Spy Glass Page 73

“Who is this Fire Lady? I can try to contact her for you.”

Reema ignored my question. Her attention was fixed on the night table. Next to the lantern was Teegan’s teapot resting on top of his apron. Someone had washed and folded the garment. The girl stroked the fabric with her fingertips. “I thought they had been stolen.”

“I brought them here. I thought he might want them when he woke.”

She turned her gaze to me. And for the first time I saw behind her tough girl mask. It took all my strength not to wrap her in my arms. The arrival of Hayes with a tray saved me from giving in to that desire. Reema launched herself at the food, eating with a steady determination as if the soup, fruit and cheeses would be snatched away.

Hayes pulled me from the room, closing the door. “Did she give you any more information?”

I relayed the sparse details.

He sighed. “Orphans. Wonderful.” He rubbed a hand along the stubble on his cheek. Dark smudges underlined his brown eyes. “Teegan’s a powerful magician. If he can control his magic, he’ll be enrolled in the Keep’s program.” He scowled.

I guessed where his thoughts went. If Teegan can’t control his magic, he would be joining his mother in the Courtyard of Souls.

Hayes returned his distant gaze to me. “Reema however is another story. We’ll have to contact the authorities and find her a place to stay. She can sleep in his room for a couple nights, otherwise…she’s yours.”

“Mine? But I thought—”

“She trusts you, and I need you to find out as much about her brother as possible.”

“But…”

“What? Do you have something else to do?”

Yes, but I needed to be in the Keep regardless. After Hayes left to check on his other patients, I returned to Teegan’s room. Reema had devoured every bit of food. When a knock sounded, she startled. I opened the door, stepping back so Hayes’s assistant could wheel in another bed. The sheets smelled of soap—a contrast to the rancid odor emanating from the little girl who eyed the assistant with distrust.

My charge. At least for the next few days. First order of business would be a bath. But when I made the suggestion, she refused.

“I need to go home,” she said.

“It’s too late to be out by yourself,” I tried. Reema scoffed.

“That abandoned warehouse isn’t a home,” I said.

She bristled. “You know nothing about it.”

True. But she loved her brother. “You’re right. But I do know Teegan needs you here. He hasn’t woken for the healer, but he woke for you. Without you here, he might not get better.”

A snort of derision. “You’re bluffing. All you grown-ups are the same. You think I’m some dumb kid. That I would stay here and be easy prey for the Citadel’s guards to pick up.” She hopped off the bed.

“At least let me contact this Fire Lady. Teegan told you to stay with her, remember?”

Reema snagged her lower lip with her teeth for a second before crossing her arms. “He’s sick. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

It had been easier to stop a flameout than convince this girl. This whole situation felt familiar. I searched my memory and it didn’t take long. Some recollections never fade with time. Although I might not think about my sister Tula every day, she was always in my heart.

“I’m not bluffing about Teegan,” I said. “My sister needed me with her. She wouldn’t wake for the healers or for Master Magician Jewelrose or for Yelena Zaltana, the Soulfinder. Master Jewelrose showed up in the middle of the night, took me from my home in Booruby and brought me here.” I gestured, indicating the room. “I was terrified, worried about my sister and overwhelmed. They claimed I was the key to saving her. What if I did something wrong and she died because of me?”

The memory of those dark days surged through my body and transported me back in time. I saw Tula, not Teegan, lying on the bed, looking small and brittle. My body ached to hold my sister again. If I had been as smart and savvy as Reema, I wouldn’t have let her murderer into the room. Wouldn’t have gone with his accomplice, trusting them to keep their word that Tula would live if I cooperated.

“What happened?” Reema asked.

Dragging myself to the present, I said to her, “I crawled into bed with my sister and stayed by her side. I helped Yelena coax her back to consciousness.” The girl didn’t need to know the sad ending to the tale. Instead I let the joy of having Tula awake and healthy shine on my face. I would always treasure those few days we had together.

“If I stay here, will you promise me one thing?” she asked.

“If I can, I will.”

She nodded. “If I’m captured by the Citadel’s guards, promise me you won’t let them sell me to the Helper’s Guild.”

19

I BLINKED AT REEMA FOR A MOMENT. HAD SHE REALLY uttered the words “sell me” and “Helper’s Guild” in the same breath? I remembered Fisk’s comments about vicious rumors, but had taken them in stride, never imagining the actual reality of them. She scrutinized my body language and balanced on the balls of her feet. Convinced of the danger, she would run away if I didn’t promise to protect her.

Now wasn’t the time to assure her about the true nature of the Guild. “No one will sell you to the Helper’s Guild. I promise,” I said.

With the slightest softening in her posture, she stuck out her hand. I shook it and she relaxed.

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