A Court of Mist and Fury Page 54

Like a mountain cat arching into a touch, it seemed to purr—and then relaxed its guard.

His mind opened for me. An antechamber, at least. A single space he’d carved out, to allow me to see—

A bedroom carved from obsidian; a mammoth bed of ebony sheets, large enough to accommodate wings.

And on it, sprawled in nothing but her skin, lay Ianthe.

I reeled back, realizing it was a memory, and Ianthe was in his bed, in his court beneath that mountain, her full breasts peaked against the chill—

“There is more,” Rhys’s voice said from far away as I struggled to pull out. But my mind slammed into the shield—the other side of it. He’d trapped me in here—

“You kept me waiting,” Ianthe sulked.

The sensation of hard, carved wood digging into my back—Rhysand’s back—as he leaned against the bedroom door. “Get out.”

Ianthe gave a little pout, bending her knee and shifting her legs wider, baring herself to him. “I see the way you look at me, High Lord.”

“You see what you want to see,” he—we—said. The door opened beside him. “Get out.”

A coy tilt of her lips. “I heard you like to play games.” Her slender hand drifted low, trailing past her belly button. “I think you’ll find me a diverting playmate.”

Icy wrath crept through me—him—as he debated the merits of splattering her on the walls, and how much of an inconvenience it’d cause. She’d hounded him relentlessly—stalked the other males, too. Azriel had left last night because of it. And Mor was about one more comment away from snapping her neck.

“I thought your allegiance lay with other courts.” His voice was so cold. The voice of the High Lord.

“My allegiance lies with the future of Prythian, with the true power in this land.” Her fingers slid between her legs—and halted. Her gasp cleaved the room as he sent a tendril of power blasting for her, pinning that arm to the bed—away from herself. “Do you know what a union between us could do for Prythian, for the world?” she said, eyes devouring him still.

“You mean yourself.”

“Our offspring could rule Prythian.”

Cruel amusement danced through him. “So you want my crown—and for me to play stud?”

She tried to writhe her body, but his power held her. “I don’t see anyone else worthy of the position.”

She’d be a problem—now, and later. He knew it. Kill her now, end the threat before it began, face the wrath of the other High Priestesses, or … see what happened. “Get out of my bed. Get out of my room. And get out of my court.”

He released his power’s grip to allow her to do so.

Ianthe’s eyes darkened, and she slithered to her feet, not bothering with her clothes, draped over his favorite chair. Each step toward him had her generous breasts bobbing. She stopped barely a foot away. “You have no idea what I can make you feel, High Lord.”

She reached a hand for him, right between his legs.

His power lashed around her fingers before she could grab him.

He crunched the power down, twisting.

Ianthe screamed. She tried backing away, but his power froze her in place—so much power, so easily controlled, roiling around her, contemplating ending her existence like an asp surveying a mouse.

Rhys leaned close to breathe into her ear, “Don’t ever touch me. Don’t ever touch another male in my court.” His power snapped bones and tendons, and she screamed again. “Your hand will heal,” he said, stepping back. “The next time you touch me or anyone in my lands, you will find that the rest of you will not fare so well.”

Tears of agony ran down her face—the effect wasted by the hatred lighting her eyes. “You will regret this,” she hissed.

He laughed softly, a lover’s laugh, and a flicker of power had her thrown onto her ass in the hallway. Her clothes followed a heartbeat later. Then the door slammed.

Like a pair of scissors through a taut ribbon, the memory was severed, the shield behind me fell, and I stumbled back, blinking.

“Rule one,” Rhys told me, his eyes glazed with the rage of that memory, “don’t go into someone’s mind unless you hold the way open. A daemati might leave their minds spread wide for you—and then shut you inside, turn you into their willing slave.”

A chill went down my spine at the thought. But what he’d shown me …

“Rule two,” he said, his face hard as stone, “when—”

“When was that,” I blurted. I knew him well enough not to doubt its truth. “When did that happen between you?”

The ice remained in his eyes. “A hundred years ago. At the Court of Nightmares. I allowed her to visit after she’d begged for years, insisting she wanted to build ties between the Night Court and the priestesses. I’d heard rumors about her nature, but she was young and untried, and I hoped that perhaps a new High Priestess might indeed be the change her order needed. It turned out that she was already well trained by some of her less-benevolent sisters.”

I swallowed hard, my heart thundering. “She—she didn’t act that way at …”

Lucien.

Lucien had hated her. Had made vague, vicious allusions to not liking her, to being approached by her—

I was going to throw up. Had she … had she pursued him like that? Had he … had he been forced to say yes because of her position?

And if I went back to the Spring Court one day … How would I ever convince Tamlin to dismiss her? What if, now that I was gone, she was—

“Rule two,” Rhys finally went on, “be prepared to see things you might not like.”

Only fifty years later, Amarantha had come. And done exactly to Rhys what he’d wanted to kill Ianthe for. He’d let it happen to him. To keep them safe. To keep Azriel and Cassian from the nightmares that would haunt him forever, from enduring any more pain than what they’d suffered as children …

I lifted my head to ask him more. But Rhys had vanished.

Alone, I peeled off my clothes, struggling with the buckles and straps he’d put on me—when had it been? An hour or two ago?

It felt as if a lifetime had passed. And I was now a certified Book-tracker, it seemed.

Better than a party-planning wife for breeding little High Lords. What Ianthe had wanted to make me—to serve whatever agenda she had.

The bath was indeed hot, as he’d promised. And I mulled over what he’d shown me, seeing that hand again and again reach between his legs, the ownership and arrogance in that gesture—

I shut out the memory, the bath water suddenly cold.

CHAPTER

22

Word still hadn’t come from the Summer Court the following morning, so Rhysand made good on his decision to bring us to the mortal realm.

“What does one wear, exactly, in the human lands?” Mor said from where she sprawled across the foot of my bed. For someone who claimed to have been out drinking and dancing until the Mother knew when, she appeared unfairly perky. Cassian and Azriel, grumbling and wincing over breakfast, had looked like they’d been run over by wagons. Repeatedly. Some small part of me wondered what it would be like to go out with them—to see what Velaris might offer at night.

Prev Next
Read Wuxia Novel | Read Xianxia Novel | Read Xuanhuan Novel