Aftermath Page 4

He twisted his fingers and Adne stumbled. “Please stay awhile. I think you could be quite useful to me.”

She rolled over, clawing at the rug beneath her feet, which had begun to unravel. Its loose threads wound together into thick ropes that wrapped around her ankles and continued to snake their way up her body.

Amid the chaos of that final battle, Bosque had singled Adne out. When he’d spoken to her, she’d felt his gaze as acutely as if he’d been touching her. Even as she’d struggled against the bonds he’d invoked to hold her captive, Adne had shivered, unable to fight the awareness that with one look Bosque understood who she was and the power she could wield better than anyone else ever had.

She didn’t know what that meant.

Adne had pushed aside the unpleasant dream as she would any other, assuming the nightmare was simply the aftermath of the war.

But the next night, she’d dreamed of Bosque Mar. And the next. And the next.

Adne had told herself repeatedly that the nightmares meant nothing, that they were the last shreds of fear left from years of fighting the Keepers. Bosque Mar had been banished from her world and he had no way of returning.

And yet, every night the Harbinger visited her while she slept.

Today the dream had intruded upon her waking mind. She couldn’t bear it.

Crumpled on the ground, Adne held the wooden box tight against her chest. Logan needed something from Rowan Estate, but he didn’t have it—at least not everything. They’d kept this box from him. That meant Adne could stop him before he managed to pull off whatever scheme he was concocting. By outmaneuvering Logan, she would keep the nightmares from coming true. Whatever Logan was searching for, Adne had to find it first.

The crunch of boots sounded on the garden’s gravel path. Adne looked up to find Connor bearing down on her. He crouched beside her.

“What’s up, buttercup?” Connor’s tone was casual, but the skin around his eyes was tight with concern.

Adne knew her face was streaked with tears. Trying to pretend they weren’t there was pointless. “I shouldn’t have run out of there,” she said. “I freaked.”

“Uh-huh.” Cupping her face in his palm, Connor rubbed the tear tracks on her cheek with his thumb. “I got that much. But it’s not like you, Adne. Why’d you spook?”

Adne grimaced, wishing Connor had picked a word other than spook. It was too close to the truth. She felt haunted.

Choosing her next words carefully, Adne told him, “Knowing Logan was here. Seeing all that history of the Keepers. I thought it was over. The war. The loss.”

“It is over,” Connor said with a dry laugh. “Logan Bane might have the coin to hire half-competent thieves, but can you imagine him pulling off anything more?”

“I don’t know.” Adne lowered her gaze.

Logan had been a spoiled child and an arrogant SOB, but Adne suspected that much of Logan’s behavior had been posturing. None of them had seen beneath the surface of the Keeper heir’s façade. The break-in made Adne realize she was afraid to find out.

“So.” Connor cleared his throat. “I don’t mean to be insensitive, but Sabine and Ethan would like to get back to the Academy. Me too.”

Adne nodded, letting Connor pull her to her feet. She tucked the box under her arm. Connor looked at it and frowned.

“You keeping that?”

“Yeah,” she answered. “I want to put it somewhere Logan won’t be able to get at it. Just in case.”

Connor shrugged, but then he looked into Adne’s eyes. “Are you sure there’s nothing else you want to talk about?”

“I’m okay,” Adne insisted. “Just an overreaction.”

“You know we’re not going to let Logan mess with the glorious future that awaits us.” He grinned and Adne laughed.

“Yeah, I know.”

When Connor put his arm around her shoulder, Adne’s mood lightened. His presence made the waking dream fizzle to insignificance. For a moment, Adne would have called herself happy. But something flickered on the edge of her vision. She turned and her heart stuttered. A wolf watched them from the edge of the forest that bordered the garden.

“Connor.” Adne clutched his arm.

“What is it?” He was instantly tense. She didn’t have to look to know he’d already drawn a weapon.

Adne was about to point, but she blinked and the wolf was gone.

“Adne?” Connor scanned the space around them, searching for the cause of her alarm.

“It’s nothing,” Adne said, her throat still tight. “I thought I saw . . . but it was nothing.”

“You sure?” Connor asked, still waiting for any signs of imminent danger.

“Yes.” Adne leaned into him, trying to convey an ease she didn’t feel. “I’m just on edge. Please get me out of here.”

“With pleasure, little lady.” Connor gave a whoop and scooped Adne off the ground. Adne shrieked and giggled as Connor carried her back to the manor, kissing her noisily and teasing her about his plans for the night until a blush scorched her cheeks. But when she stopped laughing and laid her face against Connor’s neck so she could smell his skin and the leather of his duster, Adne wondered if she wasn’t losing her mind after all. A wolf had been watching them. She knew she’d seen it.

But seeing the wolf wasn’t the problem. The wolf wasn’t a stranger. Adne could never have mistaken that charcoal fur, which she’d wept into after the wolf warrior had been slain. Nor would she ever forget those silver-flecked eyes—eyes that had been gazing at her just a moment before in mutual recognition.

It didn’t matter if her brother was a wolf or a boy. Even if his appearance was impossible, Adne would always know Ren Laroche. She’d just seen her brother, returned from the dead.

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