She opted for the latter.

In the dim, thick silence, Nesta lingered by the table against the wall near her front door. Slid her hand into her pocket and pulled out the folded banknote.

Enough for three months’ rent.

She tried and failed to muster the shame. But nothing came.

Nothing at all.

There was anger, occasionally. Sharp, hot anger that sliced her.

But most of the time it was silence.

Ringing, droning silence.

She hadn’t felt anything in months. Had days when she didn’t really know where she was or what she’d done. They passed swiftly and yet dripped by.

So did the months. She’d blinked, and winter had fallen. Blinked, and her body had turned too thin. As hollow as she felt.

The night’s frosty chill crept through the worn shutters, drawing another tremble from her. But she didn’t light the fire in the hearth across the room.

She could barely stand to hear the crack and pop of the wood. Had barely been able to endure it in Feyre’s town house. Snap; crunch.

How no one ever remarked that it sounded like breaking bones, like a snapping neck, she had no idea.

She hadn’t lit one fire in this apartment. Had kept warm with blankets and layers.

Wings rustled, then boomed outside the apartment.

Nesta loosed a shuddering sigh and slid down the wall until she was sitting against it.

Until she drew her knees to her chest and stared into the dimness.

Still the silence raged and echoed around her.

Still she felt nothing.

Chapter 22


It was three by the time the others went to bed. By the time Cassian returned, quiet and brooding, and knocked back a glass of liquor before stalking upstairs. Mor followed him, worry dancing in her eyes.

Azriel and Elain remained in the sitting room, my sister showing him the plans she’d sketched to expand the garden in the back of the town house, using the seeds and tools my family had given her tonight. Whether he cared about such things, I had no idea, but I sent him a silent prayer of thanks for his kindness before Rhys and I slipped upstairs.

I reached to remove my diamond cuffs when Rhys stopped me, his hands wrapping around my wrists. “Not yet,” he said softly.

My brows bunched.

He only smiled. “Hold on.”

Darkness and wind swept in, and I clung to him as he winnowed—

Candlelight and crackling fire and colors …

“The cabin?” He must have altered the wards to allow us to winnow directly inside.

Rhys grinned, letting go of me to swagger to the couch before the fireplace and plop down, his wings draping to the floor. “For some peace and quiet, mate.”

Dark, sensual promise lay in his star-flecked eyes.

I bit my lip as I approached the rolled arm of the couch and perched on it, my dress glittering like a river in the firelight.

“You look beautiful tonight.” His words were low, rough.

I stroked a hand down the lap of my gown, the fabric shimmering beneath my fingers. “You say that every night.”

“And mean it.”

I blushed. “Cad.”

He inclined his head.

“I know High Ladies are probably supposed to wear a new dress every day,” I mused, smiling at the gown, “but I’m rather attached to this one.”

He ran his hand down my thigh. “I’m glad.”

“You never told me where you got it—where you got all my favorite dresses.”

Rhys arched a dark brow. “You never figured it out?”

I shook my head.

For a moment, he said nothing, his head dipping to study the dress.

“My mother made them.”

I went still.

Rhys smiled sadly at the shimmering gown. “She was a seamstress, back at the camp where she’d been raised. She didn’t just do the work because she was ordered to. She did it because she loved it. And when she mated my father, she continued.”

I grazed a reverent hand down my sleeve. “I—I had no idea.”

His eyes were star-bright. “Long ago, when I was still a boy, she made them—all your gowns. A trousseau for my future bride.” His throat bobbed. “Every piece … Every piece I have ever given you to wear, she made them. For you.”

My eyes stung as I breathed, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

He shrugged with one shoulder. “I thought you might be … disturbed to wear gowns made by a female who died centuries ago.”

I put a hand over my heart. “I am honored, Rhys. Beyond words.”

His mouth trembled a bit. “She would have loved you.”

It was as great a gift as any I’d been given. I leaned down until our brows touched. I would have loved her.

I felt his gratitude without him saying a word as we remained there, breathing each other in for long minutes.

When I could finally speak again, I pulled away. “I’ve been thinking.”

“Should I be worried?”

I slapped his boots, and he laughed, deep and rasping, the sound curling around my core.

I showed him my palms, the eye in both of them. “I want these changed.”


“Since you’re no longer using them to snoop on me, I figured they could be something else.”

He set a hand on his broad chest. “I never snoop.”

“You’re the greatest busybody I’ve ever met.”

Another laugh. “And what, exactly, do you want on your palms?”

I smiled at the paintings I’d done on the walls, the mantel, the tables. Thought of the tapestry I’d bought. “I want a mountain—with three stars.” The Night Court insignia. “The same that you have on your knees.”

Rhys was quiet for a long time, his face unreadable. When he spoke, his voice was low. “Those are markings that can never be altered.”

“It’s a good thing I plan to be here for a while, then.”

Rhys slowly sat up, unbuttoning the top of his tight black jacket. “You’re sure?”

I nodded slowly.

He moved to stand before me, gently taking my hands in his, turning them palm-up. To the cat’s eye that stared at us. “I never snooped, you know.”

“You certainly did.”

“Fine, I did. Can you forgive me?”

He meant it—the worry that I’d deemed his glimpses a violation. I rose onto my toes and kissed him softly. “I suppose I could find it in me.”

“Hmmm.” He brushed a thumb over the eye inked into both of my palms. “Any last words before I mark you forever?”

My heart thundered, but I said, “I have one last Solstice gift for you.”

Rhys went still at my soft voice, the tremble in it. “Oh?”

Our hands linked, I caressed the adamant walls of his mind. The barriers immediately fell, allowing me in. Allowing me to show him that last gift.

What I hoped he’d deem as a gift, too.

His hands began shaking around mine, but he said nothing until I’d retreated from his mind. Until we were staring at each other again in silence.

His breathing turned ragged, his eyes silver-lined. “You’re sure?” he repeated.

Yes. More than anything. I’d realized it, felt it, in the weaver’s gallery. “Would it be … Would it indeed be a gift for you?” I dared ask.

His fingers tightened around mine. “Beyond measure.”

As if in answer, light flared and sizzled along my palms, and I peered down to find my hands altered. The mountain and three stars gracing the heart of each palm.