Spy Glass Page 63

“You shouldn’t have dared,” Ari said.

“You’re equally distinguished, Ari,” I said. “What is it about uniforms that make men so…”

“Irresistible?” Janco asked. “Yummy? Hot?”

“Respectable,” I said.

“Boring! No man wants to be called respectable by a woman who is not a mother or old or married.”

“Some women find respectable to be very appealing,” I said.

Janco pished.

Ari, however, peered at me with interest. “Are you one of them? Because someone like Devlen has a long way to go to be respectable.”

Annoyed, I snapped, “I’m with Kade. Devlen was just a…moment of weakness during a difficult time. That won’t happen ever again.”

“Uh-huh,” Ari said.

I crossed my arms. “Are you two here for a reason? I have to return to the party.”

“We thought we’d update you on our efforts,” Ari said.

Mollified, I nodded for him to continue.

“With the limited time, we only searched Owl’s Hill, and all the towns between Fulgor and here. Valek went farther west, past the Citadel.”

“And?” A tingle of hope bloomed.

“So far nothing.”

Hope died again.

Ari noticed. “Don’t worry. We’re bound to pick up the trail. It’s only a matter of time before we find your blood.”

“I know a way we could go faster,” Janco said, perking up.

“How?” I asked.

“We could use a Bloodhound.”

Ari and I groaned in unison.

“What? It’s a good idea,” Janco whined.

“It’s ridiculous,” Ari said. “Just because the breed—”

“I think I hear someone calling me. Gotta go.” I hurried off, leaving them to argue.

When I returned, I noticed my mother had cornered Kade. Not good. I debated rescuing him, but decided against upsetting my mother again. Coward? Who me?

Instead, I found an empty table and soaked in the revelry. My peace didn’t last long. Yelena joined me. She wore a red gown and had left her long black hair down. It flowed over her bare shoulders and matched the butterfly pendant at her throat.

“Talk to me,” she said.

“There’s nothing to talk about. My mother’s still mad, my magic’s still gone and Kade and I are fine.” For now.

She studied me and I fought the urge to squirm. I imagined she examined my soul and saw a black stain of self-pity spreading on it. Would she be disgusted?

Without any obvious censure, she asked, “Why is your mother angry with you?”

“I’ve told—”

“The real reason.”

“Leif’s Storm Thieves story—”

“No. Think.”

I swallowed a groan. “I already have a Story Weaver. I don’t need another.”

Yelena didn’t blink. “And you’ve talked about this with him?”

“He’s part of the problem!” Then it hit me. “Wait. How did you know my Story Weaver was a he? Are you reading my mind?”

“Opal, relax.” Yelena reached and cupped my face with her hands. “I can’t read your mind or soul. But it doesn’t take a magician to know you’re conflicted. You need to talk it out either with your Story Weaver, a friend or a relative.”

Yelena met two of the three requirements. Plus she also had a Story Weaver named Moon Man, but he died during the Warper Battle. And she was right. I needed to untangle this mess inside my heart. Pulling her hands down, I held them in my own and let my worries, concerns and cringe-inducing behavior pour from my mouth. I told her about Devlen, the events at the prison and the difficulties with Kade’s and my mother, leaving nothing unsaid. Breathing easier, I slouched in my chair.

She listened to the whole thing without interruption. “I can’t tell you what to do, but I can offer three bits of advice.” Her lips quirked into a wry smile. “Moon Man would be proud. First, the mothers.” Yelena let go of my hands to poke a finger into the air. “You managed to see why Kade’s mother was so hostile to you, which is a good start. Do the same with your own mother.”

“But—” The warning in her eyes stopped me.

“Second, your magic. Don’t give up hope, but at the same time formulate a backup plan. Where do you see yourself next year? What will you be doing in five years? And don’t be afraid to talk to Devlen. He’s been through it.” She glanced at Kade. He laughed at something Janco said. Ari’s don’t-encourage-the-boy scowl didn’t affect Kade’s humor.

“He should understand,” Yelena said.

“He does, otherwise he wouldn’t be here.”

“Good.”

“And third?” I asked.

“Stop being so hard on yourself about Ulrick. Valek would have gotten to him regardless of your distraction. In fact, I approved the assassination.”

I gaped at her. But before I could recover, Irys Jewelrose approached us.

“Sorry to bother you, but it’s important,” the Master Magician said. “Yelena, can I borrow Kiki? I need to get to the Citadel as fast as possible.”

Yelena stood. “What happened?”

The explanation rushed out. “It’s this very young magician we’d been keeping an eye on. He’s resisted all our help and Bain finally sent a few magicians to bring him to the Keep before he flamed out and killed himself. But he just pulled a dangerous amount of power to protect himself from them.”

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