The Immortal Circus: Act One | Chapter 27 of 34

Author: A.R. Kahler | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 5848 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN: MONSTER

It’s dinner time when Kingston comes and finds me again.

I’m in my trailer, reading a book and trying not to think of everything that happened that afternoon, which isn’t really working because now that I know my memory’s been tampered with, that’s all I can think about. How much did Kingston hide from me, and why the hell did I want it hidden in the first place? Why the false memories? Why the grand illusion? And, perhaps most importantly, what landed me here to begin with? I try to think back and am met with only haze and grey and patchwork moments that could have been pulled from anyone’s life: walking to school, watching movies with friends whose names I can’t remember, eating dinner with my mom whose voice I can’t hear. Nothing remarkable. Nothing that would put blood on my hands and visions in my head. Nothing spectacular. What was I?

The worst part was, every time I closed my eyes, those weren’t the only thoughts coursing through my mind. Every blink, every moment of darkness, and I felt his lips on mine, tasted the cinnamon of his tongue and felt the heat of his breath. Every blink, and I was back, crushed against his chest. Every blink, and I wished it would have lasted longer.

But that was the trouble. It was just a moment. Moments were easy to erase or change. How long would he let me keep this before he turned around and blanked it out? A large part of me didn’t want to trust him, wanted to be pissed at him for toying with my past. But the rest of me knew. I had asked for that. I’d signed the contract. It was the things I hadn’t asked for that sent me reeling, the things he could take away at any moment. How long did I have before he got tired of me and made me believe I was tired of him? I kept closing my eyes, reliving the moment over and over, waiting for the inevitable shoe to drop.

So when Kingston knocks and lets himself in, it’s almost a relief, almost like stepping up to the executioner’s block. I know what he’s going to say. And I’m not going to wait around for it.

“Kingston, listen,” I say, “about today — ”

“Not now,” he says, walking past where I’m sitting on the bed to stare out the window. Then he steps back and closes the curtain. “They’re back.” There’s panic in his voice that makes my skin go cold. Everything I wanted to say drains in an instant.

“Who?”

“The troupe,” he says. It’s almost a relief. We’re not under attack by the Summer Court or anything horrible. Just the troupe back from the watering hole.

“Oh.”

He must note my relief, because his hands clench at his sides and when he speaks, there’s more anger than before.

“No, not oh. They’re back. But Melody’s not with them.”

“Maybe she got lucky?” I start, but this clearly isn’t the time for jokes. “Come on, Kingston, she’s not a kid.”

“No, she’s not. She knows not to leave the troupe.” He’s pacing back and forth. “This is bad, this is really, really bad.”

“Why? She can take care of herself.”

Then he stops and takes a deep breath. “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,” he whispers. He turns to face me.

“Melody’s not like us. Remember when I said she was human? Well, it’s more than that. She doesn’t have the same immortality clause that we do, and she’s only twenty-two. Like, actually twenty-two. And without her, we’re all fucked.”

“What are you talking about?” I say.

“I can’t explain,” Kingston says. “Contractual obligation.” He runs his hands around his neck, as though the very thought of telling me is choking him — a feeling I know all too well.

“So let’s go find her,” I say.

“We can’t,” he says. “We have no idea where she is and no way to find out. And if we tell Mab, she’ll go after her herself.”

He slouches down on the chair.

“Would you just tell me what’s going on?” I say. “Why is it a bad thing if Mab looks for her?”

He makes a noise that sounds like gagging and shakes his head, looking up at me with a sad grin.

“Damn these contracts,” he says. “Don’t you see? This is precisely what they want.”

“Who?” I’m getting tired of this cat-and-mouse game of information.

“The Summer Court. They took her. They must have. I can’t tell you why, but I know they did. And you’re one of the few who understands the danger.”

“I do?”

“Don’t be stupid,” he says. “You saw it. You saw Lilith on the field, you saw her kill Senchan and the other Summer Fey. One of them must have escaped and told their king. They know about Lilith. They know what she is. The Blood Autumn Treaty is broken. Now, we’re at war.”

“Why would they care about Lilith? She’s just…” But I can’t finish the sentence because she’s clearly not just a little girl.

“Do you remember Sheena?” he asks.

I nod. It’s hard to forget watching a purple-haired girl turn into a floating orb of light.

“Lilith’s…Lilith’s like that. Kind of.”

“She’s a Summer Faerie?”

He shakes his head.

“No. Different. But the Summer Court…they want her dead. And if they know she’s here, they’ll kill everyone around her ’til she’s gone. That’s why they took Mel. Why Mab can’t go. That’s what they want — they want us to be weak.”

There’s no clashing outside, no fires or screams. The only noise is the rest of the troupe laughing, the sound of music as the chefs finish up the evening meal. It doesn’t sound like war.

“Now do you understand? If Mab leaves, we’re more defenseless than…” He coughs. “Guess I’ll just leave it at that. Mab can’t know. But the barriers between this world and Faerie are weakest at dusk. If we don’t get Mel back before then, we’re dead. The Summer Fey will kill us all.”

“So what do we do?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” he says. “Mab will find out soon enough, but…there’s something we’re not getting. There’s something missing.”

“What do you mean?”

He sighs and runs his hands through his hair again.

“We’ve been set up,” he says. “The deaths, the tent, all of it. They weren’t just warnings, they were trying to weaken us. But that should be impossible. Contractually, we can’t die. We can’t be weakened.”

“That’s it,” I say. Mab’s reaction is suddenly making sense, the widened eyes and accusing stare. “The contracts.”

“What?”

I stand up and walk past him, pacing because it feels like the right thing to do.

“Before we…before I saw you, Mab was showing me my contract. She got pissed off and yelled at me for something. Said I’d changed it. I hadn’t thought about it ’til now — ”

Kingston stops me.

“You changed your contract? How?”

“I didn’t,” I say. “But she thinks I did.”

Kingston’s nodding, now. “That makes sense.” He chews the inside of his lips as he thinks. “Someone’s been changing the contracts. Little changes at first, so we wouldn’t notice. An injury here, an accident there.”

He snaps his fingers, a small spark igniting and burning out.

“That’s it. That’s how people are dying. Someone’s changing the contracts to make them vulnerable. It all makes sense.”

“But how?” I say. “The contracts are in Mab’s trailer. She’d never let anyone touch them, let alone rewrite them.”

Kingston’s face darkens.

“Of course,” he whispers. He pushes past me and opens the door, but I grab his arm before he can pull it open.

“What?” I ask.

“Who does Mab trust above all others?” he says. “Who’s been with her the longest?”

Realization dawns.

“Penelope,” I whisper. The woman chained here for life.

He nods.

“Bingo. That’s why she placed you under Penelope’s care. It wasn’t so she could watch after you, it was so you’d keep an eye on her.” He pulls open the door. “So let’s go find that mer-bitch and make her talk.”

We jog to Penelope’s trailer, past the troupe now standing in line for dinner. We don’t knock, just pull open her door and rush inside.

She’s sitting in front of her mirror, brushing her long red hair and staring into the placid depths of glass. She doesn’t even start when we burst in, just keeps brushing her hair.

“If you are looking for a new place to fornicate, I suggest picking a trailer that is unoccupied,” she says.

“You have one minute to talk before I burn you to a fucking crisp,” Kingston says. As if to accentuate the point, the air around his palms shivers with heat.

“It is quite rude to enter someone’s trailer without knocking,” Penelope says, as though she’s oblivious to the fact that Kingston’s on the edge of burning the whole trailer down. “And even more rude to threaten their life. Tell me, to what should I be confessing?”

She watches us from the reflection in the mirror. The heat from Kingston grows and I step a little to the side.

“Don’t play dumb,” Kingston says. “I know you’ve spent your life pretending to be a daft bitch, but I’m on to you now. You’ve been changing our contracts. You’re the reason everyone’s dying.”

“That, my dear, is an awfully strong accusation.” She draws the brush through her hair one more time, then sets it down. “Do you have any proof?”

Kingston opens his mouth, then closes it.

“Precisely,” Penelope says. She reaches for a tube of lipstick and glides it over her lips, making the perfect pucker in her mirror. “I suggest you come back when you have more concrete evidence. Or evidence of any kind, for that matter. ” She sets down the tube and turns around in her chair. The fire in Kingston’s hands is simmering, but I can tell he feels precisely as I do; there’s no doubt that Penelope did this. If anyone in the entire troupe would be looking for a way out, it would be her — it explained her reaction to seeing Senchan in the field, her talk of finding an exit clause. But who would believe it? She was just so perfect.

She stands and walks over to us.

“If you don’t mind,” she says. I don’t step aside. I want to punch her.

“Melody is missing,” Kingston says through clenched teeth. “If you have any humanity left, you’ll tell me where she is.”

A look crosses Penelope’s face, the mildest of concern.

“I assure you,” she says, “I have no clue where Melody is. But the tent’s still in one piece. Take comfort in that.”

Then she steps past us and opens the door. It slams behind her, leaving us alone and aimless.

“Fuck,” Kingston says. He punches the trailer wall, making the whole thing shake.

“What do we do?” I ask.

“She’s right,” Kingston says. “There’s nothing we can do. We have no proof.”

I glance around the room and something clicks.

“Maybe we do.”

He looks at me in confusion as I walk across the room to Penelope’s nightstand. I’m praying that she didn’t think ahead, that she wasn’t thinking we’d storm in here like this. I open the drawer. There, nesting in a little brass bowl, is the necklace. The black diamond glints like a raven’s eye.

I pull it out by the chain and hold it up.

“What is that?” Kingston asks.

“I don’t really know,” I say. “But according to Penelope, she can store her memories here. If what we need is a confession, it’s probably in here.”

Kingston’s eyes go wide as he crosses the short space between us.

“You’re a genius,” he says. I blush. A beat passes and I’m staring at his eyes as he stares at the necklace. “How do we use it?” he asks.

I take his hand and turn the palm up.

“I think we just ask,” I say, and drop the diamond into his palm, clasping both our fingers around it at the same time.

The room spins.

image

Shadows are everywhere.

There’s a man in the shadows. A man with white hair.

“I want out,” Penelope says. She stands in the shadows, too, her body pressed against the trunk of a tree. She’s in a dark cloak that hides every inch of her, but her voice is clear.

“Out?” Senchan says. “Is that why you called me here?”

Penelope hesitates. “I’ve been under Mab’s control for centuries,” she says. “I cannot bear it another day.”

Senchan smiles sadly. Is it moonlight filtering through the trees, or is he really glowing like that?

“I feel your pain. Truly I do. But I’m afraid things just don’t work like that. Your contract is quite binding. In order to break it, well, you’ll have to do something for me.

“Anything.”

Senchan’s eyes widen. “A bold promise. You would truly give anything for your freedom?”

“I have nothing else to live for, nothing left to give. Everything has already been taken from me. Name your price and I will see it met.”

Senchan takes a deep breath.

“We want the Trade to end.”

“You know I don’t have the power to shut down the show.”

“No,” he says. “But that is our price. End the Cirque, and you will be free. We don’t care how you do it, only that you deliver. Unless you think the price is too dear…”

“No,” Penelope says. She glances around. “I may have a way.”

“Yes?”

“Kassia.”

Senchan takes a step back, as though Penelope punched him in the gut.

“Kassia is dead.”

“No,” Penelope says. There’s a fervent heat in her words. “She’s still alive. I have seen her. Mab is hiding her.”

“If that is true, then the Blood Autumn Treaty is broken. The circus would be forced to shut down.”

“I would not lie.”

“We cannot attack until there is proof,” Senchan says.

“If I give you proof, if she reveals her true nature, will that be enough?”

Senchan nods and holds out his hand.

“Expose Kassia and Mab’s treachery, and you shall have your freedom. A good bargain, if I do say so myself.”

Penelope reaches out her hand.

“You will tell no one,” he says. She nods as they shake.

Light pours out between their fingertips. The light fills my vision.

image

I blink and I’m back in the trailer. Kingston is staring at me with his eyes wide and lips open.

“That’s it,” he says. “We have her.”

“Who’s Kassia?” I ask.

Kingston shakes his head.

“I can’t say. Contractual…”

He pockets the necklace, turns away from me, and takes a step toward the door. Then he turns around and pulls me toward him, presses his lips to mine in one quick kiss that fills me with fire. He pulls away and smiles.

“You’re a genius,” he says. Then he’s out the door. I follow right behind.

We’re not even a few steps outside the trailer when we spot Penelope. She’s not in line with the rest of the troupe. She’s standing near the edge of the chapiteau, staring out at the field beyond. Kingston pauses and stares at her. The air around him shivers.

“Kingston, no,” I say. “Let’s just go tell Mab.”

“No,” Kingston says. “I’m going to make the bitch pay.” He stalks toward Penelope and I stand there, torn between running to Mab and running after Kingston. The choice is easy; I run to Kingston’s side and take his hand in mine. His touch tingles.

Penelope turns when she sees us. Her gaze takes us in, the linked fingers, the set in our eyes. She smirks and turns away.

“Back for another round of false accusations?” she says.

“We know,” Kingston says. He holds up the diamond necklace. “We know everything.”

I expect Penelope to gasp, to yell, to do any number of things the bad guys do in movies when they’re found out. Instead, she laughs.

“Well done, Vivienne,” she says. “I was hoping you’d remember that. This would have been so anticlimactic otherwise.”

My heart drops. Penelope looks over her shoulder at my silence.

“What?” she asks. “You truly believe I accidentally left you in my trailer? Please, I’m not truly a — what did you call me? — a daft bitch.”

Kingston drops the necklace in his pocket.

“Why?” he asks.

“Because I want you to understand that my intentions were never to hurt people. I just wanted freedom. This was the only way.”

“If you’ve been changing the contracts,” I say, “why not just change yours? End your contract early? Why kill everyone?”

“You saw what happened when Paul’s contract finished early. Time is a force no magic can change. I couldn’t take the chance that the same would happen to me. No, the only sure way to be free was to end the circus. Then, I wouldn’t be dodging a contract. The contract would simply no longer exist.” She almost sounds sad about it, like she’s upset she had to get her hands so dirty, but Kingston and I are far beyond pity.

“Where’s Melody?” Kingston hisses.

“Safe,” Penelope says.

Fire ignites around Kingston’s fingertips. The heat is blistering and I drop his hand.

“Talk,” he says through gritted teeth. “Talk or I’ll make you beg.”

“Ahh, you see, that is what I was hoping for. It would have been disappointing to go to all that trouble for nothing.”

Neither of us say anything, but I can see Kingston’s resolve falter. Clearly, that’s all Penelope was after.

“I call on line 89F, point three.”

Kingston gasps and crumples to his knees. The heat in his palms vanishes.

“My, Kingston,” she says. “Whoever would have thought that a few words could quench your fire?”

Something snaps inside of me. I leap toward Penelope. The only thought in my mind is the image of punching her square in the face, of making her bleed and beg and suffer like everyone she’s hurt and killed in her quest for freedom. My arm pulls back, aims straight for her pretty jaw.

Then stars explode across my vision as something slams into my gut. I smack face-first into the earth and roll on the ground, clenching my stomach as iron binds itself around my insides. I can’t breathe, can’t move, can’t get the pain to go away.

“As you can tell,” Penelope says, “I’ve quite thought of everything. Your contracts expressly forbid harming me.”

She steps over and kicks Kingston in the ribs. Kingston gasps.

“You, on the other hand, have no such safeguards. Perhaps this will teach you to be more careful with whom you choose to confront.”

Kingston groans. I can barely see him as darkness inks itself around my vision.

“Oh, and one more thing,” Penelope says, her voice perfectly calm. “I think you’ll find that speaking of this to anyone else is a very, very bad idea.” Her words turn simpering. “Contractual, you know.” Then she walks away, humming happily to herself.

The moment she’s out of sight, my lungs expand and I suck in a breath so sharp it’s painful. I scramble over to where Kingston’s sprawled out on the ground, his hands clutching his ribs.

“Are you okay?”

“She blocked me. My powers are gone.” He takes a deep breath. “That must be how Senchan did it. She worked a containment clause into my contract and told the bastard the line.” With a wince, he pushes himself to standing. I’m there, helping him up, looping his arm around my shoulder. Zal is wrapped around his arm. The serpent is smudging like mad, now, like those Mom tattoos slowly bleached off bikers’ biceps.

“How could she do that?” I ask. Penelope’s disappeared into the tents and trailers. Even the thought of chasing after her makes an ache creep through my skull. “How can she change the contracts?”

“I still don’t know,” Kingston says. “It shouldn’t be possible; Mab’s the only one who can dictate the terms.”

“So Mab can change them back? Now that she knows what’s wrong?”

Kingston shakes his head. “You can’t just negate magic like that. Power goes in cycles. She won’t be able to change our contracts ’til the next new moon.”

“So there’s nothing we can do.”

He doesn’t answer. Just the thought of yelling out that Penelope’s the traitor makes my throat burn and sting.

“If only you hadn’t signed your stupid contract,” Kingston whispers.

“What do you mean?”

“Your visions,” he says. “They’re the only way we could find Melody. If she was here, we'd be fine. But Mab’s the only one who can get you to use them.”

Another click. The shock in Mab’s voice when she read out my contract: unless deemed necessary by Queen Mab or… There was another. Penelope had changed my contract to allow someone else to summon my powers, someone who couldn’t be linked back to her.

“No,” I say. “There’s another. That’s what set Mab off. Someone else can access my powers.” My mind races. Then the scent of fire and brimstone fills my head, and it’s all horribly clear.

“It’s Lilith,” I say. “When I touched her, I had my vision. I thought it was just a reaction, but maybe…maybe she’s the other one on the contract.”

“Then we better find her,” Kingston says, staring up into the sky. The sun is getting dangerously close to the horizon. We only have a few hours until dusk.

He doesn’t waste any more time. Before I ask where he thinks she could be hiding in this vast cornfield, he’s running across the lawn toward the eight-foot-tall stalks. I’m right at his heels. The tent and all its inhabitants disappear behind us the moment we cross over, the world suddenly becoming heavier, more humid. Kingston runs full stop in front of me, navigating through the corn as though he’s got it all mapped out in his head. I don’t bother asking where we’re going. After a few minutes, he stops so fast I nearly bump into him. He puts up a hand and glances back at me, a definitive say nothing look on his face. Then he takes a few steps forward and motions for me to follow.

We emerge into a small clearing that could have been cleared by a UFO. It’s a perfect circle of trodden corn stalks, maybe twelve feet in diameter. In the center is Lilith, humming to herself and playing with a figure made of grass. Poe stalks the perimeter, staring at us with flat yellow eyes.

“Lilith,” Kingston says softly. “Lilith, it’s me. How are you?”

Lilith looks up at the sound of his voice, her face practically glowing with happiness that Kingston came to see her. She opens her mouth, then catches sight of me standing behind him. The happiness turns to disgust.

“What do you want?” she grumbles, going back to playing with the stick figure in her hands.

“We need your help,” Kingston says.

“Why?”

Kingston hesitates, and I wonder if it’s because he can’t find the right words or if he simply can’t speak them under Penelope’s new rules.

“It’s Melody. She’s gone missing. And we need to find her.”

“Tell Auntie Mab,” Lilith says.

“We can’t. Mab can’t know.” He kneels down at her side and puts a hand on her shoulder. “Please, Lilith. We need your help. I need your help.”

“Why should I?” she asks with a pout. She looks straight at me as she speaks. “You don’t like me. You just like her. Not me. Her. She’ll hurt you.”

I take a step forward but Kingston puts up his hand again without even looking back.

“Lilith,” he says, cupping her chin in his hand. “You know that’s not true. You know I like you.”

“You kissed her.”

“It was a mistake.”

The words come as a punch in my gut. It takes everything I have not to just drop to my knees right there. I can’t believe it, don’t want to believe it. He lied to you about everything else. He could have lied about this, too.

“Prove it.”

He doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t take a breath or ready himself or anything. He just leans in and pulls her lips to his and kisses her. For a brief moment, Lilith’s eyes flicker to mine and the corner of her mouth turns up into a grin. Then she closes her eyes and leans into the kiss.

It goes on for an eternity, the two of them sitting in the middle of the circle in the amber light, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe this is how it’s meant to be. Both of them are powerful, immortal, ageless. What chance did I have with someone like that? What hope did I have against someone like that? I don’t cough, don’t interrupt the moment. And I don’t turn away. I won’t give her that satisfaction. Anger and betrayal and a hundred other emotions roil in my stomach, but I don’t give in. I won’t be weak. Not now, not ever. Not again.

When Kingston pulls away, he doesn’t turn back to me to give an apologetic glance. Lilith doesn’t look at me either. She just smiles at him, totally lucid, and puts a hand on his cheek.

“Kingston,” she whispers. “What can I do?”

Now he hesitates. “It’s Vivienne,” he says. “She has visions. But she’s under contract not to use them. We think…we think you can access them. It’s the only way of finding Melody.”

Disappointment battles across her face, but then she drops her hand and looks at me. That lost little girl is gone, and in her place is a creature I can’t even begin to come to grips with.

“What must I do?” she asks.

Kingston motions me over. I go and sit beside him, doing my best to stay composed, to not feel that mixture of rage and shame that are coiling around in my chest. I want to call him every name for bastard, want to run off before it gets any worse. Fuck them, fuck this show, fuck everyone. But I know I can’t leave, not until Mab’s done with me. If they go down, I go down, too. And I’m not going down without a fight.

Someone’s going to pay for all this.

“Repeat after me,” he says. “I call upon the contract of Vivienne Warfield, Line 17A. I summon her powers of Vision. Seek out and relay the location of Melody Bonaparte.”

Lilith nods, and begins to repeat his words, but the moment she speaks there’s a rushing in my head, a fire and wind and fury I can’t control, and I’m falling, falling, the wind screaming through every inch of me, and it’s only white and grey, white and grey, white and grey and screaming.

image

When I wake up again, I’m alone in the middle of the field. The sky is pink and orange and spread out wide above me, the cornfields alive with the sound of cicadas and wind. I push myself to sitting, try to force the ringing out of my ears. That’s when I realize I’m not actually alone. Lilith’s sitting on the edge of the circle, stroking Poe and watching me. Both of their eyes gleam in the fading light, Lilith’s green, Poe’s a dusty yellow. I feel like a victim in one of those horror movies, just woken up from a chloroform stupor to find myself in some basement-turned-torture-chamber.

“Where is he?” I manage to say. The words make my head throb.

“Kingston is searching for Melody,” she says. Her voice is so calm, so controlled. Poe mewls in her lap and she looks down and smiles. “Your vision told him where she is, and now he is gone. He will not return before sunrise. Melody is far, far away.”

“Why didn’t you go with him?”

“He told me to stay here. Keep you safe.” She looks at me and cocks her head to the side. “Weak, Vivienne. You are very, very weak.”

I struggle to standing and sway on the spot. I ignore her words and scan the field, though I can’t see anything past the edge of the circle.

“Where is he?” I ask again. “I have to find him.”

“You won’t,” she says. Everything in her voice says that this is precisely where she wants me to be. Dread creeps through my veins like ice. Is she teamed up with Penelope? Was this just some elaborate ploy to get me out of the way?

Lilith puts Poe on the ground and stands in one fluid motion. Even though she’s still in her white dress, even though she hasn’t grown and her hair is still tied back with a ribbon, she looks different, looks more in control of something I can’t place. And whatever that is, it’s terrifying. She steps right up to me, staring up into my eyes, pinning me like a serpent. “He told me to keep you here. Keep you safe. Safe with me.” She sings the last bit, the childish tune frighteningly at odds with her somber stare.

Rage boils inside of me, burning away the fear. Anger at him, anger at her, anger at all of them for fucking me over. Everyone’s been playing with me. Everyone. I’m not going to be played like this any longer. Fire burns.

I don’t think. I swing.

My fist connects perfectly with Lilith’s cheek, knocking her backward a couple steps. She staggers and Poe is hissing at her feet, but Lilith flicks a hand down in a shut up sort of gesture, and the cat goes silent. When she looks back at me, she’s actually grinning. The trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth makes her look positively demented.

“There’s the fire,” she says. “Let’s watch it burn.” She lunges forward and tackles me.

She knocks me to the ground and we roll. Stars flash across my vision as she punches me in the face. I gag as her knee connects to my gut. For having a twelve-year-old’s body, she fights like a heavyweight. But the rolling momentum carries and then I’m on top of her, slamming my fist into her face over and over before she flips us over and elbows me in the jaw. In one frighteningly smooth motion, she pins my arms to my chest. There’s more blood on her face, but she’s laughing. There’s a madness inside of her that makes my rage flicker. I know that look. There’s no amount of pain in the world I could inflict on her; she will always, always come back for more. Until one of us is dead.

“Oh, Vivienne,” she says. “This is why he’ll never choose you. You’re nothing. Mortal. Weak.” She sniffs and stretches her neck. “It would be so easy to fake your death, you know. A tragic accident. Wrong place, wrong time. He’d never even suspect.”

I try to swallow the blood in my mouth but the iron makes me want to gag. She leans in close to my ear. “You are very lucky we are currently on the same side. Otherwise it would be so, so simple to dispose of you.”

Poe hisses by our side and Lilith jerks her attention to the field. Something rustles in the undergrowth. Something chuckles. The sun has set, the horizon fading to hues of fiery pink and orange.

Then, something takes flight, a streak of fire that arcs high overhead. We both watch it fly, watch as it curves to the other horizon. There’s a flash of light when it falls out of sight and then another flies a similar path. Then another. Arrows.

Lilith and I look at each other. Her eyes go wide and the fire inside both of us vanishes.

The Summer Fey have arrived. We’re already too late.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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