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“You’ll want to get changed.” Sara nodded at my clothes as she stood up. “I might have something in your size.”

“Thanks, but I don’t really care about my clothes. I want to know what’s going on. Why did you kidnap me?” I felt exasperated, and I knew it came out in my tone, but she didn’t seem to notice.

“I’m sure I have something,” Sara continued, as if I hadn’t said anything. She walked over to a large closet in the corner and opened the door. “It might be a little big on you, but I’m sure it’ll work.” After looking for a matter of seconds, she pulled out a long black dress.

“I really don’t give a damn about the clothes!” I snapped. “I want to know why you keep chasing after me. I can’t give you what you want if I don’t know what it is.”

As she walked to the bed, I realized she was uncomfortable looking at me. Her eyes seemed to go everywhere but to me. And anytime they did land on me, she was quick to look away. She went over to the bed, laying my dress on it.

“You sent them out so we can talk and now you won’t say anything?” I asked, growing even more frustrated.

“I’ve imagined this day for a long time.” Sara lovingly touched the dress, smoothing it out on the bed. “Yet here it is, and I feel so unprepared.”

“Seriously, what does that mean?”

Her expression grew pained for a minute, then returned to the same blank, serene look she’d worn before.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to get dressed.” She turned her back to me, walking over to a folding screen in the corner.

A fantasy scene similar to the one on the doors had been painted on it, and a black-and-red ball gown hung from the edge. Sara took the dress and went behind the screen to change in private.

“Do you know where Finn is?” I asked with a painful ache in my chest.

“That’s your tracker?” Sara asked, draping the robe over the screen. I could only see the top of her head above it.

“Yes.” I swallowed hard, fearing the worst.

“I’m not sure where he is. We don’t have him, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Then why hasn’t he come for me? How did he let you take me away?” I demanded.

“I assumed they detained him until they got away with you.” She slipped the dress over her head, so her words were muffled for a moment. “I’m not certain of the specifics, but they had orders not to hurt anyone unless it was absolutely necessary.”

“Yeah, and Kyra’s orders were not to hurt me, right?” I asked wryly, but Sara didn’t say anything. “Can you just tell me if he’s okay?”

“Loki didn’t report any fatalities,” Sara said.

“He was in charge of bringing me here?” I looked at the closed doors behind us, realizing too late that I should’ve been asking him these questions. I thought about going after him, but then Sara came out from behind the screen.

“Yes. And other than Kyra’s … outburst, Loki recounted that everything went well.” She ran her hands along her skirt, then pointed to the dress on the bed. “Please. Get dressed. We’re going to see the King.”

“And he’ll answer my questions?” I raised my eyebrow.

“Yes. I’m certain he’ll tell you everything.” Sara nodded, keeping her eyes locked on the floor.

I decided to go along with it. If he tried to give me the runaround, I would bolt. I didn’t have time to waste on vague answers and evasive language. Matt and Rhys were captive, and Rhys couldn’t even sit down.

But I also needed them to like me so that maybe I could talk them into letting Matt and Rhys go. If that meant I had to put on a silly little dress, so be it.

I went behind the screen and changed, while Sara continued getting ready. She put on one of the necklaces that the hobgoblin had left on the table and let down her hair. It was black and straight, shining like silk down her back. It reminded me of Elora’s.

I wondered what Elora would make of all this. Would she send out a rescue mission to get me? Did she even know I was gone?

After I put on the dress, Sara tried to tie a loose ribbon on the back, but I wouldn’t let her. She had reached out to touch it, and when I snapped at her to leave it alone, her expression fell into something tragic. Her hands hovered in the air for a moment, as if she couldn’t believe what had just happened. Then she let them fall to her side and nodded.

Without saying anything, she led me down the hall. At the end, we came to another set of doors that mirrored the ones on her chamber. She knocked, and while we waited for a response, she smoothed down her crimson and black lace skirt again. It already lay perfectly flat, so I suspected this was some kind of nervous habit.

“Come in,” a strong gravelly voice boomed from the other side of the doors.

Sara nodded, as if he could see her, then pushed open the doors.

The room was windowless, as had been every room I’d seen, and the walls were dark mahogany. Despite its massive size, the room had a cavelike quality. One wall was covered floor-to-ceiling with bookcases, and a heavy wooden desk sat nearby. Several elegant red chairs were the only other furniture.

The largest one, with intricate designs on the wooden feet, sat directly across from us, and a man sat in it. His dark brown hair ran long, past his shoulders. He wore all black—pressed pants, a dress shirt, and a long jacket that resembled a robe. He was handsome, in a battled kind of way, and he appeared to be in his forties.