Spy Glass Page 51

“No,” Ari said. “He’s committed to making amends.”

I inhaled as powerful relief welled. “So could Ulrick and the others. You need to give them a chance.”

Just as fast as it had come, the feeling of respite fled when the three men exchanged a look. I stood on shaky legs. “It’s too late. Isn’t it?”

“Your escapades in Wirral provided the perfect distraction,” Valek said. “They didn’t suffer, and I left evidence pointing to Finn as the assassin.”

As all sensation fled my body, I gaped at Valek. “All of them?”

“No reason to kill Gressa and Akako. They don’t know how to use blood magic.”

A minor concession. My mind couldn’t steer away from the knowledge Valek had used me to kill five men. My escapades had allowed him to… Grief flooded. Poor Ulrick. I had hoped he would… What? See the error of his ways?

“Come on, Opal.” Janco stood and hooked his arm in mine. “You’re exhausted. I’ll escort you to your room.”

“You just don’t want me having a fit in public.”

“Of course. I’ve a reputation to maintain.” He shot me a grin, but it died just as quick. “Almost forgot.” He picked up the necklace and put it on. Tucking the pendant under his shirt, he tapped the slight bump it made. “I promised Yelena I would keep Lamar safe.” He looked at me with a very un-Janco expression. “We all make sacrifices for what is right. And you’ve experienced firsthand the horrors caused by blood magic. To be truly safe, we should assassinate Devlen regardless of his efforts to redeem himself.”

I clutched his arm to keep from shouting the words. “Then why didn’t you?”

Ari said, “Because of you.”

“Me?”

The big man shifted in his seat, appearing uncomfortable. “Do you really believe we would eliminate someone you’re in love with?”

I sputtered. “I’m not—”

Ari held up a hand. “He’s helping you, then. That’s important to us.”

Staring at him in shock, I finally asked, “Love trumps logic?”

“Every time,” Valek said. “Plus he’s being watched. One move toward his old habits and I’ll pay him a visit.”

Overwhelmed, I let Janco pull me away from the table. On the way to my room on the second floor, I sorted through the conversation. How could Ari think I was in love with Devlen? We’d kissed a few times. That was all. No big deal.

After I said good-night to Janco, I locked the door and faced my empty room. At least it matched the hollowness in my chest. No blood. No magic. No Kade.

Kade had stayed away just like I asked. Finn planned to sell my blood to someone who hates me. And magic… Not my friend. The happy discovery that I could move it had been countered by Finn’s effective use of the null shield to trap me. My immunity to magic was no longer an asset.

All in all, a horrible day.

The next morning the four of us headed north to Valek’s small stable. Once there, we discussed options on how to find Finn.

“I’ll alert my network throughout Sitia. Someone will spot him,” Valek said with confidence. “Once we pick up his trail, I’ll have a chat with him.”

Annoyance flared. “I thought you said Finn was my problem.”

“As an obstruction to your goal, he was. But now we know he has a different agenda.”

Still unhappy, I grumped. “If you’d taken care of him in the beginning, we wouldn’t have this different agenda.”

Unfazed, Valek cocked his head. “Then we wouldn’t know about this other player. The one who is willing to spend a lot of gold for a vial of your blood.”

Player. Interesting word choice. This wasn’t a game to me. In a foul mood, I left the three of them to plan.

I visited Quartz. Just seeing her warm brown eyes melted my frustration. Not bothering with a saddle, I hopped onto her back and let her choose our path. The landscape streaked by, and I released all my tension. Concentrating on the movement of her powerful muscles against my legs, I became an extension of her.

When she slowed to a walk, I returned to my problems. I didn’t doubt Valek would find Finn. As for recovering my blood, at this point I gave us a fifty percent chance.

After rubbing Quartz down and filling her water bucket, I sought Valek. If he planned to confront Finn, he needed to know about the null shields. I found him in the kitchen, bent over a map of Sitia.

He might keep his secrets, but I believed in full disclosure. “Valek, have you ever encountered a null shield?”

He glanced at me with a frown. “I don’t think so. Why?”

I explained about Finn’s attack. “I moved the magic around me and Finn followed the logic.”

He straightened. “That is concerning.”

Trust Valek to downplay it. “It can trap you.”

“Perhaps. But your immunity seems to be different than mine. I can’t move magic.”

“Have you tried?” I asked and covered my grin when surprise flashed on his face.

“No. It always feels like syrup. I assumed it moved like a viscous fluid and would ooze.”

“That’s how it feels to me, too. But when I panicked, I spread my hands and pushed.”

“Interesting.” He drummed his fingers on the table. “Can a weapon pierce a null shield?”

“Yes. Anything but magic can. You can defend yourself as long as your arms aren’t pinned.”

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