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And he would have an unexpected resource at his side.

Sophia wheezed painfully as she drew in her next breath. One eye was so swollen, the lid looked sealed shut. Nicholas would be surprised if she managed to keep it. The other cracked open a sliver, looking up at him with her usual scorn.

The time would come—not at this moment, not even in the coming days, but soon—when Sophia would answer for what she had done. But for now, she was of far more use to Nicholas alive than in the presence of her maker.

“Look lively,” he said. “We’ve a journey to make.”