“We could bargain with the Fool—”
“Out of the question.” I inhale a breath, then softened my tone. “What about Circe? Maybe we could ask her to cast a spell.”
“Though we might not even trust her not to kill us?”
Good point. “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
“We’ll talk to her.” He reached for me, pulling me closer. “Come here.”
I went into his arms, and for a time, I didn’t have to think at all. . . .
Day 511 A.F.
“The unclean one!” Lark called when I stopped by her room. She was sitting on her bed, in the middle of a pile of animals.
Aric was finishing up some other translations, so I’d told him I would go check in with Lark. Secretly I wanted to make sure she wasn’t planning our murders with all her animals and such. “Are you taking a break?”
“A few minutes. Just to rest my wings. I mean, my falcon’s wings.” She waved to the bed. “Cop a squat.”
I waded through animals, then scooted a grumpy badger family out of the way so I could sit beside Lark.
“You’re making the boss happy,” she said. “Like a thousand times more happy than when you two hit it off before. I heard the man whistling the other morning. For real?”
“For real.” I reached over and plucked feathers from her hair.
With an irritated growl, she shook her mane out.
I insistently tucked her hair behind her ears. “Your ears are getting pointed.”
She slapped her claw-tipped fingers over them and hissed at me.
“I think they’re adorable.”
With a wary expression, she lowered her hands. “Whatever.” Fretting her lip with a fang, she said, “Do you think Finn’ll be cool with my changes?”
“I do. In past games, he loved your animal attributes. I have a memory of him telling you so.”
“Really?” That got her to smile. “I’m so ready to get back together with him. When he was at Fort Arcana, we passed letters via falcon, really getting to know each other. I’m a goner for that boy.”
“Cyclops was supposed to lead him to you.” As soon as Finn’s leg had healed enough for him to ride. “What happens now if you find him?”
Fidgeting with a claw, she said, “My falcon can reel him in.”
“Reel him in . . . where? Back here?”
“Oh, shit. Seriously, Lark?” Aric would have an aneurism.
She finally met my gaze. “Where’d you think we’d go? Either Finn stays or I leave. You wanna get rid of me?”
“No, not at all.” I sighed. “I don’t know what I was imagining. Maybe that he would have a pad nearby, one as tricked out as his old one. You two would date.” If he was even still alive.
“Will you help me with the boss?”
“Once you find Finn, I’ll try to talk to him. But I can’t promise anything.”
“Thanks, Eves.” She grinned widely, flashing her sharp fangs, reminding me why Aric would balk hard at this. Finn might be my ally, but he was still an Arcana. “So what’s it like to, uh, live with someone?”
“I thought it would take some getting used to, but it’s been easy.” Because Aric and I fit together seamlessly. Plus he was turning out to be a perfect husband, no training necessary.
This morning, I’d awakened to find a bloom in a vase beside the bed. He’d grown the rose himself, had planted the seed two months ago.
Roses could be difficult to grow from seed, so for him to have made the effort . . . and to bring forth a bud . . .
He’d given me the very first one.
A white rose, like the one on his flag. I’d painted it; he’d grown it.
Symbols, waypoints. The rose connection between us had spanned centuries and was ongoing. Just like Lark and Finn’s infinity connection endured.
I tilted my head at her. “You’re not really asking me about living together, are you? You’re trying to girl-talk with me. About sex.”
“Duh.” She rolled her eyes. “I’ve never done it—girl-talk or the deed—and you have, so . . .”
“So you want to know what sex is like?” Aric and I did spend a lot of time at it.
Early on, he’d coaxed me to describe in detail every sexual dream I’d had about him—so he could recreate them. Last week in the dance studio, he’d fulfilled another one. After I’d danced for him, he’d peeled off my workout clothes, lifting me atop the barre so he could lick my damp skin, wedging his hips between my thighs. . . .
I told Lark, “It’s exciting.” Understatement. As he and I discovered what our bodies could do together, we experimented a lot. Just this morning, that white rose had led to some kissing and then more.
I nearly fanned myself, quickly diverting my thoughts from that memory. Clearing my throat, I said, “Imagine the thrill you get from flirting—when your stomach knots and your toes curl and you can’t catch your breath—and multiply it by a thousand.”
Lark got a dreamy look on her face.
“I think Finn will make you really happy.”
Her pointed ears twitched. “Are you happy with Death?”
I was madly in love with him. So why was his wedding ring still in my pocket?
Yesterday I’d headed to the training yard early, determined to give him the ring. He’d been on horseback, looking as devastating as ever. . . .
His body went tense when he caught sight of me. That’s my husband. He dismounted and stalked toward me, spurs ringing, his gaze gleaming in the dark like a shower of stars. “I missed you, wife.” His expression was possessive—and intent.