Spy Glass Page 109

“No. The addiction is there, but it won’t force me to do horrible things this time.”

“Why not?”

“I will not hurt you or anyone else.”

“Then come here.” I rolled to my side and he lay next to me, curling his body around my back.

Devlen stretched his arm out so I could rest my head on it. He draped his other arm around my waist, pulling me closer. I hadn’t realized how chilled I was until his warmth soaked into me.

“Now you can fill in the blanks,” I said.

“At least, I don’t have to convince you that I’m on your side. I was worried you wouldn’t let me explain.”

“It was a surprise, but there was something in your eyes…. You hadn’t come to hurt me.”

“You trust me.” He said it as if he couldn’t believe it.

“Yes.”

He stayed quiet.

I nudged him with my elbow. “You still need to tell me how and why you’re here.”

“Galen visited me in Dawnwood soon after you did. He wanted me to get close to you, find out why you were in Fulgor. I played along so I could learn what he was up to. He also mentioned working out a sweet deal on the Bloodgood coast with some cult and that if I ever escaped he could use my help. I had no idea he was that hotshot CO Finn or that he was experimenting with blood magic. He never came back. But when Nic visited with the news…” His arm tightened around my waist as his voice cracked. “Nic mentioned that Vasko’s right-hand man had also died. No way Galen gets caught in a cave-in. And I didn’t believe you were…dead. I escaped and found the cult.”

“What about the tattoos?”

“Test of loyalty. Plus it gives Galen the illusion of control over me since he provides the blood. That, and he’s technically in enemy territory. This is Walsh’s domain, and if anything happened between them, Galen would need supporters.”

“Galen has me. I’m powerful.” I rested my arm on his, lacing my fingers with his. “I now understand the desire for more magic. If he didn’t hold my leash, I would—”

“No, you would not.”

“I gave in twice to the addiction.”

He laughed. “Look at my arms, Opal. Four tattoos on each. I gave in eight times and he started me with a tiny amount of magic. You were given all your own power back, plus Galen’s. He was so frustrated with how you held off the withdrawal, and how you wouldn’t use the magic. And he’s surprised you have not gone into withdrawal since the binding.”

“Not for lack of trying. I went from avoiding magic to using it all the time.”

“At his command. Have you tried anything on your own?”

I considered. “When I communicated with you and Heli, but that is what put me over the edge.”

He squeezed my hand. “You shouldn’t have risked your freedom for me.”

“What freedom? I was stuck here regardless. Plus I’ve felt the unbearable need for blood magic. I couldn’t see you suffer, and, I’ll admit it, I really didn’t want you to become a Warper again.”

“There’s no chance I would become a Warper.”

“But—”

“No chance. Before the addiction fueled my desire, I wanted to be powerful and to reach the highest level of the Kirakawa ritual. This time, I’m able to separate the addiction from my desire. While I give in to the physical need for the magic, my love for you has not allowed it to change who I am. Does that make sense?”

I turned to him. “A little.” But did I love him? With our history, could I? A year and a half ago, he had kidnapped and tortured me, all for blood magic. I understood the addiction, but would I go to those lengths to obtain relief? No. Because, like Devlen now, I had separated the addiction from my own desires. My worry about being addicted before all this was laughable.

My sister’s question from long ago echoed in my mind. What do you regret?

Devlen was a different man than the one who hurt me. I’d known it in my head, but my heart had been slower to accept it. And after we left this cave, I wouldn’t have another chance to show him how I feel.

“One question,” I said.

“Anything.”

“What do the battle symbols on my switchblade mean?”

“Didn’t Janco tell you?” he asked.

“No. He turned red, sputtered some excuse and bolted.”

“Sounds like Janco.”

“Tell me.”

“The symbols are a vow. They say, I offer my heart, entrust my soul and give my life to you.”

I reached up and cupped his face. His hair hung loose and it fell forward when I drew him closer to me. A hopeful joy shone in his eyes as our lips met. Long-suppressed desire for him burst through all my doubts, worries and fears. I deepened the kiss.

He held me and I wrapped my arms around his neck. But I needed to feel his skin against mine. I pulled at his shirt. He broke off the kiss, stopping me.

“Opal, I endeavor to earn your forgiveness. This is more than I ever hoped for. I do not deserve—”

I placed my fingers on his lips. “Shhh. We don’t have much time and I don’t want to waste it talking. Now, where were we?” Yanking off his shirt, I ran my hands over his torso and around his back.

His mouth sought mine and soon I had my wish. Skin against skin.

27

WRAPPED IN DEVLEN’S ARMS, OUR CONNECTION RAN deeper than any magical bond. The past hour an amazing reprieve from my fear and dread over this evening’s activities.

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