A Court of Mist and Fury Page 71

“I do have more important things to do,” he purred. “But I find myself unable to resist the temptation. The same way you can’t resist watching me whenever we’re out. So territorial.”

My mouth went a bit dry. But—flirting with him, fighting with him … It was easy. Fun.

Maybe I deserved both of those things.

So I closed the distance between us, smoothly stepped past him, and said, “You haven’t been able to keep away from me since Calanmai, it seems.”

Something rippled in his eyes that I couldn’t place, but he flicked my nose—hard enough that I hissed and batted his hand away.

“I can’t wait to see what that sharp tongue of yours can do at the Summer Court,” he said, gaze fixed on my mouth, and vanished into shadow.

CHAPTER

32

In the end, only Amren and I joined Rhys, Cassian having failed to sway his High Lord, Azriel still off overseeing his network of spies and investigating the human realm, and Mor tasked with guarding Velaris. Rhys would winnow us directly into Adriata, the castle-city of the Summer Court—and there we would stay, for however long it took me to detect and then steal the first half of the Book.

As Rhys’s newest pet, I would be granted tours of the city and the High Lord’s personal residence. If we were lucky, none of them would realize that Rhys’s lapdog was actually a bloodhound.

And it was a very, very good disguise.

Rhys and Amren stood in the town house foyer the next day, the rich morning sunlight streaming through the windows and pooling on the ornate carpet. Amren wore her usual shades of gray—her loose pants cut to just beneath her navel, the billowing top cropped to show the barest slice of skin along her midriff. Alluring as a calm sea under a cloudy sky.

Rhys was in head-to-toe black accented with silver thread—no wings. The cool, cultured male I’d first met. His favorite mask.

For my own, I’d selected a flowing lilac dress, its skirts floating on a phantom wind beneath the silver-and-pearl-crusted belt at my waist. Matching night-blooming silver flowers had been embroidered to climb from the hem to brush my thighs, and a few more twined down the folds at my shoulders. The perfect gown to combat the warmth of the Summer Court.

It swished and sighed as I descended the last two stairs into the foyer. Rhys surveyed me with a long, unreadable sweep from my silver-slippered feet to my half-up hair. Nuala had curled the strands that had been left down—soft, supple curls that brought out the gold in my hair.

Rhys simply said, “Good. Let’s go.”

My mouth popped open, but Amren explained with a broad, feline smile, “He’s pissy this morning.”

“Why?” I asked, watching Amren take Rhys’s hand, her delicate fingers dwarfed by his. He held out the other to me.

“Because,” Rhys answered for her, “I stayed out late with Cassian and Azriel, and they took me for all I was worth in cards.”

“Sore loser?” I gripped his hand. His calluses scraped against my own—the only reminder of the trained warrior beneath the clothes and veneer.

“I am when my brothers tag-team me,” he grumbled. He offered no warning before we vanished on a midnight wind, and then—

Then I was squinting at the glaring sun off a turquoise sea, just as I was trying to reorder my body around the dry, suffocating heat, even with the cooling breeze off the water.

I blinked a few times—and that was as much reaction as I let myself show as I yanked my hand from Rhys’s grip.

We seemed to be standing on a landing platform at the base of a tan stone palace, the building itself perched atop a mountain-island in the heart of a half-moon bay. The city spread around and below us, toward that sparkling sea—the buildings all from that stone, or glimmering white material that might have been coral or pearl. Gulls flapped over the many turrets and spires, no clouds above them, nothing on the breeze with them but salty air and the clatter of the city below.

Various bridges connected the bustling island to the larger landmass that circled it on three sides, one of them currently raising itself so a many-masted ship could cruise through. Indeed, there were more ships than I could count—some merchant vessels, some fishing ones, and some, it seemed, ferrying people from the island-city to the mainland, whose sloping shores were crammed full of more buildings, more people.

More people like the half dozen before us, framed by a pair of sea glass doors that opened into the palace itself. On our little balcony, there was no option to escape—no path out but winnowing away … or going through those doors. Or, I supposed, the plunge awaiting us to the red roofs of the fine houses a hundred feet below.

“Welcome to Adriata,” said the tall male in the center of the group.

And I knew him—remembered him.

Not from memory. I’d already remembered that the handsome High Lord of Summer had rich brown skin, white hair, and eyes of crushing, turquoise blue. I’d already remembered he’d been forced to watch as his courtier’s mind was invaded and then his life snuffed out by Rhysand. As Rhysand lied to Amarantha about what he’d learned, and spared the male from a fate perhaps worth than death.

No—I now remembered the High Lord of Summer in a way I couldn’t quite explain, like some fragment of me knew it had come from him, from here. Like some piece of me said, I remember, I remember, I remember. We are one and the same, you and I.

Rhys merely drawled, “Good to see you again, Tarquin.”

The five other people behind the High Lord of Summer swapped frowns of varying severity. Like their lord, their skin was dark, their hair in shades of white or silver, as if they had lived under the bright sun their entire lives. Their eyes, however, were of every color. And they now shifted between me and Amren.

Rhys slid one hand into a pocket and gestured with the other to Amren. “Amren, I think you know. Though you haven’t met her since your … promotion.” Cool, calculating grace, edged with steel.

Tarquin gave Amren the briefest of nods. “Welcome back to the city, lady.”

Amren didn’t nod, or bow, or so much as curtsy. She looked over Tarquin, tall and muscled, his clothes of sea-green and blue and gold, and said, “At least you are far more handsome than your cousin. He was an eyesore.” A female behind Tarquin outright glared. Amren’s red lips stretched wide. “Condolences, of course,” she added with as much sincerity as a snake.

Wicked, cruel—that’s what Amren and Rhys were … what I was to be to these people.

Rhys gestured to me. “I don’t believe you two were ever formally introduced Under the Mountain. Tarquin, Feyre. Feyre, Tarquin.” No titles here—either to unnerve them or because Rhys found them a waste of breath.

Tarquin’s eyes—such stunning, crystal blue—fixed on me.

I remember you, I remember you, I remember you.

The High Lord did not smile.

I kept my face neutral, vaguely bored.

His gaze drifted to my chest, the bare skin revealed by the sweeping vee of my gown, as if he could see where that spark of life, his power, had gone.

Rhys followed that gaze. “Her breasts are rather spectacular, aren’t they? Delicious as ripe apples.”

I fought the urge to scowl, and instead slid my attention to him, as indolently as he’d looked at me, at the others. “Here I was, thinking you had a fascination with my mouth.”

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