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I was going to have to tuck tail and run.

“You have to die.” The fae’s words were mushy. “It’s nothing personal. You just need to die and then the Prince won’t come for you.”

“Dying sounds pretty personal to me.” The back of my neck tickled. I thought I heard movement in the courtyard.

The fae attacked.

Dipping to avoid a mean uppercut, I shifted my weight and kicked out with my foot. I landed the maneuver, swiping the bastard’s legs right out from underneath him. He went down in a fleshy smack, and I didn’t waste time.

I snatched up a heavy river rock and brought it down on the side of his head with everything I had in me. The sickening crunch rattled my entire body. Falling onto my side, I dropped the bloodied rock.

Breathing heavy, I squeezed my eyes against the topsy-turvey the courtyard was currently doing as I sat back—fell back—onto my butt. In my chest, it felt like my heart was . . . stuttering.


I needed to get up.

I needed to get inside and find . . . I needed to find Ren. I had to tell him . . . What did I have to tell him? Everything. I had to tell him everything.

My head was swimming, and I was lying flat on my back. How did that happen? I wasn’t sure, but I knew if I kept lying here, I wasn’t getting back up.

I would die.

You are dying. The voice that whispered in my thoughts was a shock to my system. I was . . . I was dying. All the sticky blood covered my entire body. There couldn’t be much left.

Blinking slowly, I drew in a shuddering breath. This was my own doing. I hadn’t been in any shape to fight. Not eating right. Not sleeping. I should’ve been paying attention. I should’ve known. That was an amateurish mistake, just like all those years ago when I killed the fae before I’d been authorized to. I’d gotten everyone killed and now . . . now I’d gotten myself killed.


I wasn’t dying. I was just . . . sleepy.

I could sleep. Ren would find me. I would wake up and he’d be here. So, I did sleep. I think I did. At least for a little while.

But then air caught in my throat and my eyes fluttered open. The stars shone brightly. I was still here. I was alone. No Ren, no Tink. My head lolled to the right. The fae was still here, though, and by the looks of it, he was super dead.

I was alive.

Relief gave way to a keen sense of disappointment I didn’t understand, but couldn’t focus on at the moment, because I needed to get up. If I didn’t, who would watch out for Tink? Ren would, but he’d blame himself.

I couldn’t let that happen.

Lurching to my feet, I teetered unsteadily until I got myself turned around. I walked back toward the doors, except it felt like I was wading through quicksand and I wasn’t making much progress at all. No, it was slow and uneven, and the entire world kept blinking in and out. I tripped over stones, gritting my teeth as I forced one leg in front of the other. If I could just get to the doors, get inside, and get to Ren . . .

Rounding the corner, I stumbled onto the pathway and reached out, gripping the vine-covered trellis. The soft glow of the lobby lights seeped over the pathway. The doors were right there. I swallowed down the taste of blood and kept going, my steps turning sluggish.

Ren. Ren. Ren. I chanted his name. I was almost there. Just a little bit more to go. My hands were numb. I’d lost feeling in them, but that was okay, because my feet were still working. Just a little bit further. . . .

A shadow appeared in the double doors and it grew closer. The shadow became a more distinctive shape and then the shape became a person.

“Ren,” I called out, but it was only a wet whisper. I tried again, but now there was no sound.

He appeared as if he’d been summoned by my chants, and maybe he had, because the doors were opening and he was walking outside, his gaze sweeping over the courtyard.

I knew the moment he saw me.

He drew up short. “Ivy?”

And I knew the moment the light from inside reached me.

I opened my mouth, but my tongue didn’t work.

“Ivy!” Panic filled his voice as Ren broke into a run, his feet pounding off the pavement.

Something landed on my back, between my shoulder blades. Something sharp and hot and it took whatever air was left in my lungs. Stole what strength I had left.

I went down, but I didn’t feel the impact. The fury rolled off Ren in waves, filling the courtyard and overshadowing everything else. He was a blur, shooting past me.

My cheek was suddenly resting against the cool stone. I couldn’t feel my feet any longer. That was probably bad, but I wasn’t thinking about that anymore anyway. There was a sharp cry, and a body landed next to mine, the head twisted at an unnatural angle. It was her—the female fae.

I hadn’t killed her.

Stupid, stupid me.

Another ridiculous, amateurish error.

“Ivy. Come on, Ivy.” Gentle hands turned me over, onto my back. “Jesus Christ.”

The tone of his voice told me I should be worried, but I couldn’t find it in me to dredge up those emotions.

A hand cradled the back of my head. “Sweetness, look at me. Please.” He lifted me, and I was weightless. Floating. “Dammit, open your eyes and look at me.”

I wasn’t looking at him?

Forcing my eyes open, I found myself staring into Ren’s striking face. Those vibrant eyes were dark in the moonlight, wide and endless. He was so very pale and there was so much darkness crowding his features. “I’m . . .”

“Don’t try to talk,” he said, and he was moving fast, practically flying. “Just hang in there, Ivy. Keep your eyes open and on me, okay? Stay with me.”

But I had to. I had to say it. “I’m . . . sorry.”

Chapter 6

The world flickered in and out, like a fading light bulb. I tried to keep track of what was happening. I knew Ren was carrying me inside. I could feel his hard shoulder against my cheek. I felt every step he took. Darkness gave way to warmth and brightness.

“I need a doctor!” Ren was shouting, his voice edged with wild panic. “Jesus Christ, someone! I need a damn doctor!”

It was getting hard to keep my eyes open, and I thought that maybe . . . maybe it was too late for a doctor. The world faded out again.

The next thing I knew I was lying on a soft surface that didn’t have much give to it and the room was extraordinarily bright—too bright. It took me a couple of seconds to realize I was in the infirmary, a place in the basement of Hotel Good Fae that I was sure saw little action.

“Ren.” His name bubbled up from my lips.

“I’m here.” He carefully touched my cheek with his fingertips, drawing my attention. “Fuck, Ivy.”

There were other voices. A woman’s I didn’t recognize. “You’re going to feel a big pinch,” she said, holding my right arm.

I didn’t feel anything as I stared into Ren’s eyes, wondering why his face seemed fuzzy.

But then Tink was suddenly there, standing beside Ren. “What happened to you? Ivy?” His eyes were wide with horror as he scanned me. “Who did this? The Prince?”

Someone gasped in the room. The cool hand on my arm stilled.

“No,” Ren growled, and the one word echoed in the room like a gunshot. “It was fae that lived here.”

“Two,” I managed to whisper.

“That cannot be.” That was Tanner, but I couldn’t see him. “Those who live here would not harm you—harm any of you.”

The fact that I was bleeding out from multiple stab wounds proved differently.

The air in the room filled with static, and Ren’s fingers left my cheek. I couldn’t see his face or his eyes anymore. He pulled back, and I didn’t see him move, but I heard a body hit a wall.

“No!” someone shouted, and Tink whirled. There was a scream.

What the hell was happening? It was a struggle to lift my head and clear my vision, but I managed just in time to see that Ren had Tanner pinned to the wall with a hand around the older fae’s throat.

“You said we were safe here.” Ren’s voice was too flat, too cold. “We trusted you.”

“You are safe here,” Tanner denied, his tone remaining calm even though Ren was seconds from choking the life out of him. “We would never—”