A Court of Mist and Fury Page 86

A crack in the dark.

And then his hands were on me, flipping me, pinning me with expert skill to the mattress, a taloned hand at my throat.

I went still. “Rhysand.” I breathed. Rhys, I said through the bond, putting a hand against that inner shield.

The dark shuddered.

I threw my own power out—black to black, soothing his darkness, the rough edges, willing it to calm, to soften. My darkness sang his own a lullaby, a song my wet nurse had hummed when my mother had shoved me into her arms to go back to attending parties.

“It was a dream,” I said. His hand was so cold. “It was a dream.”

Again, the dark paused. I sent my own veils of night brushing up against it, running star-flecked hands down it.

And for a heartbeat, the inky blackness cleared enough that I saw his face above me: drawn, lips pale, violet eyes wide—scanning.

“Feyre,” I said. “I’m Feyre.” His breathing was jagged, uneven. I gripped the wrist that held my throat—held, but didn’t hurt. “You were dreaming.”

I willed that darkness inside myself to echo it, to sing those raging fears to sleep, to brush up against that ebony wall within his mind, gentle and soft …

Then, like snow shaken from a tree, his darkness fell away, taking mine with it.

Moonlight poured in—and the sounds of the city.

His room was similar to mine, the bed so big it must have been built to accommodate wings, but all tastefully, comfortably appointed. And he was naked above me—utterly naked. I didn’t dare look lower than the tattooed panes of his chest.

“Feyre,” he said, his voice hoarse. As if he’d been screaming.

“Yes,” I said. He studied my face—the taloned hand at my throat. And released me immediately.

I lay there, staring up at where he now knelt on the bed, rubbing his hands over his face. My traitorous eyes indeed dared to look lower than his chest—but my attention snagged on the twin tattoos on each of his knees: a towering mountain crowned by three stars. Beautiful—but brutal, somehow.

“You were having a nightmare,” I said, easing into a sitting position. Like some dam had been cracked open inside me, I glanced at my hand—and willed it to vanish into shadow. It did.

Half a thought scattered the darkness again.

His hands, however, still ended in long, black talons—and his feet … they ended in claws, too. The wings were out, slumped down behind him. And I wondered how close he’d been to fully shifting into that beast he’d once told me he hated.

He lowered his hands, talons fading into fingers. “I’m sorry.”

“That’s why you’re staying here, not at the House. You don’t want the others seeing this.”

“I normally keep it contained to my room. I’m sorry it woke you.”

I fisted my hands in my lap to keep from touching him. “How often does it happen?”

Rhys’s violet eyes met mine, and I knew the answer before he said, “As often as you.”

I swallowed hard. “What did you dream of tonight?”

He shook his head, looking toward the window—to where snow had dusted the nearby rooftops. “There are memories from Under the Mountain, Feyre, that are best left unshared. Even with you.”

He’d shared enough horrific things with me that they had to be … beyond nightmares, then. But I put a hand on his elbow, naked body and all. “When you want to talk, let me know. I won’t tell the others.”

I made to slither off the bed, but he grabbed my hand, keeping it against his arm. “Thank you.”

I studied the hand, the ravaged face. Such pain lingered there—and exhaustion. The face he never let anyone see.

I pushed up onto my knees and kissed his cheek, his skin warm and soft beneath my mouth. It was over before it started, but—but how many nights had I wanted someone to do the same for me?

His eyes were a bit wide as I pulled away, and he didn’t stop me as I eased off the bed. I was almost out the door when I turned back to him.

Rhys still knelt, wings drooping across the white sheets, head bowed, his tattoos stark against his golden skin. A dark, fallen prince.

The painting flashed into my mind.

Flashed—and stayed there, glimmering, before it faded.

But it remained, shining faintly, in that hole inside my chest.

The hole that was slowly starting to heal over.

CHAPTER

39

“Do you think you can decode it once we get the other half?” I said to Amren, lingering by the front door of her apartment the next afternoon.

She owned the top floor of a three-story building, the sloped ceiling ending on either side in a massive window. One looked out on the Sidra; the other on a tree-lined city square. The entire apartment consisted of one giant room: the faded oak floors were covered in equally worn carpets, furniture was scattered about as if she constantly moved it for whatever purpose.

Only her bed, a large, four-poster monstrosity canopied in gossamer, seemed set in a permanent place against the wall. There was no kitchen—only a long table and a hearth burning hot enough to make the room near-stifling. The dusting of snow from the night before had vanished in the dry winter sun by midmorning, the temperature crisp but mild enough that the walk here had been invigorating.

Seated on the floor before a low-lying table scattered with papers, Amren looked up from the gleaming metal of the book. Her face was paler than usual, her lips wan. “It’s been a long while since I used this language—I want to master it again before tackling the Book. Hopefully by then, those haughty queens will have given us their share.”

“And how long will relearning the language take?”

“Didn’t His Darkness fill you in?” She went back to the Book.

I strode for the long wooden table and set the package I’d brought on the scratched surface. A few pints of hot blood—straight from the butcher. I’d nearly run here to keep them from going cold. “No,” I said, taking out the containers. “He didn’t.” Rhys had already been gone by breakfast, though one of his notes had been on a bedside table.

Thank you—for last night, was all it had said. No pen to write a response.

But I’d hunted down one anyway, and had written back, What do the tattooed stars and mountain on your knees mean?

The paper had vanished a heartbeat later. When it hadn’t returned, I’d dressed and gone to breakfast. I was halfway through my eggs and toast when the paper appeared beside my plate, neatly folded.

That I will bow before no one and nothing but my crown.

This time, a pen had appeared. I’d merely written back, So dramatic. And through our bond, on the other side of my mental shields, I could have sworn I heard his laugh.

Smiling at the memory, I unscrewed the lid on the first jar, the tang of blood filling my nostrils. Amren sniffed, then whipped her head to the glass pints. “You—oh, I like you.”

“It’s lamb, if that makes a difference. Do you want me to heat it up?”

She rushed from the Book, and I just watched as she clutched the jar in both hands and gulped it down like water.

Well, at least I wouldn’t have to bother finding a pot in this place.

Amren drank half in one go. A trickle of blood ran down her chin, and she let it drip onto her gray shirt—rumpled in a way I’d never seen. Smacking her lips, she set the jar on the table with a great sigh. Blood gleamed on her teeth. “Thank you.”

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