A Court of Mist and Fury Page 98

“He tried—”

“Stop comparing. Stop comparing me to him.”

The words cut me short. I blinked.

“You think I don’t know how stories get written—how this story will be written?” Rhys put his hands on his chest, his face more open, more anguished than I’d seen it. “I am the dark lord, who stole away the bride of spring. I am a demon, and a nightmare, and I will meet a bad end. He is the golden prince—the hero who will get to keep you as his reward for not dying of stupidity and arrogance.”

The things I love have a tendency to be taken from me. He’d admitted that to me Under the Mountain.

But his words were kindling to my temper, to whatever pit of fear was yawning open inside of me. “And what about my story?” I hissed. “What about my reward? What about what I want?”

“What is it that you want, Feyre?”

I had no answer. I didn’t know. Not anymore.

“What is it that you want, Feyre?”

I stayed silent.

His laugh was bitter, soft. “I thought so. Perhaps you should take some time to figure that out one of these days.”

“Perhaps I don’t know what I want, but at least I don’t hide what I am behind a mask,” I seethed. “At least I let them see who I am, broken bits and all. Yes—it’s to save your people. But what about the other masks, Rhys? What about letting your friends see your real face? But maybe it’s easier not to. Because what if you did let someone in? And what if they saw everything, and still walked away? Who could blame them—who would want to bother with that sort of mess?”

He flinched.

The most powerful High Lord in history flinched. And I knew I’d hit hard—and deep.

Too hard. Too deep.

“Rhys,” I said.

“Let’s go home.”

The word hung between us, and I wondered if he’d take it back—even as I waited for my own mouth to bark that it wasn’t home. But the thought of the clear, crisp blue skies of Velaris at sunset, the sparkle of the city lights …

Before I could say yes, he grabbed my hand, not meeting my stare, and winnowed us away.

The wind was hollow as it roared around us, the darkness cold and foreign.

Cassian, Azriel, and Mor were indeed waiting at the town house. I bid them good night while they ambushed Rhysand for answers about what Keir had said to provoke him.

I was still in my dress—which felt vulgar in the light of Velaris—but found myself heading into the garden, as if the moonlight and chill might cleanse my mind.

Though, if I was being honest … I was waiting for him. What I’d said …

I had been awful. He’d told me those secrets, those vulnerabilities in confidence. And I’d thrown them in his face.

Because I knew it’d hurt him. And I knew I hadn’t been talking about him, not really.

Minutes passed, the night still cool enough to remind me that spring had not fully dawned, and I shivered, rubbing my arms as the moon drifted. I listened to the fountain, and the city music … he didn’t come. I wasn’t sure what I’d even tell him.

I knew he and Tamlin were different. Knew that Rhysand’s protective anger tonight had been justified, that I would have had a similar reaction. I’d been bloodthirsty at the barest details of Mor’s suffering, had wanted to punish them for it.

I had known the risks. I had known I’d be sitting in his lap, touching him, using him. I’d been using him for a while now. And maybe I should tell him I didn’t … I didn’t want or expect anything from him.

Maybe Rhysand needed to flirt with me, taunt me, as much for a distraction and sense of normalcy as I did.

And maybe I’d said what I had to him because … because I’d realized that I might very well be the person who wouldn’t let anyone in. And tonight, when he’d recoiled after he’d seen how he affected me … It had crumpled something in my chest.

I had been jealous—of Cresseida. I had been so profoundly unhappy on that barge because I’d wanted to be the one he smiled at like that.

And I knew it was wrong, but … I did not think Rhys would call me a whore if I wanted it—wanted … him. No matter how soon it was after Tamlin.

Neither would his friends. Not when they had been called the same and worse.

And learned to live—and love—beyond it. Despite it.

So maybe it was time to tell Rhys that. To explain that I didn’t want to pretend. I didn’t want to write it off as a joke, or a plan, or a distraction.

And it’d be hard, and I was scared and might be difficult to deal with, but … I was willing to try—with him. To try to … be something. Together. Whether it was purely sex, or more, or something between or beyond them, I didn’t know. We’d find out.

I was healed—or healing—enough to want to try.

If he was willing to try, too.

If he didn’t walk away when I voiced what I wanted: him.

Not the High Lord, not the most powerful male in Prythian’s history.

Just … him. The person who had sent music into that cell; who had picked up that knife in Amarantha’s throne room to fight for me when no one else dared, and who had kept fighting for me every day since, refusing to let me crumble and disappear into nothing.

So I waited for him in the chilled, moonlit garden.

But he didn’t come.

Rhys wasn’t at breakfast. Or lunch. He wasn’t in the town house at all.

I’d even written him a note on the last piece of paper we’d used.

I want to talk to you.

I’d waited thirty minutes for the paper to vanish.

But it’d stayed in my palm—until I threw it in the fire.

I was pissed enough that I stalked into the streets, barely remarking that the day was balmy, sunny, that the very air now seemed laced with citrus and wildflowers and new grass. Now that we had the orb, he’d no doubt be in touch with the queens. Who would no doubt waste our time, just to remind us they were important; that they, too, had power.

Part of me wished Rhys could crush their bones the way he’d done with Keir’s the night before.

I headed for Amren’s apartment across the river, needing the walk to clear my head.

Winter had indeed yielded to spring. By the time I was halfway there, my overcoat was slung over my arm, and my body was slick with sweat beneath my heavy cream sweater.

I found Amren the same way I’d seen her the last time: hunched over the Book, papers strewn around her. I set the blood on the counter.

She said without looking up, “Ah. The reason why Rhys bit my head off this morning.”

I leaned against the counter, frowning. “Where’s he gone off to?”

“To hunt whoever attacked you yesterday.”

If they had ash arrows in their arsenal … I tried to soothe the worry that bit deep. “Do you think it was the Summer Court?” The blood ruby still sat on the floor, still used as a paperweight against the river breeze blowing in from the open windows. Varian’s necklace was now beside her bed. As if she fell asleep looking at it.

“Maybe,” Amren said, dragging a finger along a line of text. She must be truly absorbed to not even bother with the blood. I debated leaving her to it. But she went on, “Regardless, it seems that our enemies have a track on Rhys’s magic. Which means they’re able to find him when he winnows anywhere or if he uses his powers.” She at last looked up. “You lot are leaving Velaris in two days. Rhys wants you stationed at one of the Illyrian war-camps—where you’ll fly down to the human lands once the queens send word.”

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