A Court of Mist and Fury Page 85

“So you’re entitled to have as many bad days as you want, but I can’t get a few hours?”

“Oh, take however long you want to mope. I was going to invite you to come shopping with me for said lacy little unmentionables, but … sit up here forever, if you have to.”

He didn’t respond.

I went on, “Maybe I’ll send a few to Tarquin—with an offer to wear them for him if he forgives us. Maybe he’ll take those blood rubies right back.”

His mouth barely, barely tugged up at the corners. “He’d see that as a taunt.”

“I gave him a few smiles and he handed over a family heirloom. I bet he’d give me the keys to his territory if I showed up wearing those undergarments.”

“Someone thinks mighty highly of herself.”

“Why shouldn’t I? You seem to have difficulty not staring at me day and night.”

There it was—a kernel of truth and a question.

“Am I supposed to deny,” he drawled, but something sparked in those eyes, “that I find you attractive?”

“You’ve never said it.”

“I’ve told you many times, and quite frequently, how attractive I find you.”

I shrugged, even as I thought of all those times—when I’d dismissed them as teasing compliments, nothing more. “Well, maybe you should do a better job of it.”

The gleam in his eyes turned into something predatory. A thrill went through me as he braced his powerful arms on the table and purred, “Is that a challenge, Feyre?”

I held that predator’s gaze—the gaze of the most powerful male in Prythian. “Is it?”

His pupils flared. Gone was the quiet sadness, the isolated guilt. Only that lethal focus—on me. On my mouth. On the bob of my throat as I tried to keep my breathing even. He said, slow and soft, “Why don’t we go down to that store right now, Feyre, so you can try on those lacy little things—so I can help you pick which one to send to Tarquin.”

My toes curled inside my fleece-lined slippers. Such a dangerous line we walked together. The ice-kissed night wind rustled our hair.

But Rhys’s gaze cut skyward—and a heartbeat later, Azriel shot from the clouds like a spear of darkness.

I wasn’t sure whether I should be relieved or not, but I left before Azriel could land, giving the High Lord and his spymaster some privacy.

As soon as I entered the dimness of the stairwell, the heat rushed from me, leaving a sick, cold feeling in my stomach.

There was flirting, and then there was … this.

I had loved Tamlin. Loved him so much I had not minded destroying myself for it—for him. And then everything had happened, and now I was here, and … and I might have very well gone to that pretty shop with Rhysand.

I could almost see what would have happened:

The shop ladies would have been polite—a bit nervous—and given us privacy as Rhys sat on the settee in the back of the shop while I went behind the curtained-off chamber to try on the red lace set I’d eyed thrice now. And when I emerged, mustering up more bravado than I felt, Rhys would have looked me up and down. Twice.

And he would have kept staring at me as he informed the shop ladies that the store was closed and they should all come back tomorrow, and we’d leave the tab on the counter.

I would have stood there, naked save for scraps of red lace, while we listened to the quick, discreet sounds of them closing up and leaving.

And he would have looked at me the entire time—at my breasts, visible through the lace; at the plane of my stomach, now finally looking less starved and taut. At the sweep of my hips and thighs—between them. Then he would have met my gaze again, and crooked a finger with a single murmured, “Come here.”

And I would have walked to him, aware of every step, as I at last stopped in front of where he sat. Between his legs.

His hands would have slid to my waist, the calluses scraping my skin. Then he’d have tugged me a bit closer before leaning in to brush a kiss to my navel, his tongue—

I swore as I slammed into the post of the stairwell landing.

And I blinked—blinked as the world returned and I realized …

I glared at the eye tattooed in my hand and hissed both with my tongue and that silent voice within the bond itself, “Prick.”

In the back of my mind, a sensual male voice chuckled with midnight laughter.

My face burning, cursing him for the vision he’d slipped past my mental shields, I reinforced them as I entered my room. And took a very, very cold bath.

I ate with Mor that night beside the crackling fire in the town house dining room, Rhys and the others off somewhere, and when she finally asked why I kept scowling every time Rhysand’s name was mentioned, I told her about the vision he’d sent into my mind. She’d laughed until wine came out of her nose, and when I scowled at her, she told me I should be proud: when Rhys was prepared to brood, it took nothing short of a miracle to get him out of it.

I tried to ignore the slight sense of triumph—even as I climbed into bed.

I was just starting to drift off, well past two in the morning thanks to chatting with Mor on the couch in the living room for hours and hours about all the great and terrible places she’d seen, when the house let out a groan.

Like the wood itself was being warped, the house began to moan and shudder—the colored glass lights in my room tinkling.

I jolted upright, twisting to the open window. Clear skies, nothing—

Nothing but the darkness leaking into my room from the hall door.

I knew that darkness. A kernel of it lived in me.

It rushed in from the cracks of the door like a flood. The house shuddered again.

I vaulted from bed, yanked the door open, and darkness swept past me on a phantom wind, full of stars and flapping wings and—pain.

So much pain, and despair, and guilt and fear.

I hurtled into the hall, utterly blind in the impenetrable dark. But there was a thread between us, and I followed it—to where I knew his room was. I fumbled for the handle, then—

More night and stars and wind poured out, my hair whipping around me, and I lifted an arm to shield my face as I edged into the room. “Rhysand.”

No response. But I could feel him there—feel that lifeline between us.

I followed it until my shins banged into what had to be his bed. “Rhysand,” I said over the wind and dark. The house shook, the floorboards clattering under my feet. I patted the bed, feeling sheets and blankets and down, and then—

Then a hard, taut male body. But the bed was enormous, and I couldn’t get a grip on him. “Rhysand! ”

Around and around the darkness swirled, the beginning and end of the world.

I scrambled onto the bed, lunging for him, feeling what was his arm, then his stomach, then his shoulders. His skin was freezing as I gripped his shoulders and shouted his name.

No response, and I slid a hand up his neck, to his mouth—to make sure he was still breathing, that this wasn’t his power floating away from him—

Icy breath hit my palm. And, bracing myself, I rose up on my knees, aiming blindly, and slapped him.

My palm stung—but he didn’t move. I hit him again, pulling on that bond between us, shouting his name down it like it was a tunnel, banging on that wall of ebony adamant within his mind, roaring at it.

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