Page 86

“I’m sorry, white rabbit,” he whispered, and shut the doors. I heard a soft clicking sound, and I realized too late that he’d locked me inside the armoire. “I want you safe this time.”


white rabbit

Konstantin,” I hissed but didn’t say more. I wanted to break down the doors and jump out, but I couldn’t. Not if I didn’t want to risk giving away his position.

Through in the gap between the doors of the armoire, I watched Konstantin back away. He’d trapped me, knowing that I wouldn’t try to break out because it would mean risking his life.

Then, slowly, as he stepped back, I saw his skin begin to change. Going from its normal deep tan to blend in with the stark white of the Queen’s chambers. He slipped off his shirt, kicking it underneath the bed, and stood against the wall beside the four-post bed.

His daggers remained tucked in the back of his pants, and he stood so that from his waist down, he was mostly hidden behind the abundance of linens on the bed. He’d almost disappeared completely.

Mina came out of the dressing room a few moments later, dragging a large suitcase across the floor with great difficulty. All her gemstones must’ve weighed it down quite a bit. Still in “mourning” over Everts death, she wore along black gown.

The satin of the bottom of the gown clung to the curves of her hips before flaring out around her feet. The top of her bodice went up to her throat, but it was made of a thin, open lace so that her breasts were almost entirely visible through the fabric. The sleeves went down over her hands, ending in a long point. Since the openness of the dress could provide no warmth, she wore a black fur stole around her shoulders, and its effect reminded me almost of glamorous, oversized epaulets.

“Vita, darling,” Mina said, calling to her pet rabbit, and I noted that her British accent had grown even stronger since the last time I’d heard her speak. She’d completely devolved into the character she’d created for herself. “It’s time for us to go.”

Leaving her bag, she began looking around for the rabbit. She put one hand on the bed, and I noticed that even her nail polish was black, as she leaned down to look underneath the bed. With her back to him, Konstantin started moving slowly toward her.

“Vita,” Mina cooed to the rabbit. “Come here, love.”

Konstantin pulled the dagger from his pants, and his skin began to shift back to its normal flesh tone. I held my breath, watching through the crack, as he came up behind her.

“I know you’re there,” Mina said, her voice sharper than it had been when she’d been speaking to Vita. “And I know that you’re not going to kill me.”

She stood up and turned around to face him, a smile playing on her lips. He glared down at her, his expression hardening as he seethed, and she began to laugh.

“You can’t kill me, Konstantin. You love me too much.”

He grabbed her and whirled her around, pulling her roughly against him so her back was pressed to his chest, and he held the dagger to her throat. The lace of her dress covered her throat, forming a choker-like feature, and his blade sliced through it. He didn’t kill her, but he held the dagger hard enough to draw the faintest bit of blood.

“Please, Konstantin,” Mina begged, sounding frightened. “You don’t need to do this. Not after all we’ve been through. This is the moment we’ve been plotting for all these years. I have the riches! We can finally run off and be free together, just like you always wanted.”

“You’ve been plotting,” he corrected her, speaking into her ear like an angry lover. “I was only ever just doing your bidding.”

“Konstantin, please. Don’t be like this.” She softened, trying to sound as gentle as she had when she’d spoken to her rabbit. “We’ve shared so much, and I don’t know why you’ve taken such a turn. But I forgive you. I still want to be with you, even after all you’ve done. I still love you.”

“After all I’ve done?” Konstantin growled, and then he threw her to the floor. She sat on the white rug looking up at him, and somehow managed to have tears in her eyes. “You are an evil, ruthless bitch, Mina. Don’t act like I’m the one in the wrong here.”

“Look, Konstantin, I know we’ve had our differences, and that you haven’t always approved of the way I’ve taken care of things,” Mina said. “But I just did what needed to be done. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love you. That I don’t still.”

She reached out, meaning to touch his pant leg, and he stepped back from her.

“I should’ve killed you years ago,” he said harshly. “But I was too blinded by my own foolish love, and I hate myself for the parts of it that still linger on. The parts of my heart that I gave to you that I can never get back.”

“Konstantin,” she pleaded with him.

He inhaled sharply through his nose, and he turned away, trying to hide the emotions on his face. It was just the slightest bit of vulnerability, but that was all Mina needed. His back was half to her, and she could see the dagger holstered in the back of his pants.

With stealthy fast reflexes, she moved, grabbing the dagger before I could even shout Konstantin’s name. He started to turn toward her, but it was already too late. She stabbed him in the left side, digging the dagger right into his heart.

Konstantin didn’t even try to fight back. He let his other dagger fall from his hand and stumbled back until he hit the wall, then slid down and sat slumped on the floor.