A Court of Mist and Fury Page 79

But the site was too visible, and from the distance, I couldn’t definitively tell if it was the Book contained within.

We’d have to be absolutely certain before we went in—to warrant the risks in searching. Absolutely certain.

I wished I didn’t, but I realized I already had a plan for that, too.

We dined with Tarquin, Cresseida, and Varian in their family dining room—a sure sign that the High Lord did indeed want that alliance, ambition or no.

Varian was studying Amren as if he was trying to solve a riddle she’d posed to him, and she paid him no heed whatsoever as she debated with Cresseida about the various translations of some ancient text. I’d been leading up to my question, telling Tarquin of the things I’d seen in his city that day—the fresh fish I’d bought for myself on the docks.

“You ate it right there,” Tarquin said, lifting his brows.

Rhys had propped his head on a fist as I said, “They fried it with the other fishermen’s lunches. Didn’t charge me extra for it.”

Tarquin let out an impressed laugh. “I can’t say I’ve ever done that—sailor or no.”

“You should,” I said, meaning every word. “It was delicious.”

I’d worn the necklace he’d given me, and Nuala and I planned my clothes around it. We’d decided on gray—a soft, dove shade—to show off the glittering black. I had worn nothing else—no earrings, no bracelets, no rings. Tarquin had seemed pleased by it, even though Varian had choked when he beheld me in an heirloom of his household. Cresseida, surprisingly, had told me it suited me and it didn’t fit in here, anyway. A backhanded compliment—but praise enough.

“Well, maybe I’ll go tomorrow. If you’ll join me.”

I grinned at Tarquin—aware of every one I offered him, now that Rhys had mentioned it. Beyond his giving me brief, nightly updates on their lack of progress with discovering anything about the Book, we hadn’t really spoken since that evening I’d filled his glass—though it had been because of our own full days, not awkwardness.

“I’d like that,” I said. “Perhaps we could go for a walk in the morning down the causeway when the tide is out. There’s that little building along the way—it looks fascinating.”

Cresseida stopped speaking, but I went on, sipping from my wine. “I figure since I’ve seen most of the city now, I could see it on my way to visit some of the mainland, too.”

Tarquin’s glance at Cresseida was all the confirmation I needed.

That stone building indeed guarded what we sought.

“It’s a temple ruin,” Tarquin said blandly—the lie smooth as silk. “Just mud and seaweed at this point. We’ve been meaning to repair it for years.”

“Maybe we’ll take the bridge then. I’ve had enough of mud for a while.”

Remember that I saved you, that I fought the Middengard Wyrm—forget the threat …

Tarquin’s eyes held mine—for a moment too long.

In the span of a blink, I hurled my silent, hidden power toward him, a spear aimed toward his mind, those wary eyes.

There was a shield in place—a shield of sea glass and coral and the undulating sea.

I became that sea, became the whisper of waves against stone, the glimmer of sunlight on a gull’s white wings. I became him—became that mental shield.

And then I was through it, a clear, dark tether showing me the way back should I need it. I let instinct, no doubt granted from Rhys, guide me forward. To what I needed to see.

Tarquin’s thoughts hit me like pebbles. Why does she ask about the temple? Of all the things to bring up … Around me, they continued eating. I continued eating. I willed my own face, in a different body, a different world, to smile pleasantly.

Why did they want to come here so badly? Why ask about my trove?

Like lapping waves, I sent my thoughts washing over his.

She is harmless. She is kind, and sad, and broken. You saw her with your people—you saw how she treated them. How she treats you. Amarantha did not break that kindness.

I poured my thoughts into him, tinting them with brine and the cries of terns—wrapping them in the essence that was Tarquin, the essence he’d given to me.

Take her to the mainland tomorrow. That’ll keep her from asking about the temple. She saved Prythian. She is your friend.

My thoughts settled in him like a stone dropped into a pool. And as the wariness faded in his eyes, I knew my work was done.

I hauled myself back, back, back, slipping through that ocean-and-pearl wall, reeling inward until my body was a cage around me.

Tarquin smiled. “We’ll meet after breakfast. Unless Rhysand wants me for more meetings.” Neither Cresseida nor Varian so much as glanced at him. Had Rhys taken care of their own suspicions?

Lightning shot through my blood, even as my blood chilled to realize what I’d done—

Rhys waved a lazy hand. “By all means, Tarquin, spend the day with my lady.”

My lady. I ignored the two words. But I shut out my own marveling at what I’d accomplished, the slow-building horror at the invisible violation Tarquin would never know about.

I leaned forward, bracing my bare forearms on the cool wood table. “Tell me what there is to see on the mainland,” I asked Tarquin, and steered him away from the temple on the tidal causeway.

Rhys and Amren waited until the household lights dimmed before coming into my room.

I’d been sitting in bed, counting down the minutes, forming my plan. None of the guest rooms looked out on the causeway—as if they wanted no one to notice it.

Rhys arrived first, leaning against the closed door. “What a fast learner you are. It takes most daemati years to master that sort of infiltration.”

My nails bit into my palms. “You knew—that I did it?” Speaking the words aloud felt too much, too … real.

A shallow nod. “And what expert work you did, using the essence of him to trick his shields, to get past them … Clever lady.”

“He’ll never forgive me,” I breathed.

“He’ll never know.” Rhys angled his head, silky dark hair sliding over his brow. “You get used to it. The sense that you’re crossing a boundary, that you’re violating them. For what it’s worth, I didn’t particularly enjoy convincing Varian and Cresseida to find other matters more interesting.”

I dropped my gaze to the pale marble floor.

“If you hadn’t taken care of Tarquin,” he went on, “the odds are we’d be knee-deep in shit right now.”

“It was my fault, anyway—I was the one who asked about the temple. I was only cleaning up my own mess.” I shook my head. “It doesn’t feel right.”

“It never does. Or it shouldn’t. Far too many daemati lose that sense. But here—tonight … the benefits outweighed the costs.”

“Is that also what you told yourself when you went into my mind? What was the benefit then?”

Rhys pushed off the door, crossing to where I sat on the bed. “There are parts of your mind I left undisturbed, things that belong solely to you, and always will. And as for the rest … ” His jaw clenched. “You scared the shit out of me for a long while, Feyre. Checking in that way … I couldn’t very well stroll into the Spring Court and ask how you were doing, could I?” Light footsteps sounded in the hall—Amren. Rhys held my gaze though as he said, “I’ll explain the rest some other time.”

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