A Court of Mist and Fury Page 73

“Yes, you mentioned that in your letter,” Tarquin said, claiming the seat at the head of the table between Rhys and Amren. A bold move, to situate himself between two such powerful beings. Arrogance—or an attempt at friendship? Tarquin’s gaze again drifted to me before focusing on Rhys. “And you know that against Hybern, we will fight. We lost enough good people Under the Mountain. I have no interest in being slaves again. But if you are here to ask me to fight in another war, Rhysand—”

“That is not a possibility,” Rhys smoothly cut in, “and had not even entered my mind.”

My glimmer of confusion must have shown, because Cresseida crooned to me, “High Lords have gone to war for less, you know. Doing it over such an unusual female would be nothing unexpected.”

Which was likely why they had accepted this invitation, favor or no. To feel us out.

If—if Tamlin went to war to get me back. No. No, that wouldn’t be an option.

I’d written to him, told him to stay away. And he wasn’t foolish enough to start a war he could not win. Not when he wouldn’t be fighting other High Fae, but Illyrian warriors, led by Cassian and Azriel. It would be slaughter.

So I said, bored and flat and dull, “Try not to look too excited, princess. The High Lord of Spring has no plans to go to war with the Night Court.”

“And are you in contact with Tamlin, then?” A saccharine smile.

My next words were quiet, slow, and I decided I did not mind stealing from them, not one bit. “There are things that are public knowledge, and things that are not. My relationship with him is well known. Its current standing, however, is none of your concern. Or anyone else’s. But I do know Tamlin, and I know that there will be no internal war between courts—at least not over me, or my decisions.”

“What a relief, then,” Cresseida said, sipping from her white wine before cracking a large crab claw, pink and white and orange. “To know we are not harboring a stolen bride—and that we need not bother returning her to her master, as the law demands. And as any wise person might do, to keep trouble from their doorstep.”

Amren had gone utterly still.

“I left of my own free will,” I said. “And no one is my master.”

Cresseida shrugged. “Think that all you want, lady, but the law is the law. You are—were his bride. Swearing fealty to another High Lord does not change that. So it is a very good thing that he respects your decisions. Otherwise, all it would take would be one letter from him to Tarquin, requesting your return, and we would have to obey. Or risk war ourselves.”

Rhysand sighed. “You are always a joy, Cresseida.”

Varian said, “Careful, High Lord. My sister speaks the truth.”

Tarquin laid a hand on the pale table. “Rhysand is our guest—his courtiers are our guests. And we will treat them as such. We will treat them, Cresseida, as we treat people who saved our necks when all it would have taken was one word from them for us to be very, very dead.”

Tarquin studied me and Rhysand—whose face was gloriously disinterested. The High Lord of Summer shook his head and said to Rhys, “We have more to discuss later, you and I. Tonight, I’m throwing a party for you all on my pleasure barge in the bay. After that, you’re free to roam in this city wherever you wish. You will forgive its princess if she is protective of her people. Rebuilding these months has been long and hard. We do not wish to do it again any time soon.”

Cresseida’s eyes grew dark, haunted.

“Cresseida made many sacrifices on behalf of her people,” Tarquin offered gently—to me. “Do not take her caution personally.”

“We all made sacrifices,” Rhysand said, the icy boredom now shifting into something razor-sharp. “And you now sit at this table with your family because of the ones Feyre made. So you will forgive me, Tarquin, if I tell your princess that if she sends word to Tamlin, or if any of your people try to bring her to him, their lives will be forfeit.”

Even the sea breeze died.

“Do not threaten me in my own home, Rhysand,” Tarquin said. “My gratitude goes only so far.”

“It’s not a threat,” Rhys countered, the crab claws on his plate cracking open beneath invisible hands. “It’s a promise.”

They all looked at me, waiting for any response.

So I lifted my glass of wine, looked them each in the eye, holding Tarquin’s gaze the longest, and said, “No wonder immortality never gets dull.”

Tarquin chuckled—and I wondered if his loosed breath was one of profound relief.

And through that bond between us, I felt Rhysand’s flicker of approval.

CHAPTER

33

We were given a suite of connecting rooms, all centered on a large, lavish lounge that was open to the sea and city below. My bedroom was appointed in seafoam and softest blue with pops of gold—like the gilded clamshell atop my pale wood dresser. I had just set it down when the white door behind me clicked open and Rhys slid in.

He leaned against the door once he shut it, the top of his black tunic unbuttoned to reveal the upper whorls of the tattoo spanning his chest.

“The problem, I’ve realized, will be that I like Tarquin,” he said by way of greeting. “I even like Cresseida. Varian, I could live without, but I bet a few weeks with Cassian and Azriel, and he’d be thick as thieves with them and I’d have to learn to like him. Or he’d be wrapped around Amren’s finger, and I’d have to leave him alone entirely or risk her wrath.”

“And?” I took up a spot against the dresser, where clothes that I had not packed but were clearly of Night Court origin had been already waiting for me.

The space of the room—the large bed, the windows, the sunlight—filled the silence between us.

“And,” Rhys said, “I want you to find a way to do what you have to do without making enemies of them.”

“So you’re telling me don’t get caught.”

A nod. Then, “Do you like that Tarquin can’t stop looking at you? I can’t tell if it’s because he wants you, or because he knows you have his power and wants to see how much.”

“Can’t it be both?”

“Of course. But having a High Lord lusting after you is a dangerous game.”

“First you taunt me with Cassian, now Tarquin? Can’t you find other ways to annoy me?”

Rhys prowled closer, and I steadied myself for his scent, his warmth, the impact of his power. He braced a hand on either side of me, gripping the dresser. I refused to shrink away. “You have one task here, Feyre. One task that no one can know about. So do anything you have to in order to accomplish it. But get that book. And do not get caught.”

I wasn’t some simpering fool. I knew the risks. And that tone, that look he always gave me … “Anything?” His brows rose. I breathed, “If I fucked him for it, what would you do?”

His pupils flared, and his gaze dropped to my mouth. The wood dresser groaned beneath his hands. “You say such atrocious things.” I waited, my heart an uneven beat. He at last met my eyes again. “You are always free to do what you want, with whomever you want. So if you want to ride him, go ahead.”

“Maybe I will.” Though a part of me wanted to retort, Liar.

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