A Court of Mist and Fury Page 11

Behind me, a wall of white marble arose, broken occasionally by open doorways leading into dim stairwells. The rest of the Night Court had to be through there. No wonder I couldn’t hear anyone screaming, if they were all inside.

“This is my private residence,” Rhys said casually. His skin was darker than I’d remembered—golden now, rather than pale.

Pale, from being locked Under the Mountain for fifty years. I scanned him, searching for any sign of the massive, membranous wings—the ones he’d admitted he loved flying with. But there was none. Just the male, smirking at me.

And that too-familiar expression— “How dare you—”

Rhys snorted. “I certainly missed that look on your face.” He stalked closer, his movements feline, those violet eyes turning subdued—lethal. “You’re welcome, you know.”

“For what?”

Rhys paused less than a foot away, sliding his hands into his pockets. The night didn’t seem to ripple from him here—and he appeared, despite his perfection, almost normal. “For saving you when asked.”

I stiffened. “I didn’t ask for anything.”

His stare dipped to my left hand.

Rhys gave no warning as he gripped my arm, snarling softly, and tore off the glove. His touch was like a brand, and I flinched, yielding a step, but he held firm until he’d gotten both gloves off. “I heard you begging someone, anyone, to rescue you, to get you out. I heard you say no.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

He turned my bare hand over, his hold tightening as he examined the eye he’d tattooed. He tapped the pupil. Once. Twice. “I heard it loud and clear.”

I wrenched my hand away. “Take me back. Now. I didn’t want to be stolen away.”

He shrugged. “What better time to take you here? Maybe Tamlin didn’t notice you were about to reject him in front of his entire court—maybe you can now simply blame it on me.”

“You’re a bastard. You made it clear enough that I had … reservations.”

“Such gratitude, as always.”

I struggled to get down a single, deep breath. “What do you want from me?”

“Want? I want you to say thank you, first of all. Then I want you to take off that hideous dress. You look … ” His mouth cut a cruel line. “You look exactly like the doe-eyed damsel he and that simpering priestess want you to be.”

“You don’t know anything about me. Or us.”

Rhys gave me a knowing smile. “Does Tamlin? Does he ever ask you why you hurl your guts up every night, or why you can’t go into certain rooms or see certain colors?”

I froze. He might as well have stripped me naked. “Get the hell out of my head.”

Tamlin had horrors of his own to endure, to face down.

“Likewise.” He stalked a few steps away. “You think I enjoy being awoken every night by visions of you puking? You send everything right down that bond, and I don’t appreciate having a front-row seat when I’m trying to sleep.”

“Prick.”

Another chuckle. But I wouldn’t ask about what he meant—about the bond between us. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of looking curious. “As for what else I want from you … ” He gestured to the house behind us. “I’ll tell you tomorrow at breakfast. For now, clean yourself up. Rest.” That rage flickered in his eyes again at the dress, the hair. “Take the stairs on the right, one level down. Your room is the first door.”

“Not a dungeon cell?” Perhaps it was foolish to reveal that fear, to suggest it to him.

But Rhys half turned, brows lifting. “You are not a prisoner, Feyre. You made a bargain, and I am calling it in. You will be my guest here, with the privileges of a member of my household. None of my subjects are going to touch you, hurt you, or so much as think ill of you here.”

My tongue was dry and heavy as I said, “And where might those subjects be?”

“Some dwell here—in the mountain beneath us.” He angled his head. “They’re forbidden to set foot in this residence. They know they’d be signing their death warrant.” His eyes met mine, stark and clear, as if he could sense the panic, the shadows creeping in. “Amarantha wasn’t very creative,” he said with quiet wrath. “My court beneath this mountain has long been feared, and she chose to replicate it by violating the space of Prythian’s sacred mountain. So, yes: there’s a court beneath this mountain—the court your Tamlin now expects me to be subjecting you to. I preside over it every now and then, but it mostly rules itself.”

“When—when are you taking me there?” If I had to go underground, had to see those kinds of horrors again … I’d beg him—beg him not to take me. I didn’t care how pathetic it made me. I’d lost any sort of qualms about what lines I’d cross to survive.

“I’m not.” He rolled his shoulders. “This is my home, and the court beneath it is my … occupation, as you mortals call it. I do not like for the two to overlap very often.”

My brows rose slightly. “ ‘You mortals’?”

Starlight danced along the planes of his face. “Should I consider you something different?”

A challenge. I shoved away my irritation at the amusement again tugging at the corners of his lips, and instead said, “And the other denizens of your court?” The Night Court territory was enormous—bigger than any other in Prythian. And all around us were those empty, snow-blasted mountains. No sign of towns, cities, or anything.

“Scattered throughout, dwelling as they wish. Just as you are now free to roam where you wish.”

“I wish to roam home.”

Rhys laughed, finally sauntering toward the other end of the hall, which ended in a veranda open to the stars. “I’m willing to accept your thanks at any time, you know,” he called to me without looking back.

Red exploded in my vision, and I couldn’t breathe fast enough, couldn’t think above the roar in my head. One heartbeat, I was staring after him—the next, I had my shoe in a hand.

I hurled it at him with all my strength.

All my considerable, immortal strength.

I barely saw my silk slipper as it flew through the air, fast as a shooting star, so fast that even a High Lord couldn’t detect it as it neared—

And slammed into his head.

Rhys whirled, a hand rising to the back of his head, his eyes wide.

I already had the other shoe in my hand.

Rhys’s lip pulled back from his teeth. “I dare you.” Temper—he had to be in some mood today to let his temper show this much.

Good. That made two of us.

I flung my other shoe right at his head, as swift and hard as the first one.

His hand snatched up, grabbing the shoe mere inches from his face.

Rhys hissed and lowered the shoe, his eyes meeting mine as the silk dissolved to glittering black dust in his fist. His fingers unfurled, the last of the sparkling ashes blowing into oblivion, and he surveyed my hand, my body, my face.

“Interesting,” he murmured, and continued on his way.

I debated tackling him and pummeling that face with my fists, but I wasn’t stupid. I was in his home, on top of a mountain in the middle of absolutely nowhere, it seemed. No one would be coming to rescue me—no one was even here to witness my screaming.

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