A Court of Mist and Fury Page 10

And between my skin and bones, something thrummed and pounded, rising and pushing, lashing through my blood—

So many eyes, too many eyes, pressed on me, witnesses to every crime I’d committed, every humiliation—

I don’t know why I’d even bothered to wear gloves, why I’d let Ianthe convince me.

The fading sun was too hot, the garden too hedged in. As inescapable as the vow I was about to make, binding me to him forever, shackling him to my broken and weary soul. The thing inside me was roiling now, my body shaking with the building force of it as it hunted for a way out—

Forever—I would never get better, never get free of myself, of that dungeon where I’d spent three months—

“Feyre,” Tamlin said, his hand steady as he continued to reach for mine. The sun sank past the lip of the western garden wall; shadows pooled, chilling the air.

If I turned away, they’d start talking, but I couldn’t make the last few steps, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t—

I was going to fall apart, right there, right then—and they’d see precisely how ruined I was.

Help me, help me, help me, I begged someone, anyone. Begged Lucien, standing in the front row, his metal eye fixed on me. Begged Ianthe, face serene and patient and lovely within that hood. Save me—please, save me. Get me out. End this.

Tamlin took a step toward me—concern shading those eyes.

I retreated a step. No.

Tamlin’s mouth tightened. The crowd murmured. Silk streamers laden with globes of gold faelight twinkled into life above and around us.

Ianthe said smoothly, “Come, Bride, and be joined with your true love. Come, Bride, and let good triumph at last.”

Good. I was not good. I was nothing, and my soul, my eternal soul, was damned—

I tried to get my traitorous lungs to draw air so I could voice the word. No—no.

But I didn’t have to say it.

Thunder cracked behind me, as if two boulders had been hurled against each other.

People screamed, falling back, a few vanishing outright as darkness erupted.

I whirled, and through the night drifting away like smoke on a wind, I found Rhysand straightening the lapels of his black jacket.

“Hello, Feyre darling,” he purred.

CHAPTER

5

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Not when Rhysand liked to make a spectacle of everything. And found pissing off Tamlin to be an art form.

But there he was.

Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court, now stood beside me, darkness leaking from him like ink in water.

He angled his head, his blue-black hair shifting with the movement. Those violet eyes sparkled in the golden faelight as they fixed on Tamlin, as he held up a hand to where Tamlin and Lucien and their sentries had their swords half-drawn, sizing up how to get me out of the way, how to bring him down—

But at the lift of that hand, they froze.

Ianthe, however, was backing away slowly, face drained of color.

“What a pretty little wedding,” Rhysand said, stuffing his hands into his pockets as those many swords remained in their sheaths. The remaining crowd was pressing back, some climbing over seats to get away.

Rhys looked me over slowly, and clicked his tongue at my silk gloves. Whatever had been building beneath my skin went still and cold.

“Get the hell out,” growled Tamlin, stalking toward us. Claws ripped from his knuckles.

Rhys clicked his tongue again. “Oh, I don’t think so. Not when I need to call in my bargain with Feyre darling.”

My stomach hollowed out. No—no, not now.

“You try to break the bargain, and you know what will happen,” Rhys went on, chuckling a bit at the crowd still falling over themselves to get away from him. He jerked his chin toward me. “I gave you three months of freedom. You could at least look happy to see me.”

I was shaking too badly to say anything. Rhys’s eyes flickered with distaste.

The expression was gone when he faced Tamlin again. “I’ll be taking her now.”

“Don’t you dare,” Tamlin snarled. Behind him, the dais was empty; Ianthe had vanished entirely. Along with most of those in attendance.

“Was I interrupting? I thought it was over.” Rhys gave me a smile dripping with venom. He knew—through that bond, through whatever magic was between us, he’d known I was about to say no. “At least, Feyre seemed to think so.”

Tamlin snarled, “Let us finish the ceremony—”

“Your High Priestess,” Rhys said, “seems to think it’s over, too.”

Tamlin stiffened as he looked over a shoulder to find the altar empty. When he faced us again, the claws had eased halfway back into his hands. “Rhysand—”

“I’m in no mood to bargain,” Rhys said, “even though I could work it to my advantage, I’m sure.” I jolted at the caress of his hand on my elbow. “Let’s go.”

I didn’t move.

“Tamlin,” I breathed.

Tamlin took a single step toward me, his golden face turning sallow, but remained focused on Rhys. “Name your price.”

“Don’t bother,” Rhys crooned, linking elbows with me. Every spot of contact was abhorrent, unbearable.

He’d take me back to the Night Court, the place Amarantha had supposedly modeled Under the Mountain after, full of depravity and torture and death—

“Tamlin, please.”

“Such dramatics,” Rhysand said, tugging me closer.

But Tamlin didn’t move—and those claws were wholly replaced by smooth skin. He fixed his gaze on Rhys, his lips pulling back in a snarl. “If you hurt her—”

“I know, I know,” Rhysand drawled. “I’ll return her in a week.”

No—no, Tamlin couldn’t be making those kinds of threats, not when they meant he was letting me go. Even Lucien was gaping at Tamlin, his face white with fury and shock.

Rhys released my elbow only to slip a hand around my waist, pressing me into his side as he whispered in my ear, “Hold on.”

Then darkness roared, a wind tearing me this way and that, the ground falling away beneath me, the world gone around me. Only Rhys remained, and I hated him as I clung to him, I hated him with my entire heart—

Then the darkness vanished.

I smelled jasmine first—then saw stars. A sea of stars flickering beyond glowing pillars of moonstone that framed the sweeping view of endless snowcapped mountains.

“Welcome to the Night Court,” was all Rhys said.

It was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen.

Whatever building we were in had been perched atop one of the gray-stoned mountains. The hall around us was open to the elements, no windows to be found, just towering pillars and gossamer curtains, swaying in that jasmine-scented breeze.

It must be some magic, to keep the air warm in the dead of winter. Not to mention the altitude, or the snow coating the mountains, mighty winds sending veils of it drifting off the peaks like wandering mist.

Little seating, dining, and work areas dotted the hall, sectioned off with those curtains or lush plants or thick rugs scattered over the moonstone floor. A few balls of light bobbed on the breeze, along with colored-glass lanterns dangling from the arches of the ceiling.

Not a scream, not a shout, not a plea to be heard.

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