Welcome, and join us as we count down the final 10 days before Beyond Ruin by revisiting some of our favorite Mad, Dylan, Scarlet & Jade moments from the past six books! We’ll be posting an image each day on social media, but here on the blog we’ll be doing a longer excerpt and maybe even a few notes about the scene. And today is…
Jade asks Lex to help her escape Sector Two.
Okay, I cheated a little bit with this graphic to condense the dialogue, and now I’m going to get caught out by posting the full excerpt. But I had to get the most important part–that Lex isn’t the only legend who looms large in Sector Two.
We meet Jade at the lowest moment of her life in Beyond Control, but for years she was the undisputed star of Sector Two, second only to Cerys herself when it came to influence and (as we saw in Beyond Solitude when she lends Mia the money necessary to pay her debts) second to no one when it came to wealth. She worked within the system as best she could, but learned a hard lesson about the dangers of pushing back too much against corruption when you stand on your own. Luckily, she’s an O’Kane now, and she’ll never be alone again.
I’m including the whole excerpt here, even the part with Mad, because we get so many questions about what happened between Mad and Jade in this scene and why she refused to sleep with him. (And she did. He would have gotten around to nobly turning her down, of course…but Jade didn’t give him the chance.) Mad has always wondered why, too… and in Beyond Ruin, he finally gets his answer.
* * *
They turned a corner, and Mad jerked to a stop as a brunette stepped out of an alcove in front of them. She was pretty, in a soft sort of way, with a flowing robe that hugged her curves but hung modestly to the floor.
Mad recognized her. He didn’t release his grip on Lex, but he nodded. “Jade.”
“Maddox.” She turned to Lex and bowed as low as most initiates bowed to the head of their house. “You must be Lex.”
“Yeah.” Lex tipped the girl’s face up with two fingers under her chin. “But I’m not in the mood right now. Sorry, honey.”
She didn’t flinch, but her suddenly slumped shoulders screamed disappointment, along with something worse. Resignation. Jade straightened her back but lowered her gaze. “I only want a few moments. Could I walk with you?”
Damn it. “Five minutes, okay?”
“Thank you.” Even her smile, wide as it was, couldn’t chase the shadows from her eyes. Mad released Lex and fell back half a dozen paces, and Jade took his place. After a few steps, she glanced at Lex again. “You look so much like her. Avery, I mean. She was my dearest friend while I was in training.”
This woman looked years older than Avery. “And you chose to come here instead of taking on a patron?”
“Chose is always an interesting word in this place, isn’t it?” Jade stared ahead, but her voice turned wry. “I chose to excel at my training. I chose to devote every waking moment to becoming extraordinary, thinking it would bring me more latitude. I miscalculated.”
“Let me guess—instead, it turned you into me.” Lex smiled a little. “Overachiever and pariah, all rolled into one.”
Jade laughed softly. “Your greatest sin isn’t that you’re a pariah. It’s that you’re a legend. Legends are dangerous. They have power over people’s imaginations.”
“Then the smart thing would be to stay away from me, right?”
“It’s too late for me.” She lifted one shoulder in a helpless shrug. “I’m a legend, too.”
“Kindred spirits, then.” Lex stopped and leaned against the wall. “Are we chatting, or are you getting around to asking me something?”
Jade folded her hands together with another nervous glance at Mad. He’d stopped, far enough back to be out of easy listening range, but he made no attempt at hiding the fact that he was watching them both.
Wetting her lips nervously, she turned back to Lex. “I know that he helps women escape sometimes. The ones who are pregnant and want to stay that way, or who’ve been hurt.”
The ones no one bothered to go after because they weren’t important or notorious enough to be legends. “If you’re talking to me, it must mean you think Mad can’t help you.”
“When I was seventeen, Cerys needed influence within Eden to keep Sector Two whole. And one of Eden’s councilmen needed…” Jade laughed, a sharp, bitter sound. “He needed his ego stroked by a virginal whore. The Rose House specialty, and I have stroked his sad little ego very thoroughly.” She looked away. “Every other weekend, for the past seven years.”
And she wanted out. “That’s a slightly stickier situation than normal. But you know that.”
“I do,” she agreed, still staring at some invisible spot on the wall beside Lex’s head. “Especially since he had me leashed.”
Drugs, the kind meant to keep her compliant. Obedient and helpless. That sort of thing would make a piss-poor leash if getting clean was easy—or even likely. “Your chances are slim, then. You want to try anyway?”
Jade met her gaze, and there was steel in those brown eyes. “I can give Dallas O’Kane plenty of incriminating information. In return, I want a safe place to fight and protection if I make it. I know you can’t answer now, but I need to ask. I need to know.”
It could be a trap, Cerys’s backup plan in case Lex threw her offer back in her face—literally. Or it could have been her way of getting rid of Dallas all along. Spiriting away some councilman’s drug-addicted fuck toy guaranteed trouble for him and his sector. Cerys wouldn’t have to lift a finger to have Dallas out of the picture forever.
But Jade could also simply need help. For every trainee out of the Flower District who was happy with her patron, there were a dozen more who wound up miserable and desperate, and it was that possibility that had Lex whispering, “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you.” Jade stepped back with a sad little smile. “You do look like her. Maybe that makes it easier to trust you. I miss her.”
“So do I.” Lex caught Mad’s gaze and nodded.
Mad swept in, rescuing Lex from further conversation by inserting himself carefully between them. “I’ve got to get you back to Dallas before he skins me,” he murmured. “Jade, a pleasure to see you again.”
“And you, Maddox.” She inclined her head with a teasing smile. “Give my regards to Bren, would you? He’s a fascinating man.”
“I’ll do that.” He sounded almost grumpy, and Mad bustled Lex away with Jade’s soft laughter following them around the corner.
Lex caught his hand and held it tight. “Tried to be noble, huh? No screwing women who can’t say no?”
He scowled. “I’ve got no problem with women who sell sex, but it’s different when they’re groomed to think it’s their only fucking purpose. Hell, you know that.”
“Course I do. So why the long face?”
“She gave me a once-over, said, ‘I suppose that was inevitable,’ and jumped on Bren’s dick.” He huffed out a laugh. “Maybe. God knows what they actually did.”
“Yeah.” Lex brushed back an unruly lock of hair that had fallen over his brow. “If she winds up in Four, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know her. If that’s what you want.”
He snorted. “C’mon, Lex. Not even one joke about my hero complex?”
“Not in the mood,” she said again, smoothing his shirt as they reached the guest quarters. “I’ve decided we need a few more heroes.”
He stopped abruptly and tugged her around to face him, his voice deadly serious. “Shit, Lex. Are you all right? I know it’s been a long day, but…”
Things had gone fucking downhill when she started scaring people with positivity. “I’m ready to go home.”
* * *
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