Spy Glass Page 27

“Good. Do you expect to be ambushed again?”

“Not with my escorts following me around Fulgor.”

Finn gave me a wry smile. “They care about you. And…” He reached for one of the flasks, twisting off the cap. He poured wine into one of the cups and handed it to me. He filled the other and fiddled with it.

Unsure of what to do with the cup, I prompted, “And?”

“And, I’m beginning to care about you, too.” He brushed a stray strand of hair from my face. His warm fingers stroked my cheek and lingered under my chin, drawing me closer. He kissed me.

My heart broke into a gallop. In order to maintain the ruse, I kissed him back. After…I don’t know…seconds?…minutes?…he drew back and gave me that slanted grin. He raised his cup and stopped as a twig snapped.

We both turned. The four men who had attacked us before stood a few feet downstream. My heart increased its pace to a full-out canter.

“How romantic,” Middle Man said. “I hope we’re interrupting.”

Finn stood and pulled his sword. I cursed myself for not replacing my sais. Instead, I grabbed my switchblade and triggered it as I positioned myself next to Finn.

He glanced at me and asked, “Are you certain these goons aren’t here about your mission?”

“Yes,” I said.

The four men advanced.

“This isn’t going to be pretty. Any chance we can talk our way out of this?” he asked.

I called to the men. “What do you want?”

“You already know, Opal. Don’t go acting like you’re surprised,” Middle Man said.

Finn asked, “Any chance you could just tell them or give them what they want?”

“I’m not working for anyone,” I shouted at the men. “Why don’t you believe me?”

“Then why are you in Fulgor?” Middle Man asked.

“I told you. For a job. My friends.” I almost screamed in frustration.

The men paused and exchanged a glance with Finn. He lowered his weapon and turned to me. “You’re either incredibly smart or unbelievably stupid.”

A chill raced over my skin. “Excuse me?”

“Somehow you blocked my magic, so I can’t read your intentions.” He gestured to the goons. “We couldn’t scare the information from you, and I couldn’t romance it from you, either.” A wild gleam lit his eyes. He sheathed his weapon.

I backed away, pointing my knife at his chest. “What are you saying?”

“The game’s been fun. And it just galls me to resort to the old-fashioned ways, but, sweetheart, you’re one tough nut to crack.”

8

MY MIND REELED AS I BACKED AWAY FROM FINN, trying to connect him to the four smiling goons. The realization that I was an amateur caught in a professional’s game lodged in my throat. And even though my heart pumped for all it was worth, my legs refused to run.

Upstream remained the only direction open. Since Finn had arranged this whole surprise, he probably already had it covered. He matched me step for step until I reached the edge of the boulder. My knife was all that separated us.

Finn moved without warning. Pain flared in my wrist, and he held my switchblade.

“Are you going to cooperate and tell us what your mission is?” he asked.

“I told you—”

“Nothing. No matter. You will.”

“Why don’t you believe me?”

“I deal with prisoners all day so I don’t believe anyone. And, I’ve told you before, it’s part of my job to find out why you’re in town. The warden has also given me permission to make sure your keen interest in the SMU isn’t because you’re up to no good.” He reached into his pocket.

I jumped off the boulder, landing hard on the uneven ground. I spun, intent on running, when a dart pricked my neck. Finn grabbed my arm before I could yank it out. I marveled at his reflexes as my world liquefied. He picked me up as if I weighed nothing.

How could he hold me when my body was a puddle? He poured me back onto the boulder. I sloshed at the edges and stared in amazement at the drippy trees and his gooey face.

Finn settled next to me. “Isn’t this better than torture?”

The forest spun around my boulder. His men stretched into long lines of color. “Anything’s better than torture.” The intense rush of the waterfall overwhelmed my senses.

“Plus you’ve proven to be very resistant to torture.”

I giggled. In a minuscule section of my mind, a tiny Opal was appalled by my behavior. Miniature Opal screamed at me to stop being ridiculous. This was a serious situation. But big Opal was completely at Finn’s mercy.

“Tell me,” he commanded.

And I couldn’t resist. The words gushed up my throat and poured from my mouth, filling the forest until I drowned in them.

When I woke, I couldn’t remember what Finn had asked me or what I had told him. My stomach heaved and I rolled over and expelled the picnic lunch onto the ground. Only spotty details of the afternoon remained. I glanced around, expecting to see Finn and his goons gloating, but the forest was empty.

I lay back as relief then fear then anger consumed me. Did he expect me to ignore what happened? And why did he go to all that trouble? Why did he and the warden care about my reason for being in Fulgor? Did they really think I would try to help one of the inmates escape? The answers eluded me.

Should I tell the Councilor? The thought pumped ice through my veins. His magic couldn’t hurt me, but that meant nothing. This guy was out of my league. He reminded me of Valek. Perhaps it was time for me to call in that favor. After the Warper Battle six years ago, Valek had offered me his assistance. Anytime and anywhere, he had said. I hoped he meant it.

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