A Court of Mist and Fury Page 77

“What?” I whirled to him.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “As a thank-you. For Under the Mountain.”

Ask it now—ask him for the Book instead.

But that would require trust, and … kind as he was, he was a High Lord.

He pulled the box from its resting spot and shut the lid before handing it to me. “You were the first person who didn’t laugh at my idea to break down class barriers. Even Cresseida snickered when I told her. If you won’t accept the necklace for saving us, then take it for that.”

“It is a good idea, Tarquin. Appreciating it doesn’t mean you have to reward me.”

He shook his head. “Just take it.”

It would insult him if I refused—so I closed my hands around the box.

Tarquin said, “It will suit you in the Night Court.”

“Perhaps I’ll stay here and help you revolutionize the world.”

His mouth twisted to the side. “I could use an ally in the North.”

Was that why he had brought me? Why he’d given me the gift? I hadn’t realized how alone we were down here, that I was beneath ground, in a place that could be easily sealed—

“You have nothing to fear from me,” he said, and I wondered if my scent was that readable. “But I meant it—you have … sway with Rhysand. And he is notoriously difficult to deal with. He gets what he wants, has plans he does not tell anyone about until after he’s completed them, and does not apologize for any of it. Be his emissary to the human realm—but also be ours. You’ve seen my city. I have three others like it. Amarantha wrecked them almost immediately after she took over. All my people want now is peace, and safety, and to never have to look over their shoulders again. Other High Lords have told me about Rhys—and warned me about him. But he spared me Under the Mountain. Brutius was my cousin, and we had forces gathering in all of our cities to storm Under the Mountain. They caught him sneaking out through the tunnels to meet with them. Rhys saw that in Brutius’s mind—I know he did. And yet he lied to her face, and defied her when she gave the order to turn him into a living ghost. Maybe it was for his own schemes, but I know it was a mercy. He knows that I am young—and inexperienced, and he spared me.” Tarquin shook his head, mostly at himself. “Sometimes, I think Rhysand … I think he might have been her whore to spare us all from her full attention.”

I would betray nothing of what I knew. But I suspected he could see it in my eyes—the sorrow at the thought.

“I know I’m supposed to look at you,” Tarquin said, “and see that he’s made you into a pet, into a monster. But I see the kindness in you. And I think that reflects more on him than anything. I think it shows that you and he might have many secrets—”

“Stop,” I blurted. “Just—stop. You know I can’t tell you anything. And I can’t promise you anything. Rhysand is High Lord. I only serve in his court.”

Tarquin glanced at the ground. “Forgive me if I’ve been forward. I’m still learning how to play the games of these courts—to my advisers’ chagrin.”

“I hope you never learn how to play the games of these courts.”

Tarquin held my gaze, face wary, but a bit bleak. “Then allow me to ask you a blunt question. Is it true you left Tamlin because he locked you up in his house?”

I tried to block out the memory, the terror and agony of my heart breaking apart. But I nodded.

“And is it true that you were saved from confinement by the Night Court?”

I nodded again.

Tarquin said, “The Spring Court is my southern neighbor. I have tenuous ties with them. But unless asked, I will not mention that you were here.”

Thief, liar, manipulator. I didn’t deserve his alliance.

But I bowed my head in thanks. “Any other treasure troves to show me?”

“Are gold and jewels not impressive enough? What of your merchant’s eye?”

I tapped the box. “Oh, I got what I wanted. Now I’m curious to see how much your alliance is worth.”

Tarquin laughed, the sound bouncing off the stone and wealth around us. “I didn’t feel like going to my meetings this afternoon, anyway.”

“What a reckless, wild young High Lord.”

Tarquin linked elbows with me again, patting my arm as he led me from the chamber. “You know, I think it might be very easy to love you, too, Feyre. Easier to be your friend.”

I made myself look away shyly as he sealed the door shut behind us, placing a palm flat on the space above the handle. I listened to the click of locks sliding into place.

He took me to other rooms beneath his palace, some full of jewels, others weapons, others clothes from eras long since past. He showed me one full of books, and my heart leaped—but there was nothing in there. Nothing but leather and dust and quiet. No trickle of power that felt like the male beside me—no hint of the book I needed.

Tarquin brought me to one last room, full of crates and stacks covered in sheets. And as I beheld all the artwork looming beyond the open door I said, “I think I’ve seen enough for today.”

He asked no questions as he resealed the chamber and escorted me back to the busy, sunny upper levels.

There had to be other places where it might be stored. Unless it was in another city.

I had to find it. Soon. There was only so long Rhys and Amren could draw out their political debates before we had to go home. I just prayed I’d find it fast enough—and not hate myself any more than I currently did.

Rhysand was lounging on my bed as if he owned it.

I took one look at the hands crossed behind his head, the long legs draped over the edge of the mattress, and ground my teeth. “What do you want?” I shut the door loud enough to emphasize the bite in my words.

“Flirting and giggling with Tarquin did you no good, I take it?”

I chucked the box onto the bed beside him. “You tell me.”

The smile faltered as he sat up, flipping open the lid. “This isn’t the Book.”

“No, but it’s a beautiful gift.”

“You want me to buy you jewelry, Feyre, then say the word. Though given your wardrobe, I thought you were aware that it was all bought for you.”

I hadn’t realized, but I said, “Tarquin is a good male—a good High Lord. You should just ask him for the damned Book.”

Rhys snapped shut the lid. “So he plies you with jewels and pours honey in your ear, and now you feel bad?”

“He wants your alliance—desperately. He wants to trust you, rely on you.”

“Well, Cresseida is under the impression that her cousin is rather ambitious, so I’d be careful to read between his words.”

“Oh? Did she tell you that before, during, or after you took her to bed?”

Rhys stood in a graceful, slow movement. “Is that why you wouldn’t look at me? Because you think I fucked her for information?”

“Information or your own pleasure, I don’t care.”

He came around the bed, and I stood my ground, even as he stopped with hardly a hand’s breadth between us. “Jealous, Feyre?”

“If I’m jealous, then you’re jealous about Tarquin and his honey pouring.”

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