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 and Scarlet discussing Mad
By Beyond Innocence, Jade and Scarlet were spending a lot of time together. But Scarlet has always known things were more complicated than just the two of them–and so has Jade. This scene actually comes after one of our later quotes (the concert in Sector 3 where Mad watches Scarlet perform) and marks the first time Scarlet and Jade discuss all those complications.
Jade also points out that Mad is from Sector One, which is an important point considering a fair chunk of Beyond Ruin takes place there.
* * *
Jade had the softest skin, the kind you could lose yourself in. And not just in the usual places, like the small of her back or the spot where her thigh met the luscious curve of her ass, either. Everywhere.
All of those milk baths and warm oil massages, no doubt. Sometimes, when Scarlet was high on pleasure and surrounded by the scent of coconut oil, she was pretty damn sure that the only good thing to ever come out of Sector Two was Jade’s skin.
Jade was braiding her hair now, the strands shining with that oil. She smiled at Scarlet as she tied off the end. “You look like you’re thinking hard.”
“Hardly thinking.” She rolled her head back on the pillow and reached out. “Come back.”
“In a moment.” She wiped her hands and reached for another jar from her vanity.
“You don’t need it, Jade.”
“It isn’t about need.” Jade twisted the cap off and lifted it, inhaling and then sighing. “My mother taught me this recipe.”
Scarlet dragged the sheet up to her chest as she rolled over and grabbed her cigarettes from Jade’s neatly organized bedside table. “What is it?”
“Lotion. Tatiana makes fancier ones, but…” She shrugged and smoothed the white cream across her cheeks in slow circles. “I used to teach the girls this—have a ritual. Sometimes the familiar is the only soothing thing you have.”
“Like my music.” Scarlet snapped her lighter shut and dropped it on the bed beside her. “It was the one thing that kept me from going nuts.”
Jade met her gaze in the mirror, her small, knowing smile back. “I think everyone appreciates your music.”
“Yeah? Sounds like you’re the one thinking hard.”
“Are we going to pretend Mad hasn’t been watching you since the concert?”
Her tone was teasing, light, but there was a question beneath the words. Scarlet shrugged. “Saint Adrian likes pretty things. My voice qualifies—at least when I’m singing.”
“Come now, Scarlet. He’s not that shallow.” Jade rose, leaving her robe behind in the chair. She approached the bed naked and unselfconscious, her perfect brown skin unmarked except for the O’Kane cuffs around her delicate wrists. “And he doesn’t like pretty things. He likes fragile things. Your voice certainly does not qualify.”
Scarlet had noticed him, watching her. Riveted, really, staring at her like he’d never seen her before, and she was torn between being flattered and being irritated. For someone who prided himself on being sensitive and aware, he sure the hell hadn’t noticed what was right in front of his face.
Or maybe he had, and he was shocked that a woman like Scarlet wasn’t always about hard lines and razor-sharp edges. That she could be just as soft as Jade, only in different ways. Different places.
“Perhaps he considers himself a connoisseur of vocal talent.” Scarlet wrapped one hand around the back of Jade’s knee and stroked her thumb over her skin. “Why don’t you say what you’re really thinking?”
Jade tilted her head. “I’m thinking…that I know what a man looks like when he sees something he wants. And I know what he looks like when he sees something he needs.”
Don’t ask. Don’t fucking ask— “Which one am I?”
“Which one do you want to be?”
Scarlet tugged sharply, dragging Jade down to the bed. Down to her. “I want to be right where I am.”
Jade laughed, warm and soft. “I put that towel on my pillow for a reason,” she protested, tugging away—but not very hard. “I’ll get coconut oil all over you.”
“You have no idea.” Scarlet crushed out her cigarette and walked her fingers up the center of Jade’s body, lingering between her breasts. “Out of curiosity, which one do you want to be?”
“I want…” She trailed off with a soft sigh, her eyes fluttering shut. She arched into Scarlet’s touch, slow and languid. “I want everyone to be happy.”
“Spoken like a true O’Kane.”
“They have their appeal, don’t they?”
“Certain members more than others.”
Jade caught Scarlet’s hand and opened her eyes. “He needs you, or someone like you. Someone strong. And he’ll never see that in me.”
Scarlet didn’t give two happy shits what he needed. She knew what he wanted, though, and it wasn’t her. Not by a long shot. “Do you love him?”
“Mad?” Her voice didn’t waver. “No.”
“Then what does it matter?”
“Because I’m not the only one in this bed.”
Scarlet froze. “You think I have a thing for the crown prince of Sector One?”
Jade tightened her grip on Scarlet’s hand. “It would be all right, you know. He is from Sector One. They don’t look at love the same way other sectors do.”
“Yeah? Well, I’m not from One.” She pulled her hand free and dragged it through her hair. “Besides, last time I checked, Mad wasn’t exactly sleeping alone.”
It was the perfect chance to step back, let it slide, but Scarlet had always been shit at that. So she pressed on. “Everyone wants a hero, right? But the thing about heroes is that they’re just people. And the second you start thinking they can solve all your problems, you’ve already lost yourself.”
Jade touched Scarlet’s cheek, turning her face back. “Even heroes need saving sometimes.”
She sounded so solemn that it was impossible to tell if she was still talking about Mad—or Scarlet herself. “I’m no hero, Jade.”
“That’s what a hero would say.”
Scarlet reversed their positions, flipping Jade beneath her, heedless of her freshly oiled hair spreading out over the pillows. “I’m no hero,” she said again, dropping her hands to Jade’s waist. The delicate lines of her hipbones beckoned, and Scarlet traced them with her thumbs. “But I am here. Isn’t that enough?”
Jade smiled. “It’s everything.”
Everything. It skated dangerously, viciously close to the line Scarlet knew she couldn’t cross, the one where Jade called her a hero…and she started to believe her.
* * *
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