Chapter Twenty-Six

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Chapter Twenty-Six

I fill the pool in my bathing room with multicolored bubbles. The orange ones smell like peach, the pink ones like raspberry, and the green ones like lime. The green bubbles are my least favorite, the ones I pop first while soaking in the water and mulling over Uri’s note.

I want to forget the hurt Nate has caused me. Of course I do. But if Uri isn’t sure of what he’s created, then it’s probably a bad idea to take the potion. I certainly don’t want to wind up with some nasty side effect, like a third arm or a heart of stone. But . . .

Ugh, I hate this!

I slap at a few bubbles that have drifted into the air, wishing I could slap Nate instead. Every time I think of him, every time I remember Scarlett whispering into his ear, I feel a physical pain tightening my insides. It was easy enough to forget while I was fighting for my life in Zell’s dungeon, but that’s over. There’s nothing now but training, our final assignment, graduation, and whatever comes after that.

I cross my arms on the edge of the pool and rest my chin on them. I stare at the tiny vial balanced on the stone a short distance from my head. I should just take the potion and deal with whatever the consequences may be. Perhaps if I’m lucky, I won’t even wake up after taking it.

“No,” I tell myself out loud. I lean out of the water, grab the vial, and toss it into the emergency kit sitting open by the doorway. “Stop being utterly pathetic. You’ve killed monsters. You’ve fought evil faeries. You can certainly handle a few hurt feelings.”

Filigree, curled up in snow leopard form in the grass at the edge of the room, raises his head and gives me a quizzical look.

“Never mind me,” I mutter as I slide back into the water. “Just talking to myself again.”

I climb out of the pool once I’ve popped most of the large bubbles. The rest disappear with a flick of my hand and a few whispered words. After putting some clothes on, I sit on one of the rocks and conjure up some hot air. As I run my fingers through my damp hair, I wonder if Tora is back yet and whether I can convince her to give me an extra assignment tomorrow. I need to make up for whatever I missed in the past week.

I wander back into my room while sifting through my emergency kit. Nothing seems to be broken from the vial I threw in just now. I close it up and leave it on my dresser.

“I was right.”

In shock, I swivel around. Ryn is lying on my bed, one hand behind his head, the other holding one of my poetry books open. “‘The colors and the lights that glow, the music and the masks. The people swaying to and fro in the enchanted dance’. By A. R. Thorntree.” He snaps the book shut and lets out a contented sigh. “I love it when you’re wrong.”

“How did you get in here?” I demand.

He flexes his fingers and grins. “I have skills.”

I cross my arms. “You have skills that outweigh centuries-old protective magic?”

“Fine. My skills aren’t that good.” He puts both hands behind his head. “You gave me access, remember?”

“Uh, no. I certainly don’t remember giving you, of all people, access to my home.”

“It was a long time ago. You got tired of always having to come down the stairs to let me in. And after you gave me access we never spoke about it again, because it was, after all, against the rules, and your dad would have flipped if he found out.” I stare at him. That does ring a very tiny bell in the back of my mind. “Didn’t you notice you didn’t have to let me in yesterday when I came back with your ‘borrowed’ dress?”

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