Unhinged Page 62

I strain my neck to look into Morpheus’s eyes, and my broken and bruised skin pounds. Sun from the skylights shimmers behind his silhouette—a halo of yellow light.

“I’m so glad you didn’t hurt him,” I mumble, unable to talk above a hoarse whisper.

Morpheus’s frown is fierce. “Had it been anyone other than the boy who bled himself dry for you in Wonderland,” he answers, “I would have killed him with my bare hands—no magic required.”

There’s a chilling grimness behind his gaze, and I let myself acknowledge what I’ve been denying: In his own way, Morpheus is my knight, too. He just has more muddled motivations than Jeb—not always unselfish and honorable, but vigilant. I have to give him that.

“You were right,” I say, swallowing my pride. “About my blood being used as a weapon against me. About me holding you to a different standard. I should’ve at least tried to trust you. I’m sorry. I’ll work on that.”

“See that you do.” Although his words are harsh, the expression on his porcelain-pale face is anything but. It reminds me of the netherling playmate from my past, eager to win my trust and adoration. Willing to do anything for it. He doesn’t have to say I’m forgiven or that he’s touched by my apology. Both of those emotions blink through his jeweled patches in colorful flashes.

I proceed to tell him everything I know—what I saw in the paintings Jeb made with my blood and glass, my mosaics in the loft. And I tell him that I suspect Red is here in the human realm and playing games with me.

He shakes his head. “That doesn’t sound like her. She’s not one for subtleties.”

“But the garden shears on the door,” I insist. “They were there to scare me.”

He looks genuinely baffled. “I didn’t come in the door. I came through a crack in one of the skylights. Are you sure that’s what you saw?”

“Go look for yourself if you don’t believe me.”

“I believe you, but it makes no sense. She would’ve wanted you at her mercy—unprepared. She was using your boyfriend not only for his imagination, but for his tie to you. He was bait. She lured you here, so she must’ve planned to be here, to vanquish you. But something spooked her, and as much as I’d like to think it was you, I know better.”

My heart drums at the thought of who or what could’ve spooked someone as powerful as Red. “Do you think it was the mystery woman in my mosaics? The one who’s hiding in the shadows? The one with the tentacles …”

“Perhaps the answer is in your final mosaic. We need to find it. But first, let’s have a look at your battle scars.” He cups my chin, thumb running across the welts left by Jeb’s labret. “You managed to make me come back without begging. I suppose you’re proud of yourself.”

His gentle teasing slows my heart rate down, calms me. “You came back for me? I figured you were just missing your car.”

Morpheus’s lips quirk—an almost-smile. He tips my chin up to get a better look at my neck. The action stretches my bruised muscles and I yelp.

“Sorry, luv.” He winces and releases me, then taps the skin around Jeb’s bite mark. His gloves feel cool and soothing. “I do think you’ll live, though.” His attention shifts to my face, respect sparking in his dark gaze. “Appears you’ve had a busy day of magic making.”

I scrub at my eye patches. “You already knew that. You had Gossamer and Chessie watching over me.”

“So I might stay away until you found me. But as always, you’re determined to be the crimp in my plans.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better,” I say, holding my neck where I can still feel the burn of Jeb’s handprints, “I did figure out where you were, so I would’ve found you.”

Morpheus tilts his head. “Is that so?”

I nod, then point at Jeb’s paintings all along the walls. “When I saw Jeb’s lost memories, they reminded me of what Chessie drew on my windows on the way here: a train, and you. And the word memory. After my mom went to London through my mirror, you asked her if she took a train ride and relived lost memories. You were waiting at Ironbridge Gorge, right? That’s why you sent Chessie. You expected me to go there and find my mosaics, and you knew I would need his help to read them.”

“Impressive.”

“Is that why you wanted to lure me there? For the mosaics?”

“Partly. But I wanted you to ride the train most of all.”

I furrow my brow. “So the train is real?”

Morpheus slides off his flat cap. His glowing blue hair appears to move and reach for the air, as if thrilled to be liberated. “What’s your definition of real?”

I look around the room, stopping at Jeb’s sleeping form. “It’s ever changing.”

Twirling the hat on his fingertip, Morpheus nods. “As it should be. There’s an underground tube passageway close to the bridge that was deserted and sealed up years ago by humans. Netherlings have a freight train that runs through it, specializing in very precious cargo. There are passenger cars available for those who have a personal stake in the merchandise. I arranged tickets for us.”

“You mean you were planning to go, too? You’re afraid of riding in a car. How’s a train any better?”

He shrugs, his frown sheepish. “The train doesn’t exactly move.”

“But you said it runs through the passageway.”

He waves his hand in a dismissive gesture. “You would have to experience it to understand. There’s something there you need to see. A memory in the cargo that doesn’t belong to you but has shaped you nonetheless. A memory that’s been lost for years, that needs to be found before you face Red.”

His answer whets my curiosity. “I don’t understand. The cargo in the train is memories?”

“Lost memories.”

“But how …?”

“Let’s just say that the human concept of a freight train is as misguided as the human concept of a hat.” He offers me his cap.

Puzzled, I take it. It’s the first hat I’ve ever seen him wear that doesn’t have moth embellishments. I hold it up in the sunlight. The texture doesn’t feel like tweed. It’s silkier and seems to breathe and move under my touch. I meet Morpheus’s gaze, confused.

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