A crackle of energy sounded outside the cell. I didn’t feel it since I was behind brass, but I heard it. I finally blinked and looked away from the crack in time to see Maisie materialize on the other side of the bars.
“We have to hurry,” Maisie said. Reaching into a hidden pocket of her skirt, she produced a key. I watched as she unlocked the cell door. Didn’t move as it swung open.
“Sabina? We have to hurry.”
I blinked again.
She snapped her fingers in my face. “You have to snap out of it. You have to get out of here.”
I tilted my head to the side. “Why?”
“If they hand you over to the queen, she’ll have you executed.”
“No,” I said slowly. “Why are you helping me?”
She sighed. “Because you’re my sister. And I know you wouldn’t have killed the faery unless you had to.”
“Don’t fool yourself, Maisie. I’m an assassin, remember? I don’t need a good reason to kill.”
She grabbed my arms and shook me. “Stop it. I know you were defending yourself. And I’m not going to allow Orpheus to hand you over to the queen as some sort of sacrificial lamb.”
“I burned him, Maisie.” My voice cracked.
Her face was grave. “And then you put him out of his misery. You did the right thing, Sabina. So stop punishing yourself. He was going to kill you.” She grabbed my hand. “Adam and I are going to keep working on Orpheus, but you need to disappear for a while. Just until the heat dies down.”
I closed my eyes. How had things gotten f**ked up so fast?
“What was Adam doing back, anyway? I thought he wasn’t coming until the festival.”
“When I wrapped up the negotiations with Hawthorne”—her voice cracked on his name—“I convinced Orpheus to let Adam come back early. That was my surprise.”
I opened my eyes and looked into my sister’s watery blue gaze. She’d thought she was playing Cupid, organizing a reunion between me and Adam, and I’d f**ked it all up. “I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry. You deserve better than this.” Another tear slid down her cheek.
I huffed a humorless laugh. “No, I don’t. But I appreciate your support, no matter how misguided it may be.”
“I figure the best thing to do is send you to Slade. Do you think he’ll put you up for a few days? I’ll send a message when it’s safe to return.”
Her suggestion made sense. Slade already wanted me to work for him. Surely he’d put me up for a few days if I agreed to do a couple of jobs.
“What about Giguhl?” I asked, trying to cover all the angles.
“I’ll keep an eye on him.”
I nodded. That was for the best. I didn’t want to tear him away from Valva because of my f**kup.
“Tell Adam—” What could I say? At this point, he was probably regretting ever bringing me to New York. “Just tell him I said good-bye, okay?”
Maisie swallowed hard. “There’s no need. When you get back, you two can say everything that needs to be said to each other.”
I forced a smile. “Okay.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell her I wouldn’t be coming back.
Pins and needles exploded on every part of my body. Freezing wind whipped at my face and hair, making my teeth chatter. A high-pitched whine pummeled my eardrums. So intense I felt close to madness. My brain struggled to make sense of these sensations. But my thoughts shifted like quicksilver.
The wind stopped suddenly. My ears popped, and every nerve ending on my body sizzled in the silence.
I blinked and looked around. Vein’s familiar urban decor surrounded me. Behind the bar, Earl paused in the process of drying a pint glass. His mouth hung open in shock.
He set the glass down slowly. “Hi.”
He shook himself and nodded. “In his office.”
Leaving the surprised barkeep staring, I turned toward the stairs. As I moved toward them, I realized Maisie had sent me away in my own clothes. The goddess bless my sister. If I’d shown up in Slade’s bar wearing a blood-splattered chiton, it would only invite questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. I squared my shoulders, not allowing myself to think too hard about what I had to do.
When I opened the office door after a quick knock, Slade looked up from his desk. He’d been frowning at an open ledger when I came in, but when he saw me, his face cracked into a surprised smile.
“Sabina?” He rose and came forward. “This is an unexpected pleasure.”
“I just came to tell you I’ve decided to take you up on your offer.”
Slade stopped midstride and frowned. “What?” His keen gaze swept over me. I’m not sure what he saw, but something shifted in his expression, moving from confusion to concern.
I swallowed, hating him for making me say it out loud. “Yes, I’ll work for you.”
“You look like hell.” He put an arm around my shoulders. “Let’s sit down and talk about it.”
I shook my head and shrugged off his sympathy. “There’s nothing to talk about. Either you want me to work for you, or you don’t.”
Slade watched me silently for a few moments. I wondered if I looked as broken as I felt. Finally he said, “I take it things didn’t work out with the mages?”
I closed my eyes. “I said I didn’t want to talk about it.”
“I’ll take that for a yes, then.” He paused, his eyes warm with sympathy. “I might be able to scrounge up some work for you.”
I opened my eyes again. This time, as I looked at Slade, the backs of my eyes stung. Whether from relief or regret, I didn’t know. Probably both. “It’s just for a couple of days. So I’m ready to start immediately.”
“Sabina, I don’t think—”
I waved a hand to quiet his protest. “If that doesn’t work for you, I’ll figure something else out.”
He blew out a breath. “Do you need money? Is that it?”
“I need to get out of town ASAP.”
He frowned. “That bad?”
He leaned back into the couch and blew out a breath. “Look, I know it’s none of my business, but maybe you shouldn’t be making any hasty decisions right now.”
“You’re right,” I said. “It isn’t any of your business.”