She should startle at the sight of them, two strangers in her master’s home, but there is no shock in the woman’s face. No surprise, anger, or fear. There is nothing at all. Only a kind of vacancy, a calm unique to the dreaming and the dazed. The maid stands, head bowed and hands laced, waiting for instruction, and Addie realizes with dawning horror and relief that the woman is bewitched.

“We will dine in the salon tonight,” says the darkness, as if the house were his. There is a new timbre to his voice, a film, like gossamer drawn over stone. It ripples in the air, wraps itself around the maid, and Addie can feel it sliding along her own skin, even as it fails to hold.

“Yes, sir,” says the maid with a small bow.

She turns to lead them down the stairs, and the darkness looks to Addie and smiles.

“Come,” he says, eyes gone emerald with arrogant glee. “I heard the marquis’s chef is one of the best in Paris.”

He offers her his arm, but she does not take it.

“You don’t really expect me to dine with you.”

He lifts his chin. “You would waste such a meal, simply because I’m at the table? I think your stomach is louder than your pride. But suit yourself, my dear. Stay here in your borrowed room, and glut yourself on stolen sweets. I’ll eat without you.”

With that, he strides away, and she is torn between the urge to slam the door behind him and the knowledge that her night is ruined, whether she eats with him or not, that even if she stays here in this room, her mind will follow him down the stairs to dinner.

And so she goes.

Seven years from now, Addie will see a puppet show being put on in a Paris square. A curtained cart, with a man behind, hands raised to hold aloft the little wooden figures, their limbs dancing up and down with twine.

And she will think of this night.

This dinner.

The servants of the house move around them as if on strings, smooth and silent, every gesture done with that same, sleepy ease. Chairs pulled back, linens smoothed, bottles of Champagne uncorked and poured into waiting crystal flutes.

But the food comes out too quickly, the first course arriving as the glasses are filled. Whatever hold the darkness has on the servants of this house, it began before his entrance in her stolen room. It began before he rang the bell, and called the maid, and summoned her to dinner.

He should seem so out of place in the filigreed room. He is, after all, a wild thing, a god of forest nights, a demon bounded by the dark, and yet he sits with the poise and grace of a nobleman enjoying his dinner.

Addie fingers the silver cutlery, the gilt trim of the plates.

“Am I supposed to be impressed?”

The darkness looks at her across the table. “Are you not?” he asks as the servants bow, and draw back against the walls.

The truth is, she is scared. Unsettled by the display. She knows his power—at least, she thought she did—but it’s one thing to make a deal, and another to be the witness of such control. What could he make them do? How far could he make them go? Is it as easy for him as pulling strings?

The first course is placed before her, a cream soup the pale orange of dawn. It smells wonderful, and the Champagne sparkles in its glass, but she does not let herself reach for either.

The darkness reads the caution in her face.

“Come, Adeline,” he says, “I am no fae thing, here to trap you with food and drink.”

“And yet, everything seems to have a price.”

He exhales, eyes flashing a paler shade of green.

“Suit yourself,” he says, taking up his glass and drinking deeply.

After a long moment, Addie gives in, and lifts the crystal to her lips, taking her first sip of Champagne. It is unlike anything she’s ever tasted; a thousand fragile bubbles race across her tongue, sweet and sharp, and she would melt with pleasure, if it were any other table, any other man, any other night.

Instead of savoring each sip, she immediately empties her glass, and by the time she sets it on the table, her head is fizzing slightly, and the servant is already at her elbow, pouring her a second drink.

The darkness sips his own, and watches, saying nothing as she eats. The silence in the room grows heavy, but she does not break it.

Instead she focuses first on the soup, and then on fish, and then on a round of pastry-crusted beef. It is more than she has eaten in months, in years, and she feels full in a way that goes beyond her stomach. And as she slows, she studies the man, who is not a man, across the table, the way the shadows bend in the room at his back.

This is the longest they have ever spent together.

Before, there were only those mere moments in the woods, the minutes in a shoddy room, half an hour along the Seine. But now, for the first time, he does not loom behind her like a shadow, does not linger like a phantom at the edges of her sight. Now, he sits across from her, on full display, and though she knows the static details of his face, having drawn them a hundred times, still she cannot help but study him in motion.

And he lets her.

There is no shyness in his manner.

He seems, if anything, to relish her attention.

As his knife slices across the plate, as he lifts a bite of meat to his lips, his black brows lift, his mouth tugs at the corner. Less a man than a collection of features, drawn by a careful hand.

In time, that will change. He will inflate, expand to fill the gaps between the lines of her drawing, wrest the image from her grip until she cannot fathom that it was ever hers.

But for now, the only aspect that is his—entirely his—are those eyes.

She imagined them a hundred times, and yes, they were always green, but in her dreams they were a single shade: the steady green of summer leaves.

His are different.

Startling, inconstant, the slightest change in humor, in temper, reflected there, and only there.

It will take Addie years to learn the language of those eyes. To know that amusement renders them the shade of summer ivy, while annoyance lightens them to sour apple, and pleasure, pleasure darkens them to the almost-black of the woods at night, only the edges still discernible as green.

Tonight, they are the slippery color of weeds caught in the current of a stream.

By the end of dinner, they will be another shade entirely.

There is something languid in his posture. He sits there, one elbow on the tablecloth, his attention drifting, head tipped ever so slightly as if listening to a far-off sound, while his elegant fingers trace the line of his chin as if amused by his own form, and before she knows it, she has broken the silence again.

“What is your name?”

His eyes slide from a corner of the room back to her. “Why must I have one?”

“All things have names,” she says. “Names have purpose. Names have power.” She tips her glass his way. “You know that, or else you wouldn’t have stolen mine.”

A smile tugs at the corner of his mouth, wolfish, amused. “If it is true,” he says, “that names have power, then why would I hand you mine?”

“Because I must call you something, to your face and in my head. And right now I have only curses.”

The darkness does not seem to care. “Call me whatever you like, it makes no difference. What did you call the stranger in your journals? The man after whom you fashioned me?”

“You fashioned yourself to mock me, and I would rather you take any other form.”