I hadn't cried myself to sleep since my parents had been
murdered and Vasilia had betrayed me as a child, but that's
what happened. I thought I might dream about the massacre,
but I fell down into the blackness, and I didn't see or hear
anything for the rest of the night.
The sharp point of a sword kissing my throat woke me the
At first, I thought some spider was crawling on me and
tickling my skin with its tiny legs. I tried to flick it
away, but it kept coming back. Slowly, I realized that a
spider wasn't that hard and sharp, and that someone else was
in here. Someone who smelled cold, crisp, and clean, just
like the magic that had coated the front door, along with a
strong undercurrent of hot, peppery anger.
I opened my eyes and looked up to find the magier of the
house looming over me.
He wore a tailored black shirt that stretched across his
firm, muscled chest, along with black leggings and boots. A
long dark gray coat with silver buttons hung off his broad
shoulders. It reminded me of the uniform that Lord Hans had
worn to the luncheon.
The magier looked to be in his early thirties, with sharp
cheekbones, a straight nose, and a strong jaw. His short
dark brown hair gleamed under the fluorestones, and his eyes
were a light, bright, piercing blueâ€”the same blue as the
magic that had shocked me last night. He was quite handsome,
with a powerful, authoritative air that made him even more
attractive. A natural-born leader, and not just because of
his magier power. I drew in another breath, tasting his
scent again. He even smelled good, like crushed ice mixed
with vanilla and a hint of spice.
"And a good morning to you too," I drawled. "Do you greet
all your guests this way?"
"You are not a guest," he growled. "In case you missed it,
this is the part where you start begging for your life."
After everything that had happened yesterday, the threat of
this man running me through with his sword didn't bother me
"Well, go ahead then," I said. "Although it would be a shame
to ruin this jacket with my blood. Is this Andvarian
silkfleece? It's exquisite. Not to mention the pillow.
Floresian down, right?"
I wasn't sure why I said that. Maybe yesterday's horrors had
addled my brain. Or maybe I was simply tired of biting my
tongue. Of always having to do and say the polite thing, the
nice thing, instead of what I really thought and felt. And
what had all that politeness and nicety gotten me?
Nothingâ€”absolutely nothing but memories of death in
my mind, screams echoing in my ears, and the stench of blood
in my nose.
So, no, I wasn't going to cower, and I certainly wasn't
going to beg for anything, not even my own miserable life.
No, from now on, I was going to do and say exactly what I
wanted, when I wanted, and damn the consequences. It was the
first step in keeping that promise I had made to myself to
never be weak and helpless again.
"Who are you?" he growled again. "How did you get in here?"
"The door was open."
It wasn't a total lie. The door had been open . . . after I
had snuffed out all his lightning.
The magier's eyes narrowed, and he dug the point of his
sword a little deeper into my throat. Not enough to break
the skin, but almost. I resisted the urge to retreat and
sink deeper into the pillow propped up behind my head.
"That door is never, ever open," he said in a soft, deadly
voice. "So how did you get in here? What do you want?"
"Well, I, for one, would like to have a civilized
conversation instead of all these vague threats that you
He turned the sword point the tiniest bit, like it was a
nail he was about to hammer into my throat. "My threats are
anything but vague."
"Perhaps vague was the wrong word. How about nonexistent?"
He blinked in surprise. "Nonexistent?"
I shrugged. Well, as much as I could with his sword still at
my throat. "If you really wanted to kill me, you would have
done it while I was sleeping. Not woken me up in such
He didn't say anything. He couldn't argue with my logic.
"So, why don't you let me up, and we can have a normal
conversation like two adults."
My gaze locked with his, and I carefully reached out and
touched my finger to his sword. He tensed, but he let me
slowly push the blade away from my throat. After a moment,
he stepped back, although he kept his weapon raised, ready
to stab me if I did anything he didn't like.