We eased through the densely packed heart of the Palace, passing beneath a latticework of faelights just beginning to twinkle awake overhead. From a slumbering, quiet place inside me, the painting name flitted by. Frost and Starlight.

“So you and Rhys decided to tell me mere hours before we go?”

“Rhys has been away all day. I decided that we’re to go tonight. Since we don’t want to ruin the actual Solstice by visiting, now is best.”

There were plenty of days between now and Solstice Eve to do it. But Mor’s face remained carefully casual.

I still pushed, “You preside over the Hewn City, and deal with them all the time.” She as good as ruled over it when Rhys wasn’t there. And handled her awful father plenty.

Mor sensed the question within my statement. “Eris will be there tonight. I heard it from Az this morning.”

I remained quiet, waiting.

Mor’s brown eyes darkened. “I want to see for myself just how cozy he and my father have become.”

It was good enough reason for me.

Chapter 5


I was curled up on the bed, toasty and drowsy atop the layers of blankets and down quilts, when Rhys finally returned home as dusk fell.

I felt his power beckoning to me long before he got near the house, a dark melody through the world.

Mor had announced we wouldn’t be going to the Hewn City for another hour or so, long enough that I’d forgone touching that paperwork on the rosewood writing desk across the room and had instead picked up a book. I’d barely managed ten pages before Rhys opened the bedroom door.

His Illyrian leathers gleamed with melted snow, and more of it shone on his dark hair and wings as he quietly shut the door. “Right where I left you.”

I smiled, setting down the book beside me. It was nearly swallowed by the ivory down duvet. “Isn’t this all I’m good for?”

A rogue smile tugging up one corner of his mouth, Rhys began removing his weapons, then the clothes. But despite the humor lighting his eyes, each movement was heavy and slow—as if he fought exhaustion with every breath.

“Maybe we should tell Mor to delay the meeting at the Court of Nightmares.” I frowned.

He shucked off his jacket, the leathers thumping as they landed on the desk chair. “Why? If Eris will indeed be there, I’d like to surprise him with a little visit of my own.”

“You look exhausted, that’s why.”

He put a dramatic hand over his heart. “Your concern warms me more than any winter fire, my love.”

I rolled my eyes and sat up. “Did you at least eat?”

He shrugged, his dark shirt straining across his broad shoulders. “I’m fine.” His gaze slid over my bare legs as I pushed back the covers.

Heat bloomed in me, but I shoved my feet into slippers. “I’ll get you food.”

“I don’t want—”

“When did you last eat?”

A sullen silence.

“I thought so.” I hauled a fleece-lined robe around my shoulders. “Wash up and change. We’re leaving in forty minutes. I’ll be back soon.”

He tucked in his wings, the faelight gilding the talon atop each one. “You don’t need to—”

“I want to, and I’m going to.” With that, I was out the door and padding down the cerulean-blue hallway.

Five minutes later, Rhys held the door open for me wearing nothing but his undershorts as I strode in, tray in my hands.

“Considering that you brought the entire damn kitchen,” he mused as I headed for the desk, still not anywhere near dressed for our visit, “I should have just gone downstairs.”

I stuck out my tongue, but scowled as I scanned the cluttered desk for any spare space. None. Even the small table by the window was covered with things. All important, vital things. I made do with the bed.

Rhys sat, folding his wings behind him before reaching to pull me into his lap, but I dodged his hands and kept a healthy distance away. “Eat the food first.”

“Then I’ll eat you after,” he countered, grinning wickedly, but tore into the food.

The rate and intensity of that eating was enough to bank any rising heat in me at his words. “Did you eat at all today?”

A flash of violet eyes as he finished off his bread and began on the cold roast beef. “I had an apple this morning.”


“I was busy.”


He set down his fork, his mouth twitching toward a smile. “Feyre.”

I crossed my arms. “No one is too busy to eat.”

“You’re fussing.”

“It’s my job to fuss. And besides, you fuss plenty. Over far more trivial things.”

“Your cycle isn’t trivial.”

“I was in a little bit of pain—”

“You were thrashing on the bed as if someone had gutted you.”

“And you were acting like an overbearing mother hen.”

“I didn’t see you screaming at Cassian, Mor, or Az when they expressed concern for you.”

“They didn’t try to spoon-feed me like an invalid!”

Rhys chuckled, finishing off his food. “I’ll eat regular meals if you allow me to turn into an overbearing mother hen twice a year.”

Right—because my cycle was so different in this body. Gone were the monthly discomforts. I’d thought it a gift.

Until two months ago. When the first one had happened.

In place of those monthly, human discomforts was a biannual week of stomach-shredding agony. Even Madja, Rhys’s favored healer, could do little for the pain short of rendering me unconscious. There had been a point during that week when I’d debated it, the pain slicing from my back and stomach down to my thighs, up to my arms, like living bands of lightning flashing through me. My cycle had never been pleasant as a human, and there had indeed been days when I couldn’t get out of bed. It seemed that in being Made, the amplification of my attributes hadn’t stopped at strength and Fae features. Not at all.

Mor had little to offer me beyond commiseration and ginger tea. At least it was only twice a year, she’d consoled me. That was two times too many, I’d managed to groan to her.

Rhys had stayed with me the entire time, stroking my hair, replacing the heated blankets that I soaked with sweat, even helping me clean myself off. Blood was blood, was all he said when I’d objected to him seeing me peel off the soiled undergarments. I’d been barely able to move at that point without whimpering, so the words hadn’t entirely sunken in.

Along with the implication of that blood. At least the contraceptive brew he took was working. But conceiving amongst the Fae was rare and difficult enough that I sometimes wondered if waiting until I was ready for children might wind up biting me in the ass.

I hadn’t forgotten the Bone Carver’s vision, how he’d appeared to me. I knew Rhys hadn’t, either.

But he hadn’t pushed, or asked. I’d once told him that I wanted to live with him, experience life with him, before we had children. I still held to that. There was so much to do, our days too busy to even think about bringing a child into the world, my life full enough that even though it would be a blessing beyond measure, I would endure the twice-a-year agony for the time being. And help my sisters with them, too.

Fae fertility cycles had never been something I’d considered, and explaining them to Nesta and Elain had been uncomfortable, to say the least.