Damien knew she was awake. The man had preternatural senses that never switched off. Ava had decided he was like a weird combination of the most over-protective dad and big brother in history. Which, being the only child of a mother who saw her more as a peer than a child, was a new and interesting experience.
She snuggled into the down filled jacket under her cheek and ignored him.
“Open your eyes. I know you’re awake. It’s going to rain in about fifteen minutes and I’d like to start up the trail before it pours.”
She lifted her head and turned to him, speaking in a scratchy voice. “I never would have let you talk me into this in Turkey if I hadn’t been such a mess.”
“But you did, and now we’re here. Get your jacket on.” She caught him looking at his reflection in the rearview mirror.
“Looks like someone’s nervous to see the wifey,” she muttered.
“Ah look. Acid-tongued Ava is back. I missed her so much while she slept.” Damien paused, giving her a droll look. “Wait, no I didn’t.”
“You’re the one who dragged me out here.”
“Would you like to go back to Oslo?” He pulled the keys out of the ignition and tossed them to her. “Go ahead. Hope you can outrun Volund’s Grigori. Maybe you can scream again if they get close. Or maybe not. You’d pass out and hurt yourself if you did that.”
“Or maybe you can follow me and stop acting like a child.”
“Stop trying to manage me,” she croaked, her voice dry from sleep.
“For now, you need to be managed.”
She licked her lips and Damien held up a bottle of water. Ava took it, drank, then handed it back, noticing the extra-grim expression on his face. Slightly mollified by the water, she softened her tone.
“Hey, Captain Sunshine, shouldn’t you be happier than this? You’re going to see your wife at the end of that trail.”
Damien only stared into the thick trees that surrounded them. “A piece of advice. Sari doesn’t like the word wife.”
“Why not?” Ava knew the Irin used the word ‘mate’ more than wife, but she’d heard the scribes in Turkey use both on occasion.
“She was born in a time when the human term ‘wife’ implied property.” Then a rare smile flickered at the corner of his mouth. “And Sari is no male’s property. Now get your shoes on and lace them up tight. I don’t know everything that will meet us on that trail, but I do know this: there will be mud.”