Spy Glass Page 32

He had been right about one thing. One thing only. I hadn’t been clever enough in Hubal.

By the time I reached home, I failed to find the gap in his logic, and I realized I had forgotten to ask him about my blood. Idiot.

After unlocking the four complicated locks Nic had insisted on installing, I entered the front room. Lighting a lantern against the increasing gloom, I spotted my first surprise. A letter had been slipped under my door. I carried it upstairs to read and encountered my second surprise.

Valek sat at my kitchen table, eating a bowl of stew.

The aroma of ginger and garlic hung in the air. Valek was eating Ian’s beef stew, which meant he had been following me and had already visited the Pig Pen.

“How long have you been here?” I asked.

“Hello to you, too,” he said. He pointed to a second bowl. “Sit. Eat. You must be starving.”

I joined him at the table. He had lit all the lanterns and the room glowed with a cozy yellow light. Heat radiated from the meat, yet the coals in my hearth remained banked. He must have arrived only a short time before me. We finished the meal in silence.

When he leaned back, I asked him again, “How long have you been in Fulgor?”

“Long enough to confirm what you’re trying to do.”

I acted nonchalant. “Good, then I don’t have to explain anything.”

An eyebrow quirked. He had darkened his pale skin and was unshaven. His plain and stained clothing resembled those worn by the construction workers.

“Nice try. What I don’t know is why you called for help.”

“Then why did Yelena tell me you were already on the way?”

“Good timing. I heard you traveled to Fulgor after our chat and guessed the reason you came here. I figured you would encounter trouble.”

Annoyed, I asked, “Are you sure you guessed right?”

“Unless collecting blueprints of Wirral is a new hobby of yours?”

I slouched in my chair. “You’re right. I encountered trouble. Again.”

“It’s the nature of this business,” he said.

When I failed to perk up from his “pep” talk, he asked, “Remember when I told you I make mistakes?”

“Yes.”

“This—” he swept his hand out, indicating the room “—is all due to my mistake in underestimating you.”

“Go on.”

“I thought I was being subtle when I asked you about your blood. I must be losing my touch.” He gave me a wry smile.

“If it makes you feel any better, it took me several hours to put it together.”

“I’ll hold off on my retirement then.” He waited.

I sighed. “When exactly did you arrive in town?”

“First day of the warming season.”

I made a quick mental calculation. “A few days before then, I had a humbling encounter.” I detailed my experiences with Finn and his pack. “I have to assume he knows the reason for our immunity, about blood magic…everything. I’d like to know what game he’s playing, but I can’t touch him. You, on the other hand, won’t have any problems getting to him.” I grinned in anticipation. Finn was in for a nasty surprise.

Valek had remained silent as I talked, staring into the distance. He played with his spoon, spinning it around and around on the tabletop. “I agree. Finn must be dealt with, but not by me.” He met my gaze.

“You don’t need to worry. He’s not in your league,” I said.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. I’ve no doubt he’s a classic overgrown bully. But he’s not mine to deal with.” His flat tone revealed no emotion. “He’s yours.”

10

“DID I HEAR YOU RIGHT?” I LEANED ON THE TABLE, propping my elbows near the edge. “Me? Weren’t you listening when I described Finn’s speed and his goons and that serum? I can’t fight him.”

“Then why are you in Fulgor?” Valek asked.

“I told you.”

“How committed are you?”

“I’m here. And I have blueprints of the prison, files on all the hotshots—”

“That isn’t what I asked.”

“Very committed.”

“Then why are you helping Councilor Moon? Why did you purchase this building? Why are you hanging out with your friends?”

I didn’t answer.

“Halfhearted spies tend to die, Opal. In fact, you’re lucky Finn decided you weren’t a danger to him or the prison. Otherwise, you’d be dead by now.”

“I’m making progress. Being Councilor Moon’s aide gives me access to data I wouldn’t normally have. It’s just spying, lying and deceiving others go against my nature.”

“Then I’ll ask again. Why are you here?” His matter-of-fact tone irritated me, but he continued as if having a pleasant conversation. “Why not ask someone to find the information for you?”

“I’m being smart. I can’t handle Finn—”

Valek raised his eyebrow. I hadn’t answered his question.

“It is too important to trust anyone else,” I said.

“Now we’re making progress.”

I groaned and rested my forehead in my hands, closing my eyes. Was it lecture Opal day? First Devlen, now Valek. Did I miss the announcement? All I needed was my mother to pop up and berate me for not delivering the wedding samples to Mara for the mess to be complete.

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