xxvii. beautiful assassins

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He died right in front of my eyes after I promised that he and his daughter would be safe. He died because of my mistakes, my lack of preparation, and my overconfidence. I should have known that Thirteen would be one step ahead.

"Octavia! Where are you going?" Ace yells as the world around us descends into chaos.

Half of the world leaders in this room had, in some capacity, followed Deschamps' toast and drank the poisoned champagne. Every death was visible from the balcony. Thirteen had given me a front row seat to all the destruction he so beautifully orchestrated.

Everything—from the dead security guards, to his own dead assassins, to the almost dead and now arrested blonde woman—it was all a distraction. It was an elegantly designed trap that ensnared me the moment I walked through the goddamn palace doors.

"Save as many lives as possible," I clamor against the shrieks of horror. "I'm going to find Thirteen."

"I'm coming with you," Ace calls.

"No. No more deaths because of me."

"Octavia Snow, you stubborn and braindead toaster. This is not the time to be a hero."

"Listen you primitive rat-faced bastard, I couldn't care less about being a hero. But Thirteen's going to hurt you to get to me."

Ace grabs my wrist. We both realized that I was exactly where Thirteen wanted me to be. His grip tightens, and his golden eyes plead for me to stay.

"Trust me," I whisper. I run down the marble stairs of the palace without looking back.


You could drop a pin in the ivory Grecian room and hear nothing, for a split second of eternity, except the echoing of the pin hitting the floor. I was in a room inside of the Louvre. The ticket that the blonde woman had left me was strategically planted back at Toulouse so that I would come.

This room had absolutely no paintings in it. In fact, it had absolutely nothing inside. The only mantle giving the room any meaning should have been The Winged Victory of Samothrace. But it was completely gone.

If I didn't hate art museums before, I hated them now.

Thirteen stood alone, facing away from me and musing at the space where the sculpture once was. There was a haunting allure behind his grass green eyes; an allure shaped by sorrow.

I held my pistol in my hand with an iron grip and pointed it in his direction. Only one of us would leave this room alive.

"The sculpture is beautiful, isn't it?" Thirteen's voice echoes in the room.

"Why—why did you steal from the fucking Louvre?"

"To prove myself," Thirteen says matter-of-factly. "I don't think you understand just how much power I have."

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