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Elora finally interrupted the festivities. The christening ceremony would be happening in twenty minutes, and she noted that I needed a break from all the dancing. The dance floor emptied and everyone took seats at the tables edging the dance floor, or milled around the refreshments table.

I knew that I should sit down while I had the chance, but I was desperate to have a moment to breathe, so I went to a corner hidden behind extra chairs and leaned against the wall.

“Who are you hiding from?” Rhys teased, finding me in the corner. Dressed in a flashy tux, he looked dashing as he sauntered over to me, grinning.

“Everyone.” I smiled at him. “You look really good.”

“Funny, I was just gonna tell you the same thing.” Rhys stood next me, putting his hands in his pockets and smiling even wider. “Although ‘good’ doesn’t even begin to do you justice. You look . . . otherworldly. Like nothing else here can even compare to you.”

“It’s the dress.” I looked down, hoping to keep my cheeks from blushing. “That Frederique is amazing.”

“The dress is nice, but trust me, you make the dress.”

Gently, he reached over and fixed a wayward curl that had fallen out of place. He let his hand linger there a minute, his eyes meeting mine, then dropped his hand.

“So, having fun yet?” Rhys asked.

“A blast.” I smirked. “What about you?”

“I can’t dance with the Princess, so I’m a little bitter,” he said with a sad smile.

“Why can’t you dance with me?” I would’ve loved to dance with him. It would’ve been a blessed reprieve after everything I’d been through tonight.

“Mänks.” He pointed his thumbs at himself. “I’m lucky I’m even allowed in.”

“Oh.” I looked down at the floor, thinking about what he’d just said. “Not to sound rude or anything, because I’m glad you’re here, but . . . why are you here? Why aren’t you banned or something equally ridiculous?”

“Didn’t you know?” Rhys asked with a cocky grin. “I am the highest mänks in the land.”

“And why is that?” I couldn’t tell if he was teasing me or not, so I tilted my head, watching as his expression got more serious.

“Because I’m yours,” he replied softly.

He was invited because he was my mänsklig, my opposite, but when he answered, that wasn’t what he meant at all. Something in his eyes made me blush for real this time, and I smiled sadly at him.

One of Elora’s aides burst into the corner, ruining what was left of the moment, and demanded that I take my seat at the head table with the Queen. The christening ceremony was about to start, and a knot formed in my stomach. I hadn’t heard what my name was to be, and I was depressed about the idea of changing it.

“Duty calls.” I smiled apologetically at Rhys and started to walk past him.

“Hey.” Rhys grabbed my hand to stop me, and I turned to look at him. “You’re gonna be great. Everyone’s raving about you.”

“Thanks.” I squeezed his hand gratefully.

A cracking echoed through the room, followed by a tinkling that I didn’t understand. The sound was coming from everywhere, so it was hard to place right away. But then it looked like the ceiling was raining glitter, and the skylights crashed to the floor.



Rhys realized what was happening before I did, and, still holding my hand, he yanked me behind him. We were in the corner, out of the way of most of the glass, but from the agonized screams, I gathered that everyone else wasn’t so lucky.

Dark figures fell through the broken skylights, landing on the floor with surprising grace. Blood and broken glass layered the floor. Before I recognized them, I remembered the uniform. Matching long black trench coats, like a crime-fighting team.

The word seemed to swell through the room without anybody saying anything: Vittra.

Vittra had broken in, crashing through the ceiling, and Trylle guards circled them. In the very center I saw Jen, the tracker who had been so fond of hitting me, his eyes scanning the room.

“You are not invited. Please leave.” Elora’s voice boomed above everything else.

“You know what we want, and we’re not leaving until we get it.” Kyra stepped forward, Jen’s accomplice from before. She walked on the glass with bare feet but didn’t seem to notice. “She’s got to be here. Where are you hiding her?”

Jen turned toward me, and his black eyes met mine over Rhys’s shoulder. When he grinned wickedly, Rhys realized we were in trouble. He started to push me toward the door, but before we made it, Jen bolted toward us, and everyone burst into life. The Vittra scrambled, going after the guards and other Trylle.

Elora glared at Kyra, who collapsed on the ground, writhing in pain. Nobody had touched her, and based on the look in Elora’s eyes, I figured that Kyra’s agony had something to do with Elora’s abilities.

I saw Tove bound over the table he was sitting at, using his powers to send Vittra flying without even touching them. People screamed, and I felt a strong wind blow through the room, surely Willa’s attempt at helping.

Then Jen was in front of us, blocking out the chaos of the ballroom. Rhys stood his ground in front of me. He moved to defend me in some way, but Jen lunged forward and punched him, throwing him to the ground.

“Rhys!” I reached out for Rhys, but he didn’t move. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t dead, but Jen grabbed me around my waist, restraining me.