Silence crashed over the room. Maisie had gone totally still, her eyes blazing with anger. When she finally spoke again, her voice was low and mean. “And you’re more of a hypocrite than I thought. How dare you judge me? You of all beings, who used to kill for a living. You who has fed from the necks of countless victims. How many lies have you told, Sabina? How many times have you justified hurting others because it served your own selfish needs?” Her face was red and her hands shook with rage. “You said you want to help me. But what you really meant is to manipulate me into doing what you want. Because that’s why you’re really here, isn’t it? Orpheus and Rhea told you to talk me into doing the dream incubation.”
Her words hit me like acid-tipped arrows. When I spoke, my voice shook with guilt and anger. “The reason I am saying no to you is not because I am selfish. It is because I have experienced the consequences of the life you just described. And more than anything, I don’t want that kind of life for you. I’m sorry if you don’t understand that, but I will not be helping you keep up this charade.”
“Then I guess we have nothing more to say to each other.” Her chin came up. “Leave now.”
My mouth worked open and closed as I scrambled to figure out how to salvage the conversation and convince her to do the right thing. “Maisie—”
Her hand slashed through the air. “Good-bye, Sabina.”
I went still, trying to give her the chance to change her mind, but she didn’t. Deflated, I turned to go. But then I stopped and turned. “You know, you’re not going to get better until you face what happened and deal with it.”
“Is that what you think? That I’m not trying to get better?”
I crossed my arms. “Honestly, I don’t know what the hell you’re doing. But I do know your recent choices aren’t doing anything for your sanity.”
She huffed out a humorless laugh and shook her head. “Think what you want. You always do anyway.”
With that, I turned on my heel and stormed out of the apartment. Obviously, I could no longer lie for Maisie. It was one thing for her to decide to stop sleeping for a while. It was something else altogether for her to think vein raping people and lying about prophecies were good life choices.
As much as it pained me, it looked like it was time to come clean to Rhea about what Maisie was up to. I just hoped that by the time we figured out how to help Maisie, she’d eventually forgive me for betraying her. Again.
When I found Rhea in her workshop, she was bent over a marble pestle on the worktable grinding seeds into a powder. Judging from the strong scent of licorice filling the air, I identified the mystery substance as dried anise pods.
I paused, realizing that six months ago I’d not even known what anise looked like, much less been able to identify it by scent alone. But under Rhea’s tutelage, I knew all sorts of random tricks and uses for herbs and plants. Like how wrapping a small bit of skunk cabbage in a bay leaf on Sunday promotes good luck. And that coriander can be added to wine to make an effective lust potion.
But more than that, Rhea had helped me tap into a side of myself I never knew existed when I lived in Los Angeles. A deeper side that didn’t rely on fists and threats to solve problems. It was a softer, more introspective part of me that understood words can be more powerful than bullets. The realization told me I was making the right decision in coming to her.
So why did the words feel like thorns in my throat?
She looked up with a smile, but the minute she saw the look on my face, she frowned and set down her tools. “Sabina? Everything okay?”
I took a deep breath and walked farther into the room. I’d been in this place for lessons more times than I could count. When Rhea wasn’t putting me through my paces in casting spells, she was lecturing me on all sorts of magical therapies here and overseeing my attempts at making my own potions. But that classroom was about to become a confessional.
“I need to talk to you about something.”
“Okay.” She slowly set down the mortar. “Does this have something to do with Adam?”
I waved my hand, dismissing her worried expression. “No, nothing like that. It’s—” I blew out a deep breath. Now or never. “It’s about Maisie.”
Rhea came around the table, her interest immediately piqued. “Did she have another episode?”
“You could say that,” I said. “I—I wasn’t completely honest with you when I told you the talk with Maisie the other day had gone well.”
Rhea sat down on one of the stools, as if she knew the news I was about to share wasn’t the kind one should hear standing. She didn’t say anything, obviously sensing that I needed to just get this out.
“She told me something that night that she made me promise not to share with you or Orpheus. But I realized I can’t keep that promise anymore.”
Rhea reached out and placed a papery palm over my hand. “Sabina, breaking confidences is a serious thing. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“The last thing I want to do is betray Maisie. But this is pretty serious and I think that not telling you would have worse consequences.”
“I see,” she said. “I’m listening.” She gave my hand an encouraging squeeze.
“Maisie has been telling us she hasn’t had any dreams, but she was lying.”
Rhea pulled away slightly, as if it had been me telling lies instead of my sister. “You’re certain?”
I nodded. “She’s been having bad dreams.”
“She was fairly vague with the details but she seemed pretty upset. That’s not the most troubling part, though. She told me the dreams were so horrible that she’s stopped sleeping altogether.”
Rhea gasped. “What? How?”
“Apparently, she’s been setting an alarm to keep her from entering REM.”
Rhea pulled her hand away. “Oh, my gods. But she’s looked so healthy lately.”
“She’s been using a glamour to hide the effects.” I wiped my hands on my jeans. I briefly considered telling Rhea about Maisie’s new feeding habits, but I knew that would condemn Maisie totally. If Orpheus and Rhea found out what she’d done, they’d shun her—or worse. No, I needed to focus on making sure the incubation happened so Maisie could have a chance to redeem herself. “I don’t know what to do. If she’s not sleeping, there’s no way she’ll be able to deliver a prophecy at the treaty signing.”