Chapter 35

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After Tristan left, Sam received no more visitors in the infirmary for six days. The first day, she hadn’t minded; despite Addie’s warning, Tristan had overexcited her and she spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sleeping. But she quickly grew lonely and bored. Addie talked to her sometimes, not only about doctorly things, but funny stories about her father and the men who tried to court her. Addie never asked about Tristan, which Sam appreciated. Still, Sam was one of many patients and Addie seldom had more than five minutes at a time to spare for her.

On the third day of no visitors, Sam asked Addie about Braeden. She thought maybe she had missed him while she was sleeping; had their positions been reversed, she would have been by his bedside night and day, if he let her. “Has Braeden come by to see me?” she asked while Addie replaced her bandages.

An uncomfortable look crossed Addie’s face. “Aye, he came,” she said vaguely.

“Oh,” said Sam, and some of the tightness in her chest dissipated. “Was I sleeping? Did he say he would come back?”

Addie applied a cool salve to her wound and didn’t glance up. “He came by right after you woke up, and he left almost immediately. He said nothing much to me beyond hello and goodbye.”

“Ow,” said Sam. Her chest hurt.

Addie furrowed her brow. “That shouldn’t have hurt,” she said, and finished wrapping Sam’s bandages.

Was Braeden mad at her? Sam thought they had mended the broken fences between them, but perhaps she was mistaken. What awful thing had she done that he couldn’t be arsed to come see her? She’d almost died, and she didn’t even warrant a “hello” or an “I’m glad you’re not dead?” The more she thought about it, the angrier it made her.

Braeden didn’t come the next day, or the day after that. Sam grew angrier and angrier until she thought she would choke with it. Or choke him with it, if he ever afforded her the opportunity.

Finally, on the sixth day, she caved. “Addie,” she called, “would you fetch me a pen and paper?” Hastily, Sam scribbled a note:


Come see me in the infirmary. I miss you.


In return, she received:

Busy, sorry.


He hadn’t even bothered to sign his full name. Sam crumpled his note into a ball and seethed silently.

“I don’t envy the man on the receiving end of that look,” said Addie. She shuddered. “Scary.”

“Men are idiots,” Sam said feelingly.

Addie raised an eyebrow. “There’s no need to state the obvious.” She smacked her forehead with her hand. “Speaking of idiot men, I almost forgot—I have a gift for you.”

“A gift? For me?”

Addie ducked out of the curtain opening and returned to Sam’s bed a moment later. The doctor held a long, curved object with her fingertips, as though it were filthy. “Here. This is yours.” She dropped it on Sam’s lap.

It was a scabbard—a beautiful sheath plated in bronze, inscribed with intricate patterns.  The hilt of a sword stuck out of the bottom: the disk-shaped pommel and guard were made of gold, and the grip was covered in tan sharkskin.

Sam wrapped one hand around the hilt and the other around the scabbard and pulled apart. The sword slid out of the sheath with a metallic whisper. Impossibly light in her hand, the blade was steeply curved, single-edged and obsidian in color.

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