The energy of the soul. If Michel were to see the energy of my own soul, what would he see?
The conversation filters back to me as I hear myself mentioned again. “And can she work her illusions well enough for the Tournament?” one patron asks Enzo.
“Yes, Your Highness—can she uphold her end of the mission?”
“We want a demonstration.”
“Adelina,” Enzo suddenly says, looking in my direction. The nobles turn to look at me too.
I blink, taken off guard. “Yes?”
“Create an illusion of a person for us.”
I hesitate, then suck in my breath and concentrate on the darkness in my chest. Gradually, I weave in midair a face that resembles Enzo, the same eyes and nose and mouth and hair, the thin scar prominent on the cheek. The nobles murmur among themselves. It’s still not quite right—there is a lack of refinement in the details, the glassy-eyed look of something that doesn’t seem quite human, the amateur texture of the skin. It wavers a little. Now and then, it looks translucent. It would not work for us at close quarters. But it will be enough. I hold the illusion there for a moment, then release it.
Enzo smiles at me. “When the Tournament of Storms comes,” he says, “the king and queen will announce the horse races, then watch from a close vantage point. If you can disguise Gemma, no one will notice her when she’s moving on the back of a horse. Can you get her close enough to strike?”
He’s announcing before all his patrons that I’m included in their final mission. My heart jumps at the thrill, then squeezes painfully at the memory of Teren’s words. “I can do it,” I reply.
The nobles look thrilled with me. Enzo smiles pleasantly with them and clinks glasses—but even here, in the safety of the cavern and surrounded by supporters, he has a wariness about him, the lingering unease of someone preoccupied with other problems.
I wonder if he can sense anything suspicious about me. Thank the gods that Raffaele isn’t here to notice the dark shifts in my energy. He must have a client tonight. The spiced wine eases some of the anxiety stirring in me, and I find myself holding my glass out again for the consorts to refill it.
“You seem less cheerful than you should be,” I say to Enzo in a low voice, when there’s a lull in his conversation with the nobles.
He glances back at me, seems to think about answering, and then glides around my comment. “Feeling festive, mi Adelinetta?” He nods as a consort fills my glass for the second time. My heart flutters fiercely at the way he says the affectionate version of my name. “Careful. It’s a strong wine.”
It’s true; the wine makes me bold, helps me forget. “I’m the White Wolf,” I reply. “Surely that deserves a second helping.”
Enzo’s lips tilt up in amusement, and I feel the roar of attraction rising in me. How will I tell him about the Inquisition? His eyes wander back to the other Daggers. “So it does.” He raises his glass in the air, and the nobles join him. “To the White Wolf,” he says, glancing at me. “And the beginning of a new era.”
Gemma leans over to me as I take a sip of my wine. “You like him,” she teases, jabbing me hard in the ribs.
I wince and shove her with my elbow. “Quiet,” I hiss. Gemma laughs with mischief at the expression on my face, then pushes away from me and hops up, barefoot, onto the divan. I let my breath out again, but I can’t help smiling. Of course she’s just messing around with me.
Enzo glances at her. She crosses her arms. “I’ve been practicing, Reaper,” she declares. “Watch this.”
She points at Enzo, then narrows her eyes. I watch curiously. “You!” she commands. “Fetch me a slice of melon.”
Enzo raises an eyebrow at her. “No,” he answers flatly, and the patrons let out a round of laughter. Her father smiles indulgently.
Gemma laughs along, then rolls her eyes and slumps back down on the divan. “Well, just you wait,” she says. “Men aren’t so much more complicated than animals. I’ll figure it out.”
Her antics coax an affectionate smile out of Enzo, cutting briefly through his tension. “I don’t doubt it, my Star Thief,” he says, and she beams at him in the midst of more chuckles from the Daggers and nobles. I look on, trying to fight down my envy as Gemma laughs with her father.
One of the consorts claps her hands. “A game!” she exclaims. She passes out long golden necklaces to us. I’m not familiar with this, but apparently the others are—because they let out whoops and whistles. The consort notices my puzzled look. “Loop your necklace around the person you’re most fond of,” she explains with a smile. “The one with the most necklaces wins.”
The shouts and laughter fly fast and thick. Gemma attempts to steal everyone’s necklaces for herself, only to have Lucent toss them up into the air and knock Gemma onto a divan with a playful gust of wind. The aristocrats clap, applauding their powers and murmuring about how they will show them off during the Tournament. Several consorts loop their necklaces over Michel’s neck, making his grin as wide as his face. Even Dante, with his permanent scowl, lets a consort give him a necklace and wraps his arm around her waist.
Gemma offers me her necklace, as does one of the other male consorts. I blush, laughing along. Enzo watches us all with a calm expression. He twines his gold necklace around his fingers, deep in thought.
“Come, Your Highness,” Michel calls out at him, twirling his trio of necklaces around his hand. He grins. “Unless you’re most fond of yourself.”