Ronan drove Kahlan to his father’s bistro Fáilte in the North End of the city. He led her to a private booth that had been aside for them and waited for her to be seating before sliding in on the other side.
“I’m really sorry about my brothers.” Kahlan said again. “They’re not usually so…that.”
He’d always found her subtle little brogue maddeningly cute. “Really it’s okay.” Ronan insisted. “If I had a little sister, and I cared that much about her I would have probably done the same thing.” Ronan smiled. “Except of course, I’m not very intimidating looking.” He looked across the table at Kahlan, those piercing fey colored eyes staring back at him, flickering off the light of the candle that was set on the table in between them.
The waiter arrived at the table with a bottle of dark red Provenance Merlot. Kahlan watched the liquid dance as it swirled off the edge of her glass. She licked her lips, far less nervous than she had been only a few minutes ago riding in the front seat of Ronan’s father’s cherry red mustang (which Ronan had begged his father to let him borrow for the occasion).
“You’re father was brave to open a bistro with a Gaelic name in an Italian neighborhood.” Kahlan commented lightly and took her first sip of wine. She had never before considered herself a fan of wine before so she was hesitant, but it only took her one sip to change her mind: The red was smooth with almost a chocolate-like taste to it which instantly turned Kahlan in to a fan.
Ronan nodded. He couldn’t help but continue to stare at her. The almost aquamarine glint to her eyes, the way her pitch black hair hung loosely down her back framing her pale neck and face…he counted himself in that moment as one of the luckiest men in Boston.
“My father’s a proud man.” Ronan said with a grin. “He wouldn’t let a simple matter like location stop him.”
“This place is so lovely.” Kahlan’s eyes surveyed the room from the booth. “I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at a place as nice as this.” She admitted as the waiter began placing plates of food in front of the couple. The aroma was near maddening. The waiter presented a plate of grilled filet mignon that took all her self control not to salivate over.
The head chef himself had been in charge of their meals, Ronan had made sure of it. He took a bite from one of his favorite dishes, a light lamb penne, and took a sip of the Provenance. “How is it?”
Kahlan beamed. “This is amazing!” She leaned in closer. “So tell me, how have you been keeping busy in class without our little side adventures?”
“It’s been painfully boring without you.” Ronan admitted. “There’s no one I can watch play Minecraft over their shoulder in Sociology.”
She laughed at that. “Poor Mr. Turner…he was just so…”
“Dull.” Ronan finished. His smile was so wide that it made his ears appear to wiggle. “I don’t think I would have gotten through many of those 8AMs fully awake without you.”
The two chatted for a long while in between bites of dinner and another glass of wine. Kahlan thought she was stuffed, but when dessert came she found that she had a whole new empty compartment in her stomach. Ronan’s father had prepared a white chocolate crème brûlée that was out of this world.
After a few minutes Ronan’s father came out from the kitchens and introduced himself. He shook Kahlan’s hand and grinned. “Well aren’t you the prettiest little thing I’ve ever seen. Now I can see why Ronan wouldn’t stop talking about tonight.” He winked.
“Da…” Ronan blushed.
Kahlan covered her mouth with the back of her hand and tried to contain her chuckle. Coming from a family as big as the McDara-O’Rourke clan, she was used to older relatives saying such things. “You’re sweet Mr. Pendra. And this food was amazing!” She complimented.
The grin on Mr. Pendra’s face widened when he caught wind of Kahlan’s subtle brogue. “Ah, aren’t you the little charmer? Ronan! You never told me she was a fully fledged Irish girl!” For a moment Ronan fear his father was about to pat Kahlan on the head, but instead Mr. Pendra continued, “Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it: Ronan was on me all day today to make sure everything was perfect.”
“Father…”Ronan’s voice cracked.
Ronan’s father clamped one of his large hands on his son’s shoulder. “Alright, I’ve embarrassed Ronan enough for one night.” He checked his watch. “You should head out now son, if you’re planning on avoiding traffic.” He looked back to Kahlan. “It was a pleasure to meet you at last Ms. McDara.”
“You as well.”
Ronan slipped out of the booth, offered Kahlan a hand and helped her to her feet. As he helped her into the car Ronan leaned in close and whispered, “Sorry about my father, he likes to talk.”
Kahlan nudged him playfully. “He was very sweet, and after your experience with my brothers you have no need to feel embarrassed in the least.”
She stretched out in the front seat and watched the city lights whiz by as Ronan drove them to their next destination whose location he was keeping extremely quiet about. Suddenly a sense of familiarity coursed through Kahlan’s chest like a river. Her fingers began to twitch, her eyes widen. “This is North Station.” She said.
“Aye.” Ronan pulled in to a parking spot and killed the ignition. “Tis.”
“But there’s no game tonight, is there?” Her mind flashed to that day’s date and came up empty. No Bruins, not even a Celtics game that she would have gladly endured so long as Ronan was next to her.
“Nope, but they have something else going on.” Ronan unbuckled his seatbelt. He reached in to the backseat and retrieved his zip-up Boston University sweatshirt. “Here, it may get cold in there.” He smirked. “Not that I have to tell you that.”
The air inside of the TD Garden still had the same familiar smell it always had when the ice was exposed. Clean, crisp coldness mixed with the slight chemical odor emitted by the Zambonis. The crowd wasn’t the typical overwhelming mass Kahlan was used to: the horde that rippled with energy, the love for the black and gold and the unbridled hatred for the rival team had been replaced by a slightly tamer crowd. The lights were dimmed, and the press boxes were vacant but by the smell wafting down the aisles the vendors seemed to still be operating.
“Okay, you win Ronan. What’s going on tonight?” Her eyes surveyed the rink.
“This month the Garden’s running a special event every Sunday night and showing a hockey flick.” The tips of his slightly protruding ears seemed to wiggle as he grin stretched even wider. “And I remembered you telling me that one of your particular favorites was ‘Slap Shot’.” His heart was lifted to see Kahlan’s eyes shimmer with excitement. “I promised you a movie after all, right?”
Kahlan could have kissed him. She almost did, but she had Aria’s face burning into her psyche, those sharp bright eyes lecturing her to keep her lips to herself…for now at least. But during the scene where the Hanson brothers start a wild full team brawl before the first period even began, Kahlan didn’t find herself protesting when Ronan’s hand nervously slipped in to hers. Feeling bold she nestled her head against his arm.
Warmth spread through her chest, a soft glow that could have kept Kahlan warm all through the winter. She could almost feel a soft pressure in her side, as if Tory was there excitedly nudging her. It seemed that whatever personal connect she still had with her cousin was stronger whenever Kahlan was near Terra, but there was something undeniably special about the Garden as well.
When the movie ended around eleven o’clock Ronan drove Kahlan home and walked her back to the front entrance of the Céilí. Tucking her hair back behind her ears Kahlan smiled shyly. “I had a great time Ronan.” She told him. “A really great time.”
“Me too.” Ronan swallowed nervously. “Maybe, we can do this again?”
“I’d like that.” Kahlan assured him.
Oh just shut up and kiss him! Tory’s voice was impatient.
Kahlan shyly stood up on her tiptoes and placed a quick, soft kiss on Ronan’s lips. He stared at her in surprise for a few seconds before gently grabbing her wrist and pulling her in for another. They stayed like that for a few seconds before Ronan slowly, reluctantly let Kahlan go. He was tall enough that he could nestle his face in her raven black hair. “Goodnight Kahlan.” He said softly. The tips of his ears gleefully flushed a light shade of pink.
“Call you tomorrow?”
“Absolutely.” They leaned in for another quick goodbye kiss. “Text me when you get home, so I know that you’re safe.”
When Ronan drove off Kahlan headed around the house to the Céilí’s kitchen entrance since by now the front door would be bolted for the night. She whistled to herself, a high merry tune that bounced off the surrounding brick buildings and echoed through the street. Kahlan knew undoubtedly that her sisters would still be up waiting for her. Heck, she wouldn’t have been shocked in the least if T.D. was still there, plus a few others that had caught wind of where she had been all night.
The tightness seized her chest again, but it was different than before: crippling. Kahlan had to press her hand against the nearest wall to keep upright. Then everything began to hurt: her knee throbbed just as painfully as it had moments after being shot, her hip as well and her old head wound that hadn’t ached in weeks suddenly felt like it was a fresh wound.
She shut her eyes tight, crumbling to the ground. Her entire body trembled as if it were desperately trying to shake off the pain. And then it was gone, replaced by something Kahlan couldn’t even begin to touch upon. It felt as if her senses had been kicked in to overdrive; Kahlan instantly became aware of her breathing, the hard steady beat of her own heart as her blood roared through her eardrums.
Kahlan rose to her feet. Her eyes darted upwards, a flash of blue-green in the darkness. Had she been even a second later Kahlan would of missed it, but fate as it was didn’t let that happen.
As swift and silent as a feline someone disappeared back down the street. Kahlan felt her lip curl backwards in to a snarl. One quick look as been enough for her to see exactly who had been trespassing mere feet away from her home; Carynn Blackwater.
Instinct told her to give in to the chase, but before her legs even had a chance to twitch the kitchen door swung open. Just like she had predicted, both Aria and Laila were waiting, each wrenching her by an arm apiece.
“Tell us EVERYTHING!”
Bide your time.
Kahlan fought the urge to nod. Tory's voice was solid, crystal clear with conviction. For now she wouldn't mention to her sisters what she had just seen: too little clarity over what exactly she had just witnessed prevented Kahlan to retell to even her sisters. But one thing was certain, so absolute Kahlan could feel it being carved in to her bones.
She was going to kill Carynn Blackwater.