Part 12: All Hallows Eve
“Swing harder, Piper; yer tryin’ta inflict damage, not tickle yer opponent.”
“Can it, gramps! I’m - ugh - trying!”
“Try harder, princess. C’mon, show m’whatcha got.”
Piper grit her teeth against another curse, resuming her swings at the annoyingly arrogant stick-man, frustration rising as he blocked every attack.
It was October 17th, a week after the Thanksgiving dinner, and as they had agreed, Brennan was training Piper how to fight with a staff.
Well, attempting to train her, anyways.
Piper was so used to using her fists as her weapons that putting a staff in her hands made her awkward, trying to translate her usual smooth movements into wielding the staff.
So far, she was doing terribly, at least in comparison to Brennan. And okay, sure, he’d been using a staff for years and looked incredibly hot swinging the practice staff around so easily, smug smile on his scarred lips, but the fact that she couldn’t land a single hit was pissing her off.
She’d thought she was a good fighter, prepared to protect herself; apparently, not quite as well as she’d believed.
“Yer holdin’back, Piper,” Brennan chided, blocking another of her swings and tapping her on the side in retribution, ”Stop.”
“I am not.” she grumbled even though, yeah, okay, she was. She didn’t want to hurt him, even if they were just sparring.
“Ye are to.” Brennan snorted, “Ye won’t learn that way. Pretend ah’m someone ye want to hit, imagine them. It’ll help.”
Piper forced herself into a waiting stance and took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment. Much as she hated to do it, she pictured Aaron in Brennan’s place; that charming, greasy smile, fake blonde hair, arrogant, open stance-
“Alright, enough stalling, princess.” the drawling tone made her stiffen, eyes snapping open and flaring amber.
She knew it was still Brennan standing there, twirling the staff, but all she could see was Aaron. Smirking, making fun of her, looking down on her like he always had, how dare he-!
"Bastard!" Piper was moving without a second thought, fury racing through her even as her mind screamed that it wasn’t really him, it was Brennan, but it looked like Aaron, it had to be him-!
"That’s better!” Brennan-Aaron approved, forced to block her furious attacks and trying to sidestep only to grunt and fall back when she caught his side with a hard swipe.
Piper was beyond words, growling as she advanced, hair a furious flame around her as she swung and ducked, aiming for every inch of open space, not caring where she hit.
Brennan-Aaron cursed when she hit him in the chest, his pause giving her the chance to swipe his legs out from under him and sending him toppling backwards with a shout.
Piper followed right after, the end of her staff aimed in a jab at his throat that would have done some serious damage if he hadn’t snapped up a hand to grab it, stopping it just above his skin.
"Down, Piper.” he mumbled gently, familiar accent washing over her, “Tha’senough.”
Scowling, Piper blinked rapidly, the image of Aaron seeming to shimmer and vanish, leaving Brennan staring up at her in somewhat startled-amusement.
Piper’s eyes went wide with shock, hands trembling as she immediately dropped the staff, hair snuffing to deep red as what had happened dawned on her.
“Oh my Gods.” she was shaking, stomach roiling sickly, “I almost - I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, oh God, I almost-!”
“Hush, princess, it’s fine, ye didnae hurt me.”
“But I almost stabbed you in the-!” Piper wobbled, feeling like she was going to vomit, “Why did I, how... oh my God, I just-!”
“C’mere.” Brennan reached up and yanked on her wrist then, ignoring her startled shriek as he pulled her to lay on top of him with her head beneath his chin, shushing her gently, “Yer fine, ah’m fine. Relax, Piper.”
“Did... did you do that...?”
“You... you looked like Aaron. Sounded like him.” she was still shaking, clinging to him, glad for the familiar warmth, “I-I couldn’t - I knew it was you, but I couldn’t separate-”
“Ah didnae do a thing, Piper.” Brennan’s voice was gentle, ”Ye did that. Ye projected an image ont’a me. Ah didnae know ye could do’tha.”
“You think I did?” Piper whispered, calmed slightly by his words and his hands on her back, “I will never try to project an image again.”
“Good. But, now we know yer more then’capable of takin’ that bastard out on yer own.” Brennan was mumbling into her hair, and she would have sworn he pressed a kiss to her head, “No more trainin’ t’day.”
“Uh... am I interrupting something?”
Piper popped an eye open and gave her sister a lazy smirk, pushing herself up with a sigh, “Always with the people popping in unexpectedly...”
Brennan grinned up at her, shrugging as best he could while on the ground, “Hey, not really unexpected. Y’knew she was’ere.”
“Uh, seriously, guys,” Grace looked uncomfortable, standing near the back door, “I can go back inside-”
“No, Grace, you’re not interrupting anything,” Piper climbed off of Brennan and got to her feet, holding a hand out to help him up, “I almost killed Brennan is all, nothing big.”
“She did not almost kill me, Grace.” Brennan chuckled, accepting the hand and standing to his full height, “Just a bit’o a rough sparring, nothing drastic.”
“Says you.” Piper grumbled.
“Seriously, what happened? Piper?”
“Grace, please, just don’t ask, okay?” Piper brushed herself off and approached her sister, eyebrows up, “So, what’s up? You were working so diligently, something must be up.”
“Well, I did want to see if we could run into Peterborough for some more fabric, if you guys were free,” Grace played with a tassel on her scarf, the fidgeting setting off Piper’s alarm bells immediately, “But, uh, also wanted to tell you, Dad just called...”
Piper’s heart clenched, even as Brennan stepped up behind her. “Yer father doesnae know yer w’Piper, aye?”
“Aye - er, yeah, no, Dad doesn’t know I know where she is. He said he was just checking in, seeing how school was doing, yadda yadda. But, I donno...” Grace bit her lip, eyes flicking back and forth between them, “I just... got a weird feeling, Piper. Like... like something’s off, something’s wrong...”
As much as her first instinct was to hide inside the house and never come out, Piper tried to smile, putting a calming hand on her sisters shoulder, “Hey, we knew something was going to happen, sometime. This just confirms our suspicions.”
“I know, but...” Grace sighed, “I’d hoped things would stay quiet for a while longer...”
“They might. The danger might not come for a while yet, who knows? Don’t dwell on it, right now.” Piper shot a look at Brennan over her shoulder, “You up for a run into Peterborough with us? I’d rather not chance...”
“Aye. Lemme git my bike, and we can head inta town.”
Piper had a bad feeling.
It had settled itself in her stomach at Grace’s news about their father checking in, only getting worse as the day went on.
They had parked her Trax and Brennan’s motorcycle and spent a few hours wandering downtown Peterborough, making sure to grab the fabric Grace needed for their costumes.
Nothing bad had happened, but Piper felt like they were being watched and was constantly darting glances around corners and into alleyways, paranoid. She caught herself rubbing a thumb over her protective pendent several times, the little tingle of energy from it calming her just slightly.
It was around 5 o’clock when they all agreed they were starving and should find somewhere to eat dinner, heading back to where they’d parked to deposit the fabric.
Piper froze half a block from the vehicles, eyes wide and pinned on three figures idling far too close to the Trax for her liking, milling about it but not touching it.
Grace stepped up beside her and went stiff as well, confirming her suspicions.
Brennan stopped behind her, bending to mumble in her ear, “Piper? Is that-?”
The tallest of the figures stopped and looked in their direction then, lips pulling in that arrogant smile and shoulders straightening as though attempting to look imposing.
Hot, bright fury roared through her, replacing the fear she’d always harbored about meeting him again, energy pouring through her in a scalding wave.
Piper was charging forwards instantly, stalking like a predator, hair blazing red and eyes flashing amber, teeth set in a snarl.
Aaron didn’t so much as flinch, though he looked somewhat startled by her appearance. His goons - she recognized them vaguely from when they’d been together - hunched back, clearly aware of what she was and worried.
"Aaron.” she growled when she was about five feet away, making sure to keep distance between them, “What the fuck are you doing here, asshole?”
“Now now, darling, no need for the vulgarities. They’re wasted on such a pretty mouth.” Aaron’s words were as greasy and demeaning as ever, and Piper wondered how she had ever found him charming (oh wait, magic, right), “I came to win you back, of course.”
“How did you even find me?”
“Well, your darling father mentioned that Grace probably knew where you were, so I tracked her to Trent.” Aaron winked in what she supposed was meant to be a charming way, “I recognized that awful dream catcher in your front window, darling - it really is horrible, I don’t know why you brought it out again.”
“Maybe because it’s a protective amulet against bastards like you?” Piper’s eyes flicked to the car then, noting the distance he was keeping from it with realization, “You can’t even touch my car, can you?”
“I don’t know what you mean, darling-”
“Oh, can it, you fucking sorcerer, you know exactly what I mean.”
Aaron’s mouth snapped shut, looking surprised. Then he licked his lips, as though looking for the words, “You know-”
“Yeah, I know. I know you’re a sorcerer whose been controlling me with magic for years. I know what I am, to, and how to control it.” Piper clenched her fists, letting the energy rise in the swirls of gold on her skin, barring her teeth at him, “And guess what, jack ass? You can’t control me anymore. I’m immune. So get the fuck out of my life and leave my family alone!”
Piper felt a rush of exhilaration at the look of shell-shock on Aaron’s face, heightened when Brennan stepped up behind her and growled, “Ye best listen t’the lass, sorcerer. Yet not welcome’ere.”
The man’s goons backed up, clearly frightened by the imposing aura Brennan gave off.
Aaron’s eyes only went cold, sliding to the tall man behind her as though sizing him up, lips curling in a grossly sympathetic smile, “Oh, Piper, you think you’re free? You’ve merely been blinded by yet another Fae.”
“Briar is nothing like you.” Piper spat back, careful to use his nickname in case the old stories about names holding power were true, “And he would never use me. Now leave me alone.”
Piper lifted her chin and determinedly strode forwards towards the Trax, using the distance Aaron had kept between himself and the vehicle to maneuver to the door, almost hoping he would do something stupid.
Her wish was granted when Aaron turned and reached for her, drawling “Now come on, darling-”
Piper didn’t even think. She clenched her fist and swung, whirling with it to put every ounce of strength she had into it.
Her fist smashed straight into his nose, the obvious crunch of cartilage and his pained shout sending adrenaline through her.
Aaron was out cold when he crumpled to the ground, blood streaming from his nose as his goons rushed to scoop him up and get him out of there.
Piper stared after them for a moment, feeling exhilarated and terrified and powerful and cold all at once, fist stinging where she’d hit him.
“Piper.” Brennan shook her shoulder gently, getting her attention, “Y’alright?”
“Yeah... no... maybe?”
“Can ye drive?”
“Yeah... yeah, I’m okay, I can drive.”
“D’ya want m’to take Grace back t’school?”
Piper paused, glancing in the direction the men had gone and then at the Trax, nodding reluctantly, “Please, Brennan.”
“Alright. Ah’ll meetcha back at yer house after.”
Grace handed her the bag of fabric and hugged her tightly, “Get home safe, okay? I’ll be back to work on these next weekend.”
Piper watched Brennan hand her sister his extra helmet and help her climb on the back of the bike, realizing with a strange, longing pain that she had never ridden on his bike.
Another day, she told herself, waving as they took off and disappeared down the street, continuing to stare for several moments after they were gone.
Then she forced herself to breathe and climbed into the Trax, starting it up and heading for home.
Piper was proud of herself for keeping it together the whole way back to Maynooth, calm as she pulled into her drive way and parked the Trax, even remembering to lock it.
It was only once she was inside that the shaking started, the terror that had been hidden beneath the fury rising up like a wave.
Piper made it to the mudroom before collapsing on one of the couches, frantically looking for Imp or Snow and shaking worse when she realized she was alone, all alone, she hated being alone...
He found me. He found me, found Grace, he still hasn’t given up. He has Dad, he’s up to something. Gods, why why why WHY can’t he just leave me alone?!
Piper heard Brennan calling her from the front of the house but couldn’t bring herself to respond, curling in on herself as far as she could.
She heard footsteps and then his shadow was over her, cursing under his breath when he found her.
“Piper, shh, it’s okay-” his hands were under her arms then and he was moving her and then she was in his lap, face pressed to his chest as the tears started to fall, an arm around her waist and a hand running up and down her back, “Yer alright, yer gonna be alright, don’t give’im any power over yah, yer fine, Piper, yer amazin’-”
That lifted her mood a little, making her snort through the tears, “I am not-"
“Ye bloody well are, ye broke’is nose."
“Felt good, too.” she mumbled, hiccupping a little and burrowing closer to his chest, loving the warmth and safety, “M’glad you were there.”
“Aye, me to. ’Least now we know yer immune t’im.”
“We need to do something to get him to leave me alone.” Piper sniffled, “I can’t deal with him popping up the rest of my life.”
“We will, princess, we will. Fer now, ya need t’sleep.”
“Can you stay?” Piper whispered into his chest, already on the verge of passing out.
Brennan’s arms tightened around her, “Anythin’ye want, Piper.”
October 31st rolled around quicker than anyone expected, ushered in by cool breezes and golden leaves.
With Halloween being a Saturday for once, all schools were closed, meaning there would be even more people at the celebration then might have happened during the week.
Piper and Grace packed up at about 11 AM - since Grace had spent the night to make sure the little details on the costumes were finished - and headed into Maynooth, having planned to spend the day at the festival before attending Brennan’s Party.
They parked at the Primrose and grabbed their baggage, heading inside to meet Serah and Martha at the greeters podium.
“Rooms all ready for you, ladies,” Martha smiled, handing them the card key she had prepared, “The day stuff is mostly for kids, but feel free to take a wander through the festival. A lot of people’ll already be dressed up.”
“You won’t see Brennan till tonight, unfortunately,” Serah sighed, resting her chin in her hand, “He has to make sure the Wards on The Briars are extra tight so that nothing can slip through while he’s not there... he won’t be here until the party tonight.”
“Oh...” Piper wilted a little, biting her lip and eyeing Serah, “Did he tell you...?”
“That the sleaze ball sorcerer who had you under his control for so long has appeared nearby?” the woman’s voice took on a sharp edge, eyes wicked, “Don’t you worry, sweetheart, we won’t let him anywhere near you. If he does dare to show up here, tonight, he won’t be able to do a thing.”
"Thank you, Serah.” Piper managed a small, genuine smile for the older woman, turning to head up the stairs with Grace and locate their room.
They dropped off their belongings and then did as Serah and Martha had suggested, walking over to the park that hosted both the festival and the Event Hall.
There were stalls of food and drink and games, many adults dressed up as well as children.
The kids frolicked from one stand to another, gathering candy as they went, dressed in an enormous array of costumes from fantasy to Disney to video games and movies. The adults that were dressed up all wore costumes more akin to those of a renaissance festival, which didn’t surprise Piper at all.
“Piper, Grace!” Kristy came bounding over from one of the food stalls, dressed in a patch-work Fae gown she had probably made herself, “You made it! But you’re not dressed up...?”
“Naw, we’re saving that for the party later.” Piper grinned, rolling her eyes at the other woman’s pout, “Don’t worry, Grace has been working her ass off on our costumes, so we’ll be decked out later.”
“Hell yeah!” Grace grinned, hooking arms with her sister, “You need any help?”
“Nope, we’re good! You girls take a wander, enjoy your time! Tonight’s the real fun, though.”
With a wink Kristy was off, hustling back to her stall where Flint was shaking his head and waving at them.
Piper tugged Grace away with a laugh, browsing through the stalls and games.
They headed back to the Primrose at about 4:00PM, since it would take them a while to get into their costumes and the party was due to start around 7 o’clock.
“You’re going to go crazy on the makeup again, aren’t you?” Piper questioned worriedly, groaning at the look in Grace’s eyes, “Oh Gods...”
“Hush you. It’s Halloween and Brennan’s birthday, you have to look hot.”
“I hate you.” Piper grumbled, though she sat still as her sister went to work, eyes obediently closed and lips pursed when required.
And, hell, she had to admit Grace did a great job, much as she hated wearing makeup.
Piper messed with her hair while Grace worked on her own makeup, fuzzing it out so the curls were bigger and wilder than ever, giving her the sort of Fae look they were going for.
Then she got dressed, pulling on the outfit Grace had made and admiring, yet again, how perfectly her sister always got her measurements.
It was a Fae costume, through and through; a brown vest and ruffled skirt with a tank underneath and a sectioned belt to complete it, all detailed with blue and gold. She’d even made her matching gloves, for frigs sake, and the vest had a hood in case she needed to somewhat control her hair. She had strappy sandals and small, shimmery fairy wings to complete it.
And although she had to admit her pendent didn’t really fit the colour scheme, she refused to take it off, needing the safety it gave her.
Grace was also dressed as a Fae, though her outfit was purple and pink with wispy arm bands and an almost tutu-like skirt, high heeled boots and her hair done up in two high side buns with wisps of hair trailing down.
Her back was also almost completely bare asides from straps, and Piper gave her a disapproving click of her tongue, “You’re going to freeze.”
“Naw, I’ve got Flint to keep me warm.” Grace simpered innocently, clearly expecting an argument.
Piper just shook her head, “You know what? I give up. He’s a good guy. Just don’t do anything stupid.”
“Oh, my God.” Grace stared at her for a moment before squealing and practically tackling her, a ball of happy energy, “You are awesome! And clearly something happened between you and Brennan because holy crap-!”
"Nothing happened.” Piper groaned, carefully pushing her sister off and mumbling, to herself, ”Yet.”
Grace only squealed some more, hurrying to put her own wings on when Piper reminded her that, hey, they were already late, let’s go.
“How the hell did it take us three hours to do makeup?”
“You’re twitchy, Piper, I had to pause a lot. Plus we look fabulous, so who cares?!” Grace grabbed her sister by the arm and pulled her out of the room, Piper barely able to grab the room key before they were hustling down the stairs and out the front door, knowing Martha had set the door to lock behind whoever was last leaving that night.
The way to the Event Hall was lit by Fairy Lanterns, a few people milling about in the park and near the entrance to the hall.
The two women snuck easily into the hall, waving to Serah and Martha and making their way through the throng of people already dancing, music pounding wildly through the building.
They paused near the drink table to scout for familiar faces, Grace glancing down at the drink array curiously.
“Piper, isn’t this that stuff you told me to stay away from?”
Piper’s gaze snapped to the drink Grace was indicating and, yup, it was that damn purple Fae wine, several bottles of it in fact, geezus Serah.
“Yes, it is, and trust me, don’t try it.”
Grace pouted a little, lighting up immediately when she spotted someone in the crowd and grabbing Piper’s hand to drag her through the mass of people, ending up fairly near to one of the back walls that was slightly less crowded then the rest of the hall.
“You made it!” Kristy squealed, grinning widely from her position in Carter’s arms, a glass of that vile purple liquid in one hand, “About time!”
“Does she drink that every time?” Piper groused jokingly, grinning when Carter gave a long suffering sigh and nodded, though he seemed completely fine with his girlfriend clinging to him.
“She never pukes or anything, so it’s okay. Just gotta keep an eye on her hands - Kristy!” flaring red, the male removed his giggling girlfriends hand from his butt, shaking his head, “Minx.”
“And this,” Piper drawled, gaze going to Grace - who was, yes, holding hands with Flint now, of course - “Is why I don’t want you drinking that stuff.”
“What is it?”
“Fae wine.” Flint answered after a questioning look to Piper, “Makes people a lot more, ah... open and uninhibited. Worse than normal liquor.”
“It got me to sing karaoke.” Piper mused with a sigh.
"Please tell me someone got that on video.”
“Not sure, I’ll ask around.” Flint laughed, winking at Piper’s death-glare, “So, birthday boy isn’t here yet, so it’s mostly just a free-for-all. Wanna dance?”
The DJ seemed intent on playing only fast music, so the little group bopped around in their corner, laughing and dancing and carrying on.
Piper couldn’t help the glances she kept throwing at the doors, hoping Brennan would show up soon. It was his birthday, after all...
On one such glance she tensed when the last person she wanted to see stepped through the doors, not even bothering to wear a costume. He looked the same as ever, except for his now crooked, slightly swollen nose.
I did break his nose, good!
Flint saw her gaze and tension and extracted himself from Grace, giving her a quiet ‘Be right back’ before shifting through the crowd towards the front of the room.
Tanner and Eric were with him suddenly as they reached the front and crowded around Aaron, blocking him from the party.
They exchanged words, Aaron clearly trying to schmooze his way in, but the three men crossed their arms and just repeated their words, making him freeze and clearly panic.
His magic isn’t working on them, Piper realized, giddy. Were all of Brennan’s relatives and their consorts immune? That would be amazing.
Tanner said something then, and Aaron looked furious, saying something else and then all but storming out the doors, slamming them behind himself. The three gave each other a nod and then Flint was coming back through the crowd to them, sliding an arm around Grace’s shoulders.
“What was that?” Piper asked, deathly curious.
“Brennan asked us to be on alert for that jack ass; sent him packing for you.” Flint grinned wickedly, “You’re part of the family now Piper, like it or not; we’re here for you.”
“I was worried, I’ll admit,” Piper ignored the part of the family comment for the moment, “But you guys are immune to him, aren’t you?”
Flint shrugged one shoulder with a lop sided grin, “You’ll have to ask Brennan about that, Piper.”
Piper went to ask another question when a sudden roar went up through the crowd, the sound of the door opening and closing barely hitting her.
“THE BIRTHDAY BOY IS HERE!” someone screamed, probably intoxicated.
Pipers head snapped towards the front and oh, Gods, just the sight of him made her feel drunk and weak-kneed.
Brennan was decked out in full regalia that fit far too well to his Briar King persona to be a coincidence. He had what looked like armored black plates and scales cresting his shoulders and running down his arms, ending in claw-tipped gloves. He wore black leather pants with a spiked belt and swaths of material encircling him, matching scaled boots and what looked like a very real sword hung at his hip.
His chest was bare, displaying lean muscle and the tattoos that crawled across his collar bones, and wore a small but intricate looking Fae crown of feathers and Briars.
Then he looked up and spotted her and Gods, if she’d thought his eyes had been blue before now they were never-ending, sky-blue and brilliant in his suddenly grinning face, turning her insides to mush.
He moved down into the crowd then, accepting well wishes and comments as he went, clearly heading straight for their group at the back of the hall.
And as Brennan got closer, that tender look still in his eyes, Piper wondered why she had ever been afraid of this man.
No one had ever looked at her like that.
“Happy birthday, cuz,” Kristy managed, shooting a pointed look at Flint and Grace, “We’ll see you later, yeah?”
Neither couple waited for a response before disappearing into the crowd, leaving Piper to lose herself in those beautiful blue eyes.
“Hi.” she managed finally, trying to smile, “You’re late, Gramps.”
“Didnae wan’any trouble.” Brennan chuckled, reaching out to tuck her hair behind her ear and stealing her breath, “Y’look beautiful, Piper.”
“Not too shabby yourself, Briar King.” Piper murmured, licking suddenly dry lips and not missing how he zeroed in on her mouth at the action.
The music shifted suddenly, switching to something slow, and Brennan’s smile was positively wicked as he held his hand out, “May ah have this dance, princess?”
Piper dipped into a little curtsy, trying to use sarcasm to hide her blush and ridiculous grin as she accepted the hand, tingles rushing through her at the touch, “Of course, your majesty.”
Smile still a touch wicked, Brennan pulled her closer and settled his other hand on her waist while Piper’s went as close to his shoulder as she could manage, fingers just brushing the top. Brennan chuckled quietly, adjusting his hold on her hand to be more comfortable and gently leading her into the dance, movements slow and precise.
“Aaron was here.” Piper blurted after a few seconds, not wanting to talk about him but needing to say something.
Brennan only inclined his head, “Aye, Eve told me. Said th’boys dida good job chasin’im off.”
“Is your family immune to him, to?”
“Nay, unfortunately. Ah just put wards on’the hall, so only I can use magic in’ere.” he looked sheepish then, averting his eyes, “And, uh, ah may have messed with it a bit t’make sure ye could use yers if need be, as well.”
Piper’s eyes went wide, heart thumping ridiculously in her chest. “Why would you...?”
Brennan’s eyes returned to hers, incredibly tender and open and sincere, “Ah swore ah would protect ye, Piper. Ah meant that. Yer... well.” he cleared his throat, still moving them to the beat as he seemed to search for the words, “Yer... very important t’me, Piper. Ah hope ye’ve realized that, at least.”
More then you know. Piper couldn’t say the words though, couldn’t say anything despite how much she wanted to, how sick she was of hiding things and pretending.
They stilled as the song came to an end and the DJ once more returned to his loud, pumping techno, the rest of the crowd moving to bounce to it.
Brennan merely stared her in the eye and lifted the hand he held to his lips, pressing them gently against the gloved back and making shivers race up her arm as her breath caught.
“My lady.” he mumbled there, pressing a second kiss to the material before releasing the hand but not her eyes, gaze scorching.
Oh, fuck this. Piper was so done running away, so sick of pretending she didn’t feel these things and that she was afraid of them.
Instead of backing away - as he probably expected her to do - she fisted the armor at either side of his neck and yanked him down, going up on her toes at the same time to press her mouth against his.
Brennan froze only momentarily before his arms were around her waist, kissing her back just as desperately as he pulled her against him, lips hungry against hers.
Piper mentally cursed their height differences as she tried to press closer, sincerely annoyed until Brennan’s hands moved suddenly and hooked under her legs, hefting her up and to his level, arms wrapping tightly around his neck to keep herself steady as he moved so she was pressed between the wall and his strong torso.
Piper had to wrap her legs around his hips to keep herself balanced, knowing they likely looked scandalous as hell and not caring one tiny little bit, to lost to the wonderful press of his body against hers and lips hungry and hot where they ravished her mouth.
They had to breathe, unfortunately, Piper catching his lip with her teeth and biting gently when he pulled back, grinning at his hiss of pain and soothing the spot with her tongue, not the least bit ashamed of her actions.
Brennan’s eyes had darkened to a navy blue, pupils blown wide as he stared at her, forehead pressing against hers as he fought for breath.
Piper was no better off, though she smiled and licked her lips, managing a few words in her fuzzy state.
“Happy birthday, Brennan.”