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" _ Peu importe que je sois le premier. La seule chose qui compte, c'est que je sois le dernier." "_ Vous ne serez ni le premier, ni le dernier, ni quoi que ce soir entre les deux. Jamais de la vie." Il se mit à rire.

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" Cet homme était une infection, une maladie dont je n'arrivais déjà pas à me libérer. Je n'avais pas besoin d'une nouvelle poussée de la fièvre Rogan."

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Rogan turned to me.

- Come with me to my house. I have some information you'll want.

Enter my lair, said the dragon. I have shiny treasure for you to play with, I'll keep you warm and safe, and if it suits my purpose, I'll chain you to the floor and kill your client by throwing quarter at him with my magic. Been there, done that.

- I don't think so. But I'll be happy to discuss things with you in daylight in a very public place. Would you like my card ?

When I was in college, one of my professors liked creative descriptions, and whenever he had to indicate that some historical figure was in a moment of monumental rage, he'd say he had thunder on his brow and lightning in his eye. I never understood what that phrase meant until Rogan's face demonstrated it for me.

Cornelius took a careful step back. Troy backed up too. Yes, I did just tell Mad Rogan no, and look, the planet was still turning.

- You card ? Rogan said, his voice very calm and quiet.

- It's a little piece of paper that has my phone number, email address, and other contact information on it.

I waited to see if his head would explode. I should'n have taunted him, but I was really pissed off.

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De Trevinos lived in Southwyck, on a lake, next to a golf course. It would take us good fifty minutes to get there.

I glanced at Rogan. His jaw was set. He stared straight ahead, his eyes iced over. I’d seen fury in them before, but this new crystallized rage chilled me to the bone. Whatever was going on in his head was dark, so, so dark. It grabbed hold of him and pulled him under to a terrifying place where there was only glacial anger. When people got mad, they stormed, they ranted, they let it out in one way or another, but he was holding all of it in. His rage had no passion to it. I wanted to reach in there and drag him out into the light, so he’d thaw.


He turned and looked at me, as if waking up.

I had to say something. I said his name, something had to follow. “What happened to Gavin?”

“He made a deal.”

I took an exit onto Sam Houston Freeway. The road repair crews were working on the shoulder again and I had to drive next to the temporary concrete barriers. Never my favorite. The only thing worse was when there was an identical barrier on the other side at night when it was raining.

“What kind of deal?”

“A year in the juvenile boot camp facility, until he turned eighteen, followed by ten year commitment to the military in exchange for his testimony against Adam Pierce. If he manages to graduate from the boot camp program. If he fails, he will serve ten years in prison.”

“That’s a good deal.”

“Under the circumstances. He happened to have talent, so we used it as a bargaining chip.”

He was slipping away again. I wasn’t even sure why it was so important to keep him here with me, but it was.

“Have you been practicing with a gun since our last encounter?” I kept my voice light.

He just looked at me.

“No? Rogan, you said yourself, you’re a terrible shot.”

Okay, so this wasn’t the best way to bring him out, but that’s all I could think about.

“You’re riding shotgun. If bandits attack this pony express, how are you going to hold them off without a gun? Are you planning on rolling down the window, announcing yourself, and glaring at them until they faint from fear?”

He didn’t say anything. He just kept watching me.

I opened my mouth to needle him some more.

The concrete barrier on the right of us cracked as if struck by giant hammer. It stayed together, but huge fractures crisscrossed it. The cracks chased us, shooting through the concrete dividers with tiny puffs of rock dust. His magic ripped into cement with brutal efficiency. It brushed by me and I almost swung the door open and jumped out.

The cars behind us swerved, trying to shift lanes away from the fractured barriers.

“Stop,” I asked.

The cracks dropped back.

“Would you like me to drop you off?” I asked.

“Why would I want that?”

“So you can brood in solitude.”

“I don’t brood.”

“Plot horrible revenge, then. Because you’re freaking me out.”

“It’s my job to freak you out.”


“That’s the nature of our relationship.” A spark lit his eyes. “We both do what’s necessary, and after it’s over, I watch you freak out about it.”

“I don’t.”

“Oh, I don’t want you to stop. I find it highly amusing.”

That’s the last time I try to cheer you up. Go back into your dragon cave for all I care.

“Would you like me to break one more, so you can take a picture for your grandmother?” he offered.

“I changed my mind,” I told him. “I don’t want to talk to you.”

He chuckled.

I should just stop trying.

Grandma Frida would think it was really neat.

I took my phone off the console and held it to him. “Okay but only one or two more. Just enough for the vine.”

“Your grandmother has a vine account?” The barriers fractured.

“Yes. She’ll probably post it on her instagram, too. Okay, that’s enough, thank you, or the Volvo behind us might have a heart attack.”

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 — Je me moque de savoir comment vous viendrez, ajouta-t-il sur un ton décontracté, presque paresseux. Vous pouvez venir en tailleur, vous pouvez venir en jean.

Il jouait avec les mots pour me provoquer. J’avais bien compris ce qu’il sous-entendait par « venir ».

— Vous pouvez venir enveloppée dans une serviette, reprit-il. Ou venir nue. Sincèrement, c’est vous qui voyez. Tant que vous venez, tout me va.

On peut dire que t’es sûr de toi, hein ?

Bon, il était peut-être temps de lui rappeler que j’avais aussi du répondant. Je fis un minuscule pas en avant et relevai la tête comme pour l’embrasser.

— Et si je ne venais pas du tout ?

— Ce serait une tragédie, répondit-il dans un souffle. Je ferais tout ce qui est en mon pouvoir pour y remédier.

Ses yeux d’un bleu si intense me faisaient mille promesses. La promesse d’être un ouragan au lit, celle de me faire des choses que jamais je n’oublierais. J’y plongeai mon regard et tentai d’y projeter des promesses de mon cru.

— Tout ce qui est en votre pouvoir ?

Si je me penchais d’à peine deux centimètres, nos peaux se toucheraient. L’espace entre nous était si électrique[…] 

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Congratulations, Nevada.” Augustine allowed himself a narrow smile. “I do hope you appreciate the full gravity of this momentous occurrence. Mad Rogan actually physically moved his body to bring you a cup of coffee instead of simply floating it to your lap. The manipulation is so blatant it’s painful to watch. Sadly for him, I’m still a better employer.”

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« Rogan se radossa sur son siège.

— C’est affreux quand on lui rappelle qu’il est humain, me dit Augustin. Il ne sait pas comment le gérer. Dis-toi un truc, Connor : un jour, tu pourrais devenir père et avoir une fillette de ce genre rien qu’à toi.

Rogan le regarda comme si quelqu’un venait de lui vider un seau d’eau glacée sur la tête.

L’occasion était trop belle.

— J’en doute, dis-je. Il ne se mariera jamais. Il restera dans sa maison pour ruminer ses pensées solitaires, pleines de cynisme et d’amertume.

— Tout ça au milieu de piles de billets de banque et de jouets high-tech, ajouta Augustin. Comme une sorte de superhéros mélancolique.

Qui l’eût cru ? Augustin avait le sens de l’humour. 

— Peut-être devrions-nous investir dans un projecteur géant avec un R comme Rogan dessus…

Rogan piocha dans son portefeuille pour en sortir deux billets d’un dollar. Il fit glisser le premier vers moi et l’autre vers Augustin.

— Tenez. Ça me fend le cœur de voir des comiques sans le sou, dit-il.  »

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Il tendit la main vers moi.

Je me crispai.

Ses doigts s'approchèrent si près des miens que je crus un moment que nous nous touchions. Il prit la moitié restante de mon cookie et le contempla.

- C'est à moi, lui dis-je.

- Mmm.

- Il y a un pot entier de biscuits.

Quelque chose s'alluma dans son regard.

- C'est celui-ci que je veux.

- Vous ne pouvez pas l'avoir. Rendez-le moi, rétorquai-je, la main tendue.

Il examina le cookie puis le porta lentement à sa bouche.

- Connor, je vous préviens...

Il mordit le biscuit et se mit à mâcher.

- Je vous ai pris votre cookie et je l'ai mangé. Vous comptez faire quelque chose en retour ?

Je jouais avec le feu. Très bien. S'il mangeait mon cookies, je boirais sa boisson. Je fis mine de prendre son café. La tasse glissa hors de portée pour se positionner à côté de lui.

- Ce n'est pas fair-play.

- Il n'est pas question de fair-play mais de délicieux cookies.

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" On passe son temps à penser à l'objet de notre affection. Notre bonheur ou notre malheur dépend de l'humeur de quelqu'un d'autre. Nous renonçons à tout contrôle sur nous-même pour le remettre entre les mains de la personne que nous aimons, en lui faisant confiance pour le manier avec précaution."

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I pulled out my phone and texted Rogan.

Thank you so much for providing us with an aegis. So kind of you.

My pleasure. Is there anything else I can do for you?

As a matter of fact there is. Make a fist and hit yourself with it.

Is this the part where I tell you some ridiculously condescending line about how attractive you are when you’re angry?

Do you actually have a death wish?

Are you going to do something about it?

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