“Sorry,” Keane said around his mouthful of apple. “Only have two hands.”
Yeah, he sounded really sorry. Looked it, too.
I think Ethan was about to say something scathing, but I gave him a poke in the ribs with my elbow. “Can we skip the posturing and chest-pounding, guys?” I asked, trying to put some distance between myself and Ethan. I liked having his arm around me, but not when he was doing it just to piss Keane off. I couldn’t help wondering if he’d tried to kiss me only because he knew Keane was watching. I wouldn’t put it past him. I knew Ethan was really into me—I was over suspecting his motives every two seconds. Well, mostly over it. But I’d seen his darker side, and I knew he was capable of some world-class scheming.
Keane grinned at me. “I promise not to pound my chest, though I’d get a kick out of it if Ethan tried a Tarzan yodel.” He took another bite of his apple, his eyes alight with hard-edged amusement.
My skin prickled with a hint of magic, and I figured things were going from bad to worse. Ethan had lost his easygoing manner and was staring daggers at Keane. I didn’t think Keane had said anything all that bad—at least, not for him—but apparently Ethan was touchier.
“Maybe you should demonstrate the yodel,” he said, the magic around us growing thicker.
Keane had to feel the gathering magic, too, and had to know what it meant. Keane was a great fighter, but I seriously doubted he had the chops to go up against Ethan in a battle of magic.
“Ethan,” I said in a warning tone, “you’d better not be thinking about casting any nasty magic.” Of course, I already knew he was more than thinking about it.
Keane raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think he’s about to cast something?”
Dammit! Keane didn’t know I could sense magic, and I couldn’t afford for that to change. I’d been so annoyed at the boys and their machofest that I’d forgotten to be cautious.
I shrugged, hoping my chagrin didn’t show on my face. “I know Ethan,” I said, giving Ethan my sternest look. “Don’t do it.”
He blinked and tried to look innocent. Considering the air still prickled with magic, it wasn’t a very convincing act.
“I’m not a bully,” he said. “I’d never pick on someone who couldn’t defend himself.”
Keane made a growling sound and stepped closer to us. The sensation of magic built even more, and I suspected Keane was responsible for at least some of it.
“Who the fuck says I can’t defend myself?” Keane asked, green eyes flashing.
Geez, could he take the bait any easier? I wondered if I’d get myself hurt if I stepped between the two of them. Neither one of them would hurt me on purpose, but I had a feeling if they started fighting, there’d be collateral damage.
Ethan’s grin widened. He was really getting a kick out of pushing Keane’s buttons. Not that Keane was making it hard for him.
“Far be it from me to insult your manhood,” Ethan said. “I’m sure you’d have no trouble whatsoever defending against my magic.”
Keane sneered. “Just like you’d have no trouble whatsoever defending yourself in a fair fight. Right?”
They both seemed to have practically forgotten I was there. They met each other’s eyes in furious alpha-male stares, and the magic was so thick in the air it was hard to breathe. I wanted to say something to them, to get them to back off, but so far nothing I’d said had made a dent in their animosity. In fact, my very presence was probably making things worse.
“Whoever throws the first punch, magical or otherwise, gets to deal with me,” Finn said, and we all jumped.
We’d all been so focused on the looming fight we hadn’t heard him coming. I checked over my shoulder and saw that my father and Kimber were only a few steps behind him.
Ethan and Keane both turned to Finn, the belligerence far from gone. And now there was a third person’s magic stealing the oxygen from the air. I hoped they’d all cut it out soon, or they’d start to wonder what was wrong with me as I did my gasping fish impression.
Keane opened his mouth as if to say something smart—or stupid, as the case may be—but he wasn’t a complete idiot. I’d seen him fight his father once before, when Finn was teaching him a lesson about the difference between a skilled teenaged self-defense instructor and a trained Knight of Faerie. It hadn’t been pretty.
Ethan didn’t back down quite as fast, though I’d seen signs before that he respected Finn’s power. Maybe he was too hopped up on testosterone to remember that at the moment. Finn grabbed hold of Keane’s arm and gave it a yank.
“Go tend to your horse,” he snapped, giving Keane a shove. Keane was practically trembling with rage now, but he knew when he was beat. He turned and stomped back into the crowd of Fae who bustled around our makeshift camp. Probably just as well that the rest of the caravan was ignoring us.
With Keane out of the picture, Ethan finally relaxed, shaking out his hands and letting the magic slip away. I didn’t think Finn had done Keane any favors by intervening. I could only imagine what kind of crap Ethan would give Keane for it whenever he had a chance.
“The last thing we need is the two of you acting like children,” Finn said to Ethan in his sternest voice. “You don’t like each other. Fine. I don’t give a damn. But you’re both supposedly here to help guard Dana, and getting into pissing matches with each other isn’t helpful.”