Spy Glass Page 39

“I promise.” When he failed to look reassured, I added, “Don’t worry. I have help. I’m not going in alone.”

“Who? Your annoying Ixian friend?”

“Yes.” I didn’t lie. Valek matched the description. He was Ixian and quite annoying at times.

“Hey, Dev, are you going to share?” a male voice asked. “I could use a hug, too.”

We broke apart as a group of prisoners approached us—five men with strong arms from working at the construction site. Not a CO was in sight. Figured.

“Go back to work,” Devlen said. “Or you’ll get into trouble.”

“The COs are busy,” the biggest of the men said. “Fight broke out inside.” He inclined his bald head toward the new wing.

I pulled my sais.

“I didn’t mean from the COs.” Devlen’s voice held a warning.

“From you?” The men laughed.

Devlen stepped away from me. “She’s the one you need to worry about.” More chuckles.

He met my gaze, and I knew in a flash what he would do next. I flipped my sais up into an attack position, flourishing the weapons to distract the men. Devlen moved, stepping in close to the big man and striking his throat with the edge of his palm.

Reversing my weapons so the weighted knob on top led, I shuffled forward, ramming the knobs into the closest prisoner’s solar plexus. A cheap shot, but it was effective for disabling an opponent without causing serious injury. I turned to the next guy in time to duck his swing, and repeated my move.

In a matter of seconds we had all five men gasping for breath. Devlen’s strike to the neck caused a temporary and painful swelling to the windpipe. If his hit had been harder, it would have crushed the windpipe, killing them.

The group stumbled away.

“Will they report you?” I asked Devlen.

“No. But I’ll have to watch out for them.”

The image of them ambushing Devlen inside Dawnwood caused my heart to race. Unlike the scuffle, which I hadn’t even broken a sweat for. “Maybe you should inform the COs or tell Pellow?”

“No need.” He dismissed my concerns.

“Can you handle all five?”

He turned to me. “Opal, worry about your own plans. Not me. If I get attacked…” he shrugged “…it’s all part of being in prison.”

Which he deserved. Which I kept forgetting.

“You’ll keep me informed of your progress?” he asked.

“I’ll try.” First I needed to figure a way to get inside.

He studied me as if memorizing my face. Those blue eyes with their thick eyelashes used to scare me, but now his intense gaze sent a surge of heat through my body. We had fought well together. Without thought, I stepped close and kissed him. Stunned, he froze, then returned the kiss with passion.

Coming to my senses, I jerked away. “You should go before you get into trouble.” Or I do.

“Opal, I’m—”

“Don’t apologize. I started it.”

“True.”

“And don’t go all Story Weaver on me, either.”

“Wouldn’t think of it.” He flashed a grin and pushed the wheelbarrow toward the construction site.

Dizzy with confusion and disbelief over what I had just done, I remained rooted in place until I reined in my out-of-control emotions. Didn’t anyone see us? I scanned the workers. They appeared to be oblivious, and the COs counted heads, making sure no one ran off while they were preoccupied. All except Pellow. He nodded at me before returning to his post. Damn.

When Nic and Eve left HQ escorting a prisoner, I ducked behind the fence so they wouldn’t see me. Did I kiss Devlen because Kade still hadn’t sent me a message? And why was I hiding from my friends?

I waited until they were out of sight before I headed toward the Councilor’s Hall. My mind swirled with questions with no real answers, replaying the intense conversation with Devlen. He really cared for me. It hadn’t been an act. No glib words or sweet talk. He would have gone to Wirral for me.

Then the worries started. What about Kade? I loved him. So why was I kissing Devlen? Would Pellow gossip about our kiss to the other COs? I hoped my friends didn’t find out. I’d never live it down. Nic and Eve would—

And then from the chaos of my thoughts an astonishing idea sparked. I had the answer to how Valek and I would get into the maximum security prison.

I reported to work and assisted Councilor Moon with interviews. We had been searching for another person to take over my duties. Now that I had a way to get inside Wirral, hiring a new person and training him or her became critical. Tama wasn’t happy, but she understood. She had made such progress in trusting others, but, at times, I found her clutching the glass paperweight I had made for her.

Tama claimed my gift steadied her and gave her strength. “It reminds me of you,” she said after the last interviewee had left. “I remember what you have done despite—” she swept an arm out “—everything. If you can face your fears, then I can, too.”

Glad she found comfort from my paperweight, I swallowed my doubt that I faced my fears. Seeking my blood felt more like avoiding the fear of being without magic forever.

Later in the afternoon, I ran errands for Faith. Just like every day, I delivered various papers and forms to the other offices in the Hall. Except today I failed to hand over one form. Instead, I slipped it into my satchel. One day’s delay wouldn’t be noticed. I hoped.

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