled.
Beginning at his dusty oxfords and indigo blue jeans, her scrutiny continued up to a neatly tucked in worn white cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up to mid arm.
The sidewalks were wooden and the street was dusty and unpaved.
Dusty rose in response, peeling off his shirt.
Dusty looked around them, gaze settling on the only car on the streets that didn't belong to him and wasn't on blocks.
Dusty felt the slow change in the air around him and tensed.
It's okay, Dusty, I'll accept that fate.
Dusty rose to pull on his gym clothes.
"Sofia," Dusty said in a tone he knew conveyed his displeasure.
"Darian," Dusty said with patience he didn't quite feel.
I'm sorry, Dusty, but I had to do it and I can't tell you why.
Dusty strode into the gym and peeled off his shirt.
"Toni, send your Traveler to grab the driver in the Camaro down the street," Dusty said, returning his gaze to the charred building in front of him.
"Definitely," Dusty said with a trace of a smile.
His gaze went from Dusty to his sister.
"I'll be right there," Dusty said, retrieving his shirt.
"Dusty, you need to get some rest," she said, concern in her voice.
Even at ten o'clock, when the Rostovs got out of their carriage at the chapel, the sultry air, the shouts of hawkers, the light and gay summer clothes of the crowd, the dusty leaves of the trees on the boulevard, the sounds of the band and the white trousers of a battalion marching to parade, the rattling of wheels on the cobblestones, and the brilliant, hot sunshine were all full of that summer languor, that content and discontent with the present, which is most strongly felt on a bright, hot day in town.
At the very least, Dusty hoped Darian grew out of the terrible twos.
Bianca hugged him, and Dusty resisted the urge to pull her away and snap the vamp's neck.
A man who has at length found something to do will not need to get a new suit to do it in; for him the old will do, that has lain dusty in the garret for an indeterminate period.
Jane, our GPS, as Betsy named her, didn't let us down and we found our friend's cabin at the end of a dusty road, hungry for dinner after a six hour drive.
"Dusty, I'm-- " Darian started.
Dusty resisted the urge to draw his hand cannon from the small of his back.
No, Dusty, Darian needs me.
"I would never hurt her, Dusty," Darian said and stood.
Over the dusty hood, the yawning valley beckoned, and then... the sound of metal grinding against rock.
Dusty had never heard of such a thing!
Dusty won't let us have pets.
"Our evac plan was to take everyone here," Dusty said, indicating a point in the Utah desert.
Speck was waiting for him, at his feet a creature Dusty couldn't identify.
How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!
First along the dusty road came the infantry in ranks, bareheaded and with arms reversed.
The dusty captain surveyed the gathering with red rimed eyes that came to rest on the Frenchman.
They took their time, squatting on the dusty ground, letting minutes pass between bits of conversation.
Dusty surveyed the blackened ruins of the church in the grainy light of dawn.
Dusty glanced at his long-time Miami Station Chief, the handsome Hispanic man who looked as severe as he was lighthearted.
Dusty smiled faintly as Toni walked towards the back of the church, whistling.
Dusty was quiet, surprised.
Dusty chuckled, glad for the distraction from his dark thoughts.
Don't bitch to me, Dusty said.
"Yeah. But Darian, she can't help you and be pregnant," Dusty said quietly.
"Right now she could use some company," Dusty suggested.
Take care of Sofi, Dusty ordered.
Once Damian came back, Dusty was going on his first vacation ever.
I'm not old enough to know how, Dusty said, convinced Talon was psychotic in addition to sadistic.
The room, dusty and untouched since the death of Joseph Bazdeev was now even gloomier.
"If there's nothing here linking this to otherworldly activity, we're done here," Dusty replied.
"Dusty, I can't deal with this on my own," he said, gesturing to his head.
Where now firm open fields stretch from the village to the woods, it then ran through a maple swamp on a foundation of logs, the remnants of which, doubtless, still underlie the present dusty highway, from the Stratton, now the Alms-House Farm, to Brister's Hill.
Dusty relaxed and smoothed her hair back like he might a child's.
"I hate evil," Dusty replied.
Following the battalion that marched along the dusty road came priests in their vestments--one little old man in a hood with attendants and singers.
She glanced around at the arid camp, taking in the dusty tents and scraggly cacti..
Everyone moved slowly and it was very dusty.
You don't have a spot of dust anywhere in your house or car and your name's Dusty.
They stepped into the hallway, and Dusty's gaze returned to Jonny.
Dusty knew the memory of killing in order to be initiated wasn't something even Bianca could take away from him.
Dusty ignored Bianca's searching look and punched the button for the ground floor.
"Tell us where the kid is or-- " Dusty didn't let him finish.
"He's safe for now," Dusty said, his own mind going to the boy who'd been a vamp for a day.
Dusty considered her words.
Dusty said I have to leave the cat with you.
If she leaves, then Pierre tells Dusty, and we all get yelled at.
She matches Dusty's condo.
Sunny was black and white, just like the rest of Dusty's world.
Dusty can do it, too.
I gotta go before Dusty finds out I'm here.
Dusty's smart like that.
Dusty scared him straight for now.
You know why Dusty pulled you in?
Dusty said you healed Jonny earlier today.
"I think it would be okay if Dusty killed him," Bianca said.
Dusty can definitely kill the devil.
Dusty's not going to kill him?
Don't talk to strangers, and if you see someone with red eyes, run like hell back to Dusty.
Dusty looked up from the computer screen as Toni walked in, staggering under the weight of a massive box.
For the first time in ages, Dusty was falling asleep at his computer.
"I feel beat," Dusty admitted.
Dusty closed his eyes, the soft sound of the TV greeting him before he opened them.
"Dusty," she called, rising and following him.
Dusty tossed his phone on the nightstand and set the alarm clock.
"Dusty, I made breakfast," she called as he passed the kitchen.
"I don't do one night stands, Dusty," she said, face red again.
Dusty fought back an amused smile.
But there will be a few thousand bad guys within a stone's throw of us …" "Pull in everything we can from the east coast sectors," Dusty said.
Dusty didn't pry; she shouldn't have told him what she did.
"If she's available, have her come to Miami, too," Dusty said.
Dusty followed his instincts to the kitchen and stopped in the doorway.
But Talon can't kill him, Dusty surmised.
Dusty spun on his heel.
"Dusty's apartment is soooo boring," Darian complained.
"I made these with Dusty's organic ingredients," she told him.
Maybe it's just because Dusty and Sofi can't cook.
I'll tell Dusty that we're keeping you.
"I think Dusty already made that decision," she said.
She and Dusty take care of me.
Dusty said you're safer here than anywhere.
It was no mystery to her why Dusty would want her, though she couldn't help but feel disappointed.
Dusty and Darian, both drenched and covered in what looked like seaweed, were in the foyer.
He sat on the floor, hands covering his face, while Dusty stood.
A look at Dusty's tight features revealed he was furious.
Dusty stalked off and slammed the bedroom door.
Dusty's gonna kill me, he whispered, stricken.
Her eyes went to the bedroom, and she walked the opposite direction to the laundry room and ruffled through Dusty's neatly folded laundry.
And Dusty fished you out?
But you care what happens to Dusty, don't you?
Dusty cares about you or he wouldn't have come after you.
Dusty wrenched the bedroom door open, even angrier to see Darian and Bianca on the couch, talking.
Dusty waited for Bianca to defend him, so he could tear into someone, anyone.
Darian's voice reminded Dusty of the world outside Bianca's body.
"That's sad, Dusty," she said.
"I don't think I can heal your soul, Dusty," she said with a small smile.
Dusty pulled his phone free and saw Toni's number flash across the screen.
"Yeah, on my way," Dusty said.
Dusty hung up and met Bianca's gaze again.
Dusty hesitated and then snatched his dinner before he did something they'd both regret.
Dusty said around a mouth full of vegetables.
Dusty asked, eyes going from his dinner to the mangled creature on the table in front of them.
Am I speaking simply enough, Dusty, or do I need to dumb it down more?
"You're good," Dusty answered with a faint smile.
Dusty prompted at her silence.
Dusty considered her before gazing back at the mutilated creature on top of the stainless steel lab counter.
"I'm beginning to wonder myself," Dusty admitted.
"It's just how it is," Dusty said, amused.
"Dusty, I'm not ready!" she replied, panicked.
"Dusty, I-- " Her voice was cut off as he Traveled back to his office.
"I'm sorry, Dusty," Darian said.
I love you, Dusty.
Dusty twisted to look up at Darian, not understanding Darian's concern.
Dusty wondered what the hell was wrong with everyone around him and rubbed the back of his neck.
Dusty pushed the door opened and flipped on the light.
"Good," Dusty said, sitting on the bed opposite him.
"I'm going to have someone else talk to you today," Dusty said.
Dusty gazed at him, sensing how much he loved his sister and how hurt he was by his own actions.
"Stay with Dusty this weekend," she continued.
She'd only seen men built like that in Dusty's organization and Talon's gang.
Dusty's men would know where to find her.
She had no phone, no way of contacting Dusty or Jenn or Darian.
She hadn't been able to log onto Dusty's computer, because he kept it locked out.
She had Dusty's car.
She clicked the buttons on the key fob until Dusty's car blinked in response, then trotted to it.
This time, Dusty was going to kill her for losing his car.
Dusty, Sofia, Darian, Damian, Jule, Jenn, Toni, Jonny, Watcher.
Dusty should have given you a means of contacting someone in an emergency, he said with disapproval.
Darian had also been clear about the type of relationships Dusty preferred.
"Dusty's gonna kill me," Bianca replied.
She pulled it free to see a text from Dusty.
Dusty kissed Bianca's forehead and strode away.
She couldn't help wondering about the two of them and why she felt suddenly jealous, even though Jenn could give Dusty something she wasn't willing to.
Startled, Bianca turned to face the doorway, recognizing the petite blonde woman who saved her from Dusty's bullet in Talon's garage.
The woman had Dusty's cold beauty, with feminine, chiseled features, long blonde hair and large blue eyes lined with silver.
"Don't make me call Dusty," Sofi replied.
Don't let Dusty make all the rules.
"Hey Dusty," she said in a tight voice.
"You need to take care of yourself, Dusty," she advised.
He can't do it on his own, Dusty, and it's not because I'm being overprotective.
Dusty, I'm worried about him.
Dusty, remember that Bianca can heal anyone and any wound.
Dusty asked with a frown.
Dusty clipped the earpiece to his ear.
Send Jonny to see Sofi sometime this morning, Dusty directed.
Dusty eyed him, waiting.
Dusty almost rolled his eyes.
Darian was right about Dusty being a dictator.
Jonny wouldn't listen to his nagging sister, but he'd darned well listen to a man as terrifying as Dusty could be.
She smiled at his reply, relieved, then texted Dusty.
Jenn's voice was quiet in Dusty's ear.
"Set up something for tomorrow night," Dusty replied.
Dusty closed his eyes to Travel and opened them, arriving to his favorite room in HQ, the war room.
He hadn't said a word most of the day, taking in Dusty's world with fascination.
"We are," Dusty replied.
He flipped a switch to display an aerial of the country club on one wall and Dusty's condo on another.
"Evac and implode the building before dawn," Dusty said.
Dusty gazed at his condo building.
Dusty, can I go to watch the building explode?
As soon as the condo goes up, have them start, Dusty directed.
I hope you get him, Dusty.
Dusty couldn't kill him and didn't expect to.
Dusty's eyes returned to the image of the country club.
Once Dusty died, someone had to take care of the girls.
"Darian, I wanna give you a new rule," Dusty said.
I know that one, Dusty.
With a sinking feeling, Dusty understood Sofi's concern better.
Dusty didn't know if a few months of Darian having his own mind back were enough to erase thousands of years under the control of another.
"Toni, if at any time you feel the girls are in danger, evac the girls and then everyone else," Dusty said, turning to his XO.
Dusty's wards keep him out.
"Let me show you the virtual re-enactment of what happens if-- " "Don't need to see it," Dusty said.
She left in a huff, and Dusty crossed his arms against Ohio's fall breeze.
"I'm not the idiot she takes me for," Speck said, looking from the screen door Iggy slammed closed to Dusty.
Assassinations 101, Dusty replied.
Speck shifted away from him, a response Dusty was accustomed to after thousands of years as Damian's lead executioner.
Dusty waited until he heard the door close behind him before he moved.
Dusty asked, a knot forming in his stomach.
I did something bad, Dusty.
Darian hesitated, and fury filled Dusty.
Dusty was prepared for the worst, but Darian's story left him speechless.
But they're safe, Dusty, I promise.
Dusty didn't care about the village.
"I don't care what you do," Dusty snapped.
Dusty strode to the small gym behind the main house, stripping off his jacket and shirt as he did so.
The Sector Chief remained in the doorway, watching as Dusty unleashed his fury against a punching bag.
Breathless, Dusty closed his eyes and leaned against the punching bag, unable to shake his first memories of Damian or his last memories of his sister, Trinka.
Dusty straightened, the pain of his memories subsiding.
Iggy hesitated, and Dusty's gaze sharpened.
Dusty exchanged a look with Speck.
"We'll bring 'em, but I'm leveling the place at dawn," Dusty warned.
"Hurry, Iggy," Dusty advised.
Dusty, we found out why he wants to keep her close.
Dusty looked around the gym, sensing it was beyond time for him to admit he couldn't prevent what was coming.
Dusty braced himself and turned to face the grandfatherly figure with a smile and emerald eyes standing in the corner.
Dusty felt cold inside.
Dusty stared hard at the wall.
Dusty echoed, anger burning through him.
You have everything you need to make things right, Dusty, as long as you're willing to do what you must.
You have no one else to help you, Dusty.
Dusty's jaw clenched until he felt the muscles tick.
"Let him go," Dusty said.
Dusty was going to kill all these people if he didn't figure out how to fix them.
And then Dusty would kill him.
Gotta call Dusty before he blows me up.
Dusty wouldn't be there to fish her out as he had Darian.
Tired, she wiped her eyes, an ache fluttering through her at the lingering scent of Dusty on her skin.
Dusty didn't remember dozing off but snapped awake.
Dusty turned around and kept walking.
Dusty, wait, I'm s…sorry.
"For now," Dusty replied.
Dusty spun again and continued walking, aware of the anxious young man at his heels.
"You don't leave my side," Dusty ordered Jonny.
"Yes, but-- " "Shut up," Dusty growled.
At the husky female voice, Dusty turned to see Jenn fluff Jonny's hair as she passed.
"I'm thinking Talon wants him real bad and will have to take me out to get to him," Dusty replied.
"It's a byproduct of his talent," Dusty said.
Dusty held out a hand.
Tell Dusty not to blow everything up, and leave the vamp alone, Damian said.
"Dusty, calm them down," Jule ordered.
"Dusty, we're going to have another problem soon," Jule said for Dustin's ears only.
By the time Dusty figures out what to do, Damian will be dead.
Dusty, order a withdrawal.
Dusty, Jule's got him!
He'd spent the morning vomiting blood and was able to remember Jule and Dusty by afternoon.
Dusty's gaze grew intent.
Dusty's conviction was on his face.
"Thank you, Dusty," he replied in a hushed tone.
Dusty shook his head.
"I am grateful to you, Dusty," Damian replied more seriously.
"I told him it was your fault," Dusty said.
"I'll keep her in line," Dusty assured him.
The day kiri grows tired of him, he's going to my behavior modification training, Dusty assured him.
Dusty demanded, turning to Jule.
Darian appeared confused as he took in Jule and Dusty, recognition blooming slowly.
"Take care of both of them, Dusty," he murmured.
"Agreed. And if I do, she'll learn to call Damian, Dusty, or Darian before leaving the house," Jule chimed in.
Mr. Westlake, dressed in his usual dusty and patched attire, pressed Cynthia for the reason behind her unusual reticence.
It was a planet, dusty red, as if it were nothing but dry desert.
Then why does he beat her like a dusty rug?
It smelled dusty and old.
"Thank you, Dusty," the youth said and ruffled the boy's hair.
From the corner of his eye, he saw one of the many animals his brother Dusty's mate had rescued.
"I need my own space, like Jule and Dusty," Darian continued, referring to their adopted brothers.
Dusty's in Atlanta surveying spots for a new headquarters, and I'm staying right here for now.
She'd never felt as comfortable around him as she did Dusty.
Her mate, the White God Damian, sat with his adopted brothers, the assassin Dusty and the Original Immortal Jule.
"When a woman looks like that, you really don't want to know," the blond Dusty said from beside him.
Jule and Dusty grew serious while Damian sat beside her.
"Scares the shit out of me," Dusty replied.
"She's got too much sense to …" Dusty trailed off.
Dusty, she's fighting it.
That's what she does, Dusty said.
So when she comes to see you, Dusty, tell her whatever you must.
I'm not leaving my Bianca alone, Dusty said.
"You're the … bait, Dusty," Sofi continued.
"Sofi, this is insane," Dusty said.
"We could be dead either way," Dusty pointed out.
"I can't believe there's nothing we can do," Dusty said and rose.
"No offense, but I'm spending it with Bianca," Dusty said.
When they'd met, she'd been the on-and-off girlfriend of Dusty, before the assassin met his mate.
Sofi had taught him to use his cell phone and Dusty had taught him the computer.
When Dusty found Bianca, she swore she'd seen a miracle, for the master assassin was the last person in either world she'd ever have thought would fall to something like love.
At least, she'd thought this until Dusty succumbed to it.
The day she'd met Bianca, she'd known Dusty would know unconditional love from the Healer.
She'd never be able to trust someone with everything or find her equal the way Damian and Dusty had found theirs.
Dusty stood in the corner of a small hotel room, peering out the windows.
"I hate living in shit," Dusty said.
She and Dusty had been platonic lovers, sharing a bed and their frustrations, until Bianca swept him away.
Though she missed her friend, Jenn couldn't be happier for Dusty.
"Trying not to touch anything," Dusty replied.
"He couldn't be normal when I was stuck with him," Dusty said and muttered a few curses.
As the brother charged with watching over Darian, Dusty had been responsible for keeping the Grey God from killing himself and others during his angry teenager stage.
It'll surprise me if I did, Dusty said.
You came here running from yourself and said it's about Darian, Dusty summarized.
I don't know, Dusty!
You're not saying … no, Dusty!
I just … they're gonna come after me, Dusty.
Dusty, it can't happen.
"When you're dehydrated, you gotta drink the water," Dusty teased.
I won't do it, Dusty.
But he's with me there, Dusty.
She'd had dreams of Damian, Jule and Dusty being picked off one-by-one by the Wathers.
Alarmed by emotions Dusty had warned her were permanent, she took a step away.
Sofi wore the White God's pendant, Bianca wore Dusty's mark, and Yully wore Jule's.
She recalled taking messages from Dusty to Sofi and how, at first, Darian hadn't even been able to register the sound of another human's voice.
Sofi said Jule, Dusty, and Damian would all be taken.
Damian, Jenn, Sofi, Bianca, Dusty … all of them were trapped somewhere.
Bianca, I know Dusty won't let you out of the house without a weapon.
Dusty will kill me if anything happens to you.
It wasn't an easy life, though if anyone could adjust and thrive, it was the women Damian, Dusty, and Jule chose.
Dusty said you trained him.
Dusty? he demanded and paced away.
I will shred Dusty for not taking better care of you!
"Tell Dusty, if this happens again …" Jonny warned.
Her phone vibrated and she pulled it out, heart soaring at the hope it was Dusty.
Still, she'd texted once, soon after Dusty disappeared, asking her Watcher where her mate was.
Dusty had been right; she was in far too deep to walk away this time.
Darian," Bianca said quickly as he turned away, "we can't find Damian, Dusty, or Jule."
How can you consider yourself acting in the greater good? he snapped, moving to Dusty's body next.
She gasped and rushed to Dusty's side, touching his face with her hands.
A few minutes later, Dusty sat up suddenly, sucking in air and gazing around him wildly.
By the dusty clothing and sweating messenger, he was newly arrived.
She showered and dressed in dusty blue slacks and a lacy tunic.
She maneuvered the car around washed out places and eased it over rocks that erupted from the surface of the dusty road.
There's nothing wrong with being universally hated, Dusty added, amusement in his voice.
Of all the White God's brothers, Dusty was the one most likely to understand Xander's position.
I gotta tell Dusty, though.
"Back off, Xander," Dusty, the man in the ring with her, ordered.
"Dusty, I need to talk to him," Sofi said, gazing up at the blond man beside her.
"Not the time for an I-told-you-so, kiri," Dusty muttered.
Dusty's sharp order made the Oracle jump.
Dusty grudgingly faced off against Sofi once more.
"One hit, I'm out," she said to Dusty.
Realization crossed Dusty's face.
"No shit?" the man named Dusty asked from the ring, leaning over the ropes.
"The kid isn't going to push anyone," said Dusty, Damian's operations director for the Western Hemisphere.
Dusty's wife was the sister of Jonny, making him the brother with the most personal connection to the Black God.
Dusty demanded when the door closed.
Dusty almost cracked a smile.
Damian was cautiously entertained while the corner of Dusty's lips curved up.
"Thank god I don't deal with that shit," Dusty said.
"Your wife has the ultimate trump card, Dusty," Jule pointed out.
"No worse than a mate who turns all the food in the house into dog treats when she gets pissed at you," Dusty shot back.
"Tell me where she lands," Dusty directed and whipped out his phone.
Dusty, is Bianca available to put us back together again?
Bianca, Dusty's mate, was a Healer of extraordinary power, who had turned her brother from a vamp into a human again at one point.
Dusty, can you trace the girl's GPS tag?
"Dusty, we got something," the Original Immortal said into his communications piece.
Jule spoke quickly to Dusty while Xander tried to figure out what Jonny was doing texting him.
Both the Guardians were listening to whatever Dusty told them.
In Sicily and southern Italy the Sirocco occurs at all seasons; it is a dry, dusty wind from south-east or south-west.
This layer he believes specially characteristic of arid dusty regions, while comparatively non-existent in moist climates or where foliage is luxuriant.
and noon during westerly winds, which at Madras are usually very dry and dusty.
When a mushroom is perfectly ripe and the gills are brown-black in colour, they throw down a thick dusty deposit of fine brown-black or purple-black spores; it is essential to note the colour.
Glessite, a nearly opaque brown resin, with numerous microscopic cavities and dusty enclosures, named from glesum, an old name for amber.
The island lacks water, and is dusty during drought, but is fertile, producing fruit, wine and olive oil; the indigenous flora comprises Boo species.
Those fungi which are of a dusty nature, and the Myxomycetes or Mycetozoa may, like the lichens, be preserved in small boxes and arranged in drawers.
In dry and dusty mines the danger may be greatly lessened by sprinkling the working places and passages, and the removal of the accumulated dust and fine coal.
Drill runners, who are compelled to breathe this dusty air daily, furnish most of the sufferers from phthisis.
In all British coal-mines, when gas in dangerous quantities has appeared within three months, and in all places that are dry and dusty, blasting is prohibited, except with Safety ex= c, „ permitted explosives, whose composition and pro perties have been examined at the testing station at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
In general, the aspect of the great central plateau north of the Anahuac sierras is that of a dusty, treeless plain.